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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Women and fantasy's LiveJournal:

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Friday, June 4th, 2010
10:24 pm
[calico_reaction]
McDonald, Sandra: Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories
Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories (2010)
Written by: Sandra McDonald
Genre: Short Stories/Fantasy
Pages: 282 (Trade Paperback)

The premise: ganked from the back cover: A writer of whimsy and passion, Sandra McDonald has collected her most evocative short fiction to offer readers in Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories. A beautiful adventuress from the ancient city of New Dalli sets off to reclaim her missing lover. What secrets does she hide beneath her silk skirts? A gay cowboy flees the Great War in search of true love and the elusive undead poet Whit Waltman, but at what cost? A talking statue sends an abused boy spinning through a great metropolis, dodging pirates and search for a home. On these quests, you will meet macho firefighters, tiny fairies, collapsible musicians, lady devils and vengeful sea witches. These are stories to stir the heart and imagination.

My Rating

Must Have: How can you say no to a collection that explores gender issues, sexuality issues, racism, and so much more? McDonald's book is a cross between Catherynne M. Valente's themes and Charles de Lint's world-building, which stories that really linger long after you're finished. While some are serious, some are whimsical, and all are unifying not just by themes, but by setting and characters. The stand-outs for me were "Diana Comet and the Lovesick Cowboy," "The Goddess and Lieutenant Teague" (really loved this one), "The Fireman's Fairy" (this is will make you sad), and "Kingdom Coming." I also loved the fake historical vibe to this collection, a kind of alternate history that isn't obviously alternate history, but rather a riff on our own. All in all, it's a great collection, and I'm thankful I got my hands on it. I really think this deserves to at LEAST make the Tiptree shortlist, because if it doesn't, I can't imagine what would.

Review style: I have few notes and a ton of sticky tabs all over this book. I want to talk about the unifying element to each of these stories, some of the themes the book touches on, as well as single out which stories were really powerful for me. No spoilers (save for a teeny-tiny one that's clearly marked), so if you're interested in the full review at my LJ, just click the link below. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)

REVIEW: Sandra McDonald's DIANA COMET AND OTHER IMPROBABLE STORIES

Happy Reading!

DON'T MISS OUT: Want a chance to win a free copy of the short story collection that deserves a Tiptree nod? Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories by Sandra McDonald definitely fits the bill! Interested? Click here.

ALSO:

Book club selections @ calico_reaction. Hop on over! We'd love to have you!

June: Sunshine by Robin McKinley
July: Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff

Thursday, April 29th, 2010
10:21 pm
[calico_reaction]
Sedia, Ekaterina: The Alchemy of Stone
The Alchemy of Stone (2008)
Written by: Ekaterina Sedia
Genre: Steampunk Fantasy
Pages: 293 (Trade Paperback)

The premise: ganked from BN.com: Mattie, an intelligent automaton skilled in the use of alchemy, finds herself caught in the middle of a conflict between gargoyles, the Mechanics, and the Alchemists. With the old order quickly giving way to the new, Mattie discovers powerful and dangerous secrets--secrets that can completely alter the balance of power in the city of Ayona. This doesn't sit well with Loharri, the Mechanic who created Mattie and still has the key to her heart--literally.

My Rating

Worth the Cash: I wanted to see a certain improvement from The Secret History of Moscow, which had a lot going for it anyway. I saw that improvement, and there's just a lot to savor and enjoy about this novel. It's character driven, and the politics start to dictate the story by the end, but really, given the world Sedia's created, it's a given, as is the ending if you're paying attention. There's a load of beauty in this book, and it makes me look forward to her next title, The House of Discarded Dreams, which is due in July 2010. I've said before that Sedia has the potential to reach the literary heights of Catherynne M. Valente, of Charles de Lint, of Neil Gaiman, and I still believe that. This book is a step closer in that direction, and Sedia doesn't shy away from big issues, not from feminism nor God, and the book, while it has its fun moments, gives you plenty to think over long after it's over.

Review style: Being that it's a Book Club selection, expect spoilers. If you haven't finished reading or haven't even read the book yet, simply skip to the "My Rating" section and come back when you have read it. There shall be discussion of the book's feminist leanings, how politics both help and hinder the story, the various works of literature this book alludes too, and all kinds of other goodies, including some of my favorite moments of the story.

The full review, if you're interested, may be found in my LJ. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)

REVIEW: Ekaterina Sedia's THE ALCHEMY OF STONE

Happy Reading!

