Tag Archives: female author

Book Review: Everfair by Nisi Shawl

26 May

Approximately nine years ago, while browsing a local library’s new release section, I came across Filter House. A short story collection by Nisi Shawl, its description and critical blurbs promised rich literary fantasy from a talented and distinctive voice that was new to me. Reading it, I realized that promise was no exaggeration. Filter House is significant in both its quality and its revelation of a culturally non-dominant perspective (particularly within the SFF community). Nominated for a World Fantasy Award and winning the James Tiptree Jr. Award, Shawl’s collection did not go unnoticed within the critical community.

Yet, I somehow felt unfulfilled after completing the collection. I had no regrets reading it; I appreciated it. But it still baffled me in its unfamiliarity and its thematic focus. Its Otherness required contemplation, attentive to the subtle graces of Shawl’s writing and listening to her viewpoint. For me, one read-through wasn’t sufficient to fully experience it. Continue reading

Book Review: The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley

24 May

I came to Kameron Hurley’s work early, getting a copy of God’s War back at the beginning of her career, and following her work and worlds since. Sometimes I’ve had questions or issues with her work, but throughout, the “blood, bugs, and brutal women” that have been a hallmark of all of her worlds and characters have sustained my reading interest and been a welcome expenditure of my reading time. It was thus with great anticipation that I picked up The Stars Are Legion, the new Space Opera from Hurley.

Continue reading

Guest Post: Switching Between Lanes, by Stephanie Burgis

17 May

I think that every writer who’s ever read publishing advice online has probably come across at least one article on the importance of “branding.” Apparently, to be really smart, writers ought to be figuring out the one thing that they’re best at — or the one thing that connects the most with potential readers — and then sticking to it no matter what, so that fans will know exactly what they’ll get from every new novel by that author.

I know I sound a little snarky in that description, but I’m actually not arguing with it as a strategy. I’m sure that it is a smart, practical way to build a successful career.

Unfortunately, I’ve never been much good at sticking to my own lane. There are too many wonderful genres that I love as a reader, and I get frustrated whenever I try to shut out all but one of them in my writing life. Before I sold my first books, I published dozens of adult f/sf short stories, and I drafted full-length novels for both adults and kids. Then my first agent, back in 2005, took me on with an adult historical fantasy manuscript, and it felt like my first big step onto the publishing ladder. Aha! I’m almost there! Continue reading

Book Review: All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

3 May


A SecUnit assigned to the exploratory group PreservationAux has a problem. Two in fact. As an android, it’s supposed to serve the small exploratory mission to which it has been assigned. The SecUnit’s entire function is to support the exploratory mission’s investigation of a local planetary environment that it has placed a bid on to look at. Androids like SecUnit are a safety precaution from the Company because, well, alien planets can be rather hostile. And of course, they are handy recording devices, too, for the Company that is. A mandatory helper and a spy for anyone looking to explore the wild frontier in space.

Given that planets are not monolithic single-biome worlds, having multiple teams from competing groups spread out across a newly found world is a pretty regular thing. Who knows what you will find over in the next valley, down the river a bit, from another team. One team can’t find everything on a planet.  So when a neighboring team to SecUnit’s goes dark, that’s a bad sign for its team, a major concern.  What disaster befell them? Environmental? Natural? Something else? Given the proximity, is it a threat to PreservationAux, and to SecUnit itself?

The other problem is a more personal one. The SecUnit has managed to hack its own governor module, make itself independent, autonomous and capable of disobeying orders. It’s not going to reveal this of course, for fear of termination and worse, but this SecUnit is new to the idea of being able to make decisions for itself. New to the concept of being able to do what it wants to do. New to trying to come to terms with its own identity.

Like for example, a designation for itself. A name. Inside, secretly, the self-hacked SecUnit calls itself … Murderbot. Continue reading

Book Review: The House of Binding Thorns by Aliette de Bodard

26 Apr


In the aftermath of the fall of Morningstar of House Silverspires, just as it was seeking to become ascendant over the other Fallen Angel led Houses, the focus turns to House Hawthorn, part architect of Morningstar’s fall. Lord Asmodeus knows that each and every position and rank is under threat, and his attempts to shore up the power of his House, and himself, will lead him to send an embassy to the Dragon Kingdom underneath the surface of the Seine. In the meantime, even as Asmodeus schemes, an alchemist and an immortal try and survive schemes within Hawthorn, the Dragon Kingdom, and across Paris itself. Two broken and desperate protagonists in a world that is equally broken, but perhaps still salvageable. And perhaps the protagonists are salvageable themselves.  

House of Binding Thorns is the second full novel by Aliette de Bodard set in her post-apocalyptic early 20th century Paris. Continue reading

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