I seem to be getting involved in a bunch of social review and discussion, which makes me exceedingly happy – not least in this case, as I’ve had my eye on A Long Way To A Small Angry Planet (by Becky Chambers) and this is a perfect excuse to get on and read it! If you’re interested in joining in, the schedule for the readalong is here, and I’m sure you’d be very welcome to jump on board.

I’ll be posting weekly updates along with the rest of the group, followed my usual review when I complete the book.

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This year has seen a particularly bitter feud in the world of SFF, as one group of authors (and readers) conducted a huge turf war over inclusivity in fiction. I’ve avoided discussion of it for the most part, as I have never been to a Worldcon nor voted in the Hugo Awards (the chosen battleground), so I didn’t feel it was my place. All I can say is that I disagree that something is colour blind or equal opportunities if it’s dominated by white blokes. This has nothing to do with whether I or they think the individuals involved are attached to some -ism or other, and everything to do with representation.

Book cover: Orthe - Chronicles of Carrick V by Mary Gentle (Golden Witchbreed / Ancient Light)Ancient Light continues the epic world-building of Golden Witchbreed, giving us a good look at the Southern Continent to explain the fragile balance of power before the action returns to the Hundred Thousand for the devastating final act.

This is great stuff, but ultimately a tough sell and not one for readers seeking happy escapism. I think Ancient Light is a book that needs to be read in the context of the time it was written (the 1980s) to be fully appreciated – while it works on its own terms, the themes gain resonance when you keep corporate greed and the Cold War in mind.

Book cover: Orthe - Chronicles of Carrick V by Mary Gentle (Golden Witchbreed / Ancient Light)I didn’t mean to read this, but I’m ever so glad I did – it’s an excellent book and a great introduction to Mary Gentle.

Earth has mastered FTL travel, and sent diplomats and xeno-teams all over the galaxy to establish relations with our alien neighbours. Relatively inexperienced Lynne Christie is sent to the enigmatic world of Orthe / Carrick V when the previous envoy dies – in part, she soon realises, because she is expendable.