Reviews

Like the Trembling Heart of a Captive Bird

Shards of Honor — Lois McMaster Bujold
Cordelia Vorkosigan, book 1

Lois McMaster Bujold’s 1986 debut novel Shards of Honor is the first Cordelia Vorkosigan book, as well as the first novel set in Bujold’s Vorkosiverse.

A Betan exploratory mission has been sent through a newly discovered wormhole; they have discovered a terrestrial world suitable for colonization. Unfortunately for the Betans, they are the second group to discover Sergyar. The Barrayaran militarists were there first and they don’t want company.

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Earth’s Joys Grow Dim

Tsukumizu
Girl's Last Tour, book 1

Girls’ Last Tour, Volume 1, is the first instalment in Tsukumizu’s Girls’ Last Tour series.

Lost in a vast, empty, decaying city complex, Chito (the smart one) and Yuuri (the other one) wander in search of supplies. Failure may be inevitable; if so, their ultimate fate will be to starve. But at least they will starve together.

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Lady Bug, Lady Bug, Fly Away Home

The Citadel of Weeping Pearls — Aliette de Bodard

Aliette de Bodard’s 2015 space-opera The Citadel of Weeping Pearls is an instalment in her Universe of Xuya, an alternate history/future in which the West never dominated the world. The galaxy is ruled by Confucian powers.

Suu Nuoc is woken from a sound sleep by his alarmed shipmind, The Turtle’s Golden Claw. The artificial intelligence reports that Grand Master of Design Harmony Bach Cuc has seemingly vanished, in a manner the shipmind cannot comprehend. As far as The Turtle’s Golden Claw is concerned, it is up to Suu Nuoc — an Official of the First Order despite his low birth — to work out what happened to the missing scientist.

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And Rain Keeps Falling Like Helpless Tears

Winterlong — Elizabeth Hand
Winterlong Trilogy, book 1

Elizabeth Hand’s 1990 debut novel Winterlong is the first volume in her Winterlong Trilogy.

Nuclear war and germ warfare have left Washington a shadow of its once glorious past. A handful of administrators, descended from self-appointed curators, control the relics of America’s lost past, defending the remnants from the diseased, mutated, and simply unlucky inhabitants of the surrounding sea of ruins.

A desperate woman appealed to House Miramar for refuge. Too damaged to be of use to Miramar, the woman was cast out to die at the hands of the lazars. But Miramar did keep her two beautiful children, as new Paphians for Miramar’s bordellos. Only Raphael proved suitable. Autistic Wendy Wanders was consigned to HEL.

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And What Have You Got At The End Of The Day?

Shadow of a Broken Man — George C. Chesbro
Mongo, book 1

1977’s Shadow of a Broken Man is the first volume in George C. Chesbro’s long-running Mongo series. The Mongo series lives in the intersection of mundane detective fiction and outright science fiction. Or at least I think it does.

Former circus tumbler turned black belt martial artist turned academic, criminology professor Dr. Robert “Mongo the Magnificent” Fredrickson has a minor side-line as a private detective. His cases are often peculiar, as if people with normal cases don’t seek out New York’s only dwarf detective. Lookism, I suppose.

His new case seems pretty straightforward: find out how a dead man managed to design a new building.

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Sorry Cassandra I Didn’t Believe

Empire in Black and Gold — Adrian Tchaikovsky
Shadows of the Apt, book 1

2008’s Empire in Black and Gold is the first volume in Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Shadows of the Apt decalogy. I should note that he completed the whole ten-book series in eight years. Completed, I say, completed. This may be of interest to certain other authors whom I will not name.

In the seventeen years since the Empire of the Wasps conquered the Commonweal city of Myna, Stenwald has been unable to convince his fellow citizens that Collegium (as well as the other city-states of the Lowlands) are on the Wasps’ to-conquer list. Most Lowlanders find it comforting to believe that the Wasps are sated with conquest. Stenwald knows that the Empire was merely taking its time to recover from its long war with the Commonweal.

Now there are hints that the Empire has recovered.

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I Hear You Knocking

Hiromu Arakawa & Yoshiki Tanaka
The Heroic Legend of Arslan, book 2

The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Volume 2 is the second collection of Hiromu Arakawa’s manga adaptation of Yoshiki Tanaka’s light novel series.

In volume one, overconfidence and arrogance led King Andragoras and his vast Parsian army into ambush and defeat at the hands of the Lusitanian invaders. The King’s fate is unknown. Prince Arslan escaped, but it is unclear how long he can remain free.

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Secret Harmonies

A Darker Shade of Magic — V. E. Schwab
Shades of Magic, book 1

A Darker Shade of Magic is the first volume in V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series.

Kell is an Antari, one of two known world-walkers, able to travel between the four known alternate Londons, White, Red, Gray, and forbidden Black. His is a gift rare enough to make him a treasured possession of Red London’s Royal Family.

