NPR Reviews: Naomi Novik's UPROOTED and Hannu Rajaniemi's COLLECTED FICTION
I have been reading books! Amazing books! Great tremendous books! Here are some things I have written about those books!
Collected Fiction is what Golden Age science fiction might look like if it were written today by someone who loves women and brown people. And is Finnish. And lives in Scotland. There’s a common saying that the Golden Age of SF is 12 — that when you’re 12, everything you read is mind-blowing, incredible, and it’s only several years later that you return to it with a mind matured and see the ugly, clunking, uncomfortable parts. Rajaniemi’s Collected Fiction made me feel 12 again. It flooded me with wonder and taught me to swim.
Switching to an equal and opposite reading experience —
Summing up the plot does Uprooted a disservice. For one thing, it unfolds into at least three books’ worth of plot, but it never feels rushed, never feels anything less than grounded and meticulous in its exploration of character and setting. Watching the plot develop is like watching time-lapse footage of a plant growing, unfurling leaves, gaining height and depth simultaneously: it’s an organic, vivacious development that builds seamlessly on what came before. Agnieszka’s training, her failures and successes in magic, her loneliness and fears and frustrations, all bud and blossom into new adventure even as the roots tangle into deeper complication: The ultimate source of the Wood’s malice.
There we go! Next week my second column in Lightspeed comes out, covering books with a loose theme of queer communities: Nicole Kornher-Stace’s Archivist Wasp, Elizabeth Bear’s Karen Memory, and Hal Duncan’s Scruffians!