An assortment of books that have been on my kindle for a while – half read and now finally finished
More of a novella, this is set in a near future where humanity is starting to head to Mars, but much of our current issues are are still there. The heroine, Amelia, doesn’t have much money. She scrapes a living with various tasks and dreams of being an astronaut. She had a relationship with an artist who turned out to be wealthy, but had to obey his father. One of her tasks is providing companionship to an old actress who starred in a movie about astronauts on Mars, who had a scandalous careers.
The story can be a bit of a downer- Amelia struggles and has to make compromises about her life – but is also an interesting counterpoint to a lot of science fiction which is shiny utopia in the stars. This is the life of an ever age person in a golden moment- even if society experiencing amazing things, not everyone gets to have that.
I have always been me
I think i got this book as one of those Kindle early reads. I had not heard of Precious previously, so not sure of the extent to which the story was known. It is an autobiography detailing her life growing up in Omaha. Precious was the first transgender woman to be correctly gendered on the birth certificate of her child in the state of Illinois.
This was an interesting memoir, although has been written quite young. It was disconcerting to realise that a chunk of Precious’ childhood years was my late teens and early adulthood- many of the cultural touch stones were recent. As a reader, it feels strange to move from reading about the past to reading about my recent past, presented from someone clearly younger.
Precious’s childhood was precarious, largely raised by a grandmother with a shifting group of parental figures and then time in the foster system. The significant involvement with evangelical and Pentecostal churches would have presented challenges to a non gender conforming child with attraction to what was then the same sex.
I struggled with this one, in part due to the youth and recency aspect. There was a lot of detail about her life, i think when we read biographies stretching over longer timeframes, specific details of many of the events can be glossed over. There was not enough material(life) to do this.
The personal growth through high school and college was detailed, along with involvement in church activities and then later in queer community support activities.
Valuable to have the story told, yes. She is upfront about her weaknesses and struggles and admits when she had prior prejudices. Is this a story for the ages- not so much. I value it as documentation of a life outside the straight cisgender norms (and we do not have enough of these stories) but it needs something more.
Servant of the Underworld
This was a surprise. It is set in the Aztec empire juuust prior to the Spanish invasion and it is a detective mystery featuring the priest of the god of the underworld. So somewhat like putting Brother Cadfael, Hercule Poirot, Marcus Didius Falco and the Aztec empire in a blender. Magic and the gods exist, and the priest (who is pretty senior) sacrifices a number of animals. This is not an unbloody book.
The priest is called to the scene of a disappearance of a priestess of a different god in the hope he can trace her (she appears to have been carried off rather violently). The prime suspect is the priest’s brother.
This begins a fascinating exploration of the interplay between the various gods and sects of the empire, the various castes that made up society and the interplay.
There is quite a bit of misdirection and confusion, which is made trickier by the total foreigners of the location. But the time and location are also a major draw card here – it is rare to read a story set in this time and place, and rarer to see the culture presented as the norm. This is simply how people live.
Once I finished I found that there were a couple of short stories that set the character up, gave more context. There are also sequels.