by Madeline Iva
No more token female characters in sff novels. No more ‘space babes’ in skimpy costumes on the cover. You do not get to use your galaxy kitten for a minor romantic/sexual sub-plot then push her right back into plot obscurity again. Those times are over. Dead. Gone.
Here are two books that emerged from the SFF world fairly recently to provide a punch in the gut for male SFF patriarchy– now rolled up into a fetal position and slowly dying.
First I want to give a shout out to ASCENSION. I love the cover. I’ve only read the first two chapters so far and saw much that romance readers would want to roll around in. I’ll use three words to describe Jacqueline Koyanagi’s writing: heartfelt, soulful, longing.
At the same time, ASCENSION is described by others on Koyanagi’s website as “a fun, fast-paced space opera” with a diverse cast of characters. It examines disability and polyamory—“all while racing to save the universe from certain destruction.”
Sounds good to me!
Here’s the low down on the plot:
Our main character, Alana Quick, is maniacal about fixing spaceships. She’s an obsessive grease monkey–even her skin tastes like the metal from ships she repairs. She feels as much lust for a space ship as she does for its hot female captain. Although Alana has an aunt with medical issues, and a dying business on a harsh planet, she jumps world to stow away on a ship called the Tangled Axon. The ship’s crew are trying to find her sister Nova–but why? And do they mean Nova harm?
The captain of this ship is a sexy bad-ass woman, the engineer is more of the burly growly type of male. But our heroine definitely has an eye for the ladies. Alana describes her first impression of the Tangled Axon’s captain:
The woman sizzled in front of me, all blond hair, boots, and confidence. She tilted her head at an angle of self-important distain, hip cocked to match. Cargo pants hung below her waist and a white tank top bared her toned arms. […] We locked eyes. Her barbed expression pricked at me from beneath her bangs, as if I were a spot of rust on her ship that had the audacity to sprout up when she wasn’t looking. Muscles pulled at the corner of her mouth.
The book definitely is going to have romance/sexual elements in it. I can just tell.
However, I haven’t read it yet, just the first few chapters. So check it out yourself! (It’s the start of a series.)
You should definitely buy Ancillary Justice.
ANCILLIARY JUSTICE was the book everyone was talking about last year at Wis Con. It’s the first book in a three book series by Ann Leckie, but it’s definitely a stand-alone kind of read.
The main character in ANCILLARY JUSTICE is an AI. Once a spaceship called Ancillary Justice, the A.I. started off with thousands of “nodes” –i.e. human bodies that the A.I. mentally occupied and controlled–now the A.I. is down to just one body and bent on revenge.
The book starts off with the A.I. rescuing a former crew mate on the final stage of her long cold quest for vengeance–and we’re off to the races.
The other kicker in this novel–the one that left all the readers I talked to pleasantly a-buzz–was that the A.I. comes from a culture that only uses the “she” pronoun. Everyone from her world is a “she”.
Now, that’s not to say everyone is actually biologically female. The A.I. is no longer in her own society and while talking to other characters from different worlds, we get plenty of clues as to who’s who in terms of man meat and va-jay-jays.
That may sound like a complicated read. It’s not at all – it’s actually easier to read than it is to describe in this blog post, and that’s because Leckie is just one f***ing masterful writer.
Overall the book is engaging. I whiffled right through it in a day and then actually wound up reading it over again because I just wanted to hang out with the characters in that world all over again.
A great read.
A fabulous summer read.
Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance. Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes. Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.