OSAMA – Lavie Tidhar

Standard

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.

Continue reading

Karen Lord – THE BEST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS

Standard

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. 

Continue reading

WATERS RISING – oh my god wtf Sheri Tepper

Standard

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.

Continue reading

ON A RED STATION, DRIFTING – Aliette de Bodard

Standard

For generations Prosper Station has thrived under the guidance of its Honoured Ancestress: born of a human womb, the station’s artificial intelligence has offered guidance and protection to its human relatives.

But war has come to the Dai Viet Empire. Prosper’s brightest minds have been called away to defend the Emperor; and a flood of disorientated refugees strain the station’s resources. As deprivations cause the station’s ordinary life to unravel, uncovering old grudges and tearing apart the decimated family, Station Mistress Quyen and the Honoured Ancestress struggle to keep their relatives united and safe. What Quyen does not know is that the Honoured Ancestress herself is faltering, her mind eaten away by a disease that seems to have no cure; and that the future of the station itself might hang in the balance…

On a Red Station, Drifting is a novella that I’ve always been asking for–a longer work set in the same universe as “Immersion” and “Scattered Along the River of Heaven.”

Continue reading

SENSATION – Nick Mamatas

Standard

When Julia Hernandez leaves her husband, shoots a real estate developer, and then vanishes without a trace, she slips out of the world she knew and into the Simulacrum—a place where human history is both guided and thwarted by the conflict between a species of anarchist wasps and a collective of hyperintelligent spiders. When Julia’s ex-husband Raymond spots her in a grocery store he doesn’t usually patronize, he’s soon drawn into an underworld of radical political gestures where Julia is the new media sensation of both this world and the Simulacrum. Told ultimately from the collective point of view of another species, this allegorical novel plays with the elements of the Simulacrum apparent in real life—media reports, business speak, blog entries, text messages, psychological-evaluation forms, and the lies lovers tell one another—and poses a fascinating idea that displaces human beings from the center of the universe and makes them simply the pawns of two warring species.

Hmm.

Continue reading

GOD’S WAR – in which Space Muslims are endlessly violent

Standard

On a ravaged, contaminated world, a centuries-old holy war rages, fought by a bloody mix of mercenaries, magicians, and conscripted soldiers. Though the origins of the war are shady and complex, there’s one thing everybody agrees on–

There’s not a chance in hell of ending it.

Nyx is a former government assassin who makes a living cutting off heads for cash. But when a dubious deal between her government and an alien gene pirate goes bad, Nyx’s ugly past makes her the top pick for a covert recovery. The head they want her to bring home could end the war–but at what price?

The world is about to find out.

It’s a shame. This book came so highly recommended I very nearly bought the first and second together. This, obviously, did not happen.

Continue reading

Ken Grimwood’s REPLAY – misogyny and the American Dream

Standard

Jeff Winston was 43 and trapped in a tepid marriage and a dead-end job, waiting for that time when he could be truly happy, when he died.

And when he woke and he was 18 again, with all his memories of the next 25 years intact. He could live his life again, avoiding the mistakes, making money from his knowledge of the future, seeking happiness.

Until he dies at 43 and wakes up back in college again…

This book was published in 1987, and yea, there shalt be many cries of “BUT ‘TWAS A PRODUCT OF ITS TIME” since 1987 was–like–the fucking Middle Ages, man. It’s steeped to the eyeballs in what I’ll charitably call the American Dream, a heaping shitload of sexism that makes Philip K Dick look vaguely evolved, and an easy rival to both Jonathan Lethem and Jim Butcher when it comes to unrelenting misogyny. For fuck’s sake, the story begins with Our Hero–middle-class white dude experiencing a midlife crisis–being nagged by his disillusioned wife. Then he dies.

Unfortunately, that’s not the last we see of Jeff Winston.

Continue reading