psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
Powerful shorter-than-novel fiction piece about a human colony living in an uneasy incorporation into an alien society, and the relationships of two collaborators and two separatists. Some stuff here about slow change vs burning things to the ground that really packs a punch here in the age of the destruction of the American government. I am mildly unsure of the length of this story - Asimov's called it a novelette in their table of contents, but Locus listed it with the novellas - but I'm inclined to assume Locus can count, and nominate it as a novella. Not sure though whether I'm replacing Every Heart a Doorway, which I wasn't that enthusiastic about, or Last Days of New Paris, which I'm pretty sure is too long to qualify (Locus called it a novel, so if we're going by Locus...).
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
One Half from the East is a middle-grade novel by Nadia Hashimi, an American child of parents from Afghanistan, set in contemporary Afghanistan, about a ten-year-old girl whose family decides to make her a bacha posh, a girl who is temporarily dressed as a boy so that the family will have a son. I've been obsessed with gender-disguise narratives my whole life (well, gender narratives more generally, gender-choice and transition and so forth, but as a kid in the 80s and 90s, what you got was mostly girls who wanted to wear pants so they could do stuff), so obviously I was going to read this. And it was very interesting! It wasn't clear from the book whether Hashimi had, like, interviewed people, or was working from secondhand sources, or just using her imagination - it turns out there's a companion novel for adults, following one of the other characters, which I'm hoping might have more extensive author's notes or a bibliography - anyways, it's hard to say how much of the story is an American sensibility of what this kind of gender situation would feel like, or how much is authentically Afghan, but it felt plausible and nuanced to me as an American reader. I actually thought the strongest part emotionally were the parallels between the protagonist and her father, who recently lost a leg in a terrorist attack, who are both struggling to accept the changes in their lives. Anyways, I thought it was very well-written, and interesting both for telling me about a real-world practice I didn't know about, and as a realistic-fiction contrast to the gender-adventure genre.
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
Everfair has a dynamite elevator pitch: British Fabians team up with black American missionaries to purchase a big chunk of the Belgian Congo from Leopold and make it a safe haven for Africans being enslaved for the rubber trade, steampunk alternate history ensues! Lesbian motorcycle guerrillas! Dirigibles running on the power of one tribe's "sacred earths", that is, nuclear power! Nifty mechanical prosthetic hands for everyone whose hands the Belgians chopped off! But it is kind of weird in the whole aspect of a book where there is tension and resolution, or expectation and satisfaction of it. It feels a little uncomfortable to criticize the writing of someone who's best known for teaching writing ("Writing the Other"), but the best way I can explain it is that reading this book was sort of like walking past a series of dioramas, and sometimes what was in them was really cool, but you never really had any idea what might be in the next one. Not unenjoyable - I read it to the end - but not my personal taste in stories, either. (I like a more immersive reading experience where I know more about the characters' hopes/goals/intentions and can feel their story along with them.) The book is sharpest and clearest about how race and nationality shape everyone's interactions - I foresee its future on various syllabuses. (You could teach it with Years of Rice and Salt, you could teach it with Westerfeld's Leviathan, you could teach it with Jo Walton's Just City and with Butler's Earthseed books maybe, I hardly remember those but I think so.)
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
Novella by Kij Johnson. This was so good, I picked it up from the library today and pretty much couldn't put it down. I have not read the Lovecraft novella it's based on (Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath) but have read enough Lovecraft to feel like I had the general literary context if not specifics? I've been a Johnson fan for awhile ("Man Who Bridged The Mist", "Ponies"), this novella combines great writing (if you like the descriptive fantasy sort of thing) with a killer denouement. Immediate addition to my Hugo nominations.
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
The One Who Isn't, Ted Kosmatka. I like the way this one unfolded.

5x5, Jilly Dreadful. Teen geniuses at science camp.

Taste the Singularity at the Food Truck Circus, Jeremiah Tolbert. Wheee, cyberpunk food! Except I don't mean cyberpunk, I mean whatever we call the fun anticorporate futurism now. There are two kinds of stories like this, ones where it stays fun and ones with an unpleasant gotcha. I would like you to know that this one stays fun and you can safely enjoy it. * NOVELETTE

The Siren Son, Tristina Wright. Fairytale teen romance.

Unauthorized Access, An Owomoyela. Secretly a character piece dressed up like a data heist. *NOVELETTE

The Wilderness Within, Tim Pratt. Fun magical realism scenario, possibly a reprint though.

