Saturday, March 23, 2024

What I'm Reading Now

I kind of feel like the main character in Among Others, by Jo Walton, who decides against death because if she dies, she will miss all the novels not yet written, or at least not yet read by her.

I don't mean I'm suicidal -- I'm not -- but I'm not quite falling into despair, because there are so many good books to read.

Here's two good ones I read over the past few days:

Natasha Pulley, Mars House

I've seen comments on the web about how the science in this is not legitimate. That may be true, but honestly I didn't care. The book reads more as an extended metaphor to me in any case.

Climate change ravages Earth, and climate refugees are fleeing to Mars. There is already a settled population on Mars, seven generations of them, who are beginning to diverge, evolutionarily, linguistically, and culturally, from the population on Earth. Pulley has a great deal of fun with all these changes by putting one of the refugees, January, into an arranged political marriage with one of the rulers of Tharsis (the city on Mars), and then putting that arrangement, and Tharsis, under stress as a giant dust storm makes it likely that Tharsis will run out of  power, leaving everyone to freeze and die of thirst, unless a nuclear explosion kills them first.

At the same time, another huge population of refugees is heading toward Mars, and Gale, the politician January married, is opposed to allowing them to land -- they will outnumber the people already living on Mars, for one thing; and for another, their greater strength (compared to the "natural" citizens of Tharsis) make them potentially dangerous to the city's occupants. 

This is both like and unlike Natasha Pulley's other words, which have been historical fiction set in fantasy universes where people can see the future, or travel through time gates. It's more science fictiony, or maybe science-y fiction. 

But I liked it a lot. The cultures in collision sort of story is always fun to read, and while there is a romance sort of thing happening here, it doesn't have your usual romance tropes.

One reviewer I saw disliked it because Pulley isn't doing queer relationships right, apparently? I didn't notice that either, but then I'm a straight cis person, so maybe I wouldn't notice it.

Anyway, this is a great read, and if you're not reading Natasha Pulley yet, what are you waiting for?

Tana French, The Hunter

Also a great read. This is the sequel to French's The Searchers, and if you haven't read that one, you should start there. This is a sequel, and one that depends upon the first novel pretty heavily. Cal, an ex-Chicago police officer, has become a surrogate father to the disaffected young teen, Trey, from the first novel. When Trey's actual father shows up, Cal is worried his role (Cal's role) in Trey's life might cause some problems. It does, but not those that Cal was expecting.

French usually writes mystery novels; and there's a kind of mystery here, but it stays in the background, letting French explore characters and their life in this tiny Irish town. French is great at this kind of thing, so if you like that, you'll like these books.

This second one has not one but two very good dogs, and one slightly less good dog.

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