Posts by "Elan"

A Closed and Common Orbit – Becky Chambers

While I haven’t read The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, the first book in Becky Chambers’s Wayfarers series, I found A Closed and Common Orbit, last year’s Hugo-nominated sequel to that volume, a deeply enjoyable and approachable read. The characters are rich and honest, the universe is extensive and fascinating, and the writing is excellent. At the core of A Closed and Common Orbit is one question, explored from several angles: what is personhood? Whether the AI learning… Continue reading

2017 in Review

It is early evening on January 8th, 2018 and, having gathered the requisite statistics (and my thoughts, besides), it is time to wrap up the strange, beautiful, horrible year in a post. As I did last year, I’ll go over my stats and favorite reads of the year, but before diving into that, a bit of housekeeping and personal reflection. The two-thousand-seventeenth year of the common era was a doozy. Sociopolitical upheaval without and myriad changes within put something of… Continue reading

A November Pledge

It’s the first of November. It’ll be one of busiest months I’ve had in as long as I can remember, and I’m sitting on the bus to work, typing this blog post instead of getting to work on any of the many things that will fill every minute of these next thirty days. Because I just sat for about fifteen minutes and meditated. Specifically, I followed a guided meditation from the 10% Happier app, which has become a staple of… Continue reading

This Census-Taker – China Miéville

In past posts, I’ve alluded to the divide within the speculative fiction world, wherein on one side stands the group that wants to elevate unheard voices, shine a light on different stories, and push the boundaries of our boundless universes just a bit farther. From the other side wafts a miasma, that same stench that has consumed U.S. politics which, in this case, wants to make science fiction “Great Again.” That group calls itself the “sad puppies,” which isn’t a… Continue reading

Penric and the Shaman – Lois McMaster Bujold

Lois McMaster Bujold, who won the 2017 Hugo Award for Best Series (for the Vorkosigan Saga), is a fantastically decorated writer. Among her many accolades are six Hugos, three Nebulas, three Locuses, and as of 2010 (according to wikipedia), has sold over two million books. And because I’ve been derelict in my studies of speculative fiction, I hadn’t heard of her until I saw Penric and the Shaman on the list of nominated novellas for the 2017 Hugos. It’s tough… Continue reading

All the Birds in the Sky – Charlie Jane Anders

So…hey there, reader. I’ve been away a while, with the exception of a few posts regarding that trip I took. Work’s been busy, life gets in the way, etcetera. In the couple of months since I last posted a review, I’ve read somewhere around a dozen books and stories, so in an effort to catch up to the schedule, I’ve set myself a rather aggressive review schedule. If, as I hope, I stick to that schedule, you can expect a… Continue reading

On Travels and Withdrawal

Is it possible to experience withdrawal from a trip? It must be, since I’ve been feeling symptoms that I’d label withdrawal since returning from Europe about four weeks ago. It’s likely a combination of things: my partner, her brother, and most of our friends were away at a Certain Desert Shenanigans festival, leaving me plenty of time with my thoughts; and I just started a new job, so even though I’ve got plenty of time to myself, most of it… Continue reading

2k to 10k – Rachel Aaron

Given that the podcast I’m on recommended this book almost a half-dozen times, I decided it would be prudent to read Rachel Aaron’s 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love.  So I did. And I’m glad we’ve been recommending it so heartily. The book is short and to the point, focusing on the author’s experience raising her own writing efficiency to (some might say) inhuman levels. 10,000 words a day is massive. It’s… Continue reading

A Pivotal Moment, a Wobbly Boat, and Adventure

I’m sitting in a cafe-slash-brewery-slash-eatery on the corner of Frederikinkatu and another long-named street. It’s just about 6pm, and the sun is beaming on a diverse, alive, beautiful city I’m visiting for the first time. Helsinki is breathtaking and relatable. It is ancient and new. Also, it has pulled moose sandwiches, which…like…I mean, moose. To eat. They’ve also got some fantastic vegan options, but that’s neither here nor there. The Writing Excuses Retreat ended on…was that Saturday? It’s hard to say,… Continue reading

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe – Kij Johnson

A strange and delightful congruity connects The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe with the last Hugo-nominated book I reviewed, The Ballad of Black Tom. Both reach back toward Lovecraft, grab hearty handfuls of story, and mold it into works that manage the requisite respect for the author of such incredible tales while openly challenging his prejudices. You can refresh your memory about how Victor LaValle elegantly reframes Lovecraft into a tale of loss and revenge in last month’s review. We’re here… Continue reading