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Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Nanoreviews: Kingdom of Needle and Bone, Alice Payne Arrives, State Tectonics
Grant, Mira. Kingdom of Needle and Bone [Subterranean Press]
Kingdom of Needle and Bone is a bit more didactic than I've come to expect from Mira Grant. The opening of the novella leans hard on the anti-vaccination movement and Grant doesn't much let up. She grounds her story with horrifying science, how outbreaks and pandemic spread, and ties into into the grief of one particular family. The, and only then, Grant twists the knife in what the spread of "Morris' Disease" means for the world. Kingdom of Needle and Bone is gripping, horrifying, and excellent. As Mira Grant does.
Heartfield, Kate. Alice Payne Arrives [Tor.com Publishing]
Alice Payne Arrives is a pure delight from start to finish. This is a time travel story where factions from the future are working at odds to write / re-write the past in order to get the future just right. We learn early on that Prudence has lived the same day over and over and over again in the attempt to nudge future history just right and nail her objective. Time travel isn't easy. Alice is a biracial noblewoman in England who just happens to be moonlighting as a highwayman, robbing those wealthy who have done wrong. Sort of a robin hood figure, except that she's paying off her father's debts. Alice gets tumbled into the time mess and between Prudence and Alice we have two formidable and delightful characters to follow. Kate Heartfield's novella is breezily serious and I immediately wanted more.
Older, Malka. State Tectonics [Tor.com Publishing]
If taken as something that is important by itself, the execution of the plot of State Tectonics is perhaps less effective than its description: there is a rebellion and conspiracy against Information, the Google / UN / Election Management / All Knowing / All Seeing organization. Where Malka Older shines is the working out of her ideas about democracy / micro democracy, politics, the power of information (lower case), self determination, corporations as governments, and so much more. All in a tight package.
While I understand that history is not a straight line towards progress and better and more equitable societies, Malka Older offers optimism of what one way forward might look like while being open about the challenges. If this is the future of democracy, I think it's one worth striving for and moving beyond simple national boundaries.
POSTED BY: Joe Sherry - Co-editor of Nerds of a Feather, 2017 & 2018 Hugo Award Finalist for Best Fanzine. Minnesotan.