Reading this past quarter…

Here are the most interesting books I’ve read over the past 3 months. Click the cover for the full review.

The Bell JarThe Woman UpstairsWeThe SundialThe Robber BrideThe Big SleepThe Office of MercyThe Golem and the JinniThe Female ManChina Mountain Zhang

Worlds of Exile and Illusion, Ursula K Le Guin

Shannon:

SF Mistressworks reposted my review of Worlds of Exile and Illusion, an omnibus of three of Ursula K. Le Guin’s early novels.

Originally posted on SF Mistressworks:

worldsofexileWorlds of Exile and Illusion, Ursula K Le Guin (1996)
Review by Shannon Turlington

How can you tell the legend from the fact on these worlds that lie so many years away? – planets without names, called by their people simply The World, planets without history, where the past is a matter of myth, and a returning explorer finds his own doings of a few years back have become the gestures of a god.

Three early novels of the Hainish Cycle collected in one volume.

The science fiction novels of Ursula K Le Guin, often collectively called the “Hainish Cycle,” are not intended to be a series in the conventional sense. They are meant to stand alone and be read that way. But collecting three of her earliest novels into one volume gives the reader the opportunity to read these as a series, revealing connecting themes and making for a…

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Beggars in Spain, Nancy Kress

Shannon:

SF Mistressworks has republished my review of the novella Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress, which you can read below.

Originally posted on SF Mistressworks:

beggarsBeggars in Spain, Nancy Kress (1991)
Review by Shannon Turlington

“A man’s worth to society and to himself doesn’t rest on what he thinks other people should do or be or feel, but on himself. On what he can actually do, and do well. People trade what they do well, and everyone benefits. The basic tool of civilization is the contract. Contracts are voluntary and mutually beneficial. As opposed to coercion, which is wrong.”

This review has spoilers and political content. You have been warned.

In the near future, Leisha is one of the first generation of children genetically engineered not to need sleep, and finds herself hated and feared because of the advantages that gives her.

I first read this novel long ago, and I just reread the novella it was based on to refresh my memory, so this review will focus on the novella, which is the opening…

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The Snow Queen, Joan D Vinge

Shannon:

SF Mistressworks republished my review of The Snow Queen.

Originally posted on SF Mistressworks:

snowqueenThe Snow Queen, Joan D Vinge (1980)
Review by Shannon Turlington

The Snow Queen is an epic story set on a distant planet, about the fall of one queen and the rise of another. The novel is based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson and tackles such weighty themes as immortality and the power of knowledge.

The strength of this novel lies in its world building. The planet of Tiamat is a fully realized world, an ocean-covered planet orbiting twin suns. Two tribes live there: the sea-going, island-dwelling Summers, characterized by a fear of technology and a superstitious worship of their sea goddess, the Lady; and the Winters, who live in the Northern regions and the shell-shaped city of Carbuncle, embrace technology and freely trade with the Offworlders.

Tiamat’s culture and history are shaped by the oddities of its planetary and solar system orbits. Every 150 years, it…

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Books Read: Quarter 1, 2014

These aren’t all the books I read over the last three months, just the ones that I found most interesting or thought-provoking. Click the covers for full reviews.

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Into the Forest, Jean Hegland

Shannon:

My review of the apocalyptic novel Into the Forest by Jean Hegland, posted on SF Mistressworks.

Originally posted on SF Mistressworks:

intotheforest Into the Forest, Jean Hegland (1996)
Review by Shannon Turlington

“People have been around for at least 100,000 years. And how long have we had electricity?”
“Well, Edison invented the incandescent lamp in 1879.”
“See? All this,” and she swung her arm to encircle the rooms of the only house I’d ever know, “was only a fugue state.” She pointed to the blackness framed by the open door. “Our real lives are out there.”

Two teenage daughters become stranded in their rural California home at the edge of a large, wild forest after the unexplained collapse of society and the accidental death of their father; gradually, the girls accept the reality of their situation and learn how to survive off the forest, which is the only resource they have in abundance.

This book revealed itself slowly, and it took me quite a while to really understand what it was all…

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