Queer*Welten 06/2021

Queer*Welten is a queer-feminist fantasy and scifi magazine, edited by Judith Vogt, Kathrin Dodenhoeft and Lena Richter. Issue 6 contains three short stories and an essay.
Finished on: 27.8.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other issues.]

This issue of Queer*Welten is probably not the strongest issue they published so far, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things to like in it, not at all. It’s definitely a good read and the short stories are so different, I assume that at least one will appeal to everybody.

The magazine cover showing the drawing of Black trans man in shorts and an open pink jacket. He is wearing a helmet that could be for water or for space, behind him is a glowing jellyfish and stars or waterbubbles.
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Storm Echo (Nalini Singh)

Storm Echo is the sixth novel of the Psy-Changeling Trinity Series (or the 21st novel of the Psy-Changeling Series) by Nalini Singh.
Finished on: 21.8.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the Psy-Changeling series.]

Content Note: drug abuse/addiction, child abuse/neglect

Plot:
Ivan Mercant is a security specialist, making it his business to prepare for every eventuality. But he couldn’t prepare for running into an intriguing changeling in the woods while on a training. He and Lei spend beautiful days together, but after Ivan tells Lei about a dangerous, always hungry part of his abilities that he can probably not keep in check forever, Lei fails to make their meeting. Devastated, Ivan accepts her decision to stay away, even after he finds her gravely injured in an attack – and loses track of her again. But when they run into each other a third time, this time with Lei in a bad state, including partial memory less that means she can’t actually remember him, and on a mission to kill the alpha of the DarkRiver leopard pack, neither Ivan, nor Lei’s cat half are willing to let go of each other.

Storm Echo not only has a lovely couple in Lei and Ivan, it also pushes the overarching plot forward quite a bit, balancing the comforting tropiness of the series with exciting new developments and making it very satisfying to read.

The book cover showing the face of a man with blue eyes in front of a starry sky.
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Wilder Girls (Rory Power)

Wilder Girls is the first novel by Rory Power.
Finished on: 1.8.2022

Content Note: suicide, self harm, starvation

Plot:
Hetty, Byatt and Reese are students at the Raxter school for girls. The school is located on Raxter island and pretty much the only thing on that island. For the past 18 months, Raxter island has been hit by the Tox – a sickness that has been changing the animals and the people on the island. At least the people who survived it. Hetty has lost an eyes. Byatt grew a second spine. Reese has a claw. What hasn’t changed is the friendship between the three, as they wait to be released from quarantine on the island, to be cured. But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty is done waiting, even if it means breaking all the rules.

Wilder Girls reminded me a lot of Annihilation, though there is much more emphasis on body horror here and the two novels are far from alike (apart from a very changed nature). There is just this sense of unsettled strangeness that they both work with. In any case, I found myself entirely engrossed by Wilder Girls.

The book cover showing a young girl, hair covering one eye. Her face is drawn in a spiral with gaps and in those gaps we can see flowers.
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Shape Me (Melanie Vogltanz)

Shape Me is a novel by Melanie Vogltanz. It has no English translation as far as I am aware.
Finished on: 29.6.2022

Content Note: animal cruelty, (critical treatment of) fatmisia

Plot:
Thanks to body sharing technology, those who can afford it, can hand off their bodies to be brought into shape by personal trainers, while they can enjoy the trainers’ bodies. Given the potential for abuse of body swapping, it is heavily guarded. Tess Trimm is one of the trainers, and she takes her job very seriously. She doesn’t do it for the unlimited calory supply that trainers get. Unlimited calory supply is something that Nena Jean can only dream of. Recently, it’s been difficult to get enough calories to feed her cats. But that’s only the begining of Nena’s troubles. One day, she wakes up to find that her body isn’t her own anymore. She needs to find out how this could have happened – and how she could get her body back.

Shape Me is a quick read with interesting characters, but I have to admit that I was looking for a bit more in terms of criticism of fatmisia than the book has given me. Still, I found it engaging.

The book cover showing two women standing back to back, one fat, one thin.
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Adrift in Starlight (Mindi Briar)

Adrift in Starlight is the first novel in the Halcyon Universe series by Mindi Briar.
Finished on: 18.6.2022
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give away.]

Content Note: (for this review) misgendering, acemisia, eugenics; for the novel you can find CNs in the book.

Plot:
Tai is a courtesan, and they are very good at their job. That’s why they get hired by actor Xander Bose. Only he doesn’t want to hire them for himself, but for his fiancé Aisha who he feels needs a bit of loosening up. With the money Xander offers, Tai just can’t afford to say no. But they soon realize that Aisha – a career-focused historian with a touch aversion – may not be easily seduced. When Tai comes to the museum opening of the exhibition on insectoid aliens that Aisha curated, things take a very unexpected turn for both of them, though.

I really enjoyed Adrift in Starlight. It’s a quick, sweet queer romance in space that gives us a nice ending for Aisha and Tai, while hinting that there is more to come in this world. Absolutely lovely.

