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Interesting little piece on aging goths.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/do-elder-goths-hold-the-secret-to-aging-successfully/2021/01/11/a565b2de-3b04-11eb-9276-ae0ca72729be_story.html

 

I feel a bit seen.

 

We were actually at two of the events mentioned here, but compared to Florida they were pretty small scale.

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Given that we just sat in with a host of WGB Elders on zoom, ( thank you!) I can concur that our communities bring us joy.  

re-Binti, I had some issues with it, the latter volumes not really being stand alone, the 2nd particular being an issue, but as a whole I generally enjoyed, something pretty atypical and engaging, if

Artemis by Andy Weir — This book definitely is what it is, which is a rollicking sci-fi adventure on top of an education about how to build a moonbase and all the system of power, oxygen, equipment, s

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Ballistic Kiss by Richard Kadrey. Sandman Slim #11 and quite frankly if Mr K wants to keep writing these for the rest of his life I will keep buying them (sadly, he won't - this is the penultimate novel in the series). This time out, James Stark, the last of the Nephilim and LA resident has PTSD and depression (given what he's been through in the last ten books, that's not exactly a surprise to me) and is unexpectedly vulnerable. As a result he's a much more interesting character, and his "what's it all about then, eh?" ruminations are casting interesting light on where the series is going. But also as a result, his diminishment has meant that a lot of reviews of the book have been less than positive. Because some folks are only there for the power fantasy part of things, I guess. I loved it. And I am now obsessed with The Malin House (Stark's pad this time around.)

https://www.archdaily.com/64345/ad-classics-malin-chemosphere-residence-john-lautner

 

Piranesi by Suzanna Clarke. Her first full-length work since Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, and deliciously weird. Describing the plot would only spoil things; go into it cold and enjoy the complete "WTF?" feeling of things as the work gradually reveals itself. Huge fun and completely mad.

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I used to do all my reading while commuting, which is not a thing anymore...

 

One of the last books I read was recommended to me by @Fashionpolice when we last met about a year ago in London: Convenience Store Women by Sayaka Murata, which I quite enjoyed. It took a while for the library to get it in stock. I still have Gibson's latest sitting on the shelf waiting to be read.

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I enjoyed Convenience Store Woman, i see she has new novel translated as well.

 

I used to listen to a lot of podcasts commuting, so definitely lost that! But fighting remote servers and working from home exhausts, so finding that I'm reading a lot more instead of being on computer as much or watching TV/films.

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Glad to hear you enjoyed it, David! I almost put the new novel on my Christmas wish list, but it didn't get the greatest reviews, so I think I'll reserve it at the library.

One of the things that makes my Christmas shopping easier is that I buy a lot of copies of the same book and then send it to people around the world, so I get the gift of seeing how they react differently to the same book. I especially like to send Scandinavian books that have been translated. So this year my book gift was "The Employees/Les Employés/De Ansatte" by Olga Ravn. It seems it might be difficult to pick up in North America. But for our UK-members you can buy it here:
https://www.lollieditions.com/books/the-employees
It's Danish sci-fi like nothing you have ever read. 

The author Olga Ravn has just been inducted into the Danish Academy as its youngest member ever. She should really be able to stir up some shit with its most controversial member who prompted 4 members to resign because they didn't want to be in the same club as her. 

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That's a brilliant idea! 

 

Btw, I am applying for a job at the local library network @Fashionpolice... They're looking for a "digital coach" who would organize coaching for digital skills, manage and promote their own applications and also manage all the hard and software used in the library system. It would be a bit of a departure from what I'm doing now, but could be interesting!

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The last two months I have been playing much more than I have been reading, and most of that reading has been rereads. I am close to finishing the reread of the whole Iain Banks (both with and without M.). However Matter was a slog upwards, so I will take a break. Also rereading all I have of Banana Yoshimoto (NP, Lizard, Hardboiled and Goodbye Tsugumi). I also had Kitchen but I cannot find it. The four together have half the wordcount of Matter. 

 

Most of this reread is that I am a bit afraid of Moore's Jerusalem, and I am procrastinating. As I also got Stephenson's Fall, or Ddoge in Hell, that may be an easier option. I did not really enjoy Reamde, but as people here liked it I am willing to give it a try. 

