*I received a copy of Falling in Love with Hominids through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
That first noise must have come from the powerful kick. It crashed like the sound of cannon shot. A second bang followed, painfully, stupefyingly loud; then a concussion of air from the direction of the front door as it collapsed inward. Jenny didn’t even have time to react. She sat up straight on her couch, that was all. The elephant was in the living room almost immediately. Jenny went wordlessly still in fright and disbelief. She lived on the fifteenth floor.
Nalo Hopkinsons’ Falling in Love with Hominids has some fantastic gems. The book collects short stories from throughout her career. Each story has a brief introduction about what led to the story’s creation. The topics are wide ranging and include viral-infection induced apocalypses, fire breathing chickens, and Shakespearean retellings.
I’ve been on a bit of a Nalo Hopkinson kick over the last few months. Generally speaking, I like Nalo Hopkinson. I think her stuff is interesting and creative. Granted, not everything always hits home, but overall, I find her writing enjoyable. So, of course, I was so excited to find out there was a new Nalo Hopkinson.
The stories in this collection are great. There’s a very dynamic feel to them and the characters are well-developed given the page lengths. I was (pleasantly) surprised to see that there was a good deal of variation in length. While many of the stories are about what I’d consider average length for a short story (around the 15-20 pg mark), there were some short but sweet additions to the collection as well.
One of the best parts for me was the introductory paragraphs. At the stories’ starts, there’s a brief introduction in Nalo’s words about the inspiration or prompting for the stories. Some of these are funny and others more serious, but I enjoyed the contextualizing of the tales. It added value to my experience.
The only thing I wish were in the collection was a date or year that the story was originally written. This would have given a sense of chronology and connection. The stories aren’t necessarily themed, and they don’t build off one another necessarily. The connectivity there would have been nice, but that’s much more of a perk than a needed addition to the collection.
Overall, it was a fantastic collection with a lot of variety and satisfying stories.
You can find Nalo Hopkinson’s Falling in Love with Hominids on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1I5vwSx
or on Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1AJ7KMg
City of Stairs takes place in a world where a slave and servant class uprising that turns into a war that literally destroys the Gods. Generations later, the city of Bulikov, once the meeting place of the gods, is in shambles and inter-generational, systemic poverty actively enforced by the ruling government has made the area rife with conflict. What’s worse, the former ruling class (now the impoverished and oppressed) are denied any knowledge of their history and acknowledgement of their gods is illegal.
A cultural ambassador meant to bridge the differences between the cultures is violently murdered. Shara Thavani, an operative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is sent in to investigate the murder, only to uncover that the gods are not as dead as the world believes.
Bennett’s novel has a great sense of timing. Though the plot is not very action driven, the action existing in it is well timed and impactful. Shara and her “Northman” bodyguard named Sigrud have some fantastic battles against the gods and the gods’ pets.
The real shining star of the novel, though, is the character building. Bennett’s characters are fully-fleshed and are very different from one another. Even the supporting characters are well written and feel like real people. Bennett’s female characters are awesome. One of my biggest issues with women in SFF is the way authors often sacrifice emotion or depth of emotional response in female characters in exchange for clever or physically capable characters. Bennett’s story was full of women who had varied roles, positions, and personalities. Each one is emotionally developed and intriguing. They’re also all capable. Shara is a great example, but my favorite character in this regard (as much as I loved Shara) was the Bulikov governor. The governor, who is also a military officer, is determined and capable, but also is given a great depth of character with independent motivations.
Just an outstanding job. Easily a favorite for the year.
I received a copy of City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett for free in exchange for an honest review from BloggingforBooks.com. And boy am I glad I did.