Thursday, July 21, 2022

Suffering and Greatness: She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan


At times the intrigue of Shelley Parker-Chan's She Who Became the Sun is a bit tough to follow (I needed a Dramatis Personae), but overall this is a beautifully-written exploration of gender, politics, ambition, and desire in 14th century China with some mild fantasy elements. I think there's even an interesting sort of thought experiment about Buddhist conceptions of desire and suffering to be found.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Looking for Hope on the 5th of July

Yesterday was US Independence Day. I have complicated feelings about this holiday, as I have complicated feelings about the country it celebrates. 

I’ve never really been big on conventional displays of patriotism. It all feels so jingoistic and bombastic. And there’s something a bit gauche about pretending a patch of dirt is special because I happen to live on it. 

But this doesn’t mean I don’t love my country in some sense. I love the people here, because I love humanity and part of humanity lives here, the part that most influences me and which I can influence most. 

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Cozy Alien Truckstop: The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers


Reading Becky Chambers is like having a nice cup of hot cocoa under a cozy blanket. As I said about one of her other books, it's not space opera, it's space chill-wave. But it also makes you think and feel new and interesting things. While this isn't the only science fiction book I've read with almost entirely non-human characters (Iain M. Banks's Look to Windward comes to mind), Chambers does really interesting things with this idea, like exploring ideas of otherness and forming relationships across lines of difference, and maybe the most amazing thing is that she does all this without giving up her patented coziness.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Xenobiology for Engineers: Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

I seem to be one of the few people who liked Andy Weir's Project Hail Mary more than The Martian. It's mildly spoilery to say that the xenobiological aspects are what I enjoyed the most. At other times I felt like I was reading someone showing their work on their physics homework, but if you've read The Martian you know what you're in for. To mildly plagiarize a review I saw elsewhere: if you liked The Martian, you will probably also like Project Hail Mary.