James Nicoll Reviews

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Books Received, December 28 — January 3

4 Jan, 2020


The City Among the Stars

Tankar Holroy, Lieutenant in the Stellar Guard of earth’s Empire, floats in space after his spaceship is sabotaged. Rescued by an enormous, unknown ship, he awakes to discover himself saved by the People of the Stars who are born and live in space with minimal contact with planets and their occupants whom they call, with contempt, planetaries.

The chilly welcome he receives from the ship’s leader, the Teknor, is followed by overt hostility from the other inhabitants of the Tilsin. Only a woman named Orena reaches out to him.

Tankar soon realizes that he was rescued for his knowledge of tracers, the technology that allows Empire ships to track others through hyperspace, a technology the People of the Stars lack. Out of spite, he refuses to deliver the one piece of knowledge that can protect the people who saved but now spurn him — and the consequences will be catastrophic. 

Bake Off

When you run out of wholesome baking shows to marathon, create your own with BAKE OFF, the alpha version of 2019’s last micro-rpg*.

Play as the all-powerful Host and puppet the judges, or take the roll/role of a Baker in the baking competition we’ve all wished for but never had the self-esteem or desire to make reality.

With themed recipe challenges, secret word objectives for the judges, optional rules for maximum fun, and using only pencil/paper, 2d6, 1d8, a set of d100s, and a few d4s, you too can mix up wild and wacky bakes just like the baking competitions on your streaming service of choice.

Final version will be paid-only, so download now and send in your feedback on this definitely not half-baked, totally not stodgy, really well-executed micro RPG.

* Statements have not been evaluated by any food safety board, the Master List of All MicroRPGs, or anyone else.

Under One Banner

Egalitarian heroic fantasy. Career options after your Talent-mediating brain tissue catches actual fire, what became of the Shot Shop, and certain events involving Scarlet Battery, Fifth Battalion (Artillery), First Brigade, Wapentake of the Creeks.May contain feels. 

A Mist of Grit and Splinters

Egalitarian heroic fantasy. The first Creek standard-captain known to history, certain curious facts concerning the graul people, and an operational test of the Line’s altered doctrine. 



Prose –

ALL THAT THE STORM TOOK // Yah Yah Scholfield – 5572 words

Two sisters quarrel over remaining in their home as Hurrican Katrina bears down on the lower Ninth Ward. Leaving means abandoning a proud family legacy, staying will cost more than they ever imagined.

ROOTS ON YA // LH MOORE – 6829 words

A rootworker is dragged into a young lovers’ triangle when a curse invites evil into a turn of the century Virgina community.

LUSCA // Soleil Knowles – 2562 words

Voracious hunger draws a young woman to the sea, despite her mother’s best efforts to hide her true nature.

THE TRANSITION OF OSOOSI // Ozzie M. Gartrell – 7900 words

An ambitious young hacker seeks out the Anansi — a legendary hacktivist collective — for help in overthrowing the techno-authoritarian American government. But will he pay their asking price?

Poetry –

Aliens Visit the Caribbean // Terese Mason Pierre