 

In the to read pile there are also several books in French and Italian, but as it is mainly educational, to improve my reading of those languages, it feels more as a chore. 

 

I have added Convenience Store Woman and The employees to my wish list, as they feel right up my preferences. 

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I ordered Employees last night, they only had 10 copies left, not sure if they reprint, does seem to be small press.

 

Moore's Jerusalem is a funny one. I'm progressing through it slowly. To a degree it is short stories, though with connections. Not sure if there is a big overall plot yet. I dip in, read a chapter, read something else, and so on.

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23 hours ago, Wanderer said:

That's a brilliant idea! 

 

Btw, I am applying for a job at the local library network @Fashionpolice... They're looking for a "digital coach" who would organize coaching for digital skills, manage and promote their own applications and also manage all the hard and software used in the library system. It would be a bit of a departure from what I'm doing now, but could be interesting!

That sounds like a fantastic job! 

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OK, I failed to do more regular posts vs I read a LOT in the last month.
 
End of December:
Latchkey - Nicole Kornher-Stace - sequel to Archivist Wasp, the events of which have changed the Archivist and the whole town. Unfortunately, in this post collapse society, the perception is that the Archivist's actions have removed her goddess's protection and made them a fair target for violent raiders. Cunning plans to protect the vulnerable and fight the raiders go wrong, and in the process the history of the town and perhaps the collapse are progressed with encounters with ghosts. It is funny how publishing works, Archivist Wasp has had something of a success thanks to persistent word of mouth, but doesn't seem to be particularly well known. Nicole describes it as being her funny books, that are a genre mash-up and not entirely sellable. So funny, for Latchkey in particular, to remind in ways of Gideon The Ninth - there are a lot of parallels, ghosts instead of skeletons, archivist instead of necromancers, and they write differently, but definitely parallels. I liked the 1st a lot, and put the 2nd on my list to read when I learned it existed and I enjoyed it a lot as well.
 
Boy Parts - Eliza Clarke - An indie literary novel, I saw something of a buzz, picked it up and kindle and had on my list to read before end of 2020. It won the Blackwells Book of The Year, so had something of a profile. Irina moved back to Newcastle after graduating from art schools in London. There was suggestion she would potentially be the next big thing, and suggestion that something happened that drove her back home. She takes explicit pictures of men, somewhere between flipping the male gaze and becoming exploitative. When she is offered an exhibition in London she thinks this could be her big chance. Irina is a curious character, an extreme/unreliable narrator, likeable in her refusal to be obviously likeable. Up on her pop music, reality TV, watches extreme foreign cinema, listens to noise music, has seen all the serial killer documentaries. There is ambiguity in the character, in events, so the reader has to decide their take. As it went on I had increasing sense of unease, my one niggle is perhaps whether the ending entirely delivered. But on the whole, I liked.
 
The Space Between Worlds - Micaiah Johnson- this has been getting some quiet buzz over the last year, and I bought it off the back of that, listening to podcast that suggested it was absolutely one of the best books of 2020 bumped it up to my books to read before end of 2020. I hate film comparisons to sell books, too often it is lazy and misleading, but sometimes they do make sense - so there is definitely a Mad Max feel to this, the souped up cars, the road warriors, the desert town lacking resources, rich in violence. But that is only half of the idea - there is a rich town, where all the rich people live, and the shanty, rough poor place outside. In the rich town a genius has invented a way to travel between worlds in the multiverse - big problem is that you can't travel to a world where you already exist. So people who don't live in a lot of worlds are valuable, like Cara from the poor town, who has died in 100s of other worlds, more worlds than anyone else. I really enjoyed this, the balance of ideas, the similarities and differences in the other worlds (always something that is a big draw), the way the story, the technology all unfolds, and the twists as shit goes wrong.
 
