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Blog Posts from March 2023 (8)

Alas, Poor Pero

30 Mar, 2023

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Pero, my Asus laptop, is signalling that it will soon join its namesake in machine heaven. Maybe there is a lesson here about not naming computers after sympathetic machine intelligences whose plot arc ends with their violent deaths. Be assured I will select a more durable namesake for Pero’s replacement. 

After considerable dithering online research, the best fit for my needs (ease of use, repairability, actually being available for purchase) is Framework’s Laptop 13 (12th Gen). I am about half way to the purchase price. 

Thus, the James Nicoll Reviews New Laptop Fundraiser! If people would like to commission reviews or even just donate via the PayPal button, it would be enormously appreciated. 

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Books Received, March 18 — March 24

25 Mar, 2023


New Eves: Science Fiction About the Extraordinary Women of Today and Tomorrow edited by Forrest J. Ackerman, Janrae Frank, and Jean Marie Stine (January 1994)

The New Eves, the brave and innovative women writers of science fiction, have been challenging their readers for more than half a century to postulate a different kind of society, one where visionary women are nourished with forbidden knowledge and become the
powerful leaders of a new kind of civilization.

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Books Received, March 11 — March 17

18 Mar, 2023


The Scarlet Alchemist by Kylie Lee Baker (October 2023)

New from the author of The Keeper of Night comes a YA fantasy duology set in an alternate Tang Dynasty China, where a poor biracial girl with the ability to raise the dead gets caught up in the dangerous political games of the royal family. 

Zilan dreams of becoming a royal alchemist, of providing for her family by making alchemical gold and gems for the wealthy to eat in order to stay young forever. But for now, she’s trapped in her impoverished village in southern China, practicing an illegal form of alchemy to keep food on the table — resurrecting the dead, for a price. 

When Zilan finally has the chance to complete her imperial exams, she ventures to the capital to compete against the best alchemists in the country in tasks she’ll be lucky to survive, let alone pass. On top of that, her reputation for raising the dead has followed her to the capital, and the Crown Prince himself seeks out her help, suspecting a coming assassination attempt. 

The more Zilan succeeds in her alchemy, the more she gets caught in the dangerous political games of the royal family. There are monsters lurking within the palace walls, and it’s only a matter of time before they — and secrets of Zilan’s past — catch up with her. 

Don’t miss the Keeper of Night duology!The Keeper of NightThe Empress of Time 

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Books Received, March 4 — March 10

11 Mar, 2023


The Splinter in the Sky by Kemi Ashing-Giwa (July 2023)

The dust may have just settled in the failed war of conquest between the Holy Vaalbaran Empire and the Ominirish Republic, but the last Emperor’s surrender means little to a lowly scribe like Enitan. All she wants is to quit her day job and expand her fledgling tea business. But when her lover is assassinated and her sibling is abducted by Imperial soldiers, Enitan abandons her idyllic plans and weaves her tea tray up through the heart of the Vaalbaran capital. There, she will learn just how far she is willing to go to exact vengeance, free her sibling, and perhaps even secure her homeland’s freedom.

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Judith Merril’s The Year’s Greatest SF series

7 Mar, 2023


Between 1956 and 1968, Judith Merril edited twelve annual anthologies selecting what were in her option the best speculative fiction stories of the previous year. These were noteworthy for a number of reasons, one being the width of the net Merril cast to gather her material, and also the curious fact that while there have been many, many similar anthology series, Merril’s is the only example from the 20th century of which I am aware of a Best SF annual edited by a solitary woman. Since I’ve looked at examples from del Rey, Carr, and Dozois’ Best SF series, it seems only fair to balance it out with an exploration of Merril’s. 

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February 2023 in Review

1 Mar, 2023


February 2023

20 works reviewed. 11 by women (55%), 9 by men (45%), 0 by a non-binary author (0%), 0 by authors whose gender is unknown (0%), and 9 by POC (45%)

2023 to Date

42 works reviewed. 23 by women (55%), 18 by men (43%), 0 by a non-binary author (0%), 1 by authors whose gender is unknown (2%), and 17 by POC (40%).

Grand Total to Date

2310 works reviewed. 1290 by women (56%), 967 by men (42%), 34 by non-binary authors (1%), 19 by authors whose gender is unknown (1%), and 693.75 by POC (30%).

Government Types February 2023

Total 20, Not Applicable 1 (5%), Unclear 1 (5%), Anarchy 0 (0%), Pure democracy 0 (0%), Representative democracy 11 (55%), Oligarchy 6 (30%), Autocracy 1 (5%).

Government Type 2023 TD

Total 42, Not Applicable 3 (9%), Unclear 2 (5%), Anarchy 0 (0%), Pure democracy 0 (0%), Representative democracy 16 (23%), Oligarchy 16 (45%), Autocracy 5 (18%).

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