1 hour ago
Friday, May 08, 2020
What I'm Reading Now
Martha Wells, Network Effect
The new Murderbot novel! An actual novel, too, rather than a novella. You really need to have read the first four to know what's going on in this one, but since they're delightful, that's no problem.
Murderbot's adventures continue, with some great twists. ART returns! I love ART. And there's a wonderful adolescent human.
I don't want to give spoilers. Just read it! But read the first four first.
Justina Ireland, Dread Nation
I think it was Jenny F. Scientist who recommended this one? If so, thanks! I enjoyed it greatly.
It's an alternate history, set just after (and kind of during) the Civil War. In this AU, the dead at Gettysburg rose up as zombies, or shamblers, as the characters call them. Now the USA is being overwhelmed by the walking dead.
Though slaves have nominally been freed, the white power structure is conscripting black children and Native American children into "schools" where they (supposedly) learn to fight shamblers, and then are sent out to protect the wealthy white. In fact, as Alex Brown notes in this review, the children are given just enough "training" to satisfy the not-very-tender consciences of white citizens, and then are sent out to die.
The book lays its themes bare when the main character, Jane, is sent out to Kansas to work as part of a crew fighting off shamblers in a white supremacist colony. Here, a racial "purist" preacher has created a fortified town where the preacher rules through the arm of the law (his son is the sheriff). Black children and adolescents, along with Indian children and adolescents, are used as the first line of defense -- having been given neither the training nor the weapons to fight off shamblers. This is their fate, the preacher argues (and the white townspeople believe), since God created them as servants to the white race.
There's a scientist who while he doesn't believe the preacher goes along to get along; and a subplot involving Jane's mother; and some minor romance.
This is a lively book, and I have already put the sequel on hold at the library.
Nevil Shute, A Town Like Alice
Apparently I am going to read all of Nevil Shute this year.
This is one of his better books -- set partly in Malaysia during WWII, and partly in Australia during the post-war years, it is mostly the story of a young woman, Jean, who deals with being a prisoner of the Japanese (along with 30+ other women and children) and then after the war goes to Australia, marries a man she met in Malaysia, and creates an economic boom in a small dying town.
There is a frame story concerning Jean's lawyer (she inherits some money) who falls deeply in love with Jean but is, as he puts it, old enough to be her grandfather, and so never reveals this love.
Very readable and with great characters. Also some regrettable racism that you may or may not be able to wince your way past.