Blog Posts, May 2017

May 2017 in Review

May

22 books read. 12 by women (55%), 10 by men (45%).

Works by POC: 6 (27%)

Year to Date

106 works reviewed. 58 by women (55%). 47 by men (44%). 1 by a non-binary author (1%).
note: rounding error

Works by POC: 34.5 (33%)

And now the meaningless table!

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Books Received, May 20 - 26


The God Wars destroyed the city of Alikand. Now, a century and a half and a great many construction contracts later, Agdel Lex rises in its place. Dead deities litter the surrounding desert, streets shift when people aren’t looking, a squidlike tower dominates the skyline, and the foreign Iskari Rectification Authority keeps strict order in this once-independent city―while treasure seekers, criminals, combat librarians, nightmare artists, angels, demons, dispossessed knights, grad students, and other fools gather in its ever-changing alleys, hungry for the next big score.

Priestess/investment banker Kai Pohala (last seen in Full Fathom Five) hits town to corner Agdel Lex’s burgeoning nightmare startup scene, and to visit her estranged sister Lei. But Kai finds Lei desperate at the center of a shadowy, and rapidly unravelling, business deal. When Lei ends up on the run, wanted for a crime she most definitely committed, Kai races to track her sister down before the Authority finds her first. But Lei has her own plans, involving her ex-girlfriend, a daring heist into the god-haunted desert, and, perhaps, freedom for an occupied city. Because Alikand might not be completely dead―and some people want to finish the job.



The first humans still hunt their children across the stars. Dave Hutchinson brings far future science fiction on a grand scale in Acadie.

The Colony left Earth to find utopia, a home on a new planet where their leader could fully explore their genetic potential, unfettered by their homeworld’s restrictions. They settled a new paradise, and have been evolving and adapting for centuries. Earth has other plans.

The original humans have been tracking their descendants across the stars, bent on their annihilation. They won’t stop until the new humans have been destroyed, their experimentation wiped out of the human gene pool.Can’t anyone let go of a grudge anymore?



Shuos Jedao is unleashed. The long-dead general, preserved with exotic technologies as a weapon, has possessed the body of gifted young captain Kel Cheris.

Now, General Kel Khiruev’s fleet, racing to the Severed March to stop a fresh enemy incursion, has fallen under Jedao’s sway. Only Khiruev’s aide, Lieutenant Colonel Kel Brezan, is able to shake off the influence of the brilliant but psychotic Jedao.

The rogue general seems intent on defending the hexarchate, but can Khiruev—or Brezan—trust him? For that matter, can they trust Kel Command, or will their own rulers wipe out the whole swarm to destroy one man?

Feel free to comment here.

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Twenty Core Speculative Fiction Works About Science and Scientists Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves

As with the previous core lists, here are twenty Speculative Fiction Works about Science and Scientists chosen entirely on the basis of merit and significance to the field [1]. No implication is intended that these are the only twenty books you should consider.


Persons unfamiliar with one or two of the works, congratulations! You’re one of today’s Ten Thousand!

1: There are two filtering rules:

  • Only one work per author per list
  • Any given work can appear on only one list

Feel free to comment here.

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An updated guide to my review categories


Each category header is a link.

Sponsored Reviews

You can buy a review for a book for $100. Various guidelines pertain, which can be found at the other end of the link.

Reds Under the Bed


Subversives! They lurk everywhere! They could be anyone, from the kindly couple next door to the innocent seeming nuclear researcher mailing thick bundles to Moscow every week, from your child’s teacher to the President himself! Even you could be an unsuspecting brainwashed puppet of the enemy!

There have been many noteworthy works about the hidden enemy. Some were even readable. Many will be reviewed.



A Year of Waterloo Region Speculative Fiction


The Waterloo region (and neighboring areas) are not generally known as hotbeds of spec-fic writing. If you’ve heard of us at all, it’s most likely thanks to the University of Waterloo or the annual Oktoberfest. Kitchener’s Public Library does not even bother to keep track of which SF authors come from the surrounding region.


But I do.


In 2017 I will be reviewing fifty-two works of speculative fiction by as broad a cross-section of the names above as I can manage. Please join me.



Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn’t Suck


There are lots of books that fall under either military science fiction or military fantasy; the first is generally shortened to MilSF and the second runs into very similar nannyware issues as the original series title. Most published MilSF and MilF embodies Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of everything is crud (1). I will be reviewing military speculative fiction I believe falls into that last 10%, MilSpecFic that isn’t an egregious insult to the reader’s sensibilities.



Space Opera That Doesn’t Suck

Similar to the MilSF series but specifically for Space Opera.


James Tiptree, Jr. Award Reviews

The James Tiptree, Jr. Award is an “annual literary prize for science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender.” Details on its history and why it has the name it does, as well as a list of winners, the honor lists and other notable works can be found here.I had the privilege to be a jurist in 2011. For that and other reasons, this is an award for which I have a personal interest, as should you all. Accordingly, over the next year or so, I will be reviewing the Tiptree winners in the chronological order in which they won, more or less, as copies fall into my hand.



Graveyard Orbits


Graveyard Orbits is a very irregular series of reviews of noteworthy books that were also their author’s final books due to Author Existence Failure.


Because My Tears Are Delicious to You


In which I revisit books that I loved when I was a teenager, back in the 1970s. Some of these have aged well. Others …. not so well. Come for my delighted surprise at discovering new depths in old friends, stay for my writhing agony as old favourites betray me.



The Rediscovery series


Success for authors is often a matter of luck and there are many exemplary books that were overlooked when they were first published. The rise of ebooks allows authors to reissue their own books when traditional publishers have dropped them. I select the best of the re-issued books to bring to your attention.



The Translation series


The world of science fiction extends far outside the borders of l’anglosphere. In this series I review translated works of speculative fiction.


KW Science Fiction and Fantasy

F & SF by authors from Kitchener-Waterloo, the region in Ontario in which I live, which I began because I was MCing a night of readings by local authors.



Completed Series

The Great Heinlein Juveniles (Plus The Other Two) Reread

In which I reread all of Heinlein’s classic juveniles plus Starship Troopers and Podkayne of Mars because I was curious to see how they stood up and also someone paid me.



Fifty Nortons in Fifty Weeks

Andre Norton was an important and prolific SF author and many of the Ace MMPK editions of the Heinlein Juveniles had an ad for 50 of her titles. I decided it would be fun to track down and read (or reread) all fifty.



Women of Wonder


The Women of Wonder anthology series was an important part of my reading experience as a teen and rather than lump it in with the Because My Tears Are Delicious to You series, I decided to give Women of Wonder its own series.



Leigh Brackett’s Solar System


Brackett was one of the few women who were high-profile science fiction writers back in the 1940s. She started writing for the detective pulps before turning to the sort of planetary romance seen in Planet Stories. In this series, I looked at her planetary romances.



A Year of Tanith Lee


Tanith Lee died in 2015. She was extraordinarily prolific, writing more than ninety novels in a career that spanned six decades. Too many of her books to list here were nominated for awards but her wins include Death’s Master (BFA), The Gorgon (WFA), Elle Est Trois, and (La Mort) (WFA); in 2013, she was presented by a Life Achievement WFA. Clearly she was a writer of significance but in recent years she had not received the attention her talent deserved.

When I heard the news of her death, I decided to commemorate her career in this very small way, by reviewing a wide selection of her published works.



The 2017 Prometheus Award Finalists


The Libertarian Futurist Society awards the Prometheus Award to the best libertarian novel of the year. They take a very broad view of what qualifies, which is why some years conventional American libertarian works win and other years books by Scottish socialists win. I thought it would be interesting to review the 2017 nominees.

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Reds Under the Bed

Subversives! They lurk everywhere! They could be anyone, from the kindly couple next door to the innocent seeming nuclear researcher mailing thick bundles to Moscow every week, from your child’s teacher to the President himself! Even you could be an unsuspecting brainwashed puppet of the enemy!

There have been many noteworthy works about the hidden enemy. Some were even readable. Many will be reviewed.

STAY ALERT TRUST NO ONE KEEP YOUR LASER HANDY 1!

Feel free to comment (and make suggestions!) here.

1: Foreshadowing: the mark of quality literature.


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Books Received, May 13 - 19

New Arcadia is a city-sized oil rig off the coast of the Canadian Maritimes, now owned by one very wealthy, powerful, byzantine family: Lynch Ltd.

