Book Review: Luna Wolf Moon by Ian MacDonald

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Gollancz

Length: 416 pages

Format: eARC

Rating: 3.5 stars

Publication Date: March 28th 2017

 

 

 

 

Publisher’s description

A Dragon is dead.

Corta Helio, one of the five family corporations that rule the Moon, has fallen. Its riches are divided up among its many enemies, its survivors scattered. Eighteen months have passed .

The remaining Helio children, Lucasinho and Luna, are under the protection of the powerful Asamoahs, while Robson, still reeling from witnessing his parent’s violent deaths, is now a ward–virtually a hostage– of Mackenzie Metals. And the last appointed heir, Lucas, has vanished of the surface of the moon.

Only Lady Sun, dowager of Taiyang, suspects that Lucas Corta is not dead, and more to the point—that he is still a major player in the game. After all, Lucas always was the Schemer, and even in death, he would go to any lengths to take back everything and build a new Corta Helio, more powerful than before. But Corta Helio needs allies, and to find them, the fleeing son undertakes an audacious, impossible journey–to Earth.

In an unstable lunar environment, the shifting loyalties and political machinations of each family reach the zenith of their most fertile plots as outright war erupts.

Book Review

The long awaited sequel to New Moon, Wolf Moon starts off a couple of months after the fall of  Corta Helio. The few remaining Cortas are scattered around the Moon under the protection of several families and, of course, they are planning revenge.

 

I read New Moon when it just came out back in 2015 and even though I remembered the world and the cliffhanger a the end, the cast of characters is so immense and the relationship between the different characters are so complex that I was completely thrown off at the start. For the first 20% of this book, I had trouble remembering who was who and what the hell was happening. I even mixed up some characters (Lucas and Lucasinho for example) which led to pretty confusing scenes where I couldn’t understand why a character was acting in this way until I realized that I wasn’t reading it the right way.

However, getting back into this bloody world full of political intrigues was a real pleasure. In this series, the Moon isn’t a pleasant place to live it, Lady Luna isn’t sweet Earth, she wants to tear you down and all mistakes can be deadly. And if the Moon doesn’t kill you, one of the Dragons probably will.

Wolf Moon is an very good sequel to New Moon. I found it even more political intrigue heavy than the first book and I really enjoyed this aspect once I remembered who was who. It was really fascinating to see all the players reacting to the events of New Moon and basically trying to destroy everyone around them (family included). Some of the new characters introduced were as interesting, if not more so, that some of the old ones and I cannot wait to see the parts they are going to play in the next book.

Speaking of next book, I don’t know why but, back in 2015, when I read New Moon, I thought this series was going to be a duology so, when I was reading Wolf Moon, I was expecting some kind of conclusion that just didn’t come. I don’t know how long this book series is going to be but with that ending we readers deserve at least a third book.

I liked Wolf Moon quite a bit however, I didn’t find it as mindblowing as New Moon. I wasn’t bored while reading but thinking about it, not a lot actually happened in this installment which was surprising after the first book. Also, it had a tad to many weird sex scenes, I don’t mind sex in books but I couldn’t see their point at all in this book. I mean sometimes I had to skim read them because a) they were a bit cringy and b) I just didn’t care about them. I like the fact that in this world, bisexuality is the norm and that a lot of characters are gender fluid but still, you can speak of sexuality without writing  abunch of weird ones especially in the middle of suspenseful action sequence.

 

Anyway, I think that if you enjoyed New Moon, Wolf Moon is going to be an exciting read, just bear in mind that it isn’t a conclusion. Also if you don’t remember books well, try to find a recap of the first book online, I think it might help a lot!

Recommended.

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Gollancz and Netgally. All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

Short Fiction Review: Uncanny Magazine 14 January/February 2017

You may or may not know it but Uncanny won a Hugo Award last year in the category Best Semiprozine. Uncanny is a very young short fiction magazine (it has less than three years) but they publish good short fiction from very famous speculative fiction author. If you want to dip your toes in short fiction, I would highly recommend this magazine because it is one of the most accessible magazine in my opinion.

I have only read a couple of issues so far and I liked them all so I would like to read this magazine more regularly this year!

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Bodies Stacked Like Firewood – Sam J. Miller

As one of Sam J. Miller biggest fangirl, I was very pleased to see that he had a story in this issue. I mean this man can write. As usual with Miller, this story is about love, loss and friendship and it features queer main characters. Bodies Stacked Like Firewood follows two characters dealing with the suicide of their mutual friend, Cyd. Those two characters don’t know each other before Cyd’s death and it was fascinating to see how this death affected their behavior and how they could relate to each other.

This has few speculative fiction elements, just a bit of magical realism at the end and even though it is not Miller’s strongest work, it’s still very good (and depressing).

3.5/5

 

Monster Girls Don’t Cry – A. Merc Rustad

Following two monster sisters who both deals very differently with their monstrous abilities, this relevant story has a lot to teach to girls who aren’t confident in their bodies. It’s a very hard story and there are descriptions of sexual assaults but I found it very important. It is quite short but I found it extremely thought-provocking and fascinating.