Also this fine NOVELLA, not from Lightspeed! Kai Ashante Wilson's A Taste Of Honey is from the same universe as his novella last year, Sorcerer of the Wildeeps. I loved Sorcerer; Taste isn't *quite* as powerful, but I'm still so in love with this world and with Wilson's writing, the mix of "high" and "low" language and the distinctive voices he gives characters. I would maybe read Sorcerer first for maximum impact but definitely recommend Taste, and if you don't have time to read them both and are looking for 2016 novellas, I think it would still stand alone just fine.
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
The Case of the Phantom Frog and The Case of the Treetop Treasure. Something slightly Dark-Knight-esque in the extent to which the existence of McGurk's detective organization brings into being mysteries created by kids who want to hoax it. Am ever-so-vaguely starting to think about a 30fic about these guys, although there's a lot to figure out in what year exactly to pin their ages to, etc. But, you know, what have they all been *up* to as adults... one wonders...
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
Every Heart a Doorway has a great premise - it's a school for kids who have come back from portal fantasies - but because this is Seanan McGuire, what she finds exciting about this premise is never quite what I find most compelling. I mean, it's well done, it's just that our respective senses of story zing are close enough that I'm constantly like "that sounds good!" but offset enough that I don't end up wowed. It is however A Novella and quite readable; I'm guessing we'll see it on the Hugo ballot and we could do much worse.
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
Justine Larbalestier's latest makes for very depressing reading given current events. It's well done, just, bleah. Nothing I needed. Major content warning behind the first spoiler cut, further discussion behind the second.
1.Read more... )
2.Read more... )

books

Dec. 5th, 2016 11:34 pm
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
The Raven and the Reindeer, T. Kingfisher who is Ursula Vernon, 2016. A nifty YA novelization of "The Snow Queen" fairytale, with shapeshifting, and the having-to-overcome-feeling-stupid part of being a hero, and lesbians, and realizations about dangling after jerkboys. Recommended, especially if you like Fire and Hemlock.

A Closed And Common Orbit, Becky Chambers, 2016. Sort-of sequel to Long Way To A Small Angry Planet, although most of the characters from that aren't in this one. This one is more serious and intense, grapples SFnally with some not-unfamiliar brain stuff? Also I criiiiied so much oh my gosh, really hit some of my buttons for that. Recommended but while I think you *could* read them in either order, this one definitely spoils some stuff that happens in Long Way so my suggestion is to read them in publication order.

The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate, Jacqueline Kelly, 2016. Sequel to Evolution of etc. Kelly has answered my objection about the previous book and laid out a path by which Callie might actually escape and make it to college! Really hoping we get a third one of these with some bigger time jumps so we can see her do it. Are series that start with a juvenile protagonist and follow them all the way into adulthood rarer now than they used to be? I mean, there's Harry Potter, but I feel like stuff like, oh, all the big classic old timey girls series, Anne and Little House and Betsy/Tacy, and then the fantasy classics like Dragonsong and Alanna, there's this whole thing where the content (and, especially in the older series, the complexity of the writing), "grows up" along with the characters. I don't know whether someone could sell a series like that today - specifically I don't know whether Kelly might have. I guess there's Princess Diaries, hrm.

The Case of the Invisible Dog and The Case of the Secret Scribbler, E.W. Hildick, illustrated by Lisl Weil. We've finally caught up to McGurks I remember! Not all or even most of the details - I think I would have read these in like 1984, and never re-read them past elementary school - but there's bits where I'm like "oh yeeeah, this is familiar." Invisible Dog is really charming, and Secret Scribbler involves an Actual Crime TM!

The Storyteller, Evan Turk, picture book, 2016. I don't follow the Caldecott (so no idea what they've been awarding) but I could see this making the list. Really neat story about storytelling, with nested framing stories. Junie was intrigued and wanted to discuss further, which she rarely does about her reading!

Zoom, Istvan Banyai. Q was fascinated by this wordless picture book in which steady "zooming out" reveals scenes to be pictures cleverly inset in other scenes. After we went through together he spent a long time flipping back and forth through the pages "zooming".
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
Goldenhand, Garth Nix, 2016. Ties off threads from Clariel and the novelettes "The Creature In The Case" and (less directly) "To Hold The Bridge" as well as being a direct sequel to Abhorsen. This being Nix, there are some good settings and sequences here (that was true in Clariel too, despite my general lack of enthusiasm for that book, and this one is definitely more enjoyable), but it definitely felt like a "late book" for a series, as the momentum and creative energy winds down and runs out. If you love the characters you'll probably enjoy seeing them in action again and knowing they get closure on a bunch of fronts, but if you didn't feel like you needed to read "Creature in the Case" you can probably continue to ignore everything after Abhorsen without fear you're missing something great.