DON'T MISS OUT: Here's your chance to win a signed copy of Karin Lowachee's arctic fantasy, THE GASLIGHT DOGS. To enter, click here. Deadline to enter: 5/12

ALSO:

Book club selections @ calico_reaction. Hop on over! We'd love to have you!

May: Natural History by Justina Robson
June: Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Monday, November 30th, 2009
1:02 pm
[calico_reaction]
Johnson, Alaya Dawn: Racing the Dark
Racing the Dark (2007)
Written by: Alaya Dawn Johnson
Genre: YA/Fantasy
Pages: 368 (Trade Paperback)

The premise: this one's a doozy, so we're going to BN.com: Racing the Dark is set in a land of volcanoes and earthquakes, plagues and typhoons, of island nations bound by fear of the spirits they imprisoned to control their volatile environment. Lana, a teenaged girl on a nameless backwater island, finds an ominous blood-red jewel that marks her as someone with power, setting in motion events that drive her away from her family and into an apprenticeship with a mysterious one-armed witch. Lana begins to learn the spells and incantations, each of which requires some form of sacrifice from the person who employs it. As Lana becomes more powerful, she is deceived into a sacrifice she is unwilling to make — the life of her own mother. When Lana dares to use a dark, ancient spell to save her mother's life, she is set onto a path toward becoming a creature beyond her wildest imaginings. This is an unforgettable coming-of-age story set in a world where wielding the power of magic requires understanding the true meaning of sacrifice.

Worth the Cash: even though Racing the Dark features a teenaged protagonist, it doesn't read like a YA novel. For starters, Johnson deals with some adult issues rather nicely. Also, the protagonist(s) grow, both physically and emotionally. Given the amount of time that passes in the course of this book alone, I suspect Lana and the other protagonists will be well into adulthood by time the trilogy draws to a close. Then there's the language issue: YA is sometimes said to have transparent writing styles that don't get in the way of the story and the characters, but while Johnson's writing isn't verbose or elaborate or dense, it's certainly NOT transparent. Readers who pick this book up not knowing it's YA will probably not figure it out by the time they finish reading. And that is an interesting thing. Not good or bad, but interesting. Personally, I was sucked in, especially at the beginning. This book is about the journey, and while the ending of the book is more like a pause in that journey rather than a completed one (this trilogy I suspect will tell ONE BIG STORY, so reading order is important), I felt pretty satisfied by time I put the book down. There's so much richness in the world Johnson's created, and there's so much to enjoy and relish. It's not often you get a fantasy that's not set in a medieval or modern world, and the island/Hawaiian/Japanese elements just really worked for the book, as well as keeping the fantasy world fresh. Johnson's debut doesn't read like a debut at all: it's deliberate and controlled and I'm really looking forward to seeing where this story goes, because it is complex and it is so much about the journey that I practically have no expectations. At least, not yet. Maybe by time I get my hands on the second book, The Burning City, I will. :)

Review Style: it's a pretty complex book, so I'm taking my time with this review. Expect spoilers, but in some cases, spoilers will ruin a book, and in others, they really don't. I think this is a case where spoilers don't ruin a book, but only YOU know how spoilers affect your reading experience, so if spoilers bother you beyond belief, there's no need to click the link below, which takes you to my LJ. You have everything you need right here.

However, the LJ does offer a reading list as well as cover commentary, so if the overall discussion doesn't bother you, hop on over! As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)

REVIEW: Alaya Dawn Johnson's RACING THE DARK

Happy Reading!

Book club selections @ calico_reaction. Hop on over! We'd love to have you!

December: The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
January: The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
Monday, August 10th, 2009
9:52 pm
[calico_reaction]
Le Guin, Ursula K.: Unlocking the Air
Unlocking the Air (1996)
Written by: Ursula K. Le Guin
Genre: Short Stories
Pages: 207 (Trade Paperback)

The premise: I'm gonna grab the description from BN.com, which also matches the description on the back of the book: This collection of mainstream stories, written from the early eighties to the mid-nineties, is a stunning example of the virtuosity of the legendary Ursula K. Le Guin. Diffusing the traditional boundaries of realism, magical realism, and surrealism, Le Guin finds the detail that reveals the strange in everyday life, or the unexpected depths of an ordinary person. Written with wit, zest, and a passionate sense of human frailty and toughness, Unlocking the Air is superb fiction by a beloved storyteller at the height of her power.

