Radio Silence (Alyssa Cole)

Radio Silence is the first novel in the Off the Grid Trilogy by Alyssa Cole.
Finished on: 16.7.2021

Content Note: threat of rape

Plot:
Arden and John were roommates in Rochester, New York when something happened that turned the whole world upside down – no more electricity, no more internet, no information on what is going on. It has been a few weeks and things have gone from bad to worse, so the two decide to hike to the Canadian border where John’s family has a cabin. John hopes to meet them there and that life in the countryside is still a bit safer than in the city. But just before they reach the cabin, they are attacked. Fortunately, John’s gorgeous brother Gabriel comes to the rescue. Navigating this new life isn’t easy, and definitely not made easier by Arden’s attraction to Gabriel, or Gabriel’s controling tendencies.

Radio Silence was a really good read – I practically read it in one sitting and enjoyed it all the while. Good characters, nice setting and a main pairing that has excellent chemistry – nothing more I could ask for.

The book cover showing a young Black woman looking at the camera.
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Superman: Dawnbreaker (Matt de la Peña)

Superman: Dawnbreaker is the fourth DC Icons novel, this one written by Matt de la Peña.
Finished on: 13.7.2021
[Here are my reviews of the other DC Icons novels.]

First, let me just say that I wasn’t aware of the sexual harrassment accusations against de la Peña, or I would have steered clear of the book and definitely not have spent any money on it. I only just learned about it when I googled him for this review. So, please think carefully before you throw any money at him.

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism

Plot:
Clark Kent would be a normal teenager in Smallville – if it wasn’t for the fact that he has superhuman powers. He has always had them, not knowing why or how, but now they’re getting stronger. As does his urge to help, even though heroics run counter to his parents’ plea that he keeps his powers under wraps. When he hears about people disappearing from Smallville from his classmate Gloria Alvarez, he asks his best friend and school reporter Lana Lang for help figuring out what is going on.

Superman: Dawnbreaker is a slightly disappointing take on Superman, I thought. The character’s potential remained untapped for me, although I did appreciate it that the book talks a lot about racism and the precarious situation of (Mexican) immigrants.

The book cover shwoing a young boy with glasses wearing a red hoodie and a backpack in front of a field that is hit by lightning. In front of him is the Superman symbol.
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Queer*Welten 03/2020

Queer*Welten is a queer-feminist fantasy and scifi magazine, edited by Judith Vogt, Kathrin Dodenhoeft and Lena Richter. Issue 3 contains two short stories, a comic, an essay and a mix of several short pieces in different forms about heroes.
Finished on: 12.7.2021
[Here are my reviews of the other issues.]

The third issue of Queer*Welten collects yet again different perspectives and voices within SFF that both talk about and show how different SFF could be if it wasn’t just a white cis dude club. I really like how they always manage to include so many different facets of the issues they talk about – this issue is no different in that regard, but a lot different from what SFF often offers.

The magazine cover showing a drag queen astronaut with blue skin.
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The Trouble with Time Travel (ed. by Catherine Valenti, Laurie Gienapp)

The Trouble with Time Travel is a short story collection edited by Catherine Valenti and Laurie Gienapp.
Finished on: 6.7.2021
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]

I like time travel stories, so this anthology sounded very nice. As usual with anthologies, the quality between stories varies a little, though overall I’d say that it is pretty good, albeit not great, here. Definitely good enough to check it out – you’ll probably finde one or the other story you like here.

The book cover showing a man with a walking stick walking across a cloud towards a huge clock. Clouds, man and clock are all floating in the universe.
Read more about each of the stories

Queer*Welten 02/2020

Queer*Welten is a queer-feminist fantasy and scifi magazine, edited by Judith Vogt, Kathrin Dodenhoeft and Lena Richter. Issue 2 contains three short stories, a comic and an essay.
Finished on: 22.6.2021
[Here’s my review of the first issue.]

Queer*Welten again offers us a broad range of what SFF has to offer, though in this issue, I think I liked the essay best. The three stories weren’t bad, but just didn’t work for me as well as the essay. The comic that was included isn’t actually part of the SFF spectrum, but it fits the mission of the magazine, so I didn’t mind that. Looking forward to the next issue.

The magazine cover showin five planets painted in the colors of different ride flags. Two entirely black hands, barely noticeable in front of the universe background, are juggling the planets.
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This Is How You Lose the Time War (Amal El-Mohtar, Max Gladstone)

This Is How You Lose the Time War is an epistolary novella by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone.
Finished on: 04.6.2021

Plot:
Red is an agent of the Commandant, Blue is an agent of Garden, two sides in a war that spans all times. It is both Red’s and Blue’s job to make sure that certain events happen or don’t happen in the course of time to benefit their respective sides. After one of these missions, Red finds a letter on the battlefield. A letter from Blue. A letter taunting her. Red hesitates at first, but then replies and the ensuing back-and-forth between two enemy agents turns them into something else.

