Reviews, November 2017

A Maid Both Brave And Brawn

Bodacious Space Pirates: Abyss of Hyperspace — Saito Tatsuo

2014’s Mōretsu uchū kaizoku - Akū no shin’en (Bodacious Space Pirates: Abyss of Hyperspace) is the feature-length animated movie follow-up to the anime television adaptation of Saito Tatsuo’s Mōretsu Pairētsu (Bodacious Space Pirates) light novel series. Saito Tatsuo was the film’s writer/director.

Sole heir of the notorious space pirate Gonzaemon Kato, Marika Kato assumed her father’s role as captain of the Bentenmaru upon Gonzaemon’s death. The Bentenmaru isn’t the only pirate vessel in the Tau Ceti system, but it may be the only one whose captain has a curfew. Marika is, after all, only seventeen, still in high school, and she needs to maintain her grade point average.

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The Criminal Kind

Artemis — Andy Weir

2017’s Artemis is a standalone hard-SF novel by Andy Weir.

A century after the first Moon landings, Jasmine “Jazz” Bashara is living proof to the other residents in the lunar city, Artemis, that sufficiently poor judgment can lead to many exciting adventures. There may, however, be a hard limit to how long one such miscreant can survive on the unforgiving Moon.

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Stand a Little Taller

Prime Meridian — Silvia Moreno-Garcia

2017’s Prime Meridian is a standalone science fiction novella by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

In the glorious world of tomorrow, anyone with enough money can buy a ticket to the Martian settlements. Anyone with the right credentials can indenture themself to buy that precious ticket.

Thanks to her decision to drop out of college to care for her dying mother, Amelia doesn’t have money or credentials. Instead, she is one of Mexico City’s precariate. A new life on Mars can only be a dream.

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Proserpina! Proserpina!

Worlds — Joe Haldeman
Worlds, book 1

1981’s Worlds is the first volume in Joe Haldeman’s Worlds trilogy.

By 2084, half a million people live in forty-one orbital habitats circling the Earth; they are the so-called Worlds. New New York is largest of the Worlds. It is the only home our protagonist Marianne O’Hara has ever known. University in Old New York will be an entirely new experience for her. If she plays her cards wrong, possibly her last experience ever.

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Fight Until The End

The Sleeping God — Violette Malan
Dhulyn and Parno, book 1

To quote Violette Malan’s bio,

Violette Malan has a PhD from York University in 18th-Century English Literature, but reports that most people don’t hold it against her. She started reading fantasy and science fiction at the age of eight, and was writing stories not long after. Violette has been a book reviewer, and has written feature articles on genre writing and literature for the Kingston Whig Standard. She has taught creative writing, English as a second language, Spanish, beginner’s French, and choreography for strippers. On occasion she’s worked as an administrative assistant, and a carpenter’s helper. Her most unusual job was translating letters between lovers, one of whom spoke only English, the other only Spanish.
Violette is co-founder of the Scene of the Crime Festival on Wolfe Island, a single-day event focusing on Canadian crime writing, and celebrating the birthplace of Grant Allen, Canada’s first crime writer. Violette is currently the president of the festival board, but in the past she’s given writing workshops, and was the original organizer and co-judge of The Wolfe Island Prize for first crime fiction, which is sponsored by the festival.

2007’s The Sleeping God is the first volume in Violette Malan’s Dhulyn and Parno series.

The contract seemed so straightforward. Escort a young woman to her nation’s capital. Unfortunately for Dhulyn and Parno, they’re heading for the capital of Imrion and disquieting events are underway.

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Like a Butterfly

Fumi Yoshinaga
Ôoku: The Inner Chambers, book 1

2009’s Ôoku: The Inner Chambers, Vol. 1 is the first tankōbon in Fumi Yoshinaga’s long-running alternate history manga series. Volumes 1 and 2 shared the 2009 Tiptree Award with Greer Gilman’s Cloud & Ashes.

Eighty years ago, the Red Pox swept across Japan. Men were peculiarly vulnerable to the disease; even now, there are four women for every man. Too precious to risk, men are kept safely sequestered from danger. Occupations once the monopoly of men are now the realm of women.

Good looking Yunoshin shares his seed generously with the poor women of his town, but social barriers prevent him from marrying O-Nobu, the one woman he loves. Rather than spend his life living near the beloved he cannot have, he applies for a position in the Ôoku, the Shogun’s harem.

Yunoshin vanishes into the inner chambers, never to walk the streets of his hometown again.


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Seasons Crying No Despair

Northern Tier — David Axel Kurtz

2017’s Northern Tier is a standalone post-apocalyptic novel by David Axel Kurtz.

Two centuries after nuclear war and the collapse of petroleum-based civilization, North America is divided between several nations: Nova Scotia et Hibernia, Minnetonka, Central, Two Crowns, and others. Trade between nations has become slow and difficult, creating a niche for couriers who are willing to brave the dangers of the open road to deliver small, valuable packages quickly. The cycers, bicycle couriers like Slip, fill this niche.

Slip is a survivor, smart and cautious enough to survive a lifestyle that kills most cycers young. But this time, one moment of bad judgment on her part may doom not just Slip, but the entire cycer way of life.

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Dance to a Whispered Voice

The Dazzle of Day — Molly Gloss

1998’s The Dazzle of Day is a standalone generation ship novel by Molly Gloss.

Frustrated with conditions on Earth, a community of Quakers re-purposes an orbiting space habitat. Renamed the Dusty Miller, equipped with vast solar sails, the vessel heads into deepest space for a 175-year journey to another star.

