Post-Nebulas, I’ve been going through and trying to clear away a lot from my shelves and TBR list, particularly given that I still had a substantial armload from the International Conference of the Fantastic in the Arts and its munificent book tables. Here’s some particular recent favorites.
- The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne Valente. Funny, fierce, and feminist. Valente gives a voice to some women who’ve got shrewd insight into and experience with the gender norms of the comic book world, including Phoenix, Harlequin, and Gwen Stacy. If you are a woman who loves comic books you should stop reading this and go find it. Fucking fantastic.
- Deadwood by Pete Dexter. This historical novel is the one the HBO series was based on, and it’s terrific, particularly if you enjoyed that series and want to revisit some of those characters. The plain style of the writing combined with a sharp eye for historical detail is lovely, and it’s a book worth savoring. There are few things on earth more disappointing than reading a regular Western when you’re hoping for a weird one, so let me emphasize again that this is straightforward, non-fantastic fiction.
- All Systems Red by Martha Wells. Far future SF with one of the most engaging first person narratives I’ve ever have the pleasure of watching in action, Wells’ independent, wry and stubborn Murderbot. Snappy and funny and yet thoroughly engaging. Alas, all too short since it’s a Kindle Single, but luckily it’s billed as the first in a series.
- The Greatcoats by Sebastian de Castell. Early on in the first book, I knew I’d be picking up the rest, and did so, quickly working my way through to the highly satisfying conclusion. Basically French musketeers and a cool magic system, with the snappy dialogue and fast-paced, high-stakes action you would expect. Very enjoyable. I should note I picked them up due a Kindle deal that’s no longer going; if your budget is limited you will find more bang for your buck elsewhere (IMO).
- Super Extra Grande by Yoss. In some ways this read like a more modern version of Keith Laumer’s Retief series, with a lot of the things about them that I loved as a teen and less of the stuff I’m not so fond of as an adult. Fast-paced and funny, and Spanglish scattered throughout made it more fun for me, but the mileage for a non-Spanish speaker may vary, I’m not sure. I picked this up because I wanted to read some Cuban science fiction; Yoss is one of the people at the forefront of that.
- Dreadnought: Nemesis by April Daniels. Superhero YA with a trans main character who is identifiable and fabulous. I’m looking forward to the next in the series. Along the same lines, I want to point to Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee, also snappy and fun. I’m so happy to see superhero fiction have become an established thing in fiction; I will happily read as much of it as our fine genre writers can produce.