Rebecca Langham Recommends 5 F/F Speculative Fiction Books

Rebecca Langham Recommends 5 F/F Speculative Fiction Books on this episode of Les Do Books with Tara Scott.

In this episode, Tara’s joined by author Rebecca Langham (aka Kara Ripley), who shares five speculative fiction books that she loves, all of which feature queer women! Have a listen to see which books she recommends, why she loves them, and some of the other things she appreciates about reading lesfic.

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Check out Rebecca’s recommendations:

Rabbits of the Apocalypse by Benny Lawrence

Publisher Bedazzled Ink Publishing

Available in Audiobook No

Synopsis

Rabbits of the Apocalypse is set in a not-too-distant future plagued with drought, human trafficking, rabid religious groups, and people who completely lack a sense of humor.  What with all the hunger, chaos, sunstroke, landmines, and radiation it’s hard to get by, and harder still to get laid.

In the remote desert town of Lafontaine, Casey Prentice has been trying to survive the endtimes by keeping her head down and refusing to give a damn about anyone except her younger sister Emily and wingman Malice Hiroyama. But that ceases to be an option when a powerful and mysterious entity known as the Anastasian League descends on the town.

Casey offers shelter to genius Pax, who is trying to escape the League. In doing so, she invites a whole new kind of danger into her life on top of a budding romance. The town of Lafontaine has a secret . . . and if the League discovers it, then the apocalypse will be the least of Casey’s worries.

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Addict by Matt Doyle

Publisher NineStar Press

Series The Cassie Tam Files

Available in Audiobook No

Synopsis

New Hopeland was built to be the centre of the technological age, but like everywhere else, it has its dark side. Assassins, drug dealers and crooked businessmen form a vital part of the city’s make-up, and sometimes, the police are in too deep themselves to be effective. But hey, there are always other options …

For P.I. Cassie Tam, business has been slow. So, when she’s hired to investigate the death of a local VR addict named Eddie Redwood, she thinks it’ll be easy money. All she has to do is prove to the deceased’s sister Lori that the local P.D. were right to call it an accidental overdose. The more she digs though, the more things don’t seem to sit right, and soon, Cassie finds herself knee deep in a murder investigation. But that’s just the start of her problems.

When the case forces Cassie to make contact with her drug dealing ex-girlfriend, Charlie Goldman, she’s left with a whole lot of long buried personal issues to deal with. Then there’s her client. Lori Redwood is a Tech Shifter, someone who uses a metal exoskeleton to roleplay as an animal. Cassie isn’t one to judge, but the Tech Shifting community has always left her a bit nervous. That wouldn’t be a problem if Lori wasn’t fast becoming the first person that she’s been genuinely attracted to since splitting with Charlie. Oh, and then there’s the small matter of the police wanting her to back off the case.

Easy money, huh? Yeah, right.

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Trans Liberty Riot Brigade by L.M. Pierce

Publisher NineStar Press

Available in Audiobook No

Synopsis

Andi knows being born an intersex “Transgressor” and then choosing to stay that way can have lethal consequences. After all, surgical assignment is mandated by law. But she ain’t going to spend her life hiding from the Society, hooked on Flow, and wanking tourists just to make a few bucks. She’s a member of the Trans Liberty Riot Brigade, an underground faction of Transgressors resisting the government’s war on their illegal genitalia.

But it’s not enough to tag their messages on shithouse walls and sniff down the next high. The government has found their headquarters, decimated their ranks, and they’re crushing the resistance. Though Andi might be nothing but a junktard, she embarks on a desperate dash to stay alive and send a call for help before they’re all killed—or worse, surgically assigned.

Andi, together with Brigade leader Elenbar, must get beyond the communications block preventing all radio transmission, which means crossing the seaboard Wall barricading the United Free States borders. It’s designed to keep enemies out and the citizens in, but amid increasing earthquakes and deadly pursuit, Andi will discover there’s a far more dangerous secret hidden deep within the Wall itself.

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Dawn by Octavia E. Butler

Publisher Aspect

Available in Audiobook Yes, narrated by Aldrich Barrett

Synopsis

In a world devastated by nuclear war with humanity on the edge of extinction, aliens finally make contact. They rescue those humans they can, keeping most survivors in suspended animation while the aliens begin the slow process of rehabilitating the planet. When Lilith Iyapo is “awakened”, she finds that she has been chosen to revive her fellow humans in small groups by first preparing them to meet the utterly terrifying aliens, then training them to survive on the wilderness that the planet has become. But the aliens cannot help humanity without altering it forever.

Bonded to the aliens in ways no human has ever known, Lilith tries to fight them even as her own species comes to fear and loathe her. A stunning story of invasion and alien contact by one of science fiction’s finest writers.

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Nightshade by Brooke Radley

Publisher NineStar Press

Available in Audiobook No

Synopsis

Eleanor Reed spent most of her life at the Darten Academy, trading her childhood for an education in magic. When the King’s Council comes to her with a mission, she jumps at the opportunity for adventure. The assignment is deceptively simple: infiltrate the Nightshade Brotherhood, the city’s infamous thieves’ guild, and confirm their responsibility for the recent emergence of a hallucinogenic drug.

Unfortunately for her, the Brotherhood hates mages. If they catch Eleanor, they’ll slit her throat and toss her in the ocean.

Hiding her identity proves to be an impossible task. Cassandra, a thief as beautiful as she is dangerous, sees Eleanor cast a spell during her trial for the Brotherhood. Rather than kill her, Cassandra offers her a position in the guild. Cassandra holds the key to success for Eleanor—but is she after something more?

Under Cassandra’s tutelage, Eleanor discovers that the Brotherhood isn’t quite what it seems to be, and the ever-growing drug problem is more complicated than originally anticipated. Whoever is at fault will stop at nothing to get what they want.

