melita66: (Default)
At the beginning of the year, several bloggers made pledges to read more sf/f books written by women. I took a somewhat opposite pledge: to read at least one book a month written (or co-written) by a man! Co-written books equal a 1/2 mark. Re-reads are included.

Female: 59-1/2
Male: 17

I would have to say that I just barely met the goal, and only by including the re-reads. I read 4.5x as many female-written stories as male-written ones. I about equally did-not-finish books by both genders, so that wouldn't have affected the results.

I didn't re-read as much as I'd thought:

New: 51.5 (.5 = short story)
Re-read: 25

but still a 1/3 of the total.

Only two male authors on the to-buy list for next year (previously posted on James Nicoll's blog):

Feb
Paul Kearney, Kings of Morning

Mar
C.J. Cherryh, Intruder

Apr
Mary Robinette Kowal, Glamour in Glass
Sharon Shinn, Shape of Desire (she read from it at WFC; I have some reservations)

May
Ysabeau Wilce, Flora's Fury

Jul
Wen Spencer, Elfhome

Aug
Carrie Vaughn, Kitty Steals the Show
Patricia Wrede, The Far West
Violette Malan, Shadowlands

Sep
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Dragon Ship

Nov
Lois McMaster Bujold, Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (date and title tentative, but the book is turned in)


Secondary list (ones that I have even more reservations about)
Mark del Franco, Undone Deeds
Gail Carriger, Timeless
Ben Aaronovitch, Whispers Under Ground
Laurell K. Hamilton, Kiss the Dead (yeah, yeah)


But I do have the rest of the Long Price Quartet to read!

edited 1/1/2012 to add the Wilce and Bujold books (and remove the flash insert--how did that get there?)

melita66: (ship)
Less than a year later, we get the second Raksura book, The Serpent Sea, from Martha Wells. Hooray! I adore Wells's books--interesting plots, well-thought-out worlds, and smart characters. I briefly discussed the first book back in February here. Occurring directly after The Cloud Roads, Moon is trying to adjust to life as a consort (the only active one) in a Raksura colony. The colony, Indigo Cloud, has had to move since the Fell attacked their previous home. They decide to go to the previous home, deep within an Amazonian-like forest. Once there, they find the colony-tree is missing...something like its heart...and have to go and search for it. What ensues is a chase across more of the world including several new races, both groundlings and waterlings.

Moon calls it the Three Worlds. I can't remember if Wells explained that in the first book. I'm speculating that it means water, ground, and air creatures/races. There's plenty of scope for more adventures here.

Moon is a 'feral.' His colony was destroyed by the Fell and a female warrior saved him and several arbora children. After they were killed, Moon traveled and tried to find a place to fit in. Found by Stone, line-grandfather of Indigo Cloud, Moon was brought to become a consort for Jade, the young sister-queen of Indigo Cloud. Because Moon doesn't know the etiquette of the colony's court, he often makes bad blunders. Somehow, he muddles through, mostly because powerful people in his own and other colonies recognize that he could become something special.

My quibble in this book is that Moon really ends up the leader in the end. Some of that is explained by his living for years among other races, so he knows how to fit in better, but Stone appears to have also traveled widely, so his seeming deference to Moon feels odd sometimes. Anyway, still enjoyed the heck out of the book. The Serpent Sea does have a solid ending with the current crisis solved.

Martha Wells is currently finishing the third book but it hasn't sold yet. My fingers and toes are crossed!
melita66: (ghibli house)
After a quiet period of some years, R.A. MacAvoy has started publishing again. Last year, she released In Between, a short novel or novella, and this year a full length novel, Death and Resurrection. Supposedly, Death and Resurrection contains In Between, but I didn't feel that any of DaR was familiar. I'll have to find In Between and reread it. DaR should be considered a series of closely related short stories about Ewen Young and his relatives and friends. Ewen is a Chinese-American painter who specializes in portraiture and is also a martial artist, taught by his uncle.

Ewen has a twin sister, Lynn, and they share a bit of a psychic connection. She always knows when something's wrong or troubling Ewen. Lynn works as a child psychiatrist and occasionally asks Ewen to help. Ewen is able to show someone his 'safe place', his recreation of a clearing in a park where he grew up. That can calm them and enable them to restart, in a way. In the beginning, Ewen's uncle is killed over a gambling debt, and Ewen is shot. His heart stops several times, but he is finally revived. He finds that he can now go 'in between' life and death more regularly and has gained some other powers. This brings him to the attention of the two police detectives on the case, and to a friend of one of them, Susan Sundown. Susan is a veternarian and uses her dog, Resurrection, on crime scenes to track and as a cadaver dog. Susan asks Ewen to help her find her uncle, a Native American man of power.

It turns out that a Native American spirit has begun targeting men of power, possibly including both of their uncles. Most other writers would take an entire novel to deal with this very terrible threat, but MacAvoy wraps up that issue about halfway through. Ewen, Susan, and Lynn has some other issues to deal with in the rest of the book, but nothing that I felt was as striking as the spirit in the first section. There's some Buddhist (both Chinese and Tibetan) discussion, but nothing overwhelming. In the final story, we don't even see the capture of the 'bad guy', because it's really not important to the tale that MacAvoy is telling.

