The characters within these novels are largely ethnically, racially, culturally, and religiously diverse, complex, disabled in certain cases, not isolated from prejudice and working within and around these dynamics, and demonstrate a working knowledge of class systems. Riordan still has a lot of work to do in terms of his approach to some of these ideas; but in many ways this series stands entire mountain ranges above a lot of other authors whose work in the YA genre shows a distinct refusal to engage or do better even post-critique.
Arguably, therefore, the UK's accession to the EEC in the mid-1970s represents a real-life example of a jonbar point, in which an England-dominated UK jumped tracks on to an alternate timeline. Before, it was orientated towards the exceptionalism of an imperial British past; afterwards, it had turned to face a future that its four constituent nations might share in common with other European countries. Or, at least, that is how it seemed.
A portal fantasy can be close to something like a travelogue. It can be a misinterpretation, a bad translation. It can be in danger of placing an outsider in a role of power in a way that tastes a little bit too colonial. But portal fantasies can also subvert these things and examine them closely. This is what An Accident of Stars, I think, wants to do—and even though it may not always succeed, it is hugely exciting to see a book so invested in trying.
Most of the short stories in the collection are preceded by a found object of that story’s world: a recipe, a pamphlet, a to-do list. These objects ground each story in a curious mundanity, as though the world is indifferent to the magic in it.
Bodies of Summer is ultimately not about the details of the intersection of humanity and advanced technology, but rather how humanity might potentially tackle the problem of elongating lifespans and preserving consciousness prior to or after death.
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