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Blog Posts from December 2023 (8)

December 2023 (and 2023) in Review

31 Dec, 2023


I will be sad to lose the Vermeer but I have an equally enticing header photo selected for 2024.

James Nicoll Reviews ended the year one review up over previous years. Not really sure why. Once again the number of books by non-binary authors is dismal. Something to work on.

On the political front, representative democracy made an unexpectedly strong finish but still came in second to oligarchy. I am sure there is no real-world relevance there. I am on the bubble about continuing tracking government types, as it adds just enough extra effort to the stats to make me worry about a repeat of the 2016 situation. 

December 2023

22 works reviewed. 13 by women (59%), 8 by men (36%), 0 by a non-binary author (0%), 1 by authors whose gender is unknown (5%), and 9 by POC (41%).

2023 to Date

261 works reviewed. 145 by women (54%), 106 by men (41%), 6 by a non-binary author (2%), 4 by authors whose gender is unknown (2%), and 104 by POC (40%).

Grand Total to Date

2529 works reviewed. 1412 by women (56%), 1055 by men (42%), 40 by non-binary authors (2%), 22 by authors whose gender is unknown (1%), and 771.75 by POC (30%).

Government Types December 2023

Total 22, Not Applicable 4 (84%), Unclear 0 (0%), Anarchy 0 (0%), Pure democracy 0 (0%), Representative democracy 11 (50%), Oligarchy 6 (27%), Autocracy 1 (5%).

Government Type 2023 TD

Total 261, Not Applicable 39 (15%), Unclear 12 (5%), Anarchy 4 (2%), Pure democracy 4 (2%), Representative democracy 96 (37%), Oligarchy 98 (38%), Autocracy 8 (3%).

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Books Received, December 16 — December 22

23 Dec, 2023


The Fireborne Blade by Charlotte Bond (May 2024)

Kill the dragon. Find the blade. Reclaim her honor. 

It’s that, or end up like countless knights before her, as a puddle of gore and molten armor. 

Maddileh is a knight. There aren’t many women in her line of work, and it often feels like the sneering and contempt from her peers is harder to stomach than the actual dragon slaying. But she’s a knight, and made of sterner stuff. 

A minor infraction forces her to redeem her honor in the most dramatic way possible, she must retrieve the fabled Fireborne Blade from its keeper, legendary dragon the White Lady, or die trying. If history tells us anything, it’s that die trying” is where to wager your coin. 

Maddileh’s tale contains a rich history of dragons, ill-fated knights, scheming squires, and sapphic love, with deceptions and double-crosses that will keep you guessing right up to its dramatic conclusion. Ultimately, The Fireborne Blade is about the roles we refuse to accept, and of the place we make for ourselves in the world. 

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Books Received, December 9 — December 15

16 Dec, 2023


Fall of the Iron Gods by Olivia Chadha (April 2024)

The compelling conclusion to the Colorado Book Award winning Rise of the Red Hand, perfect for fans of Marie Lu and Zoe Hana Mikuta’s Gearbreakers. The sequel to Rise of the Red Hand, a searing portrayal of the future of climate change in South Asia. After inflicting a devastating blow on the autocratic provincial government, Ashiva, Synch, and their remaining allies must infiltrate the planetary government before it can exterminate the Red Hand and everything they stand for. Despite hard-won victories, the revolutionary forces known as the Red Hand are more endangered than ever: the Planetary Alliance Commission — the PAC — has branded them public enemy number one, ramping up their efforts to eliminate the Red Hand’s remaining members even as the pandemic rages on. In order to protect the progress they have made, the team must adopt new tactics. Ashiva, armed with a new bionic upgrade, leads a team back into the fray on a dangerous mission across a toxic wasteland wracked by storms. Synch sets out to fortify their hidden Himalayan stronghold, but his presence may hurt their cause more than the Red Hand knows. And Taru, determined to prove herself, punches deep into the heart of governmental research facilities in a desperate gamble to bring down the regime from the inside. Greedy and unyielding, the PAC is all too willing to sacrifice the people of a province to achieve their optimal results, leaving Ashiva, Synch, and Taru to save their homeland from a government claiming to act for the greater planetary good. 

