Further selections from the working group (likewise certified for accuracy) include the following.
A romance/coming-of-age novel. This is an extremely common genre in the Union, but a very important one; the curators felt they had to include one acclaimed example. This book is more than a hundred years old, set in the Union of that time. It alternates perspective between the two main characters, a boy and girl who meet as children, become friends, slowly fall in love as they grow older, get married as young adults, and build a life together. Romance, as depicted in this story, is primarily composed of friendship, trust, and some understated lust, which culminates in joyous, certain-as-the-sun-rises love. This is not to say that they don't have disagreements, but all are resolved amicably. There is some explicit sexual content, almost entirely after they get married, but it's considered to be moreso pornography-that-makes-you-cry than pornography-that-makes-you-aroused. Their comings-of-age include of course increasing knowledge and sexual awakening, but the story also places great emphasis on seizing one's agency and the way the couple grows into each other, simultaneously adapting to their relationship and the world around them to together form an integrated whole.
A fantasy epic set in a very high-magic world with a long power ladder (and ensuing chaotic, complex power dynamics). The magic system works in such a way that it is possible (albeit difficult) for even the lowliest mortal beings to ascend to great power (and for even the greatest to be usurped). The story follows a woman of great ambition and deadly cleverness. After the spillover of a battle between two mid-level entities destroys most of her hometown, she becomes determined to gain the power necessary to control her fate in a chaotic world. The first act tells the story of her quest, the trials she undergoes, the stratagems she employs, the people she meets, the fantastical locations she visits, the entities she slays. Most of her victories are the result of her intelligence and strategic acumen (or, perhaps, her lack of mistakes). Notably, she does not at any point use deception to get ahead, although there are plenty of situations where it seems advantageous to do so, and several occasions on which she would gain from dishonoring agreements she has made. The second act begins as she nears the peak of power. At this point, she becomes more contemplative, stepping back from her schemes to gain power that she might think about how to use the power she has gained. She comes to realize that, despite the unending struggle and change, the nature of that struggle is constant. ("What did you expect? That you would climb to the top, seize power, and find waiting for you a switch to flip and fix the world? This world runs in cycles of cycles, and if it were easy to break them it would have happened already. When everything changes, nothing changes.") So she seeks a way to undermine those patterns, to make way for a world which is less chaotic and truly different. But—she decides—despite the constraints of the ecology they all participate in, everyone makes their own choices, and there is no reason it is impossible for them to make different ones. In the third act, she brings her vision into reality, persuading and bargaining for people to change their behavior, to work together to build something better. The costs of her honor are repaid many times over, as she alone has the credibility to make this plan succeed. What makes the difference is helping others to see the truth, to recognize the fundamental stupidity of collectively choosing to create a world rent by conflict. Over many thousands of years, the forces of coordination creep forward, and eventually overcome those of conflict. Peace at last.
A slice-of-life/comedy with tactical elements, which follows a group of six teenage boys, who have long been friends, as they decide to form a kravmabid* team and play together. At first, they aren't very good: unskilled, uncoordinated, and prone to blunders. As the book goes on, they learn from their mistakes, get better, and eventually become one of the better teams in the region. The story focuses most on the camaraderie and friendship between them, as well as the humor they share together and find in their situation—despite numerous losses, they do not become dispirited, instead joking about their ineptitude. The incompetence only enhances its effectiveness as an ode to boyhood friendship. Almost as an afterthought, the story offers detailed insight into the tactical dynamics and competitive landscape of kravmabid—the narrator often describes the characteristics of skilled play as an ironic contrast to what the boys are actually doing—as well as what it feels like from the inside to slowly get better at something by experimenting and learning from your mistakes.
*This is a sport on Olam, combining hiking, navigation, tracking, archery, and martial arts into a sort of multiday wilderness wargame. It was originally developed for training soldiers, and has since evolved into a more fun recreational activity. Play is dominated by maneuver, team coordination, stealth, and tracking.
An inside-view novel (set on contemporary Olam) from the perspective of a man who is a narcissist. He is often inconsiderate, and treats the people close to him poorly, but is exceptionally good at justifying his actions to himself. Since the entire book is from his—often warped—perspective, readers may initially believe that he is in the right, and underestimate the depth of his shortcomings. Eventually, he upsets someone in a way, and to a degree, that he cannot explain away, and for practically the first time is actually confused about why they feel as they do. He carries this confusion with him for several weeks, ruminating over it until he is eventually forced to conclude that he is responsible, and has very deeply fucked up. This triggers a long process of introspection, and attempts to change. Slowly, haltingly, with great difficulty, he is able to see through some of the illusions that have afflicted him, and comes to understand himself and others better. He repairs some of his relationships, and at the books end, makes a heartfelt apology to the person he has wronged the most (their reaction is not shown).