Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: March 21-27, 2022

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.

This week was my spring break, and even though I didn’t go anywhere, it was so nice to just have a week of rest. The cold I got last week still hasn’t *quite* let up, but most of it’s gone.

Since I didn’t go to the library last week, I went through some books on the Kindle library for most of this week. Most of them ended up being in the 3-star range, but I ended up having an (unexpected) first 5-star read of the year—The Wide Starlight! I got some new books from the library yesterday, and they’re looking promising…

I haven’t written a whole lot over break, but it’s mostly because I’ve started sharing my sci-fi WIP with my family and some of my friends! I’m still shaking internally—I’ve finally put my baby that I’ve been working on since 2019 out into the world…

Other than that, I’ve just been drawing, decorating my new sketchbook, babysitting Ringo, listening to all the new music that came out this week, going to the museum with my dad, re-watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and starting on Severance. (I’m only on episode one, but I’m already hooked…)

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Jade Fire Gold – June C.L. Tan (⭐️⭐️.5)

The Wide Starlight – Nicole Lesperance (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating – Adiba Jaigirdar (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back (From a Certain Point of View, #2) – Elizabeth Schaefer et. al. (anthology) (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

The Island of Excess Love (Love in the Time of Global Warming, #2) – Francesca Lia Block

Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America – Amy Reed et. al. (anthology)

Flamefall (The Aurelian Cycle, #2) – Rosaria Munda

Most Likely – Sarah Watson

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Books

Sci-Fi Tropes, part 2: Spiders, Telekinesis, and More

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

I made a post a few months back discussing a handful of sci-fi tropes that I’ve seen in books—here it is, if you’d like to have a look! When I wrote it, I knew I’d be writing several more similar posts; the world of sci-fi literature is so diverse in its content, so there’s no shortage of tropes, however specific, that I can discuss. Some of these tropes are broader and others are fairly minute, but I think they’ll be a lot of fun to discuss.

So let’s dive in, shall we?

David welcomes you | Shipping | Know Your Meme

SCI-FI TROPES: PART 2

MYSTERIOUS, TELEKINETIC WOMEN

dark phoenix gif | Tumblr | Dark phoenix, Jean grey phoenix, Marvel gif
had to include her bc she was the blueprint for this trope…probably

Here’s an interesting one to tackle. I see this one almost exclusively in space operas, but the basic premise is usually as follows: a woman, usually younger than the rest of the main cast, is either gifted with or born with unexplainable and unparalleled telekinesis. This power usually means that she’s the main decider in ✨the fate of the universe✨. These powers of hers often result in mind-bending displays of grandeur, including but not limited to: killing enemies in disturbing ways, crumpling spaceships like soda cans, and bending space and time itself.

Often, these powers come along with an intense emotional burden; at the heart of it, there’s a quintessential “why me?” dilemma with respect to her powers. Inner conflict is all part of the package with godly telekinesis, which often results in this character losing her mind and/or lashing out at other members of the cast. And, well…given that it’s either a “puppet of an all-powerful cosmic entity” or “being devoured from the inside by space energy” situation, it’s understandable.

What sometimes rubs me the wrong way about this trope—although I’m all for cosmic women tearing apart the fabric of the universe (who isn’t?)—is the fact that most of these women have a lack of agency. Which, given that a lot of the characters that come to mind are written by men, is more than a little concerning. Even with all of this awe-inspiring power, these women are often portrayed as helpless. Many of their breakdowns about the burden of their power are often reduced to “oh, she’s just a women being overly emotional, typical.”

Which brings me to why I appreciate a particular instance of this trope—Auri from Aurora Rising. She may still be frightened of her own power, but she takes control of the situation—she takes it upon herself to master her powers, break away from the path that the Eshvaren have set for her, and ultimately save the galaxy. She has agency, and, yes, that’s the bare minimum, but she’s written with a significant amount of sway over her abilities as the books go on.

This trope can be poignant and powerful if used right, but if misused, it can lead to a lot of reductive stereotypes.

BOOKS WITH TROPES: Aurora Rising (Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff), Forgotten Star (Colin Weldon), The Stars Now Unclaimed (Drew Williams)

IF THE ALIENS AREN’T BASICALLY HUMANS, THEY’RE JUST ANTHROPOMORPHIZED ANIMALS

Bossk Star Wars GIF - Bossk Star Wars Empire Strikes Back - Discover &  Share GIFs
this is far from the most dramatic example, but Bossk is the only one I can find a gif of

I get it. Creature design is hard—how do you create an alien that’s simultaneously familiar enough for a reader to project onto (if that’s the goal) but also weird enough to pass as “alien?”

In my last post, I talked about the trope of aliens that just looked like humans. That’s the ultimate alien design deal-breaker for me, unless there’s a good explanation for it. But in my opinion, the next level down is just making your aliens intelligent versions of animals with no other changes. Like the human-alien trope, it just feels like lazy design. It’s not that basing your alien design off of a certain animal is bad—on some level, most alien design is just that. The lazy part is just making an upright version of an already existing animal and changing nothing beyond that. (Plus, if it’s mammalian, you’re just…making intergalactic furries? Uh…)

One of the worst examples that I can recall is from The Stars Now Unclaimed, which I DNF’d. Not only was their an alien species that were just upright wolves, the species itself was called a Wulf. I KID YOU NOT. At that point, it’s almost…self-aware of how lazy it is? Or it seems that way, at any rate. But you just…don’t do that. Under any circumstances.

