Angie’s next mission: Welcome to the future

By: Angie Haddock

Welcome to 2021! (And it couldn’t come too soon, right?)

For the last half year, I had set myself a challenge of reading a biography a month. I did a little more than that, as I actually reviewed eight of them for this blog.

But, I did like the idea of working through one theme at a time – even if I still do read other books at the same time. So, I have set myself a new goal for January – June of this year: Diverse Sci-Fi.

Science Fiction was one of my first loves, and I read quite a bit when I was a teen. In recent years, I’ve heard a lot about various authors writing within the Afrofuturism sphere – admittedly, I heard about a lot of them through listening to the Levar Burton Reads podcast.

(Momentary break to recognize what a legend he is, in both reading and sci-fi.)

So my list of authors to read from this subgenre has grown. Time to tackle that list!

I have not decided which books I’ll be reading every month yet, but I do know that I’ll be starting with “Binti,” by Nnedi Okorafor. I’m also reading this one along with some friends, which may provide me with some good conversations and thoughts beyond my own. Also, I will probably tag these entries as “diverse sff” because, having not picked the titles, I am not ruling out some fantasy titles.

Have you read any great Sci-Fi or Fantasy titles lately? Any favorite authors within those genres? Are any of them minorities, or authors from other countries? Let us know in the comments!

“Future Furious” by W.K. Valentine – Review

By: Angie Haddock


As the hunters become the hunted, Hen and her crew must run. Run from the bloodthirsty mercenaries and corporate soldiers on their tails. Run from the pasts that rear up to confront them. And run straight into the high-stakes conflict against a ruthless world designed to suck them dry and grind them beneath its heel. 

Goodreads


I seem to be on a sci-fi action/adventure kick lately (see last week’s review of Persephone Station), and this is the second one I’ve read lately with a female-led group of mercenaries! Interesting trend to watch out for? I could get on board with it.

The similarities end there, though, as the plot and tone of this one is completely different.

“Future Furious” takes place in a time when humans have colonized many of the planets and moons within our own (currently known) solar system, but haven’t gone further than that yet. This particular story takes place on Ganymede, but our characters are in contact with others on Mars, Io, etc.

Government has been replaced by the top five corporations operating across the colonies. The entire culture is dictated by commercialism, advertising, and capitalism run rampant. It’s an exaggerated version of our current culture, especially if you consider the way our present-day online overlords (think, social media) utilize our personal data to tailor their sites to our personalities.

Hen is our crew’s leader, a forty-ish “Mother Hen” to the various down-on-their-luck troublemakers she’s rehabilitated over the years. In between the current action, we see glimpses into all of their tragic pasts.

(There’s also a character who – while we don’t learn much about him – would definitely be played by Sam Elliott if this was a movie.)

The action starts to pick up when the crew takes a gig looking for Knickers, who turns out to be an overly-enthusiastic lead singer of a glam-punk band called Space Trash. He’s also a bit of a kleptomaniac, and he snagged a souvenir that the leading corporation on Ganymede wants back. Knickers and his sister, Layla, are now on the run… along with Hen’s crew, who stumbled into this mess unwittingly.

This book has a lot of humor in it. It’s not for anyone who’s easily offended by cussing, though. One line that illustrates both of these points:

“You look like shit,” Lin said as Hen neared the glass. “Actually, you look like some shit that shit ate and then shit out.”

The writing style can be a little choppy, which took me a minute to get used to. There are quite a few shorter sentence fragments that could easily be combined into a longer sentence. An example:

They sloshed their way through the dank, dingy sewers. Bacchus and Dionysus following closely.

It’s not a deal breaker for me, necessarily, but I did feel like it broke up the flow sometimes. So, that’s just a head’s up for the grammar junkies out there who can get caught up in that sort of thing.

Overall, I thought this was a good read. It was fun, and fast-paced. More impressive was that it’s by a first-time author, who recently gave up teaching English to try his hand at writing! He’s hoping to create more stories with these characters, and the world he created in this book is definitely rich enough to sustain some more great adventures.

You can find/read “Future Furious” on Amazon, and follow the author on Tumblr.


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“Persephone Station” by Stina Leicht – Review

BY: Angie Haddock


Persephone Station, a seemingly backwater planet that has largely been ignored by the United Republic of Worlds becomes the focus for the Serrao-Orlov Corporation as the planet has a few secrets the corporation tenaciously wants to exploit.

Goodreads

This is described as a space opera, and it is getting some buzz. Most of the anticipation seems to stem from the characters – if you’re looking for diverse Sci-Fi, this will probably be your jam. There are a lot of characters, and almost none of them are male. There is a mercenary crew of all bad-ass women, and there are a few non-binary characters. At least a few of the main characters are non-white, and some aren’t specified. (Some are also non-human, because this is a futuristic space story!)

I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. I’m not sure if this is the author’s fault or my own. Let’s dish.

This is the kind of story that has a lot of world-building behind it. So, it took me a while to start getting into it. I feel like all the build time was probably necessary, to be honest, but it’s still sort of a drag to get through. This is where I say it may just be me – patience isn’t my strongest virtue.

(I felt the same way reading N.K. Jemisin’s “The Fifth Season,” if that gives anyone a point of reference. It was difficult going at the beginning, but ultimately worth the time.)

Persephone is a planet that the Catholic Church originally tried to colonize, but they abandoned that effort. Now, the top contender is the Serrao-Orlov corporation. Currently, all non-native species are settled into one colony, Brynner. Reports of bad weather and deadly native species outside the walls of Brynner keep everyone inside. Only a few people really know what’s outside the walls.

One of those people is Rosie, a long-living bar owner whose bar is mostly used by the local crime families and others looking to do (illegal) business. Rosie hires our mercenary crew to go out into the wild to protect some sentient natives they didn’t know existed. The new head of Serrao-Orlav, though, did know about them – and wants their technological and biological knowledge. Hence, the need to protect them.

Meeting the natives, The Emissaries, and the ensuing battle are where the action really picks up. I won’t go into too much detail there, so as not to spoil the fun for those of you who intend to pick this one up.

Another thread that runs throughout this story contends with the ideas of AI and AGI. There are several instances of computer intelligence existing within various networks and eventually growing sentience. (You meet three such characters within this book.) One of them is even put into a body. This struck me as so familiar… when I asked my husband where that had been done before, he immediately said “JARVIS.” So there’s that.

I read an ARC of this one through NetGalley – it comes out January 5, 2021.

PS: If you’re interested in pre-ordering this one, or just doing some early holiday shopping, consider supporting local bookstores through their own sites or bookshop.org

PPS: Someone on Goodreads asked the author for her “playlist” to go with this book, and she tweeted it out song by song. The compiled list can be found here, if you’re interested.


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