book review: the stars are legion

The reason I went back to Kameron Hurley’s Bel Dame Apocrypha stories a while back was ’cause I was getting antsy waiting for our library to get copies of her new space opera novel The Stars are Legion. Now I have read it and it was just as gooey and intricate as I’d hoped.

Legion is a group of biological worldships surrounding an artifical sun. There are many layers to these worldships and ruling dynasties for each one. Zan is a soldier who begins the novel being put back together after an attack on a neighbouring world. She has no memory, but a strong attraction to Jayd who tells her that everything is tense but fine. Even the half-memory Zan has of murdering a baby is part of the plan, apparently.

And hoo boy are there plans in this story. Because Zan has no memory she’s piecing together what it’s all about along with the reader (in among the spray-on space-suits and fighter attack runs mounted on spacefaring slugbeasts). After a few chapters we also start following Jayd, who’s working on some crazy manipulative scheme against the ruler of their own worldship. She tells Zan she’s in on the plan but Zan doesn’t remember it and might fuck it all up. Other people have guesses about the plans but they’re keeping Zan in the dark to use her as a weapon (’cause Zan is a brutally effective soldier).

Then as the schemes are unfolding, boom boom boom Zan is killed (in a sudden but inevitable betrayal) and her body is recycled. Spoiler alert: Zan isn’t actually dead and then begins the quest up from the centre of the world back to the surface where all the political machinations we’re just getting used to are happening. This is where I really loved the book because it takes the simple set-up and then shows how big a world is and how surface-based civil wars are kind of just the equivalent of White House cabinet shuffles to get ignored by the people who don’t live that life. It takes it a bit more towards a fantasy-novel quest narrative as Zan comes closer to reclaiming her memories, but by the end we do get back to the worldships hurtling through space, don’t worry.

I tried to explain this book while I was in the middle of it and it was difficult; I got immersed in the details of womb-swapping and blood-drinking bonding rituals and cephalopod guns and not knowing exactly where it was going made it hard to see the big picture. Once you’re done though, it works really well, and what appeared to be chaotic was merely complex.

If you like big scifi stories and can handle technology being mostly biological (which does make for a lot of mucous throughout) I heartily recommend The Stars are Legion.

book review: hilda and the bird parade

Hilda and the Bird Parade is the sequel to Luke Pearson’s Hilda and the Midnight Giant. In this one, Hilda and her mother are living in town, and Hilda’s kindness doesn’t really help her make any friends among her peers. She gets lost in the confusing streets with a bird suffering from amnesia, worrying her poor mother to death (not actually to death).

Another beautiful story, though a bit less impressive than the first one, it’s exactly the kind of comic I want in our library to be putting in kids’ hands.

book review: sam & fuzzy fix your problem

I’ve been reading Sam Logan’s comic Sam and Fuzzy for years on the web, but this past weekend I bought the two print volumes at Emerald City Comicon in Seattle. Sam & Fuzzy Fix Your Problem doesn’t start at the beginning of the epic, but at the point where Sam and his talking bear friend Fuzzy are the heads of Ninja Mafia Services, an organization that helps with odd problems like Grrbils, Werewolves and Vampires. This book also switches back an forth to ten years previous when Fuzzy woke up without a memory and ended up working with a master thief named Hazel.

I enjoyed this book version of the comics I had already read. Sam & Fuzzy has always been a comic I let lapse when I go off travelling so I can binge read a bunch when I return and I think it works better that way. Logan has done an excellent job laying out the book and making the story feel like a story and not stitched together daily strips. I’m astounded how much more interesting the flashbacks to Fuzzy and Hazel are when I’m not waiting three days between chunks.

So yes, Sam and Fuzzy is pretty great, and Sam & Fuzzy Fix Your Problem is an excellent place to get on board. You can also go back through the archives on the website to fill in the backstory of how Sam became emperor of the Ninja Mafia (and more).