It's time for another round up. But before I get into those, I had the fortune of finding time to read a full story start to finish! And it was well worth it: Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard is a novella all about power, diplomacy, and one's place in that dynamic.
This is a very short romantic fantasy with the focus on princess Thanh, her role as a negotiator for her kingdom, and her desire to belong, be loved, and be her own. Each of these three struggles are immediately apparent in the first few pages. de Bodard's creates characters with complexity so easily it seems; her use of internal monologue does so much for this. Thanh's conflicting desires: her love of her politically besieged kingdom, her desire to prove her worth, her love of Eldris - the princess of a neighboring oppressor, her love of a fire elemental, all collide at the end.
The worldbuilding, the pacing, all is done expertly. Which left only one thing in my mind: a question about what's next. There's plenty of magic, plenty of "world", plenty of each of the characters to explore, which left me with wanting more stories in this universe. At the very least, a world that has a fire elemental begs the question of what else is out there.
My hope is that de Bodard finds time and inspiration enough to build more of this universe. My hope for YOU folks is to find the quick 1-1.5 hours to read this.
And if you enjoy her work, I also recommend taking a look at her Xuya Universe novels. Her website/blog has so much good background about the historical influences from non-western history.
Mini-review done. On to the list!
Experiencing progress; privilege; and inequality
John Scalzi does a wonderful series on his website, called "The Big Idea", in which he invites authors to present a bit of a deep-dive into their thinking or inspirations behind their latest work. These are brief treasures, especially if you aspire to crafting worlds and stories. Earlier this month, Scalzi brought on Matthew FitzSimmons, author of Constance.
FitzSimmons brings up an great point, about the feeling of living through progress. I'm not old enough to think back on huge shifts in how we live (such as living with electricity vs. without), but there are smaller ones that are surprising when I think of it. For example - touch screens and "phones" (quotes intentional); cassette VHS tapes to streaming; the internet.
He also talks about privilege and inequality, and I think I felt that the most this year: I and my family got a life-saving vaccine for free just when it was critical - because I happened to live in a privileged country with access and infrastructure. That's a real Elysium-level of the privileged living on a completely different planet experience.
Writing near-future fiction
Keeping in line with authors chatting with authors, Mary Robinette Kowal has a series called "My Favorite Bit" where she invites writers to talk about their favorite part of a story they wrote, the process of writing it, or an inspiration that brought it about.
This one, by R.W.W. Greene author of Twenty-Five to Life, talks about the thrill and challenge of writing near-future sci-fi in which current events could easily affect the structure or background of a story. The story is centered around Julie, one of billions of humans left behind on Earth as a colony mission to Proxima Centauri leaves Earth's orbit. The mission is supposed to be humanity-saving; but space is large, so don't expect anything quick. So what's the point for those left behind? Julie feels that pointlessness acutely, and joins a free-ranging group to lived out the final days of Earth in campers and vans, roving the back roads of America.
Ignyte Award Winners
Fiyah Literary Magazine is one I follow ardently, and they just wrapped up FIYAHCON 2021 on Saturday, with the Ignyte Awards looking to showcase diverse writers and diverse characters. The collection of nominees and winners are a great list to put on your TBR; Rebecca Roanhorse won the Best Novel - Adult category for Black Sun (recommended previously by FC). Aliette De Bodard (recommended just above) won the Best Novelette category.
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As always thanks for reading and hit me up with what caught your eye, what you'd like to see mentioned.