Wow, another month in which I didn't do much posting. Or much writing of fiction, either fanfic or original fic. Or, you know, much of anything. (I did get a sentence or two done on the Who multiple crossover story, and I obsessively took out words and replaced them in the original fiction wip, which is, I suppose, just enough to convince the universe and myself that I'm still writing.)
I did get some reading done, and hey, here are my thoughts:
Cinderella is Dead, by Kalynn Bayron, is a young adult novel that got good reviews from a lot of people, and since I've long liked the idea of fairy tales turned on their heads, I checked it out from the library. It's a debut novel, and in my opinion it shows. Bayron has taken a compelling idea but hasn't made it a compelling story. That could just be me, but if you're trying to upend a fairy tale, using characters whose thought processes are very 21st century First World, you have to walk a very thin tightrope toward your goal of either believability or successful suspension of disbelief. I don't think she quite did it. On the other hand, she did successfully create some plot twists and turns with which I was impressed, and she handled the darker twists well. Also, our protagonist's queerness and color was well-woven into the story. If I was going to grade it, I think I'd give it a C+, but I'll bump it up to B- because it's a debut and because of those well-handled twists.
Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor was far more to my liking. The book I took out from the library contained the entire Binti trilogy, and a new Binti story (although that story must have been integrated very well into the trilogy, because I couldn't figure out where it was ETA: figured it out with the help of other reviews, and I'm an idiot). In the final pages of the first novella, I felt as if the protagonist had become more than a bit of a Mary Sue, although she hadn't seemed so in the previous pages. But within a page or two of the second novella, Binti: Home, I ditched that idea. The ongoing story including the final novella, Binti: The Night Masquerade, are simply top-notch examinations of change, wanted and unwanted, expected and unforeseen. It also examines PTSD, alienation from loved ones, a loved home, and a loved and unwelcoming birth culture. Best of all, it does it in a way that not only doesn't center Western white SF tropes, those just aren't in the picture at all. This entire trilogy is a definite A for me, and doesn't hit A+ only because of my own reaction to the end of the first novella and one or two thoughts I had about the alien species Binti becomes involved with - which is probably not fair to the trilogy.
Things that are in the TBR pile, White Fragility, still; since my appetite for non-fiction is iffy, and I don't want it to disappear. I'm also going to read Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad; and perhaps that will lead me back to White Fragility.
In other news, we've entertained at home thrice, and enjoyed each time (all of us old farts, and all of us fully vaccinated. We also have a date on Memorial Day to visit with a young couple (well, comparatively young; they have teenage daughters, both of who are awesome) who got in touch with us. They are favorite people for both of us, and are all fully vaccinated, so hurrah for seeing people - and the bottom half of their faces - in person again. Our good friend Dr. Gonzo and her husband Dr. Bob were our most recent guests, and Dr. Gonzo said it felt as if the previous year hadn't taken place, since it felt as if there had been no time between our last social visits. I understand what she meant, even though all of us agreed that the world has indeed changed.
Finally, I've discovered a new musician, Beverly Glenn-Copeland. His stories are remarkable journeys* , and his music is lovely. The fact that he moved to Canada, and played piano for decades on Mr. Dress Up, and lives in New Brunswick, is extra fun. He's a Buddhist and I'm not, nor do I believe many of its core beliefs. I also have a bit of an allergy to some of the sorts of New Age woo-wooisms to which he subscribes - and yet his songs and music are good for my heart. Here's just one piece.
* The them story says that he lived in my home province of Nova Scotia; but all the pieces I unearthed said he and his wife live next door in New Brunswick, albeit on thee NB/Nova Scotia border.
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