The first novel by Ada Hoffmann, a Canadian author. A Lovecraft subversion of ultimately almost an entire planet brings on the Inquisition, AI gods originally created by man from our current lowly computers (since banned as heretic by the AI), and dependent on a diet of human minds. The protagonist, Yasira, like the author, is autistic and it enables her to grasp patterns that elude others, ultimately her Inquisitor as well. In doing so she finds a place in The Outside for herself and the love of her life, and a way of carefully balancing and joining the humans on the subverted planet into the pattern of The Outside, so they have agency in it. Weaving humanism into cosmicism at the hands of a ‘neuro-divergent’ protagonist like that, to me is a beautiful subversion in itself of Lovecraft (1890-1937), whose rascist nativist mind’s nihilism can’t be seen separate from the stranger than fiction he wrote.

An epistolary novel, spanning the ages and the many-verse branches of a time war. The Agency, a post-singularity technoworld, and The Garden, a world spanning consciousness based in all organic matter, each field agents to nudge history towards themselves as inevitable outcome of time. Red and Blue are opposing agents that enter into correspondence. Co-written by Amal el-Mothar and Max Gladstone. A very different story, which made it great fun to read.

I had thought there would be no more Murderbot stories, as the last one seemed to come to an end. But this longer book makes an interesting jump, using a side branch from an earlier installment, as well as breaking out of having just the one Murderbot’s internal contemplations towards contemplating how constructs might come to terms with socialisation and group forming. In a sense this one was more about depression and recovering mental health, where the previous stories used the protagonist’s robotic mental health more like a prop or source of irony.

This is a collection of short stories by N.K. Jemisin (I’ve been reading her work in the past weeks, similar to how I read all books by other authors when I encounter something I liked.). The title attracted me, and I didn’t know it was a collection of short stories. Jemisin says she started writing short stories as stepping stones towards novel writing. She didn’t want to at first, did it following advice, but came to enjoy it.
Some of the stories are recognisable from her novels, where elements got re-used, or entire worlds flowed from the short story. There are many other stories in there, which allows one to hope for more novels 🙂

I also read Emergency Skin, a story not in this collection.

I’m reading N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. Currently about half way through. It’s set in New York City, and the city is coming alive as a sentient entity. It builds on how cities can feel like there’s something to them that’s bigger than its parts, that constitutes some sort of character, personhood. Berlin does that for me, which attracts and repulses me at the same time. Copenhagen does too, like a comfortable coat during a beautifully glowing, but unexpectedly chilly sunset. London, yes, inspiring and gritty. And NYC, indeed. The image below is from my first visit to NYC, in ’93. With two friends we drove our car from up near Albany to Yonkers and then down the entire Manhattan peninsula taking in our surroundings, right down to Times Square, and exploring from there on foot. It was a grimy city then I felt. Another visit, just weeks after 9/11 it was a griefing city, putting everything into sharper focus, oddly clear sounds in the city’s overall din, more saturated colors, right along side the stench wafting over it all from its deep smouldering wound at ground zero.

Looking at the images, listening to Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ Empire State of Mind.

NYC in 1993, from Empire State Building, looking down E34th and E33th towards Lexington Av

This book picks up a month after Escapology, and forms a whole with it. Virology is a cyberpunk novel in which your avators turn out to be created from essential parts of your identity, so when someone locks them all up in the Slip, a VR internet, you feel amputated. The protagonist has a biological piece of software taking over its implanted harddrive and then his brain and body, while chasing down the antagonists with his gang. All ends well, just knee deep in gore. There’s something in Warom’s writing, an edginess and friction that keeps me reading.

So I bought her other published work and read that too.
Ren Warom hasn’t maintained her own online presence, other than Twitter, after 2018 it seems, and her Instagram account since the spring of 2019 (though I did take a few reading tips from the book images she posted there before).