Saturday, March 20, 2021

What I'm Reading

 I've been reading a lot, but failing to keep track of it. Low bandwidth. This is the worst time of the semester -- just before and after midterm -- which is why we put spring break here. Our school is still having spring break, thank God; but the kid's cancelled theirs. He's having a hard time.

Here are some things I've been reading:

Sarah Gailey, The Echo Wife

This is a novella-length novel, as was the last Gailey I read (Upright Women Wanted). This -- publishing novellas and pricing them like novels -- seems to be a new trend in the SF world. I got this one at the library, but nevertheless it's not a trend that makes me happy.

Still, this is a good novel(la). The main character is a scientist, who has developed a way to both create clones and install (some) of the memories of the host into the clone. These clones are then used as body-doubles for politicians, for instance; when the need for the double is over, the clones are "disposed of." The main character, Evelyn, had an acrimonious break up with her husband, Nathan, a scientist who is not quite the world-class scientist she is; one bone of contention between them was her refusal to have a child and "take a few years" off doing science to raise it. Early in the novel, she finds he has made a clone of her, and that the clone is pregnant.

The science here is kind of science-y, but good enough not to get in the way of the story. The real interest in the novel lies in Evelyn's character, and in her relationship with both Nathan and the clone, Martine. Evelyn, we soon learn, is something of a sociopath and very much an unreliable narrator. Then we learn why: both her father and Nathan emotionally abused her; her father physically abused her as well. She's become what she is as a kind of protective camouflage.

And then she has to deal with Martine. This changes her, and watching the slow, prickly growth that Evelyn experiences through the narrative is the best part of the story. Not that she is cured, or healed, or fixed, by having to come to terms with Martine. But she is changed.

Good writing here, and an excellent look at what happens to character under abuse.

Emily Tesh, Drowned Country

A sequel of sorts to Silver in the Woods. Equally charming. I like the mother in this one. This is fantasy, with magic creatures and magic monsters. Not usually my sort of thing, but the characters here, and Tesh's worldbuilding, make me like these.

Arkady Martine, A Memory Called Empire

This is a re-read for me, because the sequel has come out, and I wanted to remind myself of the intricate world Martine built before I plunged into it again. A slow start, as I had remembered, but then very compelling. If you like political novels that are also science fiction (this is my sweet spot), you'll like this one. Give it about 20 pages before you quit, though. When I say slow start, argh, it's glacial.

Waiting eagerly for my library to get the sequel, since we're too broke to buy books right now.

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