Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships Jan 25

Happy Friday to all you travelers from past, future, and present! Today we’re talking about fantasy graphic novels, subverted gender roles, recaps for series, sharks, and Long Division by Kiese Laymon.

This newsletter is sponsored by Tor Teen.

A young girl wearing armor and wielding two glowing blades stands against a gray backgroundIn the lower wards of Kahnzoka, eighteen-year-old ward boss Isoka enforces the will of her criminal masters with the power of Melos, the Well of Combat. When her magic is discovered by the government, she’s arrested and brought to the Emperor’s spymaster, who sends her on an impossible mission: steal Soliton, a legendary ghost ship. On board Soliton, nothing is as simple as it seems. She doesn’t expect to have to contend with feelings for a charismatic fighter who shares her combat magic, or for a fearless princess who wields an even darker power.

Y’all, we had a World of Fantasy Day on Book Riot and there was so much good content, I’m just going to link to the full round-up of posts. If you’re looking to read lots of different kinds of fantasy from lots of different parts of the globe, get clicking.

And if you’d like more graphic novels in your fantasy diet, here’s a great post for that.

On Tuesday I noted that Leigh Bardugo’s work will be adapted by Netflix; if you’re not sure where to start with her work and want to catch up, we’ve got a reading pathway!

So far this month on SFF Yeah!, Sharifah and I have talked about some of our most anticipated stand-alones and sequels of 2019.

Where is the petition to make recap chapters a thing in series books? I will gladly sign it.

Subversion of gender roles is one of my favorite things to see in SF/F novels, and this round-up of five includes a couple I haven’t read yet!

Which SF author correctly predicted the Internet? To be quite honest I would not have predicted any of these three possible names!

Scientists for the continued win: a shark is now named after Galaga!

Today’s review is for a book that takes time travel into rarely-traveled territory.

Long Division by Kiese Laymon

a rusted, broken chain lays against a light, bark-pattern backgroundTrigger warnings: family violence, racial violence, use of slurs

Laymon is currently best known for his nonfiction writin, in particular his intense memoir Heavy (which I talked about on All the Books), but his first novel is a meta-fictional time travel novel that is well worth your time if you like weird, funny, and heart-breaking coming-of-age novels.

Long Division takes place across two narratives. In 2013, Citoyen “City” Coldson melts down on a nationally-televised vocabulary contest and has to deal with his sudden infamy, structural and overt racism, and the everyday hazards of teenage life. His one comfort during the aftermath of his meltdown is a book called Long Division by an unknown author. Chapters from this internal Long Division are woven into City’s story, and follow the exploits of another young black boy named City who lives in 1985 and discovers a hole in the woods that allows him to travel back and forward in time — but only to two specific times, 2013 and 1964. As the story moves back and forth the two narratives become increasingly intertwined, and the various characters have to choose when and how they want to live — and what that might mean for those they love.

I’m a sucker for a “book within a book,” and time travel well-handled (NO TIME LOOPS, PLEASE) is another personal favorite, so this book was like catnip. We so rarely get time travel books about characters of color, much less teenaged ones, and Long Division contemplates both its pleasures and dangers through an adolescent perspective. The results are refreshing, occasionally hilarious, and also made me want to reach into the book and yell “OH GOD DON’T DO THAT!”. But let there be no doubt that this book is not breezy or light-hearted — the issues City and his friends encounter are real, dangerous, and life-changing.

If you’re down for a weird, wild ride that will make you sit up, pay attention, and think about it well after the last page, pick this up ASAP, particularly if you’re a fan of Charles Yu, Victor LaValle, and/or Jeff VanderMeer.

And that’s a wrap! You can find all of the books recommended in this newsletter on a handy Goodreads shelf. If you’re interested in more science fiction and fantasy talk, you can catch me and my co-host Sharifah on the SFF Yeah! podcast. For many many more book recommendations you can find me on the Get Booked podcast with the inimitable Amanda, or on Twitter as jennIRL.

Don’t step on any butterflies,