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The SF Bluestocking 2018 Summer Reading List

I am still alive! And still reading, though having a physically challenging day job where I’m often in overtime (hopefully soon to change now that I have just received a promotion) has certainly impacted the amount of time I have for books (and has severely impacted my writing). Still, I’m here. And there is so, so much to look forward to over the rest of the summer.

I’m no longer pretending, even to myself, that I’ll get around to reading everything on this list, but this is what I’ve got my eye on in July, August and September of 2018.

Tor.com Publishing

One look at my list of books I’ve actually read this year will tell you that I have given up trying to read every single novella Tor.com publishes. There’s just too many, and while I have always appreciated that reading them all took me outside my comfort zone and got me to read genres and styles that I don’t normally seek out, less time to actually spend reading in general means that I’m getting a little more selective about where I take risks. After absolutely despising Myke Cole’s The Armored Saint (apparently 2018 is not a year in which I want to read stories where the bodies of women and girls are destroyed in service of taking hackneyed jabs at organized religion), I have to admit the shine wore off of Tor.com for me a little bit. That feeling, combined with an uninspiring publication schedule full of too many sequels to things that I liked-but-didn’t-love has meant a lot less Tor.com novella-reading for me this year.

That said, there’s a lot to look forward to from Tor.com Publishing over the remainder of this summer.

  • Deep Roots by Ruthanna Emrys – 7/10
    I know someone must just be eating up all the Lovecraftian reimaginings Tor.com has published in the last couple of years, but I am not that someone.
  • The Expert System’s Brother by Adrian Tchaikovsky – 7/17
    I rather loved Tchaikovsky’s D&D-esque adventure novel, Spiderlight, but this book sounds basically nothing like that at all. I’m not sure I’m down for it, to be honest, but we’ll see how the early reviews of it shape up.
  • The Binti Trilogy hardcovers – 7/24
    I don’t usually buy hardcovers, especially after I’ve already bought and read ebooks, but have you seen how fantastically beautiful these redesigns are?
  • The Descent of Monsters by JY Yang – 7/31
    Hurray for more Tensorate!
  • Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells – 8/7
    Hurray for more Murderbot!
  • The Million by Karl Schroeder – 8/14
  • The Black God’s Drums by P. Djeli Clark – 8/21
    Having been informed by P. Djeli Clark’s essays and moved by his short fiction, I’m thrilled to see what he does with this longer format.
  • Warcry by Brian McClellan – 8/28
  • State Tectonics by Malka Older – 9/11
    I’m so excited for this book, but I’m also so sad that it’s the last in its series. I fully expect it to be one of my favorite reads of 2018.
  • The Queen of Crows by Myke Cole – 9/18
    Nope.

Novels

  • Space Unicorn Blues by T.J. Berry – 7/3
  • The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal – 7/3
    It’s a Lady Astronaut novel.
  • Heroine’s Journey by Sarah Kuhn – 7/3
    Book 3! It’s about Bea Tanaka!
  • Lost Gods by Micah Yongo – 7/3
  • European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss – 7/10
    A sequel to last year’s The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter.
  • Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik – 7/10
    I haven’t gotten my hands on an ARC of this, but it sounds like an expansion of Novik’s story of the same title in The Starlit Wood. I loved that story, and I have high hopes for this novel.
  • Suicide Club: A Novel About Living by Rachel Heng – 7/10
  • Competence by Gail Carriger – 7/17
    In all likelihood, I’ll hold off on reading this one til its companion comes out in another year or so, but I’m still looking forward to it. In the meantime, I will continue eating up Gail Carriger’s delicious novella-length works as fast as she can churn them out.
  • Apocalypse Nix by Kameron Hurley – 7/17
  • The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvahna Headley – 7/17
    I’m surprisingly hyped for this Beowulf in the suburbs novel.
  • Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers – 7/24
    Probably my most-anticipated book of 2018.
  • Kill the Farmboy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne – 7/24
    This seems like it might be cute.
  • A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole – 7/31
    I don’t read much romance these days, but I loved the first book in Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series and preordered this one as soon as I finished the first.
  • Temper by Nicky Drayden – 8/7
    I really liked Nicky Drayden’s debut novel, The Prey of Gods, so I’m interested to see what she does next.
  • The Moons of Barsk by Lawrence M. Schoen – 8/14
    2015’s Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard was a tragically underappreciated gem that was done a great disservice with its 12/28 release date, and it’s been a long wait for this sequel. I’d love to see
  • The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal – 8/21
    It’s another Lady Astronaut novel.
  • Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames – 8/28
    Kings of the Wyld
    was a surprising entry on my Best of 2017 list, and I cannot wait to read this sequel/companion to it.
  • The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner – 9/25

Collections and Anthologies

  • Worlds Seen in Passing edited by Irene Gallo – 9/4
    A collection of short fiction from the first ten years of Tor.com. I don’t know if it’s the sort of thing that I’ll read cover to cover, but it should be a great addition to my collection of anthologies that I slowly work through over the course of some years.
  • A Cathedral of Myth and Bone by Kat Howard – 9/25
    I believe this is mostly previously-published work, but there’s quite a lot of it that I haven’t read and I’m very excited to read the Arthurian novella that’s included in the collection.

37491890Comics and Graphic Novels

  • Monstress, Volume 3: Haven by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
    I don’t read many comics, but I’ll never miss a trade paperback of this one. If you are a collector of trade paperbacks, you may also want to check out Barnes & Noble’s exclusive edition of this title, which comes with an alternate cover and a double-sided poster.

Magazines

  • FIYAH Literary Magazine, Issue 7, “Music”
    FIYAH continues to be one of the most exciting and important SFF markets in publication.
  • Fireside Quarterly
    I’ve already received my copy of this, and it is a stunningly beautiful little book. It’s printed on gorgeous satiny paper, sports top-notch interior design, and has gorgeous artwork–including multiple fold-out pages. It’s a truly impressive piece of work. You can get your own by supporting FIreside at the $10/month level on Drip or on Patreon.
  • Apex Magazine #110, #111, #112I
    I’m still getting the paperback issues of Apex as well, which are getting slightly nicer each issue as they work out some design kinks and get things a little better put together each time.
  • Clarkesworld #142, #143, #144
  • Uncanny #23, #24
    Issue 23 is DINOSAUR-themed.

 

The SF Bluestocking 2018 Spring Reading List

I’ve still got a couple of titles from my Winter Reading List that I’m hoping to squeeze in before moving on entirely to the next season of books, but there is so much that I’m excited about this spring, you guys. With the new day job, I have somewhat more disposable income, which means I’ve been buying more books, and I’m now subscribed to more magazines than I can reasonably read (not that I don’t read them, obv, but there are an unreasonable number of them).

On that note, reading more short fiction continues to be a focus of mine this year. I’m especially on the lookout for novelette length work, which I always feel is in short supply. I’m actually starting to cut back on the number of novellas I read; as much as I love Tor.com’s offerings, they release them at such a pace that I simply cannot keep up with all of them any longer, what with the day job and a couple of recent major disappointments in novella-reading, so I expect that I will be prioritizing the most promising ones from now on rather than basically reading them all. Still, a lot of them are very promising, so we’ll see.

I’m somewhat on the lookout for new and interesting YA novels. After having gone off YA for a couple of years, I’ve now gotten to a point where I feel like I’m actually missing out on things. I’m thinking of reading the Not-A-Hugo YA award finalist list over the next few months if I have time, but I’m also open to suggestions. What’s good in YA SFF these days? What are you most excited about that’s coming out this spring? Let me know in the comments if you have any must-read recs for me.

In the meantime, here’s what I’ve got on my actual TBR for April, May and June.

Tor.com Novellas

The only real must-reads on this list for me are Taste of Wrath, which will finish off Matt Wallace’s delightful Sin du Jour series, Artificial Condition, which brings back Murderboy, and C.L. Polk’s debut novel, Witchmark. I liked Margaret Killjoy’s first novella well enough, so I may try to make time for the new one, but I can’t get excited about Caitlin R. Kiernan’s Lovecraftian horror and I’m pretty sure it’s time to give up on Melissa F. Olson’s vaguely noir-ish vampires. The Shipp and McDonald titles don’t sound bad, but my absolute loathing for The Armored Saint has kind of put me off of giving any more chances to books by white dudes for a while.

  • The Barrow Will Send What it May by Margaret Killjoy – 4/3
  • Taste of Wrath by Matt Wallace – 4/10
  • The Atrocities by Jeremy C. Shipp – 4/17
  • Time Was by Ian McDonald – 4/24
  • Black Helicopters by Caitlin R. Kiernan – 5/1
  • Artificial Condition by Martha Wells – 5/8
  • Outbreak by Melissa F. Olson – 6/5
  • Witchmark by C.L. Polk – 6/19

Magazines

I have so/too many magazines to read. I am already loving getting the print edition of Apex, which I highly recommend; every issue is a little more polished than the one before, and they look nice on a shelf together. FIYAH is always excellent, and they are doing some of the most important work in the industry right now: In their first year alone, FIYAH debuted work by over twenty black writers of speculative fiction. I’ve been subscribing to Uncanny for two years now, and it continues to be one of the most consistently excellent publications available, especially when it comes to their non-fiction selections. Finally, now that I have a little more disposable income, I’ve started subscribing to both Clarkesworld and Fireside via Patreon. I’m still deciding if I want to keep reading both of those–there are only so many hours in a day, after all–but I figure I will give it a good six months or so to see if I can make all this into a manageable amount of reading. I’d like to be reading a good selection of short fiction and supporting a variety of publications, but I also don’t want to be stressing myself out by over-buying content that I don’t have time or energy to properly enjoy.