My Rating

Worth the Cash: any Le Guin fan will enjoy curling up with this text and simply absorbing her stories. They might not all speak to you personally, but the writing in all of them is something to admire, as are the myths, fairy tales, and social issues she brings to life. These stories are most all mainstream, though some have a magical realist or slight fantasy touch. Le Guin cares about people, and it never fails that her stories highlight those people. It's an enjoyable read, and I'm glad I've got the rest of her short story collections on the way.

Review style: Really general, and I won't be reviewing each of the 18 stories. I will, however, comment on which ones stood out and why, on the ones that I think make this collection worth reading.

So if you're interested in the full review, feel free to hop over to my journal. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)

REVIEW: Ursula K. Le Guin's UNLOCKING THE AIR

Happy Reading!
Saturday, July 25th, 2009
6:46 pm
[calico_reaction]
North, Pearl: Libyrinth
Libyrinth (2009)
Written by: Pearl North
Genre: YA/Science Fantasy
Pages: 332 (Hardcover)

The premise: Haly is a clerk in the Libyrinth, a library so big and so vast that people get lost and are never heard from again. Haly's got a particular talent in that she can hear the voices of books, literally. When she's close, the book in question tells its story to her and only her. This makes her role to protect the books even more personal when the Eradicants make their yearly pilgrimage to the Libyrinth to burn volumes of books. When Haly learns of a plot that will allow the Eradicants to burn every volume left in the Libyrinth, she'll do anything to stop it. But what happens next opens Haly's eyes to a world she's never known or understood, despite growing up with the voices of books guiding her her entire life. Not only does she learn who the Eradicants really are and what they really believe in, but she learns what her true purpose in life is. That purpose could unite the world if she plays her cards right, or destroy it if she lets others make her decisions for her.

My Rating

Must Have: what starts out as a deceptively and almost irritatingly simple book about the dangers of censorship blossoms into something much more complex and engaging once you hit the POV switch. The pace is fast through-out, but I found myself more invested as Pearl North allowed her characters to learn more about the world and the cultures that populated it, and how all of those cultures influenced the Libyrinth itself. Truly North does a fantastic job crafting not one, but two likable and relatable heroines in Haly and Clauda, both of whom have a more important story than merely falling in love with a boy (though one of them does, indeed, fall in love with a boy, that's not the POINT of her particular story). North also does a marvelous job creating not one, not two, but three separate and distinct cultures that have their own values and faiths that come across as believable and real and not one dimensional (though one of the cultures seems one dimensional from the start--bear with the book, you'll be glad you did). But one of the best things Pearl North does with this book is incorporate passages of books into the text, to the point said passages become a kind of commentary on what's happening or what's about to happen. Particularly impressive is North's use of The Diary of Anne Frank, and how it plays into the climax of the story, which is also very well done. I'll be more than happy to pick up the second book in this trilogy, though this book is tied up so well that I'm left wondering just what exactly a second book would be about! Whatever it is, I look forward to it. North has impressed me with her YA debut, and I think she'll impress you as well.

Review style: stream-of-conscious style, because there's not a whole lot I feel I need to say about it. I speak in generalities, so don't worry about spoilers. If you're interested in the full review, feel free to use the link below to pop over to my journal. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)

REVIEW: Pearl North's LIBYRINTH

Happy Reading!
Sunday, December 7th, 2008
12:59 pm
[calico_reaction]
Griffith, Nicola: Slow River
Slow River
Writer: Nicola Griffith
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 343

The premise: Lore is the daughter of one of the world's most powerful and wealthy families, but when she's kidnapped, she becomes a nobody. Naked, beaten, and left for dead, she finds help and solace in a woman named Spanner, an expert data pirate who can give Lore exactly what she needs: a new life, a new identity, and a place to hide from the police, her family, and her kidnappers. But all of this comes at a price, which Lore is forced to pay over and over and over again. Told from three threads, we meet Lore as a child growing up with her family, the post-kidnapping Lore who's rescued by Spanner and the life that follows, and then finally the Lore who's trying to hard to make a new, respectable life for herself while still hiding from her own past and her own fears. But the past keeps nipping at Lore's heels, and she soon finds she can't hide forever . . .

