N.K. Jemisin, _The Fifth Season_: Incredibly vivid world in which there is constant seismic and volcanic activity; civilization is problematic thereby. Also, there is magic and consequences and constant difficulty and death and disappeared children and, in addition, really good written structure. She's doing a little stunt writing, but unlike Gael Baudino, there's a purpose and reasons for it, and it works.
(Somehow, I figured out the ( spoiler was a spoiler )
Without reading any commentary about it beforehand! I don't really know why; intuition poking at things missing, basically.)
So anyway: Orogenes control various natural phenomena, mostly earthquakes, and are hated and feared by most of the population. Some orogenes just hang out and are bad at their powers, and often get killed by the non-orogenes; others get inducted into, basically, Orogene Academy and get subsumed into an abusive relationship with their powers and the hierarchical system of the Fulcrum. There's three narrators, all of them orogenes, one in second person for apparently no good reason until the end of the book, but I put it down to stunt writing and was able to enjoy it anyway. ( Narrator spoilage )
NK Jemisin, _The Obelisk Gate_: Even more becomes clear. Also, the character throughline is expanded on, so that helps. And the book leveled up, in terms of world building. (The characters didn't, so much, but Much Was Revealed, and the world was expanded.)
A few weeks later, N. K. Jemisin, _The Stone Sky_: This, again, leveled up in the world building. ( Some spoilers. )
I wasn’t enjoying it as much as a book, because I wasn’t invested in the Very Long Ago past bits, and the narrator was not gripping me, and then I snapped into caring again right near the end, and ouch.
This series was hard. ( Some slightly spoilery talk about why. )
But really worth reading. (Also, it won three Hugos, and I was going to argue with that, but the books expand and change the context of the world so much and so effectively that I think I won’t. But I’m glad the last one is the one that won a Nebula; it deserved it.)
Jo Walton, _The Just City_: I needed a break from the Jemisin, because it is unrelenting, so I instead read about some Greek Gods being Greek Gods, and trying to see if the Just City from Plato's Republic could be made to actually work. Involves, among other things, consent and lack thereof, the meaning of slavery, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola's various theories of syncretistic divinity, what it means to live your best life, and whether machines can be conscious, thinking beings. Also, there is ( A spoiler being a spoiler )
Jo Walton does not write gorgeous sentences, but she *thinks* about everything very hard. I appreciate this. Also, I was right that it was a relief from the unrelentingness of the Jemisin. It's not *light*, but it is ... optimistic? Certainly less grindy.
Jo Walton, _The Philosopher Kings_: I was unable to read this for whole DAYS due to not being able to get it from the library. (Woe!) And then ( A spoiler made me sad. )
But, it does mean that in addition to questions of consent, slavery, and the nature of souls and divinity, it gets to talk about grief, grieving, and appropriate and inappropriate vengeance.
Some of the vengeance bits made me acutely uncomfortable, as they were meant to.
I was enjoying this less, in part because of the vengeance factor, and then suddenly, ( a spoiler appeared! )
and it became 50,000 times better. This scene caused me glee.
I don't like Walton's Athena, but, ( then I go on about spoilers )
Now I wish Walton would write Hera, just so I could start to like *her*, too.
Jo Walton, _Necessity_: In which the trilogy becomes far more overtly SFnal, as opposed to a thought experiment tinged with fantasy elements. (Though, of course, even in the 1st two books, there were sentient machines, so my distinctions possibly aren't so useful.) There's aliens, time travel problems, new and novel ways not to cause time travel paradox, and questions of first contact. Also, found family, confusion, and sudden awesome-tastic resolutions and resistance to Gods. (Well, one specific God.) ( Which god? )
ALSO! One of the viewpoint characters is one of the aforementioned sentient machines, and he is *the best*. Dry, occasional biting wit, observant, and his own kind of alien. Crocus 4-eva.
I found some of the writing in the non-Crocus bits a little unfocused, though I can’t remember why now that I’m writing this up weeks later.
Zen Cho, _Sorceror To The Crown_: I found myself temporarily unable to acquire the second of Walton's odes to Grecian philosophy (because my local libraries are not open on Sundays), so I read this instead. For awhile, it felt like a fairly standard regency-era fantasy with some romance, but then about 2/3 of the way through I noticed that it was hilarious, biting, incisive, and terrifically fun. (Also, there were dragons. They are best.)
Mind you, even before I let it grab me, it was a regency fantasy with a black ex-slave as the head thaumaturge in a faux 1800s England, so one can imagine it was not precisely standard even before it became exceptionally good. Said head thaumaturge is named Zacharias Wythe; his ward is Prunella Gentlewoman, who has a mysterious past but who was raised by the headmistress of a school for young women whose parents wish to suppress their magic. Proper young ladies should not, you see, use magic. Societal conventions and Prunella don't get along very well, however. Events ensue.
Its sequel just came out, though apparently it's mostly about other, newer characters.
Visual media: I watched all of Bab5 Season 5 with the Mark Watches crew, and wanted, as per usual, to garrotte Byron, but I really liked Captain Lochley this time, yay! When I first watched it, I only knew Tracey Scoggins from her (really annoying) turn as Cat Grant on _Lois and Clark_, and also I had a grudge because no Ivanova, so I didn’t give her a chance. But she really was good.
And I didn’t think _Sleeping in Light_ was all that maudlin, either. Though even I admit, four different farewell episodes, all in all, was a bit much.
Now the Mark Watches crew is watching Crusade and I suddenly stopped watching things after Sleeping In Light, so I have to catch up this weekend, or anyway, soon.