This Week’s Reads

DK Mok’s Squid’s Grief
Cyberpunk, Finished
Squid is a low-level lackey in mob-boos Pearce’s empire. But more than anything she wants to get out. She wants a normal life where she isn’t constantly questioning her morality and wondering who she’s hurt. Her whole world gets turned upside down when she finds a man in the trunk of a car, unable to remember even the slightest detail about himself.

The punk genre is for some reason very hard to do well. It often gets bogged down in its gimmicks and poorly thought out spins on history. Fortunately, Squid’s Grief does not have these problems and has the honor of being one of the better cyberpunk stories I’ve red. Squid and Grief (Get it? GET IT?) are great characters with very strong conflicts that are clearly painted from start to finish. I’m a sucker for characters caught in the dichotomy of being a villain, unsure which side they want to land on. Squid and Grief also had great chemistry, which provided for a lot of great comedy and ridiculous situations.

While the style is certainly strong and very present, it isn’t the poetic grandeur I’ve found myself looking for recently. For that reason I have to say that while I enjoyed it, the pacing was stellar, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys cyberpunk, noir, or fast-action mysteries, it was a little outside my preferred genre. Still, worth a look if you’ve been looking for some good cyberpunk.

Harima Fudoki edited by Edwina Palmer
Non-fiction, In Progress
A fudoki was a report given to the Japanese monarchs by the various provinces, detailing culture, geography, folklore, etc. Harima was a province in southern Japan. Thus you get the Harima Fudoki.

I’m reading a heavily annotated version of Harima Fudoki, which is incredibly helpful because it gives detailed definitions of the various place names, historical background, and geographical notes. The notes do sometimes become so extensive that it can be difficult to remember what the actual text is about. But nonetheless, the history of the area is interesting and I love the little details, like some of the burial rituals of waving a scarf or burying someone with a comb box. The overarching idea that by revealing the secret names of these landmarks to the presiding monarchs the locals are basically submitting to the monarchs’ rule is also very poignant and lends a lot of weight to the text.

Short story of the week: A. Merc Rustad’s Monster Girls Don’t Cry
Urban Fantasy, Finished
Read it here.
Monster Girls Don’t Cry is about two sisters, who have monstrous attributes. While the protagonist files down her horns and cuts out her wings in order to look normal, her sister would rather just be herself. Unfortunately, this means she can’t really go out into the world and is subject to the bigotry of others. Once again, I can’t not talk about prose. The first paragraph absolutely dragged head-first into the story. Zaria’s discomfort with her sister’s monstrousness is terrible and painful and understandable. It immediately provides a point of conflict between Zaria and Phoebe that takes us all the way to the end of the story. I do have to say, the end of the story felt a little easy. I love the dialogue between Zaria and the doctor and how she very much comes into her own at the end, but in the end she basically gets everything she wants and neither her nor Phoebe have to deal with the emotional scars of the doctor’s choices. I admit, this may be because I find sad endings more interesting than happy ones out of simple bias, but I do feel like there could have been more consequences.

Leave a Reply