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BritMandelo has commented on (15) products.

The Secret Feminist Cabal: A Cultural History of Science Fiction Feminisms by Helen Merrick
The Secret Feminist Cabal: A Cultural History of Science Fiction Feminisms

BritMandelo, August 18, 2012

This was a satisfying book on several levels: as an academic I was thrilled, and as a feminist I was thrilled, and as an SF nerd I was thrilled. (The book acknowledges but doesn't engage as much with queer feminisms, except in the closing "where we're at now" chapter, which also engages more with race and class than the other chapters.) All of the blind spots in the text are at least accounted for and acknowledged, and honestly, it's a very fulfilling read. The predominant focus of the text is on examining the real taxonomies and activities of SF feminists and feminisms from the beginning of the genre until now, with special attention to recognizing that women didn't just "show up" in SF in the sixties: we've always been there, and we've always been doing the job.

I'd heartily recommend this book.
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Brave New Worlds by John Joseph Adams
Brave New Worlds

BritMandelo, August 17, 2012

This was a well-put-together anthology that, eight times out of ten, satisfies. There were bad stories; have you ever counted how many useless, hideous dialogue-attribution adverbs are contained in "The Minority Report?" Have you? Phillip K. Dick had interesting ideas but he was not the most talented writer in the world. The Orson Scott Card was also bland and clunky.

The good stories, though, are very good--memorable, crunchy, complicated stories about human nature and the social world. You might have read them before, but they're worth reading again. It's also interesting to see how much variety there can be in the idea of "dystopia."
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The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel
The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For

BritMandelo, August 16, 2012

This comic was a treat to read. It's at times a drama, at times a social commentary, and at times a comedy, but it's always a story, about hundreds of things. It deals with getting older, with new generations of activists coming in where you used to be, with gender, with sexuality, with partnership, with roles, with affairs and with simple things like "partner has a debt problem just like her father." It's a comic that also deals with race and class.

Bechdel did a good job with this book. I enjoyed it. Having such a large cast means getting to take on so many different themes and issues through each character. I was especially interested in, as the years went by, the growing representation/visibility of trans characters in the strip, including Jasmine's teenager. There's just so much going on in "Dykes to Watch Out For."
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Dust by Elizabeth Bear

BritMandelo, August 15, 2012

The generation-ship is not a new idea, but I adored this particular handling of it. The splintered ship's intelligence, fueled by the religious language and fervor of the original builders; the five-hundred year gap that rendered the ship itself in places dead and in places teeming with bizarre new life; the technology and the interpersonal battles--all of it tense, delightful, strange. The worldbuilding is perfect. The nature of non-binary gender on the Jacob's Ladder pleased me deeply, also; it simply is. The spectrum of sexuality and romance and affection displayed throughout is challenging in the best way, upsetting expectations and norms easily and, again, without comment.

As for the plot, it's fast and heavy, properly dense even in quieter moments, driven equally by war and danger as by interpersonal relationships. Thumbs up. The ending is quite a kick in the gut, mixing the survival of the ship with the loss of the character we've arguably been closest to throughout the narrative, so the reader has trouble sifting through their own emotions--also great.

Another thing: the epigrams are awesome. Lots to chew on, lots to think about, each chapter.
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Stories of Your Life And Others by Ted Chiang
Stories of Your Life And Others

BritMandelo, August 14, 2012

This collection--with stories spanning from 1990 to 2002--was a dense read, but thoroughly enjoyable. Where Chiang's stories work, they work, exercising the mind as thoroughly as the heart. "Stories of Your Life" is a good example of this--moving, intense, and smart. "Division by Zero" made me tear up, and it was about math.

On the other hand, a few of the stories didn't quite work for me, despite the meticulous, slow build-up to a big punch of an ending that makes some of his fiction so brilliant. For example, the endless dialogue describing the scientific theories between characters in "Seventy-Two Letters" taxed my interest in the characters to the point where I no longer cared much about the ending.

It's a delicate balance to maintain between the scientific exposition and the story, but 95% of the time, Chiang does a fine job. This is a totally worthwhile buy; great read.
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(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)

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