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Thoughts On Recent Books That I've Loved - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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May 2nd, 2016


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02:04 am - Thoughts On Recent Books That I've Loved
Three of the favorite books I've read in the last year have been A Red Heart of Memories by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (and its sequel Past the Size of Dreaming), A Succession of Bad Days by Graydon Saunders (and its recent sequel Safely You Deliver, and Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers. These are exceptionally different books in many ways, something that could be called urban fantasy, if that genre was better and richer than it typically is, fantasy, and space operaish SF, and with writing styles that are at least as different. However, thinking about these books and talking about them with teaotter, and realized that these books also have several important commonalities.

The first is that they all feature world-building that is excellent and dense, and given that in many ways I'm a professional world-builder, this makes sense, but they also all have characterization that is equally good. However, there's also another important point of similarity – all of these books are about found families, and non-traditional relationships (both sexual and not). Also, all of these books have settings which are not actively dystopian, since I'm unlikely to enjoy novels with settings which are significantly dystopian.

I suspect that if a novel has these elements I'm likely to at least enjoy it and likely love it. I also enjoy Martha Wells' Three Worlds/Raksura series (beginning with The Cloud Roads) for similar reasons, and the excellent worldbuilding and characterization are a big part of why I love P. C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath.

In any case, I am curious if there are novels which have both excellent and imaginative worldbuilding, solid characters, found families, with non-dystopian settings which I haven't read. If you know of any, let me know.

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From:rjgrady
Date:May 2nd, 2016 04:21 pm (UTC)
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Do you read Sherri S. Tepper? Some of her works can be on the dark side, but The Fresco and Gibbon's Decline and Fall would both seem to meet those criteria. Mind you, late 20th century Earth settings tread a little close to dystopia sometimes... Of the two, I would say The Fresco is the more delightful, while Gibbon's Decline and Fall is the more heartful.
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From:resonant
Date:May 3rd, 2016 03:19 am (UTC)
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I'm looking for more books with Commonweal-like settings too! So awesome!
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From:xuenay
Date:May 3rd, 2016 06:47 am (UTC)
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Thanks for the mentions, these sound like books I'd be likely to enjoy.
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From:heron61
Date:May 3rd, 2016 07:09 am (UTC)
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I think you'd like Saunders' work best, in part because in addition to its other virtues, part of its worldbuilding is an exploration of what governance that was actually just and fair would look like. However, everything I've mentioned is well worth reading - Martha Wells' three worlds novels do unusual biology and the intersection of biology and culture better than almost anything I've read.

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