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Spoooooooooky month is here!
I have not chosen particularly spooky titles for this week. Or, come to think of it, for the next few. Sorry! You gotta check out my podcast for that kind of theming (/shameless plug).
#77: BINTI by Nnedi Okorafor
A weird but interesting little novella about a young woman who is the first of her people to attend a space university, and in the process, gets involved in an intergalactic war.
I think the plot is interesting, and the story well-executed, and I like both the main character and the strange tentacled aliens that make up the opposition. I like that the story is seeped in feelings about being an outsider, and there's a strong through-line about reparations and cycles of violence that I always enjoy.
Ultimately, though, I wish it had been longer. The book is only 50 pages, which for me was really not enough to properly sink my teeth into. There's something to be said for a story that gets in and out, but I really think the plot developments could have benefitted with a little bit more room to breathe, and time to get to know the characters and the world a little better.
I didn't really have any issue with the implausibility of some of the science aspects, nor about the use of sacred mud, which seems to be a few people's sticking points with this novel, but I also don't really care about how scientific a sci fi story is, and I actually really liked that it was so deeply engrossed in a (from my understanding, Namibian) cultural tradition. Interested to see where this goes next!
#78: BAKER THIEF by Claudie Arseneault
Really lovely story about facing down oppressive systems, and also baking.
The story follows Adèle, a cop recently transferred to a new city, and Claire/Claude, the titular baker thief, seeking to find the explanation behind a strange new magical technology. Obviously, there's quite a bit of subterfuge, investigating, and avoiding one another. Plus secret identities! I love secret identities.
The really standout aspect for me is the way the story handles various queer identities. Claire/Claude is genderfluid and aromantic, and Adèle is demisexual (and I think either bi or pan, but I don't remember the story specifying). Particularly, it's nice to read a fantasy story that still uses these words! Also, wow, aromanticism is super rare to see, and even rarer to see characters navigate a queerplatonic relationship.
Come for the croissant puns, stay for the conspiracy unravelling.
NEXT WEEK'S AGENDA
#79: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
#80: Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh