dill & fennel


2020: 20 books

Network Effect — Martha Wells

It’s nice to really stretch my legs in the Murderbot world. I hope Wells writes more novels in this fun universe, and we get to see Murderbot grow further past its general emotional discomfort.

Finna — Nino Cipri

A fun romp through an IKEA multiverse with a queer couple and a missing grandma. I had fun with this, and the short length meant I blazed through it almost too fast. I hope there’s more from Cipri soon.

Zero History — William Gibson

I read this slowly to really savor it. The last book in the Blue Ant trilogy is the most oddball and fun, but always comes with the knowledge that I won’t get to adventure with Millgrim and Hollis again until I reread the series yet again in the future. It’s fascinating how thoroughly Gibson identified the coming brand drops, denim obsession, and obsession with quadrocopters. As a sage of the near future, he feels unparalleled.

Spook Country — William Gibson

A delightful reread of a really fun Gibson near-future/near-past adventure. There are so many moments in this book that make me super jealous I didn’t conceive of them. The Blue Ant trilogy owns bones.

Polaris Rising — Jessie Mihalik

A mix of space caper and Harlequin Romance, there was entirely too much straight sex in this for me. But, if you think “space operas should have more picking out dresses and rough hands on waists,” then this is the book for you.

Zero Sum Game — SL Huang

Ah a female protagonist who uses her math expertise to leap through windows and shoot bad guys! This book ruled. I’m not sure what this character’s “struggle” is going to be, because in the first book at least she’s a little invincible, but either way it was fun.

The Factory — Hiroko Oyamada

A strange, short book with some challenging dialogue formatting. I really loved the small vignettes of slightly-slanted banal work life in The Factory. I’m excited to read more of Oyamada’s work, because despite reading quite a bit of Japanese fiction, I haven’t had the chance to read very many Japanese women. I hope that I either get better at kanji to the point I can read from the source, or more translators translate other women.

Empress of Forever — Max Gladstone

A fun space romp with a Jobsian lesbian protagonist and a strange cast of characters. This quickly shifts into a very different book from what it starts as, but I still loved it. More space lesbians, please.

A Song for a New Day — Sarah Pinsker

Welp, my second book for the month was another plague book, albeit one that largely took place in the aftermath of a pox. I enjoyed this book quite a bit, even if it was a little too hopeful for my usual taste. Honestly, it was a little refreshing to read a book where cool women make music and care about each other, and hope for the future. Thanks Haley for the tip on this one.

Wanderers — Chuck Wendig

Phew, that was a dark fucking book. With the pandemic going on in the world right now, this wasn’t a very good idea to read, but I’m glad I finished it. Just about every bad thing you can imagine happens in this book, so I have a hard time recommending it, but perhaps for folks who don’t believe in global warming or in the danger of a pandemic, this will give them pause.

Lurking — Joanne McNeil

A very interesting look at the history of the internet as a user. One of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in a while.

The Longing for Less — Kyle Chayka

This was far funnier than I expected, and also taught me a lot about a few areas of art and architecture I didn’t know about. A really informative and fun book.

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Outline — Rachel Cusk

This was recommended to me, but I can’t say I loved it. The story here read more as a series of strange anecdotes, without a lot of core thread to grasp. There are two more books in this series, but I think I may pass on them.

Agency — William Gibson

A nearly present-day story of AI, art, and San Francisco. I really enjoyed this Peripheral sequel, though I think on the whole the fashion and strange web world of the previous trilogy was more my speed. I hope we get one more book with Netherton, Ash and company.

Mainline — Deborah Christiansen

A fun throwback to the world of cyber decks and assassins. I wish I’d found this in 1996, but it holds up well. The plot got a little convoluted, but supposedly there’s a very recent sequel, so perhaps there will be payoff.

Uncanny Valley — Anna Weiner

Ah, the tech industry. I’ve been working in this world for over a decade and this book felt like a survey of it. I know a few people mentioned in the chapters, and am unfortunately very familiar with many of the events. I think Weiner did a great job of capturing the constant, weird feeling of trying to survive and often getting lost in the self-satisfied world of tech founders and “disruption”.

Throne of Glass — Sarah J. Maas

I was drawn to this book by the front cover and the vague notion that it might be like Gideon the Ninth. It’s not exactly super different, but it’s clearly YA, where Gideon is not. I may continue the series, as it was decently compelling, but I wish it were more genre and less youth.

Unsubscribe — Jocelyn Glei

Although this book is deep in the details of email, most of it applies just as well to Slack and other forms of messaging. I appreciate her approach to mindful work, as well as how she thinks about the problems of people and communication. A worthwhile read, especially if you struggle with a mountain of other people’s problems

The Walking Man — Jiro Taniguchi

The art in this manga is gorgeous. I especially love the way the leaves and grass are drawn. The stories are largely dialogue-less vignettes that meander through cities and the countryside, taking it all in. When I open this book, I wish I were in Japan again, following stray cats around town.

Emily Eternal — M.G. Wheaton

This is an interesting take on apocalyptic fiction. With an AI protagonist and a dying sun, the story careens across the Americas and then even further. There’s a strange love story I didn’t care much for, but otherwise this was a nice romp.


* Lesbian Book Club

** Ghost Book Club

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