Love Wins | Thoughts on A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

Long Way to a Small Angry PlanetTitle: A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

Author: Becky Chambers

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publication Date: 13 August 2015

Length: Novel (404 pages)

Format I read: hardback

Rating: 5/5

 


The blurb: 

Somewhere within our crowded sky, a crew of wormhole builders hops from planet to planet, on their way to the job of a lifetime. To the galaxy at large, humanity is a minor species, and one patched-up construction vessel is a mere speck on the starchart. This is an everyday sort of ship, just trying to get from here to there.

But all voyages leave their mark, and even the most ordinary of people have stories worth telling. A young Martian woman, hoping the vastness of space will put some distance between herself and the life she‘s left behind. An alien pilot, navigating life without her own kind. A pacifist captain, awaiting the return of a loved one at war.

Set against a backdrop of curious cultures and distant worlds, this episodic tale weaves together the adventures of nine eclectic characters, each on a journey of their own.

My Thoughts

I tried to write a coherent review but all I can say is I LOVE IT WITH ALL MY HEART.

I love the universe that has been created, the elegant way it is created through little details of life and habits. I love the food and the soap and wine and small intricacies of life in space rather than just war in space.

I love the interaction of the alien species, the coming together, the falling aparts, and the (mis)understandings.

I love the characters, their complex lives outside the plot, the expansive ideas of what a person can be, and their beautiful, beautiful relationships.

And I love the love; the many ways of different people being together – as friends, as family, a colleagues and collaborators, as lovers, pairs, triads, and more. I love that love so much; that love for the universe, for the potential offered by the future, love for all kinds of love.

This book won my heart. Because, in the end, love wins.

 

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Things I Like Thursday – 11th June 2015

It’s been a long day at work so I thought I’d count my ducklings (who doesn’t love ducklings) and talk about all things that I’ve been loving recently.

duckling

Women in SFF

I love discovering and celebrating SFF writers. I mean, obviously, that’s why I’m here writing blog posts and making videos. I will eternally be in awe of those people who can weave words into worlds.  To this end I’ve been happily discovering a host of great women writers.

Twitter love

The #femmeSFF tag on twitter has been joyous this evening. Hundreds of posts dedicated to reminding us of the great women authors of SFF who are all too often ignored and pushed to the side while their male counterparts’ names are repeated ad infinitum.

I have some reservations about the appropriation of the word ‘femme’ in this context (removing it from the queer context seems inappropriate and kind of blind to the intersection of lesbian authors and readers) but I do appreciate the sentiment behind the movement. If you’re looking for a new book to read then get your eyeballs over to the tag on twitter.

SF MistressWorks

On a similar note I’ve also been browsing through the archives of the SF Mistressworks blog. Dedicated to reviewing and promoting great female authors of SF, this blog is a goldmine for discovering quite how many female authors there have always been in SFF.  Go there and let them blow your tiny mind with the pure greatness of the mistresses of SFF.

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The Martian gets a trailer

adored The Martian by Andy Weir when I first read it. This was science fiction that got my heart pumping, that made me stare up at the stars and look for Mars, it was man versus nature on the most extreme of scales.

Luckily it appears that just about everyone in the world agreed with me and they started making the movie. Adaptation is a scary business for fans. The ways in which you can fuck up my favourite things; LET ME COUNT THEM FOR YOU. Luckily this trailer looks gooooooood. I am cautiously optimistic. Let’s science the shit out of it.

 

Queers Destroy Science Fiction

Many moons ago (okay not that many) I wrote about backing the Lightspeed: QDSF Kickstarter. And on the 1st of June those darling humans delivered my copy. It is magic. The introductory essays had me in tears, happy and sad. I’m not finished reading it yet so I won’t go into any details but the fiction is fantastic. It makes me extraordinarily happy that there is both new fiction and old re-prints. Just like with the female authors that get forgotten, it’s so easy to say that SF history was largely straight and fail to mention the queer authors that were there all along, even if they were fewer in number. There have always been queer authors writing genre fiction and there always will be. Go read some of them over at Lightspeed Issue 61!

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There are more squee-worth things to be discussed, of course, but these will suffice for today.

Until next time lovely humans.

x

Review – City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

City of StairsAuthor: Robert Jackson Bennett

Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books

Publication Date: 02 October 2014

Length: Novel (420 pages)

Format I read: Library Hardback


A compelling and action-packed novel that manages to make you think about some serious issues at the same time. Part murder-mystery, part fantasy, this is pure fun. It’s set in the city of Bulikov, previously the centre of magic and divine powers, now a wrecked shell of a land. When the mysterious divinities that ruled Bulikov and the surround provinces were destroyed large parts of it disappeared with them and the city folded in itself.

Now staircases to nowhere and strange merged buildings linger and the once powerful land is ruled by its former empire. We’re following a spy sent to investigate a murder who finds herself stumbling into far more secrets about the past of this divine city, and her own family history, than might be healthy. Oh and there’s an old love interest, a naked Norse bodyguard wrestling with a giant squid, and enough tea to float a small navy.

The story largely revolves around Shara Komayd who arrives in the city as a lowly diplomat, but is in reality a highly trained spy and descendant of the man who killed Bulikov’s divinities a few generations back. Her old friend Dr Efrem Pangyui has been murdered and as she looks into the mystery she begins to find that it’s all twisted up with the death of the divinities, a political campaign to rebuild the city, and the political power, of Bulikov, and maybe, just maybe, some hints that those gods aren’t quite as dead as previously thought.

This is one of those books that just drags you into the action and gets you hooked immediately. There was so much intrigue, political machinations, and interesting personal histories to find out about that I really didn’t want to put this book down. The world that was drawn got me thinking a lot about imperialism, conquest and devolution – it felt something like a twist on the British Raj era but with more magic and a reversal of fortunes. There’s a lot of tough ideas to get your teeth into, but Jackson really doesn’t make it feel like heavy going. Sure, it’s a simplified idea of a real world so it won’t have the same weight but that doesn’t mean that the difficult thoughts are skipped over. Shara and various other characters spend a considerable amount of time discusssing and thinking about imperialism and empire, the responsibilities and problems of political power, and the ethics of religion.

And the characters, oh, how I loved them. The book features not one but at least three significant female characters who are all over thirty (or fourty maybe?) and in positions of power and responsibility. Fantastic. Plenty of guys too, don’t you worry. And all of them felt well developed, with interesting back stories and character traits.

Rating: 4 out 5 stars. A thrilling romp of a read but without that certain something.