I did really like this bit: Read more... )

Full Fathom Five, Max Gladstone, 2014. Third in publishing order of the five-going-on-six-book Craft Sequence; chronologically after both Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise and does involve some characters/situations from those books. Creative energy still going strong for Gladstone at this point in his series, at least. The legal-thrillers-but-with-magic aspect of these means that they're pretty satisfying (truths discovered, injustices rectified) and the magic makes for some good wow in the worldbuilding. There was a bit in the middle of this one I found profoundly moving. I remember that when I read the first two back-to-back I felt like that was too much of the same thing at once, so I'm not going to rush out to catch up on books four and five of the series, but I definitely look forward to reading them when it seems like a good time.

Hold Me, Courtney Milan, 2016. In the contemporary series that started with Trade Me. You can analyze all the dimensions to these fantasies - women get the courage to take what they want! wealthy, powerful men feel lucky that these women give them a chance! but they're really well done, and aren't most books peddling some kind of fantasy of power/justice/hope/what have you. Milan writes her characters with a lot of sympathy and nuance and real-life Stuff to deal with - this whole series seems to be shaping up to have a theme of emotional vulnerability. So it's heavier, than, like, Crusie (although there's definitely still some wackiness here, including a secondary character whose future book I can't wait for). Also the couple in this one is a trans Latina woman and a bi Asian dude, which is just *neat*, like, I'm not really up on the self-published contemporary scene but I know I've never found a trans character on the romance racks at the library.
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel has a great concept - people start finding parts of an enormous ancient alien robot - but I didn't enjoy the writing at all. I'm not a stickler for actual scientific accuracy to the extent of "the math and physics all actually work", but I like the ring of truth in how scientists talk about things they don't understand (experiments! data!) and how labs operate (Agent Scully aside, big investigations have big casts!). And, ugh, so much male gaze, so many tiresome heteronormative tropes. I didn't know a gender for the name "Sylvain" when I picked up the book but it very quickly became obvious it was a dude author, confirmed when I flipped to the back flap. Too bad. Anyways, I was going to conclude this by saying it would work as an animated movie, it's got some good visuals and the cartoonishness would be forgivable in an actual cartoon (think Miyazaki's early ancient giant robot/god soldier work in Nausicaa or Laputa, or the robot would also probably look great in CGI) but in fact there isn't a huge amount of giant stompy robot bang for the buck here either.

Archie Volume One is the reboot of Archie comics written by Mark Waid (Kingdom Come, other superhero titles) and drawn by Fiona Staples (Saga) and other artists. The execution is top-notch - these are masters of comics pacing, character beats, expressive faces - but, you know, it's Archie. Really well-done, smartly updated Archie, but ultimately we're talking about a love triangle that ran for 75 years and never resolved, right? I mean, I'll probably keep reading it, but, I don't know, no-end series comics may not be for me, there's something unsatisfying about knowing they'll never resolve.
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
Book Two of Jemisin's trilogy. Worldbuilding so good! Writing so good! World so bleak! Cut for spoilers:Read more... )
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
The Case of the Nervous Newsboy and The Great Rabbit Rip-Off. Have yet to hit one I remember from my own childhood. The copy of Newsboy the library sent us was a reprint edition and it turns out I feel Very Strongly about the original illustrator Lisl Weil, do not approve At All of substitutions. Her drawings just have so much character! I mean, look at this: https://goo.gl/photos/YfFPShbQH9svEse5A (this is an experiment linking a photo in Google Photos). Someday someone's going to request McGurk as a Yuletide fandom and I'm going to be so excited.

Swarm

Oct. 6th, 2016 07:19 pm
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
Swarm, Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti, second of the trilogy that started in Zeroes. Spoiler cut for major spoilers.
Read more... )
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
One of the things I love about Miéville is that the elevator-pitch summaries of his books can sound so out-of-nowhere and then I actually read them and it's like, yeah, okay, there's a short straight line between this and his other work, I see how this fits. The Last Days of New Paris is about Surrealist fighters in a Nazi-occupied post-magical-apocalype Paris, so it is of course about The City (everyone drink, in the Miéville-trope drinking game), and the exquisite corpses echo the Remade of Bas-Lag (drink) and we've got some demons and golems and doomed revolutionaries (drink drink drink)...

