Category Archives: Reviews

New article! Magic, history and queer romance

KJCharles-booksHello friends! I’ve found that I usually write up to 4 non-fiction articles a year these days, that’s a number that seems to balance well with my fiction writing, but in 2018 I got to write 5! I pitched this article right before basically being away from my computer for a month, heard back from the (wonderful) editor while I was traveling in China, had to postpone writing it because of, among other things, a death in the family, and eventually ended up writing it in the middle of (successfully!) doing NaNoWriMo for the first time. So, it’s been eventful around these parts!

Anyway, I’ve wanted to write about KJ Charles’ work for a long time for an SFF publication, because I’m tired of there being a brick wall between “SFF” and most “Romance”, especially when it comes to queer romance (which is also not exactly embraced by the mainstream Romance industry).

So, if you already know and love KJ Charles’ books I hope you enjoy my take on them, and if you’ve never heard of her before, I hope this serves as a good introduction!

In my experience, people who’ve read at least two of Charles’ books (she’s published about twenty of them) have a tendency to then read extensive swaths of her backlist. Her novels provide something rare in the literary market even today, in 2018: well-researched historical, fantastical fiction that features love stories between queer people.

Genres are flawed, porous constructs, and many stories live in between the established categories or straddle several of them, which doesn’t make a bookseller’s job very easy. The reason we recommend a book by saying “it’s X genre” is that it’s a shortcut to saying: “it’s the sort of thing you like.”

Read History, Queer Romance, and Fantasy Combine in the Work of KJ Charles on Tor.com.

Awards Eligibility Post (aka SF/F works in 2017)

I’ve never done one of these before, but I’ve always wanted to and I guess I’m finally getting it done. I’m still not sure how a lot of SF/F awards work (in terms of categories and schedules, there’s just a lot of them out there for a newcomer to figure out!) but here’s an awkward “a thing I wrote you might want to nominate/vote for if you’re into that sort of thing” first time post anyway.

 

NOVELLA

In 2017 I wrote a novella, Three Keys in the Desert (39,000 words).

In a sentence: it’s science fiction about kids and staff at a military boarding school on a remote planet.

I’m also eligible for the Campbell Award this year.

 

NON-FICTION

 

 

 

 

 

Review: The OA

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It’s difficult to categorize The OA as fantasy or science fiction or horror. A series that deals with angels, the science of immortality, and friendly-looking scientists who kidnap people to experiment on them in basements, The OA offers some fresh takes—as well as moments of muddled, cliché philosophical “insights.”

The series’ greatest strength is arguably the aspect that I’ve so far seen discussed least. Brit Marling plays a young woman who disappears for seven years and then returns, able to see where before she was blind, and recounts the story of her abduction to a group of misfits at her small town in the US. Adopted at a young age by a couple in their fifties, who named her Prairie, Marling’s character was abducted after she ran away from her parents and tried to make a living playing her violin in the New York City subway. A well dressed, kind, and friendly academic by the name of Hap (Jason Isaacs) takes her out to dinner after apparently falling in love with the way she plays, then convinces her to accompany him to his house, takes her downstairs to what’s supposed to be his guest bedroom, only for Prairie (blind, at this stage) to discover he’s locked her in a glass box in his basement.

Read the full review on Strange Horizons >>

 

Review of the first season of “Jessica Jones”

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Fashionably late, here’s my review of the first season of “Jessica Jones”! I actually wrote this the week the show came out, but for various reasons it took a while to get it it ready for publication.

Jessica Jones is without doubt the best TV show Marvel has produced to date, and possibly the most original main character they’ve brought to the screen since introducing the world to Tony Stark as Iron Man. The show is not without flaws, but everything about it feels fresh, unusual, exciting. Partly it’s because a show about a female superhero, especially one who drinks whiskey and crushes cockroaches with her bare hands without flinching, is tragically rare amid a sea of morally gray superpowered men. But partly it’s because Jessica Jones genuinely has an engaging yet disturbing story to offer.”

Read the full review at Strange Horizons >>

Review of “Sorcerer to the Crown” by Zen Cho

25855734I recently wrote a review of Zen Cho’s excellent debut novel “Sorcerer to the Crown”, for Strange Horizons.

“Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown is set in nineteenth-century London, where magical resources are scarce and only men of a certain standing are encouraged to practice sorcery. It tells the story of Zacharias Whyte, protégé of England’s premier magician, and Prunella Gentleman, the prodigy who can restore English magic to its former glory. Both essentially orphaned as babies, Zacharias and Prunella have grown up as outsiders in their home culture, and have had to navigate a social landscape that doesn’t quite know what to do with them. Zacharias was born to enslaved parents and purchased as an infant by the wealthy Englishman who would raise him as his son, and Prunella is the daughter of a British officer who came back from India with a daughter of mixed heritage and a bag of mysterious magical objects.”

Read the rest of the review at Strange Horizons >>

Review of “What Makes This Book So Great” by Jo Walton

9780765331939_p0_v1_s260x420Jo Walton’s What Makes This Book So Great is a collection of essays, originally published as blog posts on Tor.com. Familiar with Walton’s fiction, I was drawn to review her collection of non-fiction essays partially because of what I’d heard of Walton’s reading habits and what she herself reveals at the beginning of the book—Walton chooses what books to read the way some people choose which ingredients to cook with, relying on a mix of old, trusted favorites and exciting, untested novelties.

Read the full review on Strange Horizons >>

Review of “iD” by Madeline Ashby

id-144dpiAshby’s second novel, a sequel to her first, is engaging and better written than her debut, but it doesn’t address many of the flaws of the original. Ashby’s novels are set in a universe where humanity has created human-like robots, called “vN,” designed to carry out the tasks that human beings are no longer interested in undertaking. The technology was originally developed by New Eden, a cult that ostensibly wanted to create companions for all the sinners who would be left on Earth after Judgment Day.

Read the full review at The Los Angeles Review of Books >>