Things go from bad to worse when Eleanor realizes her growing passion for Cassandra. Will Eleanor be able to decide where her loyalties lie before it’s too late?

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Find Rebecca Langham online

Transcript

please note this transcript has not been edited and is automatically generated meaning certain words will be incorrect

hi I’m Tara and welcome to Les Do Books email me at Tara@thelesbianreview.com with any questions or comments or come join our Facebook group to lesbian cute book club I’m excited because I’m joined today by Rebecca Langham author of the dystopian sci-fi beneath the surface which is available everywhere from 9 star press she’s also the author of writing the track which is published under the name Kara Ripley which is also available from 9 star welcome Rebecca thank you so much super excited so you’re here today to share some books that you recommend is there any kind of a theme to what you’ve chosen yeah I actually am a very eclectic reader I like lots of different genres I’m also very picky about certain things I don’t like very much but my heart really lies with speculative fiction so I love fantasy and I love science fiction and most of the books today a fairly sci-fi although a couple of them are kind of like more dystopian post-apocalyptic sort of stories that aren’t very heavy on the science part but I’m very heavy on the speculative poem so what’s the first book you want to talk about well the first book is rabbits the apocalypse by Benny Lawrence which I cannot recommend this book enough to enough to as many people as humanly possible it’s such an unusual and unique book and I see people talking about it occasionally online but nowhere near as much as they should be I first heard about this book from Emily noise who is you know a super super popular less speak author who I met I had actually met her in person even though we’re in the same country but I met her online just before her first book was published and she was just such wonderful friends me online is sort of held my hand through the submission process of my first novel and she’s not really into specfic so we always have these little like romance versus sci-fi let’s go on debates and we found this particular book that was a bit of a middle ground and she said to me hey you should read rabbits or the apocalypse I’m like that has a freaking weird title what is that about and she goes just just trust me you’ll read the first paragraph and it’s so you and she was right it was just such a good book so from a verse in the apocalypse I think is probably one of the best if not the best lesbian dystopian fictions I’ve ever read if you like things like Tank Girl or Mad Max but you really wanted the main character to be a lesbian with trust issues and lots of sarcasm then this is the book of you you need it in your life I guess there’s a quick run down at the port main character’s name is Casey and she lives in a world that is characterized by really severe droughts the sort of religious zealotry there’s human trafficking like people get kidnapped and resold and you know it’s pretty dreadful place to live but there’s also lots of inappropriate jokes and double entendre and I’m a big fan of that sort of thing Casey’s are really interesting Narae so she’s hiding some pretty big secrets that probably shouldn’t reveal what they are that might break a little bit so she kind of keeps her head pretty low tries to just go about her business to her job keep her sister safe their sisters a little bit more flighty that she’s seems to kind of drift from boyfriend – boyfriend and she tries really hard to protect her sister from there I guess the general conditions of the world that they live in but then you know inevitably a new group turns out you know some sort of conflicts but when this group turns up basically looking to steal things and steal people and take power and generally wreck the place there’s a kind of I guess a slave-girl is probably the best way to describe her name packs and packs makes a really big impression on Casey when Casey ends up risking everything to try and save packs from this really terrible situation that she’s in which is really out of character for Casey cuz she tries to keep her big secret hidden so from there they basically have I can’t really say much about the plot without wrecking it to be honest they kind of you know go on various adventures that you know against the big bad corporate powers or you know the sort of gangster elements that are fighting each other and fighting the kind of trying to be government to control everything but I just love this book so much it’s really exciting really tense but it’s also just hilarious like all the bad situations are made really funny by Casey’s really inappropriate sense of humor and there isn’t like the romance between KC and pax is definitely a big part of the story but it’s not the crux of the story like it doesn’t actually carry it it’s just part of the landscape they have that kind of immediate attraction that we see in a lot of books and that’s really fulfilling and really interesting but I love that their expectations of each other of themselves of the situation I just totally thrown upside down when their secrets about each other are kind of revealed their relationship it gets really strange like they argue and they banter and they keep trying to push each other away like Casey’s constantly breaking up with pax like no I’m not doing this next thing you know they’re behind a locked door and it fades to black so I found that really quite as satisfying that it was just a kind of dysfunctional relationship not in not in like a negative way more in a kind of comical realistic way and it’s just one of those really clever books that has all these layers of complexity like if you just want something to entertain you and just laugh because it’s hilarious and you just want to grit your teeth through the really cool suspenseful parts and smile at the romance then you can do that and not think too much within it but if you also like science fiction that has a social conscience that you know ask some of those really classic speculative fiction questions about humanity about who we are and what we’re doing and power and authority and all those sorts of really powerful sci-fi themes then you’ll get that in rabbits and the apocalypse as well so I think it’s a really good book if you want something easygoing you can read it at that layer but if you want something kind of in-depth and and politically and socially charged then you get that – you just have to look for us I yes really really good book if you can’t tell I like it no everyone read it that’s good let’s buy it right now all right you’re very welcome Vinnie Lawrence by the way it’s gonna plug you up okay I think I have that one on my Kindle too I just haven’t gotten to it yet so I feel like I might need to push that out the list I feel like if you read the first two paragraphs so you’re not immediately in love with the writing then I just don’t think we can be friends it’s just it just like grabs you from that first sentence and you think ah this is gonna be good you can tell straight away good stuff so what is the next book that you have on your list okay so that you know I’ve got about four or five books that I was thinking of talking to you about today and you’ll notice that I think three of them are published by nine Star Press and there is there is a good reason for that part of its got to do with the fact that before I was published before I’d actually submitted beneath the surface to anybody I have a bit of an obsessive research on so I did so much research into different publishers the different types of fiction trying to work out which one would actually like my book so when I found nine star press I went