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I do sometimes think we should more often share good deals. But then I get frustrated by bargains posted on twitter that only apply to the US.

on that note, a friend has an odd novella going free for ebook readers for next month: https://archive.org/details/cafenonstop

it was originally daily updates as a blog post, which I read and enjoyed.

 

my reading:

Day Shift/Night Shift - Charlaine Harris - I picked up the first volume in the trilogy after watching the TV series of Midnight Texas. Picked these two up just before series 2 started. I had read one True Blood novel years ago, before the TV series, and it hadn't clicked with me. These do. Easy reading, urban fantasy, in small town Texas - populated by vampires, shape changers, psychics and witches. But for all that they are just people, dealing with the day to day business of the world not ending.

 

Supercute Futures - Martin Millar - I read Millar's 1st half dozen novels a long time ago, skinny little odd books set in Brixton with weird characters and encounters and just lots of fun. One of those "The Good Fairies of New York" caught Neil Gaiman's attention and can probably be counted as a break through. He did some more, disappeared, to write more obviously fantasy novels under a different name (Martin Scott), before returning with his Lonely Werewolf Girl series. I've been meaning to catch up on those werewolf books, but not quite got to it, despite having 2 of them in my To Be Read Mountain Ranges. Anyway, stumbled on this recently, as a new release. Mox and Mitsu met at the age of three, advanced geniuses building their own laptops in nursery. At 17, in love with Japanese culture, they started Supercute, a webshow, shot on their iphones. Years later, Supercute is one of the 19 biggest companies in a ravaged world, where while they continue their daily Supercute shows, they are also now heavily invested in water and security firms. Competing "supercute" competitors join with other security companies and stage a financial coup, forcing the two girls to go underground - post human, forever beautiful, immaculately supercute and determined to take back what they built. Mad fun.

 

Lies Sleeping - Ben Aaronovitch - The 7th of his Rivers of London/Peter Grant novels. While each has, to some extent had it's own story, there has been a through story, building from the catastrophic encounter with the spirit of Mr. Punch in book 1. Magic, that looked to have been fading, has been increasingly visible - the Folly which had only one Police Wizard has been home to apprentice and police academy graduate Peter Grant. Here they are finally making progress in the case of The Faceless Man. In many ways a culmination of much that has gone before, with all the important characters making an appearance, and advance, and all coming together in what I found a solid and satisfactory manner. Enough left hanging to allow for future books, for new characters and stories, but essentially this is what we have been waiting for.

 

The Ninth Rain - Jen Williams - Another of a new generation of British authors who I am aware of particularly from social media. She is very much a fantasy writer, and that doesn't tend to be my thing. So so far I've not read. Though aware enough of her reputation, I have managed to pick up a couple of her novels with the intention of at least being able to say I read something. The Ninth Rain is the 1st in her current trilogy, book 3 coming out next year, so I decided to start with this. I admit the giant griffon on the cover is off putting and sets a certain expectation, which is a shame, because the book is much more surprising than that would suggest. The Eighth Rain left the continent ravaged by the aftermath of war - the Eboran tree god Ygresil is dead, the god that fed and sustained the Eboran is dead. The elf like tree people, with their intense red eyes, decide that drinking human blood is the solution, until it turns out to be toxic given sustained abuse. Tor, one of the few healthy surviving Eborans, decides to go out into the world, to travel, to drink, to fuck, to drink blood. Which is how he meets Vintage, an adventurer, exploring and investigating the haunted artifacts left by the weird nightmare insect aliens who last came down in huge vessels to devour everything at the time of the Eighth Rain. On one of their adventures they meet an escaped Fell-Witch, Noon - escaped from The Winnowry, which notionally imprisons dangerous witches, but is actually a drug-factory, using the witch-fire to produce the most popular drug on the market. So, yeah, I found myself enjoying this much more than I expected: vampire tree people, haunted aliens and hostage drug witches are more my cup of tea than griffons and dragons. Those do crop up eventually, and there is more of an epic fantasy arc to the whole, but by then I was sold.

