James Nicoll Reviews

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Books Received, November 11 — November 17

18 Nov, 2023


Best African Speculative Fiction 2022

The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction (2022) edited by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, Eugen Bacon, and Milton Davis (December 2023)

This is the follow up to the highly acclaimed 2021 anthology described as containing some of the most exciting voices, old and new, from Africa and the diaspora, published in the 2020 year.”

The first won the World Fantasy Award for best anthology and was met with widespread critical acclaim from across the world, with the science fiction trade magazine, Locus, calling it a must read.”

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, who created the first anthology now joins forces with Eugen Bacon, a 2022 World Fantasy Award finalist and Milton Davis, an award-winning Black Speculative fiction writer and editor to introduce readers to an ever more diverse set of writers associated with Africa.

Timely and relevant to today’s world, the set of stories in this book will astonish, shock and amaze the reader while introducing them to a whole new world. 

Harlequin Butterfly

Harlequin Butterfly by Toh Enjoe (March 2024)

A surreal novella about the global pursuit of a mysterious writer who somehow writes in dozens of languages, perfect for fans of David Mitchell and the work of Hideaki Anno.

This dizzying, witty literary caper about books and translation is a delightful work that will captivate and surprise readers, and not just because it features Vladimir Nabokov as a character. 

An affluent entrepreneur named A.A. Abrams sinks seemingly infinite resources into the global pursuit of a writer about whom very little is known. Abrams’ target, known as Tomoyuki Tomoyuki,” moves from one place to another, producing work in the local language before moving on to another part of the world. 

But how does Tomoyuki Tomoyuki move from one language to the next with such ease? Agents employed by the Abrams Institute attempt to make sense of the writer’s erratic movements and baffling writing habits, but come to find that within each puzzle is yet another puzzle, waiting to be unraveled. One puzzle leads to another in this delightful literary caper. 

Web of Angels

Web of Angels by John M. Ford (April 2024)

From the brilliant author of The Dragon Waiting and Growing Up Weightless, a novel that saw the cyberpunk future with stunning clarity, years before anyone else. 

Originally published in 1980, the legendary John M. Ford’s first published novel was an uncannily brilliant anticipation of the later cyberpunk genre — and of the internet itself. 

The Web links the many worlds of humanity. Most people can only use it to communicate. Some can retrieve and store data, as well as use simple precoded programs. Only a privileged few are able to create their own software, within proscribed limits. 

And then there are the Webspinners. 

Grailer is Fourth Literate, able to manipulate the Web at will — and use it for purposes unintended and impossible for anyone but the most talented Webspinner. Obviously, he cannot be allowed to live. 

Condemned to death at the age of nine, Grailer must go underground, hiding his skills, testing his powers- until he is ready to do battle with the Web itself. 

With a new introduction from Cory Doctorow, written especially for this edition. 

The Walking Dead RPG Core Rules

The Walking Dead Universe Roleplaying Game by Nils Hintze et al (Coming Soon)

The Walking Dead Universe Roleplaying Game challenges you to enter the unforgiving, post-apocalyptic sandbox and learn how to survive and thrive in this new world order. Pushing the boundaries of the survival genre, each group can tailor their RPG experience to suit their own interests and play style. The core game is written by Nils Hintze (Tales From the Loop RPG, Vaesen – Nordic Horror Roleplaying) and uses the core D6 version of the acclaimed Year Zero Engine (as seen in ALIEN RPG, Mutant: Year Zero, Forbidden Lands), uniquely adapted for The Walking Dead.

Cant Spell Treason Without Tea

Can’t Spell Treason Without Tea by Rebecca Thorne (May 2024)

In the tradition of Legends & Lattes, comes a cozy fantasy steeped in sapphic romance about one of the Queen’s private guards and a powerful mage who want to open a bookshop and live happily ever after…if only the world would let them.
All Reyna and Kianthe want is to open a bookshop that serves tea. Worn wooden floors, plants on every table, firelight drifting between the rafters… all complemented by love and good company. Thing is, Reyna works as one of the Queen’s private guards, and Kianthe is the most powerful mage in existence. Leaving their lives isn’t so easy.
But after an assassin takes Reyna hostage, she decides she’s thoroughly done risking her life for a self-centered queen. Meanwhile, Kianthe has been waiting for a chance to flee responsibility – all the better that her girlfriend is on board. Together, they settle in Tawney, a town nestled in the icy tundra near dragon country, and open the shop of their dreams.
What follows is a cozy tale of mishaps, mysteries, and a murderous queen throwing the realm’s biggest temper tantrum. In a story brimming with hurt/comfort and quiet fireside conversations, these two women will discover just what they mean to each other… and the world.