Reading notes, week 23

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June 6: Do Not Look Back, My Lion by Alix E. Harrow. Hugo short story. Beautiful but painful. Wonderful worldbuilding.

A couple of stories from different Hugo finalist magazines, mostly meh.

Why the Dutch are Different by Ben Coates, picked up when exchanging ebooks with Spouse. The blurb says “The first book to offer an in depth look at hidden Holland and the fascinating people that live there” but it’s not the first by far, I’ve read more of those “see how cute” books about the Netherlands. (And yes, it’s mostly about Holland; the writer says “most tourists don’t leave Amsterdam” rather dismissively but it’s clear that he’s hardly left his adopted home city Rotterdam and its environs.) It’s cringeworthy but not enough so to throw against a virtual wall, though it became more and more condescending toward the end. I thought I could use it as a model for the Valdyas tourist guide I’ve been wanting to write forever (sort of self-fanfic) but I think that needs a different model.

June 5: Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island by Nibedita Sen. I wish I hadn’t. I should have noticed that it was originally published in something called “Nightmare Magazine”. (That said, I love the format even though I hate the genre.)

June 4: The Fireside Magazine Hugo packet. A handful of stories, reminding me forcefully of why I prefer to hand-pick my short stories instead of reading whole magazines. I found myself skimming most, skipping two altogether because I appreciate content warnings, and the three or four I did read beginning-to-end included a werewolf story that wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as Away with the Wolves. (Yes, I know someone else has hand-picked these stories. But it wasn’t me, so I can’t expect they’re all what I want to read.) By the Storytelling Fire is truly excellent, though.

June 3: A Catalog of Storms by Fran Wilde. So strange. But wonderful.

DNF: The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders. Many good things have been said about it but it starts more dystopian than I can stand and I have no reason to think this is going to be otherwise in the rest of the book.

Skipped another story because it was even more dystopian. It may be more virtuous but sheesh, it’s so not what I need at the moment.

Away with the Wolves by Sarah Gailey. Goodness, a werewolf story I like, and a lot at that.

Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher. Because I wanted to read something from the Hugo packet that I was practically guaranteed to like. (I know all speculative fiction is political, and if something isn’t it should be! I hear you (generic-you) if you think it’s more virtuous to read and write dystopian fiction to match the state of the world! But I’m in Tolkien’s camp in this.) And I did like it!

June 1: The Archronology of Love by Caroline M. Yoachim. Read about a third and skimmed the rest because I wanted to know what happened and how it ended (somewhat happy, fortunately). SF rather than fantasy, and perhaps too complex for my brain.

And Now His Lordship Is Laughing by Shiv Ramdas. Made me look up history I didn’t know (the Bengal famine of 1943). I don’t like it and never want to read it again but it’s good.

May 31: InCryptid stories by Seanan McGuire: The Flower of Arizona and One Hell of a Ride. Interesting but not so much that I want to read a lot/the lot. Glad I’ve got them, though, I may want one occasionally. Two stories were enough to know that the series is good enough for a vote.

LaGuardia by Nnedi Okorafor and Tana Ford. I almost stopped reading because it was more political than I thought I could deal with right now, but ooh! the story! and the pictures! and the politics weren’t tacked on, but intrinsic to the story, and it ends so very, very well.

Index of reading notes is here.


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