on a bit of a reading rampage and just picked up a lot of their speculative fiction titles just to kind of and I did it with several other publishers – trying to work out you know is this is this the type of story that they’d be looking for in terms of my story so I found that I liked a lot of their sci-fi when I picked it up so the book I’m gonna talk about now it’s actually a series so there’s three of them now it’s called the Cassie team files I’ll just sort of focus on the first one which is called addict the Cassie Tam files is written by an English author named Matt Doyle and I I’ve been really amazed by how much I like them because I’m not hugely into reading crime fiction I don’t mind it like if someone gives me a crime fiction and says hey you’ll enjoy this then you know I’ll read it and I’ll probably be pretty happy to have read it but I’ll forget it eight seconds after I close the cover and be like yeah that was all right what’s next but the Cassie Tam files are just really clever and really unique so their crime fiction but they’re set in the future so they’re like this crime fiction sci-fi noir kind of combination because they’ve written it in the style of like that almost sort of 1940s Humphrey Bogart crime fiction story you know I can I can almost picture the characters running around in black and white when I read the Cassie Tam files so it’s set in the future but it’s fiction but it’s written like this set in the thirties it’s it’s pretty trippy I think so the main character is a lesbian who has mixed heritage and what I love about it so much is this setting but I’ll save the city I’m getting ahead of myself too excited so Cassie Chan the actual sleuth I should start with the what this story is about so Cassie team is like a really traditional sleuth you know that I can almost see her wearing a trench coat and a fedora when I read it she carries a clock she lives in a dingy apartment she’s socially isolated she’s you know not quick to trust anybody but obviously that’s a little bit subversion with her being a female character which is great so she gets a case in each book so you know much like classic crime fiction each novel focuses on one main case and it’s in addict it starts off with a woman coming to Cassies door whose brother has just died and the police have just ruled it off as another kind of drug-related death you know there’s lots of crime lots of drugs in the area and they just don’t think that this guy was really worth investigating they he causes his own death his sister doesn’t believe that so she goes to Cassie and begs her to take on the case to investigate it further all those things like following the different clues the exciting kind of car chases and things you’d expected in crime fiction it’s all there but Cassie also happens to have a sassy metallic gargoyle named Bert that’s her security guard that traveled around on her shoulder sometimes and the addictions that people are dealing with more about technology addiction sorry there’s all these kind of cool futuristic elements and to build more futuristic elements into that classic crime fiction formula Matt Doyle uses this kind of punk rock texting culture so Laurie who is the the main love interest and also the woman who hires Cassie uses specially designed machinery to kind of transform her body into an animal as the form of escapism it’s I’m not gonna explain it very well Matt actually has this amazing chapter at the end of book 2 that has diagrams and everything that shows you exactly how the costumes work by it’s like a it’s on sort of a form of fetishism but that’s something to on lookers the people are actually partaking it would be horrified to be called fetishist mm-hmm Cassie finds it really intriguing but really confronting like they actually move like animals inside these tech suits it’s it’s pretty interesting but what I love most about the first two books in this series I haven’t read the third one yet is the world-building like I’m just such a sucker for settings I just if a story has pretty average port if the world building is is there then I will forgive anything else everything else like I think a lot of specfic readers loves well building I feel if you love fantasy if you love science fiction then you know I don’t see how you wouldn’t be interested in setting so a new hope lenders kind of where it all unfolds and it’s this really amazing City I kind of see it as the almost symbolic representation of humans as a race like the city is caught between these really industrialized routes like it’s this really old city that was built on E sort of industrial worker and factory system but it’s now turning into this corporate driven techno focused sort of area and it doesn’t really know how to cope with either of those two things and the city kind of reflects Cassie she she holds on to relics of the past like she uses a clock even though that’s a really outdated weapon and she uses all this outdated technology just because she’s she doesn’t like her then used all the new gadgets so there’s all these possibilities but she doesn’t want to actually partake of them yet which I think kind of a lot of us like that like no I’m pretty sure I use about 6 percent of what my mobile phone can do for example and the city kind of reflects all that and it’s this really cool breeding ground why cool I mean it’s well written a horrible place but you know for complex criminal underworld there’s all this corruption all this decay but it’s kind of beveled by this sense of hope which Cassie represents you know she loves the city she wants to protect the balance of forces in it and you see that unfold a lot in the books as they go on and there is romance in the book like between Cassie and Lori but it’s really slow like they they’ve kind of barely gotten together by the end of book 1 and book 2 they’re just sort of working out the early parts of their relationship so it’s a really slow pace it’s really realistic there’s it’s all sort of fade to black and I suppose that’s kind of what I prefer in my speculative fiction like I like it to be sci-fi or fantasy first with romance maybe kind of part of that or underpinning it rather than a romance that sit in a futuristic world like I see those is kind of like quite different books mm-hmm there are really like really good in their own way and I’ll happily read both but I much prefer books that are genre first and then the sexuality and gender elements they just sort of blend into it it’s not the love story driving the story and and I guess that’s probably what you’ll find in most of the books I’m ranting about today uh-huh yeah old the sorry go ahead no I was just gonna ask if you had anything else to say about this book no I am I look I just think that they’re just really well-written well-developed mysteries like the author’s obviously put a lot of thought into not only the actual sort of unfolding crime and investigation itself but also into the environment that it all happens in you just really feel like you understand hopeful and by the end of it and I’ve got the third book seeing on my Kindle waiting to be right now but I’ve got a few others ahead of it but I’m one of those people that sometimes loses interest in a series I don’t know if it’s just a poor attention span or what but I’ll sometimes unless the series is just really really gripping I’ll usually get two books in and kind of go ah not for me but I do find myself wanting to reach to the third book this time so that that in itself probably a pretty good sign yeah that’s telling that’s really good the next one is another 9 star press book it’s actually the first book I read from 9 star Proust when I started my little research for a into the publisher and I think that this book has the most beautiful cover I think I’ve seen on an honour novel I just love it so much anytime