Tag Archives: Elizabeth Bear

The SF Bluestocking 2017 Fall Reading List

It’s that time again, where I grossly/awesomely overestimate the number of books and other things I’ll be able to read in the next three months, plus include a few things I almost certainly won’t get around to reading but that I still think other folks should read and tell me about.

One thing you may notice right off is that I’m not really reading YA any longer. I’m sure it’s a temporary thing, but I just haven’t gotten into any of the YA releases that were on my radar this year, so in the interest of not stressing myself out when I fail to get around to them, I’m just not even including them. It’s just been so long since I’ve really wanted to read anything YA, and there’s so much other great stuff coming out over the next three months (well, the next couple months, since December is an especially sparse time for SFF releases this year) that I just haven’t even been paying much attention to what’s coming out for teens.

The rest of 2017 is pretty heavily front-loaded with new releases. with eight titles I’m excited about coming out just on October 3 and several more Tuesdays in October and November with two to five releases. However, there’s nothing on my calendar past December 5, so I expect to be doing a lot of catching up on things that month, since on average I’m reading just a couple books a week and there’s a lot of stuff I’m excited about this fall.

Tor.com Publishing

I’ve, kind of necessarily, relaxed my stance on reading every single Tor.com release over the last few months, skipping a couple of titles that didn’t appeal to me or that were part of series that I haven’t begun yet, but the next couple months are full of books that I’m looking forward to.

  • The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson – 10/3
  • A Long Day in Lychford by Paul Cornell – 10/10
    I’ve loved both of Paul Cornell’s previous Lychford novellas. The first, in particular, was a great seasonally appropriate read around this time a couple years ago, and I’m making sure to save this one for a crisp evening with a blanket a nice hot cup of tea or several.
  • Six Months, Three Days, Five Others by Charlie Jane Anders – 10/17
    I’ve read All the Birds in the Sky and enjoyed some of Anders’ other short fiction (her story in the John Joseph Adams anthology, Cosmic Powers, was fantastic), so I’m pretty hyped for this collection, each story of which is totally new to me.
  • Weaver’s Lament by Emma Newman – 10/17
    The sequel to Brother’s Ruin, which was a charming gaslamp fantasy.
  • Switchback by Melissa F. Olson – 10/24
  • The Sisters of the Crescent Empress by Leena Likitalo – 11/7
    I already read an advance copy this book right after I read The Five Daughters of the Moon, and it’s a beautiful conclusion the the duology.
  • Gluttony Bay by Matt Wallace – 11/7
    I’m certain that this penultimate Sin du Jour novella is going to be delicious.
  • Mandelbrot the Magnificent by Liz Ziemska – 11/14
    I haven’t been lucky enough to get my hands on an advance copy of this title, but it’s probably the Tor.com release I’m most looking forward to this fall aside from Gluttony Bay. Certainly, it’s the most ambitious and unique sounding thing on their schedule in the next three months.
  • Starfire: Shadow Sun Seven by Spencer Ellsworth – 11/28
    Spencer Ellsworth’s Starfire trilogy is exactly the sort of high energy retro space opera adventures I want to be reading these days. Highly recommend.
Anthologies and Collections
  • Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy edited by Lucas K. Law and Derwin Mak – 10/8
    I will have a review of this anthology and possibly an interview with the editors coming out prior to its release date, but I’ll say here that you definitely want to read this book. Plus, a portion of the proceeds from its sales benefits Kids Help Phone, a Canadian counselling hotline for children.
  • The Emerald Circus by Jane Yolen
    A collection of retold classics and fairy tales from a great author.
  • Mad Hatters & March Hares edited by Ellen Datlow
    An anthology of stories inspired by Wonderland.

From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty – 10/3
I’ve been watching Caitlin Doughty’s YouTube channel (Ask a Mortician) for years, and I loved her first book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory. I’ve also been following her work with the death acceptance organization The Order of the Good Death for years, so I am super excited to read this new book about death traditions from cultures around the world.

  • The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera – 10/3
  • Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor – 10/3
    The long-awaited sequel to Okorafor’s 2011 YA novel, Akata Witch.
  • The Bloodprint by Ausma Zehenat Khan – 10/3
  • Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng – 10/3
    Early reviews of this gothic fantasy seem promising.
  • An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon – 10/3
  • Star Wars From a Certain Point of View – 10/3
    40 popular authors (seriously, all my current faves are in here) telling 40 stories from the points of view of 40 different minor characters in the Star Wars Universe. It’s gonna be awesome.
  • The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear – 10/10
    The start of a new epic fantasy series in the same world as her Eternal Sky trilogy.
  • La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman – 10/19
    The first in a new prequel/sequel trilogy set in the world of His Dark Materials.
  • The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – 10/24
  • The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso – 10/24
  • Magic of Wind and Mist by Cassandra Rose Clarke – 10/24
    An omnibus reprint of a duology.
  • Barbary Station by R.E. Stearns – 10/31
    This book had me at “lesbian space pirates.”
  • Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines – 11/7
  • Jade City by Fonda Lee – 11/7
  • Artemis by Andy Weir – 11/14
  • The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty – 11/14
  • Creatures of Will and Temper by Molly Tanzer – 11/14
  • Beyond the Empire by K.B. Wagers – 11/14
  • Winter of Ice and Iron by Rachel Neumeier – 11/21
  • Winterglass by Benjanun Sriduangkaew – 12/5
    Benjanun Sriduangkaew still needs to put out a collection of her short fiction, but I guess a queer take on the Snow Queen in novella form will have to do. (I’m so excited.)
  • The Will to Battle by Ada Palmer – 12/5
    The Terra Ignota series continues.
  • A War in Crimson Embers by Alex Marshall – 12/5
  • Persepolis Rising by James S.A. Corey – 12/5
    I mean, I still need to finish reading all the previous books, but I’m still looking forward to this one.