I think it needs a reread in the coming year. It didn't hit me as a favorite book, but may well grow on me with more familiarity now that I know the story structure.

I have a book that should arrive on Tuesday (yea!) which should be the last book for the year.
melita66: (raven)
I am so happy that P.C. Hodgell (now that she's retired) has been able to pick up and continue her Kencyr series with some regularity. The Kencyr series has gone through several publishers over the years and currently released by Baen who seem to be willing to publish fan-favorites that don't quite work at other publishers. The latest book is Honor's Paradox and finishes Jame's tenure at the war college, Tentir.

Jame is a member of the Highborn. The Kencyr are composed of the Highborn, the Kendar (everyone else), and the Arrin-Ken, a different race that functions as judges. Due to events in the past, the Arrin-Ken are least in sight. The Kencyr were brought together to battle Perimal Darkling, who's destroying creation, one world at a time. The Kencyr try to fight but have been waging a holding battle only, with defeats sending them on to the next world. Their current location is Rathillien, and there's a lot of interaction in this and the previous book with the world's own deities and supernatural creatures.

The Kencyr have a prophecy that 3 related people will come and lead the final battle against Perimal Darkling. Jame believes she may be one of them, and based on the chaos that usually follows in her wake, that of Destruction. Her twin brother (who's actually 10 years older) may represent Creation and a new-found relative, Kindrie, who's a healer, Preservation. Meanwhile, she's also a Shanir, one of the old blood, with certain mystical powers, and retractable claws on her hands. Many Highborn don't trust the Shanir even as they make use of them.

Her brother, Torisen, who's leader of the Kencyr is trying to find a place for Jame in the society (she's only recently returned to the Kencyr) so in the previous books she's spent time in the Women's World (Highborn women are generally cloistered) and discovered a lot of long-hidden secrets and burned half the place down. Now she's at the war college where female Kendar attend regularly, but never a female Highborn. A talented fighter on foot with only her built-in weapons and strategist, or is that tactician, she's managed to won over many people, but perhaps not enough to actually graduate...

Jame is a neat character. She's brash and forthright, often competent, but leaves chaos in her wake. That's different from most uber-competent characters and it's a lot of fun watching her dance between disasters.
melita66: (ghibli house)
Because I was traveling, I took two previously read books with me, but only read one of them. I also grabbed thrashed 3rd copies so I could toss them. Anyway, I read C.J. Cherryh's Chanur's Legacy. This is a loose sequel to The Pride of Chanur (which was followed by Chanur's Venture, The Kif Strike Back, and Chanur's Homecoming) focusing on Hilfy Chanur, the cousin of Pyanfar Chanur. Pyanfar is now President of the Amphictony, mekt-hakkikt, etc. That is, overall leader of a loose conglomeration of species. Hilfy had been juniormost on the "Pride of Chanur" in the earlier books, but then kicked off to take over leadership of the Chanur clan.

The hani are lion-based aliens. The females do all the public issues, while men are coddled and titular clan heads. When boys get too old, they're kicked out into preserves where they fight and die until they can try to challenge existing clan heads. A notable curse is "May you have sons!"

NOTE: May be slightly spoilers for early events in the book below.




At the beginning of Chanur's Legacy, Hilfy has taken over captainship of a new ship, forcing her aunt Rhean to become acting clan head. Pyanfar is out in space trying to keep the peace and not allowed to set foot on the hani worlds. Hilfy gets a offer of a contract that's too good to be true--it could clear the debt on this recently built ship and put the clan on better financial footing.

The contract is to take some sort of religious/cultural object between two stations, and between the heads of the stations who are of the stsho. The stsho are 'grass-eaters,' herd-minded and non-confrontational. Very much tempted, Hilfy takes the contract, and agrees to ferry a male hani and try to reunite him with his ship. Hallan Meras shipped with another trade ship (not a Chanur ally) and was left in the station jail after getting into a bar fight. Hilfy would rather just leave him, but her honor won't allow her to abandon any hani.

Meanwhile a mahendo'sat (a another alien species) is nosing about trying to get information on Hilfy's cargo. Craziness ensues from every angle as the Legacy bounces from port to port trying to fulfill the contract.

--------

I'm a huge fan of Cherryh's books, with a particular fondness for the Compact books. I feel that they're some of the more accessible books as well. Cherryh has a unique writing style that some people dislike and she often obfuscates information so you have to work to figure out what the heck is going on. There are always political shenanigans, alliances, double- and triple-crosses happening. Because of this, her books often reward a second (or more) read as you pick up more clues.

I think ou could read Legacy without reading the earlier books, but there are a lot of references to the earlier books, and subtleties in the character interactions which would be lost without information from the earlier books.

If you do read the earlier books, make sure you have access to books 2-4 as they end on cliff-hangers.

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