Books, June 2017 and halfway through the year

I’ve been really heckin busy. Come see Proof in just 2 short months, everyone!

Has Feminism Changed Science?, Londa Schiebinger

So, has it? In short: some, but nowhere near enough.

I’ve been extraordinarily lucky in my career that I’ve worked with institutions and individuals who were nothing but supportive of me. But this is far from universal, at those institutions and in my generation, and even more so in the past. Frustratingly, many of the problems the author identifies are as present now as when book was written almost 20 years ago, such as inflexible schedules (both daily, interfering with childcare and other home obligations, and career-long, interfering with maternity leave) or the implicit expectation of especially academic careers that someone else is taking care of all real-life responsibilities for you (or that you don’t have any other responsibilities). And most of the policies that would improve the situation of women in science even improve productivity and creativity, even seemingly costly proposals such as spousal hires and maternity leave, both because happy unstressed people do their jobs better and because introducing new perspectives leads to new questions and creative new solutions.

Genre: history, science. Format: nonfiction. Rating: 3/3, and it’s held up frustratingly well

Acceptance, Jeff Vandermeer

The trilogy wraps up with a reasonably satisfying conclusion that answers everything except for SPOILER what in the heckin heck is Area X anyway? I loved flashing between multiple times and places and verb tenses to finally piece together what happened, if not what caused or or why. I’m not so much a fan of the second-person narration, which is pretty rare because it’s so niche and difficult. (2021 me says: everyone stand back and watch NK Jemisin crush it, then don’t follow in her footsteps because it will NOT be as good as hers.) Maybe it reminds me too much of murder mystery character sheets? Someone on the Writing Excuses podcast (I don’t remember who, unfortunately) suggested that second-person narration might well become more common as video games grow in popularity, as those are essentially second-person narratives. I find it works in video games because you’re an active participant in the story, but I often find it distracting in narrative.

Genre: horror. Format: novel. Rating: 3/3

Silenced in the Surf, Kate Dyer-Seeley

Rule one of narrative (and especially of comedy): don’t punch down. SPOILER FOR THE MURDERER AND MOTIVE. If the murderer’s motive was that the person he killed bullied him for being a nerd, then the narrator should perhaps lay off the mean nerd stereotypes in the story? Constantly describing him (constantly as in nearly every time he entered a scene) as a stinky, cape-wearing, no-social-skills dweeb rather reinforces the perception of the nerd as an acceptable target for bullies. Now, this was through the lens of a first person narrator, so I attribute this to her and not the author, but I want to like her and I was annoyed by how judgy she was being.

Genre: mystery. Format: novel. Rating: 2/3, totally readable but the weakest of the series to date

And of course, mid-year stats check-in:

7508 pages in 29 books

Faves of the year so far:

Novel: Lock-In (March)

Series: Sorcery and Cecilia (#1 February and #2 in progress)

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