Book Reviews Books Nonfiction

Book Reviews: April 2019 – Lightspeed Magazine

The Deepest Blue

Salutations, everybody, and rejoice—spring is lastly upon us! Until you reside within the Southern Hemisphere, I assume, through which case—put together for impending winter doom! Or one thing.

Anyhow, now for one thing utterly totally different.

This month, earlier than we get to the books, I’d like to speak a bit bit concerning the historic Greek maxim, “Know thyself,” not simply because it’s recommendation I’ve all the time tried to stay by, but in addition as a result of it’s a central theme to every of the tales on this evaluate.

First, although, we’ve to find out: What do these two easy phrases truly imply? Whereas the Greek playwright Aeschylus makes use of the saying as a warning, warning Prometheus to remain in his place, and Emerson regards it as an injunction to hunt the divine inside, my favourite attribution comes from Socrates (and The Matrix!), who admonishes us to know ourselves, absolutely and utterly, and that in doing so, we will begin to perceive others.

For me, “know thyself” is the journey of self-discovery, of studying easy methods to be trustworthy with your self. To know thyself is to determine your flaws and reconcile them, determine your virtues and improve them, and to by no means cease asking, “Am I the individual I want to be?” Most significantly, if the reply to that query is, “Not but,” what steps do I undertake to develop into so?

“Know thyself” is knowing that some issues are out of your management, and that’s okay. Nobody ever has complete command of their circumstances. “Know thyself” is realizing that typically doing the suitable factor hurts, however that the results are well worth the outcome. If it have been straightforward to repair the world, it’d already be achieved. “Know thyself” is acknowledging that the current is all we will ever reside in, regardless of how a lot we’d like to vary the previous or predict the longer term.

“Know thyself” just isn’t a simple maxim to reside by. Nobody likes to be improper. Change may be scary. A lifetime of behavior is tough to interrupt, however discovering who we actually are is a reward past examine, a strong foothold that permits us to face within the whirling chaos of the world and say, “Right here I’m. Now let me attempt to make some sense of all the remainder of this.”

“Know thyself,” reader, and know you aren’t alone on that street.

Now it’s time for me to step off my soapbox, and on to the critiques!

The Deepest Blue
Sarah Beth Durst
Commerce Paperback / E book
ISBN: 9780062690845
Harper Voyager, March 2019, 368 pages

Our first e-book as we speak is The Deepest Blue, by Sarah Beth Durst, and is about in her Queens of Renthia universe (sidenote—the Queens of Renthia trilogy is superb and it is best to learn these as nicely, it begins with The Queen of Blood). On this world, people co-exist with elemental spirits, however these spirits are much less Studio Ghibli whimsies and extra ravenous forces of rage that attempt to homicide each human they discover, which, as one can think about, retains humanity on its toes.

The primary character, Mayara, lives on an island separate from the mainland the place the Queens of Renthia trilogy takes place, however just like the protagonist in these books, is among the uncommon people who can management spirits by her will alone. Sadly for Mayara, this energy is certainly extra of a curse than a blessing, since those that present it are seized by the ruling authorities and thrown onto the Island of Testing, which is principally the Thunderdome cranked to eleven. Mayara, with no earlier coaching in learn how to management her powers, has to determine not solely the way to survive the spirits infesting the Island of Testing, but in addition learn how to cope with her marriage being cruelly interrupted and the decay of her nation on account of ongoing spirit assaults.

I actually loved this e-book, not just for the vivid imagery (which, truthful warning, includes some fairly ugly deaths set amidst the picturesque island surroundings), but in addition for the superb character improvement that may be a hallmark of Durst’s writing. Mayara grows and modifications all through the e-book as she learns extra about herself, and it’s not simply her—secondary characters are handled to their very own emotional arcs as they push past what they thought themselves able to, and face a number of difficult situations.

You don’t should be conversant in the Queens of Renthia trilogy to be able to perceive what occurs in The Deepest Blue, as Durst does a superb job of explaining very important info with out it feeling expository, however there’s one secondary character which may appear odd with out having information of her backstory, and the world as an entire felt extra fleshed out figuring out the occasions that got here earlier than. That being stated, The Deepest Blue continues to be a superb stand-alone story that may have you ever wanting on the ocean in an entire new mild, and one I extremely advocate.

Learn if: You want inspirational feminine protagonists; you thought Island of the Blue Dolphins might do with much more violent deaths; you need to unleash the kraken.

A Boy and His Canine on the Finish of the World
C. A. Fletcher
Hardcover / E-book
ISBN: 9780316449458
Orbit, April 23 2019, 336 pages

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the WorldOur subsequent e-book, A Boy and His Canine on the Finish of the World, additionally begins on an island, however one firmly rooted in actuality—a small, wind-blasted spit of land off the coast of Scotland, in a dystopic future the place ninety-nine % of humanity has been worn out as a consequence of a mysterious plague that rendered virtually everybody sterile. On this island a small household lives, grappling with their very own private tragedy, they usually possess one other rarity—a pair of canine, a species that adopted humanity into break.

