Friday, December 16, 2011

What I've Been Reading 16/12/2011

An update on what I've been reading lately. Chewy book list after the jump.

"Ammonite" by Nicola Griffith is a fine successor to the single gender world genre, populated by Le Guin and Russ. Her women of Jeep are incredibly diverse, as one would expect from good science fiction, but somehow female-only worlds have historically been written with a lack of diversity or as some hive mind...pretty typical of male writers who don't know how to write the other, or see women as some singular culture un-human. Griffith's elegance of writing comes in her descriptions of the different social systems with some real chewy hard science thrown in, enough to keep the action ticking over but not too much to bog the story down. Highly recommended.

Catherynne M. Valente's "The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making" is GORGEOUS. It's an absolute treat from start to finish, and I highly recommend it whether as a gift for a child in your life or to read yourself! Her prose, as usual, is divine - I love an author unafraid of their word choices, even in a book meant for children. A variety of beautiful fairy tale characters and fun nonsense are expertly woven with pointed observations about the real world. For it's perfect prose, this is not a "nice" story - while the heroine September is undergoing "the heroine's journey", she undergoes a variety of harrowing experiences and the villain of the story is a nasty piece of work. Themes and symbols abound in this book, making it a layered experience,one I can imagine children will get a lot out of upon revisiting as they grow older.

I ended up buying two copies of this book. The original copy I purchased for a child in my life arrived as an autographed copy - so I kept that one for myself!

Sandra McDonald is the Australian author of "The Stars Down Under" and "The Stars Blue Yonder" (waiting in my To Read pile!). "Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories" is a collection of short stories brought together with a rainbow theme, all loosely set in a world very similar to our own, but moving through history and genres from steampunk and western to modern times with a sprinkle of fairy dust. There's our transgender heroine Diana Comet, a stack of gay pirates, lovelorn gay's so much fun!

Squee! I am a total Jemisin fan girl! "The Kingdom of Gods" is the third book in her trilogy that began with "The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms" and followed with "The Broken Kingdoms". "The Kingdom of Gods" is told from the point of view of the child godling Sieh, who featured in the previous two books. What I found intriguing about this book is how the narrator's voice was translated into a child-like writing style, which matured and changed as Sieh changed throughout the story. I at first thought it was odd to have such a clipped and basic writing style compared to Jemisin's previous lush prose, until I realized the story was being told by a child, therefore would have a child's nuances and speaking style! Inspiring!

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