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Obsidian and Blood by Aliette de Bodard (Book Review)

Before I started reading Angry Robot novels back in 2012, I hadn’t heard of Aliette de Bodard. And then in June of that year I read her Aztec mysteries trilogy Obsidian & Blood back-to-back in a single week. The trilogy was my first proper taste of non-Anglophone fantasy, and he experience was both surreal and amazing. I loved the books of course, and the short stories that were collected in the omnibus edition. Obsidian & Blood is one of a very, very small handful of trilogies that I’ve rated as high as I have, and the entire omnibus made my list of the best books I read in 2012.

This review is a repost of the original review on The Founding Fields, which can be found here.

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The A-to-Z Book Survey

So a few days ago my reviewing/blogging buddy Ria at Bibliotropic posted a nice survey of sorts on her blog. It was a cool article and with her permission, I’m sneaking off my own spin on it.

Hope you enjoy! And even if not, do share your thoughts in the comments!

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Publishing and Marketing 03: Women in SFF Part 1

One question that is being asked by many in the wake of the recent SFWA controversy, and all the commentary it has spawned in various places about misogyny and sexism within the publishing industry is: “If I want to read more books by female authors, where do I start?”

Often times, I think it is rather disheartening to hear such a question. Women have been writing books for a long, long time. And for people to not even be aware of that, or for that matter, be able to perform a basic google search about who are the big names right now? Doesn’t speak so well for us as a community. Speaking of the industry in the broadest sense, we are all very close-ranked, and to break out of the apparent restrictions is not easy. Sure its “easy” to get published as a woman, but to receive recognition? That’s an uphill battle.

It all comes down to respect. And when it comes to respect within the publishing industry (or even just in general in daily life), never ever use the word “political correctness”. That’s a dirty word to use, and it betrays a lack of ability to engage, and wilful dismissal of a very serious and ongoing issue that affects us all. Just look at the entire entertainment industry as a whole, whether its novels or comics or movies or even news.

In such a state, it is absolutely essential that we willingly look to broaden our horizons. We should take chances and read outside of our comfort zones, because otherwise we don’t challenge ourselves and we just propagate the “like begets like” scenario and we cannot grow as an individual.

Which is what this editorial, the third in my Publishing and Marketing series, is about: stepping out of your comfort zone. If you’ve never read a book by a female author before, then my suggestions herein are an excellent place to start.

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NANP: On the Appropriateness of Names and Naming Customs

Today on Names: A New Perspective, I’m hosting friend and author Aliette de Bodard, who penned the (frankly) mind-blowing Aztec noir fantasy trilogy Obsidian and Blood (review). I’ve read some of her short fiction as well (ranging from Vietnamese space opera to Aztec science fantasy), and that too has been a delightful experience. Given her French-Vietnamese background and the fact that she writes a very different style of speculative fiction than most mainstream authors, she is a perfect fit for this guest post series. This is what she has to say.

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Names: A New Perspective Part 2

A little late, but I finally have the schedule of posts down. Post-NaNoWriMo blues and a massive reviewing/reading backlog plus my Advent Reviews series has kept me rather busy. Which reminds me, I still need to do that NaNoWriMo “after-action” report too! Ack! You can read any of the previous posts by using the series tag: “Names A New Perspective“. The previous line-up of authors is here. So, without further ado, here you are.

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What You Know and What You Don’t

The other day I was having a conversation on Twitter with my reviewer friends Paul Weimer (of SF Signal and Functional Nerds) and Sally Janin (of Qwillery) about a recent debut novel that is causing waves in the publishing industry. The book in question is called Stormdancer and is Jay Kristoff’s first book in the (billed to be) Lotus War series. The premise of the novel is that it is a coming-of-age story of a young girl in a setting that is touted as Japanese Steampunk, and explores her relationship with her somewhat-estranged father and an arashitora, or thunder tiger, or griffin. Our point of discussion was the cultural appropriation by Kristoff in the novel, his particular approach being severely unpalatable to me as someone who, while not very well-versed in, is still quite familiar with Japanese culture. The discussion extended to whether or not a reviewer’s familiarity with the settings/cultures portrayed in a speculative fiction novel play a big part in our perception of how good/bad a novel is.

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Best of the Best Part 1

Twitter has been buzzing lately with “best of the year so far” and “most anticipated lists”. Looks like everybody and their fictional cat is on the bandwagon. So I thought I’d do one too, a “best of the half-year” list that is. I mean why not, I’ve read so much good stuff this year that it all deserves recognition anyway. I already do a top-of-the-month list anyway, as you can see on the Reading Awards page, so this should be good fun either way.

Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!

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