A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine is a one-of-a-kind science fiction story that had my intense attention as soon as I started it.

It’s possible I needed to be more sober, but I think it’s because the protagonist houses a working memory (that talks back!) of another ambassador inside her mind. Right?

What makes Memory so fascinating is the world, or Teixcalaan Empire, that the author creates. Arkady Martine is a PhD Byzantine historian and (former?) apprentice city planner who drew upon many cultures, but mainly Aztec, and the Roman “sun cult” for her expansive, all-encompassing future. She includes details that add exquisite richness to the story line, too.

[Am I gushing? I’m gushing, but it’s so well-deserved.]

As you can see on the cover, Memory won the Hugo Award in 2020 and her follow up A Desolation Called Peace also won the award in 2021. We should all be so lucky. But, the books are considered LBGT, which might not appeal to some folks.

Another novel I read (that stands out) was labeled LBGT, Whiskey When We’re Dry, but honestly, I feel like this is what’s “trending” in the publishing industry, and not necessarily an accurate or defining label. A friend and I were joking that all books we’ve read lately are tagged LBGT, and I don’t have a problem with that, but I can see how that label is misleading.

A Memory called Empire and Whiskey, in my opinion, were pretty PG. In fact, all of the novels that I have read with the LBGT label are very innocent, sweet, and clean. Maybe if I ventured into something more Harlequin Romance, I’d be neck deep in queer waters, but so far, it’s part of the background, not the main thrust (can I say thrust here?) of the story.

In any case, it’s not a big deal for me. Another reason I don’t get bogged down by reviews or what’s considered edgy and popular because I’m just interested in a good book, and if the characters are diverse, great, we live in a diverse world, and I try to read a wide variety of books.

What do you think? What did you read in October?

9 replies on “October 2022 Reading Roundup

  1. I think you’re right. We live in a diverse world, so diverse characters shouldn’t be a surprise. A good book and a good story is all we ask for.

    My most recent read was Fairy Tale by Stephen King. A good story. Not particularly scary.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I saved your post trying to remember what I read in October! It’s still a blur. I had two weekends away, one at my fave lit festival. However, I did remember that I read Jess Walters’ latest historical called The Cold Millions. It was interesting, if it didn’t do it for me like his Beautiful Ruins did. I did learn a lot about a labor union I’d never heard of before and the novel has an interesting setting–mostly the PNW in the first decade of the 1900s. Right now, I’m listening to Jonathan Franzen’s latest novel, Crossroads. I’ve only read maybe one other book of his. And it took some time to get into this one. (It seemed to me he was poking fun at his characters, which I don’t enjoy from an author. But then it got going for me and that fourth wall fell.) Don’t know if I’d recommend it to many–unless you have a thing for satirizing but not quite satirizing organized religion. He walks a pretty thin line but in a somehow reverent way. Typical Franzen other than that though, very much a domestic/family saga novel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Rebecca. I knew you were busy, so I’m glad you stopped by and remembered along with me. I’ve never read anything by Franzen, but definitely have heard about him. Yeah, I hear what you say about walking that thin line. There’s objectivity but also, “being in on the joke” doesn’t always work for me, too. I like bonding with a character and it’s difficult for me to read about someone I don’t like!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Your roundups are always so fun!

        And right! Sometimes I enjoy writing an unlikeable character, as a challenge, but that doesn’t always translate to a pleasurable read.

        Liked by 1 person

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