2018 BSFA Awards Finalists aka what I’ll be reading next

If you were on Twitter yesterday, you might have seen that the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) announced the finalists of the 2018 BSFA Awards. I have a thing for science fiction awards, I am always looking forward seeing the various shortlists, my favorite awards to follow are the Clarke, the BSFA and the Kitchies. You might already know about my Clarke Award project: I’ve been reading and reviewing all the books nominated for the past three years and seeing this year’s finalists, I’m thinking on doing the same with the BSFA nominees!

The various winners will be announced during Eastercon which is taking place at the end of April, it’s not that far away so I will only focus on two categories: Best Shorter Fiction and Best Novel. I also won’t put too much pressure on myself to read everything before the announcement, I’ll do my best but we’ll see how much I manage to read.

Anyway, enough rambling, here are the works nominated in the categories I’m planning on reading, I’m excited about all of them (the ones I’ve read I absolutely loved!).

If you want to check out the other categories (Best Non Fiction and Best Artwork, you can go on the BSFA website).

Best Novel

  • Dave Hutchinson – Europe at Dawn (Solaris)
  • Yoon Ha Lee – Revenant Gun (Solaris)
  • Emma Newman – Before Mars (Ace Books)
  • Gareth L Powell – Embers of War (Titan Books)
  • Tade Thompson – Rosewater (Orbit)

I’m definitely impressed by this list, out of the five books, I have already read two of them: Revenant Gun and Rosewater and I loved them both.

I was already planning on reading the other three books (I already owned them all!) and the fact that they’re all finalists is the push I needed to pick them up sooner rather than later. I’m very excited about all of them especially Europe at Dawn which is the conclusion to one of my favorite series ever! (I haven’t picked it up because I’m a terrible reader but I’m pretty sure I’m going to love it).

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Look at those pretties *_*

 

Best Shorter Fiction

  • Nina Allan – The Gift of Angels: an Introduction (Clarkesworld)
  • Malcolm Devlin – The Purpose of the Dodo is to be Extinct (Interzone #275)
  • Hal Duncan – The Land of Somewhere Safe (NewCon Press)
  • Ian McDonald – Time Was (Tor.com)
  • Martha Wells – Exit Strategy (Tor.com)
  • Liz Williams – Phosphorus (NewCon Press)
  • Marian Womack – Kingfisher (Lost Objects, Luna Press)

In this category, I have only read a single story The Gift of Angels: an Introduction by Nina Allan but I absolutely adored it. I already reviewed it in my last Short Fiction Sunday post and I was extremely happy to see it on the list.

Out of the nominees, I already owned Time Was by Ian McDonald and Exit Strategy by Martha Wells and after seeing this wonderful list, I bought the two NewCon Press novellas and the collection of short story Lost Objects in order to read Kingfisher.  It means that I’m only missing the Malcolm Devlin  story which appeared on Interzone! (But I will remedy to that soon hehe).

I hope I’ll manage to get to everything before the announcement, I should be able to since I only have three books, four novellas and two short stories left to read but we’ll see since I will be back to college soon… 😥

 

What do you think about the finalists? 😀

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Short Fiction Sunday | January Highlights

Here are the four short stories I liked the most in January, at first I wanted to combine my short fiction favorites of January and February but it was too long so I’ll do another SFS next week with my February picks!

I chose to only review a few stories to be more thorough and really explain why I liked them so much. I have full reviews of the issues mentionned available on Goodreads if you want to read my thoughts on all the stories.

Clarkesworld #146

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“The Gift of Angels: an introduction” by Nina Allan ★★★★★

The Gift of Angels is set in a future version of Paris and follows a writer as he tries to learn more about his mother. She was one of the first astronauts who died on a mission to Mars and it deeply affected his life. He follows her steps in Paris as he visits places she once went to. Paris was the city his parents met and fell in love and the writer tries to imagine what their encounters were like as he goes from museums to museums and streets to cafés.
I really admire Nina Allan, she’s a great writer so I’m always looking forward to her stories. I’m also a bit biased because I studied and lived in Paris. I love this city and reading about streets and places I used to go to was both nostalgic and heartwarming. I also liked the focus Allan’s made on art in this novella, several paintings and movies are at the heart of this story and it made me enjoy it even more. It’s a slow story but it’s a beautiful one.

You can read this story here.

 

“Death on Mars” by Madeline Ashby ★★★★★

It’s my second favorite story of the issue, the title of the story is a bit misleading because I was expecting a war story or a military one set on Mars but it’s actually a very quiet story. It follows the crew of a spaceship studying samples from Mars and how their group dynamic is shattered when they learn about the illness of their leader.

