Reviews

A Defector of a Kind

Rite of Passage — Alexei Panshin


Alexei Panshin’s 1968 Rite of Passage is a standalone SF novel. It won a Nebula Award and was nominated for a Hugo.

Mia Havero grew up on a great Ship, an asteroid-sized vessel that wanders from star to star. It’s all she’s ever known. Mia’s Trial, a mandatory test that winnows the unfit from the fit, is approaching. If she passes, she will live out her life on her Ship. If she fails, she might be exiled. Or dead.

Mia Havero is twelve, going on thirteen.


Read review


Under Your Skin

Get Out — Jordan Peele

2017’s Get Out was Jordan Peele’s directorial debut. The cast includes Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Lil Rel Howery, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Stephen Root, and Catherine Keener.

Photographer Chris Washington (Kaluuya) reluctantly faces a romantic rite of passage: accompanying his girlfriend Rose Armitage (Williams) to a family get-together. What would be stressful in any circumstances is even more so in this case, because Chris is African-American while Rose is white.

Rose assures Chris that her family is not racist but still, any number of unpleasant surprises may await Chris. And do.


Read review


Hunting Tonight

The Hound of Justice — Claire O'Dell
Janet Watson, book 2


2019’s The Hound of Justice is the second volume in Claire O’Dell’s Janet Watson Chronicles.

Doctor Janet Watson has a new prosthetic arm and a new position at Georgetown University Hospital. The new arm is a vast improvement over the previous arm, but Janet is finding it hard to master. She needs to be capable of fine, disciplined movements if she is to return to being a surgeon.

America has a new President, Donovan, a Democratic Progressive. Like her new arm, the new President isn’t all Janet could wish him to be, but he is better than the alternative (reactionary Jeb Foley). Years into its second civil war, even a second-rate President and the hope of a disappointing peace is an improvement, at least from the perspective of the sane people of America.

Richard Speiker’s Brotherhood of Redemption is threatened by the prospect of peace. Inauguration day is marred by a terrorist bomb attack that fails to kill its intended target thanks to what appears to be simple incompetence.


Read review


Dinner Bell

Kaiu Shira & Posuka Demizu
The Promised Neverland, book 1

The Promised Neverland, Volume 1 collects the first seven issues of author Kaiu Shira and illustrator Posuka Demizu’s manga.

Emma, Norman, and Ray grew up in Grace Field House, an orphanage run by kindly Isabella. Life at Grace Field House is almost luxurious. It is that rare orphanage whose inhabitants would remember it fondly. In later years. If there were later years. To be explained.

Sometime between the ages of six and twelve, the orphans will be fostered out. Emma, Norman, and Ray are the oldest orphans still remaining at the House. Their twelfth birthdays are looming, so they expect that they will soon be sent on their way to new homes.

When fellow orphan Connie forgets her stuffed animal in her haste to leave the House for her new home, Emma and Norman hurry after the six-year-old to return the beloved toy. They find Connie, but not in time.

It seems there is the orphans haven’t been told the truth about their new homes: they have been raised as food for demons.


Read review


Keep Running, Keep Running

Meddling Kids — Edgar Cantero


Edgar Cantero’s 2018 Meddling Kids is the latest book in the Blyton Summer Detective Club Adventure series1.

In 1977, the Blyton Summer Detective Club — Peter, Kerri, Andy, Nate, and their dog Sean — capped off their successful teen detecting careers with the revelation of that the Sleepy Lake Monster was just would-be burglar Thomas Wickley in a rubber mask.

Wickley was sent off to prison. The four teens got on their lives. Thirteen years later, the surviving members of the Blyton Summer Detective Club are faced with a terrible revelation: they got their final case wrong.


Read review


The One Where She Has Sex With a Plant

The Pollinators of Eden — John Boyd


John Boyd’s 1969 The Pollinators of Eden is a standalone SF novel.

Doctor Freda Caron expects that when the starship Botany docks, her fiancé Paul Theaston will be on it. He isn’t; all she gets is a message and a sample of alien life. Paul is doing research on the planet Flora, where he has encountered an intriguing scientific mystery. He wants to stay on-planet for one more duty cycle. Although mildly put out (this means she’s saddled with planning their wedding all by herself, rather than allowing Paul to think he’s helping), Freda also understands why he would stay. She too is a professional botanist; she understands the appeal of this tulip-appearing enigma.

