I liked parts of this collection, but I feel like it never really went as far as I wanted it to go.

Uranians consists of 4 short stories and a novella, all of which in some way or another incorporate a speculative or science fiction element in them. “Six Hangings in the Land of Unlikable Women,” I think, is the most effective of the stories in exploring the possibilities of this element. It’s set in an early 1900s America where all women have, inexplicably, become impossible to kill–a fact that has evidently not stopped the men in their lives from attempting to kill them. I thought this premise and the way that McCombs executed it was just fascinating (if, perhaps, a little underdeveloped). Another story I loved was “Lacuna Heights,” which follows a lawyer as he slowly begins to realize that his brain implant is interfering with his memories (it reminded me a lot of the Black Mirror episode, “The Entire History of You”). Theodore McCombs works in environmental law, so it’s no surprise that this story was a compelling look at how law can intersect with memory, and the lengths to which we’re willing to go to efface–or try to efface–the things that feel too overwhelming for us to process.

Beyond these two stories, though, I felt largely indifferent to this collection. The first story, “Toward a Theory of Alternative Lifestyles,” was interesting, but I didn’t like “Talk to Your Children About Two-Tongued Jeremy”–its premise felt flimsy and overblown–and the titular novella, “Uranians,” I thought was convoluted and meandering. Here’s the thing: on a sentence-by-sentence basis, McCombs is an excellent writer, but structurally, a lot of his stories just try to do too much. The stories will make reference to obscure physics or musical theory and, sure, sometimes I like it when authors incorporate these kinds of elements into their stories, but here it just took up too much narrative space and was far too complicated for the average reader to understand (at least this average reader). I found this to be a major issue in “Uranians,” where there are pages and pages of the narrator talking about this opera and its music–all sections that I just completely glazed over because they felt so beyond me.

Overall, not bad, but not especially impressive. I’ll keep an eye out for more works from this author though.

Thank you to Astra House for providing me with an eARC of this via NetGalley!

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I ADORED this book. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it ever since I read it (ngl I’ve been tempted to reread it even though I literally read it just a couple of months ago), so allow me to tell you what it is about it that I loved so much:

– The slowburn romance: so tender and heartfelt and beautifully written it made me want to scream. And when I say slowburn I mean SLOWBURN. The novel gives its two main characters, Kadou and Evemer, the time and space to really get to know each other, and in the process allows us to see why it is that they grow to care for each other so much.

– The intricate character development: I really enjoyed reading about these characters’ journeys over the course of the novel. I also just LOVED these characters. Sweet soul Kadou, still-waters-run-deep Evemer, lives-for-the-drama Tadek–I could go on.

– The themes: this book does a stellar job at exploring themes of fealty and power, especially when it comes to close relationships. What does it mean to pledge fealty to someone? How do we understand power in personal relationships? These themes unfold organically through the characters and their dynamics and I thought they were all fascinating and expertly done.

I just found this novel to be so moving and affirming and beautifully written and I can tell you right now that I am 10000% going to be reading it again at some point in the future because I loved it that much.

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I’ve kind of been stalling on writing this review because I just don’t have all that much to say about this novel. Some Desperate Glory is, to me, a perfectly middle-of-the-road book. The writing is capable, there is character development, there is world-building. All those things are present, to be sure, but to me this novel never really went above and beyond with any of those elements. It’s a competent novel, but it wasn’t a particularly impressive one. The basis of the plot is nothing groundbreaking, as a lot of other reviewers have done a much better job at pointing out–authoritarian regime, indoctrination, etc.–and I don’t mind that necessarily, except that, like I said, the execution is not especially remarkable or distinct. I think the fact that I’m struggling to even say anything substantial about this novel already speaks to how little of an effect it had on me: I read it, and then I finished it, and then it was over and I never thought about it again…

Thanks so much to Tor for providing me with an eARC of this via NetGalley!

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