On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee is dystopian science fiction for people who have never read any dystopian science fiction and would prefer to keep themselves at arms-length from anything “genre” fiction. While I enjoyed the prose, that was about the only thing I enjoyed. I got the sense while reading that this novel was intentionally light on science fiction and character-driven elements not because they would have harmed they novel (they wouldn’t have), but because the author didn’t want to be associated with the genre.
Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm is an odd mix of heartwarming and bittersweet themes that boasts having won the 1977 Hugo, Locus, and Jupiter awards. Her prose is lovely, evoking the deep connection between humanity and the natural world and subtly juxtaposing it with the destruction of civilization as we know it. Wilhelm crafts a narrative surrounding the end of the world which is timeless and alien, dealing with concepts such as personhood and individuality. While I felt that certain portions of the narrative missed an opportunity for additional nuance and exploration, Wilhelm nevertheless brings us a thoughtful novel that will retain relevance for years to come.
While I think there’s a lot for Three-Body fans to enjoy in this novel, I felt that Baoshu’s contribution to the universe lacked the urgency and depth of the main trilogy. Where Cixin had a set, specific danger within each of his books, Baoshu takes on more of a historian role; the first third of the book is entirely contained within a conversation between two characters, Tianming and AA, discussing what has already happened to them.
Red, White, and Royal Blue will put your emotions through the wringer and bring you back out on the other side as a fundamentally better human being. I’m usually not a fan of contemporary fiction, but this one hit me right in the heart. I loved it to bits. Truly, I just wanted to take Alex and Henry, smoosh their faces together, and tell them that they need to kiss right this minute and acknowledge that they truly are queer as a maypole and desperately, desperately in love with one another.
A Sword Named Truth (ASNT) is the first in a new series by Sherwood Smith, set in the same world has the Inda Quartet: Sartorias-Deles. Similarly to Inda, ASNT begins with a young cast and will follow them into adulthood in subsequent books. While the characters are children, this book is not YA nor would I necessarily recommend it to younger readers given the dense worldbuilding.
This book is poetic, romantic, strange, and violent – a whirlwind of emotion, fear, and firsts. Two soldiers fighting on opposite sides of a war up and down through the strands of time find that their greatest joy lies in each other, and thus begin a correspondence. They are two parallel lines that never meet despite having shaped one another through each of their interactions.
It’s a rare day that you find me reading romance, but I was heartily overdue for something cutesy, feel-good, and upbeat. Admittedly, given that it takes place in a post-war English murder village and focuses on two (very attractive) men who have been shell-shocked or otherwise hurt by the war, I don’t know that this can be wholly classified as feel-good… but I’ll be damned if watching the two of them flirt under the eye of proper English society wasn’t cute as hell.
As someone who rarely reads novels which are set on modern day Earth, this was a change of pace for me. Oddly, it can take me out of a book a bit when I see references to Twitter, Instagram, or other social media sites, despite them being a part of my daily life. Once I got past this and adjusted my mental framework, I very much enjoyed Wanderers. It has some excellent commentary on the current political landscape that is highly relevant to modern life while also having just enough science fiction in it to keep me hooked.
Delany’s prose has won me over wholeheartedly. I love the atmosphere, I love the characters, and I love how unabashedly pulpy it gets at moments. It’s a fun ride, and fans of linguistics or languages will find a lot to enjoy in Babel-17 in particular.
The Only Harmless Great Thing is a story of cancer, a story of martyrdom, a story of stories. It’s about love of community, love of family, and righteous anger at those who would destroy those two precious things. It’s the story of a dying woman and the elephant who tried to stop humanity from killing one another for profit. It’s beauty in prose and pain.