The tulip has a flower much like flowers found on Earth. There are no known insects on planet Flora. Why produce a flower, and pollen, when there is nothing to spread the pollen. Or is there? Who or what does the pollinating?


Read review


The Book of Life

The Reader — Traci Chee
Sea of Ink and Gold, book 1

Traci Chee’s 2016 The Reader is the first volume in her Sea of Ink and Gold series.

Sefia and her aunt Nin have been on the run ever since Sefia’s father was brutally murdered. Now, thanks to Sefia’s failed attempt at stealing a bandana, what had been a safe refuge is a refuge no longer. Someone may have recognized Nin and that means the pair have to flee. On their trail: killers seeking to recover a precious item stolen by Sefia’s parents.

The precious treasure is a book, whatever a book might be.


Read review


Like I Just Lost The World War

This is How You Lose The Time War — Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone’s 2019 This is How You Lose the Time War is a standalone SF novel.

Two great powers, technological Agency and biological Garden, are engaged in a long, brutal war for control of reality itself. Not satisfied with shaping a single universe to suit their tastes, both sides covet control of every history of every universe.

Red fights for Agency. Red is very good at their job. Good enough to attract the attention of Garden operative Blue.


Read review


Strange Fascinations Fascinate Me

Making History — Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry’s 1996 Making History is an alternate history. It won the 1998 Sidewise Award1.

To his biochemist girlfriend Jane Michael, “Puppy” Young is a charming, bumbling idiot who cannot be trusted unattended in a laboratory. He’s an amusement, but not a man with whom she could possibly spend her life. To the world at large, Puppy is a feckless graduate student working toward a PhD in history, a field he believes is (like Puppy himself) cruelly unappreciated by the world. His grand ambitions run up against reality when his advisor reveals to Puppy that large swaths of Puppy’s thesis on Hitler are utter crap.

This academic setback isn’t the only downer; Puppy finds out that Jane is moving to Princeton without him. It’s at this moment of utter personal failure that some misaddressed mail provides Puppy with an introduction to physicist Leo Zuckerman. It is an encounter that will reshape history.


Read review


The End of Laughter and Soft Lies

Earth’s Last Citadel — C. L. Moore & Henry Kuttner


1943’s Earth’s Last Citadel is a standalone far-future adventure by C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner.

Alan Drake’s desperate bid to get genius Sir Colin out of a North African war-zone is stymied when the two are ambushed by Axis agents Karen Martin and Mike Smith. Karen and Mike catch up to Alan and Sir Colin just after the pair stumble across a mysterious object in the desert. The Nazis barely have time to gloat before they and their prey are bewitched into entering what appears to be an alien spacecraft.

The four do not emerge from their captor’s craft for a very very very long time.


Read review


Won’t Shed a Tear

Jade War — Fonda Lee
Green Bone Saga, book 2


Jade War is the second volume in Fonda Lee’s ongoing Green Bone Saga.

Ayt Mada has a simple dream: unify all of Kekon’s clans under her benevolent rule, the better to protect Kekon’s interests in a world filled with powerful, empires. The No Peak clan refuses to submit to Ayt’s Mountain Clan, so it must be destroyed for the greater good.

No Peak’s Pillar (leader) Kaul Lan had all the skills that might ensure No Peak’s survival in the face of the Mountain Clan’s aggression. Alas for No Peak, Lan was murdered, leaving the clan with Lan’s intemperate brother Hilo as leader. Hilo prefers direct, brutal methods. No Peak’s survival depends on Hilo growing into his unwanted role.


Read review


Detective De Tu Amor

Point of Knives — Melissa Scott

Melissa Scott’s Point of Knives is set at a time between that of Point of Hopes and that of Point of Dreams, the first and second instalments of the Astreiant series. Since my site does not do fractions or decimals, numbering Point of Knives is a bit tricky. So I will not even try.

Adjunct Point Nicolas Rathe is called from his bed to attend to a murder. Rathe soon discovers that there were two murders: both Grandad Steen and his son Old Steen were mortally injured, although by someone inept enough that dying Old Steen tried to run to safety.

The motive for some murders is obscure. In Grandad Steen’s case, the motive seems clear: treasure.


