Ammonite

Ammonite

180270 “Ammonite” by Nicola Griffith

Synopsis: Change or die. These are the only options available on the planet Jeep. Centuries earlier, a deadly virus shattered the original colony, killing the men and forever altering the few surviving women. Now, generations after the colony has lost touch with the rest of humanity, a company arrives to exploit Jeep–and its forces find themselves fighting for their lives. Terrified of spreading the virus, the company abandons its employees, leaving them afraid and isolated from the natives. In the face of this crisis, anthropologist Marghe Taishan arrives to test a new vaccine. As she risks death to uncover the women’s biological secret, she finds that she, too, is changing–and realizes that not only has she found a home on Jeep, but that she alone carries the seeds of its destruction. . . .

*******

4 out of 5 stars

I am rapidly becoming a big fan of Nicola Griffith. Her Aud Torvington series will always be my favorite, but I’m finding that I really enjoy her other works as well.

This is a beautifully written book, and a fresh twist on a sci-fi novel. Our main character, Marghe, has signed up to be the first person to be experimentally vaccinated and sent to the planet Jeep which has suffered a plague virus that killed off all the men on the planet and changed the DNA of all the women.

We follow her as she arrives on the planet and begins her journey to explore the world and learn about the people living there. While she does interact with the other scientists and employees stationed there, most of her story is made up of her living with the native people, all women. The book is an exploration of the concepts of a one-gendered society and the challenges that may face.

I liked this book very much although I had a few issues with it.

Marghe takes off into the wilderness almost immediately upon arriving on Jeep. Not the smartest move as she knows next to nothing about how to survive and finds herself in extreme conditions. I found that Marge held herself apart from almost everything that happens to her – that things happen to her, not that she is a part of the happening. She comes across as passive most of the time and her escape from one situation was not at all thought out.

I found that the story line that did not involve Marge dragged on and on. The base camp for the interplanetary explorers and their story just didn’t connect with me. I understand that Marge could not have been dropped off on a strange planet and left but I skipped several passages that focused on the base camp.

I did enjoy this book though, all in all. It was very different and I really liked all the well thought out subcultures and people Marge meets in her journey. I do recommend this if you are looking for a sci-fi book with a feminist twist.

The cover is lovely.

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The Library at Mount Char

The Library at Mount Char

23363928 “The Library at Mount Char” by Scott Hawkins

Synopsis: Carolyn’s not so different from the other human beings around her. She’s sure of it. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. She even remembers what clothes are for.
After all, she was a normal American herself, once.
That was a long time ago, of course—before the time she calls “adoption day,” when she and a dozen other children found themselves being raised by a man they learned to call Father.
Father could do strange things. He could call light from darkness. Sometimes he raised the dead. And when he was disobeyed, the consequences were terrible.
In the years since Father took her in, Carolyn hasn’t gotten out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father’s ancient Pelapi customs. They’ve studied the books in his library and learned some of the secrets behind his equally ancient power.
Sometimes, they’ve wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.
Now, Father is missing. And if God truly is dead, the only thing that matters is who will inherit his library—and with it, power over all of creation.
As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her.
But Carolyn can win. She’s sure of it. What she doesn’t realize is that her victory may come at an unacceptable price—because in becoming a God, she’s forgotten a great deal about being human.

*******

5 out of 5 stars

Well, crap. I haven’t the faintest idea of how to begin to review this book.

I don’t suppose I can leave it at, “It’s amazing, go read it immediately.”

I’m going to start with what I liked most about this book.

The world building is fantastic. To create an entire new world, new mythos, new philosophy in one book is hard and it’s exceptionally well done here. This falls into the fantasy genre quite simply because there is no where else to put it. Fantasy, sci-fi, historical, dystopian, horror, speculative – I think it fits all those genres.

Carolyn is our main character in this book but many of the other characters get equal play. Parts of the book are disturbing, parts are laugh out loud hilarious (remind me that in real life I can’t bitch-slap a lion). She goes through quite the metamorphosis through the story and it’s wonderful to read her development.

The character development is well thought out. There doesn’t seem to be much thought given to them at first, and then you find that you are incredibly invested in everyone in the book.