BOOKS WITH THIS TROPE: The Stars Now Unclaimed (Drew Williams), Earth Force Rising (Monica Tesler), Columbus Day (Craig Alanson)

AND ON THAT SUBJECT, WHAT’S WITH ALL THE SPIDERS?

Ron Weasley is my spirit animal - GIF on Imgur

While we’re on the topic of creature design, here’s another trope that I’ve found several times. Lots of alien species in literature—most intended to be menacing, but not all—have been based on spiders, or described as spiders or spider-like.

One aspect of basing an alien design off of an animal is to still try and make it as alien as possible, and one way to do that is to base it off of an animal that many already consider “alien” or “scary.” These are often invertebrates—cephalopods, jellyfish, insects, and arachnids—spiders. By creating a creature with elements that are already unnerving to a lot of people, you’ve achieved the effect of making it alien without making it totally unfamiliar.

But why spiders in particular? Most of the spider-aliens that I’ve seen at the forefront of sci-fi stories are meant to be menacing. I suppose there’s already a latent metaphor of spiders catching unsuspecting prey in their webs, if menacing is the route the author intends to go on. If these characters are meant to be antagonistic, spiders are the perfect combination—not only do they look alien to us, but they’re also a commonly feared animal. They’re also involved in a lot of insidious metaphors, creatures known for ensnaring their prey in webs. I can speak to the “commonly feared” part myself—I’m fine with really small ones (jumping spiders and such—they’re cute), but big spiders? No way. I blame the wolf spider that I found in my room when I was five. (WHY DO THEY RUN SO FAST AAAAAA)

As far as aliens with animal basis, I think spider-aliens are effective. Even if they do fall into the “animals with no changes other than intelligence” trope, at least they’re not completely bipedal and upright—eight legs! But already, they’re so wildly different from us—the perfect starting point for an interesting alien.

BOOKS WITH THIS TROPE: The Doom Machine (Mark Teague), Project Hail Mary (Andy Weir), One Giant Leap (Dare Mighty Things, #2) (Heather Kaczynski), The Outside (Ada Hoffmann)

THE FATE OF COMIC RELIEF RESTS ON THE MACHINES

C-3PO and R2-D2 discovered by Lux on We Heart It

Are none of your characters particularly funny? Have they not gotten the chance to banter properly? Are they all on a spaceship? I’ve got a trope for you, then…

This is the exact flip side of one of the tropes I mentioned in my first post—unhinged AI. Often times in space opera books with large cast, there is a character that’s some sort of machine: a droid, a ship’s AI, et cetera. But their main role, apart from providing convenient solutions to hacking-relation problems, is to lighten the mood.

So why machines? I’m not entirely sure myself, but I have a theory. Part of it may be to avoid risk—sometimes it’s too dangerous to have a character whose only personality trait is to be “sassy” or “the funny one,” so putting this personality onto an AI of some kind reduces the possibility of a one-dimensional flesh-and-blood character. AI are often reduced to minimal personality traits, as often, they’re designed for a particular task. Unless they have a short character arc where they have an epiphany of some kind about breaking free of their programming, they’re usually helpful vessels of humor in an otherwise hardened and dry-humored crew.

What’s more about this trope is how often it shows up—pick up any space-opera in the bookstore or the library, and there’s a good 75% chance that there’s a minor Sassy AI™️ character. I hesitate to say that it’s tried and true, but it’s certainly difficult to screw up. The problem is that most of them have the same sense of humor—sass, “oh, you humans are so stupid haha” condescension, and making jokes at inopportune times. (There’s also the inevitable running joke of the flesh-and-blood characters telling said AI character to shut up.) I appreciate good AI comic relief, but it’s become a formula, almost to the point where what I once thought was hilarious now makes me feel almost nothing.

So give your AI something unique—glitches, specific quirks, something, anything that will set it apart from 50% of other machines on the shelf.

BOOKS WITH THIS TROPE: Aurora Rising (Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff), Columbus Day (Craig Alanson), To Sleep in a Sea of Stars (Christopher Paolini), Crownchasers (Rebecca Coffindaffer), Honor Among Thieves (Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine)

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What are your opinions on these tropes? What are some other tropes that you’d like me to discuss? Tell me in the comments!

Blade Runner 2049 - Album on Imgur

Today’s song:

listened to this whole album the other day. it was hit or miss for me overall, but when it got good, it got good

That’s it for this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (1/3/22) – Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves

Happy Monday, bibliophiles! I thought I had another week of winter break, but it turns out that I start back to school on Wednesday after all…[sad harmonica solo] I got my booster shot today though, so I’m relieved about that.

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme originally created by Lauren’s Page Turners, but has since moved to Budget Tales Book Blog. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.

This one comes out a week from tomorrow, and I’ve seen it all over the blogosphere! It’s been compared to Star Wars more often than not, and I’m always up for a good sci-fi read!

