The Sunday Salon (June 29): A mini-review of Dust by Elizabeth Bear

The Sunday So I couldn’t think of anything to write for this week’s Sunday Salon post, which was freaking me out because when can I not think of anything to write about for my blog? Hardly ever! And yet for the past three days or so I’ve been unable to actually think of something good to post that wasn’t just incoherent ramblings about how I miss going to the library and how Meg Cabot is coming to Albuquerque and I want to go, or about how I’m going on vacation (again) to California next month and how that’s exciting. Or about how my mom gave me her bike and I get to fix it up and go riding around the town eventually. Fun stuff, those subjects, but nothing that really makes a good post. I mean, do you really want to read another “here’s what I’m taking with me on my vacation” post?

So that was about fifteen minutes worth of panic before I remembered that I can totally do a mini-review, and now I’m fine. Reviews are, for the most part, easy to write. It’s the rest of my creativity that’s apparently dried up.

The Sunday Salon (June 29): A mini-review of Dust by Elizabeth BearDust (Jacob's Ladder #1) by Elizabeth Bear
Published: Spectra (2008), eBook, 342pg
Source: Bought
Genres: Fiction, GLBTQ, Sci-fi

On a broken ship orbiting a doomed sun, dwellers have grown complacent with their aging metal world. But when a serving girl frees a captive noblewoman, the old order is about to change.... Ariane, Princess of the House of Rule, was known to be fiercely cold-blooded. But severing an angel’s wings on the battlefield—even after she had surrendered—proved her completely without honor. Captive, the angel Perceval waits for Ariane not only to finish her off—but to devour her very memories and mind. Surely her gruesome death will cause war between the houses—exactly as Ariane desires. But Ariane’s plan may yet be opposed, for Perceval at once recognizes the young servant charged with her care. Rien is the lost child: her sister. Soon they will escape, hoping to stop the impending war and save both their houses. But it is a perilous journey through the crumbling hulk of a dying ship, and they do not pass unnoticed. Because at the hub of their turning world waits Jacob Dust, all that remains of God, following the vapor wisp of the angel. And he knows they will meet very soon.

I suppose the fact that it’s taken me almost six months to write a review for Dust is kind of bad, but perhaps if I tell you that the reason it took me so long to review it has less to do with how good or bad it was and more about how it defies any sort of coherent reviewing process, you’ll forgive me.

Dust is a book that’s been packed full of things, so many things that I can’t even really get up the energy to tell you about them but briefly. Here are some things that Dust makes you think about: love, incest, being alive and what counts as living, humans evolving, computers evolving, AIs turning into humans, the gender spectrum, language regarding gender, control and power, echoes from the past reaching the present, eugenics, and sociocultural evolution. It talks about sexuality, gender fluidity, science and history, love and war– about all those things, in a way that I haven’t really seen before in a sci-fi book. And then somehow it packs all that stuff into a pretty enthralling and coherent narrative, and then your brain pretty much explodes when you finish it. In fact, my brain is exploding again, right now, just from trying to write this review.

So, basically, here’s my thoughts: it’s a great book, with a lot of interesting things in it, and though sometimes I think it tries to hard to be revolutionary/contemporary (or just hip, I guess), in the way that Cory Doctorow’s books try a little too hard to be hip, it’s a really good book and I’d recommend it to sci-fi fans who want more than just your standard space opera. I really liked how it tried to explain things that are going on now but in a futuristic setting– because isn’t that what all the best sci-fi books do?

Read: January 28-29, 2011

Weekly Book Stats

Books read this week:
56. Finding Family – Tonya Bolden (rating: TBD)

Books reviewed this week:
44. Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier (rating: Buy it)
51. A Handful of Dust – Evelyn Waugh (rating: 5)

Books acquired this week:

Currently reading:
I’m about 78% into Wanderlust by Elisabeth Eaves right now. I’m so glad I pushed through that first 10%; I’m liking it a LOT more now.


See that ad in the top left sidebar there? From now until the end of July Revolutionary Party will be up there looking vaguely dangerous and exciting. Woohoo!

Also, I’ve got books for sale at and info about tons of free and cheap books posted at Free (& Cheap) Reads! Yay!

3 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon (June 29): A mini-review of Dust by Elizabeth Bear”

    1. Yay! I hope you do like it. I just realized I never actually talked about the plot except very vaguely, so, er. Yeah.

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