Week 44 – 2017

1. I loved Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon, loved it. It was a fantastic first contact story, easily as good as Nancy Kress and even in the realm of Mary Doria Russell, though I still reserve The Sparrow as nonpareil. One aspect I particularly enjoyed was how Ofelia was instantly and constantly aware of power dynamics among vastly different groups of people and how she was able to position herself within them by both conforming to and defying expectation. To get the maximum effect of this novel, read a couple of sociology articles on the importance of grandmothering and top it off with the book of Esther.

2. I read the perfect little encapsulation of Cards of Grief by Jane Yolen on Goodreads: Jane Yolen writes a Hainish book. Of course, any comparison to Ursula K. Le Guin must grab my attention, and this one was, indeed, very like a Le Guinian Yolen. Told in twelve recordings, the story concerns a strange planet under anthropological study: the planet elevates grief into an art form. The principal characters are the royalty, the master griever Gray Wanderer, and an anthropologist who goes native. Because it’s a blend of vignettes in oral history mode, it doesn’t entirely cohere until the end, where one can at last find a timeline, but it was an interesting, curious little book quite uncharacteristic of Yolen.

3. Black Sheep by Georgette Heyer was mostly the same as her Lady of Quality: A woman in her late twenties who is “off the shelf” must chaperone a young woman just coming out–in this case her niece–and must save her from social destruction while simultaneously falling in love with someone rakish and impractical for herself–in this case her niece’s suitor’s uncle, the family’s black sheep. The repetition of plot offends me not even a little. I am going to read every single Heyer Regency novel.

4. And the week is a wrap with The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg. The premise had so much going for it. Magicians are bonded to a man-made material (paper, glass, metal, etc.) to animate and control. Ceony is bonded to paper, even though she wanted to work with metal, and given to Magician Emery Thane for training. So far so good, except that all of a sudden in chapter four, an evil female Excisioner (a flesh magician, since flesh is man-made) shows up and steals his still-beating heart. Yep, that one came out of nowhere. I really, really liked paper folding as a form of magic. I really, really disliked the chase through the four chambers of Thane’s heart to rescue him. I won’t be reading the two other books in the trilogy, alas, because I mistook this romance for an adventure.

5. Next up: Jane Austen‘s Juvenilia, for NaNoWriMo purposes.

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