It’s a poignant and sad little story and it left me in tears at the end. I read other stories by Ashby and I enjoyed them as well but this one is the best I read by her so far. I really need to check her longer works. 

If you want to read another review of that story, I highly recommend Maddalena’s review over at Space & Sorcery!

You can read this story here.

 

Apex Magazine June 2018

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“Suzie Q” – Jacqueline Carey ★★★★★

A young girl with a bad reputation enters a magic school where she hopes to start over. However, it doesn’t happen when she’s betrayed by people she trusted and she’s now on the street trying to keep her inner demon in her body while protecting a little boy.

I love Carey’s longer epic fantasy works but it was the first time I tried her short fiction. I really liked Suzie Q, my favorite aspect of the story was seeing how the events of the story influenced Suzanne’s character arc. The pacing and the writing were excellent and the ending was very satisfying.

Read this story here.

 

“Three Meetings of the Pregnant Man Support Group” – James Beamon ★★★★

What would happen if men were pregnant? You might think that you have read this story a million time over but I can assure you Beamon’s take on this trope is pretty original and worth your time.

In this story, men are expecting alien babies according a contract binding aliens with humans. In exchange for advanced tech, a couple of chosen men bear alien babies. This story follows a pregnant man and the meetings he has with a support group of other pregnant men. At first, it’s hilarious but the tone gets more and more serious as we learn about the implications of those pregnancies and how they affect the chosen men.

Read this story here.

 

Book Review: The Quantum Magician by Derek Künsken

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Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera

Publisher: Solaris

Length: 480 pages

Format: eARC

Rating: 5 stars

Publication Date: October 2nd 2018

 

 

 

 

Publisher’s description

Belisarius is a quantum man, an engineered Homo quantus who fled the powerful insight of dangerously addictive quantum senses. He found a precarious balance as a con man, but when a client offers him untold wealth to move a squadron of warships across an enemy wormhole, he must embrace his birthright to even try. In fact, the job is so big that he’ll need a crew built from all the new sub-branches of humanity. If he succeeds, he might trigger an interstellar war, but success might also point the way to the next step of Homo quantus evolution. 

Book Review

Belisarius is a Homo Quantus, a man genetically modified to manipulate data on the quantum level. He was supposed to become a great scientist like all the others of his kind, however, he doesn’t like to follow the rules. He especially doesn’t want his whole career and life to be dictated by his genes, thank you very much.

What can you do with your life when you can compute data more efficiently than a computer? For Belisarius, the answer is simple: become the best con man of the universe. However, even for him, his last job might be too hard if not impossible.

He has to find a way to move a huge fleet of warships across an heavily guarded black hole while remaining unseen. His client, a small vassal-state of the Congregate, is dreaming of independence and is ready to start an interstellar war for it.

To succeed, Belisarius will have to pull off the biggest heist of the galaxy and he cannot do it alone. He needs a crew and a talented one at that. Who could be better than the craziest representant of other subspecies, an AI who thinks he is the reincarnation of a Saint and another Homo Quantus? At worse, they’ll kill each other off, at best, they’ll be richer than they’ll ever be!

 

Set in a future where humans have modified their genes in order to survive in hostile environments, to improve their skills or to turn other species into their slaves, The Quantum Magician is one crazy ride. Derek Künsken has enough ideas to write dozens of books but he uses them all in one. It’s a crazy imaginative story which managed to pick my interest from page one. It’s thought-provoking, very clever and extremely enjoyable. When I finished a chapter, my immediate thought was “Okay, just another one” and it doesn’t happen that often for me.

The worldbuilding is amazing, this book is packed with fascinating ideas and I had a blast discovering how humanity evolved by discovering all the new subspecies. I was morbidly fascinated by the Numens who modified their DNA in order to enslave the Puppets and how horrible it turned out for them.

Belisarius is very interested by those modifications and how much it redefines the meaning of being human. Being a member of a subspecy himself, he cannot help but to question where his own actions are coming from. Is he motivated by his own free will or are his actions predetermined by his genes? This naturalistic approach of life is at the center of the book and some characters even discuss it at various points in the book. Don’t worry, it never turns into a boring lecture,on the contrary, it allows us to understand the motivation of both protagonists and antagonists.

 

The Quantum Magician is a fabulous debut, it would make the most fantastic movie. It has everything and more, it seriously needs to be read by way more people. Highly, highly recommended.

 

I received a copy of this book from Solaris in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. My thanks to Rebellion and Netgalley.

