OSAMA – Lavie Tidhar

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In a world without global terrorism Joe, a private detective, is hired by a mysterious woman to find a man: the obscure author of pulp fiction novels featuring one Osama bin Laden: Vigilante…

Joe’s quest to find the man takes him across the world, from the backwaters of Asia to the European Capitals of Paris and London, and as the mystery deepens around him there is one question he is trying hard not to ask: who is he, really, and how much of the books is fiction? Chased by unknown assailants, Joe’s identity slowly fragments as he discovers the shadowy world of the refugees, ghostly entities haunting the world in which he lives. Where do they come from? And what do they want? Joe knows how the story should end, but even he is not ready for the truths he’ll find in New York and, finally, on top a quiet hill above Kabul – nor for the choice he will at last have to make…

When I first joke-tweeted about chopping blocks and reviews, two books were offered up–Throne of the Crescent Moon (also known on this blog as “that steaming misogynistic turdpile written by same for same”) and Osama. I chose, unfortunately, to read Ahmed’s turdpile. It was a mistake I will never not regret.

I thought of comparing the two for a bit, but it’d be absurd. There’s not much to be compared between an illiterate’s D&D campaign and a literary, political novel of deconstruction.

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BLOOD OF DRAGONS – Robin Hobb, more slut-shaming

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Dragon blood and scales, dragon liver and eyes and teeth.

All required ingredients for medicines with near-miraculous healing powers. The legendary blue dragon Tintaglia is dying of wounds inflicted by hunters sent by the Duke of Chalced, who meanwhile preserves his dwindling life by consuming the blood of the dragon’s poet Selden Vestrit.

If Tintaglia perishes, her ancestral memories will die with her. And the dragons in the ancient city of Kelsingra will lose the secret knowledge they need to survive. Their keepers immerse themselves in the dangerously addictive memory-stone records of the city in the hope of recovering the Elderling magic that once allowed humans and dragons to co-exist. In doing so they risk losing their own identities, even their lives.

And danger threatens from beyond the city, too. For war is coming: war between dragonkind and those who would destroy them.

Robin Hobb is kind of like Robert Jordan in a way. Not the braid-tugging and skirt-smoothing shit, but the whole–you know how there are a lot of words in her books? Lots and lots and lots of fucking words, things happen in them (sort of) but the plot is advancing fuck-all? The pace so glacial sometimes it reads like it’s going backward? Yeah, that.

Fuck, I’ve no idea why I read this. Why did I read four books of this. Why? It’s got “dragons” in the title, for fuck’s sake. Trigger warning for rape by the way, since Robin Hobb from Liveship onwards hopped on the grimdark bandwagon.

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THE UNLIKELY HERO – Beau Schemery’s Aryan teenage unicorn fetish

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Despite the suspicions Mother Dragon shared with Celestrian before her death, he may be the last surviving unicorn of Vrelenden—though most may simply think him some crazy person with a horn attached to his forehead. Nevertheless, Trian has nothing to hold on to but hope, and he’s about to hang that hope on an unlikely hero named Renwald Mallorian. Ren may have been born an accountant’s son, but he’s longed to be a professional hero for as long as he can remember, and he’s read every book on the subject he could get his hands on. When Trian arrives and hires him to find the last remaining unicorns, Ren jumps at the offer and their quest begins.

But the evil Father Denkham is intent on obtaining the last unicorn and sets a deadly assassin on their trail. If that isn’t bad enough, they’ll face a Vampire, Dragon, bandits, and zombies. Their only hope now is for Ren to prove he’s the hero he always dreamed of becoming—but no book in the world could have prepared him for what’s in store.

Yes, that’s a unicorn furry wearing a thong. This, as you will soon gather, is a book about copious teenage unicorn sex. Rejoice, for we’re about to embark on the beautiful and magical journey of someone’s D&D campaign involving a shitload of erotic roleplay turned into a novel.

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Karen Lord – THE BEST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS

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The Sadiri were once the galaxy’s ruling élite, but now their home planet has been rendered unlivable and most of the population destroyed. The few groups living on other worlds are desperately short of Sadiri women, and their extinction is all but certain.

Civil servant Grace Delarua is assigned to work with Councillor Dllenahkh, a Sadiri, on his mission to visit distant communities, looking for possible mates. Delarua is impulsive, garrulous and fully immersed in the single life; Dllenahkh is controlled, taciturn and responsible for keeping his community together. They both have a lot to learn.

What the fuck is this shit.

