Thursday, July 20, 2017

Review: Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel

Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After reading this, Rogue One, and Tarkin, I have one thing to say to the Star Wars creative group: stop trying to make Tarkin happen. It will never happen.

Neither Catalyst nor Rogue One feel like a fully complete story to me. What happens in this book is basically just backstory for Rogue One and nothing really happens. But without any of the context provided by this story, Rogue One feels like an empty adventure with no stakes or connection to reality.

Catalyst is the story of Jyn Erso's parents. One is a crystal scientist, the other is a surveyor. Both are manipulated by the wannabe-mastermind Orsin Krennic, though how they're susceptible to his clumsy plotting is a mystery to me. The story is really heavily invested in convincing the reader that Krennic and Tarkin are two distinct characters who are fighting for influence in the new Empire but honestly, emphasizing their rivalry makes it very obvious that they could've been collapsed into one character and everyone would've been better off.

The most positive thing I got out of this book was an eerie comparison between the nascent Empire and today's world/US politics. Lots of people burying their heads in the sand and denying the possibility of anything bad happening despite power-hungry men taking over the government.

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Review: The Crying of Lot 49

The Crying of Lot 49 The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an example of a good book read at the wrong time and in the wrong way. I started this over Thanksgiving and didn't finish until late January and this is absolutely a book that should be read in a single sitting, if possible. It's unquestionably a wonderful, bizarre book. It just didn't land right with me because of how I read it

Oedipa Maas becomes the executor of state for her ex, Pierce Inverarity, and gets caught up in a conspiracy involving the Postal Service and alternative mail carriers that spans centuries - but she's not quite sure she should believe anything she's experiencing. Her journeys up and down the coast of California, seeing strange plays and investigating stamps and sleeping with various men who inevitably go insane, feel like a dreamlike haze. She wanders aimlessly with an unrealized mission, each stop almost accidental but becoming meaningful in hindsight. The book ends just as a dream would, right before the moment when you'd receive any answers.

Much could and has been said of the constellation of symbols and signifiers that flood the book and what they mean, and I'm not up to that right now. It's enough to say that the onslaught of symbols adds to the dreamy nature of the story. Many things feel illogical or impossible or random and simultaneously perfectly arranged and promising meaning, if you only look at them the right way. It's an impressive work. I imagine it's difficult to create something with so many layers of near-opacity and obfuscation that also reveals the hints of meaning and a deep structure if you push further, and Pynchon does it well. I mostly read speculative fiction nowadays and "The Crying of Lot 49" gives me the same feeling: a wholly constructed, imagined world with its own rules and a tenuous grip on reality.

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Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Alexander Freed
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Wanna hear something shocking? I haven't seen Rogue One. Me, the chick who's read nearly every Star Wars book to date, who saw Revenge of the Sith in theaters three times (and cried through each one, mourning the End of Star Wars Movies), who has dressed as Darth Vader and/or Padme Amidala for numerous Halloweens and costume parties, has not seen the most recent Star Wars movie and has no plans to do so. The new canon books started weaning me off Star Wars and The Force Awakens made me go cold turkey. I lapsed a bit last fall and read the first two Thrawn books from the old canon, and I've considered reading the entirety of the old canon again from start to finish, but I just couldn't muster any interest in the new stuff.

But audiobook pickings are slim and typically Star Wars audiobooks are fun, at least, so I checked this one out. My feelings: a resounding "meh."

Freed tries to make you care about these characters. You have to care about them, right? Because we know they get the plans in the end, we need to have something to care about, and they wanted it to be the fate of these characters. But as with so, so many movie-to-book translations, generating internal thoughts and feelings that genuinely motivate the characters' on-screen actions fails in one of two ways. The internal lives of the characters are incoherent, largely because the on-screen action is driven by plot necessity and consistency of character is sacrificed. Or they are wildly grandiose and mercurial, because all the emotion that is typically expressed on screen by slight movements and glances must (for some reason) be explicitly stated, several times, and without any ambiguity or nuance.

Some illustrative, but not literal, examples: "He winced" is my least favorite set of words in this book because it's rarely used in any context where someone would actually wince, and it's never given any space to breathe or left on its own. 'He winced and tried to explain his actions' (nb: not an actual quote) just doesn't work. You don't do those things in the same breath. Or 'Jyn gave a genuine smile. It was the first time Cassian had ever seen her smile for real, and it was so honest and real it made him happy' (again, not a real quote). Also not necessary. There was (again, as typical of movie novelizations) way too much telling instead of showing.