 

February New Releases I’m intrigued about

I wasn’t planning on doing a monthly segment dedicated to new releases but I had too many books on my list to write a single post so… here we are.

My selection isn’t trying to be comprehensive, I haven’t even mentioned all the books I’m intrigued about and I’m sure I missed a number of other great ones. However, I love gushing about new shiny books and I thought it would be a great opportunity to do so!  It’s not a February TBR by any means though I wish I could read all of them asap!

 

SCIENCE FICTION

The City in the Middle of the Night—Charlie Jane Anders (February 12, Tor Books)Set on a planet that has fully definitive, never-changing zones of day and night, with ensuing extreme climates of endless, frigid darkness and blinding, relentless light, humankind has somehow continued apace — though the perils outside the built cities are rife with danger as much as the streets below.

But in a world where time means only what the ruling government proclaims, and the levels of light available are artificially imposed to great consequence, lost souls and disappeared bodies are shadow-bound and savage, and as common as grains of sand. And one such pariah, sacrificed to the night, but borne up by time and a mysterious bond with an enigmatic beast, will rise to take on the entire planet–before it can crumble beneath the weight of human existence.

I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t even had to read the synopsis to know I wanted to read this book. I really liked All The Birds in the Sky and that’s enough for me to check out this new book by Charlie Jane Anders!

 

Dark Age (Red Rising #5)—Pierce Brown (February 12, Del Rey)
For a decade Darrow led a revolution against the corrupt color-coded Society. Now, outlawed by the very Republic he founded, he wages a rogue war on Mercury in hopes that he can still salvage the dream of Eo. But as he leaves death and destruction in his wake, is he still the hero who broke the chains? Or will another legend rise to take his place?

I have yet to read Iron Gold, the fourth installment in the Red Rising Saga but I loved the first three books and, even if I don’t think the original trilogy needed more books, I’m attached to the characters enough to read the continuation of their story.

 

Broken Stars: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation—Ken Liu, translator (February 19, Tor Books)
Broken Stars, edited by multi award-winning writer Ken Liu–translator of the bestselling and Hugo Award-winning novel The Three Body Problem by acclaimed Chinese author Cixin Liu–is his second thought-provoking anthology of Chinese short speculative fiction. Following Invisible Planets, Liu has now assembled the most comprehensive collection yet available in the English language, sure to thrill and gratify readers developing a taste and excitement for Chinese SF.

I tend to like Chinese SF a lot and I’m always on the lookout for new stories and authors. I’ll probably pick up Invisible Planets before Broken Stars (since I already have a copy of it) but it doesn’t mean that Broken Stars isn’t on my radar as well! Especially when I’m in such a short fiction mood, I want ALL the anthologies! 😀

 

FANTASY

Black Leopard, Red Wolf (Dark Star #1)—Marlon James (February 5, Riverhead Books)
Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: “He has a nose,” people say. Engaged to track down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy.

This one has been everywhere lately and I want it! Not because it’s described as “an African Game of Thrones” but precisely because it doesn’t appear to be “another” Game of Thrones. It sounds very different from what’s already published and that’s why it’s appealing to me. And also, we are in 2019, can publishing companies stop comparing every single “grim” books to A Song of Ice and Fire please…?

 

Early Riser—Jasper Fforde (February 12, Viking)
Every Winter, the human population hibernates. During those bitterly cold four months, the nation is a snow-draped landscape of desolate loneliness, devoid of human activity. Well, not quite.

Your name is Charlie Worthing and it’s your first season with the Winter Consuls, the committed but mildly unhinged group of misfits who are responsible for ensuring the hibernatory safe passage of the sleeping masses.

If I’m correct this was released last year in the UK and if it intrigued me then, it intrigues me even more now. Believe or not, I have never read a book by Fforde and this one might very well be my first one! It sounds very weird and right up my alley.

 

The Haunting of Tram Car 015—P. Djèlí Clark (February 19, Tor.com Publishing)
The Haunting of Tram Car 015 returns to the alternate Cairo of Clark’s short fiction, where humans live and work alongside otherworldly beings; the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities handles the issues that can arise between the magical and the mundane. Senior Agent Hamed al-Nasr shows his new partner Agent Onsi the ropes of investigation when they are called to subdue a dangerous, possessed tram car. What starts off as a simple matter of exorcism, however, becomes more complicated as the origins of the demon inside are revealed.

I read and really enjoyed The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark last year so I pre-ordered this one without even reading the synopsis. I’m glad I did because now that I know what’s it’s actually about, it sounds great! I definitely want to read a story about an alternate Cairo full of magical creatures!