My Rating

Worth the Cash: this is no action-packed, fast read. Like the title suggest, it's meant to be read slowly, to be absorbed, so that the reader can fully live and experience Lore's life, all three perspectives on it. It might feel a little too slow, a little too dull at the start, but Griffith does a wonderful job focusing on the scientific element of water treatment, and the relationships Lore experiences are painful and real and you want her to succeed. The payoff at the end is worth it, but Griffith takes her time getting there, make no mistake about that. Fans of soft SF and feminist SF can't miss this book. If you do, well, it's your loss.

The full review, which does include spoilers, may be found at my new, improved! journal. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)

REVIEW: Nicola Griffith's SLOW RIVER

Happy Reading!
Tuesday, November 11th, 2008
10:39 pm
[morchades]
Tuesday, October 14th, 2008
6:58 pm
[calico_reaction]
Allen, Mike: Clockwork Phoenix
Clockwork Phoenix: Tales of Beauty and Strangeness
Edited by: Mike Allen
Genre: Short Stories/Fantasy
Pages: 285 (ARC)

Normally, in book reviews, I give you the premise. With short story anthologies, that's a bit trickier, and even reading the whole book doesn't really tell me the idea or theme that gels these tales together. They're mostly fantasy (some are more horror, some have an SF-nal touch), and they're all written well. And as I usually do for anthologies, I'll give each story it's own review (at my journal, that is), and then review the book as a whole at the bottom of the entry.

My Rating

Worth the Cash: of the 18 stories, I really enjoyed 12, and even the ones I wasn't crazy about weren't horrible or anything, but more or less not to my personal taste. I'm surprisingly impressed with the quality of stories and writing in this anthology, and it's an easy book to recommend, especially when you consider my biggest complaints are the cover and the intro, which in the total package, is completely superficial (go me!). My absolute favorites of the book are Grant's, Brennan's, Singh's, and Hoffman's. This book is definitely worth the cash to those readers who enjoy spec-fic shorts, and to those readers who may be tired of the stories offered by the Big Three, especially in regards to fantasy. And this might be random, but I was very impressed with the story order and how the stories sometimes fit together and led into each other. That was very nice. :)

The full review, which does include spoilers for the various stories, may be found at my LJ. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome.

REVIEW: Clockwork Phoenix: Tales of Beauty and Strangeness

Anthology contributors are:

Catherynne M. Valente
David Sandner
John Grant
Cat Rambo
Leah Bobet
Michael J. DeLuca
Laird Barron
Ekaterina Sedia
Cat Sparks
Tanith Lee
Marie Brennan
Jennifer Crow
Vandana Singh
John C. Wright
C.S. MacCath
Joanna Galbraith
Deborah Biancotti
Erin Hoffman
Wednesday, October 1st, 2008
8:06 pm
[morchades]
Call for Submissions: 22nd Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans
Where: Space Westerns: Sideshow (Announcement)
When: November 2nd
How Long Until Submissions Close: Until October 28th
Who: Nathen E. Lilly submissions2018[AT]spacewesterns[DOT]com or the submission form
What: Women in Space Westerns

The 22nd Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction will be hosted on the SpaceWesterns.com Sideshow. Our specific topic suggestion: Women in Space Westerns. Send submissions (blogged between May 3rd, 2008 and October 28th, 2008) to Nathan E. Lilly. Additional submission information is available on the submissions page.

What is a Space Western? A simple definition: Western genre themes in Outer-space. Often, if the protagonist of the story could accurately be described as a Space Cowboy, then you’ve got a Space Western. A more serious definition is fiction that explores the effect that the frontiers of outer-space have on the human condition.

Space Westerns in film and television include (but are not limited to): Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Captain Video and the Video Rangers, Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Alien, Galaxy Rangers, Sabre rider and the Star Sheriffs, Marshal Bravestar, Space Hunter, Earth 2, Babylon 5, Farscape, Trigun, Outlaw Star, Cowboy Bebop, Firefly/Serenity, Coyote Ragtime Show, Gun X Sword. Additional works in various other formats can be found at the (Nearly) Complete List of Space Westerns. If you have any questions about why a specific work was included, please feel free to contact me.

Female characters in Space Westerns include (but are not limited to): Wilma Deering, Dale Arden, Nurse Chapel, Lt. Uhura, Yeoman Rand, Princess Leia, Queen Amidala, Ellen Ripley, Lt. Athena, Medtech Cassiopeia, Serina, Cassiopeia, Devon Adaire, D’lenn, Faye Valentine, Radical Ed, Zoe Washburne, Inarra Sera, Kaylee Frye, River Tam, Wendy Garrett, Laura Roslin, Lt. Kara “Starbuck” Thrace, Lt. Sharon “Boomer” Valerii, Six.

