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Mon, Jul. 17th, 2017, 10:31 pm
Fiction & The Strain

I’ve been watching The Strain with that kind of half-hate, half-fascination you get when a piece of work is juicy but also often terrible. It’s in the last season, and it’s shaping up to be a story about toxic masculinity destroying the world, or at least a huge chunk of it even if there’s a “happy” ending—in the figure of the cheating, alcoholic protagonist doctor and his awful son. And sometimes I think the show knows that it’s about their deadly senses of entitlement, but then you get a storyline where the bad guy is trying to seduce the son further to the Dark Side and when the son expresses brief remorse at pointlessly shooting a tiger the bad guy tells him, “that’s your father talking.” No, it’s not! Urgh, I hope the characters I actually like survive, but something tells me the son’s going to get a redemption arc and the father will die heroically. Anyone else watching?
Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Wings and Ruin: Feyre is back with her first lover, but not for long—she’s planning to betray him and his court at her first opportunity, given that he made a deal with the ultimate evil and got her sisters turned into Fae in order to rip her from her true mate. (If I had one wish for this series, it would be to banish “mate,” “male,” and “female”—the last two supposedly to distinguish Fae from human men and women, but ugh.) As usual, things escalate, and the final battle requires them to make a bunch of unsavory alliances themselves. The book ends in a reasonable place, but I think I like Maas’s other work better.

Charles Stross, The Delirium Brief: The further adventures of Bob Howard, now the Eater of Souls. The elf incursion has exposed magic to the public, and the natural response of the British government is to blame the agency that used to deal with magic and destroy it with privatization. Unfortunately, the private company they choose is a front for the Sleeper in the Temple, which is making a play to take over the country (and fleeing from something even worse than itself in the US). Bureaucratic wrangling and dark magic ensues; this volume definitely ramps up the occult happenings, and gets us a lot closer to the horrible fate that Howard has been talking about since the beginning of the series. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

Megan Whalen Turner, Thick as Thieves: Eugenides sends a trusted warrior to steal Kamet, the head slave and trusted scribe of Nahuseresh, who almost destroyed Eugenides—taking his right hand, as it were. Kamet doesn’t want to leave, but then he learns that Nahuseresh has been poisoned; he and the rest of the slaves will suffer horrible deaths unless he runs, taking the guilt upon himself. With the Attolian beside him, he begins a long and painful journey towards a freedom he doesn’t seek in a kingdom he doesn’t respect. It’s a good entry in the series, even if I forgot a lot in the interim, and Eugenides is just as epically crafty as ever.

John Scalzi, Redshirts: Redshirts on a cheap-ass version of Star Trek figure out that they're redshirts and try to fix things.  Cute and occasionally quite funny, though it goes on about three endings/one hundred pages too long.

John Scalzi, The Collapsing Empire: Enjoyable new series from Scalzi. Millennia after colonizing space, Earth has been lost, but humanity has thrived in a number of systems, which are connected by the Flow, phlebotinum which allows them to approximate FTL travel, but only between nodes that intersect with our spacetime. A new emperox of the Interdependency ascends to the throne just as the Flow begins to collapse, which will isolate each system—none of which can survive on their own, except for End, the only colony on an actual planet. Lots of palace intrigue and banter ensues.

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