May—July 2020 Reading Log

Everything (of substance) that I read in May, June, and July. A very late, very garbled list, due to a surgery, a hard drive failure, and other life circumstances. Annotations are absent for this period, except for a few I wrote back in May, because I just want to get this list posted. I may add some at a later date!

A ⌛︎ before a title indicates that I have not finished reading it.

Total: 17 novels, 2 novellas, 1 graphic novel, 3 light novels, 9 short stories, 7 essays and articles, and 1 webcomic chapter

Notes

Murderbot

I read all of the Murderbot stories by Martha Wells in one long binge (excepting the new novel release) and they are a new favorite. The narratorial voice is excellent and really helps develop the main character, and Murderbot's struggles with human/machine identity and trauma are written in such a queer/trans way. This is honestly the most relatable robot protagonist I've read.

John Le Carré

This is my third John Le Carré novel and I continue to love the moral ambiguity in his stories, and I'm always happy to revisit his bleak Cold War settings. I was not expecting the ending of this one to be as horrible and depressing as it was. A funny quote: “They have given you a potato. You must have a lover in the kitchen.” An ouch quote: “...they wanted a decent little club, nice and revolutionary and no fuss.”

Blindsight

I decided to check out Peter Watts after seeing a recommendation online, and it turns out he offers several of his books for free on his website. Blindsight was very hard for me to get into (I had several abortive attempts) but once I decided to actually start reading it I was hooked. It's about a crew in deep space sent to investigate a potential alien threat, and it's also largely about intelligence/sentience and what it means to be human. Every crew member is transhuman in some way; our viewpoint character had a hemispherectomy in childhood and is emotionally detached; another voluntarily induced multiple personalities in themself; several others have varying cybernetic interfaces; and the leader is a literal vampire (explained, of course, with science). The hard science writing verges into horror at times. I wasn't a fan of the author's use of the word “autistic”, but I really liked the viewpoint character and would recommend the book despite my misgivings.

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