For the protagonist, Griz, life is tough, but nonetheless value dwelling, however that each one modifications in the future when a traveler seems, ostensibly to commerce, however genuinely with a much more nefarious function—he steals Griz’s canine. Armed with nothing greater than a bow, some arrows, and uncooked willpower, Griz begins a journey to trace down the stranger and retrieve their lacking member of the family, a trek that takes Griz by means of the crumbling remnants of the world that was, and into the empty loneliness of the world that’s.

First off, let me enjoin you, the reader, to keep away from completely all spoilers about this ebook. You need to learn A Boy and His Canine on the Finish of the World with out anybody else telling you something about it, as a result of Griz’s journey is one greatest skilled with the identical sense of discovery and fascination because the e-book’s protagonist. Fletcher writes with an elegantly descriptive fashion, one which brings this melancholic world to bittersweet life, and every location Griz visits is nearly instantly visualizable. Whether or not it’s the rusting stays of an amusement park, or the dusty flooring of a tucked away sanctuary, Fletcher makes the reader really feel like they’re standing there, proper beside Griz, determined to seek out out the place to go subsequent.

One other facet of the e-book that I actually favored was that in a world shorn of individuals, the few that Griz does meet are memorable, distinct, and multi-dimensional. There are not any throwaway characters or encounters on this story, and Fletcher does a superb job of bouncing forwards and backwards between moments of rigidity and people of quiet contemplation. All through the journey, Griz faces problem after problem, and none felt pressured or unbelievable—a frequent stumbling block in dystopian fiction. General, I felt A Boy and His Canine on the Finish of the World was nicely well worth the time spent studying it, although I’m glad I don’t reside in that world.

Learn if: You want Iain Banks’ The Wasp Manufacturing unit; you want your dystopian journey with a smidgen of hope; you want canine.

Empress of Eternally
Max Gladstone
Commerce Paperback / E-book
ISBN: 9780765395818
Tor, June 2019, 480 pages

Empress of ForeverThe final guide on this evaluate, Empress of Eternally, is one I’ve been notably wanting ahead to ever because it was introduced, as I’m an enormous fan of Max Gladstone’s Craft collection, and was wanting to see what he would deliver to a space-opera sort setting. I’m comfortable to say that he didn’t disappoint.

Empress of Eternally is about as a lot of a departure from the intricate, extra methodical legal-system-as-magic of the Craft collection as you will get, however this isn’t a draw back. As an alternative Gladstone takes us on a high-octane rollercoaster via the width and breadth of a fantastical universe, introducing settings and characters that really feel as if Simon R. Inexperienced’s pulp Deathstalker novels and Iain Banks’ Tradition novels had an excellent, star-smashing child, one crammed with superb set-pieces that wouldn’t look misplaced on a big-screen blockbuster, but in addition one full of insights on sacrifice, destiny, and friendship.

The ebook begins with the protagonist, Vivian Liao, the richest and strongest lady on Earth, engaged in a determined plan to flee the political noose closing in round her neck, one involving faking her personal demise—after which the actual story explodes into gear. A wierd lady in inexperienced seems, defying all legal guidelines of physics, makes an attempt to kill Vivian, who then awakens within the midst of a battle between killer robots and zen-fu monks on an area station orbiting a hoop of constructed black holes, and if I haven’t bought you on studying Empress of Endlessly at this level, then I don’t know what else to do, as a result of I haven’t even gotten to the deadliest pirate queen within the universe, the sentient swarm of nanomachines, or the pilot who was actually born to fly.

The guide isn’t all motion and no thought, nevertheless. Gladstone does a tremendous job of fleshing out all of the characters in his ebook, Vivian included, and who they’re on the finish of the ebook is nowhere near who they have been at the beginning. As well as, the universe itself is a marvel to behold, filled with daring worldbuilding and a way of scale epic in scope, however not so giant as to detract from the complicated relationships between Vivian and people she meets. That is the kind of ebook good for getting misplaced in not simply as soon as, however a number of occasions, and I can’t advocate it sufficient.

Learn if: You want Thor: Ragnorak and Guardians of the Galaxy; you want introspective treatises on the character of self; you want awesomeness.

Books I Learn And Favored However Didn’t Have Area To Evaluation:

Ancestral Night time, by Elizabeth Bear; Finder, by Suzanne Palmer; No Nation for Previous Gnomes, by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne; Seven Blades in Black, by Sam Sykes.

That’ll do it for this installment, and I’ll see you all subsequent time. Know thyself!

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