Sister Mine, Planet Midnight, and a Girl Named Karen

There is something engaging and exciting about reading about worlds other than this one. No matter how alien that other landscape appears at first contact, there is always something that feels like home.

Speaking of home, I rad the most interesting yarn about a pair of magical twins by Nalo Hopkinson named Sister Mine. 

Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson

I’m not SAYING its about a family of Orisha but… Abby and Makeda Joli were born as conjoined twins. Surgery separated them, but left Abby with a shortened leg and limo and Makeda with no mojo. Tired of being different from the rest of the Family, Makeda moves I to a building with Shine. There, she meets a motley cast of characters, gets chased by a dangerous spirit, and learns the Truth about her birth. Plot twists keep the reader guessing in this magical and moving novel. Some familiarity with African Traditional Religions might be helpful to recognize the Family members, but isn’t necessary. Points off for mentions of incest (eww!), but perhaps since they are celestial/mythological beings, the rules are different for them? In any case, loved this book, and recommend it for people with a love of ATR, magical realism, non-European based fantasy, and or stories that feel like home.

I followed that one up by exploring a bit more of what Nalo Hopkinson had to say. I came across the PM Press Outspoken Authors series, of Hopkinson’s is titled Report From Planet Midnight.

Report from Planet Midnight by Nalo Hopkinson

As I wrote on Goodreads, “Containing 2 short stories, an interview, and a speech made after the great RaceFail ’09, “Report From Planet Midnight” is a short book that makes me fall in love with Nalo Hopkinson over and over again. Hopkinson tackles race, identity, and mainstream publishing with a booming voice and steady pen. “Shift”, one of the short stories, brings to mind (and uses the names of) some of the characters from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” In the interviews with Terry Bisson, Hopkinson offers a glimpse of her writing process, slays critics, and explains quotes that have been taken out of context. At only 100 pages (112, including the bibliography), “Report” is a book that makes me want to lock myself in my office and write. Recommended for writers and lovers of Nalo Hopkinson (and her works).”

To calm myself down a bit from the magical high I was coasting on, I picked up Elizabeth Bear’s latest novel, Karen Memory.

Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

Karen Memery─yes, with an “e”─is a *ahem* “seamstress” at Hotel Mon Cherie, owned and ran by Madame Damnable. She keeps company with a mixed bag of sisters of vastly different backgrounds. Trouble finds them one night, in the form of a wounded─shot─girl who makes her way in the world freeing and saving other girls who are in the brothel business against their will. Close on their heels is the escaped girl’s former master, Peter Bantle, and his mind-altering machine. Within days, dead streetwalkers begin turning up, a US Marshal rides into town chasing the killer, and a rigged mayoral race comes into play. Karen and her friends must stop Bantle’s plans by risking everything─their hour, their trade, their money, and their lives. “Karen Memory” caught my attention right off the bat because “WOMEN!” Strong-willed, outspoken, daring women who are unafraid to show a bit of their true selves in this steampunk, alternate reality 1870s in what is now the Seattle Underground. People of color are more than props, a transwoman is more than a joke or a punchline, and a queer love affair is at the forefront of the plot. This book was a wonderful way to pass time.

That’s all for this round, though I’m just beginning a new (to me) series known as Magic Ex Libris. The first book, Libriomancer, presents itself thus: Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of the secret organization founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg. Libriomancers are gifted with the ability to magically reach into books and draw forth objects. When Isaac is attacked by vampires that leaked from the pages of books into our world, he barely manages to escape. To his horror he discovers that vampires have been attacking other magic-users as well, and Gutenberg has been kidnapped. With the help of a motorcycle-riding dryad who packs a pair of oak cudgels, Isaac finds himself hunting the unknown dark power that has been manipulating humans and vampires alike. And his search will uncover dangerous secrets about Libriomancy, Gutenberg, and the history of magic. . . .

Seems legit.
Happy reading!

 

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