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Recent Reading: June 2017

Here’s what I’ve been reading lately: Iain Banks, Martha Wells, SFF poetry, and more.

A stack of hardcover books.
Photo by Claudia Wolff on Unsplash

Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks

Orbit Books, 2008. Originally published in 1990.

Amazing, awesome world. Beautiful structure. Fun plot. Dull prose.

Use of Weapons is the third book in Iain M. Banks’ Culture series. The series can be read in any order. This is the third book I’ve read in the series, and it does the best job of introducing the reader to the marvelous world that Banks has constructed. My favorite book in Banks’ Culture series remains the first one that I read, Excession. That one was more interesting, more fun, and less accessible than Use of Weapons.

Banks’ prose can be annoyingly over-descriptive at times, but his stories are fun, they’re filled with awe, and they feature top-rate world building. I would love to live in the Culture that his series portrays. It’s arguably a utopia, it’s unlike anything else I’ve ever read, and I recommend that everyone read at least one of Bank’s works from this Culture series so that you can envision the world he crafts.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells, 2017. View book details at

I’m normally not one for reading books on impulse (my reading list is far too long), but I stumbled upon this book in the library and went for it. I am glad it did.

Fun, tightly structured plot. Good characters. Great first-person narrator voice.

Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China’s Past and Present by Peter Hessler

HarperCollins, 2006.

A bit bland at times, but overall an interesting, informative book. Follows the lives of Hessler’s friends and acquaintances in China and elaborates on the historical context behind their lives. Read River Town by Peter Hessler first, and if you like that, you’ll probably like this too.

The Churn: A Novella of The Expanse by James S.A. Corey

Reprinted in The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Novellas: 2015 Edition, edited by Paula Guran, Prime Books, 2015.

The Churn is a novella set within James S.A. Corey’s Expanse series, which is my favorite book series. The Churn fills in character backstory for one of the main characters in the series, but it can be read on its own too.

If a science fiction novella set in a future Baltimore about a friendly sociopath sounds fun to you, you’ll probably enjoy this. I did.

The 2017 Rhysling Anthology edited by David C. Kopaska-Merkel

Check out by blog post on The 2015 Rhysling Anthology to learn what a Rhysling anthology is.

My favorite poems were:

My favorite poem was “When the Gunman Comes” by Edith Hope Bishop. You should go read that now.

Passing Strange by Ellen Klages, 2017. View book details at

A really great novella. If queer women in San Francisco in 1940 sounds fun to you, read this.