More Linkety Links

Here's a critical mass of links of interest, many related to reviews.  In general, I'm not a huge fan of most of the reviews that I see - they don't usually pique my interest in a book (which I tend to find via Twitter), or influence my reading of other books (which I enjoy), so the genre of review that gives an overview of a book, situating it in place and showing strengths/weaknesses usually falls flat for me, through no fault of the individual reviews.  Of course, last episode I ran this review because it said many things I'd thought of, plus a few I'd missed & praised one of my favorite books, so I'm clearly not all that consistent.

More up my alley is this great review from William Morris that discusses a single aspect of Sofia Samatar's Stranger in Olondria (it's relation to the Bildungsroman) and a set of other links to other reviews along with some of what makes them special.  This seems to me an excellent practice, and one I may try to emulate.  This recent review of All The Birds in the Sky from Ira at Ladybusiness also pokes at a particular piece of the book, in this case the ways that it plays with tropes, and comes away a little dissatisfied, but mostly made me step up to questions about how I think about gender, and interrogating tropes in whatever I'm choosing to read. (Dammit, I need a screenshot of Ethan Robinson's "subverting the trope reifies the trope!" tweet to drop in here).  I'll note that Ira also links to a bunch of other reviews, including Renay's more favorable review at Ladybusiness.

Kiplet made an offhand remark about these reviews that target a piece of the book and then reach out to a group of other reviewers to present other takes.

If a series of targeted reviews that both pick apart an aspect of the book (and challenge me to do the same elsewhere) and curate other takes are fun, so are statements of a genre that happen to discuss a book along the way.  I pointed to Ethan's not-review of The Weave last time, and I'm going to add @CouchToMoon's survey of Military SF to that list.  I've also been doing some thinking about Epic Fantasy and government and worldbuilding.

I've also enjoyed a few movie reviews recently, all of which are looking at big speculative blockbusters and asking what we have to suspend in order to believe.  Ronan Willis takes aim at individuals versus structural oppression in The Hunger Games. Here's @stepquietly on how the MCU is centered on America & the global north, and here's Abigail Nussbaum taking apart the problems with a simple #TeamCap / #TeamIronMan dichotomy.  There's a bit in Speculative Blackness about how speculative fiction often uses allegory to talk about complex problems, and sometimes (i.e. Captain Sisko, black captain in Starfleet) just using real history is a better way to go.  That seems connected to these reviews in that it's asking what the genre is directing us away from while trying (appearing?) to ask other interesting questions.

That's a lot of stuff about reviews, and it's all the meta-commentary I've got. The rest of these are just things I've found interesting.

Here's a post about why a Captain America takedown was a bad idea that I think is a good way to say "I screwed up" and also "Here are reasons we screw up" (implicitly - look, we could do better!)

SFBluestocking is reading Dune and it's really interesting to see the novel from naive eyes.

Octavia Cade's series on food & horror at booksmugglers continues to be amazing.  This installment is really nice on the ways that consumption can be complicated and given new meanings. Plus story recommendations!

Here's Nina Allan on the Clarke Awards.  There's actually some interesting discussion of these awards and how they are (and/or aren't) reflecting SF right now? I'm going to be reading this year's shortlist and discussing with a few guests.

Here's Mensah Demary on Miami Vice, and what we're doing when we watch shows, and giving interiority to black characters, and a whole lot more besides.  This one just needs to be read & experienced, but it's worth it.

I was never all that connected to Prince, but this remembrance from Tressie McMillan Cottom about Prince & genius and paths foreclosed was good. I think there's an art to speaking about a cultural moment when it's not your job.  This one was good.

"Magic is Afoot" from Ethan last year that Cecily Kane reminded me of about belief and magic and fantasy and I argued with him about it, because I think it misses my personal experience of not believing but desiring to believe, but it's worth arguing with.