4/5

Goddess, Worm – Cassandra Khaw

I tend to dislike most of Khaw’s stories so when I saw this story, I was tempted to not read it at all. However, I’m glad I read it because it is definitely a good story, it is very weird and I’m not exactly sure I really understood what it was talking about but, I think it is about a woman trying to prove she was abused to a jury of gods. This woman wants to punish her agressor but no one want to listen to what she has to say. The gods just want her to be quiet in exchange for a compensation. As with the previous story, it’s a very relevant story indeed.

3.5/5

Some Cupids Kill With Arrows – Tansy Rayner Roberts

This one is very different form the other stories, it is very light-hearted and cheesy since it follows a speed dating session involving a woman and Cupid. I don’t have much else to say except that it was very fun and I wished it had been longer!

4/5

The Unknown God – Ann Leckie

I thought I was going to love this story but it was the story I liked the least of all which was very disappointing. It follows a god who tries to get his lover back after abandonning her to a malediction for years. I was pretty boring and I just couldn’t really care about the characters at all. I don’t even remember if I finished it or not. Definitely not memorable at all.

Sorry Ann Leckie but that’s a 1/5 for you!

 

The Thule Stowaway – Maria Dahvana Headley

This very well-written piece is a ghost story heavily insprired by Edgar Allan Poe, I can’t say much more about it because I haven’t read much Poe so I think most of this story went over my head, but it was still cool, I just wished I had understood it better!

3/5

To Budapest, With Love – Theodora Goss

Another very strange one, I think it is more of a love letter to Budapest than an actual story but it was still extremely interesting. It follows a protagonist at different stages of her life and how her opinions of the city of her birth, Budapest, change with time. It’s a story about immigration, accepting who you are and your culture. Very well written but odd.

3.5/5

 

Issue 14 wasn’t my favorite Uncanny Issue but it still had interesting stories and except for the Ann Leckie one that I just didn’t like at all, it had some really unique stories! 🙂

 

Overall Rating: ★★★

Novella Review: Binti Home by Nnedi Okorafor

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Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

Publisher: Tor.com

Length: 176 pages

Format: ebook

Rating: 3.5 stars

Publication Date: January 31th 2017

 

 

 

Publisher’s description

It’s been a year since Binti and Okwu enrolled at Oomza University. A year since Binti was declared a hero for uniting two warring planets. A year since she left her family to pursue her dream.

And now she must return home to her people, with her friend Okwu by her side, to face her family and face her elders.

But Okwu will be the first of his race to set foot on Earth in over a hundred years, and the first ever to come in peace.

After generations of conflict can human and Meduse ever learn to truly live in harmony?

 

Book Review

Set a year after the event of Binti, Okorafor’s multi-award winning novella, Binti: Home starts off when Binti wants to come back home. She is suffering from PTSD after the events of the first book and she’s unsucessfully trying to keep it together at Oomza University . However, she knows that she finally needs to confront her family after running away at the other end of the universe against her family’s will.

Of course, once back in her home, she has to deal with the anger of her family members and she soon discovers family secrets that might change everything.

 

I very much admire Nnedi Okorafor, I think she is an extremely talented writer, her stories and worldbuilding are always unique and interesting however I didn’t had a lot of expectations about Binti: Home. Indeed, I had very mixed thoughts and feelings about Binti, her first novella, that I found overhyped and pretty lacking in terms of worldbuildings and character development. So I went with very low expectations in Home and I liked it a lot more.

The world was indeed built on, we met other races of aliens and we learnt a bit more about the Koush and The Meduse’s wars. However, I still hope that Okorafor is going to explain what is happening on Earth, because so far, we just know that they are three types of humans, The Koush that appears to be white and seems to be the most widespread human race, The Himba and the Desert People and… that’s all. I found the fact that Okorafor wants us to believes that her universe is full of diverse species but even the humans only “come in” very few different types and that’s bothering me a bit. It was the same in Binti and I wished she had changed that a bit but infortunately that’s not the case.

One of the other hopes I had was that the character of Binti would be more explored, in the first novella, I found Binti to be a very one dimensional character and again, I didn’t really thought she changed in Home. True, she is now dealing with her trauma but she’s almost defined but it. I feel like I don’t know her at all and that’s a bit sad. She is very self-centered but she doesn’t seem to want anything, in Binti, when her body is modified against her will, she says nothing, in Home, when strangers ask her to come with them, she does, when her family critisize her, she doesn’t defend herself.

I can deal with unlikeable characters as long as I know a bit about them, I just don’t like it when characters only feel like a word on a page, I want them to have more substance and in Binti and again in Home, I didn’t get that. And that’s not because of the format, I have read short stories that in 5, 10, 15 pages managed to create characters that felt real so I think that it is doable in 96 pages (Binti’s length) or 176 pages (Home’s).

