Entries in family (14)

Wednesday
Oct172018

The Fated Sky

So, it's hard to say much at all about this book without spoiling The Calculating Stars so I won't. If you liked the first you'll love the second.

The things I had issues with in the first book didn't go away for this one. The social issues that serve as antagonist were personified in Stetson Parker, first man in space. So it was interesting to see him get a bit of a redemption arc (though I never felt bad for him) while the social issues never really went anywhere. They were overcome to a point, but yeah... racists gonna racist.

The book was fun and infuriating and heartbreaking in equal measure, but it ends on a uplifting note. I had a lot of questions about some of the characters from the first book who weren't really in the second, but it looks like Mary Robinette will be writing more in the series, so I look forward to that.

Both books are really good. Mary Robinette's research is so extensive and it shows (and only rarely does it show a little too much). So go check out Calculating Stars, and if you like it, this one won't disappoint.

Monday
Oct152018

The Calculating Stars

This is alternate history sci-fi, taking place in the 50s and giving a whole new meaning to the space race after a meteor strikes the Earth in a possible extinction-level event. Instead of reaching the moon, the ultimate goal is Mars and space colonization due to fears that the Earth will very soon be uninhabitable.

And since it's the 50s and the main character, Dr. Elma York, is both a woman and an extremely gifted mathematician, sexism and racism are front and centre. While the meteor serves as a catalyst, these two social issues are the real villain throughout the book.

Elma's is a former WASP and her husband is the lead engineer working to get humans into space and give them all a future before Earth becomes inhospitable. Elma takes work as a computer with the IAC and strives to convince the men in charge that women belong on the astronaut teams.

But in addition to fighting the racism and sexism of the day, Elma has to overcome her crippling social anxiety. There are plenty of bumps and hiccups along the way.

There was a lot of cool space/rocket science stuff in this book, and Mary Robinette did some really excellent and extensive research in preparation for writing this, and that was easily one of my favourite things about it (even if some of the jargon got to be a little much). At first I didn't think I liked this book because all the ingrained racism and sexism was driving me absolutely crazy. But the end has a good pay-off to make up for that. Also, lots of hilarious rocket-related sexual innuendo. Hee!

While on the surface, this is a book about surviving an extinction event on Earth, it's really about social justice and friendships. It's a slower burn than I usually read but that doesn't mean it's boring. Highly recommend!

Monday
Jul232018

Skyfarer

With my Hugo reading mostly done I finally get to read books for fun again! (Okay, most of the Hugo reading has been fun, but it's also been a bit of a chore because it's reading on a deadline, which is less fun).

So this book is definitely fun. It's billed as a Star-Wars inspired space fantasy and yes, that is a very good description for it. The SW parallels are pretty obvious. I thought it also had something of a Firefly feel to it too, especially the crew's relationship to their ship, Elysium, and to each other.

It's hard to talk about this book without spoilers, but the characters are fascinating and the world-building is pretty cool and it's got a fairly diverse cast, even if the characters who get the most page-time are both white. The villain, Azrael, is especially fascinating and I look forward to seeing where his character arc goes in the next book. (I will definitely read the next book.)

Anyway, this is an exciting, somewhat fluffy space adventure that fans of Star Wars and Firefly will like. And I didn't notice it doing anything squicky with representation, so that's definitely a bonus. Go forth and enjoy!

Wednesday
Jul042018

Provenance

Hurray! I've now read all of the novels on the Hugo ballot! Just one novella and one novelette left to go and I'll be done reading everything on the slate. Yay!

So anyway, this book is a bit of a space adventure about a young woman trying to best her brother at basically life in order to become their foster mother's heir. She mucks it up a lot. And she's so naive it makes me twitch.

The book has plenty of tension as the political drama unfolds, involving rogue alien starship captains and very strange ambassadors. I think this is the part of the book, along with the painfully naive MC, that made this book a bit of a slog for me to read. The plot was a bit simple and I kept looking for the twist and there was never really much of a twist until the end and by then I was expecting it.

I guess this book was too fluffy and predictable for me. Though I really REALLY liked how all the characters strove to treat each other with dignity and respect. And I especially liked that when one of the enby characters took on a new name, e refused to interact with anyone who didn't call em by the correct name. (e and em are the pronouns the author chooses for enbies in this book. it took some getting used to but wasn't a big deal)

Anyway, I can see why so many people loved this book and why it would get a Hugo nod, but it just wasn't for me.

Thursday
Apr192018

Wings of Fire

I picked up this book, the first in the Dragonet Prophecy series, because dragons and because it came highly recommended. And I think if I was a preteen I'd enjoy this series a lot more. The things about this first book that I didn't like were precisely because I'm not quite the target audience.

The reading level and content is clearly aimed at middle grade kids, which is fine. It's just not for me. But in general I liked the story and the characters and the overall themes of found family and friendship. All good stuff. The world-building is really cool, too. I appreciated all the different dragon societies.

I'm definitely curious about what happens to the dragonets through all the trials ahead of them, but not enough to actually finish reading. I'll probably go on a hunt for spoilers once the series is finished.

I can see why it's so popular with kids, and I'd definitely recommend it for anyone with an MG kid or who likes MG books. This just wasn't my scene, which isn't the book's fault.