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Blog Posts from January 2024 (10)

January 2024 in Review

31 Jan, 2024


A new year! A new header image!

January 2024

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

2024 to Date

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

Grand Total to Date

2551 works reviewed. 1425 by women (56%), 1064 by men (42%), 40 by non-binary authors (2%), 22 by authors whose gender is unknown (1%), and 780.75 by POC (30%).

Government Types January 2024

Total 22, Not Applicable 3 (14%), Unclear 1 (5%), Anarchy 1 (5%), Pure democracy 0 (0%), Representative democracy 9 (41%), Oligarchy 7 (32%), Autocracy 1 (5%).

Government Type 2024 TD

Total 22, Not Applicable 3 (14%), Unclear 1 (5%), Anarchy 1 (5%),
Pure democracy 0 (0%), Representative democracy 9 (41%), Oligarchy 7 (32%), Autocracy 1 (5%).

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Books Received, January 20 to January 26

27 Jan, 2024


Rakesfall by Vajra Chandrasekera (June 2024

Rakesfall is a groundbreaking, standalone science fiction epic about two souls bound together from here until the ends of time, from the author of The Saint of Bright DoorsSome stories take more than one lifetime to tell. There are wrongs that echo through the ages, friendships that outpace the claws of death, loves that leave their mark on civilization, and promises that nothing can break. This is one such story. 

Annelid and Leveret met as children in the middle of the Sri Lankan civil war. They found each other in a torn-up nation, peering through propaganda to grasp a deeper truth. And in a demon-haunted wood, another act of violence linked them and propelled their souls on a journey throughout the ages. No world can hold them, no life can bind them, and they’ll never leave each other behind. But their journey will not be easy. In every lifetime, oppressors narrow the walls of possibility, shaping reality to fit their own needs. And behind the walls of history, the witches of the red web swear that every throne will fall. 

Tracing two souls through endless lifetimes, Rakesfall is a virtuosic exploration of what stories can be. As Annelid and Leveret reincarnate ever deeper into the future, they will chase the edge of human possibility, in a dark science fiction epic unlike anything you’ve read before. 

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Books Received, January 13 — January 19

20 Jan, 2024


A Letter to the Luminous Deep by Sylvie Cathrall (April 2024)

A beautiful discovery outside the window of her underwater home prompts the reclusive E. to begin a correspondence with renowned scholar Henerey Clel. The letters they share are filled with passion, at first for their mutual interests, and then, inevitably, for each other. Together, they uncover a mystery from the unknown depths, destined to transform the underwater world they both equally fear and love. But by no mere coincidence, a seaquake destroys E.‘s home, and she and Henerey vanish. A year later, E.‘s sister Sophy, and Henerey’s brother Vyerin, are left to solve the mystery, piecing together the letters, sketches and field notes left behind — and learn what their siblings’ disappearance might mean for life as they know it. Inspired, immersive, and full of heart, this charming epistolary tale is an adventure into the depths of a magical sea and the limits of the imagination from a marvelous debut voice. 

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Books Received, January 6 — January 12

13 Jan, 2024


Bubblegumshoe by Emily Care Boss, Kenneth Hite, and Lisa Steele (2016)

Someone stole my kid brother’s bike…

Someone sabotaged the pep rally…

Someone destroyed the Homecoming queen’s reputation…

The world is full of mysteries. It’s up to your group of intrepid teen sleuths to solve them. In Bubblegumshoe, players step into the shoes of high-schoolers solving mysteries in a modern American small town. Discover clues, solve problems, and throw down with enemies in this streamlined RPG based on the GUMSHOE system.

In this stand-alone game, you’ll find:

  • Rules to create your Sleuth’s web of relationships and make the most of GUMSHOE’s resource-management
  • A simple setting system designed for large scale town creation all the way down to scene locations, plus extensive information on Drewsbury, a ready-to-go setting
  • A variety of short mystery starters, including a full introductory mystery: Hey! That’s My Bike!
  • Extensive support to help GMs create their own mysteries using pre-established characters and settings
  • Rules for social Throwdowns as well as physical altercations to reflect the drama of high school noir
  • A slimmed-down list of investigative abilities vs GUMSHOE’s default to make for faster decision making

Bubblegumshoe. The secrets will out.

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Books Received, December 30 — January 5

6 Jan, 2024


The Apothecary Diaries: Volume 9 by Natsu Hyuuga (October 2023)

Maomao has effectively become Jinshi’s personal physician, but she’s just a simple apothecary. If she’s going to give him proper medical treatment, she’ll need more than her meager surgical skills. When she turns to her father for help, he says he’ll only teach her if she can pass a test he sets for her. Even if she succeeds at his mysterious request, however, the truth behind the practice of surgery at court may be more than she cares to know. And only once she has the knowledge she needs will she be able to accompany Jinshi on what could be his most dangerous journey yet. 

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January 2024 Patreon Boost!

1 Jan, 2024


James Nicoll Reviews is supported by spontaneous donations, review commissions and (despite Patreon’s best efforts at forgetting to collect subscription fees) Patreon subscribers. If you would like to commission a review,please see my guidelines. My Patreon can be found here. If you’d just like to throw money at me and don’t live in Kitchener-Waterloo, my Paypal is here.

I had an epiphany about these posts, which is that if I do the summary posts on the final day of the month and the Patreon boosts on the first, the pile of month end (or month beginning) posts won’t be so overwhelming and I will be able to put more thought into them1. Let’s see if I remember that in a month’s time.

A sad note on my image: Fig, the demanding tuxedo cat pictured above, became very ill in mid-December, sick enough I didn’t expect him to last the next 24 hours. Since then, Fig has apparently decided to power through on the strength of pain meds, appetite stimulants and prodigious quantities of determination. I am reminded of my cat Hillary, who decided trifles like a near complete lack of kidney function wasn’t going to slow her down. I expect Fig’s condition will catch up with him sooner rather than later but he seems determined to enjoy what time he has in the manner to which he has become accustomed. 

1: Well, except not this month, because I need to put the effort into a New Year’s post. And a complete list of my review categories.

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Happy 2024!

1 Jan, 2024

1 comment

Welcome to 2024! I am sure you’re all as curious as I am to see whether total climate collapse can save us from the rising tide of fascism before or after we’re annihilated by World War Three. Until then, thanks go out to my legions of supporters without whom this site would not exist.

Last year I managed to review one more book than in 20221. I am not sure how. I clicked past 2500 reviews. There I do know how: by posting a little under one review per day for almost a decade. I finished the Ace Specials reviews, following them up with Judith Merril’s The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy reviews (almost completed). My Brunner reread is well in hand, and I expect to continue it for another year.

Young People Read Old SFF was nominated for another Aurora, losing once again. 

I don’t have any grand projects for 2024 in mind, aside from reviewing all of my Phyllis Eisenstein books (minus the ones already reviewed). 2024 might be a year where my new projects are numerous but small. Or maybe I will hit post and think of a new all-consuming obsession. For example, I might while typing suddenly realize that I could follow Judith Merril’s venerable Best S‑F series with Donna Scott’s 21st century Best of British Science Fiction.

Many of you may wonder about the review categories down the right-hand side of the site. Have what I hope is a complete listing, as well as brief explanations. 

While updating the list, I rediscovered two whose existence I’d totally forgot despite having only created them in the last year, one of them less than two months ago. Maybe you readers are not the only people who benefit from this list. 

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