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A policy change

5 Apr, 2015


Since Baen’s publisher Toni Weisskopf is part of the Puppies slate for the second year running, I will no longer accept new commissions where the only edition is from Baen. While I will finish current projects involving Baen Books, I won’t link to the Baen edition. I certainly will not be buying anything from Baen in the future.

I urge everyone (particularly people with review sites) to do the same.

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Introducing Leigh Brackett’s Solar System

2 Apr, 2015


Brackett was one of the few women who were high-profile science fiction writers back in the 1940s. She started writing for the detective pulps before turning to the sort of planetary romance seen in Planet Stories. She was never as narrowly focused as some of her contemporaries. I suspect that most people who know her name now know her from her work on screenplays like The Big Sleep (1946), Rio Bravo (1959) and The Long Goodbye (1973) or possibly because of her connection to an obscure cult classic, The Empire Strikes Back (1980).

Brackett created her own setting for her planetary romances and if it didn’t have much to do with the Solar System as it was understood by astronomers [1] in the 1940s and 1950s, Brackett’s Solar System was at least self-consistent. Mostly.

I was commissioned to review at least one Brackett novel, with the proviso that it be one with which I was previously unfamiliar. Since I got to choose the novel, I checked the Baen Books ebook site to see what they had on offer. The selection was pretty good but what caught my eye was an omnibus of Brackett’s Solar System planetary romances. For just $20, I could get a bundle that included Mercury’s Light, The Swamps of Venus, Sea-Kings of Mars, Shadow Over Mars, Martian Quest, Beyond Mars, and Alpha Centauri or Die. How could I resist?

Having bought the bundle of books, how could I review just one and not the others? So for the next little while, every Thursday will have a review of one volume from Brackett’s Solar System omnibus. 

Either I must become less obsessive or I must somehow gain access to more days in the week [2].

1: Brackett was definitely influenced by Edgar Rice Burroughs but there are details in her world-building that make me wonder if she was a fan of the late Stanley G. Weinbaum.

2: My editor suggests adopting the French Revolutionary Calendar, which features ten-day weeks [ link ].

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Another Review Series

21 Feb, 2015


The Women of Wonder anthology series was an important part of my reading experience as a teen and rather than lump it in with the Because My Tears Are Delicious to You series (1), I have decided to give Women of Wonder its own series. Currently I am planning on posting each new review on Saturday.

1: As far as I can tell the five books in the series are very much out of print so they are not material for the ReDiscovery series.

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The now obligatory Hugo eligibility post

3 Jan, 2015


I am eligible for Best Fan Writing, and this site is eligible for Best Related Work.

I’d prefer the nomination involve jamesdavisnicoll.com and not for the obvious self-serving reasons. Well, not *just* for the obvious self-serving reasons. A number of authors have mentioned sales bumps after I reviewed their books; I am sure if my site was better known, the sales bump would be bigger. And a lot of people follow the Hugo.

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Merry Christmas!

25 Dec, 2014


Merry Christmas to all my readers and especially Adrienne L. Travis for creating and managing this site, Karen Lofstrom for turning my daily word salad into reviews, all of my patreon supporters for supporting me [1], and everyone who has ever commissioned a review1.

That said, tomorrow I reenact the ancient war between noble synapsids and dread archosaur so no review tomorrow or Friday. Back on Saturday! 

1: Who I would list by name here — I do know them all — but at least some don’t want that and I don’t trust myself not to screw up and either list someone who wanted confidentiality or conceal someone who didn’t.

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My Review Categories

11 Dec, 2014


Rediscovery Tuesdays

This is for books I feel were insufficiently appreciated when they were first published that are now available in ebook form. This series began over on my Livejournal and until the day I port all my Millennial Reviews over is the oldest series here.

Translation Wednesday

I don’t want to be one of those aged cane-wavers who is happy to be ignorant of the wider worlds of SF so I make a point of reading at least one translated work a week. 

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You 

This began as a spin-off of Rediscovery Tuesdays. The theme here is books I loved when I was an undiscerning teenager”, which is to say works I encountered between 1974 and 1981. They don’t have to have been published in that period. I just have to have encountered them. Some of these stand up to a reread. Others… not so much. 

The Great Heinlein Juveniles (Plus The Other Two) Reread (completed)

In which I reread all of Heinlein’s classic juveniles plus Starship Troopers and Podkayne of Mars because I was curious to see how they stood up and also someone paid me. 

50 Nortons in 50 Weeks 

This is a spin-off of the Heinlein reread. Andre Norton was an important and prolific SF author and many of the Ace MMPK editions of the Heinlein Juveniles had an ad for 50 of her titles. I decided it would be fun to track down and read (or reread) all fifty. 

KW Science Fiction and Fantasy 

F & SF by authors from Kitchener-Waterloo, which I began because I was MCing a night of readings by local authors. 

Special Requests

You can pay me to review books. Any book I was paid to review that does not fit in the previous categories goes here. 

Miscellaneous Reviews

Every review that does not fit in some other category.

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