Women writers of Space Westerns include (but are not limited to): C.L. Moore, Andre Norton, Leigh Brackett, and Jane Espenson.

Repost far and wide, please.
Tuesday, August 19th, 2008
8:43 pm
[calico_reaction]
Brennan, Marie: Warrior and Witch
Warrior and Witch
Writer: Marie Brennan
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 420

It's been a while since I read the first book of this duology, Doppelganger (or now titled Warrior thanks to the re-release), but I'm glad I finally got around the conclusion (also titled, thanks to the re-release, as Witch). Brennan's prose has improved with this second book, and the problems I had with Doppelganger I don't have with Warrior and Witch, which made me quite a happy camper. And I will add that I feel these books are best read back-to-back. Doppelganger stands on its own, but really, these two books make up a whole, and it's important to read them in order to get the whole story.

The premise: when a witch is born, a doppelganger is created. In order for that witch to achieve her full powers, the doppelganger MUST be killed, or the witch's magic will spin out of control and kill them both. Only Mirei has found a way out of this bloody tradition, and not everyone is so accepting of the change of rules. The witching community has divided, one side determined to embrace Mirei and her new magic, and the other side determined to destroy not only Mirei, but all the other doppelgangers as well. Mirei must protect these girls while trying to help mend the rift between the two camps, and stay alive in the process. Because her new magic is killing her.

The full review, with spoilers, may be found in my LJ. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome.

REVIEW: Marie Brennan's WARRIOR AND WITCH

Happy Reading! :)
Saturday, August 2nd, 2008
10:22 pm
[calico_reaction]
Le Guin, Ursula K.: Lavinia
Lavinia
Writer: Ursula K. Le Guin
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 280

I just finished reading Ursula K. Le Guin's latest release, Lavinia. The book's got a touch of poetry to it, which is appropriate, because this is Le Guin's translation (in prose) of the end of Virgil's The Aeneid, but told through the eyes of Aenea's future wife, Lavinia. And it goes where Virgil was not able to follow, to the roots of Rome.

It's a good read, if a little slow, but enjoyable. Those fond of feminist re-tellings of history and myth (as found in Marion Zimmer Bradley's works) should enjoy this especially.

The full review, with some spoilers, may be found in my LJ. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome.

REVIEW: Ursula K. Le Guin's LAVINIA

Happy Reading! :)
Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008
7:54 pm
[calico_reaction]
Winterson, Jeanette: The Stone Gods
The Stone Gods
Writer: Jeanette Winterson
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 207

I've been wanting to read more of Jeanette Winterson's work ever since I fell I love with The Passion. The Stone Gods seemed right up my alley, as it's fiction that utilizes science for its plot (and therefore science fiction, I don't care what side of the genre-fence you're on). I'll admit I was disappointed at first, because while the writing is still very, very good, it's nothing like The Passion. Still, once I got into the story, I began to appreciate what Winterson was doing more and more. She preaches, yes, and it's obvious to see how current events influence this book, but this is about more than simply humanity's ability to destroy itself and the world around it, but it's also about the permanence of soul, and that's a beautiful thing.

The full review, which does contain spoilers, may be found in my LJ. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome.

REVIEW: Jeanette Winterson's THE STONE GODS

Happy Reading!!

Also, if you're interested, don't forget about the fantasy giveaway at my LJ! For details, just click here.
Monday, May 26th, 2008
12:26 am
[calico_reaction]
Kushner, Ellen: The Privilege of the Sword
The Privilege of the Sword
Writer: Ellen Kushner
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 459

I would've probably been better off not reading this book, as I never really WANTED to, but it ended up being part of a list for a personal reading challenge I set for myself, so go figure. No, I wasn't enamored of even very much engaged by this novel, even though it has ingredients I should've sunk my teeth into (gender reversal, sexual freedoms, etc).

The premise: Katherine is a well-bred country girl hoping to live every girl's dream of marrying well and fitting into society. But her uncle is known as the Mad Duke, and the Mad Duke suddenly decides to giver her and her family the offer of a lifetime: he'll return to them the family fortune, if only Katherine will come to live with him for six months. Oh, and learn how to use a sword.