Officially, Kell uses his gift to serve as an ambassador between the three Londons — White, Red, and Gray — that are still in limited contact with each other. On his own time Kell likes to collect souvenirs. That’s forbidden. But moving minor trinkets from one world to another seems a harmless hobby.

It isn’t.

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Those Little Eyes

Anthonology — Piers Anthony

Piers Anthony’s 1985 Anthonology is a collection of his short works, with added commentary by the author’s foremost admirer, Piers Anthony. The stories are for the most part dreadful … but at least there are a lot of them.

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The Bright Blessed Day

Another Look at Atlantis and Fifteen Other Essays — Willy Ley

Willy Ley’s 1969 Another Look at Atlantis and Fifteen Other Essays is a collection of non-fiction pieces. From 1952 to his death in 1969, Ley had a regular science column in Galaxy Magazine, For Your Information. As far as I can tell, none of these essays were drawn from that source.

This was my first exposure to Ley. If I am reading the bibliographic information correctly, it was the final Ley book published while Ley was alive.

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Cut You Like The Tiny Slivers Of Glass

Howl’s Moving Castle — Diana Wynne Jones
Howl, book 1

1986’s Howl’s Moving Castle is the first book in Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl series.

Life in Ingary is a faerie tale affair, as its inhabitants well know. How wonderful for Martha Hatter! As the youngest of three sisters, she is surely destined for fame, wealth, and a perfect marriage.

It is considerably less wonderful for Sophie Hatter, the oldest of the three sisters. Everyone knows the oldest child will have at best an unremarkable life — if they are lucky. The oldest might be more likely to suffer a grim fate, which will serve to cast the youngest’s destiny in a brighter light. They might even, as Sophie does, find themselves the target of a curse that by rights should have been cast on a younger sister.


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Fast Falls The Eventide

Tsukumizu
Girls' Last Tour, book 2

Girls’ Last Tour, Volume 2 is the second collection of Tsukumizu’s Girls’ Last Tour manga.

Just because the world has ended doesn’t mean the struggle to stay alive one more day is over. Just ask Yuuri and Chito. Driving through a vast, unnamed city after some event removed or killed most of the population, they live hand-to-mouth, salvaging supplies in an empty world.

Chito is the dark haired smart one. Yuuri is blonde and rarely burdened by excessive introspection.

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Blame It On Cain

A is for Alibi — Sue Grafton
Alphabet, book 1

1982’s Shamus Award nominee A is for Alibi is the first volume in Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series. Grafton died in late 2017, twenty five books into a twenty six book series.

After serving eight years for murdering her husband, socialite turned reluctant ex-con Nikki Fife hires private investigator Kinsey Millhone to clear her name. Five thousand dollars1 is enough to get Millhone’s attention, although not, as she warns her client, her exclusive attention.

The first step is to figure out who wanted Laurence Fife dead. Millhone very quickly discovers that the list of suspects is a long one.

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The Narrow Way

The Lilies of Dawn — Vanessa Fogg

Vanessa Fogg’s 2016 The Lilies of Dawn is a standalone fantasy.

Kai’s mother and foremothers have served as the Dawn Mother’s priestesses for many generations. They live next to the sacred lake and never marry. Nonetheless, they have daughters. Each priestess chooses her successor from among her daughters. Traditionally the successor is the older daughter. But Kai’s mother chose Kai, the younger daughter, over her older sister Suna. Kai cannot understand the why of the odd choice; unlike Suna or their mother, Kai has never heard the Dawn Mother’s voice.

Not that it matters, since their ancient way of life is doomed.

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O Happy Pair

Fireship — Joan D. Vinge

Joan D. Vinge’s 1978 Fireship was her first collection. It collects two novellas, the eponymous Fireship and 1975’s Mother and Child.

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Now And Forever Till The End Of Time

FASS

To quote the FASS webpage:

What is FASS?
FASS (short for Faculty, Alumni, Staff, and Students) is an amateur theatre company at the University of Waterloo. Originally started as a variety show in 1962, FASS predates many of the modern organizations on campus, including the Federation of Students. In its current form, every year FASS produces an original script for its annual show in February. At the height of its existence in the 1980s, FASS was a major aspect of campus life, and tickets were hard to come by.
The FASS show is written every year from May through December, and then production kicks off in January with auditions held in the first week of classes. Throughout January and into February, the actors rehearse, the techies tech, and the production crew pulls their hair until, finally, everything is ready five weeks later. The shows are put on, many parties are held, and then everyone goes and collapses from exhaustion. It’s good fun.


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Christmas at Ground Zero

The Green Glass Sea — Ellen Klages

Ellen Klages’ 2006 Scott O’Dell Award winner The Green Glass Sea is a young-adult historical fiction novel.

Having been abandoned by her mother and left to the care of her aged grandmother by her hard-working father, Dewey Kerrigan’s life has achieved some stability and comfort. But this too ends. Her grandmother suffers a stroke and there’s no other choice for her but to leave her familiar surroundings for life with her father. In an obscure New Mexican town called Los Alamos. It’s 1943.

