Book Review: Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Book Review: Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

 

For our honeymoon, my wife and I went up to sunny New England. We road-tripped from Burlington, Vermont to Bar Harbor, Maine and stopped at every. Single. Used. Bookstore. The best honeymoon we could hope for, really. In Burlington, we stopped on Church Street at a little place called the Crow Bookshop, which deals in new, used, and out-of-print books. Their sci-fi/fantasy section wasn’t huge, which seems to be standard for hippy/literary bookstores. But there, next to the five millionth copy of Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World, was a book I’d never even seen before: Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor.

I’ve read Binti, Dr. Okorafor’s Hugo-winning Afrofuturist novella, but other than that I’m a relative newcomer to her writing. I went into Who Fears Death with almost no expectations. I was blown away.

The plot summary, in brief:

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Three YA Books to Curl Up with for Utmost Autumn Hygge

Hygge, a Danish word that is rapidly gaining popularity worldwide, is a concept that basically means “huddling up in front of a crackling log fire with a fuzzy blanket, a purring cat, and a bowl of cheese fondue, whilst rain patters outside, scented candles fill the house, and your favorite atmospheric music plays in the background”. That feeling of being totally, contentedly, hedonistically quiet, because that is your reward for living in a place where it gets cold during the year. Hygge fits in very well with the bookish life.

Here is a list of three young adult novels that embody the autumn spirit—perfect for a day off or a blustery November evening.

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Libby’s Boston Bookstour

PSB

I’ve just moved from Boston to the Washington DC area, where I grew up. While there are many things that excite me about returning home, there are also lots of things I’m going to miss, and perhaps the biggest of these is the bookstores. Boston’s independent bookstore scene is beyond incredible—almost every suburb has a books mecca of its own. Being a good former English major, I managed to stop by almost all of them. Here are my thoughts on some of the best places in Massachusetts to get books if you’re looking to support small businesses.

(Credit for this idea goes to my Denver Publishing Institute friend Zoe, whose wisdom, warmth, and love for stories took us across New York City on my first-ever bookstour. She’s blogged about one of our favorites, Books of Wonder, here.)

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Hugos 2016: O Joyous Day

Hugos 2016: O Joyous Day

Today, I bring you a tale of a battle between good and evil, the forces of justice aligned against a self-proclaimed Dark Lord.

Yes, the 2016 Hugo Awards.

In the past few years, the Hugos have become an ideological battleground between hate-slurping trolls and everyone else. For the purposes of this post, the story began with the Sad Puppies, a group of relatively-conservative science fiction and fantasy writers and fans who believed that SFF awards were being unduly distributed to the ever-present specter of the “social justice warriors.” Believing that the Hugo awards in particular were being doled out based on Political Correctness and not on merit, the Puppies organized voting slates to take the genre back to its middle-class-white-man roots.

But things got nastier when the ever-lurking, loud-shouting, goblin goon of hatebloggers, Vox Day, stepped in to organize the Rabid Puppies. The Rabids, as you might guess, are fueled almost entirely by externalized self-loathing. Famously, Vox Day was kicked out of the Science Fiction Writers of America when he referred to Hugo-nominated African-American woman N.K. Jemisin as a “savage.”

This year, the Puppies – the Rabid ones,  that is – were back in force, with their own hand-crafted voting slate, cleverly designed to get a few legitimate titles nominated. Counter-slates popped up from Puppy Detractors (sometimes referred to as Puppy Kickers) in response; these counter-slates sometimes adopt a scorched-earth policy of voting to award no Hugo in any category where a Puppy candidate might take home the rocket.

All these factions and slates came to a head in the 2016 Hugos, and I’m here to walk you through it.

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The Last Unicorn Graphic Novel Review

The Last Unicorn Graphic Novel Review

 

Like most people my age, my introduction to Peter S. Beagle’s beloved classic fantasy The Last Unicorn was the 1982 animated film (for which Beagle wrote the screenplay, thank goodness) that I first pulled off a Blockbuster shelf above my head because of the brilliant unicorn on the cover. When I was a child, modern unicorns were generally fluffy beasts with glitter in their manes, colored in pinks and rainbows and frolicking around clouds and butterflies. This unicorn was clearly engaged in some epic battle with a frankly Satanic-looking, burning red bull, and despite knowing nothing else, I was convinced it was going to be awesome.

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