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (1/3/22) – COLD THE NIGHT, FAST THE WOLVES by Meg Long

Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves by Meg Long

Blurb from Goodreads:

After angering a local gangster, seventeen-year-old Sena Korhosen must flee with her prize fighting wolf, Iska, in tow. A team of scientists offer to pay her way off her frozen planet on one condition: she gets them to the finish line of the planet’s infamous sled race. Though Sena always swore she’d never race after it claimed both her mothers’ lives, it’s now her only option. 

But the tundra is a treacherous place, and as the race unfolds and their lives are threatened at every turn, Sena starts to question her own abilities. She must discover whether she’s strong enough to survive the wild – whether she and Iska together are strong enough to get them all out alive.

A captivating debut about survival, found family, and the bond between a girl and a wolf that delivers a fresh twist on classic survival stories and frontier myths.

So why do I want to read this?

ATOMIC CHRONOSCAPH — The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Regular survival books? I could take them or leave them. Sci-fi survival books? I’M IN.

All of the aspects in the synopsis of Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves sound so compelling—wolf races, gangsters, and a frozen planet! Ice/tundra planets are somewhat common in sci-fi, but it’s a nice change from the umpteen desert planets that occupy so many sci-fi and space opera books. (Sorry, Dune.) And the prospect of a sci-fi frontier myth of sorts—almost a Call of the Wild callback—instantly hooked me. Plus, it’s cool that it’s casually mentioned that Sena has two moms!

I put this one on hold at the library last week, and I think it’s still on order, but I eagerly await its arrival…

Today, my heart swings

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: November 29-December 5, 2021

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.

This week has been…tiring, to say the least. The week after Thanksgiving Break is always a slog, but I got through to the weekend, at least. On the upside, we got our Christmas tree on Friday and I went to the Nutcracker ballet with my mom on Saturday!

Tired Of Studying GIFs | Tenor

As far as reading, my Thanksgiving break reading slump stretched out a little into this week, but reading some good old Star Wars books made things better. I wasn’t able to go to the library this week, but I picked up all my books early, and they look promising too!

AND I FINISHED NANOWRIMO!! I beat my 45,000 word count goal with 45,176!! After Tuesday night, I took a break from writing, and I’ll probably keep it that way until I have finals over with. But I want to edit draft 2 of my main sci-fi WIP that’s been gathering a little dust since…August? September? I don’t remember, but I need to dig it out and polish it up.

Other than that, I’ve just been getting through my homework, watching the new episode of Hawkeye (still just decent for me, but THE HANZEE CAMEO??? that was fun), listening to Abbey Road, and putting up Christmas decorations.

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Sweet & Bitter Magic – Adrienne Tooley (⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Sweet & Bitter Magic: 9781534453852: Tooley, Adrienne: Books

Rise to the Sun – Leah Johnson (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Rise to the Sun: 9781338662238: Johnson, Leah: Books - Amazon.com

Lost Stars (Star Wars) – Claudia Gray (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Star Wars Lost Stars: 9781368013789: Gray, Claudia: Books

Slay – Brittney Morris (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Amazon.com: SLAY: 9781534445420: Morris, Brittney: Books

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

This Isn’t Happening: Radiohead’s “Kid A” and the Beginning of the 21st Century – Stephen Hyden

This Isn't Happening: Radiohead's "Kid A" and the Beginning of the 21st  Century - Kindle edition by Hyden, Steven. Arts & Photography Kindle eBooks  @ Amazon.com.

Ace of Spaces – Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Ace of Spades : Àbíké-Íyímídé, Faridah: Amazon.ca: Books

The Outside (The Outside, #1) – Ada Hoffmann

Amazon.com: The Outside eBook : Hoffmann, Ada: Kindle Store

The Dead and the Dark – Courtney Gould

Amazon.com: The Dead and the Dark: 9781250762016: Gould, Courtney: Books

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: August 23-29, 2021

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.

This was my first full week of school, and…well, it had its ups and downs. College applications have been a bit stressful, but now that I’ve seen everything a little more simplified, it’s slightly less so. Still stressful, but at least I know how everything works now. But on the other hand, I had some great things happen this week! I aced a math quiz, I have As in all of my classes so far (I don’t care that it’s the second week of school, I’m still proud of myself), and I’m slowly getting more people into book club.

Reading-wise, I’ve just been reading through all of the books I bought/was gifted for my birthday. Most of them have been pretty good, but re-reading The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea was just what I needed to take my mind off of college. I got some cool-looking books at the library, so I’m excited for that! As for writing, I haven’t been doing it as frequently as I’ve been getting used to my school schedule, but I’m slowly but surely working through the climax of my sci-fi WIP.

Other than that, I watched The Suicide Squad (solid 3/5 for me, fantastic cinematography and also the best live action Harley look), had a busy shift at the library, and busily tried to convert people to my school’s book club. But the latter isn’t too out of the ordinary for me, really.

