The Sisters Sputnik by Terri Favro (Science Fiction — Audio book)

Broad, sweeping story that spans all 2058(!) worlds in the multiverse (and some time shifts to boot) — starring Sputnik Chick: A Girl With No Past. Debbie Reynolds Biondi is Sputnik Chick — and the comic book artist and storyteller bringing her to life for others. What I loved about this book — and I really did love listening to it — was the way the author brought every one of the various worlds to life with each fully developed (and different) culture resulting from differences in the world’s timeline. Synthetic humanoids, AIs brought to life, mutations, language deterioration, and Cozy World — where pandemics have converted the populace into retiring hermits terrified of human interaction. I’ve been reading science fiction since I was five (really) and this book constantly surprised me with both new ideas and many old ideas morphed and molded into unrecognizable emerging customs and habits. There is plenty of action and adventure — which I can find boring — but it was all enveloped in such interesting philosophy, reflection, and world building that I never had to skim.

Highly recommended for those interested in a more human-centric, creative type of science fiction.

Thank you to ECW Press Audio and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this audiobook in exchange for my honest review. The audiobook will be released on June 30th, 2022 (the printed book was released on May 17th)

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi (SF)

Laugh out loud funny and full of action (which normally bores me to tears but Scalzi always manages to pull it off), this latest standalone novel from one of my favorite SF authors is a breath of fresh air.

Jamie Gray — a recently fired, PhD drop out (her dissertation was going to be on utopian and dystopian literature), is making an unhappy living as a deliverator when a chance customer offers her a job with an animal rights organization. Only as it turns out, the “animals” are more ecosystem than animal, are absolutely humongous (and scary), and don’t exactly live on this particular version of Earth. Armed with her sci-fi mindset and a talent for lifting things (think heavy, not theft), Jamie manages to save the day … quite often. Added bonuses: Godzilla origin story explained and Snow Crash properly revered.

For Scalzi newbies, a few writing extracts:

“It’s more like we have a workable service relationship with a tenuous personal history.”

“It was stupidly perfect how all my problems were suddenly solved with the strategic application of money.”

“I’m officially skeptical about this Godzilla origin story.”

“That thing looks like H.P. Lovecraft’s panic attack.”

“It’s not the trees, you dense argumentative spoon.”

Thank you to Macmillan-Tor/Forge and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on March 15th, 2022.

A Mirror Mended by Alex E Harrow (Speculative fiction)

Book two in Harrow’s Fractured Fables series continues the adventures of Zinnia Gray — a self-professed “folklore major with a significant Grimm obsession” — hopping around the multi-verse helping young fairy tale princesses cursing their cruel fates. In the five years she’s been adventuring, she has never managed to escape the Sleeping Beauty narrative, but suddenly a beautiful and cruel face is beckoning to her through a mirror and asking for help. Enter not Snow White, but the Evil Queen, and while she lives up to her Evil reputation (Zinnia calls her “Eva”), things are not at all what they seem.

A good romp through the multiverse with plenty of non-venomous snark, academic folklore overlays, and welcome feminist twists on standard fairy tale princess tropes. Well-written (as always), funny, and great messaging on how to write your own story without succumbing to cultural expectations.

Book one was excellent! Read it while you wait for this book to be published! See review here.

Some great quotes:

“It’s just that they’re so damn happy. I doubt they’ve ever lain awake at night feeling the bounds of their narratives like hot wires pressing into their skin, counting each breath and wondering how many are left, wishing — uselessly, stupidly — they’d been born into a better once upon a time.”

“I’m sure Charm would explain about the psychic weight of repeated motifs and the narrative resonance between worlds if I asked, but I don’t ask…”

“The queen is watching me in a way that reminds me uncomfortably of a lean-boned stray watching a very stupid robin.”

“Am I in some kind of fairy tale mash-up? Is Chris Pine about to pop out and sing Sondheim lyrics in a confused accent?”

“There were plenty of other stories floating around the European countryside at the time — weirder, darker, stranger, sexier stories — but the Grimms weren’t anthropologists. They were nationalists trying to build an orderly, modern house out of the wild bones of folklore.”

“I know how I must sound, what you must think of me, but I only mean power over myself. Power to make my own choices, and arrive at my own ends.”

“Anyway, you’ve created a universe that runs on plot, and a main character who smashes plots like a human wrecking ball. In refusing to complete her narrative arc, she is compromising the integrity of the universe.”

Thank you to Macmillan-Tor/Forge and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on June 14th, 2022.