Hwa is of the few people in her community (which constitutes the whole rig) to forgo bio-engineered enhancements. As such, she’s the last truly organic person left on the rig — making her doubly an outsider, as well as a neglected daughter and bodyguard extraordinaire. Still, her expertise in the arts of self-defense and her record as a fighter mean that her services are yet in high demand. When the youngest Lynch needs training and protection, the family turns to Hwa. But can even she protect against increasingly intense death threats seemingly coming from another timeline? Meanwhile, a series of interconnected murders threatens the city’s stability and heightens the unease of a rig turning over. All signs point to a nearly invisible serial killer, but all of the murders seem to lead right back to Hwa’s front door. Company Town has never been the safest place to be — but now, the danger is personal.

A brilliant, twisted mystery, as one woman must evaluate saving the people of a town that can’t be saved, or saving herself.


Only nine months after her debut as the superhero Dreadnought, Danny Tozer is already a scarred veteran. Protecting a city the size of New Port is a team-sized job and she’s doing it alone. Between her newfound celebrity and her demanding cape duties, Dreadnought is stretched thin, and it’s only going to get worse.

When she crosses a newly discovered billionaire supervillain, Dreadnought comes under attack from all quarters. From her troubled family life to her disintegrating friendship with Calamity, there’s no lever too cruel for this villain to use against her.

She might be hard to kill, but there’s more than one way to destroy a hero. Before the war is over, Dreadnought will be forced to confront parts of herself she never wanted to acknowledge.

And behind it all, an old enemy waits in the wings, ready to unleash a plot that will scar the world forever.


The rule is simple: don’t bleed.

For as long as Molly Southbourne can remember, she’s been watching herself die. Whenever she bleeds, another molly is born, identical to her in every way and intent on her destruction.

Molly knows every way to kill herself, but she also knows that as long as she survives she’ll be hunted. No matter how well she follows the rules, eventually the mollys will find her. Can Molly find a way to stop the tide of blood, or will she meet her end at the hand of a girl who looks just like her?

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Books Received: 2017 Hugo Voters Package


The Worldcon Hugo voters package is out. It contains a bewildering list of items, enough that I am not going to bother tracking down the cover art for everything with cover art. File770’s overview of the package lists the contents as follows:



Novel: 5 full novels and 1 excerpt
Novella: 6 full novellas
Novelette: 6 full novelettes
Short Story: 6 full short stories
Related Work: 4 full long works, 1 full short work, and 1 excerpt
Graphic Story: 6 full works in PDF form only
Dramatic Presentation (Long Form): a PDF document summarizing the Finalists, with hyperlinks to each work’s video trailer, official website, IMdb entry, and Wikipedia entry.
Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): a PDF document summarizing the Finalists, with hyperlinks to each work’s video trailer, official website, IMdb entry, and Wikipedia entry. In the case of the Clipping musical work, links are included to listen for free on YouTube, Spotify, iTunes and Bandcamp.
Editor – Short Form: submissions from 6 editors
Editor – Long Form: submissions from 6 editors
Professional Artist: image galleries for 6 artists, with citations of where and when each work was published, and a PDF document with links to all the artists’ websites
Semiprozine: submissions from 6 semiprozines
Fanzine: submissions from 6 fanzines
Fancast: PDF submissions for 6 fancasts with episode summaries and links to online podcasts
Fan Writer: submissions from 5 fan writers and 1 PDF document with a link to an online submission from a 6th fan writer
Fan Artist: image galleries for 6 artists, and a PDF document with links to all the artists’ websites
Series: 2 full series, 1 novel for each of 2 series, 1 excerpt for each of 2 series, and a PDF document for each series which lists all the works in the series and includes some hyperlinks to bonus related online content.
John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer: 3 novels, 2 novellas, and 9 short stories for 6 authors

Memberships are available here.



Mark at File 770’s detailed list of the contents is as follows:

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Books Received, May 6-12



Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of Dreadnought, the world’s greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, Danny was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But before he expired, Dreadnought passed his mantle to her, and those secondhand superpowers transformed Danny’s body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.

It should be the happiest time of her life, but Danny’s first weeks finally living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. Between her father’s dangerous obsession with “curing” her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and her fellow superheroes arguing over her place in their ranks, Danny feels like she’s in over her head.

She doesn’t have time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer—a cyborg named Utopia—still haunts the streets of New Port City, threatening destruction. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.


The future of democracy is about to implode.

After the last controversial global election, the global infomocracy that has ensured thirty years of world peace is fraying at the edges. As the new Supermajority government struggles to establish its legitimacy, agents of Information across the globe strive to keep the peace and maintain the flows of data that feed the new world order.

In the newly-incorporated DarFur, a governor dies in a fiery explosion. In Geneva, a superpower hatches plans to bring microdemocracy to its knees. In Central Asia, a sprawling war among archaic states threatens to explode into a global crisis. And across the world, a shadowy plot is growing, threatening to strangle Information with the reins of power.

In Science Fiction and the Mass Cultural Genre System, John Rieder asks literary scholars to consider what shape literary history takes when based on a historical, rather than formalist, genre theory. Rieder starts from the premise that science fiction and the other genres usually associated with so-called genre fiction comprise a system of genres entirely distinct from the pre-existing classical and academic genre system that includes the epic, tragedy, comedy, satire, romance, the lyric, and so on. He proposes that the field of literary production and the project of literary studies cannot be adequately conceptualized without taking into account the tensions between these two genre systems that arise from their different modes of production, distribution, and reception. Although the careful reading of individual texts forms an important part of this study, the systemic approach offered by Science Fiction and the Mass Cultural Genre System provides a fundamental challenge to literary methodologies that foreground individual innovation.



For nearly half a century, feminist scholars, writers, and fans have successfully challenged the notion that science fiction is all about “boys and their toys,” pointing to authors such as Mary Shelley, Clare Winger Harris, and Judith Merril as proof that women have always been part of the genre. Continuing this tradition, Sisters of Tomorrow: The First Women of Science Fiction offers readers a comprehensive selection of works by genre luminaries, including author C. L. Moore, artist Margaret Brundage, and others who were well known in their day, including poet Julia Boynton Green, science journalist L. Taylor Hansen, and editor Mary Gnaedinger. Providing insightful commentary and context, this anthology documents how women in the early twentieth century contributed to the pulp-magazine community and showcases the content they produced, including short stories, editorial work, illustrations, poetry, and science journalism. Yaszek and Sharp’s critical annotation and author biographies link women’s work in the early science fiction community to larger patterns of feminine literary and cultural production in turn-of-the-twentieth-century America. In a concluding essay, the award-winning author Kathleen Ann Goonan considers such work in relation to the history of women in science and engineering and to the contemporary science fiction community itself.
Deacon James is a rambling bluesman straight from Georgia, a black man with troubles that he can’t escape, and music that won’t let him go. On a train to Arkham, he meets trouble ― visions of nightmares, gaping mouths and grasping tendrils, and a madman who calls himself John Persons. According to the stranger, Deacon is carrying a seed in his head, a thing that will destroy the world if he lets it hatch.

The mad ravings chase Deacon to his next gig. His saxophone doesn’t call up his audience from their seats, it calls up monstrosities from across dimensions. As Deacon flees, chased by horrors and cultists, he stumbles upon a runaway girl, who is trying to escape the destiny awaiting her. Like Deacon, she carries something deep inside her, something twisted and dangerous. Together, they seek to leave Arkham, only to find the Thousand Young lurking in the woods.

The song in Deacon’s head is growing stronger, and soon he won’t be able to ignore it any more.

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Twenty Core Trader Speculative Fiction Works Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves

As with the four previous core lists, here are twenty Speculative Fiction works featuring traders chosen entirely on the basis of merit and significance to the field [1]. No implication is intended that these are the only twenty works you should consider.

  • The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham
  • The Trouble Twisters by Poul Anderson
  • The Anvil of the World by Kage Baker
  • “The Space Traders” by Derrick Bell
  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
  • The Pride of Chanur by C. J. Cherryh
  • A Thousand Words for Stranger by Julie Czerneda
  • Trafalgar: A Novel by Angélica Gorodischer
  • Spice and Wolf by Isuna Hasekura
  • Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb
  • The Dream Merchant by Isabel Hoving
  • Hellspark by Janet Kagan
  • Traveller: Science Fiction Adventure in the Far Future by Mark W. Miller
  • There and Back Again by Pat Murphy
  • Sargasso of Space by Andre Norton
  • Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti
  • Storyteller by Amy Thomson
  • The Heaven Chronicles by Joan D. Vinge
  • Signs of Life by Cherry Wilder
  • Fool’s War by Sarah Zettel

Persons unfamiliar with one or two of the works, congratulations! You’re one of today’s Ten Thousand!