Oh, and in case you’re having a bad day, enjoy this picture of one of my cats (her name is Hobbes) with my library books:

look at my precious baby

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Ahsoka (Star Wars) – E.K. Johnston (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Amazon.com: Star Wars Ahsoka: 9781484705667: E.K. Johnston, Wojtowicz,  Jason P: Books

Six Crimson Cranes (Six Crimson Cranes, #1) – Elizabeth Lim (⭐️⭐️⭐️.25)

Amazon.com: Six Crimson Cranes: 9780593300916: Lim, Elizabeth: Books

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea – Maggie Tokuda-Hall (re-read) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

My review of THE MERMAID, THE WITCH, AND THE SEA by Maggie Tokuda-Hall |  Maria Hossain

The Good Luck Girls – Charlotte Nicole Davis (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis

Girls at the Edge of the World – Laura Brooke Robson (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Girls at the Edge of the World: 9780525554035: Robson, Laura  Brooke: Books

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

She Drives Me Crazy – Kelly Quindlen

Amazon.com: She Drives Me Crazy: 9781250209153: Quindlen, Kelly: Books

Broken Web (Shamanborn, #2) – Lori M. Lee

Broken Web (Shamanborn, #2) by Lori M. Lee

Curses – Lish McBride

Amazon.com: Curses: 9781984815590: McBride, Lish: Books

The Unbinding of Mary Reade – Miriam McNamara

Amazon.com: The Unbinding of Mary Reade: 9781510727052: McNamara, Miriam:  Books

Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts – Rebecca Hall, Hugo Martinez

Amazon.com: Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts eBook :  Hall, Rebecca, Martínez, Hugo: Kindle Store

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (8/24/21) – Ahsoka

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Over the weekend, I got to visit my favorite bookstore for my birthday, and I got lots of books! I have my dad to thank for finding the Star Wars section (thank you!!), and I decided to buy Ahsoka because she seems like a super cool character. All in all, though, Ahsoka was a fascinating look into the Star Wars universe immediately post-Order 66 and a good exploration of a character that I wasn’t as familiar with!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: Star Wars Ahsoka: 9781484705667: E.K. Johnston, Wojtowicz,  Jason P: Books

Ahsoka (Star Wars) – E.K. Johnston

my copy ft. a cool filter, some quartz and bismuth, and my Yoda Funko Pop! Figure

After Order 66 caused the assassination of almost all of the Jedi order, Ahsoka Tano is on the run. Alienated by her former mentor, the new Sith Lord Anakin Skywalker, she flees to Raada, a backwater farming moon, with the hopes of laying low and blending in. But when the Empire sets its sights on occupying Raada, Ahsoka faces the choice of risking Imperial rule or escaping and revealing her Jedi identity.

Obsessed With The Mandalorian — More than Partners- The Mandalorian x reader

TW/CW: assassination, colonization/occupation, sci-fi violence, descriptions of injury

Okay. Look. I’m a massive fan of Star Wars, and I have been for most of my life. Thing is, I’ve never seen the new Clone Wars series (I adored the 2D one from the early 2000’s, though…that was the stuff) or Rebels, and that’s where Ahsoka primarily shows up. I knew enough about both of them to piece together Ahsoka’s backstory, but she’s still a character that I wasn’t super familiar with. I’ve always liked the idea of her, though, and I thought she was FANTASTIC in The Mandalorian. So I figured I’d give the book a try, both to explore Ahsoka’s character and this part of the Star Wars universe.

For the most part, Ahsoka was a success! There were interludes interspersed throughout that gave a good deal of backstory of Ahsoka’s life as a Padawan, which helped me to piece out everything I’d missed from The Clone Wars and Rebels. I’d say that you can read this without watching either, but this is coming from someone who lives and breathes most things Star Wars, so take that as you will. Even then, Ahsoka’s character was fascinating! For the most part, I liked the way that her character was written, and her arc throughout the novel was well-executed, showing her transition from a Jedi to a full-blown rebel.

There are also a lot of details interspersed throughout that made me giddy as a Star Wars fan – we get details about how Ahsoka gets her lightsabers, several cameos (inside and outside of the flashback interludes) from prequel characters, and…I think the main villain from Rebels? I think? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure it was him? Either way, I had a lot of fun finding all of those Easter eggs.

The writing was decent, but I didn’t find it to be anything special. I found it rather bland, and with such an immersive and extensive universe as this one, the writing style did a bit of a disservice to several aspects of the novel. Some of the dialogue felt too stilted and forced (no pun intended), and I wasn’t a huge fan of Ahsoka’s inner dialogue as well. But it wasn’t anything egregiously bad. It just didn’t stand out for me. Not necessarily well-written, but not badly-written either. Just in the middle for me.

Additionally, the plot moved along a little too quickly. Ahsoka is about the average size for a book (around 370 pages in the paperback edition), but for each plot point, there was usually only a short time spent, and the transitory periods between them were virtually nonexistent. Ahsoka herself also had a bit too easy of a time overcoming many of the obstacles she encountered, but…okay, she’s a Jedi. I wouldn’t say she was written as a Mary Sue, but it was closish. But seeing as, y’know, she’s a lightsaber-wielding being with pseudo-magical powers and friends in high places, it makes a little bit of sense.

All in all, an addition to the extensive Star Wars universe that did some of the universe itself a slight disservice with indistinct writing, but fleshed out a beloved character in an inventive way. 3.5 stars!