someone asked me what kind of style do you want for your book covers I’m like yeah look at this one yeah trans Liberty riot brigade by lmps Lindsay P’s and it is actually a book one of a series but book two hasn’t come out yet sort of like itching looking around like Lindsay yet I’m not sure where the second one’s at at the moment but I know that it’s on its way but trans let me write brigade is just so unique eats look actually with this one I’ve got the blurb here I’ll just I’ll I’ll do a little reading of the blue but I feel like I won’t be able to do the plot justice I’ll just probably that alright so thank you again how do you fight for who you are when the government controls what you are Andy knows being born an intersex transgressor and then choosing to stay that way you can have lethal consequences after all surgical assignment is mandated by law but she ain’t going to spend her life hiding from the society hooked on flow and wanking tourists just to make a few bucks she’s a member of the trans liberty varietal grade and an underground faction of transgressors resisting the government’s war on their illegal genitalia but it’s not enough to tag their messages on walls and sniff down the next high the government has found their headquarters decimated their ranks and they’re crushing the resistance though Andy might be nothing but adjunct odd she embarks on a desperate – to stay alive and send a call for help before they’re all killed or worse surgically assigned Andy together with Brigade leader Ellen bar must get beyond the communications block preventing all radio transmission which means crossing the Seaboard war barricading the United free states borders it’s designed to keep enemies out and the citizens in but amid increasing earthquakes and deadly pursuit and you will discover there’s a far more dangerous secret hidden deep inside within the wall herself it just like even though even the blurb has this really funky kind of tone about it the language of it you can hear little bits of it but this book is written in a really interesting dialect that’s both praise and a warning I suppose I have not seen a book written with such a clever dialect in a really really long time but it takes a little getting used to it took me probably 20 or 30 pages into it to kind of understand what some of the colloquialisms meant to pick up some of the words and kind of go okay that’s what that means the brass is the police but a clunker is a robot that works for the police it you know it just took a while for me to get to know the different terminology and so I know that some readers have found that a bit of a struggle but most most readers have really enjoyed it from what I’ve seen on Goodreads so Andy is an intersex character and she’s living in a pretty dreadful futuristic world where intersex is seen as I suppose it’s illegal it’s forbidden is the best way to put it and people are required to have sexual reassignment if they intersex they’re not allowed to remain intersex physically they have to be changed so Andy doesn’t want that to happen she’s you know like the book kind of tells you a little bit about what her her situation is with her genitalia it’s not it doesn’t go on and on about it but it does make it pretty clear and she’s like you know what I’m keeping that I don’t want bits cut off I’m quite happy how I am I’m quite comfortable how I am and Andy uses female pronouns and sees herself as a she but she does have some elements of her body’s a male related so but she’s comfortable like that she doesn’t want to lose any of that so she’s quite terrified of being picked up by I guess essentially the police and being forced to be reassigned and yeah it’s just a really fascinating book Andy I think Andy’s their sexuality is not really spelled out she there’s no romance in the book at all there’s no romantic relationship she does Express sexual attraction for men and for women along the way and as it says in the book she’s actually had to kind of like sell herself sole sexual acts to get by and she’s she’s a bit of a screw-up like Andy kind of is really you know she’s into drugs and she knows that she shouldn’t be she keeps telling herself to stop it she can’t help herself but you know how she’s just a really good person who wants to protect freedom you know protect choice is awesome social themes political themes that are woven into the story the world-building is amazing the narrator just like I said the writing is just so clever and really funny like some of the ways that Lindsay Pierce describes situations people events I just I don’t know it’s just it’s pretty crude like if you don’t if you know it happy with fair amount of swearing and you know some kind of bizarre sexual comparisons to things like you know just I guess just dirty jokes along the way and then it’s probably not the book for you starting to realize I’ve picked a couple of books like that what does that say about me let’s not go there but it’s it’s really clever like she uses this amazing humor and intelligence to navigate this really harsh restrictive world like it’s how Andy gets by she was in a really crappy society where everything about her body and her lifestyle is hated so she responds to that with sarcasm and she responds that with a bit of a middle finger to the institutions around her you know it delves into like really sort of deep aspects of political and personal identities it talks about you know some of the vices we have as a group but also as individuals and how those sort of play off each other you know sexual and gender identities are a huge part of the landscape I feel like the author did this really really good job of leading us through this really complex world with this somewhat difficult language you know she used situations and conversations to show us and teach us the language of her world without sort of you know she didn’t have to give me a glossary I just picked it up through through the interactions between the characters there were maybe two characters that I struggled to understand what they were talking about in terms of the actual dialect was really difficult for me and that was a character named puddin and another one employee I had to reread some of those sentences I was like I just don’t know what you’re saying and I had to had to go back but I in the end I really appreciated that I thought it was quite clever and quite relevant because those two characters had no access to education like they were like Andy is a poor character like in the sense of she’s from you know economically a poorer class but puddin and boy had no life opportunities that Andy I’d like compared to them she was pretty well-off so their dialogue was completely relevant and the challenge and frustration of that was actually really clever you know it kind of reflected the world that they were living in and the the social hierarchy that existed when I was reading it I kind of felt like if you’re someone who likes a Handmaid’s Tale that the book or the series then you’re probably going to like this book it’s got that similar kind of themes around consent and around control over people’s bodies and control over people’s sexuality and that real fear of losing that control of your own body and what that can do to you psychologically that’s quite interesting the plot is completely different to a Handmaid’s Tale but I feel like if you if you found that intriguing in probably like trans Liberty Rio portrayed that sounds really good you know I just I found it it’s fascinating and I like anything that it’s really good to see I think more books exploring non-binary gender identities as well and sexual identities and again there’s no there’s absolutely no room it permits in this one it’s a good kind of yeah well you know like I’m sounding into romance but it’s I have to admit there was one day