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Another Mile of Silence

Orbitsville — Bob Shaw
Orbitsville, book 1

1975’s Orbitsville is the first volume in Bob Shaw’s Orbitsville trilogy.

Vance Garamond is a competent starship pilot but a terrible babysitter. He fails to prevent his boss’s son from falling to his death. His boss, Elizabeth Lindstrom, the autocratic president of the company that controls interstellar flight, is notoriously vindictive. Rather than wait to see what form her vengeance will take, Garamond collects his wife Aileen and son Christopher and flees to the stars in a commandeered flickerwing starship, the Bissendorf.

If only there were somewhere beyond Lindstrom’s reach Garamond and his family could flee …

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Don’t Have Nobody to Call My Own

The Forgotten Tale — J. M. Frey
Accidental Turn, book 2

The Forgotten Tale is the second volume in J. M. Frey’s Accidental Turn series.

Once a supporting character in Elgar Reed’s deplorably written but popular fantasy series, spymaster Forsyth Turn escaped with his beloved Pip to Pip’s native Canada (which, as we all know, is nearly as happy as Denmark). Content in his new life, husband to Pip, father to Alis, Forsyth has no intention of returning to his native Hain or even of maintaining contact with Reed.

Alas, just because he is done with fantastic adventures in Reed’s poorly–thought-out land does not mean that Hain is done with Forsyth. Or with Forsyth’s family.

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Like the Weave of a Spider

The City of Woven Streets — Emmi Itäranta

Emmi Itäranta’s 2015 standalone secondary world fantasy Kudottujen kujien kaupunki was published in 2016 as The City of Woven Streets. And also as The Weaver (for some reason I cannot comprehend).

The island on which Eliana lives is controlled by a Council much concerned with contamination by uncanny dreams and other such temptations to … well, if I told you more that would be a spoiler. Those deemed Tainted are isolated, a precaution to prevent the spread of Taint. This has not been working well. The island’s rulers do the only sensible thing: double down on enforcement. It’s a small, harsh world.

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Ain’t the Kind of Place to Raise Your Kids

Places in the Darkness — Chris Brookmyre

2017’s Places in the Darkness is a standalone near-future police procedural thriller by Chris Brookmyre.

230,000 kilometres above the Earth’s surface, Ciudad de Cielo is supposed to be the shining city on the hill, a utopia where the technology needed to reach the stars will be developed. It should be filled with pristine rooms and corridors filled with hard-working, well behaved idealists, a glorious celebration of humanity’s loftiest goals.

In actual fact, some fool staffed CdC with actual humans, not flawless paragons. Almost every vice known to humanity exists and is catered to by someone within the great space city. Not murder, however. That’s one failing not found in space.

Until now.

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Freedom, Freedom, We Will Not Obey

Artificial Condition — Martha Wells
The Murderbot Diaries, book 2

2018’s Artificial Condition is the second volume in Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries. A review of the first volume, All Systems Red, is here.

Rather than trust its fate to humans, no matter how well intentioned, the freethinking construct calling itself Murderbot decides to evade its protectors and find freedom. But first, a few loose ends to be cleared. Such as what role Murderbot might have played in the deaths of dozens of people on planet RaviHyral.

Step one is getting to aforesaid obscure world without being exposed as a rogue SecUnit and forcibly returned to factory settings.

Bored AIs piloting interstellar transport ships turn out to be very observant.

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Take That Boy’s Crown

Watchtower — Elizabeth A. Lynn
Chronicles of Tornor, book 1

1979’s Watchtower is the first volume in Elizabeth A. Lynn’s Chronicles of Tornor.

Most of Tornor Keep’s defenders died in a futile attempt to bar invaders led by Col Istor. Knocked out cold early in the battle, the armsman Ryke was spared. Not out of charity. Istor respected Ryke’s abilities and preferred to keep him alive and useful. Not that Istor wholly trusts Ryke, but he does have leverage.

That leverage is Errel, heir to the late lord of Tornor Keep. Errel lives only as long as Ryke serves Istor. At that, Errel survives only as a “cheari” or jester.

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Down to Your Bones

The Starving Queen — Dean Italiano

To quote Dean Italiano’s bio:

Dean Italiano lives with G and their twin boys in Waterloo, ON. Author of Pain Machine, Spirits and Death in Niagara, and Katrina and the Frenchman: A Journal from the Street, Dean also works with G musically to produce CDs Johnny Gruesome and From Skull Tavern, and occasionally does some artwork as well. By day, Dean works in a wonderfully busy elementary school Library. You can find more information at picpublishing.ca.

2017’s The Starving Queen is a stand-alone urban fantasy.

Bev managed to escape the Starving Queen. Her daughter Jasmine won’t be so lucky.

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This Is The End, My Friend

Hiromu Arakawa
Fullmetal Alchemist, book 9


Viz’ Fullmetal Alchemist (3-in-1 Edition), Volumes 25–27 includes Volumes 25, 26, and 27 of the original Japanese manga1. Story and art are by Hiromu Arakawa; English translation by Akira Watanabe; English adaptation by Jake Forbes; touch-up art and lettering by Wayne Truman. The original manga appeared in 2010.

The nice thing about series whose author has a destination in mind is the comparative absence of supporting characters who don’t actually support anything and subplots that don’t go anywhere. The less nice thing is that eventually the story reaches that destination. End of the line.

Which gets me to Fullmetal Alchemist (3-in-1 Edition), Volumes 25–27.

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