 

The Raven Tower—Ann Leckie (February 26, Orbit Books)
For centuries, the kingdom of Iraden has been protected by the god known as the Raven. He watches over his territory from atop a tower in the powerful port of Vastai. His will is enacted through the Raven’s Lease, a human ruler chosen by the god himself. His magic is sustained via the blood sacrifice that every Lease must offer. And under the Raven’s watch, the city flourishes.

But the power of the Raven is weakening. A usurper has claimed the throne. The kingdom borders are tested by invaders who long for the prosperity that Vastai boasts. And they have made their own alliances with other gods.

It is into this unrest that the warrior Eolo–aide to Mawat, the true Lease–arrives. And in seeking to help Mawat reclaim his city, Eolo discovers that the Raven’s Tower holds a secret. Its foundations conceal a dark history that has been waiting to reveal itself…and to set in motion a chain of events that could destroy Iraden forever.

The Raven Tower is Leckie’s fantasy debut novel and if it’s as good as her science fiction, it’s going to be good! That’s enough for me to put this book pretty high in my “want list”.

 

MELTING POT

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A People’s Future of the United States—Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams, editors (February 5, One World)

For many Americans, imagining a bright future has always been an act of resistance. A People’s Future of the United States presents twenty-five never-before-published stories by a diverse group of writers, featuring voices both new and well-established. These stories imagine their characters fighting everything from government surveillance, to corporate cities, to climate change disasters, to nuclear wars. But fear not: A People’s Future also invites readers into visionary futures in which the country is shaped by justice, equity, and joy.

Edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams, this collection features a glittering landscape of moving, visionary stories written from the perspective of people of color, indigenous writers, women, queer & trans people, Muslims and other people whose lives are often at risk.

It’s hard to categorize this one so I’m not going to. The author lineup of this anthology is amazing! To name just a few, it features Charlie Jane Anders, Sam J. Miller, Tobias S. Buckell, N.K. Jemisin, Omar El Akkad, Catherynne M. Valente, Seanan McGuire, Daniel José Older… OF COURSE I’M GOING TO READ THIS. This sounds freakin’ amazing!

 

That’s it for my small(ish) selection of February releases! I’m sure I forgot some amazing ones, if you have any more to add, feel free to mention them in the comments, it’s impossible to want too many books right? 😀

January Wrap-Up & February Reading Plans

In my last post I mentionned that I was a bit burn out on science fiction and I’m pretty sure I know why.  I didn’t read a lot of books last year and when I could squeeze in a bit of reading time, I concentrated my efforts on more complex and challenging books because I found those the most fascinating. That’s the way I am, I love to take on challenges, figure stuff out on my own and make the “most” out of my brain cells. I tend to get bored easily if I don’t have something to do!

However, I’ve started the French equivalent of graduate school back in September (I study biological engineering) and, let’s just say that my brain cells have been working quite a bit since.

If I look at my reading, September is the moment it started to dwindle. It took a while for me to figure out that making reading hard by concentrating most of my reading time on more complex reads wasn’t necessarily the best decision. It just turned my hobbie into more work on top of everything else.

I realized that at the end of December when I couldn’t read more than a page or two each day. At the time I was reading The Last Good Man by Linda Nagata, a military science fiction that deals with a lot of darker themes. It’s an interesting book, well-written for sure and, because of that, I didn’t get why I couldn’t bring myself to read it.

The answer is pretty obvious actually, a book can be great but the enjoyment of it is deeply linked to the timing of its reading. And  forcing myself to read about wars, terrorist attacks and torture before/during finals wasn’t really the best idea!

That’s why I decided that 2019 would be the year where I will try to be more conscious of the fact that reading is a way for me to relax and have fun. It’s not to say that I won’t read challenging books anymore because I definitely will but I want to find a good balance.

To start this year on the right path, I decided to put very little pressure on myself and to read any work peaking my interest at the time. For now, it’s fantasy books and short fiction, I’ve read a lot of both in the past few weeks and I had a blast! Knowing myself, the science fiction novel break is not going to last that long anyway because it remains my favorite genre.

Anyway, even if the start of the year has been a bit rocky, I liked all the things I read in January and I hope February is going to be even better!

 

Books Read in January

Favorite Reads

I liked everything this month but my two favorite things were the two short fiction magazines I read at the end of the month. I won’t review them on my blog but on Goodreads. I will do a Short Fiction Sunday post toward the end of the month mentionning my favorite stories overall, I think it might be more interesting than a post for each issue.

