Autistic Book Party, Episode 52: Dzur

Today’s Book: “Dzur” by Steven Brust.

The Plot: Vlad Taltos, a general-purpose assassin/witch/organized criminal, investigates some organized crime doings which are putting his ex-wife Cawti in danger.

Autistic Character(s): Daymar, a Hawklord and powerful psychic who helps Vlad.

Yes, Daymar is back! I have previously written reviews involving Daymar for the books Dragon and Hawk (and the short story The Desecrator), so you should probably go and read those ones first before cutting back to this one.

I didn’t exactly intend to spend another whole review on Daymar, because honestly, his role in this book is pretty similar to his role in the other two. Vlad needs something, Daymar shows up to help him, Vlad is annoyed by him as a person but makes use of his help.

Despite Daymar’s limited role in Dzur, though, I ended up liking it more than his role in Hawk. There are a couple of nuances to Daymar’s lines here that I don’t recall seeing in the other two books. For instance, he seems aware of Vlad’s annoyance with him, and able to take advantage of that annoyance to make jokes at Vlad’s expense (much as Vlad is constantly making jokes at Daymar’s):

He nodded. “A psychic location means finding the story, and where on the story a particular mind is.”
I considered. “Do you know, I think I understood some of that.”
“I’m sorry. I’ll try again.”
“No, no. Go on.”
“I know, Vlad. That was a joke.”
“Oh. I didn’t think you did that.”

He’s also shown more actively trying to process Vlad’s emotions, and successfully pressing for more information about them where needed:

“Vlad, are you angry?”
“No, I’m overwhelmed with joy and love for all humanity, but I’m working very hard to conceal it.”
“That was sarcasm, right?”
“Right.”
“Okay. Are you angry with me?”
I sighed. “Yes, but I shouldn’t be. I should just be angry in general. I’ll work on that. In the meantime-“

And despite his general annoyance with Daymar, Vlad is also more consciously grateful for his assistance than in Hawk, offering to buy him a drink for his troubles.

So this book is definitely better at depicting Daymar than Hawk was, but there are two sides to that improvement, because, as it happens, I’m reading the books all out of order for no real reason and Dzur was actually published eight years before Hawk. For an author I generally enjoy, it’s a little bit sad that Brust seems to have gotten worse about this over time instead of better.

Daymar is also only present in a couple of chapters, so even if you are a big Daymar fan, it’s not necessarily worthwhile to get the book just for him.

The Verdict: Marginal

Disclosure: I have never interacted with Steven Brust. I read his book because I got it as a birthday present.

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Things I Am Nominating For Awards This Year

The necessary companion to my award eligibility post!

I’m eligible to vote for both the Hugos and Nebulas this year. I seem to vaguely recall that some awards let you nominate five things, and some let you nominate six. I’m gonna make lists of six things in no particular order (I don’t want to single out any of these amazing authors as being #6!)

I’m focusing on short work because honestly, I am shitty at reading whole books in the year they come out. This was my PhD thesis year, so I was even shittier at it than I normally am. I did adore Catherynne M. Valente’s SPACE OPERA, though, and will be nominating it for All The Things. I also loved Yoon Ha Lee’s REVENANT GUN.

Short Stories

Here are my six favorite short stories of 2018:

Poetry

I’m not eligible to vote for any poetry awards this year, but just for the principle of the thing, here are my six favorite speculative poems as well.

Yes, half of them are from Twisted Moon. I’m trash.

Fan Writing

Finally, as I did last year, I’m planning to nominate Bogi Tak√°cs (Bogi Reads the World) and Charles Payseur (Quick Sip Reviews) for Best Fan Writer.

My Award Eligibility For 2018

It’s late for this – nominating for some awards is already almost over – but better late than never!

My very best work this year

If you want to nominate me for something, but only want one work per category, here’s what I would recommend.

Novelette: I Sing Against the Silent Sun, co-written by me and A. Merc Rustad, came out in Lightspeed this year. It’s one of the most powerful pieces I’ve had the privilege of working on, and it’s already garnered a mention on the BSFA Shorter Fiction Award longlist (thank you!)

Short Story: Variations on a Theme from Turandot appeared in Strange Horizons. It’s the most ambitious short story I’ve ever written, and still one of my favorites. I would be honored if, in your nominations, you’d consider this one too.

I also published two bits of flash fiction this year which some people have enjoyed:

Poetry

There are fewer poetry awards floating around than short fiction ones, but in case you are voting for one, here’s the poetry I published this year.

I also published several original poems on Patreon:

Fan Writing

I’m eligible for Best Fan Writer on account of Autistic Book Party, which posted a review (or a Smorgasbord) every month this year.

I also wrote the essay Everything Is True: A Non-Neurotypical Experience With Fiction, as part of Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction! A number of non-neurotypical readers have told me that this essay spoke to them on a deep level.

I’ve also been keeping track of my favorite fiction and poetry that I encountered from other authors this year. Hopefully I’ll have time to post that list before long, but until then, you can also see my recs throughout the year in my “Cool Story Bro” posts.

Thanks!