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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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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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Books Received, July 22 — July 28

29 Jul, 2023


Mislaid in Parts Half-Known by Seanan McGuire (January 2024)

Portals and danger, and a girl who can find both in the next book in the Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Wayward Children series from Seanan McGuire. 

Antsy is the latest student to pass through the doors at Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children. 

When the school’s (literally irresistible) mean girl realizes that Antsy’s talent for finding absolutely anything may extend to doors, Antsy is forced to flee in the company of a small group of friends, looking for a way back to the Shop Where the Lost Things Go to be sure that Vineta and Hudson are keeping their promise. 

Along the way, they will travel from a world which hides painful memories that cut as sharply as its beauty, to a land that time wasn’t yet old enough to forget — and more than one student’s life will change forever. 

Mislaid in Parts Half-Known is a story that reminds us that getting what you want doesn’t always mean finding what you need. 

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Books Received, July 15 — July 21

22 Jul, 2023


Infinity Alchemist by Kacen Callender (February 2024)

Infinity Alchemist is a spellbinding novel about a quest that leads three young alchemists toward unexpected love and unimaginable power. 

With their signature prowess” (FIYAH) and unbridled creativity” (New York Times Book Review), acclaimed author Kacen Callender turns their formidable skill to young adult fantasy for the first time. 

For Ash Woods, practicing alchemy is a crime. 

Only an elite few are legally permitted to study the science of magic — so when Ash is rejected by Lancaster College of Alchemic Science, he takes a job as the school’s groundskeeper instead, forced to learn alchemy in secret. When he’s discovered by the condescending and brilliant apprentice Ramsay Thorne, Ash is sure he’s about to be arrested — but instead of calling the reds, Ramsay surprises Ash by making him an offer: Ramsay will keep Ash’s secret if he helps her find the legendary Book of Source, a sacred text that gives its reader extraordinary power. 

As Ash and Ramsay work together and their feelings for each other grow, Ash discovers their mission is more dangerous than he imagined, pitting them against influential and powerful alchemists — Ash’s estranged father included. Ash’s journey takes him through the cities and wilds across New Anglia, forcing him to discover his own definition of true power and how far he and other alchemists will go to seize it. 

Featuring trans, queer, and polyamorous characters of color, Infinity Alchemist is the hugely anticipated young adult fantasy debut from the extraordinary author of Felix Ever After, King and the Dragonflies, Queen of the Conquered and more. 

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Books Received, July 8 to July 14

15 Jul, 2023


Tonight, I Burn by Katharine J. Adams (November 2023)

A thorn witch with the power to walk between the realms of Life and Death finds herself at the center of a magical rebellion — and a dangerous romance — that could destroy her coven and her soul in this dark and decadent debut. Thorns, Tides, Embers, Storms, and Ores. All five covens are bound in servitude to the tyrant High Warden of Halstett. Penny Albright is a daughter of the thorn coven, forced to patrol the veil between the realms of Life and Death. Each night, one thorn witch — and only one — must cross the veil by burning at the stake. Each morning, that witch draws on their magic to return. Failure to follow the rules risks the veil and risks them all. But one morning, Penny’s favorite sister Ella doesn’t return. And that night, determined to find her, Penny breaks the rules. She burns in secret. And she discovers that all isn’t as it seems in Life or Death. Her journey leads her to Malin, a devastating lord with too many secrets; to Alice, a mysterious captive prophet; and to a rebellion brewing in the shadows beneath the city. And as Penny’s world splits, she’ll face a devastating choice. Because it’s not just her sister’s life that hangs in the balance. It’s the fate of all magic. All it takes is one witch — and one spark — to set the world ablaze. 

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Books Received, June 30 — July 7

8 Jul, 2023


A Winter’s Rime: A Novel by Carol Dunbar (September 2023)

A harrowing and emotional novel set in rural Wisconsin — A Winter’s Rime explores the impact of generational trauma, and one woman’s journey to find peace and healing from the violence of her past. Mallory Moe is a twenty-five-year-old veteran Army mechanic, living with her girlfriend, Andrea, and working overnights at a gas station store while figuring out what’s next. Andrea’s off-grid cabin provides a perfect sanctuary for Mallory, a synesthete with a hypersensitivity to sound that can trigger flashbacks from her childhood. The getaway that’s largely abandoned during the off season starts out idyllic, until Andrea’s once-loving behavior turns controlling and abusive, and Mallory once again finds herself not wanting to go home. After a particularly disturbing altercation, Mallory escapes into the subzero night and stumbles into Shay, a teenage girl, injured and asking for help. But it isn’t long before she realizes that Shay isn’t the only one who needs saving. A story about sisterhood and second chances, A Winter’s Rime looks to nature to find what it can teach us about bearing hardship and expanding our capacity to forgive — not just others, but ourselves. 

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July 2023 Patreon Boost!

1 Jul, 2023


Another 22 works read and reviewed, despite the considerable distraction presented by dance season and other events. On the plus side, I now have a new benchmark against which to compare challenging encounters in Hagey Hall. May nobody feel a need to exceed it.

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. Onward to what I hope will be a less exciting July.

Next big project: reboxing and properly cataloging the thousand or so books still in storage at my brother’s farm.

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