The Lady Astronaut Series by Mary Robinette Kowal
This is a two-for-one. The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky are both wonderful fictionalized stories that began with the very real historical story of the “Computers” – the women who did the math for NASA in the years before modern computing. Mary Robinette Kowal takes these women to the place they deserved to go but never actually got the opportunity to see: Space. These lady astronauts get to break
I’ve never read anything of Kowal’s that I didn’t love, but however fantastical this adventure is, it has its roots in a very real bit of history that is too easily forgotten, and I loved every moment of it. If you haven’t yet, go read them!
Semiosis by Sue Burke
I love the idea of non-humanoid versions of sentience. I mean, I’m the girl who rewrote Beauty and the Beast wherein the Beast was a sentient rose, and I’ve always loved those science-fiction shows where the ship (or time-ship) has a very real mind of its own, so it was no surprise to me when I found myself loving Semiosis. It’s a colonization story – humans flee earth and find what they think is a perfect, habitable planet but one where life has not evolved to the point of sapience. They are, however, wrong, and must then find a way to co-exist with the planet’s native intelligence, the plant-life around them.
While I occasionally have issues with colonial stories – many of them tend to be a little too imperialistic in their thinking for me – humanity here is very much at the disadvantage and must prove its worth to the dominant species.
The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire
How often has Seanan McGuire ended up on these lists on my blog? I love her work so much while also being completely jealous of how prolific she is. I can barely manage to finish a handful of short stories in a year, while she’s publishing several novels under two different pseudonyms. How? How does she do it? She almost single-handedly keeps me in reading
The Girl in the Green Silk Gown follows Rose Marshall, a familiar character from the Incryptid series, in her own travels through the ghost roads. Though it is technically Book Two of the Ghost Roads series, it is more a collection of related short stories than a continuous narrative, and can easily be picked up and read on its own. Rose is a hitchhiking ghost – and if you know ghost stories, you know the type – killed on prom night and become a sort of reaper, a ghost to escort those who die on the roads to their final homes. But Bobby Cross – the one who killed her – is back on the scene and she’s determined to get her revenge and stop him from making more ghosts of the highway.
Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne
I really, really needed something funny, here and there, this year. I picked up this book when I visited the bookstore in desperate search of something to occupy my mind during one of my mother’s stays in the hospital and I am so glad I did. Kill The Farm Boy is in the same sort of humorous tradition as Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, has a similar sort of irreverent humor as Goldman’s The Princess Bride, and it was exactly what I needed when I found it. I found myself laughing out loud in places. Sure, it’s a story you know: Plucky farm boy goes to rescue a princess. But it’s not – the tropes you expect to see are all there, but turned on their heads and twisted into something new and unexpected and often hilarious, and sometimes sweet.
If, like me, you find yourself in desperate need of a laugh (and who isn’t, in these days of the Narcissistic Orange Turnip Administration?), do yourself a favor, and pick up this book.