The month started off right with Alien, the novelization of the movie by Alan Dean Foster. Some part of my brain thinks I read this a million years ago, but so much of the book was unfamiliar, I have to wonder. The book does a great job of adding more flesh to this entire universe, and sets up a couple different scenarios with the xenomorph than we see in the film.
I picked up Ammonite by Nicola Griffith next (One-word Titles That Start With A for $200, Alex). It’s a book I have avoided for years because the planet is called Jeep. Absurd, I thought — and of course there’s an explanation (it’s a nickname of sorts, a corruption of the planet’s actual name), but still, JEEP. My brain twitches. I have to wonder if I would have liked this book more had I read it closer to its publication; in some ways, I feel I’ve read so much beyond this book that the territory it covers — a planet wholly of women — didn’t feel that new or extraordinary. The heroine’s story felt predictable — outsider explores alien civilization, becomes part of said civilization. Okay. I also wasn’t very sold on how the women reproduced. It’s more magic than science and didn’t win me over.
Since I had it close to hand, I picked up The Gate to Women’s Country by Sheri S. Tepper next. Another society where there is a clear and intentional divide between women and men. I also did not love this book — I never got a good image of the society, because there are hints that it is post-apocalyptic, and yet it is steeped in Greek culture, and I was surprised (confused?) about how so much of that had survived when other things/concepts had not. The story seemed, again, predictable, leaving me to wonder if this was another book I’d missed the “ideal reader window” on.
Speaking of ideal reader windows, I constantly wonder if I just missed it for Neil Gaiman’s fiction as a whole. His stuff is okay, but never knocks my socks off — friends love his work, whereas I tend to like his nonfiction better. His novels often seem overly simple and nostalgic; nothing wrong with those, but let’s take The Ocean at the End of the Lane as an example. Our Hero doesn’t DO much of anything in this book — all things happen TO him; worse, he’s viewing the events of his childhood as an adult, so it’s not necessarily the most active story to begin with. How might this story be from Lettie’s POV?
Giallo Fantastique broke me out of the rut where I didn’t like anything I was reading; this is an anthology, edited by Ross Lockhart, and does contain a story by me. Beyond that nonsense (which is really great and you should read it now), the stories here are beautifully strange and creepy, drawing on both genres referenced in the title. I am pleased to be a part of it — if you like uniquely disturbing short fiction, this is for you!
I am wrapping up May with The Magician’s Mistake by Katherine Sparrow. I had the great good luck to work with Katherine on a short piece we bought at Shimmer. Katherine is venturing into this new series, with novella-length adventures concerning Morgan le Fay. Yeah, that Morgan le Fay! She lives in Seattle and runs a magic shop and hijinks come calling. I find myself wishing this were longer and deeper in terms of story and characters both, but if you are looking for a quick and snappy read, reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this series will delight you. There are five novellas at present.