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picklish@books.theunseen.city

Joined 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I read largely sff, some romance and mystery, very little non-fiction. I'm trying to write at least a little review of everything I'm reading this year, but it's a little bit of an experiment in progress.

I'm @picklish@weirder.earth elsewhere.

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Content warning full spoilers for Jinn-Bot of Shantiport

Jinn-Bot of Shantiport (2023, Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom, Tordotcom) 5 stars

From international bestseller Samit Basu, The Jinn-Bot of Shantiport is an exuberant new sci-fi adventure …

"Wait," Bador says. "Can anyone tell me what the hell is going on?"

"Fine," Zohra says. "The jinn grants wishes. Three per user."

"Why three?" Bador asks.

"It was judged to be an appropriate free trial period," the jinn says. "More wishes can be unlocked in Unlimited Mode."

Jinn-Bot of Shantiport by  (Page 181)

reviewed Jinn-Bot of Shantiport by Samit Basu

Jinn-Bot of Shantiport (2023, Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom, Tordotcom) 5 stars

From international bestseller Samit Basu, The Jinn-Bot of Shantiport is an exuberant new sci-fi adventure …

Jinn-Bot of Shantiport

4 stars

Jinn-Bot of Shantiport is an exuberant action-filled science fiction novel with Aladdin and ~Murderbot vibes[*]. The narrator here is Moku the flying bot, who in service to squabbling siblings Lina and Bador, the other two main characters. Bador is the monkey bot brother with dreams of escape to space and of bot liberation, while carrying a lot of anger at how his family treats him for not being human. Lina's the daughter of failed revolutionaries who works hard to avoid surveillance and has her own ideas of how to make the city better. And that's all before the lamp granting wishes shows up.

This book reminded me a lot of Suzanne Palmer's Finder book; both are set in a city with warring factions, there's some weird alien technology, and both are stories filled with banter and action. They are not the same story by any stretch, but there's a lot …

We also got a naysayer who’d previously been ignoring the whole project and now wanted to complain to Tanesha about what we were doing. "It’s very sad and all, but it’s not like the lady who needs oxygen is going to get better," he said. "You’re just delaying the inevitable."

Tanesha gave him a narrow-eyed look. "You delay the inevitable every time you eat lunch."

"That’s different."

"It’s really not," she said.

The Year Without Sunshine by 

The Year Without Sunshine

4 stars

The Year Without Sunshine is a hopeful sf climate change short story/novelette from Naomi Kritzer. The premise is a small Minneapolis neighborhood bands together to try to take care of each other after an off page disaster that covers the sky in dust and ash.

I really appreciate how refreshingly optimistic Naomi Kritzer's science fiction is. I felt this way too about her short story Better Living Through Algorithms (or the CatNet stories), especially in terms of starting with something that is often a dystopic story idea and looking at it with a different light.

On the Fox Roads (EBook, Tor.com) 5 stars

While learning the ropes from a crafty Jazz Age bank robber, a young stowaway discovers …

On the Fox Roads

5 stars

Nghi Vo's online short story On the Fox Roads was a delight. It's about Midwest bank robbers who acquire a stowaway, but also ultimately about found family and authentic selves.

At this point Nghi Vo is on my "will read anything and everything" author list.

The Hollow Places (2020) 4 stars

A young woman discovers a strange portal in her uncle’s house, leading to madness and …

I had always had mixed feelings about Narnia, mostly because of the heavy-handed lion-Jesus allegory. I suddenly had very strong feelings that C. S. Lewis had not spent nearly enough time on the sudden realization, when moving between worlds, that nothing could be taken for granted.

The Hollow Places by  (Page 77)

The Hollow Places (2020) 4 stars

A young woman discovers a strange portal in her uncle’s house, leading to madness and …

The Hollow Places

4 stars

The Hollow Places is a horror novel by T. Kingfisher. The premise is that newly divorced Kara goes back to live in her uncle's curio museum; when a mysterious hole in the wall appears and goes to what seems to be another dimension, she and her barista friend investigate. Overall, horror is not usually my cuppa but this was an enjoyable creepy ride (and I'll read anything by T. Kingfisher at this point).

But he groaned and stomped around the hall for a few minutes, then said, "Okay. But this is how people die in horror movies, you know."

"You're not the teensiest bit curious?

"I'm incredibly curious! I've just also seen horror movies!"

This book is intensely creepy at times, and the horror elements all the more unsettling for being fuzzy and unseen and unknowable. I wish a little that there was a little bit more character development or …

Feed Them Silence (2023, Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom) 5 stars

What does it mean to "be-in-kind" with a nonhuman animal? Or in Dr. Sean Kell-Luddon’s …

You're grabbing for cash that could be spent on pragmatic interventions for actual habitat stabilization, or assisting with disaster refugee displacement, or whatever else, but these projects aren't as sexy. It's all appearances with you. This grant could fund my department's grad researchers, who I will remind you are almost all working with people and places whose experiences of climate catastrophe are on the knife's edge, several times over. And why are wolves your focal point, anyway? Why not rats, they're better survivors. Because people think wolves are cool.

Feed Them Silence by  (Page 9)

reviewed Feed Them Silence by Lee Mandelo

Feed Them Silence (2023, Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom) 5 stars

What does it mean to "be-in-kind" with a nonhuman animal? Or in Dr. Sean Kell-Luddon’s …

Feed Them Silence

5 stars

Feed Them Silence is the best fiction I have read all year.

It's a near-future sf novella about a researcher who is using new technology to neurologically interface with a near-extinct wolf pack, in order to "become in kind" with them and understand how they make their way in a tough world. Thematically, this novella is dense and chewy and interleaves so much into such a short length. It's about relationships and power dynamics, the fantasy of truly understanding animals (and other humans [and ourselves]), but also about global warming and the objectivity of research.

For me, this is science fiction at its best, using a what-if future science to ask troubling and incisive questions. Even as it presents its own conflicting opinions, it asks far more questions than it has answers for. The novella also walks a tight line in generating compassion and understanding for the protagonist Sean, even …

River of Silver (2022, HarperCollins Publishers) 4 stars

"It was the only way I knew how to fight back, Jamshid. The only way I could protect the people I loved who were left, the city I was supposed to serve... was to get rid of everything that might hurt them, however viciously it needed to be done. I know... I know what that makes me."

"And what does it make you?"

A monster. A murderer. "My father." Muntadhir whispered.

River of Silver by  (Page 197)