Ahsoka Tano in The Mandalorian | Chapter 13: The Jedi - The Mandalorian Fan  Art (43663792) - Fanpop

Ahsoka is a standalone novel in the universe of Star Wars novels, but E.K. Johnston has also contributed two more Star Wars novels, Queen’s Shadow and Queen’s Peril, both centering around Padmé Amidala. Johnston is also the author of Aetherbound, Exit, Pursued by a Bear, That Inevitable Victorian Thing, and several other novels for young adults.

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (8/23/21) – Every Sky a Grave

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.

I put this one on my TBR almost exactly a year ago, and it looks like a fascinating twist on your typical space opera! And if it’s described as being perfect for fans of Star Wars…well, I’ve been led astray by that line maybe one too many times, but I love Star Wars, so I don’t think I’ll stop any time soon.

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (8/23/21) – EVERY SKY A GRAVE by Jay Posey

Amazon.com: Every Sky a Grave: A Novel (1) (The Ascendance Series):  9781982107758: Posey, Jay: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

HER WORD IS HER WEAPON.

Mankind has spread out and conquered the galaxy by mastering the fundamental language of the universe. With the right training, the right application of words, truth itself can be rearranged.
Language is literally power.

Peace reigns now. Order reigns.

For if a planet deviates too far from what the authorities plan, an agent is sent out to correct that. To quietly and with great skill, end that world.

One such agent is Elyth – a true believer.

But on a clandestine mission to stop an uprising before it can truly begin, Elyth comes to realise she hasn’t been told the whole truth herself. There’s so much she doesn’t know. How can there be people whose truth is different to that of the authorities?

Elyth’s faith in the powers that be is shaken just when she needs it most. While on her mission, a dark and unknown presence makes itself known at the edges of the galaxy – and it cannot be controlled, for nobody knows its name…

So why do I want to read this?

Beeple - Sci-Fi / Cyberpunk Art - Album on Imgur | Cyberpunk art, Cyberpunk  aesthetic, Cyberpunk

Ooh, the fundamental language of the universe? I’m certainly interested.

All of us sci-fi readers have seen all sorts of intergalactic tyrannies come and go in literature, but I haven’t seen one quite like the one that Every Sky a Grave promises – I’m super interested to see where Posey takes the concept of this fundamental language of the universe and its reality bending powers, as well as the powers controlling it.

Also, Every Sky a Grave is such an eye-catching title! I bet it’s the kind where somewhere along the 75% mark, it’ll appear somewhere in a quote and I’ll have that “oh…OH! They did that! They did The Thing!™️” moment. Hey, it’s the little things in life.

Tumblr

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (7/26/21) – Persephone Station

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.

I’m always on the hunt for a good space opera book, and so this one immediately caught my eye. It’s drawn a couple comparisons to The Mandalorian (which wasn’t perfect, but I liked it a lot), which should be promising…

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (7/26/21) – PERSEPHONE STATION by Stina Leicht

Amazon.com: Persephone Station (9781534414587): Leicht, Stina: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

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.

Rosie—owner of Monk’s Bar, in the corporate town of West Brynner—caters to wannabe criminals and rich Earther tourists, of a sort, at the front bar. However, exactly two types of people drink at Monk’s back bar: members of a rather exclusive criminal class and those who seek to employ them.

Angel—ex-marine and head of a semi-organized band of beneficent criminals, wayward assassins, and washed up mercenaries with a penchant for doing the honorable thing—is asked to perform a job for Rosie. What this job reveals will affect Persephone and put Angel and her squad up against an army. Despite the odds, they are rearing for a fight with the Serrao-Orlov Corporation. For Angel, she knows that once honor is lost, there is no regaining it. That doesn’t mean she can’t try.

So why do I want to read this?

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please tell me somebody else can HEAR this image

This one has lowish ratings on Goodreads as of now (about 3.49 at present), but from the reviews, there really isn’t anything that’s making me want to kick it off my TBR. Maybe it’s that gorgeous cover, maybe it’s because it’s space opera, but either way, I can’t wait to read Persephone Station!

The synopsis is absolutely giving me Mandalorian vibes; I love the potential setting of Persephone Station itself, and I’m getting the feeling that I’ll see a strange cast of characters. (Fingers crossed!) Plus, it apparently has lesbian, bisexual, and nonbinary rep throughout, which makes me even MORE excited! (There’s only one thing better than space opera…and that’s QUEER SPACE OPERA.) Plus, the cover is so pretty! Whoever did the illustrations for it did such a great job.

In short: you sold me at queer space opera and Mandalorian vibes.

Anime Gifs

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Books

Sci-Fi Tropes: Cryosleep, Unhinged AI, and everything in between 🪐

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

I’ve been trying to think of more original posts to do, and I figured that this one would be something really fun to explore. I’ve seen a lot of posts talking about tropes, but genre-specific ones are always interesting to think about/discuss, and in much of the YA book fandom, I feel like sci-fi doesn’t get as much love. So I decided to look at six tropes that are specific to sci-fi (for the most part). Sci-fi is my favorite genre, so I got super excited thinking about all of these different tropes, and some (mostly) YA books that use them in different ways.