The book cover showing a femme blond person reaching for a Black woman in front of a pink planet.
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Black Canary: Breaking Silence (Alexandra Monir)

Black Canary: Breaking Silence is a novel by Alexandra Monir. It is part of the DC Icons novels.
Finished on: 16.4.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other DC Icons novels.]

Content Note: cissexism/gender plague

Plot:
Dinah Lance lives in Gotham City under the rule of the Owl Council who have made sure that the women in Gotham City don’t have a voice – figuratively, but also literally: singing is outlawed for women, and has been made physically impossible, much to Dinah’s chagrin. She dreams of singing, and of the one time she is sure she remembers hearing a girl sing when she was a child. When she and her friends Ty and Mandy try to find out more about the female singers of the past, Dinah gets in deep trouble though, drawing the attention of the Owl Council, with worse consequences only avoided through the intervention of her cop father Larry. Dinah should be keeping her head down under the circumstances, but with an old friend of her dead mother, Barbara Gordon, making an appearance, and new and very cute student Oliver Queen arriving at her school, Dinah can’t help but continue to question the way things are. And maybe she can find her voice after all.

Black Canary: Breaking Silence takes a very different approach from the other novels in the DC Icons series so far, setting its story decades in the future in an dystopian version of Gotham. While that’s interesting, a lot of it seems a little half-baked and not quite thought through, making it a little disappointing despite its obvious(ly) feminist mission.

The book cover showing a drawn blond girl with bandages across her mouth, a black canary on the shoulder of her torn leather jacket.
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Mixed Signals (Alyssa Cole)

Mixed Signals is the third and final novel in the Off the Grid trilogy by Alyssa Cole.
Finished on: 29.12.2021
[Here are my reviews of the other two novels.]

Plot:
The last four years, the world has been in a state of emergency, but things are slowly getting back to normal. For Maggie Seong this means that she may finally leave the house she’s been holed up in with her parents and partly her siblings and go to college. Accompanying her to college is Edwin Hernandez, a friend of her brother, and the man Maggie wanted to lose her virginity with. Only that Edwin has rejected her and things are a bit uncomfortable now. Things get weirder still when Maggie arrives in college and finds that her per-catastrope internet boyfriend Devon is there, too. Maggie has a lot to figure out.

Mixed Signals was probably the book I liked least in the series, though I really liked Maggie. But it’s still a really nice, quick and engaging read.

The book cover showing an East-Asian woman looking over her shoulder.
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Signal Boost (Alyssa Cole)

Signal Boost is the second novel in the Off the Grid trilogy by Alyssa Cole.
Finished on: 31.10.2021
[Here’s my review of the first novel in the series.]

Content Note: suicidal thoughts, mention of rape and assault

Plot:
After electricity cut off everywhere, and with it all kind of communication systems, John and his best friend Arden made their way to his parents’ cabin. Now they have settled into a more or less comfortable routine with John’s parents and his siblings. Well, as comfortable as the end of the world can probably get. Until one night, John surprises a guy as he tries to steal their tomatoes. Mykhail wasn’t as lucky in the apocalypse as them, but as an astrophycisist he brings information of what might have happened – and a plan of how he may be able to help. For that, he needs to trek to his old university. John, who felt nothing but useless recently and who finds Mykhail very attractive indeed, is determined to go along and see if he can’t help either.

Signal Boost is a quick read that draws you in and makes you root for the characters. The plot itself is a little uneven, but as it takes a backseat to the characters and their relationship, I didn’t mind that too much.

The book cover shwoing an Asian man in front of a starry night sky.
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Queer*Welten 05/2021

Queer*Welten is a queer-feminist fantasy and scifi magazine, edited by Judith Vogt, Kathrin Dodenhoeft and Lena Richter. Issue 5 contains three short stories and an essay.
Finished on: 5.10.2021
[Here are my reviews of the other issues.]

I’m really happy with my Queer*Welten subscription. Each magazine is different in tone and style, and there’s always something to discover. There’s really nothing more you could hope for.

The magazine cover showing a painting of a futuristic greenhouse with a cupola, a pool and pillars with plants winding around them.
Read more about each of the stories

Dune [Frank Herbert]

Dune is the first novel in the Dune series by Frank Herbert.
Finished on: 23.9.2021
[Here’s my review of the 2021 movie adaptation.]

Content Note: fatmisia, colonialism, racism, misogyny, rape, homomisia, eugenics

Plot:
Paul is the son and heir of Duke Leto Atreides and Bene Gesserit Jessica. By decree of the Emperor, the Atreides clan just received stewardship of the desert planet Arrakis, home to the valuable spice. That means relieving the Harkonnens, led by their Baron, of their post there – and the resulting wealth. If the Harkonnens hadn’t already been the Atreides’ mortal enemies, they would be now. Just before the Atreides family is moving to Arrakis, the Reverend Mother of the Bene Gesserit comes to test Paul, seeing great potential in him, whose fate seems to be intertwined not only with Arrakis, but the entire universe.

I pretty much hated Dune, and I’m not entirely sure why I struggled my way through it to actually finish it. I’m just very, very sure that I will not be continuing with the series.

The book cover showing a man wrapped in a cloak in front of an orange background. Behind him is a blue moon, his eyes also are a shining blue.

[SPOILERS]

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