Nightwatch Over Windscar continues The Weep series, with all of the strengths of the first (Nightwatch on the Hinterlands) and not a single bit of mid-series downturn. Iari and Gaer are back, and Gaer’s chapters continue to be my favorite (and we also get a bonus Char chapter partway through!) Eason sustains character voices masterfully, and as in Hinterlands it’s delightful to see Iari and Gaer adapt each other’s speech patterns.
From video game and anime music to holographic displays to Asian food, Light From Uncommon Stars takes the reader on a journey that encompasses all of the senses, with picturesque descriptions that fully immerse you in Southern California. And both the characters and the story that accompany the setting do it complete justice. Katrina’s experiences in particular are intense, and I definitely cried for her at a couple points, both sad tears and happy tears.
N.K. Jemisin is known for being a master of worldbuilding, and her reputation is absolutely, definitely, no question deserved. The worldbuilding in The Broken Earth is incredible. But…I kind of hated everything else about the trilogy. The second-person narration was unbelievably annoying, the plot was uninteresting, and I don’t particularly like reading plots that involve coerced breeding, even if they make a lot of sense in a very well-explained world that does have excellent worldbuilding.
With zero-indexed titles and a protagonist named Ada Liu (after Ada Lovelace) who’s a Coder, I was pretty excited for Zeroth Law - and Ada’s half of the novel was indeed as entertaining as expected. Sadly, I found her co-protagonist Isavel’s arc to be rather generic and boring, and decided not to continue with the series after book 1 because half the chapters made me want to stop reading.
To be honest, the more I think about Meet Me in Another Life, the more holes I see in it and less I’m satisfied with it. The ending does not make very much sense and I’ve become more and more bothered by it. However, much of it is very sweet, and I did enjoy most of it quite a bit while I was reading it.
The Darkness Outside Us from its cover looks like a young adult romance set in space. And indeed it is set in space, its protagonists are young adults, and it does have a fairly significant romance subplot. But do not think for a minute that this incredible novel is anything other than a science fiction thriller/mystery written for adults with all of the what-if? philosophical questioning requisite of any classic you can think of.
The book is a mixed bag; its format and bold worldbuilding choices make quite a statement, but at the same time, it falls short in a lot of areas. As is often the case with mixed-timeline, mixed-point-of-view plots, when you take a step back, you realize that almost nothing actually happened in the story; it’s relying on the whole being significantly greater than the sum of its parts. But in this case, the individual stories are so simplistic, and particularly the Maya past one, that I’m not sure the novel quite managed to achieve that greater whole.
Fid’s Crusade is the story of genius supervillain Doctor Fid in his quest to, er, save the world. Because the superheroes make terrible role models. And also one of them caused the death of his baby brother, and he needs revenge. It’s at times funny, at times heartbreaking, and at times adorable. It begins as a criticism of celebrity worship culture, turns into a mystery, a found family, and a pretty traditional save-the-world story. Which is to say, it meanders quite a bit before we get to a clear, established goal.
Red Dust has a great premise that it ultimately fails to live up to. Set roughly fifty years after first contact, the novel follows positronic robot police officer (pozzie) Raymond Chandler (yes, named after that Raymond Chandler) in his attempt to hunt down escaped criminal Makrow 34. Chandler teams up with another convict, Vasily Fernández, chosen because he shares the same psychic (Psy) abilities as Makrow 34: the Gaussical ability to manipulate the probability of nearby events to occur.
Fine Structure is one of those books that you read once, then you either read again two or three more times, this time taking notes, or you immediately google “Fine Structure explanation” and read the results of other people doing the same. I’ll save you that googling part for the second option and link the FAQ (yes, the author has an FAQ page). It does, at least, make a lot more sense than Primer.