December 5th, 2013
December 4th, 2013
So yeah, I didn’t really keep up with this series, did I? But now that I finally remembered to do this on a Wednesday, I would like to look back on the past year and give a shout out to a few of the new female science fiction writers I first read this year. My science fiction reading has been majority female this year and I’ve set out to try and find more new female writers, if only to balance out my gender stats at LibraryThing. The results so far have been good; the occasional dud, but the majority of writers I tried, I liked.
The discovery of the year for me was Elizabeth Bear, who has been writing for a long time but who I only started reading this May. Everything I’ve read of her so far has been excellent and I especially liked Hammered and sequels, especially the humanity of its protagonist:
while the setting might be cyberpunk, Jenny Casey’s life lacks the glamour a heroine in a Gibson story would’ve had. Her metal arm suffers from phantom pains, fucks up her shoulder and back where it attaches to the rest of her and while her artificial eye is an advantage in a low light situation, it’s a pain most of the rest of the time. She has had to live with her cybernetic implants, not just the arm and eye but also the enhanced nervous system that can make her reaction speed inhumanly fast when needed, for some twentyfive years and now that she’s pushing fifty, she’s suffering for it.
Another veteran writer was Linda Nagata, whose Vast I’ve just reviewed. Brenda Cooper, who I only knew from a collaboration with Larry Niven is another one; her The Silver Ship and the Sea was another good read.
Of newer writers, Kameron Hurley impressed me even though God’s War had serious flaws. I still bought the sequels. Other new writers that impressed me were M. J. Locke, whose Up Against it was old fashioned hard science fiction and Ann Leckie, with Ancillary Justice, far future space opera.
Finally there was also Margaret Atwood, who’s not a science fiction writer, but could’ve fooled me with The Handmaid’s Tale, which was much better than I expected.
So that’s half a dozen new, impressive female sf writers found so far this year. Any suggestions for next year?
December 2nd, 2013
It’s been a bit of a Monday; I need a cup of the brown stuff.
December 1st, 2013
published in 1998
Space opera used to be terrible, reactionary stories of brawny male heroes with safe anglosaxon names making the galaxy safe for terran manifest destiny by cheerfully genociding any alien races looking at them funny. Long derided as the lowest of the low, though with the occasional saving grace in the form of that elusive “sense of wonder” all science fiction strives to achieve, it was sort of rehabilitated in the seventies by a generation of fans and writers who’d grown up reading the stuff. In the eighties and nineties this led to the socalled New Space Opera, which took that sense of wonder and removed the xenophobia and human supremacy from it. Though in this New Space Opera the universe was far more indifferent to human pretensions than the old stuff, it could still be upbeat, as in e.g. Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels, where hundreds of various human races live happily ever after in an AI controlled utopia.
But not always. In Linda Nagata’s Vast the universe is not just indifferent, but actively hostile to human life. A millions years old alien war has left still active, automated warships behind, warships capable of blowing up suns. As humanity moved out of the Solar System and established colonies around other stars, these Chenzeme ships started to attack. One such attack has left only four survivors, fleeing the attack aboard the Null Boundary, a slower than light spaceship, who have decided to go look for the source of the Chenzeme coursers, somewhere in the swan direction of the Orion arm of the galaxy, all the while being chased by a Chenzeme courser themselves.
December 1st, 2013
Twelve books read this month, finally starting to make a dent in my backlog, though I’m still buying books faster than I can read them #firstworldproblems.
The Dispossessed — Ursula K. LeGuin
Le Guin’s classic utopian novel is interesting but dated in its gender treatment, especially in the segments outside of its anarchist utopia.
The Normans — Marjorie Chibnall
A short introduction to the history of the Normans.
Silk — Caitlín R. Kiernan
Horror fantasy by a writer who has said some very smart things in various online sexism controversies. Good enough for me to read more of her work.
Italian Aces of World War 2 — Giovanni Massimello & Giorgio Apostolo
One of those slim Osprey books, mostly tedious summings up of various Aces’ kills and such. But the pictures are good.
Ancillary Justice — Ann Leckie
It was Ian Sales review that got me to read this and I wasn’t disappointed. A very solid space opera debut.
Command and Control — Eric Schlosser
Schlosser, who you might know from Fastfood Nation dives into the history of nuclear weapons in the USA; specifically how they were controlled and by whom. Turns out that control was often illusionary and accidents with nuclear weapons happened more often than you’d like…
Vanished Kingdoms — Norman Davies
Norman Davies looks at the more obscure corners of European history, showcasing some of the countries and states that didn’t quite make it. Interesting but a bit wearing in the end.
Plague Ship — Andre Norton
Read on my mobile phone, a download from Project Gutenberg, this is the second novel in her Star Queen series in which wily independent traders outwit the stodgy cooperations that rule the stars.
Conflict of Honors & Carpe Diem — Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
The second and third novel in the Liaden series. Very readable science fiction adventure stories, the sort you plow through in a couple of hours.
Dust — Elizabeth Bear
The first in a trilogy, a science fiction story set aboard a crippled generation ship parked in orbit in a binary star system which could go supernova any moment…
Chill — Elizabeth Bear
The sequel to Chill, opening up the world and dealing with the fallout of the previous book.