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Thursday, November 2, 2023
DAY BOY, dark fantasy & WEIRD FISHES, subaquatic cli fi
$15.00 trade paper, available now
Rating: 4* of five
The Publisher Says: AN UNDERWATER TALE OF FRIENDSHIP AGAINST MONSTROUS ODDS
When Ceph, a squid-like scientist, discovers proof of the ocean’s slowing currents, she makes the dangerous ascent from her deep-sea civilization to the uncharted surface above. Out of her depths and helpless in her symbiotic mech suit, Ceph relies on Iliokai, a seal-folk storyteller, who sings the state of the sea and has seen evidence of clogged currents as she surfs the time gyres throughout the lonely blue. Navigating the perils of their damaged ocean environment, and seemingly insurmountable cultural differences, Ceph and Iliokai realize that the activities of terrestrial beings are slowing the spiralling currents of time. On a journey that connects future and past, the surface and the deep, the unlikely friends struggle to solve a problem so big it needs a leviathan solution.
I RECEIVED A DRC FROM THE PUBLISHER VIA NETGALLEY. THANK YOU. ***CW: rape***
My Review: I know a lot of folks are, um, squeamish about couples that aren't one-man/one-woman. Y'all gonna bust somethin' when it comes to intimate interspecies relations....
But my gosh! The worldbuilding in this novella would support a billion-page nonillionology for each of these cultures. And still the read manages to be truly satisfying. That is a major achievement. The consequences of human action starts the plot on its course; the circle of life gets closed in the end, but in a way I warned you about above.
I am delighted to say that every step leading up to the ending's unpleasantness contains no such activity. I can't say you're likely to be prepared for it with foreshadowing or desensitization. I can say it's stark and shocking when it happens, unambiguous in its cost, and fully part of the narrative arc.
And my goddesses did I hate it.
There's nothing like consequences to offer a lesson about what the author wants to say. I'm glad Author Mariz said it. But I still hated it.
$25.95 hardcover, available now
Rating: 4* of five
The Publisher Says: A lyrical, tender story about role models and growing into manhood that reimagines the elements of the vampire myth in a wholly original way . . . while never breathing a word about vampires.
They worship the Sun: the only god as cruel as they are.
The Masters, dreadful and severe, rule the Red City and the lands far beyond it. By night, they politic and feast, drinking from townsfolk resigned to their fates. By day, the Masters must rely on their human servants, their Day Boys, to fulfill their every need and carry out their will.
Mark is a Day Boy, practically raised by his Master, Dain. It’s grueling, often dangerous work, but Mark neither knows nor wants any other life. And, if a Day Boy proves himself worthy, the nightmarish, all-seeing Council of Teeth may choose to offer him a rare gift: the opportunity to forsake his humanity for monstrous power and near-immortality, like the Masters transformed before him.
But in the crackling heat of the Red City, widespread discontent among his fellow humans threatens to fracture Mark's allegiances. As manhood draws near, so too does the end of Mark's tenure as a Day Boy, and he cannot stay suspended between the worlds of man and Master for much longer.
With brilliantly evocative, hypnotic prose, Trent Jamieson crafts a fang-sharp and surprisingly tender coming-of-age story about a headstrong boy—and the monster who taught him to be a man.
I RECEIVED A DRC FROM THE PUBLISHER VIA EDELWEISS+. THANK YOU.
My Review: Erewhon does very, very interesting SF stories, like this wonderfully realized take on vampirism. The story of Mark, the Master/vampire's Day Boy coming of age in a system that is grotesquely unfair, is handled with care and with respect for his genuine struggle to come to terms with his privilege. As this is a struggle many, if not most of us with levels of privilege similar to Mark's have yet to engage with/in, the story isn't a Young Adult one. In my opinion, anyway.
I'd like to call y'all's attention to the descriptive prose. It is very well-handled. It doesn't overwhelm the momentum of the story, and it doesn't veer into for-its-own-sake lyricality. I'd excerpt some or you but the fact is it's best appreciated in its context...anything I call out won't have the impact I'm describing to you. Author Jamieson is one heckuva prose stylist and that alone's a reason for fans of the vampire genre, the post-apocalyptic genre, and social-comment fiction to read it.