James Nicoll Reviews

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Books Received, March 13 — March 19

20 Mar, 2021


Yokohama Station SF


All Hiroto has ever known is a life on a tiny coastal speck of Japan. Much of the country has been swallowed by Yokohama Station, a mysterious, ever-growing series of buildings that’s been around for as long as anyone can remember. The few who live outside its many entrances have never seen Inside and know only rumors and legends of the station’s interior. That all changes when Hiroto is given an 18 Ticket, a mysterious item that lets him enter the massive complex for five days. The young man has always sought a purpose, but the one he finds may not be the sort he’d hoped for… 

Beta Bots

Cookie Rifkin escaped New Stepford…

…Now, in the sequel to ALPHA BOTS,

She becomes an AI superhero!

When Cookie Rifkin robs a Russian bank with Wayne Dixon and their non-binary friend ANA, Stepford Corp sends a faceless bounty hunter to reclaim the rogue artificial intelligence. Moscow police trap them in the vault, but the superintelligent machines break out, then get separated. Cookie escapes with tons of gold and platinum, but Wayne gets arrested and flown back to corporate headquarters for radical refurbishing.

With the cops hot on her trail, Cookie hides on a luxury yacht named the Wonder Woman. There, she meets a new temptress, polyamorous pansexual Tabitha Kirsh. When Russian special forces catch up with Cookie, she’s forced to defend herself, but inevitably gets shot. The two womanoids escape together, but Cookie discovers Tabitha has a secret.

Shapeshifter ANA tries to intercept Wayne’s flight out of Moscow — but fails. Then, after the enby robot reunites with Cookie, Tabitha teleports them all to London, where they plan to extract Wayne at Heathrow airport.

Tabitha recruits her ex, Richie Johnson, an AI trans man who runs an underground railroad for escaped womanoids. At his gay bar, Dorothy’s, Cookie learns what it means to be queer, performs on stage with a drag queen, discovers she’s truly a bisexual woman, then has to fight a horde of attack lesbians to get to the airport on time.

But will Cookie and her new LGBT friends be able to rescue Wayne?

Half Sick of Shadows

The Lady of Shalott reclaims her story in this bold feminist reimagining of the Arthurian myth from the New York Times bestselling author of Ash Princess. Everyone knows the legend. Of Arthur, destined to be a king. Of the beautiful Guinevere, who will betray him with his most loyal knight, Lancelot. Of the bitter sorceress, Morgana, who will turn against them all. But Elaine alone carries the burden of knowing what is to come – for Elaine of Shalott is cursed to see the future. On the mystical isle of Avalon, Elaine runs free and learns of the ancient prophecies surrounding her and her friends – countless possibilities, almost all of them tragic. When their future comes to claim them, Elaine, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Morgana accompany Arthur to take his throne in stifling Camelot, where magic is outlawed, the rules of society chain them, and enemies are everywhere. Yet the most dangerous threats may come from within their own circle. As visions are fulfilled and an inevitable fate closes in, Elaine must decide how far she will go to change destiny – and what she is willing to sacrifice along the wa

Escape From Puroland

Regular readers of Charles Stross’s Laundry Files might have noticed Bob Howard’s absence from the events of The Nightmare Stacks, and his subsequent return from Tokyo at the start of The Delirium Brief.Escape from Puroland explains what he was doing there.Bob’s been assigned to work with the Miyamoto Group, checking the wards that lock down Japan’s warded sites — a task previously handled by his predecessor Dr. Angleton, the Eater of Souls. This mostly involves policing yokai: traditional magical beings, increasingly grown more annoying and energetic.But then Bob’s simple trip turns into a deadly confrontation with the ultimate yokai. It’s massively powerful. It’s pink. And it says Hello.”