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Blog Posts from August 2023 (8)

Books Received, August 19 — August 25

26 Aug, 2023

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The Bittlemores by Jann Arden (November 2023)

A heartfelt, comic, and deeply satisfying debut novel from the #1 bestselling author, singer-songwriter, member of Canada’s Music Hall of Fame and star of her own hit TV sitcom. A little bit All Creatures Great and Small, a little bit Fargo and all Jann Arden!On mean Harp Bittlemore’s blighted farm, hidden away in the Backhills, nothing has gone right for a very long time. Crops don’t grow, the pigs and chickens stay skinny and the three aged dairy cows, Berle, Crilla and Dally, are so desperate they are plotting an escape. The one thing holding them back is the thought of abandoning young Willa, the single bright point in their life since her older sister, Margaret, ran away. But Willa Bittlemore, just turning 14, is planning her own rebellion. Something doesn’t add up in the story she’s been told about her missing sister, and she’s beginning to question if her horrible parents are even her parents at all. Just as things are really coming to a head, a bright young police officer starts investigating a cold case involving a baby stolen from a little rural hospital 28 years earlier, and Willa and the cows find out exactly how far the Bittlemores will go to protect a festering secret. Written with Jann’s trademark outrageous humour and full of her down-to-earth wisdom, The Bittlemores is a rural fairytale, a coming-of-age story and a prairie mystery all-in-one, saturated with her observations of the world she grew up in and her deep connection to the animals we exploit. This marvel of a first novel digs into how people come to be so cruel, but it also glories in the miracle of human kindness. 

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Books Received, August 12 — August 18

19 Aug, 2023


Shadow Baron by Davinia Evans (November 2023)

Siyon Velo might be acknowledged as the Alchemist. He may have even stabilized the planes and stopped Bezim from ever shaking into the sea again. But that doesn’t mean he has any idea what’s he doing-and it won’t be long before everyone knows it. Then mythical creatures once confined to operas and myths are spotted around Bezim. A djinn invades one of Zagiri’s garden parties, and whispers of a naga slithering through the Flower District are all Anahid hears at the card table. Magic is waking up in the Mundane. It’s up to Siyon to figure out a way to stop it, or everything he’s worked hard to save will come crashing down. 

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Genocide in Science Fiction

12 Aug, 2023


In commemoration of the Chengdu Worldcon’s Guests of Honour, a brief discussion of genocide in science fiction. 

To quote Article II of the United Nations’ Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
  • Killing members of the group;
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  • Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  • Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  • Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Humanity having learned some painful lessons from the 20th century, genocide is now universally deemed unfashionable, to be opposed in all circumstances … except when opposition is personally inconvenient or more important geopolitical goals are at stake. Some will stop at nothing to end genocide. Others are willing to start at nothing.

How does SF and its related fields feel about the matter, you ask? As with so many issues, unanimity is lacking. One can categorize SF’s beliefs into four broad sets by asking two questions: Is genocide justifiable? Is genocide avoidable? There are four possible answers: 

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Books Received, August 5 to August 11

12 Aug, 2023


The Canopy Keepers by Veronica G. Henry (December 2023)

What happens when nature will no longer stand by and accept its destruction? A female fire chief discovers an ancient world rooted with secrets that can save – or destroy – in the newest fantasy by Veronica G. Henry, author of Bacchanal. Beneath the forest floor, they watch… Syrah Carthan doesn’t know why she accepted a job as the first female fire chief at Sequoia National Park, where, decades earlier, a forest fire killed her parents. That day, her brother, Romelo, disappeared, as if pulled into the scorched earth itself. Syrah has always had an uncanny affinity for the natural wonders of the park she protects, but after she sanctions a prescribed burn that goes terribly wrong, she quits her position in disgrace. However, when another devastating wildfire breaks out, Syrah, reluctantly pulled back into action, discovers an unknown world that has existed underground since the beginning of time. This secret society, built around the forest’s complex root system, is now divided into two factions. One is ruled by the Keeper, the giant sequoias’ benevolent caretaker. The other by a mysterious undoer, who’s determined to wage war on humanity. Through him, nature can retaliate and wipe out the earth’s careless ravagers for good. Torn between human loyalty and preserving the delicate balance of nature, Syrah must make a choice – one that will change both her destiny and that of the world above and below forever. 

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July 2023 in Review

1 Aug, 2023


July 2023

21 works reviewed. 11 by women (52%), 8 by men (38%), 2 by a non-binary author (10%), 0 by authors whose gender is unknown (0%), and 7 by POC (33%)

2023 to Date

151 works reviewed. 85 by women (56%), 62 by men (41%), 3 by a non-binary author (2%), 1 by authors whose gender is unknown (1%), and 60 by POC (40%).

Grand Total to Date

2419 works reviewed. 1352 by women (56%), 1011 by men (42%), 37 by non-binary authors (2%), 19 by authors whose gender is unknown (1%), and 736.75 by POC (30%).

Government Types July 2023

Total 21, Not Applicable 3 (14%), Unclear 0 (0%), Anarchy 0 (0%), Pure democracy 0 (0%), Representative democracy 8 (32%), Oligarchy 9 (41%), Autocracy 1 (0%).

Government Type 2023 TD

Total 151, Not Applicable 21 (14%), Unclear 9 (6%), Anarchy 0 (0%), Pure democracy 1 (1%), Representative democracy 51 (34%), Oligarchy 62 (41%), Autocracy 7 (5%).

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August 2023 Patreon Boost!

1 Aug, 2023


Another month done, another 21 works read and reviewed. It’s weird that dance season is over but I read one fewer book in July than in June. I also didn’t get around to sorting and cataloging my stored books. At least July was less stabby than June, a trend I hope continues.

Continued thanks to those who commissioned reviews and to my legion of patrons, for whose continued support over the last nine or so years I am very grateful.

Patreon and donation links may be found here. Reviews may be commissioned here.

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