A short month, but no lack of quality. Rounding-up my February reads and posts.
- “The ThoughtBox” (2020) by Tlotlo Tsamaase. An emotionally abusive boyfriend brings home a device that allows the couple to hear each other’s thoughts. It doesn’t go well. Really gripping story that always has another layer.
- “The Pill” (2020 Novelette) by Meg Elison. It’s hard to call this a favorite, because it was deeply uncomfortable, both with the gross elements and the terrifyingly plausible dystopia. This is about weight, but I can’t help but being reminded of real-world efforts to eliminate Down Syndrome. At any rate, it’s uncomfortable, but powerful.
- “Metal Like Blood in the Dark” (2020) by T. Kingfisher. Two gigantic, powerful sentient machines programmed to be naive learn about real life. I’m beginning to think that everything I read by Kingfisher is going to be extremely compelling.
Other February Reads
I liked the vast majority of what I read this month, so if a description sounds interesting, give it a look!
- “Juvenilia” (2020) by Lavie Tidhar. A woman looking for work after the war takes a job in a British mansion where nothing is as it seems. This is a fun one.
- “Escaping Dr. Markoff” (2020) by Gabriela Santiago. A mind-bending story about. . . an evil scientist? Like I said, it’s mind-bending. But interesting.
- “The Translator, at Low Tide” (2020) by Vajra Chandrasekera. A downer about a particularly unpleasant vision of the near future.
- “Things Boys Do” (2020) by ‘Pemi Aguda. A horror story with creepy babies. Again, I’m not usually a horror reader, but it had me uncomfortable but also wanting to know what happened so maybe that’s good horror?
- “And This is How to Stay Alive” (2020) by Shingai Njeri Kagunda. Starts with a teen suicide and then somehow pushes into a more hopeful direction, as the title suggests.
- “Of Course You Screamed” (2021) by Sharang Biswas. Very short, intentionally disjointed story about an innocent left for dead on an island.
- “Rat and Finch are Friends” (2020) by Innocent Chizaram Ilo. A touching story about self-discovery and dealing with societal disapproval.
Novels and Novellas
- The Lions of Al-Rassan (1995) by Guy Gavriel Kay. A beautifully-written historical fantasy set in an analogue of Moorish Spain that hooked me surprisingly early.
- The Long Price Quartet (2006-2009) by Daniel Abraham. A slow-paced, character driven epic that with personal stakes that grow wider and wider as the series progresses. Explores long-term consequences of decisions and features some of the most relatable antagonists I’ve seen in fantasy. I’ve never read anything like it.
- Black Sun (2020) by Rebecca Roanhorse. Very much the first book in an epic series, but a remarkably quick read that gets a lot of balls in the air without slogging through the setup.
- The Deep (2019) by Rivers Solomon. An ambitious novella that is sometimes chaotic but often powerful.
- Hench (2020) by Natalie Zina Walschots. An addictive superhero subversion starring a data scientist with an ax to grind.
- A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking (2020) by T. Kingfisher. Funny, poignant, and darker than your average middle-grade. You think it won’t live up to the title, but it does.
- The Time of the Dark (1982) by Barbara Hambly. DNF at 42%. Some of the plot points about societies in crisis certainly have stood the test of time, but it’s distractingly 80s, and I never felt the tension when terrifying monsters were about.
Other February Reads
- Amari and the Night Brothers (2021) by B.B. Alston. A middle-grade novel with a world that seemed inspired in equal parts by Harry Potter and Men in Black. It has its flaws, but the protagonist is really easy to cheer for, and it’s just a whole lot of fun. Full review to come.
- Transformation (2000) by Carol Berg. Very much late 90s/early 00s fantasy, with kingdoms threatened by supernatural evil, ancient prophecies, and descriptive prose. I also found it tough to put down, and there’s an absolutely wonderful pair at the center of it all. Full review to come.
- I wrote up an introduction to an all-time favorite, the inimitable short story writer, R.A. Lafferty.