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Sunshine - Robin McKinley 

Alternate future with supernatural beings (vampires, demons, weres (including but not limited to wolves), sorcerors) and magic. Reminds me of some of Charles de Lint's short stories, more modern. Recommended by Neil Gaiman! 
As a long-time Robin McKinley fan I really appreciated the little nod to her Beauty & The Beast retellings :) 

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On 12/1/2018 at 10:03 AM, remotevoices said:

my reading:

 

You get that I just take what you read and search my local library for these titles and download whatever they have right?

 

Keep it up!

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Last week: 2001, Space Odyssey. I like both the movie and the book. Although they're the same story, they are just completely different works. Not only are some of the major plot points slightly different the book and movie also have a completely different tone. The book is much closer to a classic sci-fi story, with Clarke going into minute technical detail (as he does) and explaining much more than the movie does (and perhaps just a bit too much). I first read it when I was a teenager (before even seeing the movie), having recently seen the movie in a proper theater setting, I figured a re-read was in order.

 

This week: Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore, which is about a dude reincarnating over and over to try and achieve perfection, or else... I'm not far in yet but quite enjoying it. It's got hints of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, so probably a decent amount of people here would enjoy it as well...

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The Tiger Flu by Larissa Lai — This has an interesting start and vaguely reminds me of the same struggle to make sense of what's going on that you get in Oryx and Crake, but alas, it kind of fell apart at the end IMHO. There comes a point where you're like, wait… they did what out of left field??? Might still be worth it if you want to embed in a really effed up post-apocalyptic future where screwing around with genetics has done us in and possibly also saved us to some extent.

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20 hours ago, editengine said:

 

You get that I just take what you read and search my local library for these titles and download whatever they have right?

 

Keep it up!

 

our reading...hope you're finding something worthwhile among the random!

 

The Twilight Pariah - Jeffrey Ford - a tor novella, so quick easy read. I kind of expected more from it to be honest, it was fine, but I'm not sure there was anything here that we haven't seen in a number of horror films/stories. Three friends come together during the holidays, likely one of the last times they will see each other as they go to different universities and drift apart. Our narrator is an aspiring writer and he tells the story, one of the friends has decided that she wants to be an archaeologist, so she drags him and scholarship football player they are friends with along to a remote country house. Here she plans to hold an illegal excavation for fun and practice, but, of course, they unearth something - a skeleton of something that is humanoid, but not human. And the haunting starts.

 

A Frozen Night - Laura Ambrose - a romance serial by Laura Lam writing under an alternative name - instead of her recent science fiction novels, she is trying her hand at something different. Two young women meet online, one writes fantasy the other literary fiction, but they become friends. This story tells their first meeting, where they wonder if the online flirting will become more. Short and explicit. An introduction at least initially available for free for signing up to her mailing list, and prologue to the novella which has come out recently.

 

A Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams - while I have seen at least one film, a TV series, listened to the radio play, I have never read the book. A friend bought me the omnibus edition and insisted I read. So i've read book 1 so far. It is super familiar with all that previous encounter. I was unsure it would work, given its reputation and coming to it at this point. But it did, the familiar was nice and enjoyable and the unfamiliar added to the whole.

 

Lonely Werewolf Girl - Martin Millar - after recent read of Supercute Futures, I felt I should really catch up with the Kalix the series. Kalix is 17, after a fight with her father that got out of control she has run away from their home in Scotland and is now living homeless in London, with a drug problem, an eating disorder and a certain level of anxiety/depression. The fact that she is a werewolf complicates matters, and the fact that her dying father is the head of the werewolf clan makes things worse. She is wanted by the clan and is being tracked by werewolf hunters. Probably Millar's most complex and dense work, though his stuff is always pretty easy reading, with a certain punk undertone. Kalix is given protection by her fashion designer sister, shacks up with two random students, bumps into her punk rock cousins, and gets into all kinds of fights as her death becomes the decider in a battle for succession. Mad cap page turner, I'm half way through, but loving it so far.

