Worldcon Recs

Here is a list of the recs I picked up from various panels I attended at Worldcon. (These are likely not complete, but they're the ones that I wrote down.)

In Defense of the Unlikeable Heroine:

  • We Who Are About To - Joanna Russ

Non-Binary Representation In Fiction:

  • Transcendent: The Year's Best Transgender Speculative Fiction - ed K M Szpara (anthology)
  • The Black Tides of Heaven / The Red Threads of Fortune - JY Yang (forthcoming in Sept)
  • Provenance - Ann Leckie (forthcoming, but read some on her website)
  • Jacob's Ladder - Elizabeth Bear
  • River of Teeth - Sarah Gailey
  • Pantomime - Laura Lam
  • Killing Gravity - Corey J White
  • Interactive fiction Craft phone games (Choice of Deathless/City's Thirst) - Max Gladstone (you can play an nb character)
  • "Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder" (essay) - David J Schwartz
  • Rose Lemberg
  • Foz Meadows
  • A Merc Rustad

Beyond the Dystopia

(This one should be complete as I moderated the panel and made a point of writing them down to tweet afterwards.)

  • Two Faces of Tomorrow - James P Hogan
  • Culture series - Iain M Banks
  • Dragonlance
  • Too Like the Lightning and Seven Surrenders - Ada Palmer
  • The Postman - David Brin
  • A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and A Closed And Common Orbit - Becky Chambers
  • Hospital Station - James White
  • Malhutan Chronicles - Tom D Wright (panelist)
  • Orbital Cloud - Taiyo Fuji (panelist)
  • The Goblin Emperor - Katherine Addison

Older Women in Genre Fiction:

  • All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses An Eye - Christopher Brookmyre
  • Blood Songs series - Anthony Ryan
  • Remnant Population - Elizabeth Moon
  • Barbara Hambly

Also, Catherine Lundoff keeps a bibliography of books with older women protagonists.

Colonialism and the Space Opera:

  • Praxis - John Williams

Moving Beyond Orientalism in SFF:

  • Black Wolves - Kate Elliot
  • Vixen and The Waves - Hoa Pham
  • Isabelle Yap
  • Ken Liu
  • Stephanie Lai
  • Zen Cho

(Plus one from Nine Worlds in which the MC has Borderline Personality Disorder: Borderline - Mishell Baker)

Furthest Tales of the City

Look what arrived in the post for me!

Furthest Tales of the City

Stories by some splendid writers including me:

Furthest Tales of the City contents

I haven't read it yet as it only arrived yesterday, but am greatly looking forward to it. Some of the titles look especially interesting, but I may have to start with Helen Angove's story.

(Buy it here from the publishers, Obverse Books, in paperback or ebook form.)

Review: The Goblin Emperor

The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison, has been on my to-read list for a while. This is partly due to seeing generally positive things about it in many places, and partly because Katherine Addison was previously known as Sarah Monette. Sarah Monette wrote Melusine, which I read and thoroughly enjoyed, but by the time I discovered this, the remaining three novels in the series were annoyingly out of print.* The Goblin Emperor finally got bumped up to the top of the list after reading this review by Justin Landon, which mentioned both that it's a work of genius, and, more importantly, that the protagonist, Maia, is actually nice.

As Landon observes, good-person protagonists are an increasing rarity in spec-fic. One of the other books I read recently was God's War (Bel Dame Apocrypha #1), by Kameron Hurley. It too, in a different way, is an excellent book, but it's a grim read, and protagonist Nyx is a long way from any descriptor like "nice" or "good". I freely admit that I prefer my reading matter a bit on the positive side, and recently that seems to have been in short supply.

Anyway. I started out on The Goblin Emperor, and I fell in love, ooh, about three pages in. Maybe two. I galloped greedily and joyously through the first 3/4 of it, and then I slowed way down in the despairing knowledge that it was going to run out, and there are no sequels or anything (yet? please let it be 'yet'). Then I did come to the end, and I stared thoughtfully at my Kindle, and then I hit the "go to start" button and I read it all over again. I managed not to read it a third time after that, but it was a close-run thing.

For a more thorough review, try Strange Horizons or The Book Smugglers or Tor (spoiler: they all loved it too). But what did I love about it? I loved the detailed world-building (airships and court politics and social structures and all the rest of it), and the gradual reveal of new parts and new aspects to existing parts. It's beautifully handled, with confusion created and resolved at just the right rate. I loved Maia, the protagonist. (I really loved Maia.) He is, as Landon said, genuinely a good person. Not a perfect person; but someone trying to do their best, trying to do good in the world. I loved the racial and gender politics; again, beautifully and lightly handled. I loved the court politics and the wonderfully-observed government structures. I loved the interpersonal relationships. I also loved that it didn't go for the "race to the grim" option; bad things happen, but they don't feel gratuitous, and they don't feel like the author is trying to demonstrate how TOUGH they are**.

Above everything else, I loved the feel of it; as several of the reviewers above mention, it is a warm, satisfying book that left me feeling better about the world.

I cannot recommend this highly enough, if you're remotely into fantasy. And I really, desperately hope that there's a sequel. In the meantime, I might just have to read it again.

* After reading this book, I now finally have them all on their way second-hand.
** I have this beef with quite a few recent spec-fic novels.