Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Review: New Suns edited by Nisi Shawl

Title: New Suns
Edited by Nisi Shawl
Pages: 308
ISBN: 9781781086384
Publisher: Solaris
Published: 12 March 2019
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Review copy from publisher

Buy it from:
The Book Depository

There’s nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns,” proclaimed Octavia E. Butler.

New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Coloru showcases emerging and seasoned writers of many races telling stories filled with shocking delights, powerful visions of the familiar made strange. Between this book’s covers burn tales of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and their indefinable overlappings. These are authors aware of our many possible pasts and futures, authors freed of stereotypes and clich├ęd expectations, ready to dazzle you with their daring genius

Unexploited brilliance shines forth from every page.

Includes stories by Kathleen Alcala, Minsoo Kang, Anil Menon, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Alex Jennings, Alberto Yanez, Steven Barnes, Jaymee Goh, Karin Lowachee, E. Lily Yu, Andrea Hairston, Tobias Buckell, Hiromi Goto, Rebecca Roanhorse, Indrapramit Das, Chinelo Onwualu and Darcie Little Badger

New Suns Original Speculative Fiction by People of Colour is an anthology showcasing 17 speculative fiction stories written by people of colour. The stories included run the gamut of what speculative fiction has on offer - tales of horror, science fiction, fantasy and stories pushing against the boundaries of classification. The diverse list of contributors draw from the rich tapestries of their own lived experiences and unique cultural heritage to infuse their stories with something special. Most importantly the anthology offers a platform for overlooked talent to shine in all their iridescent hues..

Anthologies are often the most difficult to review and New Suns in particular was tougher than most since it forced me to venture out of my comfort zone, exploring stories from authors with lives and perspectives very different from my own. And that’s a good thing. New perspectives bring new understanding with wonderful new imaginations to explore.

As with any anthology not all of the stories resonated with me. If I like at least half of the stories I consider an anthology a success and New Suns didn’t disappoint. Some standout stories were:

The Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex by Tobias Buckell: Alien tourism to Earth takes a decidedly different turn after an unfortunate incident during a cab ride. A quick, fun story exploring why aliens might find our world attractive. ⭐⭐⭐

Come Home to Atropos by Steven Barnes: An infomercial for euthanasia vacations in a third-world country. Dark humor with a tinge of revenge. ⭐⭐⭐

unkind of mercy by Alex Jennings: A truly unnerving story of beings occupying the same space as we do with sometimes dire consequences. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Three Variations on a Theme of Imperial Attire by E. Lily Yu: An updated version of the Emperor’s New Clothes which hits uncomfortably close to home in today’s society. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Give Me Your Black Wings Oh Sister by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: A beautifully written, haunting tale of the ghosts we carry within ourselves. This has to be my favourite story in the entire collection. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“Some ghosts are woven into walls and others are woven into skin with an unbreakable, invisible thread. You inherit the color of your eyes, but also this thread which chokes you and bites into your heart. If you look back into any family tree you find paupers and merchants and poets and soldiers, and sometimes you find monsters.”

Harvest by Rebecca Roanhorse: Another dark and bloody tale. Love morphs into an act of revenge or is it justice?. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Kelsey and the Burdened Breath by Darcie Little Badger: A touching take on ghosts and ghost hunting. Kelsey shepherd’s souls to the other side with the help of her disembodied dog, but when people are killed she is tasked to locate the burdened breath responsible for the killings. A touching ending and a very interesting take on souls. This was another firm favourite. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Verdict:
Perhaps New Suns’ greatest downfall is that there is no unifying theme aside from the fact that the stories are written by persons of colour. A common theme might have better tied the stories together.  If you are looking for diverse stories by diverse authors then this is certainly an anthology worth checking out. While not all the stories might resonate, you are bound to find at least a few new authors to explore. A good read with some great stories to discover.

The Rating: 6.5/10 (Good)

Thanks to Charlene from Jonathan Ball Publishers for the review copy.

Monday, January 13, 2020

New Arrivals: A Festive Season Haul

Since all my family and friends shy away from given me books as gifts with the old, "You already have so many books. We don't know what to get you..." excuse it has become a tradition for me to spoil myself with bookish gifts. If you don't treat yourself who will?

