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Robert Jackson Bennett

Autor(a) de City of Stairs

23+ Works 7,861 Membros 561 Críticas 8 Favorited

About the Author

Image credit: Bennett at the 2017 Texas Book Festival

Séries

Obras por Robert Jackson Bennett

City of Stairs (2014) 1,926 exemplares
Foundryside (2018) 1,770 exemplares
City of Blades (2016) 771 exemplares
American Elsewhere (2013) 696 exemplares
City of Miracles (2017) 592 exemplares
Shorefall (2020) 577 exemplares
Mr. Shivers (2010) 405 exemplares
The Troupe (2012) 267 exemplares
Locklands (2022) 265 exemplares
The Company Man (2011) 192 exemplares
The Tainted Cup (2024) 165 exemplares
Vigilance (2019) 140 exemplares
The Divine Cities Trilogy (2018) 58 exemplares
In the Shadows of Men (2020) 21 exemplares

Associated Works

Dark Duets: All-New Tales of Horror and Dark Fantasy (2014) — Contribuidor — 100 exemplares
The Lion and the Aardvark: Aesop's Modern Fables (2013) — Contribuidor — 13 exemplares
Broken Time Blues: Fantastic Tales in the Roaring '20s (2011) — Contribuidor — 11 exemplares
Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 46 • March 2014 (2014)algumas edições9 exemplares
Subterranean Magazine Summer 2012 — Contribuidor — 2 exemplares

Etiquetado

Conhecimento Comum

Nome legal
Bennett, Robert Jackson
Data de nascimento
1984
Sexo
male
Nacionalidade
USA
Local de nascimento
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA
Locais de residência
Austin, Texas, USA
Educação
University of Texas
Ocupações
speculative fiction writer

Membros

Críticas

Originally posted on Just Geeking by.

Content warnings:
This book contains scenes of death, poisoning, violence, knife violence, body horror, gaslighting, prejudice, bullying, classism, genocide, and eugenics. Society is based on the idea of serving the Empire through the use of scientific graphs that shorten lives, and cause infertility, mental health conditions and other horrific side effects. Citizens accept this way of life due to an ideology that it is needed to keep the whole Empire safe.

There is a scene where a character is drugged by pheromones and touched against their will. Drugs, smoking and alcohol feature throughout the book.

There is a reference to the sexual assault of servants by a powerful figure (off page), the mention of animal death and dissection (events off page, remains on page), and a flashback memory to canning.


I was very excited to read a book that combined two of my favourite genres, unfortunately, this one didn’t end up going the way I’d hoped. The first thing I noticed about The Tainted Cup by Robert Jackson Bennett was how elaborate and immersive the science and nature of the world I had stepped into. He has created a fascinating world that realises the idea of a completely organic society, and it is something else. If The Tainted Cup was purely a science fiction novel then I would be satisfied, however, it is much more ambitious than that and that is where it begins to show its cracks for me.

I’ve seen this book compared to Sherlock Holmes and Knives Out, and I want to talk about those two comps before I go any further. I saw the Knives Out comp while reading the book and I spent the entire time trying to figure out how it related, especially as there is a mirror character in Knives Out. By the end of the book, I ascertained that the person meant that it was a whodunnit with a clever detective who doesn’t take any crap and sees a lot. For those of us who read or watch a lot of crime, that’s a pretty familiar archetype.

The comparison to Sherlock Holmes is much more on point. Ana is very like Sherlock in the sense that she is considered an anti-social genius who cares more about the case rather than social niceties. She also dabbles in “moodies”, mood-enhancing grafts, this universe’s equivalent of illegal drugs. Unlike Sherlock, Ana deeply cares about justice rather than just solving a puzzle, and she’s not a drug addict. I would also hesitate to compare Din, her assistant, to John Watson, other than to note that they have a partnership.

