November will soon be upon us, so it must be time to give an October update on recent reads. I’ve been continuing with a lot of sci fi and fantasy, and an unusual number of rereads as well.
I continued the Murderbot series by Martha Wells, reading Network Effect. The longest in the series so far, I think it was also my favorite. The trouble with the novellas is that I just get oriented and then they’re done! This one had time to explore something more complex, as Murderbot, our non-human hero, continues to grow and develop.
I’ve begun rereading the Fairyland series by Catherynne Valente – these were great favorites a few years ago, and I was rereading them every fall when each new one came out. But now I haven’t read them in five years or more! It’s been very fun to come back to this world and I’m enjoying again the absolutely gorgeous writing style. I’ve read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland (in a Ship of Her Own Making) and The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland (and Led the Revels There), and am mid-way through The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland (and Cut the Moon in Two).
I also reread My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares. A story about reincarnation, I think my read last month, Meet Me in Another Life, inspired me to pick this one up again. I loved it the first time around, but it didn’t hold up as well this time. I still love the concept – Daniel remembers all of his lives, since about 500 AD, and is always searching for Sophia, who never remembers him. The stories of his past are still excellent, but the present-day story they intercut with felt very dragged out. The internet tells me this was meant to be a (still uncompleted) trilogy, which may explain a lot. I’d read the second one in a heartbeat if it was available!
I next read On a Pale Horse by Piers Anthony – this was not a reread, but a return to an author I haven’t read in a long time. Many years ago I read probably thirty books in his Xanth series, but never read any of his other books. I’m sorry to report I didn’t like this one at all. Set in what seems to be our world but with magic, Zane plans to kill himself but, when Death comes to take him, panics and shoots Death instead. By killing Death, he has to become the new Death. It’s a great premise – but I didn’t like what he did with it. There are some elements of light fantasy, but also a lot of fairly clunky philosophizing about life, death, and the meaning of good and evil, and a few genuinely disturbing and horrifying moments too. It’s also dated (almost forty years old) with a definite tinge of sexism, and a couple offensive conclusions about the sins of children. So! Do not recommend, but highly look forward to discussing at my next book club meeting (both of them, actually – one book club suggested it, but the other will probably be interested also).
After that, I moved on to A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers, which was absolutely perfect, especially as a follow-up read. I read the first book in this (so far?) duology recently, and this was just absolutely lovely. Set in a future utopia where everyone is kind, supportive and very concerned about nature, a monk and a robot travel around to meet people and discuss the meaning of life. It’s hard to describe but just wonderful.
I have a couple more reincarnation novels lined up, and the rest of the Fairyland series to reread – so we’ll see how November’s reading goes!