What I've Been Reading, November 2020 Edition II
Time to drop my second batch of books for the month. All speculative fiction this time, including one hell of a novella. I don't usually read novellas, but All Systems Red might convince me to burn through more.
Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff
What can I say? I don't usually read horror, but this book is terrific. See my post dedicated to this novel and HBO's spin-off for details.
All Systems Red by Martha Welles
Admittedly, I was a bit reluctant to chow through this novella after reading comparisons to Ann Leckie's books. I wasn't able to get into Ancillary Justice for some reason. I didn't have that problem with All Systems Red. Without giving too much away, the story is a fairly straightforward space adventure with plenty of action. What provides the piece with its cutting edge chops is the narrator, who refers to itself as Murderbot.
What Welles does exceptionally well in this work is to create a narrator who is just alien enough to be unique while remaining human enough to be relatable, sympathetic, and even likable. Budding authors will be well served by studying how this is done.
A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie
This is the third book I've read recently by Lord Grimdark and is by far my least favorite. I enjoyed the other two. Hell, I loved Red Country. Maybe the story is just too damn grim for reading during the endless pandemic. Then again, perhaps not. First off, there's not nearly as much adventure/misadventure found in A Little Hatred compared to some of Abercrombie's other books. Second, all the characters are utter bastards. Now, that's not unusual for an Abercrombie book, but usually, I have an easier time finding redeeming qualities in a few of the lead characters. Not so in this novel.
Having said that, I think fans of Abercrombie will eat up A Little Hatred and be ravenous for more. One thing Abercrombie does admirably in this novel is to provide a compelling backdrop of upheaval–dynastic disruptions and an industrial revolution. I just wish I had enjoyed the dastardly characters more.