  • Apex Magazine Issues #107, #108, #109
  • FIYAH Literary Magazine #6, Big Mama Nature
  • Uncanny Magazine #22
  • Clarkesworld #139, #140, #141
  • Fireside #54, #55, #56

Anthologies/Collections

  • The Merry Spinster by Mallory Ortberg – 3/13
    This is actually my current read and a holdover from the Winter Reading List, and it’s delightful.
  • Not So Stories edited by David Thomas Moore – 4/10
    There is no universe where I’m not going to read a collection of anti-colonialist stories in reaction to Rudyard Kipling’s work, and I have this on pre-order.
  • A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman – 6/26
    Reimagined folklore and mythology from East and South Asia with a fantastic table of contents.

Novels

  • Dread Nation by Justina Ireland – 4/3
    This was a title I pre-ordered, and I’ve already sped through it in just a couple of days, blowing past bedtime a couple of times to finish it. Dread Nation is excellent, and you need to be reading it right now.
  • Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente – 4/10
    Cat Valente is pretty much my favorite author, and Eurovision in space is an A+ concept for a sci-fi novel.
  • Fire Dance by Ilana C. Myer – 4/10
    I still have never gotten around to reading Last Song Before Night, but I’m thinking of reading this one, which is apparently another standalone in the same universe.
  • Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller – 4/17
  • Before Mars by Emma Newman – 4/17
    I enjoyed Planetfall but skipped 2016’s After Atlas, so I wasn’t sure about this book, but the closer it gets to its release date, the more in the mood for it I find myself.
  • A Ruin of Shadows by L.D. Lewis – 4/24
    L.D. Lewis’s novelette, “Chesirah,” was on my Hugo nomination ballot this year, so I am very excited to read this short novella set in the same world. It’s currently available for pre-order from the publisher, Dancing Star Press.
  • The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang – 5/1
    I have a feeling that The Poppy War is going to lean a little more grimdark than I’ve been interested in reading lately, but I can’t bring myself to take it off my TBR just yet.
  • Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope – 5/1
    I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this, and I loved it.
  • Medusa Uploaded by Emily Davenport – 5/1
  • By Fire Above by Robyn Bennis – 5/15
    I adored Robyn Bennis’s debut, The Guns Above, so I’m very much looking forward to this sequel.
  • Armistice by Lara Elena Donnelly – 5/15
    The sequel to last year’s remarkable Amberlough.
  • Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro – 5/22
  • 84K by Claire North – 5/22
    I’m not sure I’m up to reading a dystopian novel this year, but if I am it’ll be this one.
  • Free Chocolate by Amber Royer – 6/5
    This is the first of a couple of very fun-sounding releases coming from Angry Robot this year (the other is Space Unicorn Blues), and I’m very much looking forward to it.
  • Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee – 6/12
    So excited for the finale of this trilogy but also sad that it’s soon to be over.
  • Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse – 6/26
    Rebecca Roanhorse’s short story, “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience,” was among last year’s best (and earned her Hugo and Nebula nominations), so her first novel is rightly among my most-anticipated reads of 2018.

The SF Bluestocking 2018 Winter Reading List

I’m still plugging away at year-end wrap-up stuff from 2017, which I was procrastinating on a little during the end-of-year holidays and which has now been delayed by a very nasty head cold and the unfortunate news that our single-income family here is imminently going to be a zero-income family as my partner is losing his job. It’s not great, obviously, and I fully expect this to continue to affect things here at the blog over the next [hopefully not more than a] couple of months, so I’m not making any promises about how much I’ll be reading or what I’ll be writing about. My guess is “not nearly as much as I’d like” on both counts.

However, before 2018 took such a steep and immediate nosedive into horribleness, there was a ton of stuff I was (and, optimistically, still am) very excited to be digging into over the next three months.