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Books Received, December 2 — December 8

9 Dec, 2023


Lyorn by Steven Brust (April 2024)

All The World’s A Happy Stage. Until the knives come out… Lyorn is the next adventure in Steven Brust’s bestselling Vlad Taltos series

Another Opening…Another Cataclysm?

Vlad Taltos is on the run. Again. This time from one of the most powerful forces in his world, the Left Hand, who are intent on ending his very lucrative career. Permanently. 

He finds a hidey-hole in a theatre where the players are putting on a show that was banned centuries ago…and is trying to be shut down by the House that once literally killed to keep it from being played. 

Vlad will take on a number of roles to save his own skin. And the skins of those he loves. 

And along the way, he might find a part that was tailor-made for him. 

One that he might not want…but was always his destiny. 

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Books Received, November 25 — December 1

2 Dec, 2023


Seven Against Tomorrow: Tales of the Fantastic edited by Stephen Kotowych (November 2023)

Award-winning author Stephen Kotowych has been hailed as one of speculative fiction’s talented up-and-comers” by Publisher’s Weekly, and the author of gloriously wild ideas” by Locus.

Now, in SEVEN AGAINST TOMORROW, he brings together a collection of seven new and previously published short-stories, heralding his arrival as one of the most exciting new voices in SF.

From a symphony played on the rings of Saturn to a love that defies the very bonds of time; from a young girl’s destiny driven by a magic sword to a young boy’s confrontation with the robots who raised him — here are stories of wonder and awe, imagination and humanity, that will transport you from the edge of the cosmos to the intimacy of the human heart.

SEVEN AGAINST TOMORROW includes an introduction by the author, illustrations, and behind-the-scenes commentary on the origin of each story.

Now featuring a bonus 8th story! Under the Shield”: a novelette of love and murder set against the backdrop of a world torn apart by cold war and terror, all driven by the inventions of Nikola Tesla! 

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December 2023 Patreon Boost!

1 Dec, 2023


November saw another 22 reviews posted. Of particular interest, 21 November’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirteenth Annual Collection was the 2500th review posted to James Nicoll Reviews. Added to the 5071 reviews produced for Bookspan, Romantic Times, and Publishers Weekly, and adding in the eight posted since them, that gets me to a career total of 7579 reviews. It just goes to show what can be accomplished with a small effort carried out each day forever. 

Also of note, at least to me: books featuring representative democracies are very nearly tied with books featuring oligarchies. I am eager to see which one wins. While I can deliberately select what books to read, I can only select books authors have written. It’s very exciting, he said gesturing at Excel sheets. 

As ever, James Nicoll Reviews owes its ongoing existence to commissions and generous patrons. Details on commissioning reviews are here. If you would like to support my Patreon, please go here. If you have a sudden desire to just send money, my Paypal is here. 

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November 2023 in Review

1 Dec, 2023


November 2023

22 works reviewed. 12 by women (55%), 9 by men (41%), 1 by a non-binary author (5%), 0 by authors whose gender is unknown (0%), and 9 by POC (41%).

2023 to Date

239 works reviewed. 132 by women (51%), 98 by men (41%), 6 by a 
non-binary author (3%), 3 by authors whose gender is unknown (1%), and 95 by POC (38%).

Grand Total to Date

2507 works reviewed. 1399 by women (56%), 1047 by men (42%), 40 by non-binary authors (2%), 21 by authors whose gender is unknown (1%), and 762.75 by POC (30%).

Government Types November 2023

Total 22, Not Applicable 3 (14%), Unclear 1 (5%), Anarchy 1 (5%), Pure democracy 2 (9%), Representative democracy 9 (46%), Oligarchy 6 (27%), Autocracy 0 (0%).

Government Type 2023 TD

Total 239, Not Applicable 35 (15%), Unclear 12 (5%), Anarchy 4 (2%), Pure democracy 4 (2%), Representative democracy 85 (36%), Oligarchy 92 (38%), Autocracy 7 (3%).

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