The Disasters | M. K. England
Summary: Like many science fiction stories, this one has the main character facing an explosive crisis from which only his perspective tells the ‘truth’. Nax and his crew of survivors must get a message to those authorities who are not teaming up to sabotage the station themselves (for fun or profit?) – it was an inside job. They know what happened during the attack and can tell their stories if only they can escape the assassins on their tail. It’s a fun romp much akin to Star Wars: A New Hope where your ability to suspend disbelief helps in accepting all the kerfuffle around you.
Recommendation: I listened to the audiobook version and really enjoyed it. The narration was excellent and kept the sense of adventure alive even when things got scary. If you enjoyed Starship Troopers (1997) and/or Halo: Forward Unto Dawn (2012), this beginning is going to feel a mite trope-ish. But that’s OK! The challenges of near escape and clearing one’s name helps us become better people.
The Book Jumper | Mechthild Glaser
Summary: Amy lives with her mom in Germany and knows very little about the rest of her family. Yet, when mom suddenly packs them up for a visit to Scotland to meet her grandmother, Amy has a great deal to learn beyond her relatives. The isolated island has secrets, including a library to be protected while working with a rival clan/family. When Amy learns how to jump into a book and experience the story around her, she goes a few extra steps beyond the norm. Is someone targeting stories for their strongest concepts?
Recommendation: We’ve all played the scenario in our head – our favorite character shows up on our doorstep and whisks us off into their universe without changing anything fundamental about us. In this case, the book jumpers can enter and move through a story without effect IF they are extremely careful. One minor change and the whole book could collapse into uselessness, even disappear. This is a translation so I am curious if the holes that felt inherent in the plot or character development were simply a difference between language and/or culture.
Ancillary Justice | Ann Leckie
Summary: Consciousness is not static in this world – the characters flex from biological animal to reprogrammed and repurposed unit to a group of minds that talk to each other spontaneously and finally a fully aware and singular entity. Not that this is how it is supposed to happen! Usually the reprogramming takes care of any lingering needs or triggers, making the unit a distinctly original being. But what happens when that doesn’t work out as expected? The (now) lone Breq is figuring that out.
Recommendation: The most incredible concept handled by Leckie in this work (I haven’t moved further into the series yet) isn’t about the warships’ intelligences getting downsized or memories removed … it’s the use of a genderless language. Take it easy on yourself for this book – Leckie attacks a LOT of assumptions about individuality, social structures, devotion and loyalty, and roles played by purpose rather than personality. It’s fascinating and will stretch your mind in ways you didn’t know it could move. The mystery being solved through the story is multifold and involved and quite riveting. I make the suggestion to start with a printed copy so you can see the words on the page before trying an audiobook – the audiobook is accomplished very well, but it gets confusing between all the different species, planet, ship, and individual names being used.