An accessible read inspired by the author’s academic research and personal ancestry. Focusing on the early years of emancipation in Barbados and other Caribbean islands, RIVER SING ME HOME explores the journey of a mother whose family was fractured by slavery. Through her journey to reunite with her children, we see the ways in which people fought to bring their freedom from name into reality at massive personal risk and cost.
Ok, this novel was my first-ever read by Andre Norton, who (as I have now discovered) wrote roughly a million books and is one of the grandmothers of science fiction as we know it. YEAR OF THE UNICORN (1965) was part of her larger Witch World series, but reads just fine as a standalone. Guys, when I tell you that the phenomenal weirdness and wonderfulness of this woman’s imagination floored me, I mean it. Classic fantasy and yet experimental even by today’s standards.
P.s. There are zero unicorns in this book, but don’t let that deter you.
And Andre, I hope you are resting in peace. Your stories live on.
Rebekah Bergman’s THE MUSEUM OF HUMAN HISTORY is a spellbinding study of how people reckon with the most powerful force in our lives: time. Through touching and inventive vignettes spotlighting a handful of households inhabiting the same town, Bergman asks what any of us might risk or leverage to stop time, and the roles of our bodies, our memories, and life’s artifacts in the attempt.
Shea Ernshaw brings a painter’s touch to this twisty-turny plot joyride that takes elements of mystery, fantasy, and horror, puts them in the woods, and sees how they all get along when cut off from the outside world.
This is a strange, awkward tale of a strange, awkward man in a town where nothing ever happens, except the occassional high absurdity that gets assimilated into everyday life quite seamlessly. The humor is painfully subtle, but ever-present, and there’s a lot of the main character falling asleep with pizza on him. Reads like one of those dreams that makes sense while you’re dreaming it, but then you wake up and say– “What… was that?”
The writing in Daniel Kraus’ WHALEFALL is assertively top-tier. A visceral, blood-pumping story with perfect emotional pitch, this novel is a breathless page-turner. I especially enjoyed Kraus’ strong research base which creates a very real-feeling crisis (believe it or not, this is a realistic “swallowed by a whale” tale). Science and poetry take turns shining through interesting action writing that plunges the readers into depths of multiple kinds.
THE SEEP by Chana Porter is quiet and strange, a new utopia for a new era with new discomforts and new questions. Porter’s questing, soft narrative explores the burdens and the wisdom of resistance to easy solutions. Humor, otherworldliness, fantastic worldbuilding, and open-ended possibilities abound.
Science fiction at its absolute finest, the first book in the Murderbot Diaries series ALL SYSTEMS RED is downright delightful. A solid adventure-rescue story in its own right is enhanced into something really special with the narration of its genderless, socially anxious, reluctant hero–a robot designed to kill stuff who really just wants to binge watch a show called Sanctuary Moon.
Andrew J. Graff brings old-school adventure in his debut, RAFT OF STARS. The lovingly described northern Wisconsin landscape is the star in a book that is set in the 1990s, and honestly feels like a book that was written in the 1990s. A very nostalgic read, full of narrow escapes, miracles, and small town misfits-turned-heroes.