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Each month, we look back over the media we loved in the previous month, from books to film to video games and more.


KJ



cover of The Obelisk Gatecover for Once Broken Faithposter for Jane the Virgin


The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin — This book lives up to its award-winning predecessor, The Fifth Season, and perhaps even surpasses it as a literary achievement. I can't wait for the final book, which promises to be both epic and heartbreaking. I suspect we're going to be talking about this SF/F trilogy for a long time.

Once Broken Faith by Seanan McGuire — With the end of Naomi Novik's Temeraire earlier this year, October Daye is now my favorite long-running book series. This is the tenth entry, and the second to deal directly with the ongoing fallout from The Winter Long. Highlights include political intrigue, questions of moral warfare, a well-crafted locked room mystery, and the sense of urgency that permeates the entire story. Plenty of relationship building, too, which is one of McGuire's strengths as a writer.

Galactic Suburbia, Episode 152 — One of my favorite podcasts, in which Australian SF/F fans Alisa, Alex, and Tansy chat about the media they're consuming and the state of fandom, put out a great episode this month. It's the somewhat-annual listener feedback episode, and the comment prompted Alisa and Tansy into a fantastic and wide-ranging conversation covering all kinds of topics, including representation, complex questions of identity, and perhaps the only time you will ever hear Hillary Clinton compared to Harley Quinn.

Jane the Virgin, Season 1 — I've been slowly catching up on this show with friends, watching in one to three episode chunks on Sunday evenings over the last few months, and we recently finished the first season. The premise — "good girl" Jane, who promised her devout Catholic grandmother that she wouldn't have premarital sex, is artificially inseminated by accident and gets pregnant — is ridiculous, but it's meant to be. Jane watches and loves telenovelas, her recently-discovered father is a telenovela star, and now she's living a telenovela as well. All the soap opera tropes are here, some subverted while others are played straight: love triangles, romantic obstacles, fiendish villains, kidnapping, fake deaths, evil twins, mistaken identities... The show is fun, funny, and sweet, but what I really love about it is the family at its center. Jane lives with her mother and her grandmother, and they have such a loving and true relationship. There are so few shows that center the experiences of women, especially women of color (all three are Latina), and Jane the Virgin does that beautifully. We've just started the second season, and I'm excited to keep going. (But dear writers: poly solves love triangles. Maybe not always, but certainly in this case. Just think about it, okay? Best regards, KJ)


Renay



cover for Superiorcover for This Savage Songcover for The Vision Volume 1


Superior by Jessica Lack — This was one of the cutest pieces of short fiction I've read in awhile that didn't contains cats or A.I. who like cats. Tackling superhero antics, accountability, unpaid internships, and boys who wanna make out a lot, there's tons of stuff to love and it's definitely one of those pick-me-up reads I love to have on hand for tough days.

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab — I said a lot about dicks in my review of this book, which maybe was a disservice to the book. But this story and the characters have really stuck with me, especially Kate Harker, the girl who wants to be monstrous to win the respect of her father. I have so many feelings about Kate and her journey through this book and I want the next book very much, please.

The Vision, Vol 1: Little Worse Than A Man by Tom King, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, & Jordie Bellaire — I heard so many great things about this comic from those who were reading in floppy, right around the time when I made a decision to switch toward trade collections (curses!). It's very smart; this is a comic that would benefit from re-reads. I also want to set Ira loose on it because of the metaphors, which are shoved into this volume so tightly I'm surprised there's room for the excellent characterizations. It's a book that benefits from going in a little blind, and touches on humanity and assimilation and death. It's so great.


Susan



cover of Gangsta Volume 7cover of Binti


Gangsta Volumes 1-7 by Kohske — I LITERALLY SCREAMED INTO A PILLOW AFTER FINISHING VOLUME SEVEN. AND THEN SPENT TEN MINUTES YELLING "WHAT THE SHIT?!" AT THE LAST PAGE.

Ahem.

I mean.

Gangsta is one of those series where I feel like I have to qualify how much I like it, but also I like it to the point where I have re-read the first half-dozen volumes about five times, and then marathoned it all over again when volume seven came out so I'd get the full impact. I really like Gangsta. The art is gorgeous, the characters are complex, and the action choreography is so good. It's a noir-style series that starts of focusing on two handymen -- men who will do anything from fix your house to kill your enemies -- and slowly spreads out to include more and more people and more and more of the city they live in. It has: such good art and choreography; a second-class citizenry made up of people with enhanced physical abilities; a deaf main character (and the way that sign language is handled in a static medium is pretty cool); a lot of sex workers, including two of the three main characters and literally every mother mentioned; emotional resonance and tension such that I screamed into a pillow.

My qualifiers are that it's violent, there are scenes of torture and dismemberment, terrible things will happen to everyone you love, and volume seven has a predatory lesbian villain outta fucking nowhere, and everyone with a mentioned mother is the child of a dead sex-worker, but it is so good at the emotional stakes and pay-off!

... And now that I've remembered the ending of volume seven, excuse me while I go back to screaming into a pillow.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor — Everyone recommended Binti to me when it came out, and I admit it! Y'all were right, it is excellent. It's so short that I'm worried about spoiling it by saying it too much, but there is communication and Binti not giving up home or self even as she leaves to attend university in space, and I really enjoyed her determination and focus in the face of microaggressions and... Everything else that happens. It's such a good story that pressed so many of my narrative buttons! I'm really excited about Home now!

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KJ KJ is an underemployed librarian, lifelong reader, and more recently an avid gamer. more? » twitter icon tumblr icon AO3 icon

Renay writes for Lady Business and B&N. She's the co-host of Fangirl Happy Hour, a pop culture media show that includes a lot yelling about the love lives of fictional characters. Enjoys puns. more? » twitter icon pinboard icon tumblr icon

Susan is a library assistant who uses her insider access to keep her shelves and to-read list permanently over-flowing. more? » twitter icon pinboard icon AO3 icon

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