To-Read Tuesday, June 27

A stack of books consisting of Bitch Planet vol. 2 by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Sisters of the Revolution anthology, and Q-in-Law from the Star Trek Next Generation series. Also, an Ursula mug from Little Mermaid

Speculative fiction featuring bad-ass women

I was gathering together my stack today, and as I was looking for a fourth book, I realized the first three had a theme of bad-ass women, and decided to stop there. I have been longing to tear into the second installment of Bitch Planet since it dropped, but I am in the middle of seven or eight books at the moment, so I am making myself wait until I finish at least one of them. Then I ran into Q-in-Law on the shelves of my local bookstore, and as I’d just read a very entertaining article on why this book is amazing, I had to snatch it up. Finally, Sisters of the Revolution has been on my shelves for ages. I know anthologies are where you find Your New Favorite Author!, but I don’t really enjoy reading them. We’ll unpack all those issues in some later post.

What’s on your to-read shelf this week?

On why there needs to be more marine biology and synthetic biology inspired speculative fiction

A larval form of an Aglaura hemistoma jellyfish, picture by Ryo Minemizu

Forgive me for the long Victorian-style title. I’m reading On the Origin of Species (finally) right now. One of the endlessly ongoing debates in science fiction is this: What, exactly, is hard science fiction? I have always taken it for granted that hard science fiction is just sci fi that …

Continue reading

Arabic Speculative Fiction

Obviously I’m into speculative fiction, but I’ve also been reading more and more books in translation in recent years, and have developed a fascination with Arabic fiction, speculative or not. So Iraq + 100 was already on my to-read list, but after reading this roundtable at Strange Horizons, I’m putting it on special order immediately. The roundtable brings together two of the contributors to the volume and two journalists who write about Arabic fiction, and the conversation ranges from the specifics of this book, to the reasons why there hasn’t historically been a strong Arabic speculative fiction tradition, to the ways current and near-past political realities may influence Arabic SF in the future.

One of the most interesting sections stems from Robin Yassin-Kassab’s comments on the influence from the situation in Syria:

I suppose I could add the trauma of war. I have a feeling that social realism would be a relevant way to approach the Syrian situation until 2013. From then on, the scale of the damage becomes so incomprehensibly enormous that some other genre becomes necessary. I think here of Ahmad Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad. How else can you write about a reality of random dismemberment without calling on the resources of horror, fantasy, or SF?

Frankenstein in Baghdad is also going straight onto my to-read list.

What’s your favorite Arabic or Arabic-themed speculative fiction?