I do appreciate the attempt to show that Jyn really does suffer due to her traumatic upbringing. I think it's a failed attempt (because the book, more than Jyn, seems to fixate on that cave imagery), and a melodramatic attempt, but I like that they tried.

And can we talk about the weirdly homogeneous cast of this story? I know Star Wars Brand is trying so desperately hard to get any points in the representation department - look, they cast pretty fair-skinned brunette white girls as leads for two new movies! - and this one does better than most. I love that Cassian gets to keep his actor's Mexican accent. I love that most of the rest of the main cast are people of color. So good on that front, Star Wars Brand! But it's weird, right, that outside of Mon Mothma, Jyn, and Jyn's mom, there are literally no other women in the story? Right? And that there are like, no non-human characters in this science fiction story set in a universe where there are lots of non-humans? And that Chirrut and Baze are definitely romantic partners but the story never explicitly says it?

Anyway, this didn't make me want to see the movie at all. The ending was a surprise but it didn't pack an emotional impact like it was trying to do.

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Review: And Chaos Died

And Chaos Died And Chaos Died by Joanna Russ
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is classic Joanna Russ. I've mentioned her complex, often overwhelmingly dense prose before, and "And Chaos Died" is the epitome of that style. The opening of the story finds a ship crash-landed on a planet where everyone has the powers of telekinesis, teleportation, and telepathy. The rest of the book is an attempt to convey the experience of telepathy and telekinesis as a normal human would comprehend it. It's an insane goal. And somehow she succeeds. The book is crazy hard to follow, one of the most challenging things I've ever read, but I enjoyed it, I think.

I usually try to do a brief summary of a book when I review it. The plot is... fairly unimportant here, but I'll give it a shot anyway. Jai and his ship crash land on a planet populated with telepathic, telekinetic people. He slowly develops these powers as well - it seems like those abilities are inherent in humans and just being around people with them will teach you how to use them. When he's rescued one woman comes with him as a representative of the world. When they get back to Earth, she disappears and Jai travels around using his powers, trying to stay out of the hands of people who would make him into a lab rat. He makes a friend, a young boy, and they go on terrifying adventures through the strange world that Earth has become. The finale is especially bizarre. Several other telepathic people from the other planet come to Earth and offer to meet with some major leaders. There's some kind of wiping of the global human consciousness. And then it ends!

The biggest 'pro' of the book is how well it does the overwhelming, disorienting nature of telepathy (or at least, what I assume telepathy would feel like, and what Russ thinks telepathy would feel like). It would involve states of consciousness completely foreign to our experience and combined with telekinesis, it would change our entire way of interacting with the world and the way we constitute self. As I said before, Russ did this well, which makes the book good and almost unreadable. It's slow. There are huge swathes of story in which nothing concrete happens or where none of the things that happen have any basis in normal human experience. It's great! And very challenging!

There are two very interesting things in this book aside from the feeling-of-telepathy aspect: the portrayal of Earth, and Jai Vedh's sexuality.

Earth in this story is in a state of extreme overpopulation and climatic disaster. Coastal areas have flooded, plains areas are desert wastelands. There's not enough space for humans to live and when they're gathered so close together there is often hedonism and destruction. There's a chapter-long description of a riot and another chapter that follows a couple living out hyperbolic examples of 20th-century gender roles. To see Russ's vision of the future is to see a very modern vision of apocalypse: gender roles are exaggeratedly performed not because they're how people want to live them but because it's traditional, global warming is destroying the world, and the American government (or at least the puppet organization that controls it) has a secret agency that hunts people.

Jai is gay. He says this in the first few pages. It was a little uncomfortable because it was immediately connected to his interest in fashion. It got very, very uncomfortable when Russ paired him off with a woman not just romantically but sexually (over and over again). I appreciate that Russ included a queer person as her main character, and I understand that the whole story focuses on the propagation of telepathic humans throughout the galaxy, and that he would be influenced by the thoughts and desires of those around him. But to then treat him as if he were straight throughout the entire rest of the story (because he definitely keeps having straight sex until almost the very end) is a little problematic.

