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Books Received, May 22 — May 28

29 May, 2021


Three Twins at the Crater School

Three Twins at the Crater School by Chaz Brenchley

Mars, the Red Planet, farthest flung outpost of the British Empire. Under the benevolent reign of the Empress Eternal, commerce and culture are flourishing along the banks of the great canals, and around the shores of the crater lakes. But this brave new world is not as safe as it might seem. The Russians, unhappy that Venus has proved far less hospitable, covet Britain’s colony. And the Martian creatures, while not as intelligent and malevolent as HG Wells had predicted, are certainly dangerous to the unwary.

What, then, of the young girls of the Martian colony? Their brothers might be sent to Earth for education at Eton and Oxbridge, but girls are made of sterner stuff. Be it unreasonable parents, Russian spies, or the deadly Martian wildlife, no challenge is beyond the resourceful girls of the Crater School. 

Basic Roleplaying

Basic Roleplaying: The Chaosium Roleplaying System by Jason Durall and Sam Johnson

Chaosium’s Basic Roleplaying is a core rulesbook that gathers in one place the rules, modules, and options for one of the original and most influential role playing gaming systems in the world.

The Hands of the Emperor

The Hands of the Emperor by Victoria Goddard

An impulsive word can start a war.
A timely word can stop one.
A simple act of friendship can change the course of history. 

Cliopher Mdang is the personal secretary of the Last Emperor of Astandalas, the Lord of Rising Stars, the Lord Magus of Zunidh, the Sun-on-Earth, the god.
He has spent more time with the Emperor of Astandalas than any other person.
He has never once touched his lord.
He has never called him by name.
He has never initiated a conversation. 

One day Cliopher invites the Sun-on-Earth home to the proverbially remote Vangavaye-ve for a holiday. 

The mere invitation could have seen Cliopher executed for blasphemy.
The acceptance upends the world. 


Aetherbound by E. K. Johnston

A thought-provoking new YA space adventure from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Ahsoka.

Set on a family-run interstellar freighter called the Harland and a mysterious remote space station, E. K. Johnston’s latest is story of survival and self-determination. 

Pendt Harland’s family sees her as a waste of food on their long-haul space cruiser when her genes reveal an undesirable mutation. But if she plays her cards right she might have a chance to do much more than survive. During a space-station layover, Pendt escapes and forms a lucky bond with the Brannick twins, the teenage heirs of the powerful family that owns the station. Against all odds, the trio hatches a long-shot scheme to take over the station and thwart the destinies they never wished for. 

The Body Scout

The Body Scout by Lincoln Michel

Diamond-sharp and savagely wry, The Body Scout is a timely science fiction thriller debut set in an all-too-possible future, perfect for readers of William Gibson.** In the future you can have any body you want – as long as you can afford it.

But in a New York ravaged by climate change and repeat pandemics, Kobo is barely scraping by. He scouts the latest in gene-edited talent for Big Pharma-owned baseball teams, but his own cybernetics are a decade out of date and twin sister loan sharks are banging down his door. Things couldn’t get much worse. 

Then his brother — Monsanto Mets slugger J.J. Zunz — is murdered at home plate. 

Determined to find the killer, Kobo plunges into a world of genetically modified CEOs, philosophical Neanderthals, and back-alley body modification, only to quickly find he’s in a game far bigger and more corrupt than he imagined. To keep himself together while the world is falling apart, he’ll have to navigate a time where both body and soul are sold to the highest bidder. 

Shards of Earth

Shards of the Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky

The war is over. Its heroes forgotten. Until one chance discovery …

Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade his mind in the war. And one of humanity’s heroes now scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers. Eighty years ago, Earth was destroyed by an alien enemy. Many escaped, but millions more died. So mankind created enhanced humans such as Idris — who could communicate mind-to-mind with our aggressors. Then these Architects’ simply disappeared and Idris and his kind became obsolete. Now, Idris and his crew have something strange, abandoned in space. It’s clearly the work of the Architects – but are they really returning? And if so, why? Hunted by gangsters, cults and governments, Idris and his crew race across the galaxy as they search for answers. For they now possess something of incalculable value, and many would kill to obtain it. 

The Shadow Book of Ji Yun The Chinese Classic of Weird True Tales Horror Stories and Occult Knowledge

The Shadow Book of Ji Yun: The Chinese Classic of Weird True Tales, Horror Stories, and Occult Knowledge by Yi Izzy Yu & John Yu Branscum

Imagine if H.P. Lovecraft were Chinese and his tales were true. Or if a national, political figure like Benjamin Franklin was also a paranormal investigator-one who wrote up his investigations with a chilling, story-telling flair that reads like a combination of Franz Kafka and Zhuangzi. In China, at roughly the same time that Franklin was filling the sky with electrified kites and about a century before Lovecraft was spat into this moist plane, a figure existed who was a little bit of both these things. He was Special Advisor to the emperor of China, Head of the Department of War, Imperial Librarian, and one of the most celebrated scholars and poets of his time. His name was Ji Yun. Beginning in 1789, Ji Yun published five volumes of weird tales that combined supernatural and frequently moving autobiographical accounts with early speculative fictions. By turns darkly comic, terrifying, and transcendentally mystical, they revolutionized Chinese speculative and horror fiction AND nonfiction, and portrayed a China never before depicted: one poised between old ways and new, where repeating rifles shared the world with Tibetan black-magic, Jesuit astronomers rubbed elbows with cosmic horrors, and a vibrant sex trade of the reanimated dead was conducted in the night. Combining insights into Chinese magic and metaphysics with tales of cannibal villages, sentient fogs, alien encounters, and fox spirits, alongside nightmarish narratives of soul swapping, haunted cities, and the jiangshi” (the Chinese vampire), there is no literary work quite like that of Ji Yun. Designed by him to be both entertainment and an occult technology that awakens readers to new dimensions of reality, one cannot walk away from these stories unchanged. The Shadow Book of Ji Yun is a literary translation of Ji Yun’s most masterful tales.