In my previous post, I wrote about presenting on a panel called “Awesome Women in Science Fiction and Fantasy” with fellow librarians at Geek Girl Con in Seattle. For those of you who want to learn more about the titles I discussed, whether for pleasure reading or book-group selections, I’m including half of them here. Stay tuned for part two!
Undercity, by Catherine Asaro
One thing I am always looking for is not just a heroine who is a rugged independent agent but one who works for collective good and Undercity did not disappoint. Bhaajan is an ex-military officer turned private investigator who returns to her home planet, the City of Cries, to try to find a kidnapped prince from the powerful and esteemed family. In this world, women are in power and in wealthy families it is the men who are kept away from the public eye and groomed for marriage, so this kidnapping of the family’s most prized possession causes them to call in Bhaajan to get quick, discreet results. Pulled into the underworld slums where she grew up as a “dust rat,” Bhaajan finds herself drawn into her past and compelled to help the children that remind her so much of herself fight for their dignity and survival. If you like Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga, try this first in a new series set in Asaro’s long-running Skolian Empire universe.
Fortune’s Pawn, by Rachel Bach
Deviana aka Devi Morris is a space mercenary with spirit and ambition to burn. She is determined to become a Devastater for the Sainted King, the most elite mercenary position out there. So she takes a job on a cursed junk ship called the Glorious Fool because she was told that if she survived a whirl on the Fool, the Devastators might come calling. Devi is as much in love with her spectacularly expensive armor (which she calls her Lady Grey) as she is with her romantic conquests. But when she meets Rupert, the ship’s enigmatic cook, and falls herself falling for him, she begins to see that this mission will be anything but simple and that no one is who they seem to be. There are aliens with complex gender systems, top-secret space creatures run amok, and government conspiracies. With plenty of action, complex science fiction plotting, and romance to boot, Bach’s Paradox trilogy will have you tearing from one book to the next. At least, that’s what I did—once I started I could not stop until I read all three.
Child of a Hidden Sea, by A. M. Dellamonica
In this portal fantasy, Sophie Hansa, a San Francisco graduate student with a background in marine biology and a passion for science, finds herself transported to a foreign, watery world when she goes in search of her birth family. But when the aunt she never met gets attacked by men near her birth mother’s house, Sophie flies to her aunt’s aid and wakes up in the middle of water and in a land where she cannot understand a word anyone says. Dellamonica takes the improbable and makes it compelling. Sophie is a flawed, insecure heroine, which is refreshing as another example of a character finding her inner strength as she goes along rather than having it intact at all times. Sophie’s quest to understand her strange new circumstances in the island world of Stormwrack invites us into this seafaring fantasy world. Political intrigue and family secrets abound in this first in a series whose second book, Daughter of No Nation, comes out December 1st. If you like portal fantasies, also try Connie Willis’ Doomsday Book or Kage Baker’s In the Garden of Iden.