There is a lot of gore in this book. Descriptions of killing and of torture and of abuse. Somehow it makes sense that it’s here and necessary to the story. It’s violent but not gratuitous.

The one thing I didn’t like was that it took me a good 50 pages to really get hooked by this book. Normally I give up very quickly, but I am so glad I stuck with this one. I know I keep saying amazing but I don’t have any other words for this.

Again, I have no idea how to review “Library”. I don’t know where it fits, who should read it, and how to think about it. I just know I loved it and will definitely reread in the future.

The cover is …

… wait for it …

… amazing.

 

 

The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Sixteen Original Works by Speculative Fiction’s Finest Voices

The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Sixteen Original Works by Speculative Fiction’s Finest Voices

2267010 “The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Sixteen Original Works by Speculative Fiction’s Finest Voices” Edited by Ellen Datlow
Synopsis: With original stories by Jeffrey Ford, Pat Cadigan, Elizabeth Bear, Margo Lanagan, and others.
From Del Rey Books and award-winning editor Ellen Datlow, two of the most respected names in science fiction and fantasy, comes a collection of fifteen all-new short stories, plus a science fiction novella, that could count as a virtual “best of the year” anthology. Here you will find slyly twisted alternate histories, fractured fairy tales, topical science fiction, and edgy urban fantasy.

*****

2 out of 5 stars

The Book: Let me start by saying that I am a HUGE fan of Ellen Datlow. I’ve never given a second thought to picking up anything she has edited as I know it will be an enjoyable read. She edits anthologies and short story collections which I love. This is a collection billed as science fiction and fantasy written by speculative fiction writers.

It is pure speculative fiction in my opinion, which is fine but not what I was expecting. This may have been one of the reason I didn’t really like this book. While I do enjoy being surprised when a story being something other than what I thought it was, speculative fiction takes a bit of work to read and often seems to make no sense. It kind of goes in the WTF category when sci-fi, fantasy, and horror don’t fit.

I was disappointed with this book for one main reason – I did not like the stories. Period. It was a struggle getting through the entire thing and the one story I did like somewhat was the last one.

What I liked: The story I liked was called Prisoners of the Action by Paul J. McAuley and Kim Newman. The story takes place after an alien invasion when much of the world has been decimated by the alien attack. The POTAs as they are called, are kept in a kind of Guantanamo Bay facility. A lawyer is called in to investigate accusations of abuse against the creatures. No one knows what they are exactly. The POTAs are described as blue round blobs stacked in threes, like a snow man would be stacked. They have no obvious organs or apertures other than a small opening filled with what looks like stones.

The lawyer witnesses what could be torture but it’s hard to tell as the POTAs don’t react in the way they are expected to. The cast of characters includes a Bible thumping preacher and his Christian Rock singing daughter, a hip hop scientist and our befuddled lawyer. And the POTAs which could be aliens or just blue blobs.

What I didn’t like: The rest of the book I skimmed, I’ll be honest. I didn’t connect with any of the other stories and they left me cold.

I’m not giving up on Datlow, but I think I’ll be a little more cautious going forward. I have five more of her anthologies queued up and I hope they are as good as her other work.

Confession

Confession

I have a confession.

This is hard for me as I get judged quite a bit for this.

I really, really love cheesy Sci-fi movies. The kind that star d-list actors and have special effects that have been created by a team of 12 year olds. Sharknado was AMAZING! Sharknado 2 was even better!

I only get to indulge my guilty pleasure on weekends when K is at work. Today I’ve settled in for a marathon – last night I watched “Lake Placid Vs. Anaconda” and today have watched “DinoShark” and am in the middle of “RoboShark”. I love the ones that combine some impossible creation, like “Piranaconda” or “Sharktopos”. The movies usually involve some bikini clad someone, or someones, who get eaten along the way by the monster. A hero and a heroine are on hand to save the day, but not until after a lot of hunting and super fake blood and guts.

One of my very favorites is “Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid” starring Debbie Gibson and Tiffany, two of the 80’s biggest pop stars (again, dating myself).

The cheesier, the better. One of my friends has suggested that I watch “Birdemic”, on Netflix. Apparently you can almost see the strings the birds are held up with! Great cinema there!

Don’t judge me.