Entries in queer (5)

Tuesday
Apr162019

Novella!

So I haven't updated here in a while because I haven't finished reading anything in large part because I've been writing instead. It's Camp NaNoWriMo and I've been feverishly working on a new project.

I'm stoked to have finished the first draft of my first attempt at a novella. I'm happy with how it's turned out, even if it needs a proper title, some research and a lot more work before I'll start looking for beta readers. But it's sitting just under 30k words and it was a lot of fun to write.

I thought the process for writing a novella would be different from writing a full length novel, but it really wasn't. I studied the structure of All Systems Red as a starting point and built the plot of my novella from there. This novella differs from my novels in that it's got a simpler, straightforward plot, and no B-story or side quests. But unlike a short story, there's more room for the world-building, characters and setting to breathe.

As my reading time diminishes, I find myself opening up doorstoppers less and less and I've been reading novellas more. I might just do the same with my writing.

Anyway, some people have asked what the novella is about, so here's the rough draft of the query letter I've started for it:

What would you do to keep your children safe? Serri was a simple mage working as a government safety inspector until creeping fascism and an unhinged Empress brought war to her doorstep. Now she’s learning just how far she’ll go to prevent her powerful teen daughter S’ryja from being ground up by the war machine. Serri barely hesitates to seek the help of a rebel network, committing treason, and fleeing with her daughter.

But she must leave her wife and youngest child behind, and that soon becomes the least of her worries as the Empress’s forces close in on the rebels. With the royal guard on her heels and a hundred leagues of dangerous wilderness ahead of her, Serri must grapple with whether she’s made the right decision as she and her daughter run for their lives.

(Agents, call me)

Thursday
Feb212019

No Man of Woman Born

As I understand it from what the author, Ana Mardoll, has tweeted about this collection, it was a response to/inspired by Eowyn from LotR and her slaying of the Witch King who no man could kill. This is a collection of short stories full of similar tales with trans and non-binary people as the main characters.

The stories overall are delightful and the characters are often precious cinnamon buns too pure for this world. Some of them fall pretty flat, but some of them are incredible and I love them (so par for the course with most short story collections).

I loved a lot of these stories, some of them original and some of them giving a fun, queer twist to classics like Sleeping Beauty and The Sword in the Stone. It was great to see such a queerly diverse array of characters out living their best lives and saving the day.

I especially liked seeing the gender fluid character and another questioning his gender and where he fits on the binary. The stories gave me a greater understanding of just what gender fluid means. And it was also nice to see someone going through the process of questioning gender, even if he didn't quite get to any decisions (most of us never do anyway).

My only real problem with this collection is the writing itself. There's often too much telling and too much backstory, often delivered in the form of lengthy flashbacks that honestly got distracting and killed the momentum of many of the stories. But they're also really short, so it wasn't that hard to push through and get to the end. And the end of each story was absolutely worth it.

This is a great collection for allies looking for a deeper understanding, people who like fantasy and aren't squicky about queer content, and for anyone trans, non-binary or questioning who are tired of the Bury Your Gays trope and just need to see someone like them be the hero.

Monday
Sep172018

Space Unicorn Blues

I'm back from a month+ hiatus which included my first trip to WorldCon (which was cool and wherein I bumped into this novel's author, who is delightful) to tell you that you need to read this book. Everything you need to know is in the title, really. But I will try to expand upon the awesomeness that is Space Unicorn Blues.

There are a lot of things that I loved about this book. For starters, it's about a frickin space unicorn. Okay, Gary, the MC is part unicorn. But that somehow makes it even better. Everything about this book is zany. Magical creatures from mythology, referred to as Bala, are in fact real and just (often magical) aliens from other planets. And when humans reach out to the stars after destroying Earth, they make contact. And then war.

Because humans are kind of garbage. *looks at news* Yep, we're kind of garbage. One of the smart things I loved about this book is the way the author spells it out. She uses her zany world-building to magnify the garbage things we do. The lone white guy in the book is also the worst piece of shit bigot and I hate him so much. Poster boy for white mediocrity and failing up.

Anyway, there's a redemption arc in here, just not for the garbage white dude. And it takes the entire story for the mystery of Gary's "victim" to come full circle, but you'll hate garbage white dude even more when you get to it.

And while this story is a lot darker than I generally like to read, the utter insanity of the world-building and the total ass-kickingness of the two female leads -- disabled war vet, Jenny Parata, and con artist transwoman, Ricky Tang -- make it fun despite the darkness. There is some magnificent snark and banter to be found in these pages.

I could have done without all the times the bad guys misgendered Ricky, but this book had so much to say about diversity. I loved how Jenny's disability was portrayed. And it was also refreshing that sexual violence never came in to play. That's one of the many reasons my reading preference is shifting away from male authors.

And the book even offers a glimmer of hope that humans and the Bala maybe don't have to constantly be at war. The sequel comes out in the spring and I've already pre-ordered it. This has got a zany but brutal Kameron Hurley feel to it that I love.

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.

Tuesday
Jul182017

Monoceros

I wanted to like this book. Because unicorns. It was recommended to me in the same breath as The Last Unicorn (but as a stark contrast, which is accurate). I knew about the weird ending going into the book, and still found the ending out of left field and, frankly, stupid.

This was very close to being a good book. It almost stuck the landing. But then got trampled by unicorns. (I wish that was a metaphor.)

If I had read everything but the final chapter, I'm pretty sure I'd have liked this a lot more. But endings are everything.

Still, it's a pretty good read examining some hot-button issues: teen suicide, teen sexuality, the queer community in a conservative town. There are some really powerful moments in how the different characters react to Patrick's death. There are a lot of unlikeable characters, but I thought they were still handled in a compelling way.

And despite being told how this book ends, I was certain that "monoceros" and the unicorn theme running throughout was a metaphor. That Suzette, the drag queen, was the real (metaphorical) unicorn in this book. If it had ended with the penultimate chapter where Faraday makes peace with Patrick's death and embraces her weirdness, this could have been pure magic.

But. And here's the ending spoiler (look away!)... The unicorn thing is not a metaphor. And not only is it not a metaphor, but it's stupid and nonsensical. And while some would argue that the set up was there, I say it wasn't. Not really. The set up for that last piece of garbage chapter was constantly negated in a reasonable, plausible way.

So even knowing that the unicorns really were coming for Faraday, when I got to that last chapter at the end, my reaction was still "What the fuck is this hot trash?"

I can only recommend reading this book if you skip the final chapter. CanLit is so fucking stupid and this is why I never read it.