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"I tend to agree with Neil Gaiman when he said, “I believe that stories are incredibly important, possibly in ways we don't understand, in allowing us to make sense of our lives, in allowing us to escape our lives, in giving us empathy and in creating the world that we live in.” I love authors who make me feel things, and strongly, or show me new lines of flight out of the ways I typically envision the world."
Within 20 pages Oyeyemi became one of my favorite authors. Her writing is engaging, sharp and suffused with some form of oxygen that makes breathing wider and deeper. I can’t write about her without sounding like a smitten lover and that is perhaps the best description of how her books make me feel. This is a story of generational trauma, of the relationships between mothers and daughters and the less obvious effects of racism in america. Each of these themes can be overwhelming when mishandled yet Oyeyemi utilizes them with a kind of overt-subtlety which strengthens their impact while still allowing us to enjoy the narrative. Perhaps it is because she isn’t a moralist trying to teach us any lessons; rather she says, “Look and see”.
Ann Leckie does some incredible tricks in her Ancillary Trilogy. First, she shows us what the world would sound like if feminine pronouns were the default. This is both disconcerting and wonderful. It poses a challenge to readers to reconsider how and why we gender characters in our minds and what impact that has on our perception of their actions. Her second trick is, at times, even harder to imagine and very difficult to explain. Imagine seeing the world through thousands of pairs of eyes, united by a single consciousness, while also holding a sense of individuality. Leckie takes these seemingly disparate ideas and weaves them into a beautiful tapestry set in a region of space both familiar and alien to those of us on Earth.
The grand dame of science-fiction is perhaps better known for her Parable duology but the three books which make up Lilith’s Brood are just as powerful. Earth has been decimated by human warfare and an alien race has decided to colonize and repopulate. Through a generational lens Butler explores topics of free will, desire, and, most unsettling, consent. This is not an easy book to read, but it does what the best books do well: it challenges us, forces it’s readers to confront difficult topics while offering transformation through the process. If we are not better people having engaged with Butler’s ideas we at least have a new kind of clarity.