So let’s begin, shall we?

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WARNING: This post may contain some book spoilers (Aurora Cycle & Dare Mighty Things series), so read at your own risk!

🛸SCI-FI TROPES🛸

CRYOSLEEP, BUT FOR WAY TOO LONG

Quiz: Ripley, Our Lady of Survival | Bookmans Entertainment Exchange

Ellen Ripley – and Aliens in particular – probably set the blueprint for this one, but as the trope gets more popular, authors have started to push the limits on this one, which I think is a really cool move.

It’s most often the protagonist that this happens to – our hero, on the eve of something great, is put into cryosleep for an interplanetary mission, only for something to go terribly awry and stay in cryosleep for longer than they were supposed to. Ripley got an accidental 50 years, Auri from Aurora Rising got 200 years, and Andra from Goddess in the Machine got a whopping 1,000 years.

This trope presents two main advantages for writing: a vehicle for exploring the novel’s world through fresh eyes, and internal conflict within the character. If your cryosleep character is completely unfamiliar with the world, seeing it through their eyes gives the reader a more in-depth look at the world than they’d get with a character that’s already familiar with it. They’ll inevitably notice more things and fixate on different things than another character might, which gives the reader more insight about what’s unique about the world that the author has crafted.

As for the internal conflict piece, this part’s always touched on, but in most of the novels I’ve read with it, it’s a lot more shallow than you’d think. There’s the existential crisis that inevitably occurs when the character realizes that everything they know and love is all but gone, but beyond the first few chapters from their POV, they get over it…relatively quickly? It seems like the kind of trauma that would leave lasting psychological scars, and probably physical health repercussions as well. I’ve yet to read any book that explores all that in depth, but it seems like the perfect setup for a sci-fi novel.

So this one’s a trope that can make for a lot of creative choices, but often has a lot of untapped potential.

BOOKS WITH THIS TROPE: Aurora Rising (Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff), Goddess in the Machine (Lora Beth Johnson)

GOTTEN INTO A SITUATION YOU CAN’T GET OUT OF? TIME TRAVEL!

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“Time travel!”

Apparently this one is a lot more common than I thought, but I’ve only started to see it in YA more recently. (Well, there’s Avengers: Endgame, but it took me a while to realize how common of a trope it is…)

This trope has the possibility of ENDLESS freaky hijinks whilst traversing through time. Sometimes it’s just pushing the events of the past so that everything lines up a little bit nicer, and sometimes it’s rocketing back to another time period entirely. It usually happens only with the last book in a trilogy or duology, just so everyone can fix the mess they got into in the first books.

I have mixed feelings on this one; one the one hand, there’s never a dull moment – time travel jokes, fitting VERY badly into a different time period, and very high stakes, most of all. If the first books have followed a similar formula, it might be good to try for something else to end the series with a bang.

On the other, though, something about it almost feels…lazy to me. Often, this trope arises from The Gang™️ getting a situation so bad that there may not be a feasible way out of it, but…maybe they could? If done wrong, it can feel like lazy writing – an easy way out, and one that provides instant comic relief. And often, the means of said time travel are vague, and often reduced to technobabble from The Smart Character™️, which, hey, I don’t know much about the science of it either, but maybe at least put a little time into it?

So this one’s a double-edged sword: instant plot, or lazy writing? The choice is yours!

BOOKS WITH THIS TROPE: Sword in the Stars (Once & Future, #2) (A.R. Capetta and Cori McCarthy), Aurora’s End (Aurora Cycle, #3) (Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff)*

*this one doesn’t come out until November [screams] but we know that time travel will play a big part in this one, so…

ALIENS THAT BASICALLY JUST LOOK LIKE HUMANS (BUT WITH A FEW MINOR DIFFERENCES)

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I know Jean Grey isn’t an alien, but most of the aliens mentioned below have similar powers to her, so…

Most of the other tropes I’m going to be discussing in this post are ones that I like on some level, but…this one gets on my nerves. For the most part.

Far too many times, I’ve fallen into the trap of picking up a sci-fi book that promises aliens, only to discover that the aliens just look like humans, but with either a) unusual eye colors, b) some sort of powers, or c) a combination of both. And of course, they have to be ✨ridiculously attractive✨ as well. 🙄

Now, I completely get making your aliens humanoid (hey, I’m doing it with some of my aliens for my sci-fi WIP), but there’s a certain point where it feels a bit lazy. Unless there’s some way you can back it up, it seems weird to me that in this entire universe, the only other intelligent beings, by some cosmic chance, are similar to us in almost every way.

But I’ve seen some authors use it to their advantage – in particular, One Giant Leap (the sequel to Dare Mighty Things) does this especially well. The main alien civilization there look exactly like humans, but it’s because of genetic modifications performed so that they could survive on Earth. See? That’s actually a really good way of turning the trope on its head, and doing so in a practical way!

For the most part, this trope never ceases to bug me, but there’s a few ways to turn it on its head.

BOOKS WITH THIS TROPE: One Giant Leap (Dare Mighty Things, #2) (Heather Kaczynski), Amid Stars and Darkness (Chani Lynn Feener)

UNHINGED A.I.