where I was disappointed I actually found myself going really how did you know heat on that character Andy what is food like business one part where she’s sort of she’s captured I won’t say why cuz it would kind of wreck one of the scenes but there’s a cop who I think was maybe like a bit of a double agent like sort of working for both sides and Andy just constantly describes this woman as the hot cop or the sexy cop and she just said she does like she just raises this really sexy character I just keep thinking Andy you’ve got to go there why don’t you go there and I got to the end of the book I’m like I heard the cops then I hope she’s back in book 2 she’s probably this irrelevant one chapter character but yeah feel like that should have been a thing you’re writing your own fanfiction about them you’re rare pair yeah yeah it’s actually that’s totally a thing I wouldn’t be able to pull off that I like though yeah that ridings ways you of me for fanfiction but yeah that should someone should do that someone smarter than me should do that okay somebody who’s listening you need to take that up and then yes send whatever you’ve written the Rebecca please please I’ll be excited Oh Lindsay if you’re listening just like put that in book two okay you’re listening to the lesbian talk-show the lesbians or choke on your hub of podcast information so what is your next bug okay so the next one is come all not completely off the planet of last week but there’s there’s no lesbians involved in this one at all it’s I felt I kind of tossed up putting this in you because I know that your podcast is obviously for for readers of lesbian fiction but I kind of thought no this book is just like in terms of science fiction and speculative fiction it is one of the most incredible books I’ve ever read actually a venue genre and though it’s not less speak I wouldn’t I would consider it queer fake like it it has some really amazing exploration of gender and sexuality so this book is called dawn and it’s written by Octavia Butler he she’s actually a writer that I discovered only recently and I’m gonna be heartbreaking about that cuz I think that if I read one more book of hers I’m gonna have to designate her my favorite author of all time I just she just just she just blows me away I’ve only read two of her books I started with a book called kindred which I still cook like I still have moments where I can’t stop thinking about that and I think I read it two years ago cuz Octavia Butler is a african-american science fiction writer a woman African American science fiction writer in the 70s and 80s like that was that’s a big deal and she’s you know she’s just so damn good kindred just ripped my heart out put it back in my chest and then you know tried to stitch me back back up but you know it didn’t quite do it cuz I was just scarred after reading it was so beautiful so it took me probably a year after that to pick up another one of her books because I was really scared that she couldn’t possibly write another book that was that good no you can’t I can’t I’ve just got this Octavia Butler’s so good I’ve read kindred it was one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read I can’t read her again it’ll ruin it so it took me ages but I finally picked up dawn but now the same things happen something I can’t read but there’s a scene as a sequel to dawn because it’s first book of a trilogy and I really want to read the rest of the trilogy but I’m scared I’m just like how can you follow this up you can’t it’s just it’s perfect you can’t do any better than this but yeah so I think if I read one more of hers and it hits that standard that see it like every other writer I’m sorry I’m just gonna have to push you back on the list but I actually have a list but you know I might need to make one so she can be on the top of it so dawn is I think the best way to explain it it’s really sci-fi like that sounds a bit lame they’re all sci-fi but it’s a book about aliens like it’s it’s a woman who it’s such got such a good opening so this woman named Lilith wakes up on a spaceship oh it’s just that’s where she is at first and she just wakes up in a room totally by herself and there’s just these voices that come over this intercom giving her very strange messages that she can’t make much out of and she’s like where am I and what am I doing here and then she falls back to sleep and then she wakes up again and she doesn’t and years have passed and she’s still in that same room and it turns out she’s been abducted by aliens but you know it sounds like the ultimate sci-fi I think but it’s just it just gets so complex from there so I think this one I’ll give you the blurb again just because I’d very just some books where I really worry I won’t do them justice so I feel like I’ll let the blurb speak for itself he so Lilith the oppo has just lost her husband and son when atomic fire consumes her the last stage of the planets final war hundreds of years later Lilith awakes deep in the hold of a massive alien spacecraft piloted by the Olin collie who arrived just in time to save humanity from extinction they have kept Lilith and other survivors asleep for centuries as they learned whatever they could about earth now it’s time for Lilith to lead them back to her home world but life among the Olin Kali on the newly resettled planet will be nothing like it was before the own cally survived by genetically merging with primitive civilizations whether their new hosts like it or not for the first time since the nuclear holocaust earth will be inhabited grass will grow animals will run and people will learn to survive the planets untamed wilderness but their children will not be human not exactly it just it’s such an incredible social commentary it’s such an intellectual beautiful powerful novel I could not stop thinking about it for days after and it’s one of the rare books where I kind of went into it twice so I have so little reading time because I work full-time as a high school teacher I’ve got three kids and I try to write books on occasion so when I actually get a chance to read it’s quite a special thing so I never read a book twice as much as I’d like to because I just think you know what there’s so many other books I haven’t read yet I’m not gonna use my time to go back to something I’ve already spent time on but this one I did I read it in Korean and then I got in an audio cut and the narrator is amazing by the way if you like audio books I found them the racer of dawn to be really really good and so I read the book twice as such and one is it kind of here it comes to life with the narrator so the Olin collie the alien species at the heart of the story I think they’re probably the most fascinating aliens I’ve ever come across in any text book film anything they have three genders we couldn’t adequately compare them to our sort of human notion of gender but if you were gonna try to I guess you could say there’s male female and then a non non-binary gender the aliens had essentially trying to save humanity but by doing that it brings all these really interesting questions into focus because to save humanity which essentially destroyed itself using nuclear warfare they need to change humanity they need to manipulate the survivors psychologically and genetically because with our current approach to social and cultural development our current approach to sort of hierarchical politics our weaker DNA compared to the aliens we wouldn’t be able to survive without those changes so Lilith is such an incredible narrator she struggles so much with the culture of the on Colleen I think probably the first maybe third of the book deals with her culture shock she makes up and when she first looks at the own collie she is terrified like they just so alien they’ve got tentacles and they’re it’d be gooey and they they have