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Winter Tide

4/5. How to explain this? It's Lovecraft mythos transformative work. Aphra's people spend some years on land when they're young before living out their long lives in the sea. Until the U.S. government raided their town in 1928 and interned them all. Decades later, Aphra and her brother are the only survivors of the camps, and they go home in the company of an FBI agent to reluctantly do work for the government that destroyed their world.

You need zero fingers to count the number of fucks I give about Lovecraft. Never read it, never going to, don't care, don't care, don't care. Also, I had not read the free online novelette that is the prequel to this book; I didn't even know it existed until I started going wait a minute…this is assuming I've read something that I haven't. Something other than Lovecraft, even.

So this book had a hard uphill climb, is what I'm saying. And yet . . . and yet . . .

It's strange and a little chilly and extremely conscious of who its monsters are. Hint: they aren't the Lovecraftian horrors from the deep, they're us. There's a lot of time in libraries in this book, and time performing magic in groups; lots of still scenes while people rub complexly and uncomfortably against each other. This is roughly 80% character work by volume, and an indeterminate amount Lovecraft stuff. I don't even know enough about Lovecraft to more than guess what is canon and what is invention. Except I'm pretty sure Lovecraft's work wasn't a sustained, pained meditation on the complex faces of privilege and oppression and monstrousness.

Which is why I'm not reading that, but did read this.
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Everfair

2/5. Alt history turn of the twentieth century story of a nation state founded in the Belgian Congo by a mixed bag of black and white socialists and proselytizers, and how they aim for "utopia" and . . . miss.

Yeah, it's inadequate to say that this book did not get my attention. More accurately, this is the book I read on the cross-country flight I took a week after the Inauguration in spite of the metaphorical trashfire in my work inbox out to see my parents, from whom I have been estranged for years, and specifically to say goodbye to my father, who went from having a bit of pain to being told he is dying in the course of a week. So like. There's some stuff going on.

This book is okay? I think? It's not to my taste – it is written in hundreds of tiny fragments loosely strung over thirty years. Not so much a tapestry as a bunch of carefully placed but unwoven pieces of thread. The fantasy elements are strange and, as they are rooted in religious practice and conflict, somewhat off-putting to me. Oh, and there's a long, painful central lesbian romance between AU E. Nesbit and AU Colette which would probably have meant more to me if I knew anything about either of them. I wanted to like their conflict over not!E. Nesbit's racism, but I found its resolution unsatisfactory.

Basically I described this book to my wife, who got more and more excited the more I complained about the bits I didn't get, so clearly there is an audience for this who is not me. But mostly, let's be fair: I read this two weeks ago and for the life of me can't clearly remember a damn thing that happened in it now, so. Don't take my word on anything.
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Planet of Twilight: Star Wars (Star Wars - Legends)

2/5. Sequel at one remove to Children of the Jedi. That one I liked; this one had one redeeming feature, and the rest can go to hell.

So for any completists out there, the intervening book between Children of the Jedi and this one in the loose sequence is Darksaber, which I skipped because I remember it and also it was written by a dude and I'm not reading books by dudes at the moment. Kevin J. Anderson, no less. You guys have fun with that shoot-em-up.

Anyway, in this book, a lot of deeply boring stuff happens, culminating in a boring and entirely predictable conclusion that has been done at least three or four times in every major science fiction continuity ever, yawn. Rendered rather intolerable by Luke Skywalker, who is being a super creepy stalker ex-boyfriend who does not understand the word "no" at all, what the fuck. His obnoxious inability to deal with being broken up with sort of makes sense if you realize he's in his early thirties and that was, like, his first relationship ever, so yeah, he reacted like a thwarted teenager because in romantic terms, he's still basically fifteen. But ugh so so so gross, and the book expects us to have massive sympathy for him, which, uh, wait, let me think about it, nope. Get a fucking grip, Luke.

The one bright spot: Threepio and Artoo have a marvelous roadtrip subplot in which they bounce around a sector together, from smuggler ship to impound facility to warzone. At one point they attempt to earn passage by making themselves into a band. Artoo is the drummer. Obviously. At another juncture they are sent by bulk mail. It's great, basically. Two stars for Threepio and Artoo.
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Pirate King (Mary Russell, #12)Pirate King by Laurie R. King

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


So this is Laurie R. King writing a book about fictional Mary Russell who has written another memoir of an adventure with Sherlock Holmes, this one about the time she went undercover as an assistant to a crew making a silent movie about a crew making a movie about The Pirates of Penzance.



By all rights, you should need to diagram out the layers of narrative and meta narrative, but you don’t. As usual, King passes but lightly over these points, and in fact pauses briefly to make fun of critical readings of narrative and identity constructs.



No, basically, this is a romp from Portugal to Morocco, with real pirates and fake pirates and a lot of actresses and a parrot. Don’t bother hoping for a classic mystery, or anything more than a desultory and deliberately silly bit of plot frippery. These aren’t critiques, mind you. I mean, this book thinks it is somewhat more hilarious and charming than I thought it was, but it was pleasingly diverting. There just isn’t much besides the frippery, and a definite lack of Holmes. And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this is not my Sherlock Holmes. He is hilariously functional, just for starters.





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