 

On A Sunbeam - Tillie Walden - this is the 2nd graphic novel by Tillie Walden I've read after her autobiographical Spinning (about her time as a competitive skater, moved from one city to another, and discovering her sexuality). Sunbeam was serialised online, and I read bits of it then, but this is a big thick collected hardback of the science fiction epic. Mia has taken up a job in reconstruction with the crew of a spaceship - humans scattered across the galaxy too fast, leaving abandoned properties behind, as they catch back up with themselves they need crews to refurbish the asteroid properties, from religious outposts to office blocks. Along the way Mia slowly bonds with the other women on the crew, but also remembers her years in a boarding school, where despite being smart she became board and restless and troubled. Until she meets Grace, a mysterious new girl to the school, whom she decides to befriend and then falls in love with. The story works between the two timelines, building a strong cast of mostly women characters, each with their own journey and emotional depth. The strength of the characters combined with the sweep of the worlds that are built around them makes this a real delight.

Still online http://www.onasunbeam.com/ as well as being available in complete book form.

 

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Tell The Machine Good Night by Katie Williams — I am working my way through a bunch of books I hadn't read on Best-of lists and mostly regretting it, TBH. This latest one had a really interesting premise and was by-and-large pretty good, but it is very heavy on the character development without actually giving as much closure for any of the characters as I'd like. Basically, there is a machine that someone has developed that allows anyone to have a swab of their saliva taken and will list out three or four things they should do to become a happy person. A lot of different iterations of issues that can arise from this are explored in the book, which is fun, but many of the characters sort of fade away without any real explanation of the inner revelation that made them suddenly complete enough not to be tracked by the author anymore. I am not a great one to judge books like this, but it left me feeling like it needed slightly more to push it over the top. An OK read though, all things considered. Just not a must read like Sourdough or other character-driven books of the type.

 

Also, apparently it is my time for giving book sale tips, lol. Kindle readers can get some of the Solaris Publisher books on sale right now for $0.99 each. I ended up buying like 6.

 

Basically, it's the Yoon Ha Lee books, the Fractured Europe books, a some Best Of sci-fi books, some Adrian Tchaikovsky fantasy… anyways, might be worth a look if any of that is your cup of tea. It works for both US and UK too, btw.

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Rule 34 by Charles Stross.  This is a re-read for me, but the first try I wasn't able to really follow it for some reason.  More than Halting State, Rule 34 requires some attention to follow a fast moving plot that shifts between viewpoints fast.  Still, its great sci-fi.

 

Head On and Head On: Locked In by John Scalzi.  Decades after a horrific illness has left millions of people 'locked-in" and paralyzed these people engage the world in robot bodies called threeps, in homage to C-3PO from Star Wars.  The protagonist is an FBI agent and essentially this is a buddy cop action/mystery book, with all of the nuance and complexity of a Michael Connelly storyline.  Fun and escapist, just ignore the massive plot gaps and shit worldbuilding.

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On 12/22/2018 at 8:44 PM, heavyboots said:

Also, apparently it is my time for giving book sale tips, lol. Kindle readers can get some of the Solaris Publisher books on sale right now for $0.99 each. I ended up buying like 6.

 

Basically, it's the Yoon Ha Lee books, the Fractured Europe books, a some Best Of sci-fi books, some Adrian Tchaikovsky fantasy… anyways, might be worth a look if any of that is your cup of tea. It works for both US and UK too, btw.

 

Thanks for the heads up. picked up the 2 YHL and 2 FE books I was missing.

Suspect there will be a load of these kind of deals over the next few days.

Probably end up costing me a stealth fortune!

 

Since my last post I've mainly been reading short stories and graphic novels.

Though hoping I can still finish a novel or two before I head back to work.

