In my second epic fantasy novel, Violya (In the Heart of the Mountains #2), we learn more about the nation of Troglo and the Trogrs, or cave creatures. The Trogrs are desperate, as for years their fertility has been in trouble, with a slow decline in the birth of females and then a drop off altogether, with only male babies being conceived and born.
This concept of fertility evolving or failing is an interesting one to think about – what would we do? What would happen if suddenly the fertility rate dropped off, or only male or female babies were being born, or if only a select few were fertile? For the survival of the race, would we force fertile people to procreate? Would we have to find other animals or alien lifeforms close to humans to attempt to breed with? Would we turn to cloning ourselves to keep the race going? Desperate times call for desperate measures… how far would we go?
Audiobook Review: Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1) by Ann Leckie
This science fiction novel first came to my attention when I was looking into science fiction and fantasy with matriarchal societies (see the blog post here). Although Ancillary Justice is not set in a matriarchal society, it does have an interesting take on gender and that led me to researching other SFF books which handle gender differently or have unique gender systems. You can read that blog post here.
Recently I read fantasy novel The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley and was intrigued by the gender systems of the different cultures in the world.
In one country, Dhai, there are five genders and each person gets to pick theirs: female-assertive, female-passive, male-assertive, male-passive and ungendered. In Saiduan there are three: male, female and ataisa.
I was blown away by the brilliance of blockbuster Marvel movie Black Panther! In particular I loved the sub-Saharan African setting.
It made me think what adult fantasy and science fiction novels are out there with similar settings. So… after a bit of digging around the internet, Goodreads, Reddit r/fantasy and Amazon, here are 11 books that I’m going to be checking out and one that I’ve already read that I definitely recommend. Majority are fantasy, but all are either set in Africa or have African inspired settings.
Book Review: Behind the Throne (The Indranan War #1) by K.B. Wagers (published by Orbit)
This science fiction novel definitely did not live up to its description of an ‘action-packed’ ‘Star Wars-style science fiction adventure’ for ‘anyone who wonders what would happen if a rogue like Han Solo were handed the keys to an empire’. Instead it was a story of political/court intrigue where the main character Hail, a princess turned gunrunner turned princess again, spends most of her time going to a lot of brief meetings within the palace and a couple of public events where she’ll invariably survive an assassination attempt. There’s some action (or what I would call action) near the end.
Much of the action in my epic fantasy Melokai is set in a matriarchal country called Peqkya. The society is ruled by women and women’s interests are valued above the men.
One thousand years before the story takes place, the country was a war-torn, ravaged and frightening place to live – for both the men and the women. A woman, Sybilya, wrenched power from the tyrannical, savage men who then ruled, and the women have maintained control since.
Audiobook Review: The Power by Naomi Alderman (published by Penguin)
WOW! I luurrrrrrrvvved this book! It’s science fiction with a feminist slant and a hint of dystopia. It tells of an event that sees almost all the women in the world suddenly having the ability to create electricity from their bodies (from a new ‘organ’ called a skein) and electrocute at will. And then lays out a scenario for what the world would become if the women became the more powerful gender.
Book Review: Our Only Chance: An AI Chronicle by Ray Else (published by ELSE)
This sci-fi novel was surprisingly enjoyable and refreshing (especially after my last book Wolf Hall, which was a slog). It was a quick read, fast paced with a touch of philosophical musing but not too heavy, and it had enough debate about the potential good and evil of artificial intelligence that it felt like a balanced piece.
Book Review: Dune by Frank Herbert (published by Hodder & Stoughton)
Wow. This classic science fiction novel blew me to the furthest future and back again. It’s a masterpiece. Set in a universe where planets are controlled by noble family houses under the Emperor from the imperial ruling family, House Corrino, it tells the story of Paul Atreides, son of Duke Leto and heir to House Atreides. Paul’s mother is a Bene Gesserit ‘witch’ with unique powers of persuasion that she has taught Paul.
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