Having read the original Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, I found the level of intricacy of the cases to be lacking. I remember reading A Study in Scarlet and The Adventure of the Speckled Band and being blown away by the out-of-the-box creativity of Conan Doyle’s writing. I didn’t find that in The Tainted Cup, and instead found that the answers to the mystery were clearly signposted to the reader. It was a little disappointing when the big reveals came along, and I had already worked them out long before.

The original fascination with Bennett’s world-building began to fade the more I read The Tainted Cup, for a few reasons. One, the transhumanist world he has created is hugely eugenicist. Organic grafts are used to achieve peak performance and to change the human body in a myriad of ways so that people can better serve the Empire, wiping out any physical weakness. What they can’t change are “weaknesses” that are already part of a person’s brain, things that are unique to them. For example, Din has a learning disability and Ana is autistic-coded. Their brains are naturally different to their peers.

Some research shows that Bennett likes to include disabled characters in his writing. In this article, he talks about it in more detail, and referring to Orson Scott Card’s writing he states;

I remember reading about these disabled characters in his stories, and never once feeling, well, pity for them. They weren’t cripples. They weren’t helpless. They got by. And we all get by, don’t we? Sometimes just barely, but we get by. Now that I’m older, and writing my own stuff, I see now that the reason his disabled characters work is that he didn’t start by writing them as disabled characters. He started by writing them as characters, as real people with real problems – the same way that the fantastical, powerful characters work the best. Sometimes they got over those problems. Sometimes – maybe a lot of the time – they didn’t. And I felt for them because I knew them because they were real.


Bennett may believe he has the best of intentions, however, as with all non-disabled authors he is writing from the perspective of an outsider and there lies the issue. This method of writing a disabled character as someone who is a person who “has problems”, and referring to them as “real people with real problems” shows a complete lack of understanding of disabled and neurodivergent identity. You can’t write a disabled and/or neurodivergent character as a normal person because their lives are not normal.

As a result, you have a disabled character and a neurodivergent character that is not fully realised in their identities. There is a very nice scene towards the end of the novel where Din and Ana talk about being different, and quite frankly it rang completely hollow. It felt more like inspiration p0rn, where non-disabled people can celebrate because these two “weird” quirky characters have finally found each other! That’s because that’s the way Bennett has written them.

I felt that both Din’s learning disability and Ana’s autism were used as plot devices. Ana is constantly described as being anti-social, and different, not being able to handle “stimulation”, particular eating habits, a deep desire for justice and other autistic traits. It is not until the end that Bennett takes the time to acknowledge that this is a disability, in fact, he avoids any language that identifies any disabilities throughout the book.

But maybe the language doesn’t exist in The Tainted Cup universe. I hear you say. Might I remind you that the author controls the universe? Disabled authors have managed it, and I highly recommend checking out Hell Sans by Ever Dundas and the short stories in Nothing Without Us and Nothing Without Us Too for great examples. It says a lot when a non-disabled author chooses to exclude it.

I was also not happy about the way Din’s bisexual identity was written, which considering more than one review I read referred to him as gay, shows just how unclear his bisexuality was made. There is one scene where Din becomes aroused by a woman, and while pheromones are involved, they enhance arousal; they can’t make someone attracted to a certain gender. The sexual content of this scene doesn’t bother me, it’s the fact that it feeds stereotypes of bisexuality.

It’s easy to get swept up in the world-building and mystery of The Tainted Cup by Robert Jackson Bennett, especially with the promise of more to come in the next book. It’s a solid three stars for me, however, once I started to see the problems with the representation I couldn’t unsee them. This is one series that isn’t for me, and I won’t be continuing with it.

I want to remind anyone who disagrees with anything in this review that every reader brings their views and experiences to each book they read. Your reading of this book may be very different from mine.

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… (mais)
 
Assinalado
justgeekingby | 20 outras críticas | Feb 25, 2024 |
ARC Review.
4.8/5

Summary: The book follows Dinios Kol (I nicknamed him dino) in this 'knieves out' fantasy world as he assists Ana Dolabora in solving a murder, this leading them to a string of many more mysteries to solve.

