Author Archives: Act

Discount Armageddon

Discount Armageddon is the first book of Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series, and it’s basically what Dresden Files would be if it weren’t terribly written by a terrible person. It’s cheesy pulp urban fantasy, but it’s also sharp-witted and self-aware, and stars a competent protagonist whose whole MO is that she’s not a murderous psycho. If I were in a better way I’d really want to do a Let’s Read of it, because it’s such a great counterexample of fluff done well. I honestly loved it; it was tightly written, the complete opposite of high art, and lots of fun.

Incidentally, the old guy at the register at the Harvard COOP gave me a shitfuckton of condescension for buying this book while talking to my husband about how Clearly Learned he was for his purchase, and fuck that guy.

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Zahrah the Windseeker

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Continuing my adventures through Nnedi Okorafor’s catalogue, Zahrah the Windseeker is Okorafor’s other, earlier kids’ book, and I thought it was really great. It has a kind of Alice-in-Wonderland vibe to it, but without the drugs, if that’s possible. It’s set in a fantasy world where all technology is based on plants, and the titular Zahrah has to journey into the Forbidden Greeny Forest to save her best friend.

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Knights in the Nightmare

oh hai

Knights in the Nightmare is the third entry in the Dept. Heaven series, although in-universe it’s chronologically second and IRL it’s titled ‘IV’ because who the fuck knows (wiki does, don’t tell me about how everyone knows I too know).

KitN (kitten?) is different from the previous two games, Riviera and Yggdra Union, in a few important ways. First, it’s a much more conceptual game, with the story told so far out of of chronological order there’s no way to simply explain it. Second, it’s nihilistic as fuck, where the other two were a bit more nuanced and had more a ‘people are flawed but will overcome’ kind of stance. I don’t think it’s grimdark or even unrealistic, but it’s very bleak, and as a result (I thought) philosophically weaker. It’s also neither turn-based like Riviera or a tRPG like Yggdra, but something else entirely unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

I still really liked it overall, but unlike the other two it’s not something I’d rec generally for people, or even for people who like jRPGs. You really will get the most out of it if you’re specifically looking for a kind of out-there experience.

Spoilers inside; ye be warned.

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Earthsea

Hi all. I’m careening toward an anorexia relapse, how are you?

Anyway, today is kind of an up day so you get this.

I’m on a big Ursula Le Guin kick lately, and her Earthsea series is a really interesting work of fantasy spanning six books that I think is especially worth looking at because of Le Guin’s commentaries that are included at the end of the new editions. She has some really insightful things to say about social progress, the passage of time, and how writing can reflect the author’s feelings, so if you check these out make sure to get the 2012 “Atheneum Books for Young Readers” edition. The first book in particular is really only interesting because of what she has to say about it in retrospect.

I want to talk about the books themselves, but mostly about Le Guin’s thoughts, since she had some important stuff to say about fantasy as a genre and publishing as an industry.

Also, fun fact! This series is where the name ‘Mebbeth’ comes from.

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The Obelisk Gate

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This isn’t an actual review, just a WOOOO post to note that Obelisk Gate took the 2017 Hugo for best novel! It totally deserved it, this series may be the best trilogy I’ve ever read, it’s absolutely incredible, this is not an exaggeration. The final book, Stone Sky, just came out and was equally as good so seriously, go read them!

I look forward to Jemisin taking the 2018 Hugo for Stone Sky and giving her a three-year win streak. No contemporary writer deserves these accolades more.

Neckbeards must be losing their shit.

squeeeeeeeeee

And I Darken

And I Darken by Kiersten White is a really interesting piece of historical fiction, the central premise of which is that Vlad the Impaler is born female instead of male. It’s unfortunately somewhat undercut by the fact that the author just isn’t a great writer, but the social commentary is deliciously biting and it’s exceptionally well-researched, so as long as you’re not expecting to be at the edge of your seat I think it’s worth checking out just because it’s so no-holds-barred.

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Akata Witch

Akata Witch is Nnedi Okorafor’s stab at the ‘magic school’ subgenre, and unfortunately it’s kind of a mess. Like her other two books, it really shines in just how unique and exciting its ideas are, but the worldbuilding is nonexistent and I thought its messages ranged from muddled to bad.

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