Overall, parts of the story feel very much of their time, other parts feel incredibly modern, but the entire effect is strikingly original. This is a story that will drag you along and stick to you after you've read it.

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Review: Star Songs of An Old Primate

Star Songs of An Old Primate Star Songs of An Old Primate by James Tiptree Jr.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There wasn't a moment of reading this book where I wasn't engaged, excited, or delighted. Ursula Le Guin's excellent introduction was especially fun, as this collection came out very soon after Tiptree was revealed to be Alice Sheldon. Le Guin insists that saying Tiptree "doesn't exist" is absurd (after all, she's exchanged many letters with him) and urges the reader to think about how identity is formed, and how an author shapes our expectations. She also points out a tidbit I didn't know but thought was neat: Tiptree withdrew "The Women Men Don't See" from award consideration prior to being 'outed', because many lauded the story for Tiptree's ability to understand women despite being a man.

Anyway, this anthology is classic Tiptree. You can see Alice Sheldon's long government and research careers at work in "The Psychologist Who Wouldn't Do Awful Things to Rats" and "Your Haploid Heart." Her interest in biology and gender come to the fore in "Haploid" as well as "A Momentary Taste of Being," "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?" and "She Waits for All Men Born." "All Men Born" is a fantastically dark, optimistic end to the anthology, and feels very modern even today. As characteristic of Tiptree, many of the stories read like mysteries; something is hidden, just barely visible through the layers of the story, until a sudden reveal in the third act. And yet I didn't get tired of the format, even when re-reading "Houston" for the third time.

I have a major bone to pick with "A Momentary Taste of Being," though, because I wrote half that damn story and plotted out the rest of it. The central premise of the story and several of the big moments map on to a short story I drafted a year ago, though of course Tiptree's is eerier and she had a much better set-up and payoff. I had to put down the book halfway through that story and kick myself for not finishing my story earlier, because now I certainly couldn't write it without constant comparison to this one.

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Review: Fledgling

Fledgling Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love Octavia Butler. Her Xenogensis (also known as Lilith's Brood) series is my favorite series of all time. But I have to say that "Fledgling," her last book, is also her worst.

Every Butler story I've read has closely followed the same themes: a small group of people have the power to make other people love/want/need them, and those special people surround themselves with the people that need them, typically creating a commune/family. The normal people resist and often try to refuse, but are ultimately forced into the situation and eventually come to accept and sometimes appreciate the life they have now. The story centers around the mixed emotions of the oppressed, and often deals with the guilt that the oppressors feel. Xenogenesis does this brilliantly and, in my opinion, deals the best with the internal conflicts in both directions and deeply interrogates questions about power imbalance in relationships. "Fledgling" fails to do any of those things.

The opening is powerful. The story is told in first person, and we get the narrative of a person waking up with complete amnesia, blind and in pain and exhausted. As they gradually regain their sight, mobility, and semantic memory - remembering what a deer is, but not whether they'd ever seen a deer before - the reader realizes that this character is a vampire. A bit later, we discover she looks like a young girl. The opening sequence is unsettling, squeamish, and intriguing. The vampire, Shaurya (though she doesn't remember her name at this point), hitchhikes with a man and bites him. This sparks the typical Butler paradigm: he is now tied to her, and she to him. They proceed to have extremely creepy sex because she looks like a 10-year-old and neither of them know how old she actually is (the answer is much, much older than him, but that doesn't make it less uncomfortable in the moment).

Most of the story centers on Shaurya trying to rediscover who she was. She finds part of her family, only to lose them shortly after. She seeks refuge with other vampires and suspects that she's being targeted because she's different - she's genetically engineered to resist the sun and stay awake during daylight, she's part human, and she's black. Her human companions suspect all three of these are why she's being targeted and, spoiler alert, they're right. I don't have any qualms about spoiling this because there is never a moment where Shaurya or any of her human companions are wrong about anything in the whole story, which was frustrating. There weren't any unexpected or unforetold moments in the entire thing.