sort of these strange or I guess almost sort of psychic kind of emotional connections with each other that she doesn’t quite understand and their whole culture is really really far and so through her we gradually come to understand their society and Butler just introduces it just a little bit by little bit just like they do to the narrator which it’s just so clever she’s thought about everything like this alien world and this alien species it’s just so vivid and quite scary you know like you find yourself kind of thinking well I want to accept this alien race I don’t want to be that person that’s all like alien a phobic I don’t know if that’s word it’s probably xenophobia cuz all I want you but I would it be that person it would be like yeah that’s cool it you got tentacles but you do you feel so uncomfortable and that’s the point of the book because they’re so uncomfortable but she spends a lot of time with the aliens because she has the job eventually of waking up other humans from stasis you know she has to be the one that tells them what has happened and tells them that they’re now living with these aliens and so she gets to know the old colleague quite well I think she spends why didn’t be a year or two living with them before she then asked away these humans up and it’s when she does start waking up other humans from stasis and she has to wake them up quite quickly she’s being given a kind of quota she has to feel it’s almost this kind of Lord of the Flies style of political drama that unfolds because lilith is true from the perspective of the humans that are only just waking up a bit of a trader they’re kind of looking at her going you’ve spent too much time with these aliens you’re too sympathetic you’re trying to kind of tell us that we need them and tell us to accept them but you know we don’t think we should so she’s really caught because because we’re in her head we know that she really loves humanity and we know that she still wants freedom and we know that she would prefer not to rely on the åland Kali but she’s doing it because she has no other but the humans that she’s dealing we don’t really understand that yet so you get to see these really cool perspectives on culture and the development of relationships with with different groups so I’ve got actually this little extract here about when she wakes them up I think it’s really good so this comes straight from the book her job was to weave them into a cohesive unit and prepare them for the Olin Kali prepare them to be the Olin Callias new trade partners that was impossible how could she awaken people and tell them they were to be part of the genetic engineering scheme of a species so alien that the humans would not be able to look at it comfortably for a while how would she awaken these people these survivors of war and tell them that unless they could escape that Oankali their children would not be human because the idea is the own Kali want to combine their DNA with the human DNA so that the next kind of group of humans can actually survive on the irradiated earth so the whole big question is okay what’s more important to us surviving or being human because if we survive we’re not gonna be human anymore but if we obsessively hold on to what we think it means to be human then we’re all gonna die so it’s just I don’t know I think this is really powerful an interesting question so I’m really interested in that concept of transhumanism trying to improve humanity through science it’s one of the themes in my book as well because I just find it so interesting but door no sir looks like consent power gender and race like there’s all this really interesting parallels with the sort of civil rights movement and the USA but it’s all really gentle like the story kind of unfolds all of these really intense themes it doesn’t just explode and throw all of this stuff at you there are always really amazing big questions asked in a way that it’s not preachy like it gives room for answers of varying degrees and for those answers to be challenged because the Olin Khali and the humans have such different approaches the I guess the other thing that some people who listen is podcast might find interesting is there’s this really fascinating exploration of Lewis own discomfort in terms of sexuality she begins to not only accept the from her perspective very foreign very confronting sexual relationships of the on Kali which are look freer than what she’d experienced but she also starts to engage in them like she actually starts to have sexual relationships that are three-way relationship because that’s what the own colleague do they have a male a female and a new Lloyd which is a non-binary person in a relationship and she engages in one of those and one of the boy like the actual alien is part of that trio and she just freaks out about the fact that she’s doing this she’s like I’m in a sexual relationship with another human and an alien like I don’t like this and I don’t know what to do with it but she can’t help herself because it’s so fulfilling and it’s really interesting to explore her kind of mixed sense of shame and excitement that’s something new and challenging and her fear that she’s gonna lose her independence and the lawyer is so interesting like this non-binary group and all the humans keep misgendering them Lilith is so used to the oh boy and she has such a good relationship with one of them in particular on icons she loves new coins in a lot of ways and she respects them and uses the pronouns that they use which I don’t think people would use much anymore now they use it rather than he or she but the other humans are constantly calling them him like nikunj is always called him by the other humans and there was like note that this is not a him or her you know the kind isn’t it and that’s that’s how it refers to itself and like given this book was published in 1987 I think that was really ahead of its time yeah to ask those questions it’s really cool you know like this is a really feminist book there’s a lot of feminism a lot of environmentalism racial and cultural communication transhumanism all these really amazing intersecting profound ideas and I don’t think before Octavia Butler and a few other writers in that eighties Iraq I don’t think people did intersect those ideas a book was just feminist you know at heart or it was mostly exploring transhumanism or mostly exploring racism her book does all of it you know it brings all of these amazing concepts together which I think you know sci-fi riders of today we have to thank her for that in a lot of ways anyway that was an epic rant I’m sorry I love that up so much it’s just so beautiful please don’t apologize it sounds amazing yeah it just it mess with my head though like I cuz all the questions that Lilith asks the reader asks you’re like what do I do here would I fight them you know what I fight back against Iran Kali or would I just accept what they trying to do or to what extent what extent would I accept what they’re trying to do and they’re really uncomfortable questions because the cultures of their own Kali is very confronting and the books is not sexually graphic in any way like if there’s there’s no like you know erotic scenes of any kind but Lilith does explain the physical and emotional sensation she has when she connects with this human male that she falls for anaconda or LOI and it’s you just kind of think oh I just don’t know what to feel about that which is exactly how Lilith feels anyway fascinating I really should read the second one I’m just scared I should and I think it’s the same audiobook narrator – and she was yeah she was phenomenal she did this really because the old lawyer a little bit difficult I suppose challenging is the right word to narrate because they’re without gender and they’re aliens but she the narrator does a