I can't help but suspect that my lack of reading Kushner's other books set in this world greatly diminished my enjoyment of this one, but I will warn potential readers that this book lacks recognizable fantasy conventions, and the only thing that makes this particular book worthy of the genre is the fact it's a fictional, secondary world.

The full review's in my journal, in anyone's interested. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome.

REVIEW: Ellen Kushner's THE PRIVILEGE OF THE SWORD

Happy Reading! :)
Saturday, April 26th, 2008
10:07 pm
[calico_reaction]
Butler, Octavia: Lilith's Brood
Lilith's Brood
Writer: Octavia E. Butler
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 746

Octavia Butler's work has yet to disappoint me. I decided to tackle Lilith's Brood as part of my required reading for my grad school program because I'd heard so many good things about it. I expected to like it, and I did, but I didn't expect to get so much out of it in terms of themes and relationships. There's so much richness in this book, so much to question and consider, and Butler does an amazing job at painting everything in shades of grey. There are no right answers.

Lilith's Brood is technically a compilation of Butler's Xenogenesis Trilogy: Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago. The premise is this: humanity has destroyed itself via nuclear war, and an alien race, the Oankali, rescue the survivors. But the Oankali are fascinated with humanity and all the puzzles and contradictions that make up the race, and because the Oankali are traders, they "fix" humanity in order for it, and themselves for that matter, because trading genetic material is as necessary to them as breathing is for us, to survive.

Lilith Iyapo is the first woman Awakened from stasis to learn how to live among the Oankali, accept humanity's fate, and train and teach humanity to live under this very strange new world. Lilith's Brood is her story, and that of her descendent's, but it's also the story of the evolution and branching off of the human race, and it's a compelling one at that.

Fans of social/soft SF should find this book very appealing, and readers who enjoy works with a feminist bent will have fun examining gender and sex issues found in this book, as the Oankali do not have just males and females, but the third sex, the ooloi, who is neither male or female, and whose role in society is a tremendously important one. This is a book I'd highly recommend.

The review of Lilith's Brood is in my journal, and for the sake of clarity, I divided the review into three parts: one part for each original book that comprised the trilogy. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome.

REVIEW: Octavia E. Butler's LILITH'S BROOD

Happy Reading! :)
Tuesday, March 18th, 2008
5:24 pm
[calico_reaction]
Bear, Elizabeth: Carnival
Carnival
Writer: Elizabeth Bear
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 393

Carnival is written along the lines of the good old feminist utopias, the "battle of sexes" story in which women are in charge of society and it's up to men to wreck havoc and prove whether or not women are better suited for leadership than men are. But Carnival is much more than that. New Amazonia is no true utopia, nor does it try to be. And on the flip side, the rest of the universe, which is governed by the Old Earth Coalition and its Governors, isn't a utopia either. In fact, it's pretty frightening: Old Earth's population has been culled down dramatically by the Governors through Assessment. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

What brings these two "worlds" together is the fact that New Amazonia has a seemingly inexhaustible energy source, and the Coalition wants it. The first attempt resulted in stolen art and the slaughter of a fleet of Marines, so now the Coalition is trying the diplomatic approach in the form of two gay men: Michelangelo Kusanagi-Jones and Vincent Katherinessen. Why gay men? Because with rare exception, women aren't allowed in leadership positions in the Coalition, and the women of New Amazonia will only deal with "gentle" males, their term for gay men.

The core of the plot is this: Angelo and Vincent are expected to get this energy source no matter what the cost, but one of them has his own plans, and those plans might change the very fabric of both New Amazonia and the rest of the Coalition.

This isn't just a feminist text. It uses ethnic diversity as its backdrop (during the culling of Old Earth, it was white people that got axed) and embraces queer theory. How can it not, with two gay men as the story's two main protagonists? There's a lot to consider in this novel, and it's certainly not your usual cultural setting or cast of characters when it comes to SF.

It's a good read that forces to take your time and absorb the details. The book's not for everyone, but anyone interested in feminist SF, queer SF should definitely check this out.

The full review, which contains some spoilers, is in my LJ if anyone's interested. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)

REVIEW: Elizabeth Bear's CARNIVAL

Happy Reading! :)
Tuesday, March 4th, 2008
3:37 pm
[calico_reaction]
Pelland, Jennifer: Unwelcome Bodies
Unwelcome Bodies
Writer: Jennifer Pelland
Genre: Short Stories/Science Fiction/Horror
Pages: 247

When I heard Pelland was releasing a short story collection, I was very excited. Granted, I've only read two of her short stories, but the one really stuck with me. Pelland has a smooth, clean writing style and her story ideas can really knock a person on their ass.

