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Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (Mini Review)

Review

BINTI is the kind of sci fi that you sink into. It’s beautiful and at the same time so very grounded. For every gorgeous description and strange wonder, there is something that hits uncomfortably close to home — in the best way. Binti is a young scholar — a mathematical Harmoniser — from a village of genius inventors that are shunned by a world that relies on their craft.

Binti faces disgust from her people for daring to leave and become the first of her people to attend the prestigious galactic Oomza University. She also faces the smirking, shaming prejudice of humans and aliens alike who decide she is primitive and ‘tribal’ because she looks and acts different. But it’s her relationship with the war-like, violent Meduse who try to kill her that makes this book impossible to put down.

I’ve never read anything like it, and my heart ached for more when it finished. I immediately bought the next in the series, and was not disappointed. BINTI is a story not to be missed.

Summary

Strange, vivid, and compellingly human. BINTI is a story not to be missed.

Prose: Lyrical. You could read this for the sentences alone.

Plot: Unusual. It never feels slow, but it dwells on things in a way that gives you time to consider.

Feels: Complex.

binti nnedi okorafor meduse okwu

(This review has also been posted on Amazon and Goodreads in support of the author)

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Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach (Mini Review)

fortune's pawn by rachel bachReview

A space mercenary with a shipload of ambition and a fondness for punching people goes on a near-suicide mission in the hopes of getting noticed by the religious warrior elite of her planet: the Devastators, the King’s personal guard.

Devi, the unapologetically bad-ass main character, gives a perspective that is hard, smart, and funny. But the thing that most sets FORTUNE’S PAWN apart is surely the fantasy-esque world of powered-armour knights, fascinating alien species (including sassy bird people and terrifying Alien-esque xenomorphs), and a religion based around powered-armour, strength, and a warrior King.

With a steamy romance and a main character who isn’t afraid to beat her way up the career ladder, FORTUNE’S PAWN will surely appeal to any readers who like their sci fi grounded, quick, and mean.

Summary

The kind of book you read in one sitting.

Prose: Clean, quick, unsentimental — just like Devi.

Plot: An unfolding conspiracy (all the more fun when the main character just wants to get paid to hit stuff)

Feels: Unexpected

 

(This review has also been posted on Amazon and Goodreads in support of the author)

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The Vagrant by Pete Newman (Mini Review)

the vagrant by pete newmanReview

It’s not often that a book comes along that will satisfy both those looking for a story of heroism and goodness AND a story of grit and darkness, but THE VAGRANT surely does this.

A mute swordsman carries a baby girl through a wasteland after Sauron-esque Evil has won, with only an ornery goat to feed her, a singing sword to protect her, and a rag-tag group of criminals and monsters for company.

Sometimes grimdark fantasy can be too dark, too gritty, too much to take, but Pete Newman creates the worst world, where even the so-called ‘good guys’ are cruel and untrustworthy, and somehow strikes it through with a painful, inspiring hope.

I cried. A lot.

I cannot recommend it enough.

Summary

Come for the goat, stay for the hypnotic power of hope.

Prose: Dense but masterful

Plot: Complex, unfolding

Feels: Will hit you right in the gut

goat

 

(This review has also been posted on Amazon and Goodreads in support of the author)

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The Copper Promise by Jen Williams (Mini Review)

Review

A group of adventurers meet in a pub ready for yet another adventure on the dime of a really irritating nobleman — an adventure that quickly leads to resurrecting an evil dragon god and her army of lizard women, bringing magic back to the world and giving it to the most pompous man possible, and making ill-advised deals with demons.

On the surface, THE COPPER PROMISE is a straight-up classic sword and sorcery, but with its heavy emotional hits, quick wit, and excellent backstory, it delivers so much more.

And, of course, there will never be anything so strange or so pure as a bunch of lawful evil lizard women learning what it is to be human.

Summary

Writing: Quick, sharp, delightful

Plot: Somehow both classic and completely fresh

Feels: Who knew a bunch of mercenaries and monsters could be such cinnamon rolls?

(This review has also been posted on Amazon and Goodreads in support of the author)

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Women Have Been Writing SFF Forever – a vintage bookseller’s perspective

used sff female authors books

The Backstory

We all know the backstory by now (and if you don’t, check out any of these excellent posts on it. Women arguably founded the sci fi & fantasy genres as we know them (and without doubt contributed to what they are today), and there is no shortage of modern genre books written by women. But there is this persistent rumour running around the internet: that women are newcomers to this genre, and that female writers don’t belong. Maybe Mary Shelley rocked the world with Frankenstein, but that doesn’t mean women contributed to hard sci fi or epic fantasy with any significance.

Except … well, didn’t they?

The Bookseller

My husband and I sell used sci fi and fantasy books — many of them vintage and old classics. We get them from all over the place — car boot sales, charity shops, library book sales, and people selling on their personal collections. This means we have a fairly good look at people’s reading histories — the books we get are books that sold, were read, and often loved. Often, it’s like a snapshot of what people were reading 10, 20, 30 years ago.

And the things is … a lot of these books were written by women.

The Books

We have a lot of stock to go through all at once, so I chose a box of of about 30 books we’re about to process. From this box, here are the female authors I found. You probably recognise most of them.

This is just a random selection of authors from a random box of books. But none of these covers scream ‘Women’s Fantasy’ or Women’s SFF’ — they’re just SFF, and they came in with a bunch of other stock that SFF fans were reading.

Now, as it happens, most of these books are from the late 80s, early 90s — that’s just how it happens with boxes of stock, you tend to get a lot from the same time period. But I think the point still stands: Women aren’t new to the field, and they aren’t hard to find on the shelf. They aren’t writing ‘books for women’; they’re just writing books.

A quick pull from the shelves:

… and this is barely scratching the surface.

Women have been writing SFF forever — and they’re here to stay.

 

medusabooksThis post was written by Victoria — founder and bookseller at Medusa Books. If you’d like to know more about Victoria, Josh & Merlin, check out our about page. And if you’d like to support Medusa Books — why not buy some awesome SFF from us?

Why it takes us forever to get a good picture
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Which SFF Genre Are You?

Ever wondered which Sci Fi or Fantasy genre best fits your personality? Probably not! But we made a quiz about it anyway.

When leaving the house, you take:

Your ideal pet is:

You are most worried about:

You would rather be known as:

When solving problems, you:

You hope the future is:

 

If you enjoyed this quiz and you love Sci Fi & Fantasy, shop now for free delivery on all orders £10 and over in our awesome range of SFF books.