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I've been doing some intensive holiday reading, may yet manage to squeeze another book in before the end of the year, but this is what i've finished in the last week:

 

The Corporation Wars: Insurgence - Ken MacLeod - just in time for the omnibus of the trilogy to be printed in paperback, I am catching up on the nice little hardbacks of the original books. This is book 2, which pretty much picks up from book 1, with a little recapping. Set way in the future in a galaxy far away...robots are mining planets and establishing the first foothold for colonization. Which is fine until the robots become self-aware, something which the corporate AIs that operate for the various corporations that have various claims on the planetary objects in the system are quick to crush. Or at least try. To do this they reactivate the uploaded personalities of fighters from a political war, running them in a sim for training/down time, and letting them operate combat machines when in duty. Which to a degree sums up book 1, and book 2 is very much an extension of that, and has a middle book feel, developing the plot, expanding the characters, but not resolving anything. It is interesting that none of the characters are actually flesh and blood, despite the debate about being alive/intelligent being a struggle between smart robots and machines running software people. There is a fair amount of MacLeod's political debate, who is right, all together or every man for himself, while also the question of whether anything has really changed over the centuries. I enjoyed, but definitely to be read as part of the series.

 

Relics - Tim Lebbon - This is one of those where I read about the original idea and thought it sounded interesting, then read the first few pages and was less convinced. Angela is an American woman in her 30s doing her thesis in aspects of crime, studying in London, when her boyfriend Vince disappears. Applying some of the things she has learned she soon discovers that Vince was leading a double life, even worse he was working for one of the violent gangsters she has been studying. So on some level this is a missing persons/crime novel, but expanded with the fact that Vince was trading in relics - the remains of "supernatural" creatures - part of a profitable underground. My initial problem was when Angela is described as earning £12,000/year, but having a mortgage in London - in a book with faeries and satyrs and nymphs, this just seemed like ludicrous fantasy to me (maybe it is reasonable, I don't know, but certainly given London's financial reputation...). Anyway, the relics idea stuck with me, and I ended up picking it up, and it is a decent enough page turner - London Urban Fantasy meets Gangster Crime novel. Though, apparently the first in a trilogy, not sure I need another two books, this one was fine on it's own.

 

Vita Nostra - Sergey Dyachenko & Marina Dyachenko translated by Julia Meitov Hersey. A huge influence on Lev Grossman's Magicians series, as per the cover quote, and the acknowledgements indicate that Grossman pushed for the translation of this novel into English. I'd seen some references to this novel over the last year or so, but wasn't finding much about its availability - turns out that some of that was people like Aliette de Bodard and Grossman, and some others, being involved with the translator's drafting process and talking about it on social media pre-translated publication. Magicians follows Quentin as he finds himself sitting an entrance exam to a weird college, and in the process discovering magic and that the Narnia-esque land of his favourite childhood novels is real. There are clear parallels between that and Sasha's journey through the Institute of Special Technologies, but Vita Nostra is a much more Russian novel. Always hard to say how much of that is translation and how much of that is because it is written in a form different from what we are used to in so much US/UK fiction, certainly there is tone familiar from other Russian works I have read. Anyway... Sasha is on holiday with her  mum when she is approached by a sinister stranger, who intimidates her into going for a nude swim at 4am every morning for the remainder of her holiday. After each of these and subsequent rituals she vomits up strange golden coins. Through the remainder of her school years she "earns" enough to go to the Institute, in a small town no one has heard of, to study the Special Technology no one ever explains. Once in the Institute she has to study ferociously hard, driven by fear and the knowledge her failure will result in repercussions and punishments. Here there is no Narniaesque other world, no clear explanation that she is studying magic, instead it balances the intensity of studying and stress and the idea that the student might breakdown, despite the fear of failure. There may be an element of reading this over the holiday period, late nights, weird hours, but this felt particularly intense. There are weird books, strange transformations, and definitely a sense of walking the line between something magical and having your mind broken by the uncanny. I am confident this is not for everyone, it is a book about students, with no big adventures, it is a weird translated book that is clearly from a place many of us are less familiar with. But I loved it, the intensity of the unspoken horror, the lurking sense of magic, exchanged glances and uncertainty, I immersed myself in this over the last few days.

 

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Finished reading last year’s MARCH by John Lewis graphic novel. 

 

Zoomed through the HAMILTON libretto/stories book I got for Christmas. I have to find a way to see that this year! 