Red Pill - Hari Kunzru - This was the last book I read in 2020. I was a little wary of this, given the little I knew, but White Tears was a great novel, and between following Hari on twitter and listening to his podcast (which is a research trip, trip into the weird, for both White Tears and Red Pill), I was keen to get into this. The narrator is an intellectual, a writer who has gained popularity from his chatter rather than what he really wants to write. Struggling to deliver his masterpiece, he accepts a residence in Berlin, getting away from his wife and young child. However, the group work spaces, surveillance of work progress and the like are not what he bargained for. And confronted by a bombastic bumbling more right wing intellectual also at the residence he finds himself on precarious ground. A downward spiral, propelled by being widely read, but poorly argued, confronted by the rise of antagonistic thought and politics, growing obsession and darkness, against a background of East Germany's difficult history. In the end this was much easier to read than I expected, on some level a black comedy, building towards darkness. With that there is a definite subtlety, Hari weaves in so much to work with, so I found it living in my head after I finished.
 
Into January
Mexican Gothic - Silvia Moreno-Garcia - this hit new year, which can often be a weird time, so started before, lost momentum, got round to it in the week after. I liked this well enough, same as I liked Signal To Noise well enough. But for me, there is a certain level of hype around Moreno-Garcia's work and for me, she doesn't deliver. Her work is fine, readable, but just doesn't quite reach the promise. This reminds a lot of Crimson Peak, and has a lot of slow build, so it takes till half way before all the parts are in place and it has enough momentum to carry me along to the end. Set in the 1950's Mexico, a young socialite, with aspirations of academia, is persuaded to head out to middle of nowhere to check up on her cousin who has married a previously wealthy Englishman. The family is odd, hostile, manipulative, the cousin isn't entirely lucid, apparently ill , our heroine determined to discover the truth and help her cousin, even as though her sense of events becomes weirder.
 
Cruel Zinc Melodies - Glen Cook - I believe this is book 12 of the PI Garrett novels by Glen Cook, my first encounter was with a misprinted copy of book 2 found 2nd hand. My understanding is that these were never published in UK, so I've kind of stumbled upon them over the years. Last time I tried to read one I bounced off it, but these are funny times, and this was much easier reading than some things. Garrett is an ex-marine, turned private investigator, very noir, very 1950s black and white movie, all patter, hard drinking, admiring the ladies, etc. But the setting is almost more wild west fantasy novel. He shares a house with a dead man, of a non-human species, that doesn't die like other races, and has psychic powers. His best friend is a dark elf gangster and they always seem to get on the wrong side of the wizards who live in the rich part of town. In this book he is hired by frequent boss, the head of local brewery, who is looking to branch out into theatre - except the building site is haunted, and full of giant insects, and there is a protection racket, and... so what should be easy money of course isn't.
 
The actor turned author, Luke Arnold, wishes his novels read like Cook's series - I got a few chapters into The Last Smile In Sunder City and thoroughly hated the character, the writing and the world. Of course between cover design and cover blurb, trying to pretend to be like Rivers of London didn't help. The blurb described it as Rivers of London meets Dresden Files and Terry Pratchett. Which it isn't, can't discourage you from reading enough! (had put off talking about on the vague chance i might go back, but i won't, and instead i have another two garrett novels waiting)
 
No Man's Land - A. J. Fitzwater - one of the handful of post NZ worldcon books I bought. I've read and enjoyed shorts by Fitzwater, and this was a novella, which I believe is the longest thing they have written to date. 2nd world war and our heroine Tea has volunteered to become a Land Girl, arriving at the farm her brother previously worked as a sheep shearer before being deployed to fight. Tea has funny senses, something odd, she thinks is just her, but when she meets a couple of the other workers she learns there is more. A mix of world war 2 drama from the home front, a young woman trying to fit in to farm life, and elements of magic, and queer themes. A really lovely quick read.
 
Sing For The Coming OF The Longest Night - Katherine Fabian & Iona Datt Sharma - given this was set in December, leading up to the longest night, I probably should have read then, but actually turns out to be very good companion piece to No Man's Land - with both having queer themes and a core water magic. I bought this novella after reading Iona's short story collection Not For Use In Navigation, I enjoyed their writing so much I bought this and another short kindle piece. Layla and Nat have nothing in common, Layla is a Muslim, lesbian with kids, settled into family life, and Nat is a Jewish non binary punk. However they are both in a polyamorous relationship with a young male magician, who spent his early years in fairyland, and has now vanished. The two allies have to work together, despite their dislike for each other, to find their missing partner, following the clues and getting a better understanding of each other along the way. Another really lovely quick read.
 