Tentative TBR

  • The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden
  • Trail of Lighting by Rebecca Roanhorse
  • The Dollmaker by Nina Allan
  • The Outcast Hours by Mahvesh Murad & Jared Shurin
  • Clarkesworld Issue #147
  • Interzone Issue #271
  • The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson (re-read)

As you can see, I’m following along the fantasy and short fiction theme!

I’m going to try and catch up on my short fiction reading because I may or may have not subscribed to four magazines this year… I know it’s a bit crazy but it’s too hard to choose only one! However it also mean that I will probably drown under stories which is, to be honest, a good way to die. I’m now subscribed to Clarkesworld, Uncanny, Interzone and Apex so… you’ll be getting more Short Fiction Sundays this year!

I would also like to re-read The Traitor Baru Cormorant because I have the sequel sitting unread in my Kindle but I remember almost nothing from the first book! (except that it was very good and heart-wrenching)

 

Anyway, I think I rambled enough, I hope your 2019 started off strongly and that you read amazing books! 😀

Review Round Up: Shadow of the Sun, Naamah’s Blessings and A Court of Wings and Ruin

In January I had finals so I decided to take a break from blogging and reading until my winter break. After sleeping, catching up on a lot of shows and finally having my results I slowly started to read again and, I decided to change things up by focusing more on a genre I neglected a little the last few years: fantasy!

I will talk about it more in my next post but I think I burn myself out a bit with science fiction last year and a quick break from this genre for a couple of weeks will probably do me good.

Anyway, here are the three fantasy books I recently read and some quick thoughts about them (funny enough they all are conclusions of series and written by women and it wasn’t even on purpose).

 

Smoke in the Sun by Renée Adhieh

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I randomly decided to pick this book up at the beginning of January towards the end of my finals because I needed something easy to read to entertain myself. I didn’t even enjoy the first book that much but since I had the second book and about three brain cells that weren’t on the verge of imploding, I thought why not?

I like Adhieh’s writing and I haven’t read a YA fantasy in a while so it was a nice distraction. I’m glad we are slowly getting fantasy books set in Asia, it’s very refreshing. The book was, as I thought it would be, just okay. The plot was fairly predictable, same goes with the romance but it was enjoyable nonetheless and I think it was what I needed at the time.

If you like YA fantasy book and need a quick duology to read, Renée Adhieh’s books are a good option, I enjoyed The Wrath and The Dawn quite a bit more than Flame in the Mist and its sequel but the writing was pretty good, the story entertaining and overall, I don’t regret the few hours it took me to read.

3 Stars

 

Naamah’s Blessings by Jacqueline Carey

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Naamah’s Blessings is the third installment in the third trilogy set in Carey’s Kushiel world. I have been slowly reading these books (I think I started back in 2013) and it feels odd to be done with this world. I hope Carey will write other works set in it because I can’t let this universe go, the worldbuilding is superb, rich with details and the characters are fascinating.

I have to say however that the last trilogy wasn’t my favorite of the three. I really liked the main character Moirin but something about the pacing didn’t feel just right. I found myself skimming some parts mainly when they were about travels. I like how Carey describes her world and the various cultures but sometimes it felt like it was just delaying the action. Because of that, my favorite trilogy remains the first one, however, I still really enjoyed reading Naamah’s Blessings. Going back into this world felt like wearing my favorite hoodie:  it’s cozy, enjoyable and you know what you are going to get!

Even if it wasn’t my favorite book set in this world, it was still a satisfying ending and I really enjoyed the ride. If you enjoy political fantasy with romance and the just dose of magic, give Jacqueline Carey a try, you won’t be disappointed!

3.5 stars

 

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

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I read A Court of Mist and Fury when it came out in 2016 and I really, really disliked it. I wasn’t a huge fan of A Court of Thorns and Roses either but ACOMAF really got on my nerves. However, same as with Smoke in the Sun, I had A Court of Wings and Ruin sitting in my Kindle and not a lot of free brain cells left so I decided to give the first few chapters a try for the heck of it.

To my surprise, I found myself intrigued enough to commit myself to a 700+ pages book and, even I still thought it had some of the same issues as the second book, I managed to enjoy this one way more.

My main issues with the series are mostly with the romance and the very cringy way it’s written. I found a review mentionning the fact that the word “mate” was used 202 times in the book and I’m not surprised. Same goes for the world “purr”, “mighty” and “male” to be honest.

Sarah J. Maas was one of my favorite other when I first got into YA fantasy: I thought her worlds and characters were flawless. Well, let’s just say that I changed a lot as a reader now and that I don’t find her romances swoonworthy anymore.

