Reading the Stones: A Review of The Girl the Sea Gave Back, by Adrienne Young

Scandinavia can at times seem like a harsh and unforgiving land, but people have called it home for thousands upon thousands of years.  Now broken up between Sweden, Norway, and Finland on the mainland, the Nordic people also settled into Iceland Svalbard, Jan Mayen, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands.  This is a setting which as gripped popular culture for years, with many authors choosing to pull from its rich history.  The origin of the Vikings, some of the fiercest raiders the world has ever known, they revered a uniquely flawed pantheon of gods and goddesses.  Unlike pantheons around the world, the gods of the Norse could be killed.  Their names have long since transcended folklore, appearing in everything from science-fiction anime to fantasy novels set in new worlds.  Even existing franchises once known for other settings, such as the God of War series of video games, has moved into the north.  And influence of the Norse is not diminishing.

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Mapping the Stars: A Review of The Forbidden Stars, by Tim Pratt

Science-fiction is one of the most versatile genres of fiction around, capable of combining settings with any other tale.  Science-fiction as a genre is also a bit of a misnomer.  The average science-fiction story is not just science-fiction.  Tales can be action films, adventure stories, romance, horror, and more.  From Blade Runner to Black Mirror, from Polaris Rising to Foundation.  Science-fiction can be defined by both fun and thoughtfulness, and there is always a place for a fun adventure that does not require readers to analyze every paragraph.  Books like The Forbidden Stars, Tim Pratt’s third novel in the Axiom trilogy, show the importance of such escapism while also taking the opportunity to define a possible future.  While entertaining, the novels also take some time to normalize behaviors and lifestyles, sexual orientations and body modifications.  Science-fiction lets us see all futures and revel in them.

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Never a Hindrance: A Review of Aurora Blazing, by Jessie Mihalik

There is a certain amount of joy gained in reading some fiction.  Fiction meant to entertain, to transport the readers to fantastical worlds and witness the deeds of heroic peoples.  Where literary fiction tends to prioritize specific word choice and meaning over plot and character, many authors realize that there can be greater value in drawing in and entertaining your audience.  Sometimes the best books are the ones that make you forget that you are reading words on a page, instead conjuring images in your imagination.  These are the kinds of books that are hard to put down, and you wonder how you managed to read through them so quickly.  These types of books thrive in science-fiction, where most things, if not all things, are possible.  The only barrier is the author’s imagination.
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