Sometimes I read the first book in a series and never go on. Other times I keep up in fits and starts. Here’s me trying to keep up. All of these deserve longer reviews, but here’s to living with reality.
The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal. Tor, 2018.
The sequel to The Calculating Stars, as mentioned in Books I Missed in 2018 for Top Ten Tuesday. It’s 1961. The moon base has been established. Elma is flying shuttles on the moon in three month rotations and missing her husband Nathaniel. Complete climate collapse on Earth is still in the near future, but as progress towards establishing a colony on Mars slows down, so does government and popular support. Elma’s shuttle, returning to Earth, is held up by angry Earth First people who are convinced that Mars will be just for wealthy white people. Elma’s response puts her in the headlights she hates so much and leads the way for another alternate history science fiction adventure. It’s filled with authentically disgusting space details, personality clashes, confronting racism, tragedy – and still includes plenty of math, science, and headlines lifted and barely altered from real history.
Exit Strategy. Murderbot Diaries Book 4 by Martha Wells. Tor, 2018.
This book concludes the series of novellas that introduced us to Murderbot, and the plot comes together with lots of bangs. Murderbot thought it was acting relatively secretly as it investigated the suspicious actions of the GrayCris corporation. But it turns out that GrayCris has noticed, and not believing Murderbot to have any personal agency, has blamed and kidnapped Mensah, Murderbot’s favorite person. Now it’s up to Murderbot to get its carefully collected evidence to a safe and useful place, rescue Mensah and the rest of the team – and figure out a place for itself in a world not built for rogue SecUnits. All of this is told with Murderbot’s characteristic sarcasm and wishing it could just go back to watching Sanctuary Moon. As Murderbot says:
“It would have been hilarious if I wasn’t about to die. It was still a little hilarious.”
The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee. Read by Moira Quirk. Harper Audio, 2018.
This companion book to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue tells the story of Monty’s sister Felicity following the events of the first book. Felicity decided not to return to her family, the finishing school and well-bred husband that would follow. She’s been living in Edinburgh, working at a bakery and trying to get accepted to medical school. But when the sweet baker proposes, she flees back to Monty in London. Soon, she’s agreed to let Sim, a North African pirate, travel with her to Switzerland in hopes of finding a doctor who would actually let her do medical work. On the way, she’s forced to confront her own prejudices, the ones that ended her relationship with her oldest childhood friend Joanna. And even more wild adventures begin after that.
Felicity is decidedly asexual – not something I’ve seen in teen books, even as Sim (and I) would have liked a romantic relationship with her. It was delightful to glimpse Monty and Percy, maybe still struggling financially, but blissfully happy together. Sim may start off paying Felicity’s way, but she is an amazing character with her own goals, sometimes aligning and sometimes conflicting with Felicity’s. All three of the women – Felicity, Sim, and Joanna – have dreams and goals that they have been told aren’t for women. But how can women succeed at games that men have designed to be won only by men? I enjoyed this even more than The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue.