Sleeps With Monsters

Sleeps With Monsters: Space Opera and Explosions

I’ve been reading several books that I’d like to be able to tell you about in detail. Unfortunately, a feverish chest infection is really really good at wiping the details from my mind, so I can only talk about these excellent books in the broadest strokes. Still, if you need a pick-me-up? Here’s some reading I’d very much like to recommend to you.

Long-WayIt took me a long while to get around to reading Becky Chambers’ The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet. I confess that the title put me off a little: it seemed to signal something humorous, and I have peculiar tastes in that direction. But instead of being an intentionally funny book, The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet is a story of finding one’s own way, and making one’s own family. Set aboard a small ship, it gives us the story of a disparate crew of misfits, who don’t quite belong anywhere—except with each other. It’s a warm, friendly book, the kind of novel that wants you to be happy. Although, I admit, I find the plot difficult to sum up: there’s a little bit of shooting and some mortal peril, but mostly it’s a story about going out into the wider world and learning more about it, and about oneself. The characters are endearing as well as compelling, and I should like nothing so much as to be able to read more of their adventures. It is, all told, a remarkably comforting and uplifting novel.

EarthriseM.C.A. Hogarth’s Her Instruments trilogy is a series of which I’d never have heard were it not for James Davis Nicolls’ review of the first novel, Earthrise. As it turns out, Earthrise was free to download on Kobo, so I could satisfy my curiosity—and get hooked—with astonishing ease. I have a weakness for space opera with rundown freighters and mismatched crews—indeed, I suspect my affection for The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet is so large in part because I’m already primed to like what it does with the space opera form—and for stories in which members of a culture that lives with a lower level of technology than the rest of the universe… end up navigating that wider universe. Along with smugglers, pirates, slavers, and explosions, of course.

A few years ago, a mysterious patron saved Reese Eddings from bankruptcy and paid off the loans on her ship. Now that patron is finally calling in the favour: rescue Hirianthial Sarel Jisiensire, a member of the reclusive race of touch-empaths (and occasionally telepaths) known as the Eldritch from the trouble he’s got himself into investigating slavers. One thing leads to another, and before long Hirianthial is a member of Reese’s crew—and Reese is elbow-deep in Eldritch politics. The trilogy as a whole—Earthrise, Rose Point, and Laisrathera — is an incredibly fun ride, even if I’m not as invested in the romantic elements of the relationship between Reese and Hirianthial as in the stuff blowing up.

What are you all reading?

Liz Bourke is a cranky person who reads books. She has recently completed a doctoral dissertation in Classics at Trinity College, Dublin. Find her at her blog. Or her Twitter.

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