Top Ten Tuesday: Science Fiction Reads

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is bookmarks, and while I can’t wait to see what you all use for bookmarks, the truth is, I use just about anything that’s laying around.  I do have a couple of actual book marks, somewhere, and they end up in all kinds of interesting places that usually don’t involve the pages of my book.

So instead, I’m dedicating this week’s T10T to Sci-Fi month, a post that on a SFF book blog is long overdue.  I’m going with books on my TBR, but I’ll include a few for recommended reading at the end.

Gamechanger L. X. Beckett

Gamechanger by L.X. Beckett – I’m reading through this one now and I don’t even know how to describe it.  Set in a world following the apocalypse, where the survivors of humanity are now very careful about how resources are used and reused.  The world is a fascinating mashup of virtual reality laid over reality, and people are judged socially on how kind or eco-conscious they are.  It’s pretty weird, but I’m mostly enjoying it.

Dead Astronauts Borne 2 Jeff VanderMeer

Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer – Gamechanger looks absolutely tame in comparison to VanderMeer’s new one.  Three “astronauts” are exploring the City where the Company is headquartered (the Company was first shown to readers in Borne, if you didn’t know), encountering all kinds of weird biotech.  The trouble is, they seem to be exploring it across multiple realities, and it’s confusing as all hell to follow.  Feels like a literary experiment gone horribly wrong right now.  I need a plot Jeff!

Golden Son

Golden Son by Pierce Brown – There’s really no excuse for me not having finished the Red Rising trilogy, never mind not being up-to-date on the series as a whole.  I loved the first book, it just took too long to get the second book in my hands.  Otherwise I’d be done with them by now.  So I’m hoping to buckle down and get them finished this month.

The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk

The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk – I read a couple chapters of this and was definitely intrigued, but got distracted by Gamechanger.  I also seem to have a running theme of cli-fi going this month, because much like that one, TFST is set in a world that has been ravaged by climate change.  Built on the old bones of San Francisco, this new city feels very utopian.  The problem?  The world outside the city is very much dystopian, scarce resources, slavery, violence, etc.. What happens when these two worlds collide?

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee The Machineries of Empire

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee – This one has been on my TBR for what feels like forever.  I think I own the whole series too, so I’m more than a little ashamed of the fact that I haven’t read it yet.  I’ve seen it compared to one of my favorites: Too Like the Lightning, in it’s complexity, and somewhat to Game of Thrones in it’s family dramas.  I think I’ve been subconsciously putting it off because I want to love it so badly.

The Menace From Farside by Ian McDonald

The Menace from Farside by Ian McDonald – Can I get a happy dance?  Happy book birthday to The Menace from Farside!  It releases today and I’ll likely have it read before the end of the week.  This is an offshoot of one of my favorite SF series: Luna.

The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan – I’m listening to this now, and it’s perfect.  I was a little skeptical at first, that a film maker put his name on a book (after all, why not make it a film?) but I needn’t have been.  A plane lands at JFK full of dead passengers, and nobody understands why or how… That is, until they all get up and walk out of the morgue.  This is scary in all the right ways, with just enough science to make it feel real, and I’m absolutely eating it up.

Micro By Michael Crichton

Micro by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston – It’s highly unlikely that I’ll get to anything beyond the first seven(?!) books I mentioned (and even that feels overwhelmingly optimistic) but I want to read this one soon.  I’ve just been in the mood for some jungle fiction, and that’s something Crichton seems to do very well.  The blurb describes it as a survival horror type story where nature battles technology.  I think typing that just bumped it up the TBR.

Recommended Reading:

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The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal – This was one of my favorite books last year, and covered so many topics from prejudice and racism, to sexism, and mental illness.  This is about a woman who dreams of being an astronaut, and has the ability and talent to be one, but is held back at every turn, by men who think women shouldn’t do “a man’s job”.

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New Moon by Ian McDonald – Described as “Game of Thrones in space,” that description isn’t too far off.  The Five Dragons of Luna, (that is, the five families that control almost everything on the moon) are warring over territory and new markets and politics.  The only thing they all agree on, is that nobody wants Earth interfering in Moon business.  This series is such a treasure for me, even if the books themselves can be difficult at times.  I wish it was getting a little more recognition in the SF realm!

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The Moon and the Other by John Kessel – This is another on that I wish was more widely read.  It’s a slower paced story, not as exciting or as flashy as New Moon (above) but a novel with a little more depth, that gives plenty of food for thought.  It’s about a matriarchal colony on the moon, fighting for independence among a sea of other more traditionally run colonies (not strictly patriarchal, but certainly not matriarchal).

