Komarr – Lois McMaster Bujold

I’ve got the BF reading the early Cordelia and Miles books, which made me realize I’ve been hoarding a few of the other books in the series in my TBR pile (a habit I really need to shake).     So I picked one up, and enjoyed the heck out of it, as I always do.

Miles is older now, forced out of the military due to injuries (I mean, he did actually die).     So the emperor has made him one of his auditors, a small group answerable only to Gregor himself.    Miles is the youngest, and this book is his first big job.     He and another auditor are sent to Komarr, the planet next to the only wormhole with access to Barrayar (the empire’s home planet).     Vorthys, the other auditor, has a niece there, who’s married to one of the administrators of the terraforming project.    Since this series was written jumping around in Mile’s life, I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying that this is our introduction to Ekatrin, Mile’s wife, and she is every bit as awesome as you know she should be to end up marrying Miles.

This is a pretty good political story – Komarr has a very uneasy relationship with Barrayar, and the case that’s brought the two auditors there ends up being very interesting indeed, with a couple great twists at the end.    I love Bujold’s work!


Songs of the Dying Earth – edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois

This took me quite a while to get through – it’s an homage to Jack Vance’s Dying Earth series, and the writing is very true to the unique tone and world that he created. Which I very much enjoy, but can’t take in large doses. (I don’t tend to like authors with a more florid writing style. He is one of the exceptions – from me, that’s a compliment.)

I thought the quality of the stories was good. I feel like most anthologies of this type have at least one absolute stinker of a story, but these were all good. If you’re already a fan, it’s worth a read. And don’t feel like you have to hurry through it – that is the beauty of a short story collection.

Gideon the Ninth – Tamsyn Muir

I know I’ve mentioned before that I get a really stubborn streak about not reading books that get crazy popular, and this book definitely fits that definition. As time went on, I started to see more “this really isn’t what the hype makes it out to be” reviews, and one of my friends (whose taste I trust) had it on her bookcase and said she’s enjoyed it, so when they gave away this book free (I think it was right before the second book in the series came out in paperback), I grabbed it. Still took me a while to read it.

The most common phrase associated with this book is “Lesbians necromancers in Space!”. Which isn’t wrong, but turns out to be a terrible summary. Yes, there’s plenty of lesbian interest, but no overt romance, and while it’s far enough in the future that space travel happens, and the characters come from a bunch of different planets, the main action of the book takes place on a single planet.

So, can I do a better summary? Nope. I totally get why this book became so popular. It’s different. I never really knew what was going to happen next (or, if I did, I ended up not really understanding why until later.) I am very interested to see where it goes next, because I was certainly not expecting what happened at the end of this book. (And seeing the summary of book three really has me wondering what the heck is going on.) So, I guess I’m converted. The hype is not unfounded.

Fated Blades – Ilona Andrews

This is a novella in the Kinsmen series. We’re still on Dahlia, and two members of rival families need to team up to save both their families from bankrupty (and the scandal of having their spouses run off together).

I enjoyed this immensely – Ramona and Matias are just great together, right off the bat. They’ve known about each other all their lives, but never met, because their families’ particular power makes them deadly killing machines, and they should never be in the same room together. I’m pleased that there was a good reason for that that’s covered in the book, and becomes central to how they’ll be able to save their families.

I also actually really enjoyed the political maneuvering – it was well done, and interesting. I’m so glad these guys have published another story – if we could just get another Innkeeper book…

Binti: The Night Masquerade – Nnedi Okorafor

I have really enjoyed these stories, because they are so very different than most of what I’ve read before, and I’m so glad that different voices are being brought into the Sci-Fi and fantasy genres.

All that said, I’m having a really hard time trying to summarize what happened in this book, because it’s like absolutely everything happened. I think you can summarize it by saying it’s about exploring the connections to home, because that really is what everything loops back to, but man does it go everywhere to find it. I think was the least satisfactory of the three books for me – it’s almost too much to handle. But it was a really interesting read.

Mars Burning – Cidney Swanson

We’re starting to get to the end game of this series. The Earth chancellor thinks Jess and Pavel are dead, so she’s trying to figure out how to destroy Mars and put an end to any final threads the two may have left on Earth. Meanwhile, they’re desperately trying to help Ethan figure out how to disable the satelites around Mars.

In the meantime, there’s an election on Mars, and the Mars chancellor’s opponent decides to contact Earth on his own. (That was a hilariously dead on impression of certain government types from recent years, written before that actually happened. Some of the future dystopian stuff is hitting way too close to home these days…)

There are two more books left, so things should start moving pretty quickly now – I’m definitely interested to see how things wrap up, and how the Marsians end up getting themselves back to Mars.

The Wind’s Twelve Quarters – Ursula K. Le Guin

This is a wide variety of stories, some connected to various books by the author, but some that are stand alone. She introduces each story, and in some cases, this was collected long after the stories were written, so it’s interesting to see her comments.

Some of these I enjoyed more than others, but like anything by Le Guin, they’re well worth the read – she was indeed a fantastic writer.

Binti: Home – Nnedi Okorafor

This is the second novella in this series. In the first, Binti left home, in this one, she returns. Why that’s important doesn’t make any sense unless you’ve read the first story. And I think this story is a certain amount of building to whatever will occur in the third story.

These stories have absolutely wonderful world building – it’s really neat to see scifi from a non-western perspective.

A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – Becky Chambers

Loved this book – it’s the story of the crew of a ship that builds wormhole tunnels, who are suddenly forced to go the long way around for their next job. The crew are not all human, which is great, so you get treated to a whole variety of people with incredibly different backgrounds. And this really is a story about people – it’s the relationships of everyone on the crew. The actual mission they’re on is fairly incidental to the story. Which is a refreshing difference for a sci fi novel – they’re usually much less about relationships than other speculative fiction types tend to be.

Binti – Nnedi Okorafor

dfc98d4cd088b2d596c30697277433041414141_v5Binti has been accepted to Oozma University, which will require her to leave Earth and her people –a people that do not normally travel out of their land. On the way, her ship is attacked by the Meduse, and Binti is the only one left alive.

This is a novella (one of the bad things about buying Kindle books is how easy it is to not know that, and be completely surprised by how fast the book goes by.) It’s a little light on the world building (not unexpected, due to the size), but what I love is that this is written by someone of African heritage, and how Binti is written is different than I would expect because if it. Because this is a novella, if you’ve been trying to read scifi that’s not written by white men, this is a great first step, and well worth the read.