Welcome to Smugglivus 2016! Throughout this month, we will have guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2016, looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2017, and more.
On the last day of Smugglivus, our guest is Meredith Debonnaire, writer and reviewer, author of The Life and Times of Angel Evans
So, 2016… I occasionally found myself wondering if there had been a memo at the beginning of the year. Something like: “this year, we have decided there is no need for happiness, common sense, decency or any kind of applied logic. Enjoy!”. I don’t think I really need to list the reasons why I kept thinking that.
Therefore my contribution to the Smugglivus is a list of six things that kept me happy this year, with the sincere hope that I won’t need one of these in 2017!
An Accident of Stars by Foz Meadows
Now this isn’t exactly a relaxing read: I guess it would be classified as portal fantasy, and the protagonists go through some really horrible, difficult things. However, there is hope; hope is important. The worldbuilding is also fantastically inclusive, with polyamorous marriages, convincing history, really interesting religions, some good diversity and a major character who identifies as aromantic. It contributed to my ongoing happiness in terms of a) hopefulness and b) imaginativeness!
The Radch Series by Ann Leckie: (Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword, Ancillary Mercy)
I know that I’m sneaking three books on by listing the whole trilogy, but hush. My excuse is that I re-read the entire trilogy one after the other this summer. I cannot really express in this space all of my thoughts about this trilogy, because I have a lot. There’s a huge discourse about empire and gender and personhood, wrapped up in a brilliant story that also includes some accurate depictions of mental health. It contributed to my ongoing happiness through a) sheer brilliance b) incisive wit, and c) having a fantastic ending.
Princess Princess: Ever After by Katie O’Neill
Some of you may know this as a webcomic. I can (very gleefuly) tell you that it is now available as a lovely hardback book! This is a warm, cheerful story about two very different princesses who meet, rescue each other, rescue some other people, meet an ogre and face down an enemy. It’s wonderful, and very comforting to read on a dark and stormy night. I really like how simple the storyline is. Contributed to my ongoing happiness through a) pure warmth, b) positive depiction of women-loving-women.
Stormtrooper Rebellion fanfictions
So Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out at the end of 2015 (loved it), and in its wake a whole lotta fanfiction. I don’t usually read anything with an OC as the protagonist (it’s just a personal preference). And then I found the stormtrooper rebellion fanfics, and that went straight out of the window. Because these fanfics are fantastic. They’re about whole groups of people realising that they are people, that they can make choices and have friends and take a stand. Generally speaking, the Star Wars films are about one or two people who dictate the outcome of a war for everyone – these fanfics are (mostly) about a huge group of people who are almost never talked about in the films finding their autonomy, questioning everything they’ve ever known and then saying ‘no’. It contributed to my ongoing happiness because a) untold stories! and b) collective action and c) I just love these fanfictions SO MUCH. Trawl the AO3 tags to find them.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
I was late to discover this book. I made up for it by reading it repeatedly. It’s like a cuddle in book form. It is warm, diverse, beautifully written and generally wonderful. At heart, it’s about friends and family (of all kinds). Reading it makes me feel reassured that I am not alone in the world, and that there are people out there who recognise and appreciate parts of me that I often struggle to find representation of. If you haven’t already, give this book a try. Contributed to my ongoing happiness with the power of awesome.
It’s hard to say much about this film except YES YES YES YES YES. I am aware that there are problems (cough cough why wasn’t Patty a scientist cough), but in times of political and personal insanity, there’s little that cheers me up like watching Holtzmann kick arse. And Kevin. Oh god Kevin. I plan to buy myself the DVD for Christmas. Contributed to my ongoing happiness because FOUR NAMED FEMALE MAIN CHARACTERS WHO HANG OUT WITH EACH OTHER ALL THE TIME! Among many other reasons.
And thus concludes the list – here’s hoping 2017 turns out waaay better.