Review: mini-reviews for The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet, Wild Cards 11, Nemesis Games, and The Goblin Emperor
Vandana Singh first came to my attention with her short story, Infinities, in Tor's anthology, Twenty-first Century Science Fiction. It's quite a good story with a bit about math set in India, which then led me to this collection by a feminist India publishing house. While a few stories in this collection have a more fantastical and realism bent, the rest are more grounded in science fiction and often have a strong Indian and Asian feel. I'm glad to have found a new author that does something outside the norm for speculative fiction.
Wild Cards 10 did not work for me at all, despite being written by Melinda Snodgrass who can usually be counted on to give a good story. So after #10, 11 was a bit of a relief. This one is back on Earth finishing off the plots featuring the jumpers, Bloat, and the Rox as they face off against aces and the US military. While it's a straightforward and entertaining story, it does suffer from a lack of plot and has a fair bit of padding. Nevertheless, it's good to finish off the stories and I'll soon be ready to move on to the next in the series.
I have a few conflicting feelings about the fifth book in the Expanse series. It starts off very slowly with the ship in repairs and the crew splitting off getting their own POV chapters. This part felt very contrived to me. However, once it gets going, it goes and gives the readers some major sucker punches worthy of George R.R. Martin to the mind and soul. Then it slows down again at the end and finishes almost with a whimper. So a wham-bam middle bookended by slow starts and finishes, Nemesis Games is still another compelling entry in the series and I'm looking forward to the next.
I wasn't planning to read this one. But I got the whole book in the Hugo reading packet and I was planning to try all the Hugo nominees this year so I gave it a try. It's fairly average feel-good political story about a nobody and nice guy who becomes emperor and does a good job at it. However, despite the rave reviews about it, I didn't find anything particularly good about it, nor anything particularly new about the story. It's been billed quite often as the antithesis to recent surge in "grimdark" and my feeling is why is such a thing needed? There is enough stuff being published in speculative fiction these days that a reader shouldn't feel overwhelmed by "grimdark". And it's hardly the first feel-good story about a nice guy so I'm a little baffled by this one.