Aug 14 2012 11:00am

Sleeps With Monsters: Medley Time!

Today I thought we could do something different. I’m going to bounce up and down about some genre things that made me pretty happy lately. Why? Because when you live somewhere where you don’t even get much sun in the summer, you need to stave off Seasonal Affective Disorder any way you can.

(Honestly, we’re living in the future, people. Where are my cheap-ass sun lamps already? Ireland needs more fake sun!)

And then, you guys, in the comments, you should share some genre feminist-ish stuff than made you happy recently. Consider this open season for squeefulness.

A film, two books, and a handful of rumours walk into a bar.

And the film says, “Let’s get some retro SF pulp and political satire to go with my Nazis, right, lads?”

Iron Sky is co-written by Johanna Sinisalo, a Finnish SF writer whose translated novel Ennen päivänlaskua ei voi (translated in 2003 as Not before sundown and in 2004 as Troll: A Love Story) won the 2004 Tiptree. It’s directed by Timo Vuorensola, the lead singer from a Finnish black metal band. And it’s a really funny terrifically-taking-the-piss pulp retro skiffy film.

The year is 2018. American astronauts set foot on the moon for the first time since the sixties as part of a presidential re-election campaign stunt, for a (comic send-up of a) U.S. President who bears a striking resemblance to a certain ex-Governor of Alaska. Unfortunately for ex-model, astronaut-for-campaign-stunt-only Washington, the dark side of the moon turns out to be the home of the Fourth Reich—Nazi Germany’s 1945 secret space programme gone Moonbase and waiting for their chance to return in triumph, just as soon as they manage to get their Doomsday Machine working. There follows mad hijinks, a campaign manager-slash-fashion-consultant with a Big Damn Gun, and as entertaining a space battle as anyone might ask for. The Space Nazis have flying saucers. I haven’t laughed so much at a film that wanted me to laugh at it in years.

And, bonus: the women and black astronaut do all the cool shit™. And survive. I’m not calling it a perfectly feminist film, but damn, I haven’t seen a film (in which many things blow up!) with three women in leading roles in half of forever.

And I haven’t seen as intentionally funny a film in quite a while, either.


And the books say, “Retro SF pulp? We’ll have ghosts and compassion, and Out West zombie science, thanks.”

Ten or fifteen years ago, I imagine, neither Michelle Sagara’s Silence, nor the Lackey-Edghill collaboration of Dead Reckoning, would have hit the shelves as Young Adult fiction. But genre labels change, and what’s grown-up fantasy one decade is YA the next.

Silence (subtitle: Book One of the Queen of the Dead) is a book that delighted me. It has interesting fantastic cool shit™, a compelling, realistic teenage young woman protagonist who looks like someone I could recognise from my own (not so long ago, all things considered) schooldays, and a supporting cast of interesting people about evenly divided male and female. It’s a book with a strong sense of compassion, one I devoured in one sitting and whose sequel I am looking forward to with great anticipation.

Dead Reckoning is slightly less delightful. Its premise is essentially Zombies in the Wild West, and it has two wonderful female characters. Jett Gallatin, the cross-dressing ex-Southern belle, is searching for her brother in post-war Texas, and Honoria “call me Gibbons” Gibbons, scientist and Rationalist, who drives her steam-powered Auto-Tachypode around debunking things in time to prevent her father from investing in madcap schemes. Thrown together by circumstance, they have to work to discover the cause of the zombie army depopulating parts of Texas—Gibbons through the powers of SCIENCE WONDERFUL SCIENCE, and Jett less through science and more through seat-of-the-pants.

Unfortunately, the third main character, White Fox, is an Indian scout. And, you know, great! Wonderful! But it’s 2012, people! You can put a Native American Army scout in your books without him having been White Boy Raised By Indians! Considering there are no other obvious non-white people in the whole book, my happiness at the female characters is rather tempered by my disappointment at the failure of its intersectionality.

(On the plus side, neither Silence nor Dead Reckoning has a hackneyed love triangle.)

Oh, and guess what else made me happy that’s shorter than a novel and longer than a rumour? A Subterranean Press novella, Elizabeth Bear’s ad eternam, the bittersweet “capstone” to her New Amsterdam wampyr stories. And Aliette de Bodard’s brilliant short story “Immersion” at Clarkesworld Magazine.

And the rumours said, “Let’s have a party!”

I hear hard-SF author Tricia Sullivan’s finally got ebooks for her Orbit UK titles Lightborn, Maul, Sound Mind, and Double Vision. Pity I’m student-broke, but maybe next time I get paid, I’ll mosey over to someplace (like Kobobooks: I’m dreading the day their software catches up to geographical restrictions) that doesn’t care if I’m not on British soil and see how well they live up to their high reputation.

I also hear Baen’s selling advance e-copies of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance. The word (from people like Karen Healey) seems to be on the happy side.

And someone please tell me if Kameron Hurley’s Infidel is as brutally interesting as God’s War? The third book’s coming this autumn and if book two is like book one, then I need to get caught up.

So what’s made you guys happy lately?

Liz Bourke has forgotten what free time is. If you see any running wild, please directed it towards her.

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Amy Palmer
1. wayfaringpanda
I just finished reading The Steel Seraglio by Mike Carey, Linda Carey and Louise Carey. Almost the entire cast is female, it takes place in an ancient Arabic culture, and the issues of gender are handled brilliantly. I adored this book, and will probably put it on my yearly re-read list.
Fade Manley
2. fadeaccompli
Over on the MG/YA side of things, I'll recommend Kat, Incorrigible as a cute magic-and-Regency adventure story, wherein the protagonist has two annoying older sisters... who are developed characters with motivations of their own! Who actually care about each other, even when deeply angry! It's almost sad how excited I was to discover that a female protagonist could have annoying sisters--even one who, gasp, likes dresses and romance!--without them being shallow caricatures and villains. It's a somewhat predictable book, but entertaining, and even the obligatory Wicked Stepmother gets a little depth. It's full of women and girls who are more than their archetypes.
shawn keeling
3. longerwaves
Hurley's Infidel is at least as good, if not better than God's War, but that is my own humble opinion. "The Rook", by Daniel O'Malley is also really good, and for a little light(er) reading I suggest The Eli Monpress novels by Rachel Aaron, in their recently re-released Omnibus edition's. I just finished "The Legend Of Eli Monpress" and starte on the second whole heartedly suggest these books if your looking for something that you can breeze through. Light reading that will keep you engaged throughout and funny to boot.
William Carter
4. wcarter
Lack of sun eh? Well come stateside and you can have all the sunshine you can stomach and then some.

Half our country is in a drought that's literally cooking our crops in the field and is quite literally threatening to run my well dry (and yes I do have well water but the pump is electric and runs just the same as regular public water--albeit cleaner--thankyouverymuch).

Anywho I think I'll look into Dead Reckoning. I'm of the opinion Louis L'Amour did white indian scouts to death 30 years ago, but I like a western now and again.

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