Sofia Samatar — A Stranger in Olondria
Jevick of Tyom has always seen the Empire of Olondria as a paradise, rich in everything he spent his childhood starving for. Olondria sees Jevick (and his recently acquired ghost problem) as a political football in its long-simmering religious conflict over who controls history and knowledge.
This book is about a lot of things, but the most troubling of the bunch were the ways your culture can fail you, and the ways you can fail your culture.
It is also a ghost story, and a story about stories. It's deliciously gothic, and the prose was lush in a way that reminded me vaguely of Maggie Helwig's Girls Fall Down.
I enjoyed this immensely. I am SUPER HYPED for The Winged Histories, but I don't know when I'll be in a mental state to withstand it.
Zan Romanoff — A Song to Take the World Apart
A story about a teenage siren who Makes Some Mistakes.
I liked this. It's overheated and bombastic in the way a story about dumbass teenage first love kind of has to be, but it has an admirable... hmm, I might need a word other than "restraint," here. "Economy," maybe — it's un-redundant, and resists the temptation to waste your time.
Here's my review: I wasn't really in the mood for this kind of book when I read it, but it was so well done that I loved it anyway.
Elizabeth Hand — Available Dark and Hard Light
June 17 and June... 24?
I read Generation Loss ages ago and liked it a lot, or at least liked most of it a lot. I had no idea there were sequels until rushthatspeaks wrote this glowing endorsement of them.
The thing I snagged on in Generation Loss was... well, it's a spoiler, but Cass does something legitimately unforgivable. Hardboiled detective fic has a solid tradition of dark (even murderous) acts, but this seemed to break some unstated rule of the genre.
These two sequels lean into that break. On the surface level, they're really entertaining page-turner mystery novels, but on the level under that, they're maybe defying the genre's whole raison d'être?
I think maybe these aren't human detective novels. They're detective novels that presuppose the moral priorities of Something Entirely Else. Cass IS following the rules of her role and receiving its dubious rewards, but it's not the same role that detectives like Philip Marlowe play. She serves an alien moral framework. Like, the ending of Hard Light doesn't even really make sense if you try to treat it like a normal mystery.
I dunno. Read Rush's review. I enjoyed these a lot, but I'm still not entirely sure what to make of them.
Bonus Level — Shadowrun Returns: Hong Kong
The near-universal consensus on these games seems to be as follows:
- The first Shadowrun Returns (which I haven't played) shows potential but is basically skippable.
- Dragonfall and Hong Kong are both good; you'll love one of them but merely like the other.
Anyway, turns out I'm a Dragonfall partisan. I think it has a better harmony between setting, character, and gameplay!
Hong Kong has some significant gameplay improvements (especially in the Matrix), and more variety in the missions. (There's an honest-to-god murder mystery/trial! That's neat! And the broader Yama Kings investigation subplot was cool, although the sleep requirement was arbitrary and opaque.) It's worth playing! But I REALLY liked how Dragonfall dropped you into a pre-established group of characters with their own relationships and loyalties. I appreciate what Hong Kong was trying to do with making the relationship with your character's brother central, but I think it wasn't a good fit with the type of game this was; the squad-based structure of the game demands a more balanced ensemble cast. Dragonfall's scenario was a nearly perfect fit, and so I love it more.