I’ve finally started going through my long list of ignored Tor.com novellas. I got caught on a long, and mostly frustrating train of library books for the bulk of the year and now that I’m strictly monitoring that I’ve found time for more of what I have set back! So let me add my voice of recommendation to a couple different novellas I read recently.
Everyone and their brother seems to be reading The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells, and most people seem to be loving them. I’m here to agree with the crowd on these. I feel like I don’t need to push them much as they’ve gotten all the hype they deserve but I’ll reinforce it. These are delightful. My two cents is that I’m impressed with how Martha Wells takes a character that could just be ‘hipster robot’, super current and on topic with all the ‘problems’ that today’s youths talk about, and instead makes them real and relatable. Murderbot doesn’t spend all their time complaining about their problems, they’re grouchy sure but they get done what needs done. They don’t let their problems cripple them. I 100% can get behind that. I have one novella left in the series (the library hasn’t gotten it in yet) but I cannot wait to finish it. I’m going to ask for the hardbacks for Christmas so I can reread them and take a highlighter and my post-it notes to them.
Another series of novellas that I feel like got some hype but I haven’t seen a lot of buzz about since is the River of Teeth Duology by Sarah Gailey. These books are just straight up fun. I read both in the same day, picking one up in the morning and reading it on my breaks at work and then reading the second one while I was at the gym cycling. You know those stories you read and you just smile as you do so? That’s this series. I love the heist feeling, especially in the first book. The second book lost that feeling just a little bit, but I truly appreciated how the story look at some post pregnancy problems for one of the characters. The cabbage leaves in particular got me. I had to go through this for about a week and half after the miscarriage, and seeing that detail in there made me feel so much more included and tied into the story. By far my favorite character was Archie for her attitude in the face of what I would have found INTENSELY frustrating behavior in that second book. God, she has patience. Sarah Gailey made some very fun characters in a great setting with these books.
The last of the three I want to mention here is a single Novella, War Cry by Brian McClellan. I feel like the blurb on this novella doesn’t do it justice. What you have is definitely a military fantasy story, but past the very well-drawn military structure is the magical elements. A lot of time with military fantasy your magic overwhelms the military and makes everything just feel like set dressing. This novella presents in a way that makes it feel much more real. There is magic, sure, but it’s not all powerful and the rules of war and human toil still apply. I also adored the way he described shape-shifting. Everyone has that one magic trait they’d kill for, mine is shape-shifting. It doesn’t matter what game I play I will always want to play the class that can shape change (i.e. I’ve played a feral druid for almost 10 years on World of Warcraft). Brian McClellan wove both the magic and the reality of war so well, I’m a little annoyed at myself for not picking him up before. I have got to get to the Powder Mage series.