Showing posts from January, 2023

A Memory Called Empire

A Memory Called Empire Arkady Martine, 2019 Hugo winner - 2020 Premise: The new ambassador from Lsel Station steps off of her transport and into more intrigue and moral conundrums than expected.  When was the last time I read something this fun, this exciting, this thoughtful, this inventive? It's been a while. This is an absolutely stellar sci-fi, complete with great characters, fascinating setting, and deep thoughts about identity (personal and political); in short, a classically great work of science fiction.  I loved all the characters. Mahit is smart, relatable, overwhelmed by the situation, insecure at times, and wrestling with the tension between her principles and her practical position. Just a great main character. The mysteries around the previous ambassador and the internal empire politics kept me guessing in the best way. A lot of the plot tension in the book concerns internal Texicalaan star empire politics and how they affect both the desire for Mahit's home stati

Into the Riverlands (The Singing Hills Cycle #3)

Into the Riverlands (The Singing Hills Cycle #3) Nghi Vo, 2022 Premise: Cleric Chih and Almost Brilliant travel into the riverlands, where the people tell tales while legends walk the roads.  I wasn't sure, at first, whether I liked this third novella as much as the first two in this series. I ended up reading it a second time, and while I still don't love it quite as wholeheartedly, it is a great book. This one is more about how stories are retold and twisted. The other characters Chih travels with either inspired great tales long ago or will inspire them in the future, but the stories that are told are far from reality and overlap in unexpected ways. At the same time, the stories still have value, both in themselves and in what each says about the teller. There's a lot to investigate and unravel here if you have a mind to. There's adventure and horror on the road as well as quiet moments for the characters, each of whom is fascinating.  The world gets more complicate

The Calculating Stars (The Lady Astronaut, #1)

The Calculating Stars (The Lady Astronaut, #1) Mary Robinette Kowal, 2018 Hugo winner - 2019 Premise: Elma York is a brilliant mathematician and a skilled pilot. But it's 1958, and the powers that be aren't ready for women to become astronauts until the space race becomes necessary for survival. Oh, how to talk about this book? The beginning is brilliant and the ending is brilliant, but some of the parts in the middle gave me anxiety. That's not necessarily a bad thing; it just made it a bit harder to read. Elma herself has severe anxiety from past traumas after years of trying to exist (attend college, serve in the military, etc.) around men as a smart, strong-willed woman. And I ached for her even as, from my position in the future, I was sometimes frustrated with her too. In this case, that just means she was realistically written. The writing is compelling, the historical research thorough, and the characters wonderful. Elma and her husband (also a rocket scientist) hav