River of Teeth by Sarah Gaiely. ★★★★
River of Teeth is more awesomeness than I thought could ever be packed into one novella. This little book is sheer fun!
I’ve been wanting to read this novella ever since I saw Sarah Gailey’s tweets about the history behind it. Basically, in 1909, America was facing two problems: a meat shortage and invasive plants in the Mississippi. Well, one U.S. congressman had a bright idea. We could import hippos to live in the Mississippi. They’d eat the invasive plants and provide a source of meat. Brilliant, right? The rest of Congress certainly thought so. The motion failed by only one vote. Presumably because someone finally pointed out that hippos are the most dangerous African mega-fauna. But if the vote had gone another way, what would America have been like? River of Teeth is a story of the American Hippo, although set earlier than the real world history that inspired it.
Legion: Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson. ★★★
Looking back at my review of the first novella, Legion, I’m not really sure why I chose to read Legion: Skin Deep. Possibly I hoped it would improve? More likely, I just forgot that I wasn’t super thrilled with Legion and plunged head first into this one willy nilly.
Technically, you don’t need to read these books in order. The plot lines aren’t really related. The core concept of this novella series is the main character Stephan Leeds, who has hallucinations. However, these are no ordinary hallucinations. They appear whenever he studies any topic, gaining the knowledge that’s locked in his subconscious. They give him a panel of experts that he carry around with him at all times and allow him to have a lucrative job as an adviser and investigator.
All Systems Red by Martha Wells. ★★★★1/2
All Systems Red was truly a delight. A snarky robot with a TV addiction? Who can resist that!
All planetary missions must be supplied by the Company and they must rent a Company supplied SecUnit, an android security guard. The narrator of All Systems Red is one such SecUnit, but it has hacked into the governor module and is now secretly autonomous. It refers to itself as Murderbot, and it really doesn’t care about it’s job — guarding a team of scientists on a remote planet where there shouldn’t be problems anyway. Murderbot much prefers to hack into a satellite and gain access to 35,000 hours of entertainment media. This works out perfectly fine for Murderbot until a neighboring mission goes dark and their own humans may be in danger.
Snapshot by Brandon Sanderson. ★★★
Snapshot is novella from one of my favorite authors, Brandon Sanderson. However, it’s not a story I’ll ever return to.
In Snapshot, the police force of an independent city have access to an advanced technology that can recreate an entire day of the recent past. Buildings, streets, food, and even people. A specialized team enters this “snapshot” to gather evidence for a case, trying not to create a ripple effect of changes due to their presence.
Anthony Davis and his partner Chaz enter a snapshot of ten days ago, May 1st, to do some routine evidence gathering. But Davis has been listening to some conspiracy theory chat boards, and he heard that something big went down on May 1st. When Davis and Chaz head to an abandoned building where police were called, they discover that the city is hiding a brutal crime.
The Dispatcher by John Scalzi. ★★★1/2
The Dispatchers is a sci-fi novella based around a single concept: what if anyone who was murdered just… came back? Right in their own home, naked as the day they were born. How would society change as a result?
Tony Valdez is a dispatcher, a professional with the license to murder. He exists to give second chances, since only murder results in people returning. He often works in hospitals, staying on hand in case a surgery goes wrong and it looks like the patient will die of natural causes, never to return. When he finds out that a fellow dispatcher has gone missing, Tony becomes involved in the investigation and the shady world of off-books dispatching.
Keeper of the Dawn by Dianna Gunn. ★★★★
I loved this fantasy novella! I picked it up mainly because I heard the protagonist was asexual (true), and I ended up with a novella that was beautiful in so many ways and really resonated with me.
Lai’s mother and grandmother before her have been priestesses, and Lai can’t imagine any other life for herself. In order to become a priestess, she must win through the trials, for only one girl can be selected by the gods as the next priestess. But what about after the trials? What will happen to the friends she’s in competition with? And what if… she fails?
Final Girls by Mira Grant. ★★★
I’ve read some of this author’s work under the name Seanan McGuire, but I’d never read one of the stories she wrote as Mira Grant. I had very little idea of what to expect going into Final Girls. I knew that it involved a virtual reality program being used for therapy, that it focused on sisterly bond between two women, and that it may involve horror aspects. All of those were true, but it also turned out to be a novella. So I read this one a lot quicker than I expected!
Dr. Jennifer Webb has invented the method and technology for using virtual reality for therapy. To heal her clients of old wounds, she’ll send them through a virtual reality horror simulation, where they’ll feel completely immersed in the narrative. This therapy is usually used to rebuild strained family bonds, but she’s giving journalist Esther Hoffman an exclusive look at her techniques, which include Esther taking a trip via Dr. Webb’s proprietary VR tech. Esther has built her career debunking fraudulent therapy techniques, and she just can’t wait to disprove Dr. Webb. However, as she and Dr. Webb undertake a VR journey, events in the outside world influence them in ways they could never have expected.