Human Rosemary is running from her past, and lands a job on the Wayfarer, a wormhole-punching ship whose crew is made up of a variety of sentient beings (some humanoid, some not), and the ship’s AI stitched together into a family of sorts and working toward common goals. The crew lands a major contract for a wormhole job, but the job comes with some risks. This is the crew’s journey to that job, told through 9 different POVs of the crew members.
It’s a fabulously-wrought road trip space opera with gorgeous world-building expressed through Chambers’ characters and their interpersonal relationships and cultural and historical backgrounds, which reveal themselves in layers. The characters that populate this beautifully written journey make this debut unforgettable and Andi and Lise are pretty sure that when you read it, you’ll immediately read the next two books in the series and then read the whole thing again.
Andi and Lise discuss the annual giant writing event, NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, in which participants hammer out a short novel of 50,000 words over the course of November. They tell you what it is, how it works, what some strategies might be to help you approach your NaNo writing project, offer their own experiences doing it, and remind you not to freak out.
If you’re a novice writer, NaNo is a great way to see what the professional writing life is like, because it requires you to write every day if you want to hit that 50,000-word mark by the end of the month. It also provides structure and a writing community, which is really valuable because you need critique to help you grow as a writer.
Andi and Lise RAVE about the book Dread Nation by author Justina Ireland, which is billed as YA but really, EVERYBODY should read it. It’s an amazingly evocative tale of American race relations set against the backdrop of the Civil War but with a twist—zombies. Or, in the parlance of the times, “shamblers.”
From the book description:
Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.
The book deals with race, racial hierarchies as defined by skin color, and how a zombie apocalypse didn’t re-align race relations, but rather simply grafted them onto a new backdrop. The protagonist (Jane) is amazing and the story is well-crafted and you’re swept up in it immediately. READ THIS BOOK.
Lise and Andi geek out over Delilah Dawson’s novel Phasma set in the Star Wars universe. Just released in September through Penguin/Random House, Phasma provides a story of the enigmatic and imposing Captain Phasma, a leader in The First Order (another Star Wars evil empire). From the recent movies, she’s the one dressed in a shiny chrome Stormtrooper outfit who trains First Order recruits.
Dawson’s book provides glimpses of Phasma through two separate parties, which manages to further enhance Phasma’s mystique because it obscures her motivations since we’re not getting the story directly from here, but rather through a second and third party, both of whom have their own narrative arcs. It’s a cleverly layered, intricate story that only makes us more intrigued about Phasma (and there totally needs to be more of her in the movie ’verse! Hint hint Star Wars movie people.).
Andi and Lise totally lose their minds over Hurley’s latest, The Stars are Legion, in which warring worlds are populated only by women in decaying organic world-ships all known as The Legion. The main character, Zan, wakes up to find most of her memories gone, but soon finds out that she is being perpetually sent out to board another world-ship and each time, she comes closer.
Andi and Lise were blown away by Hurley’s world-building – organic world-ships literally birthed by the women who inhabit them, and each with different levels/ecosystems all interrelated (omg the metaphors here!). The story is thus about Zan, who knows that she needs to board this other ship to save Jayd. Jayd, for her part, has her own agenda in bringing change into this warring, authoritarian context. The question is, can they do it and what precisely does “change” mean?
Somewhere on the outer rim of the universe, a mass of decaying world-ships known as the Legion is traveling in the seams between the stars. For generations, a war for control of the Legion has been waged, with no clear resolution. As worlds continue to die, a desperate plan is put into motion.
Zan wakes with no memory, prisoner of a people who say they are her family. She is told she is their salvation – the only person capable of boarding the Mokshi, a world-ship with the power to leave the Legion. But Zan’s new family is not the only one desperate to gain control of the prized ship. Zan finds that she must choose sides in a genocidal campaign that will take her from the edges of the Legion’s gravity well to the very belly of the world.
Zan will soon learn that she carries the seeds of the Legion’s destruction – and its possible salvation. But can she and her ragtag band of followers survive the horrors of the Legion and its people long enough to deliver it?
In the tradition of The Fall of Hyperion and Dune, The Stars Are Legion is an epic and thrilling tale about tragic love, revenge, and war as imagined by one of the genre’s most celebrated new writers.
Andi had a long chat with steampunk author Gail Carriger, writer of multiple award-winning steampunkish genre fiction that melds not only steampunk, but paranormal, urban fantasy, comedy and dashes of romance. If you’re not familiar with her work, start with Book 1 of her first series (the Parasol Protectorate), titled Soulless. The protagonist is Alexia Tarabotti, a woman of some means in alt-Victorian England who is also a preternatural – she negates supernatural powers because she has no soul. Hence, “Soulless.” She is thus capable of temporarily rendering vampires and werewolves non-supernatural.
Carriger is also an aficionado of all things steampunkish and, in particular, the Victorian era.
She is currently writing another series that is a spinoff of the Parasol Protectorate, The Custard Protocol, and she is writing a series of novellas that feature as main characters her LGBTQ characters from the Protectorate/Protocol world. The first, Romancing the Inventor, features lesbian character Madame LeFoux (and you can see an interview about that Andi did at Women and Words).
Synopsis of Soulless:
Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she is being rudely attacked by a vampire to whom she has not been properly introduced! Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire, and the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.
With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?
Lez Geek Out! is a geek culture podcast that celebrates popular culture with an eye for the woman-loving-woman audience. It focuses mainly on work with lesbian/bi/women-loving-women themes/characters, but sometimes strays into territory where the subtext is strong, and the female characters are stronger.
The covers all forms of media are explored, be they books, movies, TV shows, graphic novels, web-comics, or anything else that fits the bill.