January was a pretty good month for reading. I finished three genre novels, following the three I read at the end of 2021. Having my head in this space feels really good, and I find that my own writing is easier, and occasionally improved, by focusing on genre works for extended periods of time.
The down-side is that I spent so much time reading these books (and the ones which I did not finish by the end of the month) that I completely neglected to read any short prose other than news articles and blog posts.
- Roanhorse, Rebecca, Black Sun (2022.01.06) – I really liked this book. Until now I had not read a fantasy story – or indeed any fiction at all, that I recall, that was centered in pre-colonial America. The characters are vivid and immediately interesting, the descriptions are both grand and intimate. Roanhorse writes very well and I look forward to reading the sequel, Fevered Star.
- Muir, Tamsyn, Harrow the Ninth (2022.01.18) – I loved this book! Harrow was as good a read as its predecessor Gideon the Ninth. It was a little slower-paced, but this was mostly due to the density of the world building and depth of characterizations. Muir is very good at exploring the mental and emotional states of her characters, and shows distinct empathy toward even the least sympathetic of the necromancers in this story. I definitely would not want to live in the universe of the Locked Tomb, but it is a fun place to visit on occasion.
- Mandel, Emily St. John, Station Eleven (2022.01.20) – I finished the Subterranean Press edition of Station Eleven while camped out in a hotel room the night before the 2022 ConFusion Science Fiction Convention. To read a story of the survivors of a pandemic touring the Great Lakes, while waiting for the start of a conference taking place in Michigan the middle of a pandemic, put my mind in an interesting place. Mandel writes beautifully. Her characters are well-defined and consistent, and the story immediately pulled me in. Moments of sharp clarity are mixed with hints of the state of the larger world, and the pages are full of the wonder and terror of living in a time when over 99% of humanity has suddenly died. Highly recommended.