The main issue, though, was how emotionally unaffected it was. Shaurya is concerned for her human companions but only in the most abstract sense. She wants to make sure she can give them a house, feed them, etc. but doesn't ever think about whether this life is good for them. Her companions express varying mild levels of discomfort with the situation, but most move past it quickly, and Shaurya's concern is always about whether they will ever accept it, rather than how she can make it better for them or whether she should do this at all. The novel is rife with opportunities to reflect on whether these human companions are truly necessary, or whether the typical vampire lifestyle (forcing 7 to 12 humans to live with and adore you forever) is the only way for them to live. But it never touches those questions, instead painting Shaurya and those she associates with as 'better than' others because they don't treat their humans like garbage.

Even aside from questions about the morality of the human/vampire relationship, Butler fails to take advantage of the first-person narration. Shaurya has no memory, no history, and never regains anything more than semantic knowledge about her life. Her reactions to deaths of people she knows fall short of emotional, and dissipate quickly, even when they should continue to affect her.

If you are going to read this, I recommend the audiobook. The narrator does an astounding job with a large cast of characters with different accents. I very much prefer female narrators anyway, since their 'male' voices are more realistic than any male narrator's 'female' voices, and the narrator here does a particularly excellent job with the men.

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Review: At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories

At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories by Kij Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There were two things about this collection that I didn't realize when I picked it up: 1) Kij Johnson is well-known and has a long career both writing and editing (at one of my favorite publishers, Tor!) speculative fiction and 2) the anthology was loosely themed, with most stories featuring some animal or another as a major character.

The first was great discovery. I bought this because I'd read Johnson's story "Spar" in Clarkesworld a few years back and when I discovered Small Beer Press had published an anthology, I was sold. And it was an excellent buy! Thanks to one of my local indie stores (Kramerbooks ) for carrying it because otherwise I wouldn't have known!

The collection reminds me a lot of Lisa Tuttle. Very solid SF work with interesting ideas, with one or two stories that blew me away. I think Johnson's SF premises are more modern and well-rounded - complex alternate worlds, a tight focus on characters, and a literary prose style. I'm writing this review almost a year later and I still think about "Ponies" anytime I think about character-driven SF with a world I'd give an arm to explore. "Spar" remains one of my favorites (though it's not for the faint of heart - and having just reviewed "The Stars Are Legion" I'm realizing I have a bit of a thing for weird body horror fiction).

Anyway, Small Beer Press publishes some great books and this is one of them. This collection is very smart (which makes sense - Johnson has my alternate-reality dream job of teaching sci-fi at the college level) and engaging.

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Review: Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1: The Shrike

Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1: The Shrike Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1: The Shrike by Kelly Sue DeConnick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh man. Pretty Deadly and Monstress were easily my top comic reads this year. I was expecting that from Monstress but I hadn't heard about Pretty Deadly so it took me by surprise. I'm not a huge fan of Westerns - or, I thought I wasn't, but Pretty Deadly and Westworld may have convinced me otherwise this year - and the setting turned me off for a while. Oh, how glad I am that I read it anyway.

It's been too long for me to remember the details of the story so my review will be broad-strokes and brief. The plot manages feel mythological without sacrificing investment in the characters and their stories. It reminds me of Sandman, where Dream and his siblings are universal forces of nature that should be so generic they're meaningless, but are instead uniquely alive. The art - the art! Emma Rios is fantastic. Her color palettes are full of greens and pinks and oranges, colors that shouldn't look pretty but do. It matches well with the story, a dark story with bits of hope and love and fun.

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Review: The New and Improved Romie Futch

The New and Improved Romie Futch The New and Improved Romie Futch by Julia Elliott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book totally wasn't my jam but I enjoyed the hell out of it anyway. I'm not big on Southern Gothic and I've never read Moby Dick and I'm not even a huge fan of most modern SF that deals with cybernetic brain implants (lookin at you, Nexus by Ramez Naam). But damn do I love a book that makes me like it despite my initial hesitations.

Some scattered thoughts:
I totally thought this was going to end horribly for Romie. I kept thinking his hallucinations and the voices and the blackouts might actually be due to drugs and alcohol even though Elliott kept proving me wrong. At the end of Part Two I thought he was going to die. All throughout Part Three I thought he was going to die or fuck up. I'm kinda glad it was a happy ending, but I'm not sure I'm totally satisfied by it. I've probably been watching too much Bojack Horseman.

I almost feel the science fiction parts of the book were unnecessary. The real story here was his quest for Hogzilla (and his attempts to repair the trajectory of his life) and the SF was not as important. It didn't bother me in the moment, but in retrospect it's like I read two different stories that got stitched together.

