Mar. 12th, 2017

kenjari: (illumination)
Ancillary Justice
by Ann Leckie

This extremely compelling science fiction novel is set in a far future in which the Radch empire has spread widely throughout space, encompassing most of the human-populated worlds. Twenty years after the last of the Radch's conquests/annexations, a former soldier known as Breq is pursuing the last stages of her revenge -based quest. Breq used to be Justice of Toren, a vast AI that controlled and linked a starship and thousands of its soldiers. I won't say much about the plot or even the details of the world, since that would give too much away. I will say that the climactic scene involves a bit that will amuse the hell out of early-music nerds.
I loved this book. I could barely put it down, but I couldn't read it too fast because there was so much to think about an puzzle out. Leckie does a masterful job of combining plot, world-building, and character exposition. Plus, she's a genius at revealing how the setting works and what is really going on without either spoon-feeding or frustrating the reader. Along the way, she embeds a through-provoking examination of what it is to be human, what a sense of belonging means, and tghe ethical dilemmas of conquest and empire.
kenjari: (piano)
Music in Mexico
by Alejandro L. Madrid

Another solid entry in Oxford University Press' Global Music series, Music in Mexico is a fascinating look at popular music in Mexico from the early days of the country through to the present. Madrid focuses on regional and transnational aspects of Mexican music genres, particularly the relationship that these genres have with Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans in the United States. I also appreciated the way Madrid brought in the contexts of Mexican social and political situations during different decades and eras, and the way he tied in the development of Mexican media.* Finally, I enjoyed learning to parse out and recognize different genres and how they fit into what I would recognize as the typical sounds of Mexican and Latin American music. My only complaint is that the book too often directed the reader to a companion website or to look things up on the web.

*This last point did often result in a certain Wall of Voodoo song going through my head.

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