Here’s where all my critical essays can be found. These are not reviews, and often go into a particular aspect of a novel or novels. Be aware, these essays often contain spoilers.
- Certain Inevitabilities: An Exploration of the Work of Connie Willis - Connie Willis has a large body of work in speculative fiction, particularly stories involving time travel and coincidences. From her Oxford Time Travel novels, to novellas like “Bellwether” and “Inside Job,” to more standalone works like Passage and Crosstalk, she’s made a habit of portraying the world as a chaotic place, one in which coincidence might mean … Continue reading "Certain Inevitabilities: An Exploration of the Work of Connie Willis"
- It Takes Two: Magical Women with Manners - This installment of It Takes Two deals with two novels that fall into the fantasy of manners subgenre in a very unique way. Both Shades of Milk and Honey (SoMaH), by Mary Robinette Kowal, and The Beautiful Ones (BO), forthcoming from Silvia Moreno-Garcia, feature women main characters who practice particular forms of transformative magic within their worlds. They also feature … Continue reading "It Takes Two: Magical Women with Manners"
- Stories That Aren’t, or, Smokescreens for Other Stories - A few months ago I read The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016, edited by Karen Joy Fowler (spoiler alert: I only read the stories by women, fite me), and had the pleasure of encountering Cat Valente’s “Planet Lion” for the first time. Just now (literally) I had the further pleasure of listening to “Planet … Continue reading "Stories That Aren’t, or, Smokescreens for Other Stories"
- Merry Christmas, Everyone Dies - (Note, I started this blog post last Christmas-ish when I was reading Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis. Don’t let that contain your enjoyment.) This isn’t really a review, as I tend to stick to newer books for that. It’s more an homage, a glorious spewing of words towards the best Christmas book I’ve ever read. To … Continue reading "Merry Christmas, Everyone Dies"
- Passive Females, Aggressive Bodies - I’ve been thinking a lot recently about abortion and the constant push by so-called “pro-life” individuals to limit the ability of those with birth-capable bodies to control their reproductive health. Ok, let’s be honest, I think about this stuff all the time but I read an article not long ago, the second such in the past … Continue reading "Passive Females, Aggressive Bodies"
- It Takes Two: The Ballad of Lost Souls - Parable of the Sower and The Heart Goes Last This one brought to you by the U.S. presidential election. Parable of the Sower, for anyone who’s read it, has distinct parallels with today’s United States, even though it was first published over twenty years ago. Minorities scrape a life out of bombed out residential streets while … Continue reading "It Takes Two: The Ballad of Lost Souls"
- Bring Your Ladies Down to Camelot - “Beautiful women rarely work strong magic.” In the Night Garden, Cat Valente They cross’d themselves, their stars they blest, Knight, minstrel, abbot, squire, and guest. There lay a parchment on her breast, That puzzled more than all the rest, The wellfed wits at Camelot. ‘The web was woven curiously, The charm is … Continue reading "Bring Your Ladies Down to Camelot"
- It Takes Two: Radiance and A Stranger in Olondria - So I sat here at my computer, staring at tumblr posts as the scrolled by, and thought to myself that I hadn’t done much writing–of any stripe–in quite a while. I’ve really fallen off the book reviewing wagon. My reading hasn’t dropped off in any significant way, but I just don’t have the mental energy … Continue reading "It Takes Two: Radiance and A Stranger in Olondria"
- In Love with Love - Shades of Milk and Honey, Marriage, and Love in Regency England Jane Austen’s legacy provides a rich field to till for authors of many different persuasions. Many Austen adaptations and inspirations are entertaining, true to Austen’s world to one degree or another, and engage with the themes that modern readers identify as important in Austen’s … Continue reading "In Love with Love"
- Tracing Our Lineage - No, this isn’t going to be about ancestry or anything like that, at least not in a literal, Biblical sense. I read a book a while back (maybe a month, I read a lot of books, so sometimes it seems like longer), called The Country of Ice Cream Star, and while it was a very engrossing … Continue reading "Tracing Our Lineage"
- Angry As I Want to Be - My entire life—but most especially in the past five years or so—I’ve been baffled by people who think that all women are averse to violence, or anger, or any kind of sudden and intense physical action. Anyone who had a window into my thoughts for an hour or so would quickly be disabused of that … Continue reading "Angry As I Want to Be"
- Unrelieved Survival: First Person Narrators in the Present Tense - Choosing a narrator and tense are some of the pivotal decisions an author makes when writing a novel. Many an author has written of changing the narrator, the viewpoint, even the tense while writing or during editing. The first-person present narrator, while relatively rare as a style, is gaining traction, especially in young adult genres. … Continue reading "Unrelieved Survival: First Person Narrators in the Present Tense"
- Divide My Love in Half: The Dangerous Pull of the Dual Narrative Novel - Authors use various narrative devices in their work to achieve particular ends. Sometimes they are straightforward plot advancers, sometimes they have something to say about life, and sometimes they even have something to say about narrative itself. I believe that with Kate Mosse’s two novels, Labyrinth and Sepulchre, she uses the dual narrative device to do a … Continue reading "Divide My Love in Half: The Dangerous Pull of the Dual Narrative Novel"
- Feminism and The Sharing Knife - I thought of a lot of things to call this post, before I decided to settle with something simple and relatively straightforward. Misogyny and The Sharing Knife was one of my first ideas, followed by A Feminist’s Manifesto in Bujold’s The Sharing Knife? Needless to say, none of these seemed to fit what I really wanted … Continue reading "Feminism and The Sharing Knife"
- The Falcon Throne, by Karen Miller - I recently finished reading Karen Miller’s new (and lengthy, and bloody) fantasy novel, The Falcon Throne, which is meant to be the first in a series called The Tarnished Crown. I’ve said before that I really don’t like writing reviews, per se, but I would like to talk a bit about what I liked, what I … Continue reading "The Falcon Throne, by Karen Miller"
- Where All the Women are Beautiful and all the Men are, Well, Men - I was going to write a post about good dialog being important to a story, which I’ll get to at some point, but right now I want to talk about beautiful women. Plenty has been written about the depiction of women in sff, not just physically but also in terms of characterization. I ran … Continue reading "Where All the Women are Beautiful and all the Men are, Well, Men"
- On Reading “Bad” Books - Sometimes you just have to read bad books. No, I’m not talking about all those supposedly “trashy” romance novels you’ve devoured and will never admit to, or those novels based on D&D that are basically fanfic but got published because they have guy names on the covers, or even the books from the “beach reads” … Continue reading "On Reading “Bad” Books"
- Structure and Imagination in Nnedi Okorafor’s Kabu-Kabu - Note: this essay is: 1) full of spoilers, 2) my own interpretation of the work and although I welcome discussion, I do not claim to be an authority for African or Post-colonial literature. As the title suggests, Nnedi Okorafor’s short story collection Kabu-Kabu takes its readers on trips of fantasy, magic, and unbelievable realities. Though often … Continue reading "Structure and Imagination in Nnedi Okorafor’s Kabu-Kabu"