Six Degrees of SFnal Separation

SciFiMonth 2019: Adventure works in any strand (background image of a distant star gleaming past the curve of a planet)
You know the saying: no two people in the world (uncontacted peoples excepted) are more than six social connections apart. But what interesting reading journeys can we find if we apply it to thematic connections between books?

Kate over at Books Are My Favourite And Best took over the bookish Six Degrees of Separation meme in 2016, and I love it: she nominates a book to start from and the participants explore where it leads them.

I’m riffing off the idea to give it a fully SciFiMonth spin rather than playing along directly (so I’m not using this month’s official prompt/starting point, which is Alice in Wonderland). I’m also taking the stricter line of creating a chain through tropes and themes rather than the more liberal rules usually applied for the meme.

A thoroughly modern riot

I got distracted fast on my first effort. I allowed myself to be seduced by some of my favourite things, and then realised I could work it just a little bit harder and go full circle – the first and last books in the chain connect back to one another as the sixth link. It wasn’t quite what I had in mind originally (we’ll come back to that), but it’s created a frankly brilliant reading list that I recommend to anyone who enjoys the same tropes that I do…

Revenant Gun – Yoon Ha Lee

Far future space opera centred around themes of gender identity, in which an unexpected AI ally is a bot who just wants to watch shows. It’s also about overthrowing repressive governments and controlling narratives (amongst other things) – but that’s by the by for today.

Artificial Condition – Martha Wells

This far-future space opera is from the perspective of a sentient AI who is a bot who just wants to watch shows. For an unexpected double-whammy on the first tie-up, our Murderbot gains an unexpected AI ally (and solves crimes, but hey, that’s just plot).

Killing Gravity – Corey J White

Even space witches need allies – tempting though it is to go it solo, you really do need all the help you can get in a government dystopia. Thank heavens for sentient AI who share your longing for freedom.

Hunger Makes the Wolf – Alex Wells

This space western is set in a corporate dystopia, where space witches are a threat to the Company. That’s okay – they’re also the fierce leaders of a gang of biker mercenaries here to stick it to the Man(agement).

Windswept – Adam Rakunas

Another corporate dystopia centred around union politics! The future of the local rum distillery is critical to Padma Mehta’s continuing mental health in this booze-fuelled screwball noir – but there are bigger problems brewing (ahem, sorry) on Santee.

Water Into Wine – Joyce Ch’ng

This tale of learning to make booze (wine in this case) feels lower-key after the riots further up the chain, but it’s all the more heartfelt in its exploration of gender identity (see, we’re back where we started!) and the impact of war on civilian populations.

Fancy having a go with me?

I’ll be back in 2 weeks time with my second effort – starting at Frankenstein, I’ll find make my way through five other books to a thoroughly modern recent award-winner.

Fancy joining me? Feel free to post in the comments or in your own blog post – starting with me at Frankenstein or go rogue! Just tag back to this post so I can tie all our efforts together, and lets see where our six degrees of separation take us…