Novels

I’m starting to scale back my reading goals and recommendations with the idea of focusing on quality rather than quantity as well as avoiding overwhelming myself with too-long reading lists. At the same time, I’m branching out again, looking to read more broadly, instead of sticking so strictly to sci-fi and fantasy (though, goodness knows, there’s more great stuff coming out in those genres than I can ever realistically read). This year, you’ll be seeing more literary, romance and horror releases, and I’m even going to experiment with reading some YA again after a lengthy break from it.

  • Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi – 1/23
    A US edition of a 2013 Iraqi novel. I love Frankenstein retellings of all kinds, and one of my goals for 2018 is to read more translated literature, so this is perfect.
  • The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory – 1/30
    I don’t read much romance, but I’ve been seeing this title talked up quite a bit over the last couple of weeks. It sounds fun, and would be a nice change of pace for me.
  • The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton – 2/6
    I haven’t been reading much YA over the last year or so, but I’m thinking of checking out a few YA titles in 2018. This is the first one on my list.
  • Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce – 2/6
    I’m not entirely sold on this series about Numair, to be honest, but I expect I will check it out anyway.
  • Blood Binds the Pack by Alex Wells – 2/6
  • Semiosis by Sue Burke – 2/6
    I’ve been increasingly into serious sci-fi lately, and this character-driven first contact novel is one that I’m very much looking forward to.
  • Moonshine by Jasmine Gower – 2/6
    Moonshine
    sounds a bit like the 2016 novel A Criminal Magic, and that’s not a bad thing.
  • Echoes of Understorey by Thoraiya Dyer – 2/13
    Crossroads of Canopy was one of my favorite books of 2017, and it features a marvelously original fantasy world that I am extremely excited to dive back into.
  • Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel – 2/13
    Victor Frankenstein meets Mary and Kitty Bennet!
  • The Tangled Lands by Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias Buckell – 2/27
    I have never gotten around to reading anything by Paolo Bacigalupi, but I’ve gotten pretty into Tobias Buckell’s short fiction over the last couple of years, so I figure I will give this novel a try.
  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi – 3/6
    The description of this book hits pretty much all my favorite YA fantasy trope keywords.
  • Impostor Syndrome by Mishell Baker – 3/20
    The third book in the Arcadia Project trilogy. This series has been such a nice surprise, and I am very hyped for this conclusion.

Tor.com Publishing

As I’ve done for the last two years, I’ll continue to read all of Tor.com’s novellas and novels. I still love the novella length best of all for pleasure-reading, and Tor.com still puts out a pretty good selection of material. That said, their line-up for the first quarter of 2018 is fully sixty percent sequels, and with other folks catching on and getting into the novella game, Tor.com is going to need to step things up and start delivering more great standalone novellas in order to keep my full attention. Still, there’s a lot to look forward to this winter.

  • Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire – 1/9
  • Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor – 1/16
    The third and final volume of Okorafor’s Binti Trilogy.
  • The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brook Bolander – 1/23
    Elephants and radium girls!
  • The Armored Saint by Myke Cole – 2/20
  • Starfire: Memory’s Blade by Spencer Ellsworth – 2/27
    The Starfire series is actually short novels, rather than novellas, and this is the last one, which I’m pretty sad about.
  • The Warrior Within by Angus McIntyre – 3/6
  • Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson – 3/13
  • Stone Mad by Elizabeth Bear – 3/20
    A sequel/companion to her 2015 novel, Karen Memory.
  • Void Black Shadow by Corey J. White – 3/27
    I rather liked the first novella in this series, Killing Gravity, so I’m moderately excited for the second.

Magazines

I’ve really gotten into short fiction in the last year or two, especially as a way of finding new-to-me writers and young writers at the beginning of, but I’m slowly coming to terms (more or less, anyway) with the fact that I can’t read everything. Last year, I didn’t come close to reading all the short fiction, especially in magazines, that I intended to at the beginning of the year, so this year my plan is to be less ambitious in my goals but more consistent in sticking to them. To that end, I’m only planning on regularly reading the publications I subscribe to:

  • FIYAH Literary Magazine
    If you are any kind of fan of the genre, you owe it to yourself to subscribe to this quarterly publication that celebrates black-written SFF. Just in their first year (2017), they published almost two dozen new writers, an invaluable infusion of new talent to the genre.
  • Uncanny
    Even if you don’t subscribe to Uncanny, be sure to keep an eye out for their special People With Disabilities Destroy SF! Issue later this year.
  • Apex Magazone

Anthologies and Collections

  • Robots vs. Fairies edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe – 1/9
    I loved this pair of editors’ first anthology, 2016’s The Starlit Wood, and their second outing from Saga Press has been among my most anticipated 2018 reads since it was first announced.
  • The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg – 3/13
  • Dracula: Rise of the Beast edited by David Thomas Moore
    Five authors imagine Jonathan and Mina Harker’s son piecing together the story of Dracula decades after the events of Bram Stoker’s book.