1: There are two filtering rules:

  • Only one work per author per list
  • No given work appears on more than one list.

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Books Received, April 29 - May 5


Breaking the laws of nature is a serious crime!

In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Equipped with mechanical “”auto-mail”” limbs, Edward becomes a state alchemist, seeking the one thing that can restore his and his brother’s bodies…the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.

Alchemy: the mystical power to alter the natural world, somewhere between magic art, and science. When two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, dabbled in these powers to grant their dearest wish, one of them lost an arm and leg…and the other became nothing but a soul locked into a body ofliving iron. Now they are agents of the government, slaves of the military-alchemical complex, using their unique powers to obey their orders…even to kill. But their powers aren’t unique. The world crawls with evil alchemists. And in pursuit of the ultimate alchemical treasure, the Philsopher’s Stone, their enemies are even more ruthless.

than they are…


Scarred by war. In pursuit of truth.

Army veteran True Brighton left the service when the development of robotic helicopters made her training as a pilot obsolete. Now she works at Requisite Operations, a private military company established by friend and former Special Ops soldier Lincoln Han. ReqOp has embraced the new technologies. Robotics, big data, and artificial intelligence are all tools used to augment the skills of veteran warfighters-for-hire. But the tragedy of war is still measured in human casualties, and when True makes a chance discovery during a rescue mission, old wounds are ripped open. She’s left questioning what she knows of the past, and resolves to pursue the truth, whatever the cost.

For high-schooler Yoko Nakajima, life has been fairly ordinary — that is until Keiki, a young man with golden hair, tells Yoko they must return to their kingdom. Once confronted by this mysterious being and whisked away to an unearthly realm, Yoko is left with only a magical sword; a gem; and a million questions about her destiny, the world she’s trapped in, and the world she desperately wants to return to.More than just a fantasy story filled with horrific monsters, half-beasts, and magicians, The Twelve Kingdoms centers around a world reminiscent of Chinese mythology and rife with civil and political upheaval. Sea of Shadow, the first volume of this ongoing seven-volume epic, takes you on a wild ride that leaves you questioning the bounds of reality and fantasy.

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Books Received, April 22-28


Long after the Towers left the world but before the dragons came to Daluça, the emperor brought his delegation of gods and diplomats to Olorum. As the royalty negotiates over trade routes and public services, the divinity seeks arcane assistance among the local gods.

Aqib bgm Sadiqi, fourth-cousin to the royal family and son of the Master of Beasts, has more mortal and pressing concerns. His heart has been captured for the first time by a handsome Daluçan soldier named Lucrio. In defiance of Saintly Canon, gossiping servants, and the furious disapproval of his father and brother, Aqib finds himself swept up in a whirlwind gay romance. But neither Aqib nor Lucrio know whether their love can survive all the hardships the world has to throw at them.

(I have already reviewed A Taste of Honey but from a DRMed ebook long since expired. Now I have a personal copy.)


Since leaving his homeland, the earthbound demigod Demane has been labeled a sorcerer. With his ancestors’ artifacts in hand, the Sorcerer follows the Captain, a beautiful man with song for a voice and hair that drinks the sunlight.

The two of them are the descendants of the gods who abandoned the Earth for Heaven, and they will need all the gifts those divine ancestors left to them to keep their caravan brothers alive.

The one safe road between the northern oasis and southern kingdom is stalked by a necromantic terror. Demane may have to master his wild powers and trade humanity for godhood if he is to keep his brothers and his beloved captain alive.

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April 2017 In Review

April

21 books read. 11.5 by women (55%), 9.5 by men (45%).

Works by POC: 4 (19%)

Year to Date

84 works reviewed. 46 by women (55%). 37 by men (44%). 1 by a non-binary author (1%).

Works by POC: 28.5 (34%)

I am not making the progress on non-binary and genderqueer authors I had hoped to make.

And now for my favourite part: the meaningless table!

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