Read review


The Same Thing If You Please

Lee Narae
Bloody Sweet, book 1

Bloody Sweet, Volume One, collects an astounding number of installments of this Lee Narae webtoon.

Shin Naerim’s mother performs a valuable, if unconventional, public service: she is a moodang, a Korean shaman. Shin Naerim also provides a valuable public service: she is a meek victim whom her classmates can torment without any fear of repercussions.


Read review


As Sweet As Any Harmony

The Outside — Ada Hoffmann

2019’s The Outside is Ada Hoffmann’s debut SF novel.

Praise to the Gods of the galaxy, who brought us out of Old Earth.
Praise to the Gods of the warp drive, who push at the edges of space.
Praise to the Gods of the portal, who open all doors to our bodies.
Praise to the Gods of the ansible, who open all doors to our words.
Praise, praise be to the Gods who know, whose minds are above human minds, whose knowledge has kept us alive.

Once artificial intelligences, now something much more, the gods rule the human-occupied sector of the Milky Way. Having the gods consume their souls after death is a small price to pay for access to the stars. Despite centuries of such benevolent guidance, some humans still persist in trying to develop their own advanced technologies without divine help.

Yasira Shien is the Shien in the Talirr-Shien Effect, the phenomenon at the heart of the Pride of Jai. If all works to plan, the Talsirr-Shien Reactor will power an orbiting research facility for centuries to come.

If all does not go according to plan, well … who knows?


Read review


Way Down on Old Chestnut Street

The Borribles — Michael de Larrabeiti
Borribles, book 1


1976’s The Borribles is the first volume in Michael de Larrabeiti’s Borribles trilogy.

Their pointy ears betray Borribles as having become something more than hard-faced street children. They keep the ears hidden and avoid the attention of the police who would crop their ears and steal their independence. Each Borrible must earn their transformation from runaway child into Borrible by means of sharpness of wit and strength of will. They win their names with thrilling adventures.

Eight Borribles will be offered the chance to become legends.


Read review


Mr. Lonely

The Quiet Earth — Geoff Murphy, Bill Baer, Bruno Lawrence, Sam Pillsbury

1985’s The Quiet Earth was written by Bill Baer, Bruno Lawrence, and Sam Pillsbury; it was directed by Geoff Murphy. It is (loosely) based on the novel of the same name by Craig Harrison. It stars Bruno Lawrence, Alison Routledge, and Peter Smith.

Zac Hobson (Bruno Lawrence), a scientist working on Project Flashlight, isn’t there at the New Zealand Flashlight facility on the morning of July 5th. That’s when the project will be tested. The effects of the test are obvious. To quote Zac:

[quote] “Zac Hobson, July 5th. One: there has been a malfunction in Project Flashlight with devastating results. Two: it seems I am the only person left on Earth.“ [quote]


Read review


Once Was Lost

Not Your Sidekick — C. B. Lee
Sidekick Squad, book 1

2016’s Not Your Sidekick is the first of C. B. Lee’s Sidekick Squad series.

A superflare activated the metagene possessed by a minute fraction of humanity, granting them superhuman powers.

World War III nearly made that development irrelevant. Nearly. Despite humanity’s best efforts at removing itself from the board, humans and civilization survived. Life in the North American Collective may all be a bit regimented, but for Jessica Tran it is the only life she knows.

Her hometown Andover may be in backwater Nevada, but it is one of the lucky few to have resident superheroes, Smasher and Shockwave (who just happen to be Jessica’s parents). Too bad that the town also has resident supervillains, Master and Mistress Mischief.

Read review


When They Look at Me

Spica Aoki
Kaiju Girl Caramelise, book 1

Kaiju Girl Caramelise, Vol. 1 is the first collection of Spica Aoki’s eponymous Shoujo manga.

Kuroe Akaishi suffers from a rare (probably unique) medical condition so embarrassing that she hides it from her schoolmates. The condition is exacerbated by strong emotion, so she tries to avoid drama. She’s aloof and detached … or at least as detached as she can be given that her schoolmates mock and torment her.

Read review


Written on the Wind

Sandwriter — Monica Hughes
Sandwriter, book 1


Monica Hughes’ 1985 Sandwriter is the first entry in her Sandwriter duology.