Despite that I felt for most of the book like I was not the audience for this book, that Miéville was playing a game of reference-the-Surrealist that would probably only delight fans of Surrealism. Which I am not - I mean, I agree it was important as a movement/as a response to its time, and there are occasional Surrealist works I've found memorable or powerful, but for the most part it's not the wing of the museum I'm going to head to first? And I just did not care, about this sort of guidebook-travelogue wander through carefully end-noted imagery ("and on your left, it's Dorothea Tanning's sunflower...").

And then Miéville did something I'm not sure he's ever done before, and ended a novel stronger than he started it. The very last final sequence blew me away with the clarity of its argument, and in 2014 I might have thought it was over the top, but here in 2016 it feels all too relevant, to the extent that I had to reconsider whether he had justified the previous 160 pages. Whether he needed all of that buildup to land that last hit; whether *my frustration with it* was actually one of the planned-for reactions, the better to make his case at the end. I don't know; me being me, I'm still inclined to wonder if he could have done it in a novelette. At that length I would have put it on my short-fiction recs list and probably nominated it; at this length I don't really feel like I can recommend it, because it really is an awful lot of I-turned-my-Surrealism-class-notes-into-this-giant-collage before you get to the end. But, man. That end. I'm going to copy some sentences under a cut, because I feel like I might want them for something later, although they won't make sense out of context. (Arguing about fascism, utopia, and the artist as utopian, probably. This was a fascinating book to read right after Too Like The Lightning.)

Read more... )
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
So first off, Ada Palmer was at Bryn Mawr in '99-01 and involved with Double Star, so while I don't think I ever met her, she can't be more than a step removed. Hi, if you're the mutual friend and you happen to read my lj. :)

Secondly: Too Like The Lightning is the first of four, and if you want to read it without knowing anything more about it at all, my recommendation is that you wait to do so until at least one more book in the series is out, maybe more than one. There's a large, complex cast of characters here, and no reason to think we're not still going to need to remember them all in future books - in fact I felt like the main work of TLTL was to painstakingly set up the board, piece by piece, for something that will play out in later books? Like it may actually make more sense to think of this as the first quarter of a very long single novel, just reaching plot breakout in the final chapters of this quarter.

From which you might guess that the heart of my reaction to this book is "well, it depends where it goes!" Maybe I've been watching Palmer meticulously setting up dominoes (which is not unpleasant, seeing the tricks and patterns) and then there's going to be one breathless orgiastic finish when they finally run. Or maybe it'll be more like putting together a puzzle without a lid, and there'll be all the little satisfactions of putting bits together, and then the big quiet satisfaction at the end of seeing that it all fits. I am, in general, both a sucker for this sort of thing and wary of it; my favorite books end up being the ones that are rewarding the whole way through, instead of saving up their zing for some ultimate payoff that might or might not actually pay off. I've been burned by television, by things like the X-Files or Lost, that pretended to look like a puzzle but turned out to be a heap of individually manufactured separate pieces some of which could be joined up but were never conceived as a coherent whole. Or, a more fair comparison, the Rothfuss Kingkiller books, which might in the end turn out to be a brilliant meta-work about storytelling or might turn out to be a tedious shaggy-dog story, we just don't know yet. At least Palmer is vastly less tedious than Rothfuss.

I also suspect that there's a whole layer going on that's a conversation with someone not in the room, which is frustrating when it's going over my head, but probably much more interesting if it's not. Possibly I need to have read Candide.

I think this review is sounding more negative than I mean it to be? It just feels so hard to know what to make of it. I want to compare it to Simmons' Hyperion series (four books, similar themes so far about politics, religion, transportation as a mode of social control), but Hyperion has a lot more sfnal razzle-dazzle (the farcasters, the cruciforms, the Time Tombs, etc). But maybe it's more of a Snow Crash or Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom project, about futuristic ways to organize society, although the latter had some razzle-dazzle too, and the former is *wildly* action-packed, so not a good comparison at all. I don't know! Stranger in a Strange Land, which is name-checked explicitly at one point, and might be being referenced in a whole bunch of other ways more subtly - I've read that, at least, unlike Candide, so that part of the conversation I am catching. Or possibly making up. (ETA: Dune, of course. Mentats and messiahs? Shadow/not so shadow organizations steering history? Duh, me.)