really good job of establishing that characterization I thought it was pretty clever you should get the audiobook it sounds like I should be brave anyway all these things I should do yeah it’s weird to be scared of books isn’t it I just like get nervous I think what if it just doesn’t live up to the expectation I just don’t know if I can cope with that it’s the same reason I haven’t read Harper Lee’s book that came out you know a couple of years ago like how can you have a sequel to kill a mockingbird I can’t do this I just know I don’t want to read that one because she didn’t want it published yeah well that story certainly didn’t hope I am does is I read it but even before I knew that story I was I just think what you think of this that’s understandable see you had one last book yeah this one this was like okay so I put this on the list thinking I probably just ranted about a whole bunch of really intense books I needed something a little bit lighter a little bit more easygoing this book is by a writer called Brooke Radley who I think has published maybe two books that I know I’ve got the second one sitting on my Kindle but the book that is specfic that’s relevant here is called nightshade so nightshade by Brooke Radley look it’s good mixed reviews because there are a couple of I suppose little you know weak points to it that some people might argue but I the things that other people called weak points I really enjoyed so the book is about a character named Eleanor Reed she is a student at Darton Academy which is I kind of see it as like you know Hogwarts but darker you know it’s a school for magic and you know the wizards and witches and they’re all learning how to control their powers by its it’s a little bit more grown up a little bit more sinister than Hogwarts I suppose yeah beyond the safety of Darton he you know out in the kind of rest of the city beyond that Academy there’s something called the nightshade Brotherhood and they’re basically a large-scale criminal organization they sent her on a Thieves Guild which it you know goes does everything from low-level pickpocketing you know people can’t walk around the city because they’re gonna have things stolen but to larger scale criminal operations so they’re kind of like a local gang but that’s become increasingly problematic so the King’s Council wants to do something about this Brotherhood because they’re now starting to sell illicit drugs but those drugs are making people really violent and really sick if anyone watches black lightning I kind of see it as like green light and black lightning it’s a drug that makes people like really sort of souped up and want to just kill things and fly everybody but when they come down from the high it’s kind of messed with their body it makes them really ill so the King’s Council wants to send some spies to infiltrate the Thieves Guild try and work out exactly who’s selling the and try and work out where they’re being made and bring it to an end but they need people who have never gone on a mission before people that wouldn’t be known to the criminal underworld so some people have said this is kind of a bit convenient for the port I don’t really care firstly it’s like it it’s needed for the story to start so what they do is they go okay so we need spies but we need people that no one knows let’s send students from darton like talented majors that haven’t graduated yet so you know some reviews are kind of like why would you do that why would you send the equivalent of university students off on a mission it’s just dumb and I think I don’t care it’s fine it makes the port work I’m happy so Eleanor and I think I’ve forgotten the guy’s name I think his name is Benjamin so Illinois and another student up it’s because they like the top spellcasters a Dutton to go to the thieves guild infiltrate become members of the game and try and work out a way to bring out bring down the whole operation it’s not like an earth-shattering fantasy novel it’s not you know the kind of book that people are gonna kind of go oh this is the best book I’ve ever read or anything like that but it’s just really engaging I just really enjoyed it and you know what when I read it I was not in the mood for anything too serious but I didn’t want romance either I wasn’t quite at that point but I wanted something that was speculative fiction that was kind of light but still but not too light I suppose like I enjoyed the fact that Eleanor and her love interest Cassandra were I mean it was a really nice story I was like so happy when they finally hooked up but their relationship has some kind of unhealthy elements like they lied to one another they’re a bit hypocritical you know like why did you do that and then the other one turns around and says well you did it to me first you kind of go oh yeah I did too so you know like they have they betray each other a couple of times they had they questioned whether or not they should betray people that they love for one another because you know their relationships pretty new and one of them kind of has two well actually both of them have to choose between the loyalties that they’ve always had and their attraction to the other because Cassandra is quite high up in the Thieves Guild like she’s you know a criminal as such so that’s problematic in some you know some reviews I’ve read have sort of said are these two characters shouldn’t be considered in love like they lie to each other and they question whether or not they should be together and I think yeah that kind of sounds kind of realistic to me you know I I thought that was interesting and brought this really interesting depth to it and the Indians would be ambiguous this is not a happily ever after but it’s also not I want totally ruin it it’s not like you’d go oh my god they don’t get together this is rubbish what just happened it’s not that either it’s a we’ll call it an in-between it’s kind of ambiguous you know it’s like a happy for now I don’t even know if you could quite call it that it’s a might be it’s a might be happy at some points in the future okay it’s one of those things we think ah damn I wish there was a sequel and you go actually no I’m glad there isn’t I want this left hanging I want to decide for myself what happens to things too so it’s an ending of possibility which i think is realistic I think I really like kind of neat little packaged up happily ever after wouldn’t have fit in this book I mean it’s about you know criminal underworld and drug trafficking and that sort of stuff I said earlier that it was a light boogie cuz it still kind of is it’s got some really nice elements about you know spell casting and water magic and that sort of thing but I don’t think your happily ever after would have feared I feel like if that happened you would have got to the end of it and go on ah this doesn’t make sense mm-hmm and it it’s not a graphic book like it has fade to black blob scenes which personally I’m pretty happy about I mean I don’t like hate sex scenes I love sexual and romantic tension but when you actually get to the sex scenes like I usually skip them I don’t I don’t know why I just it’s just not something I’m particularly interested in reading I just feel like they become repetitive then I feel for the authors like I’m struggling right now with a book I’m writing under my pseudonym Cara Ripley where this book needs a sex scene doesn’t it I can just feel it it needs to be a need I don’t want to write it cuz I don’t know how to do it in a way that’s fresh and original like I feel like there’s only so many ways you can describe a sexual activities so I just don’t and you know when I say them in books like it it’s kind of think ah I get it I understand what’s happening you know I got other things to read I’m gonna just move along here and this particular book is fade to black so I’ll