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Occasional Media Consumption: Middlegame, by Seanan McGuire

The most amazing thing to me, in a book filled with amazing things, is that McGuire never addresses the title choice of the book, and yet it was perfectly, brilliantly obvious from about a third of the way in. No, I won't spoil it; I'm not an asshole. But it is amazing, and exactly appropriate for the story being told. There are a LOT of things being juggled in this book. Pairs of characters. Solo characters. Histories. Magic. The modern world. Alchemy. The hidden corners everywhere in the world, and some of the people who live there. And the places that exist in the social unconscious, that are there but not there any longer.

It's hard to talk about this book without spoiling it, because many of the choices the author makes are so outside the norm of the genre that to give them away is to take away from the ingeniousness of the move itself. But in the same way, I've also read several books that leverage exactly the same tropes and choices in similar ways, to great and brilliant effect. I would not be far off comparing Middlegame to Kameron Hurley's excellent Light Brigade, but that's a very, very facile read of both works. In the same way, I could compare it to Terry Pratchett's enduring Night Watch, but don't expect it to read that way; the humor and tone is wildly different.

And there is humor in this book; much of it dark, much of it quiet, but some of it laugh-out-loud-at-the-absurdity-of-it when you come to it. The entire sequence in the Denny's is pretty hilarious, in that dark way that things are funny at 3AM in a Denny's when your life has gotten to the point where you're at a Denny's at 3AM. Also, the commentary on children's names makes me laugh every time I read it.

There is SO MUCH in this book I want to talk about! But to try and talk about it without having the other person having read it would be at best confusing and at worst a bad translation of a great book. So do me a favor: go and read this book. You won't be disappointed.

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