One more thing behind a spoiler cut for significant spoilers. Read more... ) ...I reread that and what I think it means is [livejournal.com profile] aryky read this one, ideally without reading that very spoilery paragraph. :)

books

Sep. 25th, 2016 11:57 am
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
I'm falling behind on books. (Well, and, perpetually, almost everything else too... but right now I am addressing the topic of books...)

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloane. I knew almost nothing about this except that it had been recommended by a friend, and that was a great way to read it, but I'm going to give y'all a little more detail so you know how it fits into the spectrum of things I recommend. So, a) this is a *nice* book, a book with a warm and rosy glow, I would not hesitate to recommend this book to anyone. b) It reminded me a little bit of Ready Player One except more universal and w/fewer annoying bits. c) Google is involved and I would love to hear from anyone who's worked at or with Google what they thought of the portrayal of Google in the book. And a couple of spoilers: Read more... )

vN, Madeline Ashby. Apparently first of a trilogy of which the third book does not exist yet, but if I hadn't read that I wouldn't have known, it read like a standalone. Posthuman rogue robot hijinks! I am so psyched to have read this book because I finally have a woman author to list with Greg Egan and Peter Watts when I'm talking about people doing hardcore non-sentimental post-human futurism. Good stuff here about identity and robot-human relations and what it means to be a child and what it means to be an adult and consent and family. Ashby is exploring some similar territory to Stross in Saturn's Children but I'm so much more interested in thoughts about what it means to be a sex class/created as sex object from a woman? Sorry, but, like, similarly, I will be much more interested in what it means to be created as laborers/as bodies to suffer danger/pain from a writer who comes from a background of having their ancestors' bodies imported as commodities for those purposes. Not that I think I've actually read that book yet but if it's out there someone should recommend it to me immediately. It's like how Butler has much smarter stuff to say about race/species relations than anyone else, there's a real example. One interesting note, there's a murder of a human child pretty early on that for whatever reason *didn't* bother me, I mean, I'm not saying I was cheering, but it didn't set off the typical waterworks of child death, it would probably be interesting if I could put my finger on why not, but I can't, just didn't?

The Fifth Season, NK Jemisin. And on the topic of child death (there's a great transition), Josh read this and enjoyed it so I gave it a second go in preparation for reading the sequel when we get it. Turns out I really had already found all of the child death/torture in my first attempt, so no new awfulness, and I got to read some nifty stuff I hadn't found before, so that was nice. Iiiii don't know, I still don't feel like I would recommend these to anyone but I guess I'll have to see what she does in the second book? There is some genuinely *really cool* stuff here in and around the world too brutal to stand. (And then I read Facebook and it's like three new horrific shootings/beatings to death by cops, so, to be clear, I am not blaming Jemisin for writing about a world too brutal to stand, we may also be living in one.)
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
I really love it when books I'm reading in some coincidental order (availability, whim, etc) turn out to have some interesting theme or common thread together. Cairo by G Willow Wilson and MK Perker and The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks are graphic novels about metropolis cities and the people who come to them and through them and how they're able to ally in hope of a better future. Cairo is Wilson's first work, before Alif the Unseen (which I still haven't read) or Ms. Marvel, and is a standalone; this is the first volume of Nameless City and it says it's continuing in volume two, dunno how long it's intended to be. I would recommend both, if you like comics - Nameless City is maybe an easier read, it's colorful and the pacing is more decompressed, more manga-influenced in its wordless action panels. They have interestingly contrasting takes on who should get to speak, who gets a place at the table - Cairo took a sharper stance on, like, white people should shut up and listen, Israel should be rejected (at least in its military-occupation aspect), the only voice that matters is the ordinary citizens of Cairo, while Nameless City, maybe because it has the freedom of being set in a fictional world, seems to be taking more of an "everybody gets a place at the table, the way forward is for conquerors and conquered to work together" approach that I find very appealing but would probably make a lot of people mad if it was about a real city's history.
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
Man, maybe when I'm all the way down the Duolingo tree I should celebrate by reading a book in Spanish, I haven't tried that in twenty years.