 

75 pages into Michael Ondaatje’s WARLIGHT. It was on my list before it was on Obama’s 🤣

 

If I want another novel after, probably Le Carré’s A LEGACY OF SPIES since it’s been on my bedside table since last Christmas. I have a pretty big stack to get through, sigh.

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I was a little disappointed by A legacy of Spies. It seemed a little like a potboiler, and to get full value from it, you had to be familiar with the Smiley canon.

 

I still haven't embarked on Archangel. I bought the hardback in April after a disappointing experience with downloading the first two episodes via Kindle. They just didn't FEEL like a graphic novel.

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Midnight, Texas Trilogy - By Charlaine Harris I burned through all three of these fantasy books over the holidays, and enjoyed the somewhat campy small town feel of them.  I understand this is an NBC series now but I don't think I will try and watch that based on the photos I have seen.  I sense that they prettied up a group of characters that was largely defined in the books by their non-conformist appearances.  Basically, a small town consists of a variety of supernatural and gifted people that includes vampires, were-creatures, angels, witches, demons, and psychics.  Oddly, regular old humans believe in some of these things and think others are mythical, which is an odd bit of worldbuilding I liked.

 

The Collapsing Empire - John Scalzi Definitely a stronger work than other Scalzi books I have enjoyed, this is a far future galactic empire kind of story, where a series of systems that have been connected via a "flow" of space-time are on the verge of becoming isolated from each other.  Political intrigue and space battles, with a sympathetic and empathetic emperor figure make this one quite good and I burned through it in a single day.  Very similar to Foundation in some respects, with a focus on science as a force for good and a lot of parallels to our modern issues with climate change.

 

Artemis - Andy Weir A fun moon-colony-in-danger story, with a young protagonist telling the first person story full of snark and sarcasm.  If the Girl wrote a sci-fi story this is what it would sound like.  Basically a heist story, the author kind of overdoes it with all of the engineering detail but in the end it was a satisfying storyline about corporate intrigue, coming-of-age, and murder.

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On 12/31/2018 at 3:04 PM, editengine said:

Midnight, Texas Trilogy - By Charlaine Harris I burned through all three of these fantasy books over the holidays, and enjoyed the somewhat campy small town feel of them.  I understand this is an NBC series now but I don't think I will try and watch that based on the photos I have seen.  I sense that they prettied up a group of characters that was largely defined in the books by their non-conformist appearances.  Basically, a small town consists of a variety of supernatural and gifted people that includes vampires, were-creatures, angels, witches, demons, and psychics.  Oddly, regular old humans believe in some of these things and think others are mythical, which is an odd bit of worldbuilding I liked.

 

 

The first series of the TV adaptation is interesting. I came across it first, so I had that as my initial exposure, going into the books as a follow up. The series mixes up various elements from the three books into one series, probably tightens up some of the ideas. There are definitely some changes from the books to the TV series, like changing the skin colour of key characters, which I think is actually effective. Certainly with the start of the 2nd series I was more conscious of how... smoothed out the TV characters are, but it is a passing niggle. Not sure how the 2nd series is going to play out, I think for the most part we've diverted from the books, and as a result it feels a bit patchier. It may pull itself together, with the plot art that is building.

 

my last reads of 2018, happy new book reading year!

 

