You know how when you finish reading a really really good book, you want to read another book right away? So you pick up a new book but put it back down after a few paragraphs, and you open another book but close it quickly, too. And you realize that your head is still full of the really really good book, and you’ll have to wait for it to clear.
Reading Meg Elison’s The Book of the Unnamed Midwife followed by its companion novel The Book of Etta did that to me.
The two books, which constitute the first two parts in The Road to Nowhere series, are satisfying on many levels.
The books explore gender both overtly and subtly, as it affects the characters and societies and plot. In the fragmented groups that the main character in each book encounters, we get to see a variety of responses to the scarcity of women caused by the worldwide plague. Those responses seem natural because Elison handles them deftly; they unfold as organic elements, supported by solid worldbuilding and thorough character development. And each of them shows us something different than the others, something complex, about gender, personhood, difference, and agency in our societies today. Many of the responses pose questions. Some questions are answered, and some are perhaps unanswerable.
The books have heart. The characters are round and full of life; their emotions feel real, sometimes surprising but always true, even when the characters are hiding or struggling with truth.
The books’ prose balances detail and restraint; meaningful detail is sometimes purposefully underplayed, which rewards close reading and offers the attentive reader the pleasure of fitting puzzle pieces into place.
This review may sound stuffy and academic and clumsy, but I promise you, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife and The Book of Etta are deeply personal and mesmerizing.
Posted in Reading, Reviews
Tagged award-winning, book review, difference, dystopia, freedom, gender, individual versus society, Meg Elison, race, The Book of Etta, the book of the unnamed midwife
At my final panel yesterday, we talked about love in dystopian society (including failed romances like the one in 1984) and the importance of relationships and community in wartime.
For myself, the discussion suddenly went meta: being at BayCon, in this IDIC atmosphere, an enclave of loving and diverse relationships that contrasts so sharply with the current state of U.S. politics–right there, in the middle of the panel, I found I had made a decision. I need to work on Red Hand.
Red Hand tells the story of an older woman with the rare ability to heal individuals dying of a galactic-wide plague that’s been decimating populations for decades, causing wars, disrupting civilizations, and encouraging isolationism. The woman and others who possess the healing ability are themselves oppressed by those who see them as a source of power and wealth, or as means to stabilize chaos, or as a threat that must be properly regulated and controlled.
At the beginning of the novel, we see the woman in crisis. She has little of herself left to give, drained by decades spent healing others while on the run from the Red Hand, an apparently benign paternalistic organization sanctioned by the remnants of the galactic government to regulate healers. She longs for a permanent home, to live in a community without fear of discovery. But she can’t have that if she continues to heal.
People will die if she stops healing.
If she doesn’t stop, she will die without having lived a life of her own.
In this moment of personal crisis, forced to flee yet another impending capture on yet another planet, she takes passage on a small spaceship captained by a man with secrets of his own on a mission that poses a direct threat to her dreams.
He’s a good guy. He has reasons.
But he’s out to capture a healer.
Jana Denardo is hosting me on her blog this week. I say stuff about space opera, as well as promote Beneath the Skin. http://jana-denardo.dreamwidth.org/249133.html
(I apologize if my posts seem spammy of late. I’m on a blog tour. At least the posts on each blog are different, even if they all have the same image of my book cover.)
I will be at BayCon 2017 on May 26, 27, and 28, participating in a few panels and lusting after the goodies in the dealer’s room. BayCon’s theme this year is Dystopia/Utopia, into which Beneath the Skin fits rather perfectly, seeing as it’s a romantic space opera set in a dystopian future. If you are going to attend the convention, let me know, and maybe we can meet up someplace!
My three panels so far:
Writing a Dystopia While Living in One (on Friday)
Creative Hobbies for Writers (on Friday)
Love During Wartime (on Saturday)
Teresa Edgerton will be there, too. And so will Jennifer Carson. And Denise Tanaka. And Carrie Sessarego. And Gail Carriger. And more!
Posted in Cool stuff, Reading, Writing
Tagged BayCon, BayCon 2017, beneath the skin, dystopia, fantasy, paranormal romance, romantic science fiction, science fiction, utopia, writing
Woot woot! My latest romantic science fiction novel is available now on Amazon.
My latest science fiction novel from Tickety Boo Press, Beneath the Skin, is now now available for pre-sale on Amazon. So far, it’s just the Kindle edition. I hope you like it!
Posted in Life, Reading, Writing
Tagged beneath the skin, dystopia, empath, novel, romance, romantic science fiction, science fiction, shapechanger, shapeshifter