David - Prometheus --- ah! DON'T TELL ME THAT!!! (lol) | Michael  fassbender, David 8, Sebastian moran
BREAKING: Michael Fassbender Sustains Fatal Back Injuries from Carrying all of the Alien Prequels

For me, at least, this trope is the most fun – and it presents some of the scariest and most formidable antagonists in sci-fi.

Villainous AI are some of the most fascinating characters to explore – they have unmatched power, in some cases, and whether they’re a pre-installed ship AI or an android, it’s always interesting to hear their perspective on all of us puny mortals.

Given that humans trust AI a bit *too* much in most sci-fi novels, they often have a fearsome amount of power at their disposal. AI installed inside of a ship? Access to all the security footage, navigation, communications, and controls of the ship. They know their crew up and down, and have the possibility to play everybody’s weaknesses against each other. They have the power to sabotage anything and everything, and more often than not, they do. WITHOUT HESITATION. A corrupt AI often harbors a hatred or jealousy of human beings, and if it’s not that motivating them, it’s some sort of technologically-stemmed god complex, which is always terrifying to watch play out. (Lookin’ right at you, David…) It’s even more of an interesting development if their moral compass shifts over the course of the series – if there’s one thing I’ve learned from sci-fi, it’s that benevolent robot overlords never stay benevolent for very long.

Corrupt AI as antagonists are often more compelling than human or alien ones (for me, at least) partly because so much is left up to the imagination about the inner workings of their minds. We’ve never developed any kind of artificial intelligence that’s become intelligent enough to have devious tendencies like many sci-fi villains, so a lot of it is the author’s personal choice. There are endless possibilities – but more often than not, they’re all terrifying.

And even if they aren’t main antagonists, the addition of a slight unstable AI as a character is always amusing; for all of its flaws, I loved Gregorovich’s existential musings in To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, and his character added some much-needed flavor to the rest of the cast.

TL;DR: There’s nothing more terrifying than a villain that knows everything about everything, and uses that power for its own gain at whatever the cost.

BOOKS WITH THIS TROPE: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars (Christopher Paolini), Illuminae (Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff), Scythe (Neal Shusterman)

HIGH-STAKES COMPETITIONS TO GO TO SPACE…WITH SOME SERIOUS ULTERIOR MOTIVES

artoo, that way

Scared to send your experienced, highly intelligent scientists to space? Send some teenagers instead!

This one tends to crop up the most in YA, as it’s primed for a book that has a primarily teenage cast. The ones I’ve read do tend to follow a formula, but for the most part, it’s one that’s actually a lot of fun!

The worldbuilding/motives behind it are always a little bit messy (again: sending teenagers into space! What could possibly go wrong?), but often times, you just have to hang in there; it’s a given that whatever program is funding the competition is doing something astronomically shady. (No pun intended.) Part of the fun with this trope is the mystery of it; slowly but surely, the competition starts dropping like flies, and things go very wrong very quickly.

More on the mystery aspect – the mystery that often occurs in these types of novels is very slow-burn, building on itself before the heartstopping reveal at the end (often a cliffhanger). From program superiors lying to scheming androids to deaths under mysterious circumstances, there are endless possibilities for many, many things to go wrong. Add in the not-so-friendly rivalries between the competitors (also scheming, along with everybody else), and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a nail-biting sci-fi mystery.

And once/if they get to space? Everything gets way worse. There’s bound to be aliens, but whether they’re intelligent or just parasitic, things are bound to go way, way south. But there’s never a dull moment – there’s no shortage of suspense, and our protagonist is often at a loss as to how to escape their situation.

Plus, for reasons I’ve yet to figure out, these ones always tend to have the most clever pop culture references. (See: all of the Radiohead songs in the Final Six duology)

BOOKS WITH THIS TROPE: The Final Six (Alexandra Monir), Dare Mighty Things (Heather Kaczynski)

EXPLORING OTHER PLANETS GOES VERY, VERY WRONG (Or, “Don’t do intergalactic colonialism, kids”)

Large yacht passes by gargantuan yacht - boing - Boing Boing BBS

Here’s another common – but by no means overdone – trope that’s always open to endless possibilities!

Because our planet was never enough, apparently (or if we destroyed it…probably), there’s a whole host of sci-fi stories that are set on entirely new planets, with the sole goal of making them a new home for humankind. But just like with our planet, it’s always unpredictable, whether you’re dealing with a foreign contagion, carnivorous wildlife, or superiors who aren’t what they seem.

I’m always a nerd for creature design in sci-fi, and life on other worlds presents all sort of possibilities for creatures lurking in the bushes. Whether it’s flora or fauna, exploring these sci-fi worlds along with the characters is an adventure, especially if the author is particularly creative. Of course, most of the wildlife ends up being carnivorous, or malicious on some level, so there’s all sorts of danger lurking.