However, once I started skimming all the cringiest scenes (and they were many of them), I managed to enjoy the story just fine. I wouldn’t particularly recommend this series but I now feel pretty neutral towards it, it’s not great but it’s the worst thing I’ve ever read either. I don’t know if I’ll read the follow up series but it was a nice end-of-exams book.

3 stars.

 

Anyway, that’s all the books that I managed to read those last few weeks. Since I’m still not in the most for science fiction, I will probably continue my fantasy binge for the time being. I have several books on my radar such as The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden, Burned by Karen Marie Moning and Trail of Lighting by Rebecca Roanhorse but I don’t know for sure which one I’ll be picking up next!

Favorite Books of 2018

Happy New Year!

I’m a bit late to the party but I couldn’t not do my favorite end of the year post: I have to talk about my favorites books of the year!

I sadly didn’t read as many books as I wanted to last year (and I don’t think 2019 will be better on that front either…) but it doesn’t mean I didn’t get the chance to read amazing books, I certainly did!

If you’re an avid reader of this blog, none of the books on this list will surprise you. I’ve fangirled about most of them a lot already. However, since they are my faves, I want to give those gems even more love so… here we are. 😀

 

Best Conclusion

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Is this even a surprise to anyone? I feel like I mentionned this series non-stop this year and for good reasons: it’s without a doubt one of my favorite trilogy of all time! Everything about it is amazing and Yoon Ha Lee managed to end this superb trilogy perfectly. I want more stories with those characters, I’m pretty sure we’re getting a collection of short stories set in this world later this year and I truly CANNOT wait!

If you want to know more about my thoughts, I have reviews for all the books of this trilogy!

Reviews

 

Best sequel

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Am I predictable? Probably. Of course I had to put The Will to Battle, the third book in the Terra Ignota quartet, a series mindblowing in its scope and execution, on this list. How could I not? The whole premise of this series is fascinating, it’s set thousands of year in the future in a utopian society where, in theory, everyone should be happy. Humans haven’t been at war for centuries so, what could be the consequences of a conflict in a world where boundaries and countries don’t mean anything anymore?

This series is very philosophical and it has a very unique writing style, it might sound boring but it’s freakin’ amazing. I would highly recommend to everyone interested in philosophy, sience and the future of humanity.

Reviews

 

Best non speculative fiction book

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I read this one not once but twice this year. I loved it so much that I had to start again from the beginning after reading the last words. I never ended up reviewing it because I really don’t know how to express my feelings about this book.

It’s set in the aftermath of Brexit and follow the lives of several people, we get snippets from their past and we learn how they are connected. It’s a story about unconventionnal friendship and how they shape our life. It’s also about art and how everyone perceive it differently. I know I’m doing a poor job at talking about this one but, it’s truly an experience. The prose is delightful and it’s very clever yet never pretentious.

 

Best surprise of the year

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I read this one as a part of my Clarke Shortlist Reading Challenge and I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. It sadly didn’t end up winning the Clarke but it’s a book I would push into everyone’s hands (I actually bought copies of it as Christmas presents to make everyone around me read it).

It’s a hard one to read as it discusses the consequences of wars and how they shape people to hate other people. It’s especially hard since the main character is very young and we slowly see how she is taught to fuel this hate rather than finding ways to stop it.

Review

 

Best debut

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Since I suck at blogging, I still haven’t finished my review of this little gem, but, trust me when I say that you have to give this one a shot. It’s without a doubt the best debut I read last year and it’s sadly very underrated. It’s a hard science fiction heist story following modified humans and it’s fantastic. It manages to be complex and clever but also fun, exciting and suspenseful!

 

Best Book of the Year

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If I had to only choose one, it would be this one.

This book is a whole package: it has everything you want and more. The writing is splendid, the plot never goes where you think it’s going and the characters are flawed yet very relatable. It managed to pull me in in just a few pages and, after the first chapter, I had the feeling it would end up being one of the best books I would read this year. I wasn’t wrong.

Review

 

Well it’s always fun to fangirl about books! It’s now your turn to tell me your 2018 faves, I’m always open to recommendations (you can never have to many books, am I right? :D)

 

 

Book Review: Fragment by Craig Russell

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Genre: Science Fiction, Climate Fiction

Publisher: Thistledown Press

Length: 214 pages

Format: Ebook

Rating: 4 stars

Publication Date: October 1st 2016

 

 

 

Publisher’s description

When avalanching glaciers thrust a massive Antarctic ice sheet into the open ocean, the captain of an atomic submarine must risk his vessel to rescue the survivors of a smashed polar research station; in Washington the President’s top advisor scrambles to spin the disaster to suit his master’s political aims; and meanwhile two intrepid newsmen sail south into the storm-lashed Drake Passage to discover the truth. 