I loved the silliness and the verbosity of Romie and his buds post-op. Lots of humor plus some beautifully written sentences. Awesome.

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Review: The People in the Castle: Selected Strange Stories

The People in the Castle: Selected Strange Stories The People in the Castle: Selected Strange Stories by Joan Aiken
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclosure: I received an e-galley copy of this book through Edelweiss.

This was one of several collections of 'strange stories' - magical, weird, unsettling collections that don't pack neatly into a genre label - that I read this year. Many of them, including this one, are almost like fairy tales, and I'd describe Aiken's as more like the original Grimm's fairy tales, pretty horror stories, than anything else.

Many of the stories focus on children experiencing the fantastic in their dire situations. Sometimes they read like miniature animatronic dollhouses featuring strange and magical scenes. Often nature encroaches on old, Victorian English homes. This is one of the most beautiful collections I read, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone, whether you like fantasy, horror, or typical literary writing.

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Review: We Who Are About To...

We Who Are About To... We Who Are About To... by Joanna Russ
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love bookstores and libraries of all kinds. Big ones with an endless buffet of options, curated collections with a peculiar slant to them, haphazard piles of books that the owners clearly didn't know what to do with. But I have a secret test for any book vendor that few pass and those special few have a permanent place in my heart: is there any Joanna Russ?

Russ is a classic SF writer who published during the New Wave and won or was nominated for most of the major SF awards. She also wrote kickass feminist nonfiction. She's a big enough name that most people who've read SF have heard of her, but I've only seen her books on the shelf in two bookstores ever, and through one academic library's interlibrary loan. I went into D.C. with a few friends to play Pokemon GO and we wandered our way to several bookstores until we finally settled in one that was next to a Pokemon gym. Just after taking over the gym, my phone ran out of battery, so I was able to devote proper attention to the books themselves. Their SF section was delightfully pulpy and meticulously shelved, and when I climbed up onto a step stool to check the top shelf, I found two Joanna Russ novels with green-edged pages and crazy pulp covers. I was ecstatic. (I also got an old collection of SF by female authors, which is also a rare find - things like that are much more common from the past 15-20 years).

Anyway, the book itself starts out like a pulp sci-fi novel. A group of travelers crash-lands on an uncharted planet where it's fairly certain they'll never be found. It's essentially Gulliver's Island in space. The first-person narrator is savvy and cynical and knows several things from the get-go: 1) there is no hope for long-term survival, 2) her fellow passengers will hold onto hope and try to perpetuate humanity (which means impregnating all fertile women ASAP whether they like it or not) and 3) she finds a respectable death far preferable to most of her other options.

The first half of the book explores the passengers' first week on the planet, the alliances and plans that quickly take shape, the growing distrust everyone has for the narrator. The book takes a sharp (but not unexpected, especially if you read the spoileriffic blurb on the first page of the book) turn about halfway through. The focus narrows to the narrator as she chronicles her slow death by starvation. Her hallucinations, her memories, her vacillation between panic and acceptance, her determination to die a deserved death. It's solid Russ work - even in the more lucid passages it can be difficult to follow a line of thought, and most passages are meaty enough to bear re-reading. It's a short book, though, so even though the second half is a slow march, it doesn't feel too long. And unlike 'The Female Man,' another of Russ's books I've read, it was just challenging enough to make me work without leaving me completely confused and in need of a syllabus to prep me for a re-read. Russ shows us glimpses of her characters' pasts and the world they come from that make me want to read other books set in the same universe, but she (and the narrator) refuse to elaborate on the history implied by the bits and pieces because they are irrelevant to the main event: the narrator's slow death.

It's a fascinating read with equal parts pulp and intellect. If you can get your hands on it, it's well worth reading.

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Review: Ninefox Gambit

Ninefox Gambit Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Disclosure: I received a free e-galley copy of this book through NetGalley.

Ninefox Gambit is certainly one of the most original and daring books I've read in a while. The premise of the story - a galactic empire that uses a kind of magic based on math and patterns - is fascinating. The core relationship between Kel and Jedao provides a solid emotional trajectory. Overall, though, I left the book feeling vaguely disappointed, both because the the premise didn't pull off as well as I'd hoped and because the character-driven story was a bit predictable.