Princess Antia of Kamalant has led a pampered life. Her parents are dead (of an accident, it is said) but she has been carefully raised by King Rangor (her uncle) and Queen Sankath (her aunt). Her immediate retinue includes doting nurse Nan and tutor Eskoril (whom Antia finds most attractive). Her childhood has been pleasant.

Now the bill for that childhood has come due.


Read review


And No-one’s Quite Certain Whose Play It Is

The Illuminatus Trilogy — Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson

Three 1975 novels (The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, and Leviathan) together comprise Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus Trilogy.

New York Detectives Saul Goodman and Barney Muldoon are assigned to investigate a bombing. Someone has attacked the office of a left-wing magazine, Confrontation. The detectives soon discover that their case may broaden to include tracing a missing person: editor Joe Malik.

Malik left notes that greatly confuse the two detectives. Malik’s paranoid ramblings document a world secretly run by a cabal known as the Illuminati. The ramblings are self-contradictory. More importantly, they give no hint as to Malik’s current location.

Meanwhile, in an entirely different part of the world….


Read review


Born With the Gift of a Golden Voice

Unsung Heroine — Sarah Kuhn

2019’s Unsung Heroine is a side-story in Sarah Kuhn’s Heroine series.

Lucy Valdez is a multi-competent person. She’s adept at hand-to-hand fighting; she’s a karaoke queen at a local hot-spot, the Gutter. She’s been a sweetheart to half of the city’s lesbian community. Yet one challenge eludes her: how to win the heart of Rose Rorick (which includes keeping said heart once Rose learns what the real Lucy is like).

Lucy’s cunning gambits to present Rose with an acceptable version of Lucy have left Lucy firmly friend-zoned. Happily, Lucy has a zany scheme to solve the problem: fix up her unattainable crush with someone else. Once Rose is partnered, perhaps Lucy’s obsession will fade.


Read review


Take Some Tea With Me

Predestination — Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig

Michael and Peter Spierig’s 2014 Predestination is an SF film based on Robert A. Heinlein’s short story “ — All You Zombies — .” Predestination stars Ethan Hawke, and Sarah Snook. Bizarrely enough, it is not a terrible film inspiring lamentations from all who see it.

Maimed trying to disarm a bomb planted by the notorious Fizzle bomber, an agent is given a new face and a new assignment in Disco-era New York. His assignment begins with an orchestrated meeting in a bar.


Read review


Wind Beneath My Wings

Naoko Takeuchi
Sailor Moon, book 1

1992’s Sailor Moon, Volume One collects the stories that kicked off Naoko Takeuchi’s insanely popular Sailor Moon franchise.

Fourteen-year-old Usagi Tsukino is a seemingly unremarkable student without any obvious talent. As far as the world can tell, she is a clumsy, spoiled crybaby whose grades make her mother despair. She does have good points: she’s pretty and she’s friendly.

Then Usagi accidentally steps on a cat named Luna


Read review


They Will Not Control Us

Renegades — Marissa Meyer
Renegades, book 1

2017’s Renegades is the first volume in Marissa Meyer’s novel series, also known as Renegades.

Once prodigies (people with superpowers) were feared and oppressed. Thanks to the efforts of paramount prodigy Ace Artino (AKA Ace Anarchy) prodigies were feared but no longer oppressed, albeit at the cost of the temporary collapse of civilization during the Age of Anarchy.

The super-powered Renegades ended the Age of Anarchy by crushing every rival group. Based in Gatlon City, the Renegades have replaced the vanished civilian government with their own (well-intended) rule. This new arrangement is short on democratic niceties but it’s better than the never-ending gang war it replaced. Most people are willing to live with rule by Renegade.

But not Nova “Nightmare” Artino.


Read review


Every Single Day

The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe — D. G. Compton


D. G. Compton’s 1974 The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe (also published as The Unsleeping Eye) is a near-future SF novel.

Katherine Mortenhoe is a forty-four-year-old woman whose computer skills have won her a minor niche in publishing. She’s settled for a humdrum marriage that is only marginally superior to solitude. She has led an unremarkable life.

She learns that she has just four weeks to live. In the world of this novel, premature death is extremely rare, She has become a valuable media commodity.


Read review


 
  

Support me with a Patreon monthly subscription!

Review Categories

By Author/Editor

Reviews by Date