Empress of Salt & Fortune - Nghi Vo - I hit a run of novellas here, reading one a day, which was just really pleasing. I just bought the 2nd of these, so figured I better read the 1st. With the death of the Empress a cleric from an order or archivists rushes to the lakeside home where the Empress lived in exile for a number of years, to document the history before looters can get there. However, she is surprised to find an old servant still there, over the course of a week the story of the Empress unfolds, each object the cleric find earns a story from the servant. A curious way to tell a story, of a character that isn't present, but is the heart. Nicely done. My understanding is the two novellas are stand alone, so expect something different from the 2nd.
 
These Witches Don't Burn - Isabel Sterling - a YA novel, a debut I believe, certainly 1st in what has become a series since I picked this up. Over the years I imagine many of us have picked up book 2 of a series by mistake, I know I have. There is a certain way they read, recapping book 1 as reminder to those that have read, and backfill for those that haven't. It can be a little disorientating, but so it goes. Weirdly, that is how this book feels. Like book 2, rather than natural backfilling of the life history of characters, which would be more normal in a first novel. Hannah is a witch, and witches remain underground, afraid "regs" will find them and burn them again. Especially living in Salem, as she does. Novel starts with Hannah hating her ex-girlfriend because of the shit that went down in book 1, um in New York. As the book progresses she stumbles on stuff, has fights with her girlfriend, becomes afraid the fall out from book 1, um New York, will catch up with them. BUT New York is a read herring! Probably. Magic, teen love, teen heart break. And oh look, there is going to be a prequel novella to follow book 2, wonder if that is set in New York?? I enjoyed it, light, easy, YA page turner, though the sense of being book 2 was unfortunate.
 
Taste of Marrow - Sarah Gailey - the 2nd of Gailey's hippo western's, having read the 1st one a while ago I'm finally getting to the 2nd. A team of hippo riding criminals got together to pull off a heist, to cause some trouble, etc in book 1. Shit was trouble OK, and chaos was the result. Set a month after the 1st, the survivors try to work out what next, try to work out what happened, did anyone else make it? At the same time, the Marshall is getting closer, and the bad guys are thickening the plot! Pretty decent fun, especially with the hippo riding and river boats.

House With No Doors - Jeff Noon - The second of Noon's crime novels. Set in 1980's our dishevelled, disrespected detective inspector is called out to a strange suicide. A big sprawling old house, a man in his 80's has killed himself, so where is the crime? In dozens of rooms a woman's body is lain out in effigy, the same dress every time, the same wound. There must be a crime, surely? The mystery unfolds, clues and twists, but in a way that is very much distinctly a Noon novel with the baked in weirdness. I really enjoy this series, as I'm sure I said with Slow Motion Ghosts, more than the Nyquist series which is more obviously Noon.
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Funnily enough I too read The Space Between Worlds recently. It was good but not as amazing as all the press about it had lead me to expect. I do like the main character tho and some of the ideas are pretty interesting even if the final reaolution felt a little too pat to me. 

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The Ruthless Young Lady’s Guide to Wizardry by C M Waggoner was excellent! 
 

As near as I can tell it involves the daughter of characters from the first book in the series, as well as numerous other unrelated characters, including a necromanced mouse. The specifics of the plot start with a poor young firewitch from the wrong side of the tracks almost accidentally finding employment in a group of body guards and degenerates from there to something of a revenge gang seeking justice. On a somewhat random/interesting note, Waggoner  has absolutely no trouble with LGBT characters in either book so a lot of the relationships are non-hetero.

 

At any rate, I’ll be happily reading anything else Waggoner wants to write!

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The War Lord, by Bernard Cornwell – This series started strong but has felt more like an obligation than a joy for the last four or five books. This is the final book in the series.

 

The New Testament, by Jericho Brown – Really stunning collection of poetry, I'll definitely be reading more of his work.

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Player 2 by Ernest Cline — OK, it's still deep nerdcore 80's retro fantasy, but it was at least reasonably fun. I rolled my eyes here and there, but after how freaking absolutely terrible Armada was, I was pleasantly surprised for the most part. We pick up where book one left off as our hero discovers that being rich and powerful makes being an asshole infinitely easier too. Plus, more also-er, he finds out that the company he inherited has tech squirreled away to make full brain interface possible, but only for 12 hours and that the founder has left it up to him and his buddies to decide if the world is ready for said tech or not. Hijinks ensue…

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On 1/18/2021 at 2:20 PM, Fashionpolice said:

Good luck - I hope you will get it! I was about to offer you feedback on your application and then I realized it probably won't be written in English.  I also just ordered "Earthlings" from the library!

