Down Among the Sticks and Bones, by Seanan McGuire
AND All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries, by Martha Wells
I read two short, modern SFF novels, so I thought I'd bundle them, though they have little in common otherwise.
Down Among the Sticks and Bones: Twin sisters Jillian and Jacqueline have been forced into certain patterns by their unseeing parents...and then they find a staircase in the closet, that takes them to the Moors. A different law holds sway there. They're taken in to the Master's castle, and while Jack chooses to go and live with the local doctor, Jill chooses a princess' life. Will they be able to save each other when the time comes?
This story was fine, but a little too Angela Carter-esque for my taste. There was a lot to like, and I enjoyed it OK, but the overall impression was not my style. I also found it hard to believe in the parents.
All Systems Red: Far in the future, planetary exploration is sponsored by corporations, and the lowest bidder wins the job -- which means that safety equipment doesn't always work like it should. The security android for this surveying expedition has hacked its own software and calls itself Murderbot. It just wants to be left alone to watch serials and figure out what it is, but then the mission group on the other side of the planet goes dark and the scientists have to figure out what happened, so Murderbot is along for the ride.
I really liked this one. It did remind me a lot of a Doctor Who episode (say, early 11th Doctor), but I like Doctor Who. I enjoyed Murderbot's perspective, the story was good, the characters were well-done. It's really a novella, and I think there are four in the series now. I might even read them.
I do have to admit that the word 'Murderbot,' while awesome, also brought this old Muppet show clip to mind, which was probably not what Wells was going for.