Sleeping Beauties – 3/5 – SPOILERS by the Way
So this has a fable quality to it, obviously. But in a lot of ways, this is like an episode of Star Trek (a Q episode specifically), where the small town created King squared become a stand-in for all humanity. In the same way that the Starship Enterprise becomes the crucible for the humanity and morality of all mankind, the small town of Dooling, West Virginia becomes the crucible for all MAN-kind! Boom! Punned.
But in a lot of ways what this book most reminds me of is the Queen of the Damned’s plot for humanity. Kill all the men except what is necessary for the continuation of the race and let the women start over. That said, it was fine. It was an ok book.
I think there’s a lot of try-hard fawning over politics that the books tries really hard to say all the right things and be deferential, but it felt so vulgar in its display. In the Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood does a really good job showing the politics and morality through a very narrow lens, and what does not work for me about the tv show is how the lens is widened and no longer dependent on the perspective of Offred, so the result is being too explicit in its themes and motifs. This book has that same problem, in an attempt to not miss the mark, the book is hamfisted. All Stephen King books are hamfisted, but they’re not so usually targeting a more explicitly political framework. The result is that the book can only be so good. And it’s mostly good.
Ethan of Athos – 4/5
As I have said in previous Lois McMaster Bujold reviews, I am revisiting her work through audiobook. This book was also much more interesting to me than my previous reading of it. I think because I was clamoring so much for more Miles, I barely paid attention to some of the non-Miles books and really lost out on what great book they are.
In this one, we move away from Miles, away from the main storyline and meet a new male-only culture through its mouthpiece Ethan of Athos. We also get some of the rare chances to see some of the Miles-adjacent characters and cultures outside of his influence. Miles is a scamp, but he’s not exactly a rogue. He absolutely steals the spotlight when he’s in a book. Instead, here, we get an Ellie Quinn adventure and we get the world as seen through, what I can only call, non-protagonist eyes. In this book Ethan, a lab specialist goes to a space station and becomes embroiled in a genetics plot.
Knowing that this book was one of the first written shows a lot of what Bujold was probably thinking at the start of her career, a more balanced set of stories, but putting this in context shows both how broad the world/universe she was creating. In addition, in the same way as JK Rowling, she’s so good at backward-looking efficiency of time and space. Whatever the opposite of ret-conning is, she takes what she has already created and finds away to make it fit future choices. It’s really good. This was better the second time through, for certain.