It took me a bit to get into This is How You Lose the Time War, but once I did, I absolutely loved it. It’s a beautifully written and inventive story that takes you somewhere else.

The book cover showing two birds, one red, one blue, standing with their claws to each other. Both birds are cut in several pieces, with the pieces being slightly out of alignment.
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ReV (Madeline Ashby)

ReV is the third and final novel in the Machine Dynasty by Madeline Ashby.
Finished on: 9.4.2021
[Here are my reviews of the other novels in the series.]

Plot:
Amy’s decisions have changed the world and the relationships between humans and vNs forever. Now Amy’s grandmother Portia basically runs free in the world to do whatever she pleases to humans, and what she pleases is rarely something nice. Humanity is therefore gearing up its efforts to get rid of vNs. Meanwhile Amy is in relative safety in Mecha with her family and is trying to come up with a new plan for them all. The question is is whether Portia is actually part of her family, or just a threat.

I’ve been waiting for the conclusion to the trilogy for nearly a decade and now it’s finally here. And while I did enjoy it was more than just a little, I think I was expecting a bit more from the novel, especially considering how long I waited.

The book cover showing a female face that looks half human, half robot beneath a glass space helmet.
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Re-Read: iD (Madeline Ashby)

iD is the second Machine Dynasty novel by Madeline Ashby.
Finished on: 26.3.2021
[Here is my first review.]
[Here is my review of the first Machine Dynasty novel.]

Content Note: rape

Plot:
Javier should be happy, living on Amy’s island with Amy and his sons. But somehow he is still ill at ease, especially since Amy refuses to disengage his failsafe, leaving him vulnerable to humans still. And then just that is used against him and makes his entire world falls apart, leaving Javier to try and pick up the pieces of their lives.

iD really delves into the consent issues that were already raised in the first novel and considers them from every angle. It’s thoughtful and interesting, but it’s also simply a good read, even if there were a couple of transition issues.

The book cover showing the face of a man surrounded by black shards and machinery.
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Re-Read: vN (Madeline Ashby)

vN is the first novel in the Machine Dynasty series by Madeline Ashby.
Finished on: 6.3.2021
[Here’s my first review.]

Content Note: child abuse, pedophilia

Plot:
Amy is a von Neumann machine who lives with her (human) father and her (vN) mother. She’s growing up slowly – which is unusual for vNs – and very sheltered. That is until her (vN) grandmother Portia shows up for her kindergarden graduation and attacks not only a kindergardener (which should be impossible due to the failsafe that immediately destroys vNs when they see a human hurt), but also Amy’s mother. In her desperation, Amy eats Portia and then she finds herself on the run, suddenly grown up and with Portia on a partition of her harddrive.

I read vN for the first time pretty soon after it came out and loved it. I read the second part iD not long after that, and then I had to wait for the third part to come out. And it finally did (7 years later), so I decided to revisit the first two books before completing the story. And I’m happy to report that the books still holds up.

The book cover showing a woman's worried face surrounded by machinery. A part of her skin is missing, beneath it we can see more metal.
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The Knife of Never Letting Go (Patrick Ness)

The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first novel in the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness.
Finished on: 19.2.2021

Content Note: cissexism, animal abuse, colonialism

Plot:
Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown, a settlement town on another planet. When the human settlers arrived, they waged a war against the original inhabitants of the planet and they struck back with a weaponized virus that killed all women and girls, and gave the men and animals telepathy. Todd grew up knowing nothing but the Noise of the men and animals around him, and as the youngest settler is just about to reach adulthood. But one day he is out and about with his dog Manchee and finds a quiet spot in the Noise. Disturbed, he returns home where his guardians Ben and Cillian turn his entire life upside down, send him away and hint at the fact that Todd doesn’t know the whole story. From one moment to the next, Todd finds himself on the run, but how can you run when everyone can hear your thoughts?

I bought The Knife of Never Letting Go many years ago and never got around to reading it. Now with a movie adaptation coming out, I decided to give it a go, although by now I had started to see the premise of the book very critically. Given how much I loved A Monster Calls, I didn’t want to give up on it prematurely, but maybe I should have. The book really didn’t work for me.

The book cover showing a red knife on black background.

[SPOILERS]

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