Review – Report from Planet Midnight

Cover of Report from Planet Midnight by Nalo HopkinsonReport from Planet Midnight, Nalo Hopkinson

I’ve meant to read something by Hopkinson for a while — in fact, at one point I was a chunk of the way through Midnight Robber. I’m not sure what happened then; had to give it back to the library, maybe? But I’ve been meaning to have another crack at it sometime soon, and this is definitely encouraging. The two short stories are well-crafted, and I especially love the voices she gives to Ariel and Caliban and Sycorax. I didn’t read it as the ‘house nigger’ and the ‘field nigger’, as some of the notes on it mention; afterwards, I immediately felt it was obvious.

The non-fiction commentary is great, too. I felt like despite this being the ‘Outspoken Authors’ series, Hopkinson still felt the need to hold back on/qualify her opinions and feelings a bit; there’s a diffidence, almost defensiveness, that upset me a little. Like, do we really need to make a world where an author of colour feels she has to repeatedly state that books by white men are fine and she reads them and she just wants more diversity? I did the same in my post about my Female Authors Only Month project, it’s true, but… it annoys me. Let’s quit acting like wanting more stories from some people means we want to silence other people, okay?

Still, Hopkinson said a lot of incisive and true things about fandom, race, literature, people. And I’m sure there are white folks reading it who feel like she’s making a stab at them (at a guess, if Vox Day or the Sad and Rabid Puppies read this, they might have apoplexy). And I love that she isn’t a bit ashamed about having fibromyalgia and the effects it has on her: so many people are dismissive about it, and given that Nalo Hopkinson is a woman of colour, I bet there’s plenty of people adding that to their list of reasons why they don’t have to listen to her. Which is rubbish, but definitely what I’ve observed.

Rating: 4/5


What are you reading Wednesday

What did you recently finish reading?
The last thing was Ironskin (Tina Connolly), and before that, I Am Half-Sick of Shadows (Alan Bradley). I’m slowly creeping up on getting my list cleared, even if I keep starting new books a bit too often still…

What are you currently reading?
Midnight Robber (Nalo Hopkinson). The Creole narration (I think I’m right in saying it’s Creole, but I found conflicting information when I googled, so correct me if I’m wrong!) is really fascinating; it’s a bit tough for me at first, but the more I read, the easier it becomes. I think Hopkinson was very inventive in transplanting those West African traditions into a SF world. It feels different than pretty much anything else I’ve ever read.

I’m also reading Natural-Born Cyborgs (Andy Clark), which is quite interesting, but begins to lose me whenever he gets too scientific. I need to stop reading it when I’m less than fully alert! And slightly behind that in the queue, there’s Helene Wecker’s The Golem and the Djinni, which I should be finishing soon, and Melissa Scott’s Shadow Man. Basically, as usual, I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.

What do you think you’ll read next?
Once I’ve finished those two, I think I’ll read the next Flavia de Luce book, since I’ve so nearly caught up to the ARC, so that’ll be Speaking from Among the Bones. Then I think I might make an effort to finish Republic of Thieves (Scott Lynch), before me mother and partner both expire waiting. The plan is to work mostly on ARCs I already have in progress, this month, I think. I’m thinking maybe also The Darwin Elevator (Jason M. Hough), etc.

Books acquired:
There’s been enough acquired with Christmas money that I think my Stacking the Shelves entry for this week will just have to be edited highlights… Examples are Carl Sagan’s Cosmos (because Carl Sagan!) and Anna Cowan’s Untamed, after reading lots of fascinating reviews about it. It sounds deeply problematic in some ways, but also like it pushes on the boundaries of genre. I like my Regency romances, I confess, though Georgette Heyer can’t be beaten in my view; Untamed sounds like it adds some LGBT issues to the mix. Two words: crossdressing duke. I’m looking forward to getting round to that one.