Hammered by Elizabeth Bear
Might contain spoilers.
This is an interesting one. Like the last book I read (Slow River), it has a confusing first third and switches at will between first-person and third-person. The writing does an excellent job of distinguishing characters through their styles of speaking. I enjoyed all the little French words and sentences sprinkled across the text. (I do wonder how the average reader would fare, as not all of it is immediately comprehensible or repeated in English the way these things usually are.)
The story is atypical in myriad ways, starting with the protagonist being a 50-year-old woman with (supposedly) disfiguring prosthetics who’s a veteran of at least one war. I’m not entirely sure where Jenny Casey comes from: is she part Native American, part French? Québécoise? In addition, Jenny herself never knows for certain that Barb killed her sister, since that’s only something Barb muses on in her last moments, and we have no idea what went on between them. I like that all the hypercompetent killers are women: Jenny, Barb, and Bobbi Lee. (A shame the last two die.) I have to imagine that’s deliberate.
On the other hand, the alien starship feels like part of a separate story. It reminds me of an MCU film which is mandated to tease future instalments simply because that’s what the greater universe requires. The artificial Richard Feynman intelligence is a fascinating authorial choice.
Taken as a whole, while I found it reasonably enjoyable, I don’t think I would read more.