Comic Books and Graphic Novels

  • Saga Vol. 8
  • Kim & Kim Vol. 2
  • Abbott #1 – 1/24
    A new original comic by Saladin Ahmed!

Nonfiction

In 2017, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to read one nonfiction title per month in the year, and I failed at it, pretty miserably. This year, I’m trying again, but I’m already not off to a great start: in the first three months of 2018, there’s only one nonfiction title that I’m already certain I want to read. Probably, a couple more will pop up, or I’ll revisit some of the titles I didn’t get around to reading last year. We’ll see, I guess.

  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo – 1/16
    I’m by no means a connoisseur of Ijeoma Oluo’s work, but I remember well her remarkable profile of Rachel Dolezal and I’m interested in this book about race in America.
  • Nonfiction I Have On My Nook and Haven’t Read (But Still Might):
    Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve/Ruin Everything by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith
    Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein
    Hunger by Roxane Gay
    Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

The SF Bluestocking Summer 2017 Reading List Wrap-Up

So, 2017 is a year that just keeps happening, whether we want it to or not, and it’s now the end of summer. I didn’t read nearly as much as I’d have liked, and I certainly fell very short of all my writing goals, but it hasn’t been a total disaster, either. The things I did manage to read were mostly good, and there were some real standouts in basically every category. Here are my favorites.

Best Fantasy Novel – The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

To say N.K. Jemisin stuck the landing on this series is really an understatement; though, like the previous book, it doesn’t quite match the sheer sublime brilliance of The Fifth Season, this novel is nonetheless stratospherically fantastic, and if the Broken Earth trilogy doesn’t become a bonafide classic the genre, there really is no justice in the world. It’s a thoughtful, inventive and compulsively readable story, with strong world-building, a powerful message (or, rather, several) and a pair of iconic lead characters in Essun and her daughter Nassun.

Best Science Fiction Novel – Null States by Malka Older

I’m torn between being sad that I waited so long to read Infomocracy and its sequel and being happy that I was able to read them one right after the other (though that brings me back round to sad again that I’ve now got another full year before the next book comes out). As good as Infomocracy was, I think Null States is definitely the stronger book of the pair, and a lot of that is because of its main heroine, Roz, who was a minor character in the first book but moves to the forefront in this one, where she proves herself to be smart, tough, resourceful and empathetic. While these books have been described by some as “dystopian,” I disagree that the word applies to them at all. Personally, I found the series compelling, insightful and, above all, optimistic about the future.

Best Novella – The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang

Both installments of JY Yang’s new novella duology from Tor.com are well worth reading, and I can’t wait to read more books set in the Tensorate universe, but The Black Tides of Heaven is a perfectly conceived and executed introduction to an intricately lovely and highly entertaining new fantasy setting. The twins Mokoya and Akeha are well drawn and fully realized characters, the world in which they exist feels real and lived-in, and the conflict between magic and technology is both epic in scale and deeply personal to the characters. Also, just look at that gorgeous book cover. One of the best of the year, full stop.

Best Novelette – “Avi Cantor Has Six Months to Live” by Sacha Lamb

This sweet and tenderly charming novelette features a pair of trans boys, their loving families and a just enough magic to scootch the story into the category of fantasy, though one could make the argument that it’s more in magical realism territory. What I loved about i, though, is that it’s a story that is kind to its characters. Avi has troubles, but he’s also surrounded by people who care about him and wish him well. He’s going to be okay, and that’s nice.

35649628Best Magazine – FIYAH Literary Magazine, Issue 3, “Sundown Towns”

I am still slightly bummed that this issue didn’t have a vampire story in it, but it does have “The Last Exorcist” by Danny Lore, which is one of my favorite stories of 2017 so far. “Cracks” by Xen is another stand-out tale. It’s also got another incredible cover by Geneva Benton, whose vision for the magazine’s first year has gone a long way towards helping to establish the publication’s unique and distinctive identity. FIYAH just keeps getting better and better.

Best Comic – Monstress, Volume 2: The Blood

Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda continue to make magic together in this second collection, which includes issues seven through twelve. After the somewhat unrelenting darkness of Volume One, I was pleased that this one at least slightly less brutal. Volume 2 brings us a bunch of new characters and greatly expands upon the world introduced in the first volume over the course of a quest story line that enhances the overall epic feel of the series. Plus, the book itself is a thing of pure beauty; Sana Takeda’s sumptuous artwork for the series is as marvelously detailed and layered as its ever been, and every page is a joy to look at.