put that out there so that if you’re someone who really doesn’t like it if there’s not erotic scenes then maybe this one’s not for you if you don’t mind are you looking for something that doesn’t have erotic scenes then night-night shades a good one lots of romantic tension lots of sexual tension but I think it’s quite appropriate as a young adult book you know it’s a fantasy spy novel that happens to have lesbian and bisexual characters rather than a lesbian romance that happens to have some fantasy in it like I said before I think both styles of writing really good but I don’t well I haven’t found them I don’t think there are many speculative fiction books out there that have magic without the graphic sexual content you know it’s like the spell casting and they’re really cool sort of fantasy worlds and they’re the majors and the wizards and things like that I love that stuff and I just don’t feel like you need to turn that into a sort of r-rated book nearly every time so I get really happy when I find one that’s not it in this one the the mystery romance magic and all kind of unfolds pretty slowly it’s it’s not a super fast paced book I personally quite liked books like that I’m not really about all action all the time I like a kind of meandering put sometimes it just it made it a really soft easy read that I just really enjoyed but I couldn’t put it down either I liked it we had enough suspense to keep me keep me in there you know I seen nightshade is like you know when you just feel like watching a relaxing movie you don’t know watch a movie that is too fluffy but also is gonna make you think too much to make your brain hurt you’re just too tired for that mm-hmm night shades like the book equivalent of that this sounds like a good time yeah anyway that’s that’s me done with the book ranting for now for now I make no promises about the future okay so is there anything else you want to share about your journey as a reader just that it’s it’s pretty exciting to find more mobiles out there I I a lot of people say this I really wish that I knew some of these books existed when I was younger I was probably I was about 22 or 23 years old when someone I knew at the time handed me a copy of hope I don’t get a title wrong like over ten years ago I think it was daughters of a coral Dorne mm-hm is Katherine baby Forrest yeah trilogy yeah I can’t remember what if that’s the name of the first one or not why whatever the first book okay excellent when I I when I first picked that up and read the back of it I was like this is sci-fi and my fingers yet I said it’s sci-fi with lesbians she is yet no wait she’s like no this is a thing that exists like there’s really there are books with science fiction and gay girls and I yeah this conversation went on for a while I got very repetitive and it was just really I was just really amazed like it just I felt feel a little bit silly about it now because there’s so many amazing books but I just had no idea that they were there and that particular trilogy I found really fascinating has lots and lots of sex in it so I was kind of like and I for the first book was like this is really cool this is really interesting by the third book I was like this is a great story but I’m just sort of you know I get it there’s a lot of sex scenes here that’s cool other people will thoroughly enjoy those and but when I got to the end of it I thought well that was a really intriguing series I need more you know from there I didn’t actually find an awful lot because a lot of the amazing websites on social media use this now weren’t around then but yeah just gradually over the years I slowly started to find publishers you know naturally Bella and bold strokes were amongst the first ones that I sort of found that publish things that I was interested and now it’s and they’re still amazing publishers that print great stories but I’m also really excited by a lot of the smaller publishers that are printing not just I guess lest we could still the right term but not fiction that’s not confined I suppose to just sort of two female leads in a romance story like there’s so much genre fiction coming out now so much sci-fi and so much fantasy and you know we’ve got a lesbian leading ladies but then we also have more bisexual characters and pansexual characters and non-binary characters and you know that that’s something I’m really excited to see see anyone listening you got any any recommendations along those lines you know come at me send me away or something because you know I love finding books like that definitely well then speaking of that if people do want to send you recommendations or if they want to connect with you online how can they do that oh I love people talking to me online that makes me feel popular come say hi especially you know like often because of the time difference you know not everyone but a lot of the people in social media in the wonderful world of reading and writing groups a lot of them live in the northern hemisphere so I’ll kind of wake up and this awesome conversation has happened and I’ll look at it go I’m gonna add to this and I look at a girl this was six hours ago they’ve all go to bed so yeah it makes you feel excited when I get messages directly to me that I can answer yeah I’m on most things I have Twitter so it’s just at our Langham 85 and I have a website which is Rebecca laying up column to a you and then I’m on Facebook I think you just I’ve been Rebecca Lang and author it will come up yeah I love chatting to people I mean I’m still I feel like I’m still fairly new to this and I’m not very well known as a writer which is you know I think where a lot of us start and every knit but every now and then I get a message from a reader telling me what they thought of my book and it just makes my heart sing so I also feel that good about conversations about other things that people are reading you know so please don’t be shy so message me about things that aren’t my book I feel like sometimes people think you shouldn’t message writers unless it’s about their own books a lot of hearing about other books I mean that’s how I found rabbit so the apocalypse you know Emily knowing has sent me that one the trans would be ripe reggae dye found that through a recommendation like I hadn’t heard of nine star press and someone you sent me that way so then that’s how you find the best books is because other people go ah okay I see what you’re into why don’t you try these yeah definitely well that is all for this episode thank you so much Rebecca for joining me thanks for putting up with me am I like really fast long ramblings I’ve been told Australian speak fast I don’t know if that’s a real thing you’ll have to tell me if I talk too fast it is I I work with an Australian who speaks very fast and he’s just an impossible human and I love him so I don’t mind excellent yeah well I guess at least with them you know I like trying what costs and things people can slow it down if they have to there you go baby speedy speech so I’m Tara and you’ve been listening to Les Deux books remember to email me at Tara at the lesbian review.com if you have any questions or comments if you’re an author who’s interested in joining me on the show so you can talk about the books you love or your journey as a reader of lesbian fiction please let me know if you’ve enjoyed this episode please check out the show notes where you’ll find a patreon link for the lesbian talk show or visit patreon.com slash the lesbian talk show our patrons get exclusive content like bonus podcasts interviews with authors or other reviewers from the lesbian revue and no one else gets access to them you can also join our Facebook group the lesbian review book club to talk about these books and anything else you’re reading and loving to 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