A closed and common orbit by Becky Chambers. Oh my god, this was a delight on so many levels. Long way was like the moon shot that didn’t quite make it, but the potential was So Close, and here she’s tightened her focus, taken the shot and freaking nailed it. I almost wish the blurb had been a paragraph shorter, and am glad I didn’t read it too closely as it was, because drawing the dots betweeJane and Sidra was this quiet little satisfying click all of its own.
The characterisation and the thinking about what it would be like to be an AI dropped into a body was so good -- Sidra wanting to stand in the corner on a table to mimic a security camera angle, for example. And wanting to be a ship again but also wanting to be a part of people’s worlds, and ugh, feels. The external tension of Jane’s survival is also wonderful and Owl <3 <3. I give particular brownie points for the narrative sounding like a 10/14/18 year olds as she ages. It was an interesting, curious thing to me that Chambers close to make the meat/threat animals so explicitly feral dogs when she could have created a different species of threat entirely. Content note for killing and eating of dogs, if that’s something you’d rather not read. But it’s so well worth reading. Strongly rec. Although I suspect the rest of the novel category is going to be just as strong, so voting this year is going to be hard.
Context: I’m a slow reader, comparatively, so the novel category is the biggest ask of my time (I’m going to carefully turn aside from the new series category!) so I read the amazon samples of the books to make a judgement call on time vs payoff etc etc, and all these impressions are of the first chapter/s of each accordingly.
All the birds in the sky by Charlie Jane Anders. I was sideeyeing the voice of the bird So Hard, and not convinced by the narrative voice, either, and then I got totally sucked in by the invention of the wristwatch that timetravels ... two seconds forwards. That invention, and specfically how it’s handled, definitely got my interest enough to want to pick it up properly.
Ninefox gambit by Yoon Ha Lee. I... I had no idea what was going on for 80% of this. And yet, I read all of it, and ... and. Complicated thoughts. Had it been a year or two ago I would have put it down much earlier as a Puppy pick -- Very Srs Military Bizness. And yet it was Very Compelling very srs military bizness, even though reading it made me feel utterly non-fluent in whatever fantasy/sci-fi ness was going down here. A single kudos for a female protagonist (although having now consumed a steady diet of Kameron Hurley, one lone special female character just Doesn’t Cut It, there has to be women integrated throughout now for me to trust that. That said, it was a legit brave choice to have that dense a world building plus battle without explaination, AND to pull it off that compellingly. It gives me hope for the rest of the book. Will pick it up.
The Obelisk gate by N. K. Jemisin. For some reason I wanted to not like this, and not get sucked back into this world. I’m not even sure why now (I think there was a review that talked about how grim and bleak it was), but I’m pulled back in regardless. Will pick it up.
Currently reading: Am not so much in between books right now as in between sample chapters, but still....
Up next: Sample chapters of:
Death’s end by Cixin Liu. Final/3rd book in a series that I haven’t read is going to be a tall order to pull me in, but I’m curious given the first was 2015’s Hugo novel winner. Anyone able to tell me if knowing the first two is Essential or not?
Too like the lightning by Ada Palmer. It’s not available on amazon.com.au that I can see (*curses*), so getting the sample chapters to my phone is slightly more cumbersome. But the first few chapters are also up on Tor.com here so, score!
After these two I’ll probably jump straight to the novelettes (see here for an excellent compilation of Where to Find the 2017 Hugo Finalists For Free Online so I can start Finishing Things and have categories ticked off before the actual packet lands. So goes the theory!