Are you planning on reading anything for SF month?

Leave a link to your T10T posts below so I can see what you are using for bookmarks.  It’s gotta be petter than the crumpled post-it note currently holding my page!

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I’d Befriend

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is characters I could be best friends with.  Outside of my first pick for this topic I have a hard time imagining being best friends with any of these characters, so this is more of a, characters-I’d-like-to-have-on-my-side kind of post.

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Nina Zenik (Six of Crows) – Finally, a friend who doesn’t make me feel guilty for never ordering a salad when we go out to eat.

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Circe (Circe) – That person who cut me off in traffic?  Bam! Pig.  That person who orders $50 worth of food at the drive-thru when you just want your morning coffee?  Bam! Pig.  If nothing else, I’d never run out of bacon.

ARTtistic Cat GIF • Cat vs Squirrel soon gonna catch you naughty squirrel blah blah blah

Reichis the Squirrelcat (Spellslinger) – Listen, I just really want a squirrelcat, okay?

Legal Trouble

Ariel Corta (New Moon) – I’m going to need an all star legal team after I’m done transforming all those people into pigs…

Hold on to your butts

John Hammond (Jurassic Park) – I am actively rejecting modern science. Jurassic Park is going to be a thing in my lifetime.  And I will be first in line.

Patrick plotting

Mycroft Canner (Too Like the Lightning) – Because knowing all the world’s secrets is a super power all by itself.  This is weirdly probably also my most dangerous choice of friend, considering what happened to his other friends…

Not quite ten- but I prefer quality friends to quantity.  Who made your list this week?

Book Review: New Moon by Ian McDonald (Luna #1)

In honor of Moon Rising releasing this week, I just wanted to share a quick Throwback Thursday review of New Moon, the first book in the Luna series.  These are kind of weird for me to rate, because I gave both books in this series 4 stars, but the series as a whole would get 5 stars.

McDonald imagines a future for us in which gender is significantly more fluid, sexuality more open.  The characters, while often terrible and ruthless, shine vivid and bright and so very full of life.  There are tender moments of love, and heart wrenching moments of brutality.  I need more books like these.

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Rating:  ★★★★

Blurb from GoodReads:  “The Moon wants to kill you.

Maybe it will kill you when the per diem for your allotted food, water, and air runs out, just before you hit paydirt. Maybe it will kill you when you are trapped between the reigning corporations-the Five Dragons-in a foolish gamble against a futuristic feudal society. On the Moon, you must fight for every inch you want to gain. And that is just what Adriana Corta did.

As the leader of the Moon’s newest “dragon,” Adriana has wrested control of the Moon’s Helium-3 industry from the Mackenzie Metal corporation and fought to earn her family’s new status. Now, in the twilight of her life, Adriana finds her corporation-Corta Helio-confronted by the many enemies she made during her meteoric rise. If the Corta family is to survive, Adriana’s five children must defend their mother’s empire from her many enemies… and each other.”

I keep seeing this described as Game of Thrones in space. I sort of get it? But I also don’t. It’s like Capone vs O’Banion in space. Except instead of bootlegging they’re fighting about Helium-3. They have dazzling parties and beautiful clothes. They’re wealthy. Their lives are always in danger.

We follow the story of the Cortas. A Brazilian family that heads up Corta Helio. They are the youngest member of the Five Dragons (in other words- the five leading families) and we witness their turf war with the Mckenzies. We are provided with an epic cast of characters. Primarily Cortas, though we do get one outsider viewpoint who is slowly brought into the family.

There’s action- but it’s a slow sort of action, a slow escalation of events. An assassin bug at a party. A runaway. An accident, etc. The last chapter is where it all ramps up and then it ends. A little disappointing but I was never really bored and found the book hard to put down.

Half the characters make your skin crawl. Rafa with his rage and ridiculous handball addiction and stupidity. Lucas with his raw ambition. Lucasinho and his endless sexcapades. Wagner is just effing weird- and I STILL don’t understand the werewolf thing. I kept expecting the author to go: oh yeah, he’s undergoing gene splicing or whatever. But nope. It seems he’s just adopted into a pack of random other wolf people, and randomly gets (or imagines) he has heightened abilities because of it.

There are a few characters I really enjoyed. Ariel Corta first and foremost. She’s very well written. Ambitious, cunning, independent. Adriana Corta- head of the family, also ambitious and intelligent. Marina and Carlinho were also very likeable.

