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I bought Barbary Station by R.E. Stearns based on the response of various advance reviewers that boiled down to “lesbian space pirates; what more could you want?” Well, evidently I want more. Barbary Station appears to be a competently written space opera involving pirates, malevolent AIs, and bionically-enhanced cyber-hacking engineers. The central protagonists are a same-sex couple in a pre-existing and utterly taken for granted relationship. But having gotten four chapters in, I have yet to find myself caring what happens to them or whether they succeed.

Spring Flowering by Farah Mendlesohn is a gentle, domestic Regency romance, more in the vein of Jane Austen with its parson’s daughters and the family dynamics of middle class families “in trade”, than in the vein of Georgette Heyer’s dashing aristocrats and gothic perils. Ann Gray’s life is disrupted by the death of her father, the village parson, and she joins the bustling household of her cousins in Birmingham where the family business manufacturing buttons, jewelry, and other small metal accessories becomes the framework of her new social life.

If Ancillary Justice was a fascinating tour in non-linear exposition, and Ancillary Sword felt like a cozy mystery set in the midst of a space opera, Ancillary Mercy struck me as an interstellar version of the folktale motif “six go through the world”. That is, a protagonist accumulates a set of unlikely and improbable allies simply due to treating those she encounters with honesty, empathy, and (if you will forgive the word) humanity, to find that those allies come through with a vengeance when the chips are down.

Somehow I failed to review this when I finished it, quite possibly because that happened in the chaos leading up to my summer travel.

This is a short piece within de Bodard’s “Dominion of the Fallen” world, falling hard on the heels of The House of Shattered Wings and I believe introducing us to a key character who will feature in The House of Binding Thorns. It goes beyond character study, giving us a tightly packaged perilous adventure (perilous from several directions) featuring not only the harsh cut-throat politics of the various Fallen houses, but the lingering hazards of the magical cataclysm that destroyed Paris--hazards that have no respect for house loyalty.

A historic fantasy featuring an ensemble of fascinating female characters--the "daughters" (in various senses) of various classics horror fiction protagonists. This is the sort of book that often leaps to the top of my to-be-read list. I liked it...but I didn’t love it, which always makes me sad. So first: why did I like it? The premise is full of promise.

One of the members of the Queer Sci Fi facebook group had a clever idea of trying to match up group members who wrote similar type of fiction for cross-promotion, on the premise that our readerships might enjoy each others’ work. I wasn’t so sure about the process because I have rather marginal interests relative to the group as a whole (which is somewhat dominated by people writing m/m, sci-fi, and works with an erotic focus). But I ended up matched with the delightful Elin Gregory whose work would be an absolutely perfect mirror for mine except that she focuses on male characters.

(If you’re unfamiliar with the phrase “the uncanny valley” in visual representation, this Wikipedia article is a useful start, especially the section on computer animation.)

The Salt Roads is a beautiful, brutal, crystalline and ambiguous novel tracing the lives of three women of the African diaspora and one mystical spirit.

(I recently did a podcast on the topic of female highwaymen in history and literature, and the motif in modern lesbian romance. This is one of several reviews resulting from my reading for that podcast.)

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