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Showing posts from December, 2018

2018, A Year in Reading: Best Books of the Year

I read 96 books in 2018.  Even allowing for the fact that that number is inflated by quicker reads like graphic novels and standalone novellas, that's an impressive haul, maybe the highest number since I started keeping track on this blog.  Unfortunately, there was a bit of a quantity-over-quality attribute to this year's reading.  A lot of books that I was expecting to enjoy turned out to be only so-so.  In particular, when looking over the year's reading log to prepare for this post, I was struck by how few genre books came close to making the cut.  As you'll see below, there are only two blatantly SFF books on the best books list, and only one of them was published by a genre publisher.

I'm not sure if it's related, but this has also been one of the most up-to-date reading years in my life.  Nearly half the books I read in 2018 were published this year, and another third in 2017.  This didn't use to be the case for me, but as ebooks have made immediate …

Five Comments on Roma

Alfonso Cuarón's Roma has been generating a lot of conversation recently, for reasons that sometimes seem only tangentially connected to the film itself.  First, because it's a serious Oscar contender shot in black and white, with dialogue in Spanish and Mixtec, and starring a complete newcomer.  Second, because it's a Netflix movie that is probably the platform's first genuine masterpiece, which has also led to a side-conversation about whether it's worth watching on a home screen or even a personal device.  (As one of the people lucky enough to have a theatrical release of the film near her, my answer is that Roma definitely benefits from a big screen and a theatrical sound system, but that it's worth watching any way you can.)

Along the way, the film itself, which covers a year in the life of Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), a maid and nanny in the home of an affluent Mexico City family in the early 70s, seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle.  Cuarón based the fi…

A Political History of the Future: Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal at Lawyers, Guns & Money

My last PHotF column for 2018 discusses Aminder Dhaliwal delightful webcomic Woman World, recently collected in a single volume.  It's a gently humorous post-apocalyptic story about a world where men have died out, and about as different from the likes of Y: The Last Man as that starting position will let you get.  The comic is sweet, irreverent, and most of all, dedicated to letting its characters be people, and live their lives without the undertone of tragedy that we might have expected.

This is also an opportunity for me to take a broader look at how SF handles gender, and specifically, the idea that gender roles and even our definition of gender might change.  When you think about it for just a moment, that's a very obvious component of worldbuilding--we don't look at gender the same way that people from only a few decades ago did, so why should people centuries in the future, who live in galaxy-spanning, space-faring societies, have gender roles that so closely resem…