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- The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson (1954). Influential epic fantasy published the same year as The Fellowship of the Ring, so it’s a Norse-based fantasy that isn’t Tolkien-derivative. Less good at vatic speech than JRRT: it contains 38 uses of the word “quoth”; it feels like more.
- Bloodchild and Other Stories (2nd ed.) by Octavia E. Butler (2005). Science fiction short story collection. My first experience of Butler, who’s better known at novel length, so I can’t say what’s indicative or emblematic, especially since it’s also a very short collection.
- The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley (2019). Science fiction novel; future soldiers experience time-shifts as their teleportation technology goes awry. Breathtaking, grunt-level, visceral mix of Slaughterhouse-Five and The Forever War. Recommended.
- The Bonjour Effect by Julie Barlow and Jean-Benoît Nadeau (2016). Book explaining the conversation codes and rituals in French society. (Speaking the language isn’t enough: I know this from experience.)
- The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria by Carlos Hernandez (2016). Short story collection, a mix of genres from science fiction to fantasy to mainstream. Enjoyed very much; recommended.
- Dough: Simple Contemporary Bread by Richard Bertinet (2005). Another TV cookbook; ongoing research into breadmaking.
- Infomocracy by Malka Older (2016). Science fiction doesn’t do politics well, especially democratic politics on a global level: far too many emperors and dictators for my liking. Infomocracy imagines a world-level electoral system; the plot stress-tests the system to the point of failure.
- Star Maps: History, Artistry, and Cartography (3rd ed.) by Nick Kanas (2019). Reviewed for Calafia, the journal of the California Map Society. Link forthcoming.
- Scores: Reviews 1993-2003 by John Clute (2003). Collection of reviews and critical essays.
- Instances of Head-Switching by Teresa Milbrodt (2020, forthcoming).
Review in production. Update: Reviewed in Strange Horizons.
- Bearded Women: Stories by Teresa Milbrodt (2011). The inner lives and struggles of circus freaks, who are treated with sensitivity and humanity. Read as background for the above review.
- Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (2019). Mexican flapper-era road trip novel in which a poor relation is forced to team up with a trapped Mayan god. Very neat; recommended.
- On the Road with Gardner Dozois: Travel Narratives 1995-2000 by Gardner Dozois (2019). Dozois bookended convention appearances with vacations, about which he wrote up trip reports. Some moments, but pedestrian overall.
- The Quantum Garden by Derek Künsken (2019). Second of a series of quantum-entangled space opera capers set in a universe controlled by Quebeckers from Venus, this one involving time travel. Fun; has symptoms of being a middle book.
- Lent by Jo Walton (2019). In real life, Ficino suggested that Savonarola was possessed by a demon; Jo runs with this idea in Lent, a fantasy novel that is basically the Renaissance Florence version of Groundhog Day—which should be enough to tell you whether this book is for you.