Unwelcome Bodies is a collection that focuses on a variety of issues: the environment, religion, and terrorism, and the one thing that unites these stories is the character's body image and how they fit into the world/society around them. Each of the stories are different and unique, and most all of the stories balance a wonderful blend of science fiction and horror. This collection is an easy one to recommend.

The full story-by-story review, which does include spoilers in some cases, is in my journal. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome.

REVIEW: Jennifer Pelland's UNWELCOME BODIES

Happy Reading!
Wednesday, February 27th, 2008
6:45 pm
[calico_reaction]
Sherman, Delia: Interfictions
Interfictions: An Anthology of Interstitial Writing
Edited by: Delia Sherman and Theodora Goss
Genre: Short Stories/Fiction
Pages: 291

What is interstitial fiction? This short story anthology does its best to find out. From the intro, which defines interstitial being between borders, but something that's not a hybrid, to each of the 19 stories crafted by some damn talented voices in fiction, I have to say, I learned a lot. Interstitial writing isn't just about genre, or only about genre. In some stories, interstitality had to do with place, or with character, or with a particular moment in life. This book is shelved in the SF/F section of the store, and indeed, some of the stories certainly have a magical realist flair, but if I had to classify this book as anything, it's literary fiction. It's not an anthology that's for everyone, but for anyone with a love of language and fine writing with an open and inquisitive imagination, I think you'll find this anthology worth your while. I know I sure did.

The full review, which contains a story-by-story reaction (and some reactions contain spoilers, others do not), may be found in my journal. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome.

REVIEW: Interfictions: An Anthology of Interstitial Writing

Contributers:

Christopher Barzak
Leslie What
Anna Tambour
Joy Marchand
Jon Singer
K. Tempest Bradford
Csilla Kleinheincz
Michael J. DeLuca
Karen Jordan Allen
Rachel Pollack
Veronica Schanoes
Mikal Trimm
Colin Greenland
Vandana Singh
Matthew Cheney
Lea Sihol
Adrian Ferrero
Holly Phillips
Catherynne M. Valente
Sunday, February 10th, 2008
11:27 pm
[calico_reaction]
Cook, Matthew: Blood Magic
Blood Magic
Writer: Matthew Cook
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 264

So I'm on a bit of a JUNO books kick. Next up was Matthew Cook's Blood Magic, which by the backcover blurb didn't sound interesting to me at all, but a good friend of mine, whose tastes I trust, recommended it highly so I gave it a shot. It's a darn impressive debut, with a strong female protag who works blood magic and can raise the dead once more to fight, but who is sympathetic in her need to help people, even when those people are afraid of her and the magic she performs. A short fast read and I'm looking forward to the sequel.

The full review, which does contain spoilers, can be found in my LJ. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome.

REVIEW: Matthew Cook's BLOOD MAGIC

Also, I finally posted my top ten reads for 2007. As an added bonus, I'm also doing a giveaway. All you have to do is comment to the entry with the appropriate info, and you could win the book of your choice off my top ten list, courtesy of me! :)

Interested? Check it out here. Feel free to pimp the contest as well. It runs through Valentine's Day. :)

Happy Reading! :)
Thursday, February 7th, 2008
2:34 pm
[calico_reaction]
Kelso, Sylvia: Amberlight
Amberlight
Writer: Sylvia Kelso
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 260

So I finished reading Sylvia Kelso's Amberlight, which is an interesting fantasy that focuses on a matriarchal society, gender reversals, and even touches (but not through said guy's POV) male rape. It's a short read, and an interesting one, and while I had some problems getting through it, I'm glad I did. I'll be picking up the sequel when it's released this year.

The full review's in my LJ, if you're interested. Fair warning, it does contain spoilers. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)

REVIEW: Sylvia Kelso's AMBERLIGHT

Happy Reading! :)
Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008
9:59 pm
[etrangere]
Gender treatment in fantasy, according to Bakker
We're having a discussion at my journal about R. Scott Bakker's treatment of women characters in the Prince of Nothing series, and about female characters in gritty fantasy in general, started upon a quote from an interview of Bakker.

I'd love to see more feminist takes on this topic.
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