I was lukewarm toward Lord’s previous book, though I didn’t hate it. It was an easy read. There was a lot of hubbub surrounding The Best of All Possible Worlds enough that I was interested, even though the synopsis frankly sounds like shit.

Turns out, it’s really absolutely fucking shit. My nickname for this book is The Best of All Eugenics. 

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THE ALCHEMY OF STONE – Ekaterina Sedia

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Mattie, an intelligent automaton skilled in the use of alchemy, finds herself caught in the middle of a conflict between gargoyles, the Mechanics, and the Alchemists. With the old order quickly giving way to the new, Mattie discovers powerful and dangerous secrets – secrets that can completely alter the balance of power in the city of Ayona. This doesn’t sit well with Loharri, the Mechanic who created Mattie and still has the key to her heart – literally.

I was surprised that this was captivating from the first pages on, seeing that Sedia’s other steampunk novel–Heart of Iron–was a bit hit-and-miss with me. This is a stronger book than that by far, if not quite a match for The House of Discarded Dreams

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GRACELING and comfy “feminism” for men

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Yes, yes I know I’m picking on an article from fucking 2009, and I will give that Daniel Hemmens may or may not still hold these views strongly, whatever. But let’s pick on a white dude anyway! Nothing personal, Dan. You were just the springboard.

Around the time Kristin Cashore’s book was still new and shit (didn’t get less shit since, though) Daniel Hemmens of Ferretbrain wrote about it in glowing terms.

On the other hand part of the reason for this is that Cashore spends no time whatsoever trying to make Katsa attractive to straight men. There’s little or no description of her naked body glistening in the moonlight, or of her bending over to present her buttocks for chastisement.

[...]

Katsa is a sublimely realised female character. So sublimely realised that I can’t really relate to her. The experiences that shape her are not my experiences. The issues that concern her are not my concerns. The qualities I look for in a female fantasy figure are not qualities the text shows any interest in. My fantasies are not what the book cares about fulfilling. Katsa is not for me and the fact that I even expected that she should be is evidence of how profoundly important this book actually is.

The thrust of Hemmens’ argument is that the book is Awesome Feminist Literature because it doesn’t concern him, a man, or the male gaze, or care about him as the reader, therefore it is alien and new and stupefying to him.

To which I can only ask, Dan: in 2009 had you never read a single book by a feminist, ever? Hell, let’s be charitable: maybe he meant this was the first ever fantasy or SF book he read that didn’t pander to him as a man?

So not Butler? Not Hopkinson? Hell, I’ll make this easier on him: not even big-name white women? Not le Guin, Russ, Valente, Vinge?

Not a single one?

Really? Those aren’t obscure authors, you know.

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HYBRID CHILD by Melissa Goldberg pt 2, plus racism

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A long while ago I disemboweled this self-published piece of watery shit to cries of BULLYING!!! or something, and then I found my notes and remembered why I went after this author in the first place. Celebrate! Here’s part two and an explanation on why Melissa Goldberg is a racist little crybaby who’s not much better at being a progressive liberal than she is at writing. It must really suck to be so politically tone-deaf, unintelligent, self-centered and talentless at the same time.

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HOUNDED – Kevin Hearne is a rancid neckbeard ape

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Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.

Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.

People’ve been asking me to have a go at this for a while, and what do you know, it turns out to be exactly the same type of excrement as Jim Butcher! Misogyny? Check. Wish-fulfillment bullshit? Oh yes. Juvenile Gary Stu material, aka Rothfuss? You fucking bet.

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WATERS RISING – oh my god wtf Sheri Tepper

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Long ago was the “Big Kill,” horrible, apocalyptic events that destroyed nearly every living thing on earth. Since then the last of humankind has scattered into widespread small kingdoms separated by superstition, war, and fear. And now, while facing a natural catastrophe that threatens to drown a world, an ancient evil resurfaces and may prevent any chance of survival.

With the future of humankind at stake, a small band of disparate characters–a lonely child, a loyal servant, a mysterious wanderer, and a most unusual horse–sets out on a journey fraught with peril and wonder . . . a sacred mission that leaves no room for failure. . . .

Deeply original in scope and vision, “The Waters Rising” is a daring and remarkable work of speculative fiction–a tour de force from one of the most revered writers of our time.

What the everloving fuck is this shit. Yes, this is the novel with the talking horse. What nobody told me was that it also contains a talking chipmunk, a talking stone, a talking dolphin, and yes, the girl on the cover is a hentai fantasy come true. That is, she is half squid. Literally. Trigger warning for pedophilia, by the way.

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