Spiderlight by Adrian Tchaikovsky
An adventuring party enlists the aid of a creature of darkness in their quest to destroy the Dark Lord. As they pursue said quest, members of the group come to see the creature not as a spawn of pure evil but as something else – not human but not monster. Tchaikovsky has created a fun little tale of cultural differences that effectively uses sword and sorcery tropes to show us how assumptions and labels blind us to the true individual. Recommended.
The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley
Kameron Hurley – author, feminist, tweeter – writes some of the most interesting non-fiction essays that help me understand the SFF field from a new perspective. Topics from writing to business to cons to her most well-known essay, “We Have Always Fought,” fill GFR with insight to all that female authors are subjected. It was enlightening, frustrating, interesting, and well worth it. Having read Hurley before, I found some of it repetitive as she focuses heavily on her own experiences. But the book reads better as memoir instead of stale lecturing. As one would expect with Hurley, the writing is excellent. In this book she challenged me to look at the issues currently in the SF field, and I’m better for it. Highly recommended.
Dark Run by Mike Brooks
Sometimes our past comes back to bite us in the ass. For the crew of the Keiko, Ichabod Drift’s past brings danger and illegality. Pressed into a smuggling job by a former employer, Drift puts his crew at risk in this Firefly-esque space opera. It’s a fun light adventure with consequences. For this book to be successful, the crew has to be excellent characters. They have roles to fill but must be creative and independent. Brooks pulls this off by providing a band of misfits that somehow coalesce into a family. Recommended.
Cibola Burn by James S.A. Corey
Libertarians versus corporations in sppppaaaaacccccceeeeee!!!! The crew of the Rocinante are employed as peace makers in this fourth book of the Expanse. Settlers colonize a planet that turns out to have resources corporations need; therefore, the guv’a’mint gives the planet to a large corporation. Hijinks ensue, and by hijinks, I mean death, death, more death, and creepy death. James S.A. Corey is one of the best working authors at ramping up the tension to the point that I believe the authors enjoy torturing their characters a little too much. Intellectually, I know that at any point in the book shy of 75% the authors will continue to make things worse, but my knee-jerk reaction is, “Okay, it can’t get worse than this.” The Expanse series is excellent for the mix of new and returning characters. While the crew and other returning characters continue to grow and change, the newest additions do not feel any less real than the series stars. This continues to be a very realistic extrapolation of our current culture into our solar system and beyond. It is science fiction done right, and it is highly recommended.
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
Originally a TED talk, WSABF is a slender tome by the excellent Adiche. Pulling from her own life, Adiche shows us why feminism is necessary and what being a feminist is. I enjoyed her cheerful feminism, and her approach to making her feminism known. This is a book that is easily consumed in one sitting. Maybe due to its size, but this book didn’t hit me as hard as Hurley’s did. Adiche is, of course, an excellent writer, and I enjoyed her stories. But this felt more like memoir than persuasive argument as to support the title. WSABF is an excellent hour of reading.