 

 

So "Earthlings" by Sayaka Murata arrived at the library yesterday for pickup, and I read it last night and this morning. Like "Convenience Store Woman" it was a very fast read, and with the theme of the expectations of couples and reproduction in society. However it also has an element of horror reminding me in some ways of Nicolas Winding Rafn's "Neon Demon" but without the beautiful visuals. I can only recommend it if you've already read Convenience Store Woman and are curious. If I had to choose between watching "Neon Demon" and reading "Earthlings", I would pick "Neon Demon" hands down. So a warm recommendation to see Neon Demon on the largest screen available to you. 

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The Cyberpunk 2077 fiasco (unsolved unusual bug that blocks me at 75% of the storyline) has left me more time for reading. However I am mostly rereading in preparation of two anticipated books.

 

I first finished my scheduled reread of Banana Yoshimoto's Hardboiled / Hard Luck and Goodbye Tsugumi, mainle because they are short sweet books, great for reading while on a load screen or rebooting a computer. Hardboiled / Hard Luck are two novellas in one book, totally unrelated except in how people handle loss and grieving, a common thread in most of the author work. Hardboiled has an almost Murakami supernatural feel, of the kind that you have to decide if it happened or if it was only in the narrator way, with a ghost helping the narrator cope with her lover's loss, after breaking up with her. The second is more inmediate, about the strange emotional landscape you could be, with your sister in an irreversible coma just before her marriage. Goodbye Tsugumi seemed at first more of the same, coming of age while your childhood friend, almost invalid, will leave your life forever, but becomes surprisingly positive, with a violent twist and then a positive outcome that are both not what I expected. Nice recall of summer in a Japanese tourist town that makes you wish to go.

 

Then I got Port of Shadows, from Glen Cook, a new Black Company novel. So I reread the two books it lies in between, The Black Company and Shadows Linger (books 1 and 2). Which brought some more rereading, till I finished all the action in the North (The White Rose and The Silver Spike).Those books were written in 1984, so the style now is totally different, except two parts that were already published as short stories, which resemble much more the old style. The book also has some problems with mistreatment of female minors that I understand can be troublesome for many people, though coming from 1984 it felt right for ruthless mercenaries working for the bad guys. But, at least for me, the patchwork style, the troubling ideas and the fully unreliable narrator (more unreliable than usual) were secondary compared to revisiting a series I used to be emotionally involved, revisiting favored characters long gone, as well as a look into the past of the setting and of some key characters. A must, with some forewarning, for fans of the series, to avoid for all others as most of the references and back story require previous reading.

 

I also have got Michael Swanwick's The Iron Dragon's Mother, but I am still finishing a reread of The Iron Dragon's Daughter, to get back into his dark Faerie before tackling the book. They are supposed to be non-sequential, but with that title I preferred to be up to date, and it has been a long time since my last reread. On this reread I find that the Faerie setting is a gimmick, a way to mix magic with technology and to keep a pseudo-victorian setting with modernity. But it works, the opression of children's labor, the horrors of dark magic and pre-ordained fate, mixed with high school angst and wild university years. He has also several short stories and another novel in the same setting that are also highly recommended. I have read relatively recent The Dragons of Babel, a kind of follow up the previous novel, so I will not read it now, but depending on how much I enjoy  The Iron Dragon's Mother I may end up fishing it out.

 

I have added Convenience Store Woman to the pile, as well as a few others that I will comment as I progress through them, as well as a couple of French, Spanish and Italian books that will never be translated in English, so I will not list them here. 

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Persephone Station by Stina Lecht was pretty good in a Melissa Scott kind of way. The planet feels just slightly alien and the characters just slightly foreign but the humanity is in full effect. Last ditch mercenary stand, protecting an alien race from being overrun was central to the plot for what it’s worth. Lotta evil corporations and crime syndicates too.