The way the magic works is essentially confluence based on patterns of movement of either ships or soldiers that produce larger effects - like explosions, or camouflage. The scope extends beyond the military and throughout their society, as everyone in the Hexarchate follows the same calendrical patterns/schedules. It's a thoughtful metaphor for traditionalist societies where every person has their place and best serves the universe by performing their role dutifully. The main problems for me were that the patterns/formations that are used to create magical effects are abstract enough that they were usually weren't visualizable, and because the effects are magical and arbitrary, it was hard to build tension; the reader can't possible know that X formation will lead to Y effect, so when all the soldiers are getting into formation X, we don't know what that means for the next scene.

The story is driven by this magic. A rogue faction is enforcing a different calendar, and it's disrupting the very carefully woven fabric of magic that pervades the galaxy. Kel is chosen to fight this rogue faction for two reasons: first, she is a soldier who is unusually good at math; second, she suggests resurrecting the person of Jedao, a commander who went insane and killed his own troops many decades earlier. Resurrecting Jedao means incorporating him into her own mind and body, for reasons that are still unclear to me.

While the larger story of the Hexarchate is the 'pitch' story, the one that shapes the book, the core of the story is the relationship between Kel and Jedao. Kel starts remembering things that Jedao has done as if she had done them herself, and while she sees his many atrocities, she also starts to learn that the history she has been taught isn't quite right. As I mentioned above, this part of the story feels almost too familiar - an upstanding citizen must pair up with a supposedly evil traitor to defeat a common enemy, and along the way they begin to understand each other, and it's revealed that the bad guy had some good motivations all along.

It's been a while since I read the book now and I honestly can't quite remember the ending, but I would certainly read a sequel. It was a pretty enjoyable read and the most difficult part for me was that there are very few physical descriptions of anything, and it felt like I was blind while reading.

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SF Women Read-A-Thon

I'm back! It's been a while since I've posted and I have a new project. I'm still going to read and review pretty much everything I read (including my yearlong backlog of read books, and including ARCs/galleys). But now I have a goal: prove to the world women have been writing sci-fi for as long as it has been around.

I'm tackling that goal by proving it to myself, first, by reading as much and as widely as I can by women who have written sci-fi. Then, when someone asks for recommendations for "something like Piers Anthony" or "really hard SF" I can offer up some great SF by a woman. Specifically a woman who is not Ursula Le Guin, who is amazing, but is so so often the only woman I see on 'best sci-fi' lists.

My methods are a little suspect but they're not difficult. I went to my favorite used bookstore and found about 20 sci-fi books written by women that were written in the 1970s or earlier. I picked women I'd never heard of, with a few exceptions for classics I hadn't read. It cost me about $16. I might end up reading a lot of mediocre sci-fi this way, but people have been reading a lot of mediocre sci-fi by dudes for decades and keep recommending those books so other people read them et cetera ad nauseum until they become canon. I know I'll also find some gems, then I'll recommend them, then hopefully other people will read them because I reached outside both the canon and my comfort zone.

Why? Because I want to help good books get read, and because people seem to believe that women don't write SF or don't write SF as well or didn't used to write SF for some reason and I want to prove them wrong. And because many good books by women especially from 30+ years ago get left on the shelf at the used bookstore because no one recommended them.

Largely, because every single time I go into a "looking for recs" thread for SF on reddit there are literally zero recommendations for books by women. Except Le Guin, probably because a lot of people didn't know Ursula was a woman's name when they were kids. (They only read a woman because they didn't know better!) In threads specifically requesting books by women there are always the 'why are you only reading women, that's sexist' responses, but when someone points out in other threads that only men have been rec'd, that's also called sexist. I'm tired of that. It is not the case that women don't write good enough SF to be recommended. It's not the case that women don't write SF, don't write hard SF, don't write good SF. 

And because these all seem to me to be problems that regardless of cause, I can't do much about except to be loud and vocal about books that I love, and to find more books I love and share them! So I'm going to stock my arsenal to launch a silo of recs.

I'm going to call this my Sci-Fi Women Read-A-Thon and tag my Goodreads shelves, Instagram, and blog posts with #readathon_sfwomen, so follow along!

I started this project about a month ago so I'm excited to see that other people like Liz Bourke from feel the same way.