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el dang

Joined 1 year, 3 months ago


I'm currently the coordinator of the #SFFBookClub so a lot of what I'm reading is suggestions from there.

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She Who Became the Sun (Hardcover, 2021, Tor Books) 4 stars

To possess the Mandate of Heaven, the female monk Zhu will do anything

Mulan meets …

Epic in every sense

5 stars

I love this book for being an alternate history that's not fixated on Hitler. I love it for how carefully it weaves its fantasy into the real history it's anchored in - enough so that as soon as I finished reading it I had to read up on the actual Red Turban rebellion and see how many of the characters were close adaptations. I love it for how much desperate, furious, and yes sometimes joyous life its main characters have. I love it for how viscerally it evokes some incredibly hard times (though be warned, it's a heavy read because of that). I love it for how utterly unsympathetic all the "big people" are.

Around the middle of the book the weight of Fate on both the plot and multiple characters' obsessions started to feel stifling, but the more the narrator complicated that idea the more this stopped being a …

A Closed and Common Orbit (Paperback, 2017, Hodder & Stoughton) 5 stars

Once, Lovelace had eyes and ears everywhere. She was a ship's artificial intelligence system - …

made me cry more than once

5 stars

I absolutely adored this book. I realise that part of this is that it was a perfect little escape while I was stuck at home with covid, but I do also think it's really wonderful.

It has some similar strengths to the first in the series, in that it's mostly about the relationships between a few outcast characters that become a chosen family and just happen to be in space. But if anything I think it's better written (I guess Chambers getting into her stride with book 2), and benefits from being a more focussed story of a smaller number of characters. And has some weightier things to say about embodiment, the tension between fitting in and freedom, and loyalty & reciprocity.

I am excited about the rest of the series.

Beowulf (2020, MCD x FSG Originals) No rating

Nearly twenty years after Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf—and fifty years after the translation that …

How does one review a millenium-old poem?

No rating

I guess in two halves. This translation is 97% wonderful, with the other 3% being occasional grating patches. It is the most alive and readable version I've read, and I think the stylistic choices Headley made all make sense, from the repeated exhortations of "bro" to the ways she works to treat the women of the story--especially Grendel's mother, but not only her--better than other translations I've read. Using the techniques of heavy alliteration and kenning compounds with all modern language really brings home how driving they can be, and the originals must have been when their vocabulary was current. Sometimes "bro" and "daddy" felt over-repeated, and then started to grate, but that really is an occasional glitch in a wonderful translation (and I wonder if I'd even have felt that if I'd listened to the poem rather than reading it, or read it more slowly instead of in …

Acceptance (2014, Macmillan) 4 stars

From the publisher---

It is winter in Area X, the mysterious wilderness that has defied …

Fitting end to an amazing series

4 stars

I don't think I liked this book quite as much as the previous two, but it still sucked me in and I'm not sure how better the trilogy could have been wrapped up. There are a lot of still unanswered questions at the end, which feels fitting but something about the style of this one felt like a tease, where the previous two volumes felt more convincingly like the answers simply weren't there to be had.

I still love and strongly recommend this trilogy overall.