Reviews: Scott, Melissa

Here in My Garden of Shadows

Point of Hopes — Melissa Scott & Lisa A. Barnett
Astreiant, book 1

1995’s Point of Hopes is the first novel in Melissa Scott and Lisa A. Barnett’s Astreiant series.

The great and powerful of Chenedolle are distracted by matters of state: the childless queen has yet to settle on a designated heir. The people of the great city of Astreiant have a far more down-to-Earth concern.

Someone is stealing their children.

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Shadow War

Oath Bound — Melissa Scott & Jo Graham
Order of the Air, book 5

2016’s Oath Bound is the fifth installment in Melissa Scott and Jo Graham’s ongoing series, Order of the Air .

History books may later claim World War Two did not properly begin until 1939, but the opening shots are already being exchanged in 1935. Germany is busy re-arming. Italy has revealed the essential meaninglessness of League of Nation ideas as its invasion of Ethiopia continues, unopposed by any save the Ethiopians and a handful of volunteers.

Some volunteers join the struggle of their own choice. Others, like Jerry Ballard and his friends, are recruited.

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No attorneys/To plead my case

Trouble and Her Friends — Melissa Scott

Melissa Scott’s 1994 Lambda-winning cyberpunk novel, Trouble and Her Friends, lives in the intersection of Black-Mask-style mystery and science fiction. It also has echoes of the end of America’s fabled Old West, perhaps in ways that were not intended twenty-two years ago.

Convinced that the age of cracking has been ended by the badly thought-out Evans-Tinsdale Bill, Trouble abandons her old online life and her hacker lover, and vanishes into the world of respectability. There she plans to spend the rest of her life living below the law’s radar. Cerise joins the forces of sanctioned anti-cracker security, a Henry Newton Brown of the future.

For three years, those plans work.

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Alma’s Hawaiian Adventure

Windraker — Melissa Scott & Jo Graham
Order of the Air, book 4

Melissa Scott and Jo Graham’s 2015 novel Windraker is the fourth installment in their ongoing Order of the Air series. In this episode, the cast is drawn to Hawai‘i, where they find themselves tangling with modern prejudice, old curses, ancient history, and the rising threat of fascism.


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The final Silence

The Empress of Earth — Melissa Scott
The Roads of Heaven, book 3

Continuing yesterday’s theme of third books in trilogies that are also the final books in trilogies, today’s review is of the third and final volume in Melissa Scott’s Roads of Heaven trilogy, 2012’s The Empress of Earth.

Empress of Earth is a revision of 1987’s The Empress of Earth. Despite owning both editions, I didn’t reread the first version, so I cannot say how significant the differences are.

When we last saw our heroine, star-pilot-turned-magus Silence Leigh, she had played a vital role in toppling the old Hegemon of the Hegemony. As a result, she was owed a great boon by the new Hegemon, Adeban. As usual, there was a problem. Because the Hegemony is egregiously sexist, Adeban couldn’t publicly acknowledge his debt without risking being toppled from power by outraged Hegemonic aristocrats. Still, there’s every reason to expect Adeban to act as an indulgent patron for Leigh, her husbands Denis Balthazar and Julian Chase Mago, her mentor Magus Isambard, and their effort to reach long lost Earth.

Adeban is indeed willing, but, as is so often true with patronage from heads of state, there’s a catch.


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Side-quest!

Silence in Solitude — Melissa Scott
The Roads of Heaven, book 2

1986’s Silence in Solitude is the second volume in the Roads of Heaven trilogy (and Scott’s fourth novel overall, if the ISFDB is to be trusted [1]).

The story begins six months after Silence arrives on Solitudo Hermae to begin her training as a magus. She is working under the supervision of Magus Isambard, an old ally.

As a female pilot in a fanatically patriarchal society, Silence was already unusual; her new career as a female magus makes her virtually sui generis [2].

This is not such a good thing, as the Hegemon has put a price on Silence’s head. Hard to be an inconspicuous fugitive when you are notably unique.

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Tesla Versus Fascists!

Silver Bullet — Melissa Scott & Jo Graham
Order of the Air, book 3

2014’s Silver Bullet is the third novel in Scott and Graham’s Order of the Air series. The Great Depression is three years old and President Roosevelt’s victory over Hoover has taken place just three days before the book opens. As a result, some Americans are filled with hope and others with a grim, fanatical rage.

Thanks to the events of the previous novel, the gang at Gilchrist Aviation (Alma Gilchrist, Mitch Sorley, Lewis Segura, Jerry Ballard, and recent hire Stasi Rostov) are more financially secure than many Americans. The prize money they won, as well as their alliance with millionaire Harry Kershaw, mean that none of them are wondering where their next meal is coming from … though they do have to budget carefully.

Harry seems to have given up collecting eldritch artifacts of mystical doom. This time, our gang is threatened only by weird super-science machines and roving gangs of armed fascists.

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Henry Kershaw Must Die!

Steel Blues — Melissa Scott & Jo Graham
Order of the Air, book 2

Second in the Order of the Air series, 2013’s Steel Blues revisits the protagonists of 2012’s Lost Things. Henry Kershaw, a flamboyant plot-enabler, also turns up again.

It is two years into the Great Depression. Nothing President Hoover has done has helped. One of his measures, pulling all the air mail contracts from the small carriers and consolidating the contracts with just four large carriers [1], threatens Gilchrist Aviation, the small company run by Alma Gilchrist and Mitchell Sorley. Hoover has yanked their mail routes and Gilchrist Aviation is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

There is one faint hope on the horizon.

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Jazz Age Occult Adventure

Lost Things — Melissa Scott & Jo Graham
Order of the Air, book 1

2012’s Lost Things is the first installment of Scott and Graham’s ongoing historical fantasy series Order of the Air, whose fourth volume was published just this last February.

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The Editor Strikes Back

Five-Twelfths of Heaven — Melissa Scott
The Roads of Heaven, book 1

1985’s Five-Twelfths of Heaven was Scott’s second published novel after 1984’s The Game Beyond. It is the first volume of the Silence Leigh trilogy. The other volumes are 1986’s Silence in Solitude and 1987’s The Empress of Earth. I enjoyed this back in the 1980s (which is why I picked this particular Scott to review) and I enjoyed rereading it.

(Note: 1985 is almost thirty years ago. Baen Books was a very different brand then, so people who stumble over an old copy of this will not find the book they may expect given Baen Books’ current output.)

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The Kindly Ones

Melissa Scott

Given how the Baen brand has evolved over the years,”Baen Books” does not make one think “Lamba and Tiptree-nominated author” but in the 1980s Jim Baen reportedly made a point of looking for good new female authors and his enhusiasm for gay-bashing SF1 had not yet blinded him to works of quality featuring protagonists outside the usual hetrosexual limits. Post-Del Montefication, it may be hard to believe this ever came from Baen, but it did.

And the cover wasn’t even that bad.

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