The Monthly Motif Reading Challenge theme for this month is diversity, so let’s dive into 3 Speculative Fiction books by authors of color that I highly recommend you add to your reading list – stat!
Version Control, Dexter Palmer
Version Control is about a possible near future, but it’s also about the way we live now. It’s about smart phones and self-driving cars and what we believe about the people we meet on the Internet. It’s about a couple, Rebecca and Philip, who have experienced a tragedy, and about how they help — and fail to help — each other through it.
This book takes it’s time – time to develop the characters, to flesh out the story and to bring us along to the point where the author turns things on it’s head. The story is multi-faceted yet without being complex. There’s time-travel, online dating gone high-tech and rogue, privacy issues, race issues … this is clearly one smart book / author. The audiobook narration by January LaVoy was superbly done! She is just a master at bringing characters to life.
Iron Cast, Destiny Soria
In 1919, Ada Navarra – the intrepid daughter of immigrants – and Corinne Wells – a spunky, devil-may-care heiress – make an unlikely pair. But at the Cast Iron nightclub in Boston, anything and everything is possible. At night, on stage together, the two best friends, whose “afflicted” blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art, weave magic under the employ of Johnny Dervish, the club’s owner and a notorious gangster. By day, Ada and Corinne use these same skills to con the city’s elite in an attempt to keep the club afloat.
Not only is the book cover gorgeous, but we’re treated to heckuva story. The world of hemopaths was done exceptionally well and the characters were interesting and original. This is a slow burn of a book, but about mod-way, it picks up speed and never lets up.
The Changeling, Victor LaValle
Apollo Kagwa has had strange dreams that have haunted him since childhood. An antiquarian book dealer with a business called Improbabilia, he is just beginning to settle into his new life as a committed and involved father, unlike his own father who abandoned him, when his wife Emma begins acting strange. Disconnected and uninterested in their new baby boy, Emma at first seems to be exhibiting all the signs of post-partum depression, but it quickly becomes clear that her troubles go far beyond that. Before Apollo can do anything to help, Emma commits a horrific act – beyond any parent’s comprehension – and vanishes, seemingly into thin air.
Wow what a book! The author is really the master of detail. The urban setting is described in detail so that we believe we’re in modern day NY and this craziness is really happening. Many authors could take note on how to weave location details into a book without seeming like they’re info dumping. And then there’s the plot. We’re expertly weaved through the drama and led through the labyrinth of what’s happening slowly and methodically. This is a short book – a novella – and trust me, you won’t come up for air until you’re done reading.
Have you read any of these books? Do you have any recommendations for speculative fiction books written by authors of color that you love?