Sarah Beth Durst’s THE BONE MAKER is an excellent fantasy that never quite goes where I expect. Protagonist Kreya is one of the band of heroes who defeated the dark magician Elkor a quarter century ago, saving the realm. She lost her husband, however, and has spent the decades using Elkor’s bone magic (all magic in this setting comes from bones) to resurrect him briefly at the cost of her own life (one day for spouse, one less day for her).
Desperate for bones that will allow her to raise him permanently, she recruits one of her former friends — now living a glamorous life as a retired hero and businesswoman — to help revisit the battlefields of the war and steal human bones (which is ethically an absolute taboo). Unfortunately the trip reveals that Elkor lives, so the two women recruit their former allies to fight the battle again.
It’s unusual enough to have a team of heroes in their late forties, but the book heads off into other directions from there. If you’re expecting a big battle against the forces of darkness — well, we get one eventually, but it’s much more a story of personal struggle, politics and making peace with the past than of battles. Very well done.
SIDELINED: Sports, Culture and Being a Woman in America by Julie DiCaro didn’t surprise me with the news that sports and sports reporting are a boys’ club. DiCaro’s first person accounts of an industry where just hearing a woman read the news can turn fans into trolls (they go to sports to get away from women, dammit!), rape and abuse allegations get “manitized” (man + sanitized — DiCaro didn’t coin the term, but I thank her for introducing me to it) and despite the growing number of female sports fans, the number of women reporters is still few and far between (which DiCaro says discourages them supporting each other — if there’s only one female reporting gig at a given station, it’s hard to bond with the competition) is still compelling reading. While I’m done adding references to Undead Sexist Cliches, I’d certainly have included elements of this book if I’d read it last year.
From my perspective, SILVER SCREEN SAUCERS: Sorting Fact From Fantasy In Hollywood’s UFO Movies by Robbie Graham has a lot of problems with the fact/fantasy boundary itself: Graham’s a UFO believer convinced the government cover-up is a thing and that most Hollywood UFO films are government propaganda preparing us for the Big Reveal. This spends way too much time for my taste (I was looking at this for Alien Visitors of course) on UFO cases and history and some of his assumptions are, to put it kindly, strained. It’s true that The Thing From Another World and It Came From Outer Space both have a saucer crashing Just Like Roswell, but “flying saucer crashes” is something writers are perfectly capable of coming up with on their own.
That said, Graham does make a few good points, such as how even in films where the Defense Department knows all about aliens (e.g., Independence Day), the military never has any plans in place for fighting them. And the book does remind me that many people who worked on these films are indeed UFO believers, which I definitely need to mention. That said, there’s a lot of silliness and unconvincing speculation, plus a few small errors (the UFO in The Flying Saucer is not a Soviet flying ship). Not a total waste of money, but close.
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