Book Review: Future Visions – Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft

Future Visions had me at Ann Leckie (also at “free” because who passes up free stories?), but it turns out that Microsoft’s first foray into sci-fi publishing is actually a solidly good collection of work. I honestly wasn’t at all certain that it would be, and, worse, I was more than a little concerned that it would end up being little more than an extended, fictionalized advertisement for Microsoft products. Instead, it’s a well-produced anthology of hard sci-fi that ranges from very recognizable speculation about the near-future to space opera.

First, though, there’s a forward and an introduction, both written by Microsoft Research executives and both of which sound a little too much like marketing copy, even though the only thing they’re “selling” is ideas. Still, Harry Shum and Rick Rashid do a decent job of kicking things off and giving the reader a little bit of insight into what the rest of the book contains. If nothing else, this pair of essays will be an interesting bit of context for future scholars who might examine Future Visions as an artifact of our times. This will be even better if this project turns out to be a recurring one. As someone with a scholarly interest in these things myself, I would love to look back someday at ten or twenty or fifty years’ worth of Future Visions and see how things have gone.

The opening piece of fiction is a delightful piece by Seanan McGuire, whose work I really ought to check out more of because I always enjoy her short fiction when I come across it. Her offering here, “Hello, Hello,” is an optimistic tale about the impact voice and body language translation technology could have on the lives of people with disabilities. It also suggests an interesting way in which this type of technology could expand our understanding of our world. The story is told with sensitivity and humor, and it’s sweet without being cloyingly so.

Greg Bear’s “The Machine Starts” is a rather darker story that examines some of the potential hazards of quantum computing. Something about how it could break the whole damn multiverse. It’s bad enough knowing that we’ve all got a couple of doppelgangers, just statistically, but now we’ve got to also worry that they could be actual alternate universe versions of us. Thanks, Microsoft.

“Skin in the Game” by Elizabeth Bear is the first story that I didn’t care much for, but it’s still not awful. I was surprised, though, as I’ve loved all the books I’ve read by this author. The Nancy Kress entry, “Machine Learning,” is another story that I found dull and a little uninspired, though your mileage may vary.

“Riding with the Duke” by Jack McDevitt is reminiscent of the work of Philip K. Dick and Kurt Vonnegut, so of course I loved it. It’s my favorite combination of optimism and cynicism—smart, funny, and deeply fucked up.

“A Cop’s Eye” is basically a comic book, and the story is just okay. I like the idea of police officers using technology to help people, but I feel like a lot more needs to change than some tech advances in order to make this story a real possibility. The art is simplistic and rather boring, and just getting to read it was a hassle as however it’s embedded into the file I was reading on my Nook HD would only crash the device’s reader when I tried to turn the page to it. I ended up reading it in the Nook app on my Surface, which worked fine, so maybe it’s just my device starting to show its age, but still. Very irritating.

Robert J. Sawyer’s “Looking for Gordo” is an excellent first contact story. It’s also another optimistic piece, although it does examine some of the arguments for and against trying to contact other life in the galaxy. If you like this story, I highly recommend checking out Liu Cixin’s Three-body series, which deals with some of the same ideas.

I tried so hard to stick it out and finish David Brin’s “The Tell,” but I just couldn’t. I won’t say it’s unreadably bad, but it definitely was, for me, impossible to do anything but skim it, skip to the end, and hope it made more sense. Unfortunately, it didn’t. The story deals with prediction-making, I guess, but really it felt much more like a long, dry, self-indulgent think piece. Again, I don’t know that I’d say it’s bad, but I certainly found that it wasn’t for me.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Ann Leckie’s story, having only read her novels so far. I can’t tell if “Another Word for World” is set in the same universe as the Imperial Radch series, but it’s definitely in that neighborhood—definitely space opera, but also similar to the more sociological sci-fi of Ursula K. LeGuin or Karen Lord. It’s a story about colonialism, treaties, and the problems inherent in relying too much on translation devices. It’s also my favorite piece of Future Visions, and this book is definitely worth downloading (for FREE) just to read this story, though I do recommend giving the rest a try as well.