Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire. I love Seanan's music, so naturally I had to read this. It's very good urban fantasy--not so brilliant as to make me do cartwheels and cry because the next one isn't out yet, but good enough that I will buy the next as soon as it's available. October is an interesting character, and her fairies are interesting fairies. There needs to be a way of measuring fairies on a scale from twee Victorian to terrifying and inhuman. On that scale, where Disney's Tinkerbell is a 2 and Bear's Promethean Age courts are an 8.5, Seanan's fae would be somewhere around 5.5 or 6--just dark enough to be interesting and a little uncomfortable. (I enjoy anything from 5 to 9--dark, but still occasionally possible to predict and identify with.)
Of Men and Monsters by William Tenn. I should really replace the Bear Ratio with the Recommended by Jo ratio, since papersky 's reread posts on Tor.com have influenced a significant portion of my reading this year. This is a book about humans living as vermin in the houses of giant aliens, rather exactly like mice or cockroaches. Either that one-sentence description is enough to make you desperate to read it, or it isn't, but it also has surprisingly good worldbuilding and several believable human cultures. It even fails the Bechdel test for legitimate reasons. The society has very distinct roles for men and women, but they're not anything we would consider traditional--men are hunters and gatherers, while women are librarians and engineers. And the one female character we spend a lot of time with has agency and is good company.
The Android's Dream by John Scalzi. Picked this up through Paperbackswap and had to reread it. Like all of Scalzi's non Old Man's War work, this is drama wearing the trappings of comedy. The aliens all have their own interesting cultures and ranges of personality, the politics and economics ring true, and the religion--a bit reminiscent of Bokononism--drives the plot in fascinating ways. And yet, the book starts with a fart joke, and centers around the search for a sheep. I wish Scalzi would drop the OMW universe for good and do more books like this one.
Metatropolis Edited by John Scalzi. So Scalzi and four other authors sat down and made up a world together, at which point they went off and each wrote a story in that shared world. These are all authors whose work I've enjoyed previously, but the quality is extraordinarily variable. The Bear is my favorite--good worldbuilding, interesting characters, real conflicts stemming from the combination of the two. The Lake, on the other hand, exacerbates his usual gender issues and adds in a truly breathtaking textbook Marty Stu. You can practically hear the dramatic background music swell every time he walks into a room. And then stuff blows up--possibly as a result of the Stu's actions, but it's not at all clear. Overall I would recommend the book, but skip the first story.
The Grand Tour by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermere. Sequel to Sorcery and Cecelia. This has most of the fun of the original, just a little less madcap due to the authors going in with an actual plan and a plot. It also has two really sweet married couples--acting exactly like newlyweds who are beginning to build something solid. This is all too rare, and made me squee.
Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang. Also recommended by Jo, and borrowed from marydell --thank you, thank you, thank you! Chiang is an amazing short story writer, and speculates about different things than most speculative fiction even tries. Some of his stories are "What if the universe worked by different physical laws?" speculation: "Tower of Babylon" and "Seventy-Two Letters," for example. Some are true social science fiction. And except for one point at which there should have been a placebo condition, he gets the cognitive psychology and the scientific method right. (Okay, except for the story where the strong Sapir-Whorf effect is in place, but that's something that I'm very willing to forgive if done well.) The title story is one of the best pieces of linguistic SF I've ever read.
Everyone should read this book. Not everyone knows someone with a copy, and most probably don't want to pay Amazon's rare book prices sight unseen, so here's an uncollected Chiang story, free on-line. Most of the ones in the book are that good, too.
Other Media Consumed:
Eureka, Season 2 (Episode 7). And at some point we will get around to watching 8 so we can return the disk to Netflix and start on Alien Nation. Any day now.
Were the World Mine. Much like Of Men and Monsters, either the description will make you race out to watch, or it won't. A semi-closeted gay boy at an all-male private school gets the part of Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream, manages to get a hold of the love potion, and uses it to turn everyone gay. There are boys with gorgeous countertenor voices singing lyrics from the play, pretty men making out in corners, conservative school administrators moping outside the doors of their unrequited crushes, and lots and lots of Puck. If you love AMND, but think it could use a lot more Puck, you will like this movie.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 3 ("Hush"). I was in a bad mood. This helped.
Tom Smith concert, Friday night at Windycon. Lots of old favorites, and a couple of new songs that I hadn't heard before. "Dervish," with bonus violinist borrowed from Toyboat, was a particular delight.
Total Books: 6
Recent Publication: 2/6
Bear Ratio: .2/6
Recommended by Jo ratio: 2/6
New Music: None
New Media Produced: The semester is almost over. And the picture at the top of this post keeps making me think of Aphra Marsh, and all those poor innocent people in Innsmouth.