Jan. 4th, 2019

marthawells: (Reading)
(If you've been following my book rec and new book listing posts for a while, you may have noticed this already, but while most book lists emphasize books by popular straight white men, this one emphasizes everybody else. I include books by straight white men, but in about the same percentage that other book lists include everybody else. I also try to highlight books that are less well known.)

(I only link to one retail outlet in the book's listing, but most books are available at multiple outlets, like Kobo, iBooks, international Amazons, Barnes & Noble, etc. The short stories are usually on free online magazines.)


* Short story A Town on the Blighted Sea by A.M. Dellamonica


* A Blade So Black by LL McKinney
The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she's trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew. Life in real-world Atlanta isn't always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the Nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice's handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she'll need to use everything she's learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head . . . literally.


* Medusa's Touch by Emily Byrne
Medusa Pilot Captain TiCara X273, ex-street kid and former bondslave, thought she wanted nothing more than to be captain of her own starship. Or, at least, that was all that she thought she wanted until Sherin Khan came back into her life. A bar singer turned corporate rep, Sherin is now working for Ser Trin Vahn, one of TiCara's best clients and head of Vahn Corp. Once they are thrown together on TiCara's ship, TiCara and Sherin can no longer deny their simmering attraction to each other. A simple mission to transport the ailing Vahn to the legendary asteroid, Electra 12, for medical treatments turns dark and dangerous as betrayal leads to betrayal. TiCara's greatest enemy is pursuing them, there's a traitor on her crew and Sherin has a secret that can tear them apart. Can they learn to trust each other before it's too late?


* Short Story Monologue by an unnamed mage, recorded at the brink of the end by Cassandra Khaw


* The Fall of Io by Wesley Chu
When Ella Patel's mind was invaded by the Quasing alien, Io, she was dragged into the raging Prophus versus Genjix war. Despite her reservations, and Io's incompetence, the Prophus were determined to train her as an agent. It didn't go well. Expelled after just two years, Ella happily returned to con artistry, and bank robberies. But the Quasing war isn't done with them yet. The Genjix's plan to contact their homeworld has reached a critical stage, threatening all life on Earth. To complete the project they need Io's knowledge - and he's in Ella's head - so now they're both being hunted, again.


* Short Story: A Catalog of Storms by Fran Wilde


* Novella The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djeli Clark
Cairo, 1912: The case started as a simple one for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities — handling a possessed tram car.
Soon, however, Agent Hamed Nasr and his new partner Agent Onsi Youssef are exposed to a new side of Cairo stirring with suffragettes, secret societies, and sentient automatons in a race against time to protect the city from an encroaching danger that crosses the line between the magical and the mundane.



* Short story Raney's Hounds by Jessica Reisman
marthawells: (The Serpent Sea)
I'm going to re-post some things here that got deleted with my tumblr:

Here's one of my favorite reviews of The Books of the Raksura


Review by Na'amen Gobert Tilahun of The Harbors of the Sun
http://strangehorizons.com/non-fiction/reviews/the-harbors-of-the-sun-by-martha-wells/

A quick and dirty description of the series as a whole that I’ve seen Wells herself use is “bisexual, polyamorous, matriarchal, shapeshifting flying lizard people.” This is absolutely correct. However it’s also more of the “who” than the “what” of the series. The what of the Raksura books is more complicated and subtle. If you had asked me what the series was about before reading The Edge of Worlds and The Harbors of the Sun, I would have answered that it was about a young man finding a home and his people after being on his own for too long. I would have said it was about rediscovering family and learning to trust again. Those answers are all still true, but now I realize that this series is also very much about a community constantly under attack, how they deal with trauma and continue fighting to survive and find a safe space.

Without giving away too much, Moon starts the series isolated and ignorant of his people because of an attack on his birthplace; and the results and reactions to this and other attacks that happen within the books affect every character deeply and in different ways. In between the exciting action scenes, characters are dealing with feelings of abandonment, PTSD, and the reverberations of sexual assault through whole families and communities. These heavy subjects are no less well depicted for the series’ being set in a secondary fantasy world. Wells handles them with subtlety and grace, so they slowly build almost within the background of the series, book by book. For example, there are a few characters in the series that are born as the result of sexual assault and while this is never ignored, it’s also not focused on too closely. However, in The Harbors of the Sun we, along with the characters, are forced to confront more directly what life would be like for those taken and forced to impregnate their captors and where they might find some consolation. (That sentence is a great call out to the book, so after you read it? Make sure to come back and marvel at my brilliance.) Wells never glosses over the pain and the after effects of terrible things; she treats these horrors with the respect they deserve unlike many other writers who linger over sexual assault and other violations to both eroticize the acts and use them to shock the reader.

Another great aspect of the series is the casual queerness of the characters. What I mean by a casual queerness is that the world itself is queer, so sexuality is a non-issue most of the time and since most of the characters are bisexual there is no single queer character for the whole of a complex identity to be pinned upon. As mentioned above, the Raksura are polyamorous, and though Moon’s main relationship is with the queen, Jade, he also has a strong and loving relationship with the male mentor-turned-warrior Chime. Chime is explicitly described as Moon’s favorite multiple times in the books. None of this is a main focus of the books but it is wonderful to see a world where queer sexuality is so accepted that it need not necessitate any conversation or explanation. Though it is thankfully becoming more common, it is still thrilling to see a world where queerness doesn’t exist as a way to isolate a character or to give them a tortured past. While many of Wells’s characters do have dark pasts, none of these are the result of their sexuality.

The series as a whole deserves all the accolades it has received and more, and The Harbors of the Sun acts as a lovely and fitting final book in the series. The adventure is thrilling and fast paced, moving you along at a steady pace that will make you rage at any real life interruptions. As always with Wells, the worldbuilding is top-notch and interesting, featuring unique species and fascinating flora and fauna that feel both fantastic and also oddly realistic. The interpersonal relationships between characters and the intrigue between both different species and political factions will keep you wondering until the very end. It’s always hard when a beloved series ends, but The Harbors of the Sun brings the Books of the Raksura to a satisfying end, one that leaves most characters in very different places emotionally than they were at their introduction. The world that Wells built still feels open and alive; so that this is more of a gentle tapering off than a firm end. Moon will certainly have many more adventures, even if we never get to see them.

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