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Sing, My Tongue, The Glorious Battle

Yoshiki Tanaka & Hiromu Arakawa
Heroic Legend of Arslan, book 1

Heroic Legend of Arslan, Volume 1 collects the first four issues of Yoshiki Tanaka and Hiromu Arakawa’s 2013 manga adaptation of Yoshi Tanaka’s light-novel series, The Heroic Legend of Arslan.

When we first meet young Arslan, he seems unlikely to figure in any legend, much less a heroic legend. Though he is the crown prince of Pars, he is timid and unsure of himself. He’s certainly not a self-assured, bold figure like his father, Andragoras III. As confident off the battlefield as he is on it, Andragoras III is the embodiment of Parsian virtue.

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If Only In My Dreams

Twenty Palaces — Harry Connolly

2013’s Twenty Palaces is a prequel to Harry Connolly’s Twenty Palaces series.

Fresh out of prison, all Ray Lilly wants to do is find a legitimate job and rebuild his life. His uncle Karl, a cop, warns Ray that his future won’t be as straightforward as Ray hopes. Ray may think he’s paid his debt to society but society doesn’t agree.

As it turns out, American unfamiliarity with mercy is the least of Ray’s problems. Some of Ray’s old friends have picked up a very interesting hobby: magic.

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You’re My Mirror

The Man Who Folded Himself — David Gerrold

David Gerrold’s 1973 The Man Who Folded Himself is a standalone time-travel story.

Assured by his Uncle Jim that he will inherit a vast estate, Daniel Eakins is unpleasantly surprised to discover (after his uncle’s demise) that his legacy is not the hundred-million-plus dollars Daniel had expected. What he gets: the far smaller sum of six thousand dollars … and a belt.

It is a particularly fine belt. In fact, closer examination reveals that it is a fully functional time machine.

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Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

Life and the Art of Lying — Emily Schooley

To quote her online bio:

 Emily Schooley is a multi-passionate filmmaker who enjoys blending genres and pushing boundaries in her work.
After graduating from the University of Waterloo with an Honours BA in Dramatic Arts, she quickly found herself immersed in the world of film alongside her work in theatre, first as an actor and then evolving to directing, writing, and producing. Now, she continues to work as an actor while simultaneously building her body of work and developing her voice as an emerging filmmaker.
Her previous short film, Psyche, won Audience Choice at Festigious International Film Festival. Emily is a proud associate member of Film Fatales, and will be appearing in MJI Studios’ upcoming documentary about women in the film industry.

But I am not reviewing Psyche1. I am reviewing Life and the Art of Lying.

Ah, true love. The greatest impediment to true love: the people involved.

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Wicked Thrill

Blue Exorcist — Kazue Kato

Kazue Kato’s Blue Exorcist (Ao no Ekusoshisuto) is an on-going supernatural manga series.

Father Fugimoto does his best to keep his adoptive son Rin Okumura on the straight and narrow. Alas, Rin has a talent for self-sabotage. He is a stark contrast with his fraternal twin Yukio, who exemplifies self-control and diligence. If they are twins, how is that they are so different?

A supernatural encounter forces Father Fugimoto tell Rin what makes him special. Rin is the literal Son of Satan1, a potential gateway through which the evil lord could enter our world. Any other mortal host, even the purest of souls, would quickly be destroyed if Satan possessed them. Only Rin can provide a long-term home.

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Lingered in the Chambers of the Sea

The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist — S. L. Huang

S. L. Huang’s 2017 The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist is a standalone SF retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid.

Dr. Cadence Mbella specializes in piscianthropology, the study of atargati culture and society. Not much is known about the atargati, the so-called mermaids, except that they live in the abyssal depths of the world’s ocean and they are as intelligent as humans.

As Mbella warns anyone reading her ongoing account, it is a mistake to allow the arbitrary terms that humans apply to the abyssals to shape human perceptions. The atargati are quite unlike humans or their myths. Exactly how unlike, Mbella is going to learn first-hand.

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Memories They Can’t Be Boughten

A Matter of Oaths — Helen S. Wright

Helen S. Wright’s 1988 A Matter of Oaths is a standalone (thus far) space opera.

Desperate for crew but short on qualified candidates, Commander Rallya of the patrolship Bhattya grudgingly hires Rafe. His service record is glowing, his professional qualifications are exemplary, but … Rafe has been mind-wiped, for reasons about which Rallya can only speculate.

Not having a choice really speeds up the decision making process. At least Commander Rallya can be sure that whatever Rafe’s past, identity erasure has made it completely irrelevant to his present.

Right?

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Dark Is Bright As Fire

The Witches of Karres — James H. Schmitz

1966’s The Witches of Karres is James H. Schmitz’s novel-length expansion of his 1949 novelette of the same name. It is a standalone space opera.

Given an aged starship and a cargo of dubious value, naive Captain Pausert headed out into space in search of a fortune and his prospective father-in-law’s respect. If he had not also been hobbled by his own essential decency, he might have realized his dreams.

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