Best Non-SFF Read – What Happened by Hillary Clinton

Listen, I love and admire Hillary Clinton so much, and I don’t think I’ll ever not be incandescently furious that this woman isn’t our President. Her campaign memoir is every bit as erudite, well-researched, and thoughtfully put together as you would expect from Clinton’s public persona, and it’s also wryly funny and full of personal quirks and tics that provide a fuller picture than perhaps ever before of the real woman behind that public persona. I know I’m going to still be angry about the Trump administration and worried for the future of this country and the whole world for a long time, but reading this book is something of a healing experience, if only because it’s reassuring to know, well, what happened.

Best Awesome Super Hero Romance Novel – Heroine Worship by Sarah Kuhn

I binged this title and its predecessor, Heroine Complex, back to back over like a day and a half, and I loved every single minute of them. They’re whip-smart, funny, fast-paced and slightly sexy, but the real draw, for me, was the strong focus on the friendship relationship between Annie and Aveda. Each of the books is as much coming-of-age story as it is romance, and I loved reading about how these women level up together and learn to have a healthy adult friendship with each other.

Honorable Mentions:

  • The Red Threads of Fortune by JY Yang
    It’s got a lot of the same great stuff that its partner book has, but also dinosaurs.
  • Uncanny Magazine #18, Sept/Oct 2017
    This issue has a Catherynne M. Valente-penned Clockwork Orange and Cthulhu Mythos mashup.
  • A Taste of Marrow by Sarah Gailey
    More hippos, but also better character arcs and a more satisfying ending than River of Teeth.
  • An Oath of Dogs by Wendy N. Wagner
    Great worldbuilding and an interesting main idea.
  • The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss
    I love monstrous women. This one fooled me a little with its cover, which looked a bit more literary than its contents turned out to be, but it’s a great read.
  • Provenance by Ann Leckie
    Ann Leckie is one of my favorite authors of space opera right now.
  • Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
    This is a very weird book, and I don’t think it was entirely successful, but I still kind of loved it.

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.
Magazines
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.
Non-Fiction

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.

Fiction
  • 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.

The SF Bluestocking 2017 Summer Reading List

It’s that time again, where I list all the things I wish I could be more certain I would have time and energy to read over the coming months. July, August and September are full of exciting new releases, a little light on sci-fi and heavier on fantasy than my recent tastes have been, but exciting nonetheless. Here’s what’s on my radar for the rest of the summer.

Tor.com Publishing

As always, I plan to read most of what Tor.com will be publishing. I always enjoy their novellas, though I will be skipping a couple of novels that are sequels in series I haven’t read yet (unless I somehow manage to read the rest of their respective series). Probably the titles I’m most looking forward to from Tor.com right now are that pair of JY Yang novellas at the end of September, but I’m also really hoping to finally get around to reading Infomocracy so I can read Null States when it comes out. I am bummed that there’s not another Sin du Jour book until November, though.

  • The Ghost Line by Andrew Neil Gray and J.S. Herbison – 7/11
    The concept on this one is a little ho hum, but I’m always down for another short space opera.
  • The Delirium Brief by Charles Stross – 7/11
    I won’t be reading this one because it’s about eight books deep into a series I haven’t read and am not interested in reading back that many books to get into.
  • The Five Daughters of the Moon by Leena Likitalo – 7/25
  • The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion by Margaret Killjoy – 8/15
    “…pits utopian anarchists against rogue demon deer” is relevant to all of my interests.
  • Starfire: A Red Peace by Spencer Ellsworth – 8/22
  • A Song for Quiet by Cassandra Khaw – 8/29
  • The Ruin of Angels by Max Gladstone – 9/5 
    I keep trying, anytime I have downtime, to get into the Craft Sequence, but I’ve been unsuccessful so far. I’m not sure if I want to just skip this one or give up on reading the earlier ones and just start here since my understanding is that The Ruin of Angels stands alone just fine.
  • Acadie by Dave Hutchinson – 9/5
  • Taste of Marrow by Sarah Gailey – 9/12
    We seem to be living in an age of sequels surpassing their predecessors, so I have high hopes for this title.
  • The Twilight Pariah by Jeffrey Ford – 9/12
  • Null States by Malka Older – 9/19
    will finish Infomocracy in time to read this before release.
  • The Red Threads of Fortune by JY Yang – 9/26
  • The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang – 9/26