Anyways. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, Jacqueline Kelly, is a middle grade about an 11-year-old girl in 1899 Texas who becomes interested in evolution and bonds with her naturalist grandfather. It's been awhile since I read anything in the "girl in historical setting resents limitations/expectations of her gender" genre (although heck knows I used to devour them when I was younger) so I don't remember if they all felt this bittersweet - Callie longs to go to university and see the world, but there's zero indication that this is going to be possible, and quite a bit of indication that she's going to be expected to give up her dreams and conform. So it's more like a "she's getting this magical time in her young life before reality descends" book than "and then she totally grew up to be Kate Sessions" (or whoever your fave lady naturalist is at the moment), despite her grandfather name-dropping a list of historical lady scientists. (Curie, Martha Maxwell, Anning, Kovalevskya, Isabella Bird.) There's apparently a sequel, I'll be curious to see whether this changes.

Company Town, Madeline Ashby. Near-future thriller is not my favorite genre, but as I often think about these books, this one has some clever sfnal ideas in and around the running around, including a woman whose birthmark is natural face-recognition-software camouflage, and post-Singularity AIs trying to meddle with the past. It more or less all hangs together - I found some of the scenes/plot developments at the end kind of muddled, so that I had to reread a couple of times to sort out what was meant, but I got there eventually. And it was very readable in general, in the sense of pace and momentum, and had some good lines, and a neat setting, and, I mean, near-future thriller isn't my *least* favorite genre either, sometimes it's fun to read about someone running around having fights/solving murders/etc and this one has a good protagonist and perspective, so, hey.

Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell. Waaaah nostalllgia. Better critics than I have written about the somewhat awkward handling of race in this novel, so let me just say, that's there, but my white privilege let me focus more on the teen-romance parts than the dubious-representation parts, and Rowell does so well with capturing the immensity of that first romance and the intensity of every particular tiny step? I read so much slashfic where people confess their feelings and someone has a dick up their ass five seconds later, I really love the contrast of teen stories where someone very daringly touches a collarbone on the eighth date. Anyways, I ended up crying on the couch at one in the morning listening to "Get Lost" very very loud in my headphones (which isn't even my personal teen heartbreak nostalgia soundtrack, that would be more like REM/U2/Metallica, but it's become the iconic album of those emotions for me), which was an excellent outcome as far as I'm concerned, so, recommended if that sounds good to you.
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling. Delilah Dirk is one of those things for me that, the instant I heard there was a second Delilah Dirk book out, I was looking up what library I could go get it at in the morning. (Okay, it might have been the afternoon.) Partnership! The travails of living a double life! Swordfighting in a dress! God I love them so much. (I bet Junie will love these in a couple of years, if she keeps reading comics...) 2016 graphic work.

The Core of the Sun, Johanna Sinisalo, translated from Finnish by Lola Rogers. In alternate-history dystopic Finland where women have been domesticated, one throwback woman pursues the illicit high of capsaicin... I enjoyed this a lot, the gender stuff is not really anything new if you already hate gender/compulsory femininity/etc, but I assume as long as women have to live in patriarchies they're going to want to write pissed-off books about that. The dystopia is nicely presented through found-text type insertions, there's some really neat writing in the synasthesic way the main character perceives emotions/sensations, and the whole chili-as-controlled-substance thing was great. 2013 book, 2016 translation.

Deadline for McGurk and The Case of the Condemned Cat, E. W. Hildick. There's a very good chance the McGurk Organization was the fictional universe of my very first imaginary self-insert character - I can't remember anything about her now, but I very dimly recall being a little embarrassed when I read Vanishing Ventriloquist and it added a talented, exotic new girl member to the club, like, hey, I knew this story. (And already knew to be embarrassed by it, apparently.) Anyways, I thought of the McGurk mysteries when Junie got into the A to Z Mysteries recently, and of course I'm rereading them, both for nostalgia and to see how they hold up a generation later. They're not bad! A little gender antiquated (Wanda, the Girl of the Five Man Band - although they won't actually meet the Nerd for another four books, so right now it's a Four Man Band - "can climb trees as well as any boy", which is "strange for a girl"), and everyone is white, but the mysteries are good, and the period details might be interesting. (McGurk's yard is full of litter, primarily cigarette butts - can you imagine a kid's book mentioning smoking now? And the solution to the second mystery hinges on someone buying an unplucked pigeon from the meat department of a supermarket - I guess in 1975 that was something you could do?) Junie has requested more of them and I intend to keep reading too; we haven't hit any of the ones I remember anything about yet, so that should be fun when we do.
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