Onboard the submarine, as the colossal ice sheet begins its drift toward South America and the world begins to take notice, scientists uncover a secret that will threaten the future of America’s military power and change the fate of humanity.

And beneath the human chaos one brave Blue Whale fights for the survival of his species.

 

Book Review

Fragment is a science fiction eco-thriller book set in a future where the world is even more oblivious to the consequences of climate change. It opens up when a huge iceberg, the Fragment, detaches itself from the Antartic ice sheet and starts drifting toward South America.

The book follows how this event impacts the life of several characters including a trio of scientists who were working on scientific base located on the Fragment, a journalist who desperately wants to figure out what the hell is happening, soldiers, the captain of a ship and, most importantly: Ring, a blue whale.

The cast of characters is pretty big considering the length of the book (about 200 pages) which was both a quality and a weakness.  I really liked how it allowed me to see how this event could impact people on several levels and how they reacted to it. Indeed, for the scientists who spent years of their lives trying to prevent such an event, the fall of this iceberg is a disaster. They know it’s going to cause the death of thousands of people if the world doesn’t react to it. However, we also follow people who couldn’t care less about it as long as it doesn’t affect their country or their life directly. For example, we got several scenes featuring the President of the United States and we can see how he wants to use this to advantage to be reelected and that he doesn’t really care about anything else.

Even if I enjoyed all the POVs (my favorite was without a doubt Ring, the blue whale), sometimes the jumping around was a bit too much. Each scene tend to be quite short and, by the end of the book, I didn’t feel like I really knew any of the characters all that well.

However, I still enjoyed the book quite a bit, I tend to really like climate fiction books, it’s always fascinating to see the consequences of climate change. It’s also one of those few books that manages to deal with a lot of ideas in such a short length. The more I read, the more I realized how much I like short books. When I first started reading , I was all about those huge tomes but right now, I tend to appreciate more a concise story (it might be because I read so much short fiction) or because I don’t have a lot time to read theses days).

My favorite thing about this book were the parts involving the whale and how the scientists managed to communicate with him. I never thought reading from the perspective of a whale would be that cool to be honest. I really liked how the scientists were able to convey very human concepts in a way that would be understandable to another specy and how important it was for the story.

I would definitely recommend Fragment if it sounds interesting to you. If you want to get into climate fiction, it would be a great one to start with, it’s not as intimitating as New York 2140 for example. It’s quite fast-paced but it still manages to deal with very important issues.

 

I received a copy of this book from the author. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Imperial Radch Trilogy #1)

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Genre: Space Opera, Military SF

Publisher: Orbit

Length: 386 pages

Format: Ebook

Rating: 4 stars

Publication Date: October 1st 2013

 

 

Publisher’s description

On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest. Once, she was the Justice of Toren- a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.

Book Review

I have been meaning to read this book for years now but I was oddly afraid that I wouldn’t like it. However, Ancillary Justice has been recommended by quite a few people who know what books I like so I decided to finally take the plunge during Sci Fi Month. (Yeah I know this review is going up after Sci-Fi Month but I read the book during the month of November, so it still counts!).

Ancillary Justice follows Breq, an ancillary, a body controlled by the AI of a spaceship. In this world, a ship can control thousands of those ancillaries, bodies taken from the victims of the Radch’s annexation. For thousands of year, Breq was attached to Justice of Toren, in fact, she was Justice of Toren as well as all the other extensions of the ship. Think of ancillaries as part of a body, they each have their functions but they form one entity.

Twenty years before the opening scene of the book, Breq was betrayed and violently separated from Justice of Toren. She is now a rogue ancillary determined to end the people who deprived her of her ship even if it means ripping apart the entire empire. However, how do you destroy a society when its leader has thousand of bodies and you are alone and presumed dead by everyone?

Ancillary Justice was all the rage in 2013 and 2014 when I was just starting to get into science fiction. At first I was intimidated by it because of all the praises it had for its originality, its complexity, ideas and for how it portrayed gender. In a lot of ways, I agree with the praise, I never read anything quite like it and I was definitely impressed by quite a few things. The worldbuilding and the history of the Radch were fascinating and I was pulled into the story very quickly. However, I don’t necesseraly think that it’s one of the best science fiction book I ever read.

Mind you, I do think it is indeed quite good but it still had definite debut-book flaws that prevented me from entirely loving it. My issues were oddly with the two elements that made the series blew up as much as it did: the way it treats gender and the narration style.

