Saturday, June 8, 2024

Translation State (Imperial Radch), by Ann Leckie (author), Adjoah Andoh (narrator)

Orbit, ISBN 9781549164835, June 2023

Qven is a junior, that is, not yet full adult, Presger translator. His only purpose is to learn human ways and language, match with an older, more experienced translator, and be an intermediary between the impossibly dangerous Presger and the human worlds. He's the pride of his Clade--until he starts to wonder if there might be a different life possible.

Enae has been hir grandmaman's household manager and aide, until grandmaman dies, and leaves hir not the house and the wealth believed to go with it, but a position as a junior diplomat, which includes the mission of finding the Presger translator who disappeared two centuries ago. That translator must be found, or at least returned to the Presger if found, because Presger translators are too dangerous to wander unsupervised through human societies.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

The Mimicking of Known Successes (The Investigations of Mossa and Pleiti #1), by Malka Older

Tordotcom, ISBN 9781250860507, March 2023

Holmesian mystery! Sapphic romance!

Earth is no longer habitable, or perhaps, not yet habitable again. The surviving remnants of humanity are living in colonies in orbit around Jupiter. Mossa is an investigator assigned to investigate a man's disappearance at a rail station. She follows the limited evidence about him back to the university town of Valdegeld--where her former girlfriend, Pleiti, is a scholar working on the reterraforming of Earth. Awkward as it will be, she needs to talk to Pleiti to get the information she needs to investigate anything in the cuthroat academic politics of Valdegeld.

It's an awkward reunion indeed, but Pleiti is ready to help her.  

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Rose/House, by Arkady Martine

Subterranean Press, April 2023

Rose House is the creation of radical architect Basit Deniau, run by an AI. A real, opinionated, arrogant AI. Maritza Smith is the tired, disillusioned police detective in China Lake, somewhere in the American southwest, who takes the call from Rose House when, as required by law, it makes the call to report that there's a dead body inside it.

Well, another dead body inside it. Deniau's corpse, transformed into a diamond, has been there for a year, ever since his death. The only living person allowed inside is Dr. Selene Gisil, his former protègè, later critic, and now, unwillingly, archivist of his his records and memorabilia. Even she's only allowed in seven days a year.

But at the moment, she's in Turkiye. Who is the dead body? Who is the killer?

Monday, June 3, 2024

Life Does Not Allow Us to Meet, by He Xi / 人生不相见, 何夕(author), Alex Woodend (translator)

Published in Adventures in Space: New Short stories by Chinese & English Science Fiction Writers, Flame Tree Press, April 2023

At some point in our future, Earth has both a world government, and an interstellar space program. They've developed a faster than light drive, and have found some habitable planets.

Fan Zhe and Yelena are new graduates of the training program, and hope to soon be assigned to visit one of the new colonies, to assess how successful its development has been. He Xi is the older, experienced astronaut, who has himself spent some years on another colony world. He Xi soon reveals that he will be the leader of the mission Fan Zhe and Yelena are assigned to.

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Mammoths at the Gates (The Singing Hills Cycle #4), by Nghi Vo

Tordotcom, ISBN 9781250851437, September 2023

Cleric Chih travels widely, gathering stories, with a talking hoopoe bird. The hoopoe, Almost Brilliant, has perfect recall and serves as Chih's neixin, ensuring that the stories will be retained perfectly, even as Chih records them on paper.

For the first time in years, Chih and Almost Brilliant are arriving home at the Singing Hills Abbey, to add their stories to the archives, and to rest. But there have been some changes at the abbey.

Cleric Thien, mentor to Chih and others when they were young and still new to the abbey, has died. Thien's hoopoe, Myriad Virtues, is mourning as only a being with perfect memory can, and it's been somewhat disruptive. 

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Thornhedge, by T. Kingfisher

Tor Books, ISBN 9781250244093, August 2023

We have a princess, sleeping in a tower. The tower is entirely surrounded by tall, thick, dangerous thornhedge. We know this story!

But no, this is T. Kingfisher, and she does strange and wonderful things to fairy tales.

Our heroine is Toadling, born in the tower, but stolen away by fairies, and raised in the warm waters of faerieland, in the loving care of the toads. And then she is summoned to go on a mission, to make a blessing on a newborn princess in the tower, to prevent harm. Such a simple mission. What could go wrong?

Voyage of the Dogs, by Greg Van Eekhout

HarperCollins, September 2018

Hi, there. I'm Lis's service dog, Cider. Lis finally got me a book for me to read and review.

I'll just say this up front, because I'm one of those readers for whom this is important: No dogs die in this book. We do get the story of Laika*, told by one of the dogs to the others so that, at a critical point, they can make an informed choice, but Greg Van Eekhout kills none of his fictional dogs in the course of this story.

Lopside, Bug, Daisy, and their pack leader, Golden retriever Champion, are Barkonauts, dogs specially trained and equipped to be part of the crew of Laika, the first Earth ship to head out to start a colony on an alien world in a distant solar system. There are four human crew as well, and we only meet two of them before one, Roro, helps the dogs into hibernation for the FTL portion of their travels.

When the dogs wake up, the humans are gone, having taken the lifepod, and the ship is badly damaged.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Seeds of Mercury, by Wang Jinkang / 水星播种 (author), 王晋康, Alex Woodend (translator)

Published in Adventures in Space: New Short stories by Chinese & English Science Fiction Writers
), Flame Tree Press, April 2023

Chen Yizhe is a successful businessman, with twenty billion yuan in assets, a beautiful wife, and a lovely son. Life is exactly how he wants it.

He gets a phone call from a Mr. He Jun, who is a lawyer representing the estate of Ms. Sha Wu, who has died and designated Chen Yizhe as her legatee. Chen Yizhe has dim memories from childhood of Ms. Sha Wu, a distant aunt of his, but has no idea why she would leave him her estate.

It turns out not to be the small and uncomplicated bequest he assumes. Ms. Sha Wu has been quietly working on a project to develop a new life form that will survive, and hopefully evolve, on Mercury.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The Year Without Sunshine, by Naomi Kritzer

Uncanny, November-December 2023

The world has undergone some kind of catastrophe resulting in clouds thick enough to block sunshine--and this is following several lesser disasters that had already created challenges for modern life. Not everything is cut off. Electricity is available several days a week. Medicines are getting hard to get, but authorities, apparently federal authorities, have made life-critical medications, such as insulin, a priority.

When the internet fails, Alexis and a neighbor, Tanesha, set up a booth they call WHATSUP, where neighbors previously communicating via WhatsApp can leave messages for each other.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

One Man’s Treasure, by Sarah Pinsker

Uncanny, January-February 2023

Aden, Nash, and new crewmate Renny are city trash collectors in a world where magic is just a fact of life, and bulk trash day in the wealthy neighborhoods can be exciting.

Sometimes it's neat stuff the wealthy throw away, often with magical enhancements. Sometimes it's dangerous stuff, that can potentially kill you--which is what happened to Blue, the teammate Renny is replacing.

This time, it's a statue quietly asking for help.

City regulations say that a statue, talking or not, is an inanimate object, and if it's been thrown out, it's trash.