RivkaT (rivkat) wrote,


A People’s Future of the United Statesed. Victor LaValle & John Joseph Adams: Both utopian and dystopian futures, and ones in between, are represented here, with stories from N. K. Jemisin, G. Willow Wilson, Charlie Jane Anders, Hugh Howey, Tobias S. Buckell, Tananarive Due, Justina Ireland, Seanan McGuire, Catherynne M. Valente, and others. Omar el Akkad’s story about a former internee returning to the broken-down US and the monument it had made of her internment camp was really good (by contrast, I hated his novel). It was about if-this-goes-on treatment of Muslims and people who kind of looked Muslim to white Christians, and it was brutal. The protagonist describes two words of hateful graffiti scrawled on a house: one was “the only truly American word. And the first word was SAND.” Elsewhere: “This country is a man trying to describe a burning building without using the word fire.” Tobias Buckell’s The Blindfold, about the intersection of (1) racialized law enforcement with (2) technological measures designed to eliminate bias with (3) Russian manipulation of the system in order to further destablize the US, was also excellent, delivering exactly the kinds of clever speculation that make sf a productive lens for thinking about the present. Those were my favorites, but there’s more to be found.

 Meghan Scott Molin, The Frame-UpMG is a comic book writer, but she’s unhappy—she wants a promotion; her colleagues don’t get her; and her parents have disowned her after she pursued comic books instead of the law. Then a sexy cop decides that she might know something about a seemingly comic-inspired crime, and things get even more complicated. I understood MG’s hostility to mundanes, and her worries about her otherwise-male team’s ability to accept her as a woman, but she also seemed very clueless about certain dynamics (including clues to the identity of the real-life comic avenger). More to the point: this is a mystery with a comic-book industry background, and I’m basically not a crime story person.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Certain Dark Things:The multiple subspecies of vampires, known to humanity for the past half century, have largely been driven out of Mexico City though they are thriving in the country at large. Arl comes to Mexico City fleeing the massacre of her family of drug-dealing Aztec vampires, with a European, human-enslaving Necros and his Renfields on her trail. She hooks up with Domingo, a street kid who thinks she’s amazing; she thinks he’s food, though he gets further under her skin than she’d like. An older human detective and one of the Renfields round out the POV characters. It’s a fascinating scenario, foregrounding questions about what is common in humanity (and inhumanity).
Helen Hoang, The Kiss QuotientStella is an autistic econometrician who decides to solve her problems having sex (and thus attracting a mate acceptable to her mother) by hiring an escort. Michael, said escort, is a super-hottie devoted to his mom, whose cancer treatment led him to give up his aspirations in fashion design and return home to take care of her, and they quickly get far more involved than a mere business transaction. I know it’s endemic to the form, but I never quite warmed to the idea that Stella’s immediate, unique physical attraction to Michael made it relatively easy for them to have sex (although they did have communication problems at first). Still, the sex scenes were hot and mutual pining is always tasty.
Adrian Tchaikovsky, Children of TimeTerraforming meets extinction and evolution: Earth is trying to terraform other planets even as factions try to destroy the technology that keeps humanity alive in farflung places. Result: an uplift virus is released on a new planet, but the monkeys that were supposed to get it don’t survive, and the spiders do instead. Meanwhile, over centuries, a ship of the few survivors of Earth heads to a planet they thought might save them, but the mistakes of the past seem to repeat again and again. It’s very interesting speculative work, though rather depressing in its conclusions about un-altered humanity.
N.J. Jemisin, How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?Story collection mixing f/sf, with a number of stories about various forms of locus genii, including a Fifth Kingdoms story about how those who have evil done to them do evil in return, but maybe there is still goodness in the interstices. Many of the stories are about the ways that discrimination warps people, victims and perpetrators both in different ways, and occasionally about airships (the steampunk story in which free Haiti is trying to stay out of the clutches of white Europe by controlling airship technology and methane production is a bunch of fun).
Corinne Duyvis, On the Edge of GoneDenise is a citizen of the Netherlands. Her mom is a drug addict; her sister Iris is busy organizing festivals; her father is back in his native Suriname; and a comet is coming to end the world. When her mother delays leaving for temporary shelter in a vain attempt to join up with Iris, they end up with a completely different option—a generation ship, the last one on the planet. But it’s not clear they can stay, given her mother’s addiction, Denise’s autism, and Denise’s commitment to finding Iris. It’s good end-of-the-world YA, full of frustration and tragedy and hope.
Ben Aaronovitch, Lies SleepingAt last, a big confrontation with the Faceless Man. I honestly didn’t have a huge reaction to this one—it was a perfectly consistent entry into the series, with attention to rigorous policework and realistic-for-the-setup dead ends. My reaction suggests that it was indeed the right time to close a chapter on the Faceless Man, though in doing so there’s a rather unusual alliance.
Richard K. Morgan, Thin AirVeil is an involuntarily retired enforcer for a megacorp, eking out a living on a partly terraformed Mars. He gets caught up in a classic noir scenario as the oversight authority shows up to investigate local government corruption, assigned against his will to bodyguard a sexy investigator chasing the story of a low-life who won the lottery but never showed up to claim his ticket back to Earth. There’s a lot of sex and even more violence, but if you think “noir” you will get the basic idea.

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Tags: au: aaronovitch, au: duyvis, au: el akkad, au: hoang, au: jemisin, au: molin, au: moreno-garcia, au: morgan, au: tchaikovsky, au: various: au: buckell, fiction, reviews

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