renay: artist rendition of the center of a nebula (Default)
[personal profile] renay posting in [community profile] ladybusiness
I have a lot of books out from the library that I'm not sure I'm going to have time to read, but I'm going to give it my best shot. Believe in yourself, Renay! DON'T THROW AWAY YOUR SHOT! Who cares if three of them are new books and you only have two weeks with them? You can do it.

CHALLENGE: 100 Unique Women Writers

Week 2 is complete! I read Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman (reviewed below). For Week 3, my next title selected from The Jar and presented by Doreen, is Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood by bell hooks:

Green dinosaur holding orange slip of paper reading Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood by bell hooks


I've never read bell hooks before, but it's on my list because I heard about her nonfiction and all my library had was this memoir and it sounded interesting. That's been a long time, so I'm happy to finally get to it.

Things I read!

  • Binti by Nnedi Okorafor — definitely read this
  • Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman — read this if you keep ending up on the Schrodinger's Cat Wikipedia page
  • All-New All-Different Avengers #3 by Mark Waid, Adam Kubert, & Alex Ross — they probably won't cancel this because of the all-dude creative team so you can wait for a coherent trade
  • A-Force #1 by G. Willow Wilson & Jorge Molina — our new superhero is GREAT!


cover for Binti


Binti by Nnedi Okorafor — This was a space travel/intergalactic political adventure about compromise, the gulf between cultures, and finding understanding between drastically different people. Binti is the first in her family to be accepted to Oomza University, far away from her family and her planet. She's excellent at math and desperately wants to go and so against her family's wishes she secretly heads off into an uncertain future filled with possibility. Then, of course, everything immediately goes south.

This was shorter than I expected, but it packs a lot into a very small space. Binti is tough and determined in the face of micro-aggressions inflicted on her as she attempts to head out into the world to learn more about the universe and the math that gives her focus. She gets to be brilliant in the face of impossible odds. I loved that she didn't have to give up part of herself and that her culture and pieces of her home she's brought into space are her protection and strength. Even when the world changes her, both emotionally and physically, she's still herself. She's still Himba.

It's easy to spoil this which I don't want to do; it's slight and subtle and works better when you don't go in knowing much. I do wonder if the things I enjoy about it says more about me than the strengths of the work itself. What I took away is the value of respect for other cultures, communication, the ability find common ground and friends in unexpected places, compassion, empathy, and a questions about the best way to learn about other cultures (don't take people's stuff without permission, humans, it's a jerk move).

cover for Dark Orbit


Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman — This is a pretty great first contact story featuring LADIES (almost all the important characters are ladies who are all very different). A questship, sent to look for habitable planets long ago, has sent back a signal. Saraswati, a scientist who travels via lightbeam from job to job, is constantly emerging into a world of new cultures. When she's given the chance to be part of a team formed to travel 58 lightyears to the questship, explore the planet, and keep watch over someone the government wants to control under the noses of the exploratory team, she can't refuse. What she, Thora, and the team she works with find has the power to change space travel as well as physics itself (the book tells me this; I don't know enough about physics to say one way or the other).

There were really strong friendships in this book! Sara and Thora become friends, and Thora meets people who she becomes very close to. I love that the story mirrors the fantasy trope of old-man-teaches-young-person-new-tricks, but a lot of the practical learning is between a girl and a woman who trust each other. Coming away, this is definitely a book about trust: the trust we place in others, in science, and in the way we move through the world trusting that we'll end up where we need to be.

It's pretty weird to go into what everyone told me was a hard science fiction novel and unwrap what this novel has very carefully put in solar system wrapping paper with sparkly star tape for you to reveal. I would still call this a hard science fiction novel, but it felt so much more welcoming than others I have tried that it was strange! I have narrative whiplash. But it also explores a divide between faith and science in a way that's fairly palatable. I read this because I liked Europa Report and thought the way they handled science/curiosity was similar. I was right!

If you like curious ladies, FRIENDSHIPS, super weird plot developments that make your brain hurt, and people who speak like they're trapped in a bad adaptation of a Shakespeare play, give it a shot.

Other items read:
  • All-New All-Different Avengers #3 by Mark Waid, Adam Kubert, & Alex Ross — This issue was the not-yet-a-team coming together to be awesome. It focused on Nova who I had never heard of before this comic (should I have heard of him?). It felt largely like set up for later events and focused on mostly battle and team building (and lies and potential cracks for exploiting later), but it was all right. As per usual, long, busy fight scenes and yelling villains bore me. WHAT A SURPRISE. Never getting over the way the non-flying team members get around in this, though. :D

  • A-Force #1 by G. Willow Wilson & Jorge Molina — I decided to pick this up after enjoying the previous iteration. The focus so far is on Singularity and them coming back to find the friends that took them in and cared for them, and that makes me happy. It looks like this comic will be full of ladies again, too, (although I hope Molina backs away from the male-gazey stuff he does sometimes as we progress) and I love G. Willow Wilson's comic work. ♥

Date: 2016-01-18 05:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] readingtheend.pip.verisignlabs.com
bell hooooooooooooooks! This is very exciting. I have not read her memoir, just a few of her sociological things, and I have Killing Rage on my shelves now awaiting my attention (soon!). But I think she's smashing, and I hope you like her.

Date: 2016-01-18 09:01 pm (UTC)
bookgazing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookgazing
'If you like curious ladies, FRIENDSHIPS, super weird plot developments that make your brain hurt, and people who speak like they're trapped in a bad adaptation of a Shakespeare play, give it a shot.' - I like all these things!

Date: 2016-01-19 11:20 am (UTC)
transcendancing: Darren Hayes quote "Life is for leading, for not people pleasing" (Default)
From: [personal profile] transcendancing
1. I'm really looking forward to read Binti and skimmed your review accordingly - but suspect I'll love it.

2. When you wrote 'questship I initially read 'queership' and then my next thought was, this should TOTALLY be a thing. What thing I have no idea, but clearly, a THING.

3. Am duly adding 'Dark Ship' to my to read list. Because your recs will be the doom of my ever managing to make inroads to my to-read list. You may not have seen that on my other blog The Conversationalist I did my wrap up post of my yearly theme and in it I talked about how I am pretty sure my 'to-read' list *doubled* on Goodreads. Or something close to it. You are definitely partly responsible! I'm delighted! (I said so in my post).

Date: 2016-01-19 11:25 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Since you liked Binti so much, just offering a recommendation -- Okorafor's Who Fears Death is my favorite epic fantasy novel of all time. The protagonist is incredibly fierce and basically takes on the patriarchy and the "fellowship" is based around a core group of childhood girlfriends. The setting is post-apocalyptic western Africa, and basically even the tropes from epic fantasy that are there look substantially different than what you usually find.

Maybe for after your read-100-unique-women project!

--Cecily

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