Magazines

  • FIYAH Literary Magazine, Issue 3, SUNDOWN TOWNS – 7/1
    Every issue of FIYAH is more beautiful than the one before. Just look at this gorgeous cover. I’m not familiar with any of the names on the table of contents for this one, but that only makes it more exciting.
  • Uncanny Magazine #17, July/August 2017
    I’ve already got my hands on Uncanny #17 because I’m a Kickstarter backer, and even though I haven’t dug into it yet, I can already tell it’s going to be a-MAZING. You can see the cover and table of contents at the Uncanny blog.
  • Uncanny Magazine #18, September/October 2017
  • POC Take Over Fantastic Stories
    This is, as far as I know, the final issue ever of Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, guest edited by Nisi Shawl and overflowing with stuff I am looking forward to reading.

Anthologies

2017 has been a year of trying to read more short fiction, and with that in mind I backed several anthologies on Kickstarter in the last year or so that should be coming out in the next couple of months.

  • Evil is a Matter of Perspective: An Anthology of Antagonists edited by Adrian Collins – Currently available.
    I backed this on Kickstarter because it sounded fun. The final product is a little white-dude-heavy, but I’m thinking it will work well for some light-ish reading at some point
  • Hath No Fury edited by Melanie R. Meadors and J.M. Martin – August?
    There’s not a firm release date for this Kickstarted anthology but I’m thinking mid-to-late summer.
  • Strange California edited by Jaym Gates and J. Daniel Blatt – August?
    Another kickstarted anthology with an interesting theme. I’m not from California, but my partner lived in the Bay Area for years and he was pretty interested in this book for that reason. I was excited because I’ve enjoyed stuff Jaym Gates has edited before and Strange California has a promising table of contents.
  • 2084: A Science Fiction Anthology from Unsung Stories – July?
    Another Kickstarted title with a great table of contents, although reading about dystopias gets less appealing all the time these days.
  • Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation edited by Phoebe Wagner and Brontë Christopher Wieland – 8/29
    I cannot wait to find out what solarpunk and eco-speculation are all about. And look at that gorgeous cover art by Likhain!

Comics and Graphic Novels

  • Victor LaValle’s Destroyer
    I’ll be buying and reading issues more or less as they are released.
  • Monstress, Volume 2: The Blood by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda – 7/11
    Hands down the trade I’m most excited for this year.
  • Angel Catbird, Volume 3: The Catbird Roars by Margaret Atwood, Johnny Christmas and Tamra Bonvillain – 7/4
    I believe this will wrap up the series.

Books

  • An Oath of Dogs by Wendy Wagner – 7/4
  • At the Table of Wolves by Kay Kenyon – 7/11
  • Bearly a Lady by Cassandra Khaw – 7/18
    I will likely be reading all the novellas and short fiction the Book Smugglers publish this year.
  • The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana – 7/18
    I’m not reading much YA these days, but this one sounds good.
  • Sovereign by April Daniels – 7/25
    I really enjoyed Dreadnought earlier this year, but I may have to be in the right mood for this one. I’ve gone off super heroes a bit lately.
  • Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw – 7/25
  • Noumenon by Marina J. Lostetter – 8/1
  • The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin – 8/15
    The final book in Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy. Much anticipated.
  • The Glass Town Game by Catherynne M. Valente – 9/5
    This is a middle grade novel, which chills my interest in it a tiny bit, but I think I will always read literally everything Catherynne Valente publishes.
  • Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust – 9/5
    I’m always down for retold fairy tales, and this one is getting some excellent early reviews from people I trust.
  • An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King – 9/12
  • Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel José Older 9/12
  • Autonomous by Annalee Newitz – 9/19
  • Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore – 9/19
    I’ve loved Kristin Cashore since I first read Graceling years ago, and it’s been far too long since I’ve gotten to read anything new by her. I’m still holding out hope for more Graceling Realm books, but this will definitely do in the meantime.
  • Provenance by Ann Leckie – 9/26
    New Ann Leckie. In the same universe as her Imperial Radch trilogy. I am stoked.
  • An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard – 9/26
    This might be my favorite book cover of the season.
  • An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson – 9/26

The SF Bluestocking Spring Reading List

I try to keep my reading lists realistic, but the next couple of months have a frustratingly uneven distribution of books I’d like to read. For one thing, I’m usually only getting through two books or magazines a week, and there are several weeks coming up that have four to six new releases that I’m looking forward to. While having access to advance copies lets me get a head start on things, the truth is that there’s just (always, natch) far more great fiction being produced and published than I’m physically capable of reading and writing about. So this is really more of a wishlist of all the fiction coming out in April, May and June that I would read if I could.

