Reviews and Comments

Dee 📖 (book aspect) Locked account

Dee@books.underscore.world

Joined 3 years, 2 months ago

Hello I'm @Dee@fedi.underscore.world. I run this instance, and I'm currently its only user.

they/them

This link opens in a pop-up window

Arkady Martine: Rose/House (EBook, Subterranean Press) 4 stars

Basit Deniau’s houses were haunted to begin with.

A house embedded with an artificial intelligence …

Crime fiction but also cyberpunkish but also creepy mystery

4 stars

Not a particularly long novella, but Arkady Martine pulls off jamming several genres in there. The story seems like a murder mystery at first, with the setting being a cyberpunk-esque dystopian future in a nowhere town in California desert. There are shady conspiracies. There are creepy, weird, and eccentric characters, and some of them are artificial intelligence. There is a lot of discussion of architecture. Overall, a satisfying read.

Martha Wells: Witch King (EBook, 2023, Tom Doherty Associates, LLC) 4 stars

Kai-Enna is the Witch King, though he hasn’t always been, and he hasn’t even always …

Interesting and well-executed approach to worldbuilding

4 stars

Witch King features a lot of worldbuilding. Its fantasy world is inhabited by different people with different cultures, and people who can different sorts of magic in different sorts of way, and Martha Wells manages to weave details about this world into the story in a way that makes the world feel alive (except for all the dead people).

The setting is also one with a history of dramatic upheavals and epic struggles, though the story is not set during those things. The main narrative is set years after major historical events, whose effects are still felt by the present-day characters. We also get flashbacks of events around the major historical events. In this way, the book tells a history by telling of its aftermath, and the events that preceded it. This is something that could be executed poorly, leaving a disappointing gap, but it actually works pretty well in …

reviewed Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (The Machineries of Empire, #1)

Yoon Ha Lee: Ninefox Gambit (EBook, 2016, Solaris) 4 stars

When Captain Kel Cheris of the hexarchate is disgraced for her unconventional tactics, Kel Command …

Interesting concepts, and good execution

4 stars

This is the kind of book that really gets into worldbuilding, especially in the earlier parts. The reader is introduced to all sorts of weird concepts in the universe, and even if the earlier introductions feel like a bit of a dump, they are smooth—the setting is inventive with its space magic empire, but shows that it is a space magic empire from the get go. The overall concept of the book's universe is, by itself, also captivating.

There are ways to do vast, dystopian interstellar empires well, and there are ways to do them badly. Fortunately, Ninefox Gambit does them well. The story is pretty dark, and the setting is grim, but it doesn't feel gratuitous. Horrible things do happen to characters, but they happen to characters, instead of merely as an arbitrary background violence that punctuates the point. The story feels like it is, appropriately enough, about …

Ann Leckie: Ancillary Justice (EBook, 2013, Orbit) 4 stars

On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing …

Cool space opera

4 stars

This is a fun space opera that has all the fun space opera things: giant interstellar empires; worldbuilding on various interstellar cultures, and how they interact with each other, and how they do gender; exploration of how cognition and identity works in entities that are not (or not entirely) human; grand plots and conspiracies.

The overall plot is perhaps a bit simple, and some of the characters lean perhaps too much into one-dimensional archetypes, but it does not matter that much against the lively worldbuilding, and how it ties into the whole story.

"The long years of near-utopia have come to an abrupt end. Peace and order are …

Content warning general Terra Ignota series spoilers

Adrian Tchaikovsky: Doors of Eden (2020, Orbit) 3 stars

This really parallels my universes

3 stars

It's one of those Adrian Tchaikovsky novels that has alternatively-evolved sapient animals in it, but it also has an unexpected amount of queer characters. Tchaikovsky tends to be good at the former, and this book is not an exception; he also handles the latter well enough, though if you are not okay with bigotry exhibited by some of the more contemptible characters being part of the plot, you may want to skip this one.

The novel starts out kind of slow and takes a while to ramp up while you want to scream at the characters to figure it out already. In the middle, it may seem to be a bit predictable, although it does take some interesting twists in the last third, which subverts that impression a bit.

Overall, a fun parallel universe story, if you're into that sort of thing, even if not an exceptional one.

reviewed All Systems Red by Martha Wells (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)

Martha Wells: All Systems Red (EBook, 2017, Tordotcom) 5 stars

"As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete failure."

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, …

Go Murderbot

4 stars

From the plot alone, this novella would be a bit of perhaps cliche science fiction. What makes it both unique and compelling is that the story being told from the perspective of the "Murderbot" (hence The Murderbot Diaries), a cyborg generally treated by society as a piece of equipment.

Martha Wells's writing does a good job of showing Murderbot's personality, its particular anxieties, its relationships towards humans, and general attitudes towards life. Even if the plot is cliche, Murderbot as a character is the opposite.

Elizabeth Bear: Machine (2020, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers) 4 stars

More better White Space

4 stars

Elizabeth Bear's second White Space novel is, in some ways, better than the first. Once again, the story is told through the eyes of a compelling and complex character. The setting of the novel—a post-scarcity interstellar polity called the Synarche—is once again central to the novel, but the this time the inner workings of the Synarche, the relationship of its various citizens to it, and its flaws are examined in greater detail and from a more internal perspective, which makes the setting more interesting.

The novel suffers from pacing that could be better at times. We get to hear a lot of what the protagonist's thoughts are, but sometimes this feels redundant, with her explaining her already previously stated feelings on the situation multiple times, which does help to establish the stakes and motivations, but past a certain point feels a bit redundant.

Once again, this is an entertaining novel …