Been reading a whole lot of stuff but keep not getting around to posting about it. Some examples include:
All Bad Things by Stephen Blackmoore. A Wasteland 2 novella I got for backing the Kickstarter. Not too bright strong man with weaselly pal/minder stumbles into an apocalyptic televangelist’s bunker with working power and equipment, watches the guy’s tapes and discovers that he inadvertently correctly predicted the apocalypse that led to the Wasteland 2 setting being what it is, and takes this as a sign that he was right about all of his preaching. So he starts a cult and kills or recruits everyone in his path until he hits the Hollywood community and they end up in a stalemated war for years. Of course, his buddy doesn’t believe any of it, just sees an opportunity for power and wealth. And Hollywood’s got a bit more brainpower than either of them And so of course, things don’t go well for, well, anyone. Not too shabby for game fiction. Not having gotten to California in my play of the game I have no idea if this story is relevant to it at all.
The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley. Fascinatingly original, grimy, grotesque biotech SF with an all female cast. Since the protagonist is amnesiac at the start, and discovering what’s going on is of course one of the central themes of the book, I won’t say much more, but it’s real good.
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. I am pretty sure that I read this as a child but very little in the way of details survived into my adult years and I don’t think I was especially impressed back then. Now I was, though. McKinley’s writing is just magnetic. I definitely didn’t remember it feeling kind of British Raj-inspired with the protagonist being a unmarried sister of a colonial military officer, lodging with the local diplomat since she has no income or property and it’s a place for her to stay. And the bulk of the book involving her growing to love the customs and culture of the local nomadic hill folk (and, it turns out, having their magic in her blood as well) before a final confrontation with a marauding northern force that isn’t quite human.
Midnight Cursed by Melissa F. Olson. After a trilogy detour into a new character (“Lex” Luther, boundary witch) Olson returns to her first protagonist, Scarlett Bernard, who’s confronting a serious threat to her vampire friend Molly (and learning more about her in the process). With a bit of help from Lex, since she’s met both Scarlett and her cop friend Jesse in her trilogy. Like all the books I’ve read by Olson, quite good. but obviously not the place to start if you’re not already into her stuff.
Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor. A followup to her lovelly novella Binti, about a young tribal girl leaving Earth to attend the most prestigious college in the galaxy despite the disapproval of everyone back home, and ending up witness to a massacre by the alien race the Meduse, but managing nonetheless to befriend one of them and make real peace with their race. In Home, she’s suffering from PTSD from that massacre as well as unaccustomed wellings of rage, so she goes home to go on pilgrimage to try and resolve some of these issues. Life has other plans for her, though. Unfortunately, while I still enjoyed this novella, where Binti was functionally a standalone story, Home ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. And the next one (which must be coming) is not here yet. So, grr.
Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay. I am in love with Kay’s writing all over again, but where he usually does either historical fantasy, thinly veiled historical fantasy, or mythically inspired fantasy, here it’s actually contemporary fantasy, with a photographer’s son stumbling into an age-old conflict in Provence - not between factions of supernatural critters, but between two men who return again and again to compete for the love of an equally eternal woman. Which would probably bother no one who wasn’t already involved, except for the fact that this woman incarnates in someone’s body. I’m not quite done, but it’s excellent so far.