Breq is Radchian, her society doesn’t follow your typical gender norms, indeed, in her society, people use the same pronouns for everyone and gender doesn’t really exist. Because of that, Breq automatically use female pronouns for everyone, regardless of the fact that in their society, they might be adressed in a different way. When she speaks other languages, she struggles to pick what is considered the right pronoun in the specific society because she cannot associate any elements to a particular gender.

That makes it, in theory at least, quite interesting to try to associate a gender to a protagonist. Indeed Breq will automatically use a female pronoun while other characters might use another pronoun for the same character. For example, a character that was referred as a “she” by Breq for several chapters was adressed as a “he” by other characters that were not Radchian in the rest of the book.

A lot of people were fascinated by this element but it didn’t work for me as well as I hoped. I don’t tend to picture characters in my head while I read so the gender’s switch never changed my perspective on certain characters. I don’t associate a behavior with a gender so I didn’t search for any clues to guess if a certain character was male or female either. By default, I vaguely thought of all the characters as female and when those characters were suddenly adressed as males, it didn’t change the way I perceived them. I like the idea in theory but the execution felt more like a gimmick than anything else.

This book is also composed of several chapters narrated by Breq when she was still a part of Justice of Toren. Because of the fact that she had a lot of bodies in those chapters, the narration jumps around between the various bodies of Justice of Toren. I thought the idea was quite interesting but in most cases, it just felt like an exercice in writing and at other times it made it harder to follow what was going on. Indeed when it occured during during certain scenes where characters were having important discussions, the jumping around made it a bit hard for me not to miss any important information.

I did appreciate the attempt at doing something different, the ideas were intriguing but their execution wasn’t always the best in my opinion and I sometimes thought Leckie privileged the form over the actual content of the book. Indeed, if you only look at the plot, it’s actually a pretty straightforward revenge story.

However, don’t take my critic too harshly, I still really enjoyed the book. I liked the structure and how it jumped between the two timelines. Breq’s character and how torned she was between her human emotions and her very AI logical thinking was fascinating to read about and I would recommend Ancillary Justice for that aspect. I will definitely read the next book and I’m intrigued to see if I still have the same issues with Ancillary Sword.

Recommended.

“If you’re going to do something that crazy, save it for when it’ll make a difference, Lieutenant Skaaiat had said, and I had agreed. I still agree.

The problem is knowing when what you are about to do will make a difference.”

November Recap & December Reading Plans

I knew the end of November would be hard because of exams and group projects but, at least it was SciFi Month so it made things a bit better! I knew it would be hard for me to participate so I sadly didn’t get to post or comment on other blogs as much as I wanted to. However, I still had a lot of fun looking at other posts and I would like to congratulate the two hosts  Imryil and Lisa for their amazing work! 😀

Anyway, here are the books I read last month!

 

Books Read in November

 

  • The Black God’s Drums by P. Djéli Clark ★★★ 1/2
  • Clarkesworld #144 edited by Neil Clarke ★★★ (Goodreads review)
  • Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie ★★★★ (review coming!)
  • The Quantum Magician by Derek Künsken ★★★★1/2 (review coming!)
  • Clarkesworld #145 edited by Neil Clarke ★★★★

 

DNF

 

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I really wanted to read this one but I really wasn’t enjoying it, each time I tried to read it, it felt like a chore to me. I like the hard SF parts but I didn’t care about the story at all.

The main protagonist of the second part really annoyed me, he was obsessed for no reason with a dead young woman and I just found him very creepy. I gave up on the book after the first scene taking place in the game because I was utterly bored and confused but not in a good way. I know my opinion is quite unpopular, I’m sure the story has redeeming quality but I already don’t have enough time to read the books I’m intrigued about so I’m not forcing myself to read this one.

 

Favorite Book of the Month

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I didn’t know a lot about this one before going in but I ended up loving it! I plan on reviewing it this month, it’s definitely one of the best book I read this year. It’s a hard science fiction story set in a future where humans are genetically modify in order to survive in hostile environment or to be able to process data on a quantum level. It has quite a bit of sciencey parts in it but it is also a very fun and suspenseful heist story. I would highly recommend this little gem.

 

 

 

December TBR

  • The Last Good Man by Linda Nagata (review copy)
  • Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller
  • The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden
  • Fragment by Craig Russell (review copy)

I am pretty behind on my Goodreads challenge but, at this point, I’m not even bothered by it. I’ll do what I can to read but as always, college is my priority, not books (even if it’s frustrating at times). I am currently about a third into The Last Good Man by Linda Nagata and I am liking it even if it’s probably a bit too heavy for my current mood.

I hope you had a good month of November and that December will be even better! 🙂