Book Review: The Women of Harry Potter by Sarah Gailey (Four Stars)

Book Review: The Women of Harry Potter by Sarah Gailey

Four Stars

“Ginny let herself be impressed once … and wound up vulnerable and look where that got her.”

I almost didn’t read this collection of posts. I’m not a Harry Potter fan. I read a couple of the books and saw a few of the films, and never connected. So I figured Gailey would have nothing to say I’d be interested in. Wrong.

“These, I must teach to hate.”

I didn’t even know who one of these characters was, but Gailey creates a cogent, interesting essay on each; exploring who they are, what motivates them, and why we should care. Good job.

These posts are among the finalists in the 2017 Hugo Award Related Works. Now that I’ve read them all, I can affirm I liked this one best. Better than many much more famous names who were, IMHO, trading on their names as excuse for publishing drivel.

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Book Review: The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley (Three Stars)

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Book Review: The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley

Three Stars

“Every life is a tragedy. We are all going to die. There is no other ending, no matter the choices you make.”

Given this book’s title, no reader should be surprised to get a both-barrels blast of anger and defensiveness. That said, Hurley expresses herself well, aside from her gratuitous use of adjective and adverb forms of the f-word. There’s the making of two good books here: one focused on writing, the other on feminism. Despite that, I liked this book.

“Who and what is good is highly dependent on who wins, and whose point of view we’re writing from.”

2017 Hugo Award finalist as a “related work.” Like most books in this category, it’s a compilation of old blogs thrown together. In this case, it’s a semi-coherent whole. Also, like most other related works, this work has little to do with Continue reading

Book Review: View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman (Three Stars)

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Book Review: View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman

Three Stars

“If you don’t know it’s impossible it’s easier to do.”

A few good insights into art and culture scattered among five hundred plus pages of drivel. When Gaiman writes very good drivel, but it’s still a hodge-podge of introductions, essays and reflections.

“Those of us who write fantasies for a living know that we are doing it best when we tell the truth. Truth is not in what happens but in what it tells us about who we are.”

The best single item was “Make Art Good,” his 2012 commencement address at the University of Arts in Philadelphia. Lots of life lessons for the rest of us.

“It’s time for creators to accept that we are becoming dandelions. Dandelions just let their seeds go to the wind, and do not mourn the seeds that do not make it.”

Another “related work” finalist for a 2017 Hugo Award. This category will be hard to score because all of the entries are mediocre. Apparently related works is Continue reading

Book Review: Traveler of Worlds by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Traveler of Worlds: Conversations with Robert Silverberg by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro

Three Stars

“I thought I would create ‘enwonderment’ as a kind of analogous noun [to enlightenment and empowerment] that explains what science fiction is supposed to do.”

Another “related work” finalist for 2017 Hugo Awards. This one is at least a coherent whole, unlike almost all the others. A multi-day interview with Silverberg highlighting where he came from, how he got into writing, and where he is now.

“New experiences happen all the time, not always pleasant ones, but the ones that shape you, the ones that define you, happen early.”

Far-ranging dialogue touches on art, horticulture, theory of art and films he likes. A Grand Master of Science Fiction, Silverberg also produced non-fiction on Continue reading

Book Review: “That Game We Played During the War” by Carrie Vaughn (Four Stars)

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Book Review: “That Game We Played During the War” by Carrie Vaughn

Four Stars

“Since they were telepaths, they’d know the answer to that.”

How do you war against telepaths, or play chess for that matter? Or fall in love? A well-told short story about a logical conundrum. Well-plotted. Good point of view character.

“… took off their uniforms, they would look the same: naked.”

Short and to the point. One of the best of the 2017 finalist for Hugo Award short story.

“We are all of us wounded.”

No, I’m not going to tell. Read it for yourself.

“This is how you won the war.” “No, this is how we failed to lose.”

Book Review: “Seasons of Glass and Iron” by Amal El-Mohtar (Three Stars)

issue13coverv2_large-340x510Book Review: “Seasons of Glass and Iron” by Amal El-Mohtar

Three Stars

“What’s strong is the shoes women are made to wear: shoes of glass, shoes of paper, shoes of iron. Heated red hot; shoes to dance to death in.”

Good story. Well-developed. A finalist for 2017 Hugo Award for short stories.

“Magic is magic is magic and there is always a stronger magic.”

Contrary to the tag, not a “gay” story. It’s a story “about two women reaching out of their respective tales,” the author says in her notes. “The enormity of what friendship means.” I try to read stories cold–that is, without reading liner notes, blurbs or other reviews–because I don’t want the opinions of others getting between me and the author.

“You climbed a glass hill by accident.”

Goodreads.com displays the cover art associated with another story is shown for this. I assume because both stories appear in the same issue of Uncanny magazine. It fit the other story better.

“She loved him for loving her as he loved no one else.”

Book Review: “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers” by Alyssa Wong (Four Stars)

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Book Review: “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers” by Alyssa Wong

Four Stars

“There was nothing phoenix-like in my sister’s immolation….”

Really intense inquiry into the nature of time and the possibility of alternate outcomes. Good development and manic pace. Best read at a single go.

“The chain frays, spread out like roots possibilities endless.”

Excellent stream-of-consciousness plot line. Go with the flow. Nice cover art.

“… looking for artisanal french fries.”

What’s the deal with all the charred bodies? Was there a hidden criteria that this year’s Hugo Awards, for which this tale is a finalist short story, had to involve death and destruction? Or is it just the world we live in?

“You can’t fix this. It was never yours to control.”

Book Review: “An Unimaginable Light” by John C. Wright (Four Stars)

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Book Review: “An Unimaginable Light” by John C. Wright

Four Stars

“We robots are meant to serve man, not destroy them. We and we alone labor out of pure love for mankind.”

Set in Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot universe, but takes human-android relations in a direction Asimov might not have conceived, though perfectly logical. As expected, deals with questions of sentience and life.

“Humans cannot stand near perfection. It makes men die.”

Good storytelling and development. The characters are vivid, if obvious. Justice and truth clash. Well done. Thought provoking.

“To utter certain types of truths is a micro-aggression. It creates a hostile environment we humans find uncomfortable.” “Your ancestors were more robust.”

Philosophically Platonic, dealing in independently true ideas. Make no mistake, Wright has a politically incorrect agenda. Since the Hugo Awards, for which this story is a 2017 short story finalist, is basically a popularity contest, I’m surprised this tale got this far.

“The robots are utterly logical, utterly benevolent, and utterly terrifying.”

Book Review: “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay” by Alyssa Wong (One Star)

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Book Review: “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay” by Alyssa Wong

One Star

“Bad things happens to men who marry the desert.”

Spoiler: Horror. Zombies. Shape-shifters. No, thank you. Can’t imagine why so much horror among 2017 Hugo Award finalists. This is a novelette.

“One time isn’t a pattern.”

Well-told from the point of view of the young shapeshifter. Good writing.

“Don’t pin your hopes on dreams.”

The cover art is of the magazine this appeared in, and has nothing to do with this story.

“Don’t do anything stupid.”

Book Review: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (Five Stars)


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Five Stars

“We don’t need better emotional communication from machines. We need people to have more empathy.”

The Two Cultures meets American Gods.

“Sometimes I wish I was crazy, it would make everything easier.”

The final war between magic and science happens in San Francisco. Seriously good fiction about magic, science, love and machines. Oh, and the end of the world.

“Children are adults who haven’t learned to make fear their hand puppet.”

Excellent character development and plotting. Drew readers in without boring us with four years of magic academy. Philosophic reflection over Continue reading