Showing posts from April, 2018

Parable of the Talents

Parable of the Talents Octavia Butler, 1998 Read Harder 2018 Challenge: A sci-fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author Premise: Sequel to Parable of the Sower . Lauren Olamina tries to protect her growing family, her community, and the movement she hopes to foster, but the rest of the world isn't ready to leave them in peace. Oof. This was a hard read. I had to take a break several times. All of the content warnings on this one: rape, murder, and torture, including violence targeting women, LGBTQ people, and racial and religious minorities. Government-sanctioned religious extremism. A politician rising to power on xenophobia, sexism, racism, and a false nostalgia for the past. If it had been written today, people would say the parody was too on-the-nose and over the top. However, what troubled me the most wasn't any of that. The text of the novel is mostly drawn from the main character's diaries, but there's a framing device where each chapte

Last Dragon Standing (Heartstrikers, Book 5)

Last Dragon Standing (Heartstrikers, Book 5) Rachel Aaron, 2018 Premise: Sequel to  A Dragon of a Different Color . The endgame has begun. Bob, seer of the Heartstrikers, faces the culmination of his final plan. In order to save the world from a Nameless End, Julius Heartstriker and Marci Novalli must rally all the dragon clans and the forces of human magic, but that might not be enough. This final book brings the series to a fairly satisfying conclusion. It’s maybe a tad too happy of an ending to have much weight, but it is still a lot of fun. The characters are as charming as they have been all along. All the factions we’ve met (along with some random red herrings) are here for the big finale, and everyone has a part to play. The only other criticism I have is that giving all of these characters their respective emotional arcs takes a lot of pages. A pretty significant chunk of the book is tense conversation in which everyone hashes out their various issues, rivalrie

The Three-Body Problem

The Three-Body Problem Cixin Liu, 2007, English translation Ken Liu, 2014 Hugo Winner - 2015 Read Harder Challenge - A book of genre fiction in translation Premise: Do you like trippy philosophy, complex morality, and lots of science in your sci-fi? Are you comfortable with that slight feeling of disconnection that can come with reading a translated work (even a really well-translated work)? Read it. I just found out that there's a lot given away in the standard descriptions of this book. I'm personally really glad that I knew nothing going in. That's not always my taste, often it's better for me to know roughly what to expect. (For example: if I'm in the mood for a light fantasy adventure, I'll be disappointed in a gritty medieval war story, but if I'm expecting a gritty medieval war story, I might be bored by a fairy tale retelling.) Sometimes a great author can get around your expectations, but I hardly ever have the patience for a book t

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, Book 1)

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, Book 1) Martha Wells, 2017 Premise: All Murderbot wants is to be left alone to watch tv. Unfortunately, if it doesn't want its free will to be discovered, it still has a job to do, and someone's trying to kill the people it's supposed to protect. This was an absolute delight. Going in, I thought was that this was a novella from the point of view of a killbot. What I found was a snarky sci-fi adventure with a protagonist whose general misanthropy is not entirely genuine, but this never falters into pathos. The humans call it Security Unit, or SecUnit, but a murderbot is what it calls itself. The reason why is a mix of black humor and cynicism. Murderbot is not only hiding its sense of humor but also its free will from both the humans it's assigned to and the shadowy Company that owns it and financed the scientific mission they're on. A SecUnit has consciousness, but it isn't supposed to be able to choose for