The plan was to splurge on some Black Friday book sales, but it seems South African retailers have a) no idea how to run an actual Black Friday sale and b) don't have any good book deals. This meant that I ended up not buying any books.

A week afterwards I decided to use my Black Friday book budget to order fivebooks from Reader's Warehouse. Just as my order shipped they announced a 30% off sale if you order 3 or more books. Of course that meant that I had to order even more books...

I ended up picking up a total of 13 books. I'm not sure when I'll get to them, but I have no regrets. None.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

The Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards 2020

Pandora's box has been opened and, since there's no going back now I can finally reveal a secret. Late one evening while minding my own business on Twitter I was accosted by a decidedly shady-looking being wearing a huge coat and an eyepatch. Some words were said, there might have been a secret handshake and somehow I suddenly found myself recruited as a judge for The Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards. To be honest it was all kind of a blur....

What Kind of Awards?
The Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards* was started by C from The Middle Shelf in 2017 to provide a platform for a group of speculative fiction book bloggers to nominate, discuss and award their favourite books of the year. It's the only award* that will rock you. Literally!
(*Well, not exactly awards. We don't take ourselves quite seriously enough for that. And well, it wouldn't be the best stories, just the best stories according to us.)

  • To be eligible for the awards works need to be:
  • Published for the first time in any format in the prior calendar year
  • Republished in a substantially revised format (e.g. a novella being expanded to a novel) in the prior calendar year
  • They are reprinted in the prior calendar year wherein either:
  • For the first time in English;
  • For the first time in the UK; and\or
  • Is republished by a new publisher major publisher when previously published by an independent publisher.

The Rules:
There are some rules. More guidelines actually. They are in constant flux but can be summed up as:
  • to read at least 100 pages or 50% of every novel/novella nominee in a category – or the first 2 books of a series for the best series category – before final voting
  • to have fun and embrace chaos
  • to listen to the concerns of marginalised voices
It's all rather chaotic, but in a good way.

The categories:
  • Best Fantasy Novel
  • Best Science Fiction Novel
  • Best Blurred Boundaries
  • Best Novella
  • Best Complete Series (final instalment published in 2019)
  • Best Short Fiction (Newly introduced for the 2020 awards)

The Judges:
KJ aka @crusaderofchaos (that's me!) is a South African book blogger specialising in all things speculative fiction with a particular love for science fiction. He can be found plodding away at the keyboard trying to make words make sense whenever inspiration, work and power blackouts allows. Occasionally he event posts the reviews at www.worldsinink.blogspot.com

Matt aka Womble aka @Runalongwomble is a book tempter ahem blogger at Runalongtheshelves.net and is the sweet voice on your shoulder telling you that it’s ok to get a new book. Can also be found on Twitter for additional book tempting.

C aka @TheMiddleshelf1 fell into sci-fi and fantasy at 13 and has been hopelessly addicted since. The creation of web provided the means to talk and share about that with actual people when it appeared so C can be found nowadays at www.themiddleshelf.org

Adri aka @AdriJjy is a semi-aquatic mammal currently living in the UK, where she divides her spare time between reading, interacting with dogs and making resolutions about doing more baking. She is a co-editor at 3x Hugo nominated fanzine Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together.

Jane aka @pipsytip is a book blogger and podcaster at www.dumpylittleunicorn.co.uk who has found herself living in the depths of South East London. She loves science fiction and fantasy and blurred genres in between.

Kris aka @hammard_1987 blogs at www.cloakedcreators.com and in various venues around the internet. They spend far too much time reading genre fiction and insist on telling people about them. They love trying everything, the weirder the better

Imyril aka @imyril has been reading for almost as long as she’s been walking (with fewer obvious bruises). She shares her FEELINGS and other opinions about fantasy, sci-fi and speculative fiction at There’s Always Room For One More.

Sara aka @SharadeeReads is a blogger at www.thefantasyinn.com. Morroccan-born Frech Resident, she’s a fan of kissy and stabby books. Ideally both at the same time.

We are currently in the nomination phase for the awards. Deciding which works to nominate is an agonising process. How do you pick just one? How?!.  A list of nominees should be announced as soon as they are finalised. If all goes to plan (which it rarely does) it should be before the end of the month.

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