James Nicoll Reviews

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Books Received, June 16 to 22

23 Jun, 2018


Dive Smack

Theo Mackey only remembers one thing for certain about the fire that destroyed his home: he lit the match. 

Sure, it was an accident. But the blaze killed his mom and set his dad on a path to self-destruction. Everything else about that fateful night is full of gaping holes in Theo’s mind, for good reason. Maybe it’s better that way. As captain of the Ellis Hollow Diving Team, with straight A’s and solid friends, he’s only one semester away from securing a scholarship, and leaving his past behind. 

But when a family history project gets assigned at school, new memories come rushing to the surface, memories that make Theo question what he really knows about his family, the night of the fire, and if he can trust anyone―including himself. 


Destined from birth to serve as protector of the princess Zariya, Khai is trained in the arts of killing and stealth by a warrior sect in the deep desert; yet there is one profound truth that has been withheld from him. 

In the court of the Sun-Blessed, Khai must learn to navigate deadly intrigue and his own conflicted identity…but in the far reaches of the western seas, the dark god Miasmus is rising, intent on nothing less than wholesale destruction. 

If Khai is to keep his soul’s twin Zariya alive, their only hope lies with an unlikely crew of prophecy-seekers on a journey that will take them farther beneath the starless skies than anyone can imagine. 


This newly reissued debut book in the Rutgers University Press Classics Imprint is the story of the search for a rocket propellant which could be trusted to take man into space. This search was a hazardous enterprise carried out by rival labs who worked against the known laws of nature, with no guarantee of success or safety. Acclaimed scientist and sci-fi author John Drury Clark writes with irreverent and eyewitness immediacy about the development of the explosive fuels strong enough to negate the relentless restraints of gravity. The resulting volume is as much a memoir as a work of history, sharing a behind-the-scenes view of an enterprise which eventually took men to the moon, missiles to the planets, and satellites to outer space. A classic work in the history of science, and described as a good book on rocket stuff…that’s a really fun one” by SpaceX founder Elon Musk, readers will want to get their hands on this influential classic, available for the first time in decades. 

In Passing

Since it began in 2008 Tor.com has explored countless new worlds of fiction, delving into possible and impossible futures, alternate and intriguing pasts, and realms of fantasy previously unexplored. Its hundreds of remarkable stories span from science fiction to fantasy to horror, and everything in between. Now Tor.com is making some of those worlds available for the first time in print. 

This volume collects some of the best short stories Tor.com has to offer, with Hugo and Nebula Award-winning short stories and novelettes chosen from all ten years of the program. Including stories by: Charlie Jane Anders, N. K. Jemisin, Leigh Bardugo, Jeff VanderMeer, Yoon Ha Lee, Carrie Vaughn, Ken Liu, Kai Ashante Wilson, Kameron Hurley, Seth Dickinson, Rachel Swirsky, Laurie Penny, Alyssa Wong, Kij Johnson, David D. Levine, Genevieve Valentine, Max Gladstone, and many others. 


Six Months, Three Days” by Charlie Jane Anders 

Damage” by David D. Levine 

The Best We Can” by Carrie Vaughn 

The City Born Great” by N. K. Jemisin 

A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel” by Yoon Ha Lee 

Waiting on a Bright Moon” by JY Yang 

Elephants and Corpses” by Kameron Hurley 

About Fairies” by Pat Murphy 

The Hanging Game” by Helen Marshall 

The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu 

A Cup of Salt Tears” by Isabel Yap 

The Litany of Earth” by Ruthanna Emrys 

Brimstone and Marmalade” by Aaron Corwin 

Reborn” by Ken Liu 

Please Undo This Hurt” by Seth Dickinson 

The Language of Knives” by Haralambi Markov 

The Shape of My Name” by Nino Cipri 

Eros, Philia, Agape” by Rachel Swirsky 

The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal 

Last Son of Tomorrow” by Greg van Eekhout 

Ponies” by Kij Johnson 

La beauté sans vertu” by Genevieve Valentine 

A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers” by Alyssa Wong 

A Kiss With Teeth” by Max Gladstone 

The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections” by Tina Connolly 

The End of the End of Everything” by Dale Bailey 

Breaking Water” by Indrapramit Das 

Your Orisons May Be Recorded” by Laurie Penny 

The Tallest Doll in New York City” by Maria Dahvana Headley 

The Cage” by A.M. Dellamonica 

In the Sight of Akresa” by Ray Wood 

Terminal” by Lavie Tidhar 

The Witch of Duva: A Ravkan Folk Tale” by Leigh Bardugo 

Daughter of Necessity” by Marie Brennan 

Among the Thorns” by Veronica Schanoes 

These Deathless Bones” by Cassandra Khaw 

Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch” by Kelly Barnhill 

This World Is Full of Monsters” by Jeff VanderMeer 

The Devil in America” by Kai Ashante Wilson 

A Short History of the Twentieth Century, or, When You Wish Upon A Star” by Kathleen Ann Goonan