However, even if I still had issues with Binti, I still thought Home was better installment than the first novella. I enjoyed learning more about the world, about Oomza University and about the history of this world. I read Home in two sittings and I never felt bored and even though it’s far from perfect for me, if you enjoyed Binti, I think that Home will also please you. Even if it’s not Okorafor’s best work ( in my opinion this title should be reserved for The Book of Phoenix), it’s still worth a read.

2017 Anticipated Releases – March

I know we are near the middle of the month but I still want to mention a few titles that are coming out this month and that I am very intrigued about! 🙂

Fantasy & Horror

Science Fiction

February Wrap-Up and March Reading Plans

January was pretty busy and so was February, I had my first internship last month and when it ended I had to manage a week-long event by a student organization I’m part of , and, because of that my reading at the end of the month wasn’t great. The fact that I watched  way too many korean dramas episodes probably didn’t help because really, I don’t think I actually read anything the last week of February! 😛

However, I read a couple of good books and I am back in the “reading mood” so I am still happy with this month!

Books Read

  • The Fortress at the End of Time by Joe McDermott ★★★★
  • The Tempest by William Shakespeare ★★★
  • Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey ★★★ 1/2
  • The Long List Anthology Vol. 1 ed. David Steffen ★★★★
  • Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor ★★★
  • Uncanny Magazine Issue 114, January/February 2017 ★★★
  • Culottées by Pénélope Bagieu (a french graphic novel) ★★★★
  • Abbadon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey ★★★

I am very behind of reviews (as always) so a few reviews of books I read in February are going to be posted later this month ( I just need to edit them a bit, they are pretty much just word-vomit for now).

 

Favorite Read of the month

 

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I posted my review of this book a few days ago and eventhough it has been receiving very mixed reviews lately (average rating of 3.06 on GR), I think that this novel deserves more attention. Yes it’s depressing but I am fairly certain it is going to be very different to the SF you are used to and if you want to try something different, think about this.

 

DNF

 

No DNF for me this month, I’m happy with everything I read! 🙂

 

Currently Reading & TBR

 

I already finished three things in March, Miniatures by Jogn Scalzi, Luna: Wolf Moon by Ian McDonald and PS: I like you by Kasie West. I picked back up Aurora by KSR that I had to put down in November because it was way too depressing at the time and I am also 20% in The Wall of Storms by Ken Liu so you should expect reviews of those soon(ish).

Book Review: The Fortress at the End of Time

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Genre: Military Sci-Fi

Publisher: Tor.com

Length: 305 pages

Format: ebook

Rating: 4 stars

Publication Date: January 17th 2017

 

 

Publisher’s description

In The Fortress at the End of Time, humanity has expanded across the galaxy by use of ansible and clone technology, but an enemy stands in their way—an enemy alien in concept as much as physiology. Ronaldo Aldo is a clone stationed in the back-end of nowhere—a watch station with a glorious military past, but no future. He’s desperate to prove himself worthy of ascension—of having his consciousness broadcast to a newer clone, far away from his current post at the Citadel.

 

Book Review

 

The Fortress at the End of Time is a fascinating yet very depressing little book following miserable characters living in a bleak station at the edge of the universe where the suicide rate is so high people don’t even talk to recruits before months because “what’s the point of talking to you if you are going to kill yourself after right?”.

So if you are expecting this book to be an action packed military SF books full of badass fighting scenes and cool characters, I wouldn’t especially recommend this.

However, The Fortress at the End of Time is a truly unique book set in a future where humans can be cloned to other planets thanks to a device called an ansible. The main character, Ronaldo Aldo, is one of such clone who happens to be sent in the worst place possible, the Citadel. Humans have fought and won a war against aliens years ago near the Citadel, and now, a hundred or so of soldiers live there, trying to find a meaning to their boring lives. Aldo’s only hope is for his next clone to “transcend”, to be sent on another planet which is the closest thing to immortality in this world. The thing is, almost everyone on the Citadel hates him.

Aldo is not necessarily a bad man, he is just a very awkward person and not in a cute way at all. During the entire book, he is trying his best to improve the living conditions of the Citadel but his every efforts are seen as insults by the other soldiers and he slowly becomes the scapegoat of the outpost and his victimization only reinforces his need to transcend.

 

The Fortress at the End of Time is not an easy read, it is extremely well written and very smart but it’s not fun, it’s definitely not a light read and you are probably not going to enjoy it. I really liked what it was trying to do, it is a very ambitious book and I think it did its job well. However, it is very pessimistic and heavy and the main character is pretty unlikeable. I was rooting for him during the entire book but after reading a handful of reviews, I realized that most of the readers thought Aldo was huge prick.

In my opinion, The Fortress at the End of Time explored in a fascinating way how isolation can affect human behaviours. It feels almost claustrophobic, all the humans on the Citadel know they are going to die here after living a long and dull life doing next to nothing on a rock on the edge of the universe and it’s fascinating to see how it affects their lives.

 

If this study of humanity sounds like it might interest you, I would highly recommend it, otherwise, I don’t think that you should bother. I really liked it but I don’t mind reading very depressing SF books because oddly, it’s what I tend to gravitate towards but I know it is not everyone’s cup of tea.