The world building was well done. Everything is printed (clothes, weapons, furniture, food, etc.) There are four elements necessary to survival on the moon: air, carbon, data, and water. Every ounce of the four elements must be paid for. That’s right, you might be so broke you can’t afford to breathe. Then I guess you just die of poverty. There’s no law. Everything is negotiable via contracts.

I do feel like there were a few holes. Namely- if there is no “law” on the Moon, what is the point of trial by combat? Why bother when you can just go murder someone? I didn’t really get it. Supposedly Adriana loves coffee and is a super duper millionaire, but never bothers to have it imported until she’s very old. I’m not sure why. It seemed silly. I get not buying it all the time but not even as an indulgence once in awhile? Live without coffee… the horror.

Finally, the plot. I enjoyed the plot and the pacing overall but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t predictable. I didn’t see the end coming but I had the whodunnit pegged very early on.

Warning: The ending of this book is a major cliffhanger.  I would not pick it up until you are prepared to commit to all three books.  Will I continue with the series? You bet!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Locations I’d Like to Visit

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt is places mentioned in books that I’d like to visit.  This is a great prompt for science fiction and fantasy!  I’ll try to keep it brief (no promises).

The Moon as presented in Ian McDonald’s Luna series (starting with New Moon).  The Moon wants to kill you.  But I want to visit it anyway.  In McDonald’s Luna series, the moon is hollowed out to allow room for a huge city in its interior. It has high rises, a city center, dazzling, glittering estates.  I love everything about this setting, except for that part where you can die of poverty, because even oxygen has a price.

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Dolingo in Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James.  You’ve probably heard the concept before.  A city built in the trees.  James owned this concept and made it totally his own.  I loved imagining the height of these trees, crossing from tree top to tree top in a “car” on a pulley system.  Can we figure out a way to do it without the slaves in the walls though?

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Isla Nublar in Jurrasic Park by Michael Crichton.  If you’ve been reading this blog even once a month you had to know this was going to end up on here right?  In my dream vacation- I get out before the TRex escapes.

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New Amazonia in Carnival by Elizabeth Bear.  The world Bear has built in Carnival is honestly one of the most creative, most interesting worlds I’ve ever “visited.”  While reading, I fell in love with this world.  It’s a matriarchy (girl power!) where the female leaders carry around swords and wield them like the bad ass women they are. There’s this thing called a House.  You just say what you want and House spits it out of a wall or something. Carpet Plant: The carpet is a plant and I like to be barefoot.  Nuff said.  Your wardrobe is actually full of secret weapons. And no- I don’t mean like the wardrobe you put your clothes into, I mean the wardrobe you wear.  That guy that’s looking at you funny? Brush your sleeve up against him and ZAP! He gets an electric shock.  Can’t say it enough- I love New Amazonia.

The Galactic Court in The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid.  In this book, everyone who’s anyone lives on an intergalactic spaceship.  Planet dwellers are referred to as Excess.  In my review I mentioned that the setting reminded me of the generation ship in the movie Passengers.  I love the idea of glass in space and being surrounded by stars at all times.

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The secret village of the Leopard People as presented by Nnedi Okorafor in Akata Witch. The writing transported me to another place where magic is real and I could see the world through the lens of a child again. Everything felt new and fresh.  A kind of magical currency called Chittim falls out of the sky as you gain wisdom.  There were magical bookstores and familiars and everything you can imagine.

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The colony in Planetfall by Emma Newman.  This world is set on an alien planet complete with bio-architecture and more carpet plant (seriously- I really, really need carpet plant in my life).  All the tools you need are created with 3D printing.  People have a chip in their eye that can do things like call for help, administer pain medication, and transmit messages.

The future as presented by Ada Palmer in Too Like the Lightning.  I realize this is a dead horse that I refuse to stop beating- but the truth is, even if the future isn’t perfect, I think the world Palmer has imagined is a lot better than the one we have.  No place in the globe is more than a couple hours away because transportation is so fast.  Proselytizing is illegal (which I know sounds awful to some people, but sounds great to me).  There’s no such thing as country borders.  You pick the laws you want to live by (black law, grey law, white law).  Wars are a thing of the past.  My kind of future.

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Elizabethan England in Fools in Mortals by Bernard Cornwell.  Honestly- I just want to see Shakespeare performed under his own direction with Will Kemp as his clown.

Middle Earth.  (This needs no further explanation right?)