My Thoughts:
Honestly, I am a very big nonfiction, historical fiction, thriller, ya reader and because of that sci-fi and fantasy can be hard for me to get into, but Bennett's writing style and way he introduced the world our protagonists live in was amazingly done. A great 'Gateway' book for fantasy.

The magic system is something I really enjoyed, there is no over explanations, but sprinkles of information subtly placed to better understand the world as a whole. I loved how it was introduced as I really dislike info dumps.

The characters all has such present, and distinct personalities that are so loveable. I found my self laughing out loud from lines in this book.

In general, such a great book that I had loads of fun reading, its size normally would have had me bored half way through, but I never found myself in a chapter that felt never ending.
… (mais)
 
Assinalado
3lizabethwh0 | 20 outras críticas | Feb 24, 2024 |
What an unexpected sequel this is, unexpected in ways that turn out to be the right ones. City of Blades is darker, grittier, more cruel, more tragic, more personal than the first book. There are many deaths. There is a lot of heartbreak. It made me feel so much, so deeply.

Our main POV character this time is Mulaghesh. Tough, snarky, stubborn. She has PTSD after the Battle of Bulikov in the first book. She is so damaged, yet unbroken.

“You do what you feel is right not because it is satisfying, but because you find any other option to be intolerable.”

Mulaghesh has mysterious events to investigate and goes to Voortyashtan, a forbidding place that has worshiped war, death, grief, and destruction for hundreds of years. As the mystery unfolds and the stakes climb higher and higher (of course they do), we see the unfolding of Mulaghesh’s backstory, which is horrific.

I loved seeing Sigrud again. The dark spaces this book occupies needed things such as

“How the hells did you get in here?”
“I picked the lock?”

“I have booze hidden all over the place. Dead drop training has its uses beyond espionage.”

Sigrud’s character arc goes to a horrible place, too, though.

War is another main character. The idea of war as something perpetual, something inevitable, something progressive, something glorious (Mulaghesh comes to reject this so wholeheartedly.) War crimes that make everyone into a victim, both the victims and the perpetrators – this is hard for me to stomach, even as I acknowledge that it’s true.

“But a soldier, a true soldier, I think, does not take. A soldier gives.”
“Gives what?”
“Anything,” says Mulaghesh. “Everything, if asked of us. We’re servants, as I said. … A good soldier does everything they can so they do not have to kill.”

“Killing echoes inside you. It never goes away. Maybe some who have killed don’t know that they’ve lost something, but they have.”

Robert Jackson Bennett has put me through a grinder, he has taken me on a roller-coaster ride of darkness, adventure, tragedy, and badass action (go, Mulaghesh). The ending was riveting.
… (mais)
 
Assinalado
Alexandra_book_life | 64 outras críticas | Feb 23, 2024 |
I'm obsessed. This book is like "Inception" meets "Six of Crows" meets "The Lies of Locke Lamora" and it was everything I feel like I'd been craving to read lately! The magic system is complex and unique, the mystery element has these great sneaky layers to it, and the characters are so wonderfully fleshed out and human. The whole story is just chock full of mayhem and chaos that drags you right down into the depths of it and holds you there. Like, things get so batshit wild and I was livinggggg for it. I can't wait to read the rest of the trilogy!… (mais)
 
Assinalado
deborahee | 85 outras críticas | Feb 23, 2024 |

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Tara Sands Narrator
Christopher Brand Cover designer
Lauren Dong Designer
Sam Weber Cover artist
Rory Kee Cover artist
Graham Winton Narrator
Kirk Benshoff Cover designer
Brian Stauffer Cover artist
Mark Boyett Narrator
Christine Folzer Cover designer

Estatísticas

Obras
23
Also by
5
Membros
7,861
Popularidade
#3,092
Avaliação
4.1
Críticas
561
ISBN
144
Línguas
11
Marcado como favorito
8

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