But beyond that, this trope is often a great commentary on colonialism. Human history is rife with frightening periods of raping and pillaging land that wasn’t ours to begin with at the cost of those who originally lived there; telling the same story on alien planets serves as a particularly potent comment on the malicious tendency of our species to overstep and overstay our welcome. Books like A Conspiracy of Stars and The Pioneer explore what happens when humanity comes in contact with intelligent life and unlawfully sets foot on their land; both of them do an amazing job of exploring the intricacies of the political implications, as well as the tense conflict that results. I think sci-fi as a genre is one of the best mediums for raising commentary on this kind of thing. Exploring new frontiers in space is bound to happen once we get the technology, but we must always ask ourselves if it’s the right thing to do. Just because we can doesn’t necessarily mean that we should. (Let’s be real: I would be SO excited if we found evidence of life elsewhere in the universe, but…let’s not have a repeat of all of human history, okay?)

BOOKS WITH THIS TROPE: The Pioneer (Bridget Tyler), A Conspiracy of Stars, (Olivia A. Cole), Tangled Planet (Kate Blair)

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What are your favorite/least favorite tropes in sci-fi? Have you read any of the books I listed, and what were your thoughts? This’ll probably be one of several posts on the subject, so I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

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Today’s song:

That’s it for this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (6/22/21) – The Ones We’re Meant to Find

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Ever since reading Descendant of the Crane about two years ago and loving it, I’ve been itching to read more of Joan He’s novels. My wishing was rewarded with this book, which came out in early May of this year. (Star Wars day, I think….YES) I bought it recently at my favorite bookstore, and I’m glad to say that The Ones We’re Meant to Find is even better than her debut – complex, tense and tender!

Enjoy this week’s review!

The Ones We're Meant to Find — Joan He

The Ones We’re Meant to Find – Joan He

my copy ft. a cool filter and yesterday’s overcast skies

As far as everyone else knows, Celia Mizuhara – Cee for short – went missing three years ago, presumed dead. But Cee is very much alive, stranded on a distant island. She’s been eking out an existence there for three years, with only a strange android for company. But when a boy washes ashore and nearly kills her, she must question what she knows of her life before – and herself.

Meanwhile, Cee’s sister Kasey lives in a floating city, protected from the natural disasters that wrack their climate change-ravaged world. Intelligent and reclusive, she lives an isolated lifestyle, working with experts on the latest technology that could further protect their floating utopia. But Cee’s fate remains at the back of her mind, and Kasey knows that her sister is still out there.

amie kaufman – The Bookish Mutant

TW/CW: loss of loved ones, cancer, grief, violence, near-death situations (drowning, attempted murder), natural disasters

It’s been almost a week since I finished this one, and lemme tell you, I am still REELING. I think I need to go back and re-read it soon…

The Ones We’re Meant to Find is very nearly a masterpiece. It’s haunting in every sense of the word, from the natural disasters surrounding it to the conspiracy within it, and it hooked me to the last page.

The Ones We’re Meant to Find is told in the dual POVs of sisters Cee and Kasey, but I enjoyed Cee’s the most; her story was the more compelling of the two, in my opinion, and I loved seeing her unravel the mystery of her marooning and of her life before. I honestly would’ve been fine if it was just her story – as much as I loved the rest of the novel, her story would’ve been a great standalone as well. I loved all of her little mannerisms and quirks, and she was such a fascinating, multi-layered character. Her tense dynamic with Hero was also so well-written – their relationship was never certain, and I loved the mercurial aspect of it. And she bounced so well off of U-me, the android, too! The friendship that they’d built over the course of three years was so weirdly touching.

Who is the best sidekick droid? (others in comments) | Fandom

And the worldbuilding? PHENOMENAL. Both Cee’s island and Kasey’s floating utopia were so complex and well-developed. There was clearly so much love and care put into every inch of this novel, and it shone through in the best way possible. I could practically feel the hum of machinery, the pouring rain, the battering ocean waves…IMMACULATE.

The mystery at the heart of The Ones We’re Meant to Find was equally compelling. I had to look back through the last few pages just so it could sink in – just when I thought it was over, He delivered another heartstopping twist that had my eyes bugging out of my skull. There are plot twists upon plot twists UPON PLOT TWISTS, and I loved it.

My only complaint is Kasey’s side of the story. I appreciated that she was more of a cold, unlikable character, but her whole side of the plot seemed rather convoluted. Remember how I said that the care put into the worldbuilding showed? There’s a bit of a catch to that, sadly; there were so many aspects that factored into the conspiracy around Cee, Kasey, and Actinium, but the sheer amount of them made me forget their significance, and when the final reveal was made, I had to flip back through just so I could remember “wait, what did that mean again? Why do we care about that?” Like I said – I need to give this one another re-read. Maybe that’ll help me absorb it all. But in the midst of all this wondrousness, this is basically my only major complaint.

Visible Confusion GIF - Visible Confusion StarWars - Discover & Share GIFs
here I go piling on all the Star Wars gifs again

All in all, a haunting and complex cli-fi with androids, sisterhood, and no shortage of thrilling twists. 4.5 stars!

𝖣𝗂𝗌𝗍𝗋𝗂𝖼𝗍 9 - 𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗹𝗼𝗴𝘂𝗲 - Wattpad

The Ones We’re Meant to Find is a standalone, but Joan He is also the author of Descendant of the Crane, and an untitled mystery/thriller novel slated for release in 2022.

Today’s song:

hmm, I listened to this whole album yesterday and loved it? what could have possibly tipped you off?

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!