Hello lovely humans. This week’s video/blogpost is a roundup of all the amazing things I read this month, and there were some seriously amazing things! As ever you can find a readable version below.
The Female Factory by Lisa Hannett and Angela Slatter.
A collection of short stories all themed around ideas of reproduction and the female body and the ways these are controlled, taken apart, and constructed by people around them. It is gloriously weird and gothic.
Some stories are more fantastical like that of the shape changing rebirth in the billabong, some are more science fiction like the future where only a few women have the ability to bear children but can do so many at a time, and some blur that boundary between genres like the workhouse children desperate for a mother who try to build one for themselves. Something in each story feels very familiar despite their fantastical nature giving them a little hook back to real life that leaves you wondering, worrying, waiting for it all to come true.
God’s War by Kameron Hurley
This is the first book in the Bel Dame Apocrypha trilogy but it stands very well on its own. And dear god I am in love with this world. And it’s not even the kind of world I would normally love.
It tells the tale of Nyx Nissa a government assassin turned bounty hunter living in a world divided by a centuries long war. It’s brutal and dark and nasty but so amazingly imagined that I couldn’t stop reading.
All technology is based around insects which is at once gruesome and amazing, the society is based around Islam which was so refreshingly different to see, and the cultures are female dominated which just felt so cool but wasn’t at all nice. The characters themselves are unpleasant but very human and actually horribly understandable.
5 out 5 stars
Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
My copy of this book is covered with a veritable explosion of post-it notes because it made my brain very excited.
The story is told from multiple points of view but centres around three people who are all in the same place in Lagos when aliens arrive. But this is not your average first contact story. The aliens are just the beginning.
This is a blending of science fiction and fantasy and fairy tales and mythology and urban legends and media reporting and every other way that we tell stories.
If you’ve ever read Angela Carter especially Nights at the Circus then imagine that but updated, moved to Nigeria, and with aliens. It’s uncanny and unsettling and makes you want to know more about Nigeria and Lagos and the rich world of stories that you might not be so familiar with.
5 out 5 stars
Saga by Brain K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
A couple of weeks ago I asked you all for graphic novel recommendations and that’s what I’ve been reading since then. So my very first one was Saga by Brain K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples. Everyone seemed to love this so I figured it was worth a go though I’m always dubious about hype.
Totally worth it guys. It is actually really really good. The story and the characters are so clever, the art work was lovely, and the way the story is told is very easy to get into even if you’re not so familiar with the way comics read which, y’know , I’m not.
4.5 out 5 stars
Rat Queens by Kurtis Weibe and Roc Upchurch
So that was a good start but I’m a dubious person I was not expecting the next thing to also be amazing and perfect.
I was so wrong. So wrong wrong. Because Rat Queens is….I just love it. I feel like it’s everything I was subsconciously asking for in media and someone’s just given it to me in comic form. SO GOOD.
The story followss an all female gang/adventuring group of mercenaries in a fantastical world with orcs and dwarves and and elves and giant squid-gods and magic mushrooms and sarcasm. It’s basically Discworld with more girls. I feel like Violet might be my cosplay destiny and all-around bro. Can’t wait for the next one.
5 GIANT STARS
The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act
The premise of The Wicked + The Divine is that, every ninety years, twelve gods from across human history come to earth and inhabit the bodies of teenagers. They quickly become inspirational, famous, and notorious figures – celebrities, actors, and popstars in the current cycle. But within two years every teen is dead and the cycle continues on for another ninety years.
The artwork is completely gorgeous but I was a little bit squicked by the ‘live fast die young leave a beautiful corpse premise’. It’s very macabre: worshipping the cult of youth, and the perfect dead celebrity, tokens of our messed up society. But actually this weirdness, wrongness, was explored eventually which made the whole thing a lot more interesting.
4 out 5 stars
Serenity: Those Left Behind
This is the first of the Firefly graphic novels continuing on from the TV series. Whilst it was fun to return to that world, and the dialogue and story felt true to that, the artwork just was really varied and just couldn’t live up to comparison with memories of the actual people that were meant to be depicted. Fun but not something I’ll be continuing.
3 out of 5 stars
So that’s been by reading month for March a varied but extremely good month overall!
And a huge thank you to those who recommended things for my first graphic novel explorations. I couldn’t have asked for a better start!
Love and rockets