Have finished:
Death’s End by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu [sample chapter/s]. I read this a little while ago, so it’s blurring a bit. It’s the third in a series that naturally requires the first two books, by that read. The treatment of a voluntary euthanasia also left a bad taste in my mouth for indefinable reasons, so I’ll leave it at the sample chapter.

The city born great by N. K. Jeminsin: Huh. Not a bad read, but it only grabbed me for one elecrtifying paragraph 2/3rds of the way in and then it let go again. Well written and solid, but not outstanding on first read, or as the first short story of the lot.

“A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers” by Alyssa Wong: holy hell. This was gripping and transfixing, but was sort of like watching a battle on a tightrope: I couldn’t look away, but I also wanted somewhere stable to stand. I’m super into time loop/reiterations but I wanted a touch more grounding. Top of the list so far for language alone, though.

“Our talons can crush galaxies” by Bo Bolander: fuck, I love her langauge so much. This gets a remarkable amount across for something so short, and does it well.

Paper girls, vol. 1 a group of girls in 1988 on their paper run ride into... welp. I wavered on this early on, and then I realised it was because boys get this story all the time, and this was Stranger Things with girls, and in fact was in many ways more original than Strangers Things and fuck yeah, I’m here for this and legit want to read more. The artwork didn’t do much for me, but the story was more than enough to keep me transfixed to the page. These girls are flawed and complicated and fundamentally just kids and <3. It's also interesting and original enough that I actively want to go find Vol. 2.

Black Panther: A nation under our feet by written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze.
This felt more like a part 3 that had to suddenly cater for an influx of new readers, rather than an actual start of a new series. It did it as best it could, but this new reader was still left confused and adrift for a good chunk of it. There were many things to love: Fierce elderly black matriarchs! Queer black female fighters! I didn’t care that I couldn’t tell whose side the fighters were on! Things pulled together in the last few parts (they were on the ... bad guys’ side? Maybe?), but I’m left hesitating about how to rank the volume as a whole. It has made me interested enough in Black Panther and Wakanda to make me want to go and pick up the first volume of the previous series, so that’s something.

Monstress by Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda.
God. Okay, *this* is how you introduce a new world. They get all the advantages over Black Panther because they know everyone’s coming cold to Monstress, but still, this was skilled weaving of story, worldbuilding, and action in positively lush artwork. The first chapter was also viscerally, brutally violent (prisoners being tortured, characters being mutilated for cannibalism-type purposes) and so claustrophobically well done that I was left feeling sort of nauseated even though it’s still images. I’d seriously considered putting it down, but the violence eases and makes way for the characters and the rest of the world. There are women everywhere! Guards, antagonists, protagonists. It’s fascinating: magic and war and multiple factions and species within both sides. It really does feel like something I’ve never read before, and I’m interested to pick up the next volume.

Ms Marvel vol 5: Super famous by written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Takeshi Miyazawa.
I nearly didn’t pick this up - I bought it in support of the actual diverse side of Marvel, but I hadn’t really clicked with the comic a few years back; the comic already had a Hugo (Yay!), it was Volume 5 of a bunch I hadn’t read, blah blah blah. I am SO GLAD I picked this up. The bumpy backstory has made way for a character and narrative that in this volume hits the ground running and effortlessly powers through. There’s unremarked diversity all over the place (unremarked lesbian parents, a guy being raised by his grandparents, and of particular note: a fat girl gets a) drawn, b) drawn respectfully, and gets to be a love interest, and be funny and sharp, and utterly unashamed about the fact that she eats food and enjoys it <3 <3 <3). It’s also warm and funny and it’s made me laugh out loud on the train and want to hug the book to my chest. Seriously, this is so wonderfully feel-good and tackles things like work/life balance and figuring out what you want and hero-dom, and - I can’t believe I need to say it, but HYDRA are still the baddies! It’s going to be a *tough* call between this, Monstress, and Paper girls, Jesus.

(Side note: Vision is the last Hugo graphic novel nomination, but I’d already racked up a rather large comics book bill, and I’m sideeyeing the premise in ways I can’t immediately put my finger on. I’ll read it if it’s in the Hugo packet. Also Saga 6, which I have bought, but with limited reading time, and they’ve already won a Hugo, and there’s a bunch of volumes to catch up on... etc etc another one for the packet)

Currently reading:
Ninefox gambit by Yoon Ha Lee. Because it was cheap on Amazon, honestly, and right there when I opened up the app (curse easy purchase!). And the sample was good. And then I’m reading along and in the next few pages there’s a caual nbd mention of the main character “the last time she’d been playing this particular game had been against the pretty female communications technician she was dating, Shuos Alaia...” \o/. Feeling v good about my $4-or-so purchase :D

Up next:
Ninefox is going to take me a while, but then I'll jump to the short stories to knock those out.
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