Rosewater - Tade Thompson  - the buzz around this one was curious, there was a lot of chatter about this awhile ago, and a renewed buzz in last few months. Reasons for this are mixed - as far as I understand, the US edition was released in 2016, and UK edition only just in the last few months of 2018. As with Vita Nostra, some of the people talking it up on twitter and given name checks as part of the writing process. Initially I thought this was a fantasy novel, not sure why, but with the UK release I was more conscious of it being set in 2066 and as I say having a 2nd buzz period on UK release. I'm not entirely sure what to make of this, for a few reasons, one is pacing (due to the way it flashes back to key events and pings back to current events) the other is that at times it feels like too much is going on (the pacing coupled with that perhaps feels like information is revealed later than it maybe should be). The town of Rosewater has built up from a shanty town over the years, surrounding an alien dome that has emerged close to Lagos in Nigeria. This is not the first incursion by alien material, the first happened in Nigeria in the 1950s, but the first to survive and become something happened in London. Like the British colonialists before it, the incursion has spread and emerged into Nigeria in the form of Rosewater. Along the way America has shut itself down, entirely isolated and cut off from the rest of the world, and strange effects have occurred in the form of psychics and a post-alien-spore-internet-thingy. Kaaro is one of these psychics, works in a bank protecting customers from psychic phishing attacks, but is also a government agent using his abilities in phishing interrogations. The novel mixes science fiction and more mystical elements, weird mental powers are the result of alien invasion, the dead come back to life due to overly enthusiastic healing powers, bank scams, politics, espionage, and colonialism. A lot of interesting stuff, and I think for the most part I enjoyed, but also suspect I've not quite decided to what degree I enjoyed.

 

Kingdom Cons - Yuri Herrera - strangely, while Kingdom Cons is Yuri's 3rd novel(la) to appear in English, it was actually his debut novel in Mexico. His breakthrough novel was Signs Preceding The End of The World, which was part of a curious feature at the Edinburgh Book Festival - where a team from local theatre had got together to brainstorm how they would make a stage adaptation - so writer, director, stage designer, two actors and in the end Yuri himself sat on stage. At the end of which Yuri did a signing, and as the only one of his books I hadn't read, I got him to sign Kingdom Cons, his writing in my book described the book as a song - which is a good starting point for how this book feels. I enjoyed the other two novel(las) (each book is only about 100 pages) a lot, but this is definitely his most lyrical, even in translation one is conscious of the language being used, the clear rhythm and pattern of the words. Like his other books, this is set in the border land, a kind of fantasy/magical realist world of crime and smuggling. In this book our lead is The Artist, a down on his luck, who only has his accordion and his skill at producing songs for punters who cross his palm with silver. When he encounters The King, the local top dog dealer god father, his life is changed, and he manages to transform his life by becoming part of The King's court, his entourage. All the characters have titles - The Journalist, Jeweler, Heir, Witch, Girl, and The Commoner. We follow the ups and downs, The Artist as Witness, his fortunes excel, but there are betrayals and tragedy, and the good times can't last. A good quick read, a nice way to finish the year. Not sure I found it as satisfying as the other two books, but the writing is definitely a pleasure.

 

Now, where do I start in 2019?

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Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett — I got triggered into checking this out by some Best Of list that described it as cyberpunk meets Thieves World, or something like that, and ended up reading it in a single day. Really, really fun!

 

The "cyberpunk" aspect comes into play because Bennett has developed an extremely intricate magic system based on something called scriving. You scrive special runes onto the wheels of a carriage and they think they're on a downhill and roll down it accordingly, even though they're actually on level ground. Control how steep they think the hill is with a lever and you have speed controls for a horseless carriage. And so forth and so on. A thief commissioned to steal a box discovers it has a magic, sentient item inside and hijinks ensue as everyone and their their ninjas pursues her to get it back. A lot of "hacking" of magical scrivings takes place as she has to get out of tight spots or into highly guarded areas.

 

As I said, just huge amounts of fun and perfect post-Christmas reading!

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The Martian - Andy Weir After Artemis I realized that Weir had written this, which was made into a movie I have yet to see.  Much better than Artemis, this is the Apollo 13-style story about a Martian expedition that suffers an accident and the year one of the crew is forced to endure on Mars while his plight becomes a world-wide reality show produced by NASA is really engaging.  Like Artemis, the engineering-talk gets a bit in the weeds, I skimmed some parts of that without missing out on the story.

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Just read three novel/las with distinct parallels in tone/theme, haunted works, in their own way.

