I’ve decided that, at least for the foreseeable future, I’m going to be participating in WWW Wednesdays, which is a meme hosted over at Taking On a World of Words. To take part, you just answer the three questions below, and link back to TOaWoW!
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente
Representation: Bisexual MC
Genres: Sci Fi, Queer Protagonists
Radiance is a decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery set in a Hollywood-and solar system-very different from our own, from Catherynne M. Valente, the phenomenal talent behind the New York Times bestselling The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.
Severin Unck's father is a famous director of Gothic romances in an alternate 1946 in which talking movies are still a daring innovation due to the patent-hoarding Edison family. Rebelling against her father's films of passion, intrigue, and spirits from beyond, Severin starts making documentaries, traveling through space and investigating the levitator cults of Neptune and the lawless saloons of Mars. For this is not our solar system, but one drawn from classic science fiction in which all the planets are inhabited and we travel through space on beautiful rockets.
Severin is a realist in a fantastic universe.
But her latest film, which investigates the disappearance of a diving colony on a watery Venus populated by island-sized alien creatures, will be her last. Though her crew limps home to earth and her story is preserved by the colony's last survivor, Severin will never return.
Told using techniques from reality TV, classic film, gossip magazines, and meta-fictional narrative, Radiance is a solar system-spanning story of love, exploration, family, loss, quantum physics, and silent film.
I’m rereading Radiance, which is a standalone sci-fi by our-lady-and-saviour Catherynne Valente. (Someday I will print out pamphlets to offer people.) It’s sort of about the mystery of a film-maker’s disappearance, but it’s also about creative freedoms and art and the magic of space travel. In the world of Radiance, films are still in black and white, but humanity has settlements on every planet in our solar system, and each planet has its own incredible habitat, with fantastical flora and fauna. It’s a book you can feast on, and I’m enjoying reading it again IMMENSELY.
WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?The Seared Lands (The Dragon's Legacy Book 3) by Deborah A. Wolf
Representation: Multiple PoCs, minor queer characters, background polyamory
Genres: Epic Fantasy
The Seared Lands (The Dragon's Legacy Book 3) by Deborah A. WolfThis book, while following the previous stories, focuses a great deal on the Illindrist, Aasah, and his apprentice Yaela, strange people with stranger powers who come from a land of salt and fire.
In the days of the Sundering, Quarabala--the Seared Lands--were cursed by Akari Sun Dragon and scorched beyond all recognition. Now a cruel place inhabited by nightmare beasts, the Seared Lands are home to a desperate few; and as fears of a second Sundering grow, these people look to greener lands. If no place is found for them, they will seize new lands from the soft hands of Those Who Dwell Above.
They have nowhere else to go, they have nothing to lose...
And this time, they are not alone.
I can’t remember the last time I had this bad a book hangover. I love this trilogy so, so much, and now it’s over, and I’m not even a little bit okay about it. I’m extra distressed because, as beautiful as this final installment was, it felt like it should have been spread out over at least two books, not forced into one. My best guess is that the publisher didn’t sign on for any more books, so Wolf had to wrap everything up in this one. (This would also explain why Seared Lands wasn’t released in hardback, like the previous books, which means the copies on my shelf now don’t match. Sigh.) I’m bitter that this series didn’t reach enough readers to be as well-loved and popular as it should be/should have been; maybe we could have gotten more books that way.
My main objection to Seared Lands, though, is the disjointed feel of parts of it. This is something Wolf has done in every book of hers I’ve read so far, so I can’t blame it on trying to fit too much story into one book; random timeskips, things going unexplained, contradictions, point A jumping to point C without stopping at B… It’s frustrating, because the writing is so gorgeous, and I love the characters, and I’m so unbelievably invested in the world and its story! But at the same time – you have Ani make a bone dragon with forbidden magic because otherwise Sulema and Hannei will die…and the dragon never appears again? It never gets used??? What? The Veil between worlds must not be torn Or Else, but then the Sea King tears through it and…nothing? And why on earth didn’t Jian and Sulema’s storylines ever join up? What was the point of Jian’s inclusion in the story at all? We didn’t even get to see him defeat the emperor, the story just skipped to the aftermath!
So I’m conflicted. I loved it, but I’m also upset that it was so messy. I feel…let down and betrayed, I guess. I’m not used to this; I DNF books very easily these days, so I don’t get invested in authors that let me down very often. Whereas I worship this series. So, yeah. Betrayed.
And yet it was beautiful too. I loved how it all ended. I just wish the journey to that ending had been allowed to be as long as it needed to be, not cramped and forced into too small a space.
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?Call of the Bone Ships (The Tide Child #2) by R.J. Barker
Representation: Matriarchy, queernorm world
Genres: Secondary World Fantasy
A brilliantly imagined epic fantasy of honor, glory, and warfare, Call of the Bone Ships is the action-packed sequel to David Gemmell Award-nominated RJ Barker's The Bone Ships.
Dragons have returned to the Hundred Isles. But their return heralds only war and destruction.
When a horde of dying slaves are discovered in the bowels of a ship, Shipwife Meas and the crew of the Tide Child find themselves drawn into a vicious plot that will leave them questioning their loyalties and fighting for their lives.
I finished my reread of The Bone Ships, book one in this series, so now it’s time to dive into (…pun unintended) book 2! The worldbuilding in these books is incredible, and I’m in love with the sea dragons. I know fantasies about ships get a bad rep, but Bone Ships was stunning – by the end I was as in love with the ship as the crew was. And there were some tantalising details that hint at a Thing, and I really want to know if I’ve guessed right about it!
I really have no clue what’s going to happen after how the first book ended, but I’m excited to find out.
What is everyone else reading?