Here we are already into June and I haven’t told you what my favorite reads were for May. How can any of us possibly go on?
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson: A family memoir from an iconoclastic writer about having a baby with her transgender husband – it’s quite funny and brutal but also a bit up its own ass in that PhD sort of way where a conversation (or butt sex) isn’t satisfying unless you deconstruct the post-structural nature of Lacan’s concept of the Other while you do it. Fun fact: in the myth of Jason and the Argonauts, the ship, the Argo, was slowly repaired and rebuilt piece by piece, so the ship that returned home entirely different ship, despite bearing the same name.
Hellspark by Janet Kagan: First contact story. I loved it. I loved the worlds and all their cultures. I loved the science of “proxemics” (body language) and the nature of the protagonist’s abilities. If you think a book pitched somewhere between China Mieville’s Embassytown and CJ Cherryh’s Foreigner series might be a neat thing, then, yeah, track this down.
Cortez on Jupiter by Ernest Hogan: Loved this too. As much as I loved the world building of Hellspark, I suspect the future will be more like this with shitty fast food, everyone making micro-documentaries of their lives, and a reality TV show built around the high fatality rate of astronauts trying to contact the aliens that live inside the red spot of Jupiter.
The Destructives by Matthew De Abaitua: Theodore Drown is a recovering weirdcore addict and former accelerator currently lecturing on intangibles at the University of the Moon in the year 2060, forty years after The Seizure, the world-shattering event that saw the emergence of AIs. Someone’s been reading their PKD and M. John Harrison. Great cover by RAID71. I’m all for book covers looking like covers to weird comics. Great stuff.
Get Carter by Ted Lewis: A dudely, dude tough guy novel about a gangster coming home to bury his not a gangster brother and solving the mystery of the brother’s death. Even if you’ve seen the Michael Caine movie (or live in the horrid reality where there was a remake made starring some mumbler), the book still has a lot going for it. Very clipped. Very tense.