White Tears - Hari Kunzru - I've read work by Hari before and caught him on a panel at EIBF a few years ago and been meaning to read this for a while. The first part of the book is wonderfully written, lots of stuff about field recording, environmental sound and the role of music in transporting the listener. But as it goes on it becomes increasingly unsettling. Seth is nobody particularly, but becomes best friends with Carter, who is one of the most popular guys in university, tattooed, dreadlocked, son of wealth. It is sound that brings them together. Carter keeps pushing further back in time, driven, only listening to black music, searching for an overwhelming authenticity. Seth captures something on his soundwalks of New York, through obsession and careful tracking through recordings they find a ghost record. But of course, they don't understand that, until it is too late. A book about music, about authenticity and appropriation, about wealth and who it was built on. As narratives layer is becomes harder to follow, and at times I wasn't always sure I was keeping track. I think a lot of that is deliberate, to unsettle the reader and build on the novel's core haunting.

The Sea Dreams It Is The Sky - John Hornor Jacobs - I guess after the success of tor's novella line, and various other small publishers wading into the field, it isn't surprised to see someone like Voyager give it a go. I stumbled on this over the weekend and pretty much read it cover to cover in last day or so. Isabel is living in Malaga, a black clad, lesbian, professor and exile from a South American coup. When she stumbles on The Eye, as the one eyed old man is known locally, she recognises in an almost uncanny way, that they have fled from the same country. After they become friends she learns his true identity as an infamous, lecherous poet. He gets a mysterious letter and decides he must go home, he leaves her money and asks her to take care of his flat, and to "feed the cat, for your protection". There she finds two works, one a translation in progress of a book she realises to be "forbidden knowledge" and the other the account of how this material came into his possession and how he was tortured as a result. The more sucked in she becomes the more uncertain she finds reality, presences in the dark and strange experiences. A good quick read, too much of it perhaps revolves around The Eye's journals, but with that you get the haunted sense of exile and uncertainty.

We Get The Monsters We Deserve - Marcus Sedgwick - this was one of my fairly spontaneous purchases at the EIBF 2018, I think it was in the kids shop, a YA novel perhaps. Though, I think in this case that is fairly irrelevant. Regardless the book is illustrated, interspersed with shots of trees, and books, and odd little things, so that the ~260 pages probably becomes more of a novella length when you take that into account. Marcus has decided to move to the abyss, or at least half way up a mountain, into a decrepit little chalet somewhere between Geneva and Evian, just before winter comes in. Marcus, a writer, is seeking monsters, seeking to write his next book, but he is haunted. He hates Mary's book, and yet it haunts him. As the narrative progresses we learn Mary's book is Frankenstein, and that Marcus has triangulated locations in the book to find himself where he is. Told as a letter to his publisher he goes through the process of asking why he is even there, to an increased sense of isolation as he hears noises in the night, escalating as he increasingly feels trapped. So White Tears is haunted by music, Sea/Sky by exile, and Monsters by a book. But at least of the three of them, this one doesn't include any torture! Unless you are a writer, I suppose, in which case it explores ideas of ownership and creativity, where do we lose ownership, do we create the monsters, or do they create us?

I managed to be unsettled by all three, especially reading them all in such close proximity. I suspect White Tears is the most important of the three, but probably also the most difficult.

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How Long 'til Black Future Month by N. K. Jemesin — A short story collection by the author of The Broken Earth trilogy. Some of these are amazing, some are just ok, but it was a pretty satisfactory read all in all, although I honestly feel like I'm almost a disappointment as a reader by the end, lol. She's got some very literary short stories, and then occasionally she throws in something really simple but overtly sci-fi like The Trojan Girl and my ears perk up and I thoroughly enjoy it before going back to grinding through what is by most measurements a better story, like The City Born Great.

 

At any rate, largely enjoyable even if it was a bit more work to get through it than I would have liked. And I doubt anyone will question the relevance or quality of most of the stories in it!

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The Poppy War by R F Kuang — Fairly fast-reading adventure of an orphan girl who is attempting to survive and insure her future employment by getting trained at an elite military academy in a place that reads very similarly to a dynastic China with magic. I mostly enjoyed it although I could tell as I neared the end that it was part one of a series and that we were being set up to need to read that too. Pretty fun read though, overall.

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