Tor.com Publishing

I generally make an effort to read all of Tor.com’s novellas because they’re inexpensive and the variety encourages me to read things I might not normally give a chance to. I’ve also really fallen in love with the novella length; it’s long enough to feel like a book, but short enough to make for quick reading. Here’s what they’ve got coming out over the next three months.

  • Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys (4/4)
    This is actually a short novel, and I’m sadly thinking of skipping it in spite of having been sitting on an eARC of it for months. While it’s been well-reviewed, it’s yet another Lovecraftian book, and, frankly, I’m just Lovecraft-ed out right now.
  • Proof of Concept by Gwyneth Jones (4/11)
  • Buffalo Soldier by Maurice Broaddus (4/25)
    I’m still slowly making my way through Broaddus’s recent short story collection, Voices of Martyrs, but I’m really looking forward to this title.
  • All Systems Red by Martha Wells (5/2)
  • Killing Gravity by Corey J. White (5/9)
  • Greedy Pigs by Matt Wallace (5/16)
    On the one hand, I’m thrilled about a new Sin du Jour book. On the other hand, I’m already sad that there’s only two more coming after this one.
  • River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey (5/23)
    This book had me at “bloodthirsty feral hippos” and “mercenary cowboys.”
  • Lightning in the Blood by Marie Brennan (5/30)
    A sequel to last year’s Cold-Forged Flame.
  • Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (6/13)
    A prequel companion to last year’s Every Heart a Doorway.
  • Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones (6/20)

Magazines

  • FIYAH Literary Magazine, Issue Two, Sipping Tea (4/1)
    I loved the first issue of FIYAH, and I have every expectation that their second issue will be excellent as well.
  • Uncanny Magazine #16 (May/June 2017)
  • Lightspeed Magazine #82, #83, #84
    My free three month subscription runs out in May, and I still haven’t gotten around to reading the March issue, just for time-constraint reasons. It’s a great magazine, and I’m hoping to get around to it, but there’s just so much else out there that I want to read.
  • Fireside Fiction
    I highly recommend supporting Fireside on Patreon so you, too, can get a convenient digital format of what they publish each month.

Comics and Graphic Novels

I had a couple of things on my winter reading list that would have been nice to read but that I never got around to. However, these are must-reads.

  • Ladycastle #2 (3/29)
  • Saga, Volume 7 (4/4)
  • Bitch Planet, Volume 2: President Bitch (5/31)
    The publication date on this has moved several times, so I may just end up grabbing the single issues.
  • Monstress, Volume 2: The Blood (6/6)

Books

  • She-Wolf and Cub by Lilith Saintcrow (3/28)
    My current read.
  • The House of Binding Thorns by Aliette de Bodard (4/4)
  • Red Sister by Mark Lawrence (4/4)
    I feel like Mark Lawrence’s work before now has been exactly the sort of thing I like to avoid, but this new series has a girl protagonist who has been compared to Arya Stark. That still puts it in the category of things I like to avoid, but Lawrence is a popular author and YOLO, so I’m thinking of trying this one out just in case I’m not going to hate it.
  • Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer (4/11)
  • So You Want to Be a Robot and Other Stories by A. Merc Rustad (May)
    I just discovered Rustad’s work last year, and they’ve quickly become one of my favorite short fiction writers, so I’m super excited for this release. You can pre-order it from Lethe Press now.
  • Final Girls by Seanan McGuire
  • A Tyranny of Queens by Foz Meadows (5/2)
  • A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas (5/2)
  • Wicked Wonders by Ellen Klages (5/2)
    Klages’ Tor.com novella, Passing Strange, was wonderful, so I’m looking forward to checking out more of her short fiction.
  • The Radium Girls by Kate Moore (5/2)
    I don’t read nearly as much non-fiction as I ought or as I’d like, but I’m pretty excited about this book.
  • The Guns Above by Robyn Bennis (5/9)
  • Behind the Mask: A Superhero Anthology edited by Tricia Reeks and Kyle Richardson (5/16)
  • The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente (6/6)
    I would read a phone book if Catherynne M. Valente wrote it.
  • Raven Strategem by Yoon Ha Lee (6/13)
    Sequel to last year’s excellent Ninefox Gambit.
  • The Changeling by Victor LaValle (6/13)
  • The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett (6/13)
  • The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden (6/13)
    One of my most anticipated debuts of the year.
  • The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss (6/20)
  • The Waking Land by Callie Bates (6/27)
  • Amatka by Karin Tidbeck (6/27)