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Bright Lands - started great, small Texas county where everybody is obsessed with the high school football team. The first 80% is a really engaging story, part small town mystery, part supernatural horror. But the last 20% just fell apart. It eventually devolved into a violent orgy. Yes, literally.

 

 

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Dead Lies Dreaming by Charles Stross was decently good fun.. Laundry universe but not familiar Laundry characters. And some interesting tricks up his sleeve. London real estate, the Necronomicon, ambitious artists and thieves and personal assistants and a caper. What's not to like?

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After reading loads in December/January, February has been much much slower. At least in terms of novels, loads of shorts, and graphic novels continue to be a reliable cushion.

 

Tales From the Folley - Ben Aaronovitch - First collection of Rivers of London stories. There are special/exclusive edition in UK/Australia that include an extra of a short story. Most of these come from there, some I had read, some I skipped, some I didn't get those versions. If you like Rivers of London series, then you'll like this collection.

 

Shadows of the Short Days - Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson - I got this cheap as a debut author promo deal on kindle awhile ago, was reminded of it when @Kradlum tweeted about it being on a new deal. This should totally be my thing, but good god I just wanted it to end.  Set in an alternate Reykjavik, city in Hrimland, which is occupied by the kingdom on the mainland. The kingdom of the Huldufólk has collapsed, and the various races are caught in this world, a world full of weird magic and discrimination. Sæmundur is an asshole, magic hungry and convinced he knows better when it comes to being a student and following the rules, he goes full Dr. Doom and is just a complete and utter fucking asshole to everyone, destroying everything he touches. Garún splits up with Sæmundur, recognising he is a self-centred selfish bastard, while excusing her own drive to destroy everything as a response to the racism she has experienced as being half huldu/half human. There are so many interesting things going on with magic, and culture, and alternative take and time, and it mirrors in some ways a piece I have part written, and I could undoubtedly learn a lot from it. I guess being from an Icelandic author, an argument could be made for resisting typical Western story forms, and I'm all for that. But at times the pacing feels just off, bogged down in itself. I wanted to like this, I wanted it to redeem itself, I nearly gave up 80% in, but persevered, and when I got to the end and realised the remaining text was appendices I didn't need to read I said "thank fuck for that."

 

Cibola Burn - James S. A. Corey - Book 4 in the Expanse series. I don't tend to binge books, I know some folk do, so I own up to book 7, but taking time getting through that. Also holding off watching more of the series until I've caught up a bit. Always hard to talk about a series, particularly when this book depends on having read book 3 as those events very much shape these events. I do find these books very solid, very well written, the multiple POVs that let us see the overall shape of the plot, the way the world builds, and the tension that comes with that, until with out fail each volume becomes a thriller and we're turning pages to see who/how survives. A new world survivors, new disputes, new excuses to get involved, and the alien goop is never too far away. If you are enjoying the series, you'll likely enjoy this, if you are enjoying the series, you are probably a head of me.

 

Trying to keep better track of what magazines I'm reading, particularly having supported something like four kickstarters last year, and renewing more subscriptions at the start of year. Traditionally I've listed to a lot of fiction podcasts, which in the last year just isn't working for me, and in fact even the podcasts that were working for me are increasingly now. But reading shorts at lunch time, then kindle sat to side of work screen, so if i'm waiting for stuff to load or run, then I can read a page, etc.

So, since start of year I have read:

Cossmass Infinities 4 - enjoyed, solid.
F&SF J/F 2020 - went back to start of last year after seeing twitter reference to particularly story by author I hadn't read. Always solid.
Constelacion 1 - good 1st issue of English/Spanish magazine, though does feel odd in ways.
Apex 121 - 1st issue after editor took medical break, bleak as fuck: extinction, death, baby death, and oh look a covid reference, which was the point I noped out.
Asimov's Jan 2021 - like F&SF, Asimov's remains solid stuff.

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 321 - two issues a month, couple stories each, very manageable in an afternoon, and for the most part pretty reliable.
Clarkesworld 173 - I took a year off this, but came back, they do tend to have some good stuff, and if I'm not listening to podcast I get by one of my big problems. Couple really good pieces, couple of more average pieces.

Lightspeed 128 - perhaps unfortunate that the best material in this issue was the reprint material, but I guess that is why folk wanted them kept in print.

 

 

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