An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris
The Gunnie Rose books were an unexpected find. My mother and I have been trading books during the pandemic, since all the libraries are closed and I’m trying to buy a lot less from Amazon. Strangely enough, these books feature a pandemic too — an alternate timeline caused by the flu of 1918 which results in a fracturing of the United States. The first book sits squarely in the camp of a Weird Western, and, though the sequel lacks the pure enjoyment of the first, Harris addresses some ugly American history in a way that could cause some reflection for readers. I love Lizbeth as a character and am looking forward to the third book.
The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie
This is a book I also got from my mom, one that had been on my TBR for a while. It’s also a book that recently was nominated for Locus Award. Like Leckie’s previous work, the style and scope of this story is both cerebral and complicated. I can’t say that I enjoyed this in quite the same way as I enjoyed Ancillary Justice, but it definitely made me think. Also the main character is a trans man, and Leckie handles that representation well.
“Ryder” by Ilona Andrews
Meeting my free fiction fix at the moment is the new story tentatively titled “Ryder” that’s being posted on Ilona Andrews’ blog. If you’ve read the Kate Daniels series and are interested in a spinoff, this is the story for you. It’s set several years after the end of Kate’s adventures, and it features Julie, her daughter, on a quest to save her mom from some nebulous evil. I’ve greatly enjoyed the world-building in this — Andrews’ imagination and attention to detail never ceases to surprise me.
Dust by Elizabeth Bear
Wrapping up my round-up this time is a very weird book. Dust is part myth part science fiction, a sprawling epic on a generation ship abandoned in the eddies of a decomposing star. It’s not a recent publication — this was one of Bear’s older works, dating back to 2007, and one I’ve eyeballed for years without quite summoning the courage to dive into. There are heavy themes of inheritance and volition and sacrifice in this book, and I’m excited to see what happens later in this trilogy.