I took a break from my endless stream of romantic comedies to read some science fiction. I read one book at the suggestion of a group of long time bookternet friends and the others at the suggestion of “you bought this series on sale because you typically love the author but it’s been sitting on your Kindle unread for 5 years.” Truth be told, there are quite a few other books sitting on my Kindle that I’ve yet to tackle that were purchased in some ill-advised Cyber Monday shopping, but all readers have had those moments. Who among us does not have a stack of unread books (physical or digital) that sit in corners (real or metaphorical) unread and unloved? Every once in a while I make an attempt at rectifying the situation. All that is to say, let’s talk about some science fiction. Or fantasy? The line is blurry, let’s not think about it too hard.
The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson: Some of my favorite internet book people were discussing this novel and absolutely gushing about it, but they were really careful to avoid spoilers. I figured I needed to hurry up and read it for myself because the FOMO was real. Score one for the bookternet. This book was AMAZING. So. Freaking. Good. Thought provoking, mind bending multiverse goodness. It was full of twists and turns and reveals, none of which I saw coming. It’s not a time travel book, but it’s definitely got those vibes, so if you liked the loopy wibbly wobbly vibes of Psychology Of Time Travel but also want fascinating fantasy world-building with an added element of cautionary tale on the world’s widening wealth gap, this book will scratch that itch. I just saw that there’s going to be another book by this author set in this universe and I am PUMPED. Get yourself a copy of this book and thank me later.
Wild Seed by Octavia Butler: I generally love Octavia Butler as she is the queen of my Sci-Fi world, but her work never ceases to challenge me. I truly don’t know what to make of this book. I mean, it’s about an immortal being trying to breed a race of supernaturally talented humans for his own amusement. Doro is immortal and has spent thousands of years jumping from one body to the next. He travels the world seeking out people with special abilities to add to his “collection”, only to… Farm them, for lack of a better word. He stumbles across the first being to ever truly challenge him when he finds Anyanwu in a remote African village. (To be fair, it’s the 1600s, so pretty much every village is remote.) Anyanwu is also immortal, with the added abilities of shape-shifting and healing. Do I hate Doro? Yes, mostly. Do I love Anyanwu? Also yes… Mostly. There’s so much deeply upsetting stuff going on in this book that I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue with the series. As I was poking around, though, I read that this book was actually a prequel written after the original series, so I figured I might be more into the goings-on in a more contemporary context than I was in a historical one. Enter Mind of My Mind. (I use the term “contemporary” very loosely as this book was released in the early 80s, I believe. Still. I was born in the early 80s. The setting is easily relatable to me, seeing as I lived parts of it.)
Mind of My Mind by Octavia Butler: In an attempt to pull myself out of a WTF muddle, I decided to dive into the second book in the Patternist series. What can I say? Octavia Butler’s got a hold on me. I enjoyed this book more than the first. I mean, Doro was still there being Doro. Alas, Anyanwu lost a lot of her luster in this book, but I think that just made her a more interesting character. Like, after she quit fighting Doro she just sort of morphed into a lesser version of herself. Though perhaps I just didn’t like her as much because she wasn’t a fan of Mary, who was both problematic and awesome. I don’t want to say this book was grittier than the first one, because that one involved actual literal slavery, but the fact that this book was more modern made some of the scenes especially gruesome. I find it easier to tolerate some of the horrors of humanity when they’re also accompanied by a lack of indoor plumbing, I guess? There’s more of a remove. I spent my formative years playing Oregon Trail and therefore don’t expect all the characters to survive any given historical. I have a lower tolerance for awfulness in a more modern setting, particularly where children are involved. This book was a lot, and I’m still pretty weirded out by this series. I’ll probably take a little break before diving back in. I need a palate cleanser. Someone get me a Regency Romance, STAT!
Well, there we have it. If your science fiction isn’t disturbing on some level, is it even science fiction? What say you, Bookworms?
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