James Nicoll Reviews

Home > Reviews

Reviews

Need You to Need Me

The Gurkha And the Lord of Tuesday

By Saad Z. Hossain

15 Nov, 2019

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do

0 comments

Saad Z. Hossain’s 2019 The Gurkha And the Lord of Tuesday is a standalone science-fantasy novella.

Ambushed, coshed, bound by powerful spells, and sequestered in an out-of-the-way location, the boisterous djinn Melek Ahmar has slumbered for thousands of years. From the perspective of his attackers, the djinn is a problem solved.

For the humans and artificial intelligences of the era in which Melek Ahmar finally wakes, he is quite a different story.


Read more ➤

With a Candle to Guide Me

Trail of Lightning  (Sixth World, book 1)

By Rebecca Roanhorse

12 Nov, 2019

Special Requests

1 comment

Trail of Lightning is the first book in Rebecca Roanhorse’s post-apocalyptic paranormal Sixth World series.

Maggie Hoskie is a supernaturally enhanced monster-hunter. She became so as a consequence of a near-death encounter as a girl. Another way to look at her is that she’s a marginally domesticated monster whose utility to her Diné people is slightly higher than the risk of allowing her to live among them. True so far. 

When children are stolen away by monsters, Maggie is the logical person to ask for help. That’s not to say she’s always successful…


Read more ➤

The Life with a Smile

Another Fine Myth  (Myth Adventure, book 1)

By Robert Asprin

10 Nov, 2019

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

2 comments

1978’s Another Fine Myth is the first book in Robert Asprin’s twenty-one volume Myth Adventure series.

Skeeve jumped at the chance to become a sorcerer’s apprentice. The alternative was starving to death in the winter cold. But Garkin the mage proved demanding, insisting on practice, practice, practice. Moreover, Garkin wants Skeeve to stop using magic to steal.

Skeeve’s days of serving Garkin are close to an end. But they don’t end as one might expect.


Read more ➤

Until the World is Mine

Queen of the Conquered  (Islands of Blood and Storm, book 1)

By Kacen Callender

8 Nov, 2019

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do

0 comments

2019’s Queen of the Conquered is the first volume in Kacen Callender’s Islands of Blood and Storm series.

Centuries ago the pale-skinned Fjern descended on the islands to plunder and rule. Those of the dark-skinned Islanders who resisted were killed. The survivors became slaves. The islander language was forbidden, islander culture suppressed, the islands themselves renamed in the language of the invaders.

The population of the islands has fallen by half since the invasion. Every slave who demonstrates even a hint of kraft (magic) ability is killed on the spot. Every uprising is brutally crushed. Liberation seems impossible.

Sigourney Rose is an anomaly, a dark-skinned person who nevertheless enjoys lofty social status and power. She lives as one of the Fjern but she identifies with the slaves. She is determined to overthrow the Fjern.


Read more ➤

You’re the One

Chobits

By Clamp

6 Nov, 2019

Translation

1 comment

The manga collective Clamp’s SF manga Chobits(ちょびっツ Chobittsu) was published by Kodansha in Weekly Young Magazine from 2000 to 2002.

Hideki Motosuwa is a cram student by day, a worker by night, and poor all the time. He is far too poor to afford most of the luxuries and vices he sees others enjoy.

High on his wish list: a humanoid persocom, a highly advanced android that wealthier Japanese use for many tasks, online and otherwise. Hideki will never be able to afford his own persocom.

How fortunate for Hideki that what he at first mistook for a murdered woman is in fact a perfectly good persocom discarded like trash. Waste not, want not. The young man drags the attractive android back to his room and manages to turn it on.


Read more ➤

How Every Empire Falls

Lanark: A Life in Four Books

By Alasdair Gray

5 Nov, 2019

Special Requests

11 comments

Alasdair Gray’s 1981 debut novel Lanark: A Life in Four Books is a standalone dystopian surrealist work. Or to look at it another way, it’s one part straightforward literary fiction and one part portal fantasy (of sorts).

Lanark is an unsocial man living in the troubled city of Unthank. Duncan Thaw is a socially deficient inhabitant of Glasgow. The two men are connected in ways of which neither is immediately aware. And why would they be aware? They inhabit different realities.


Read more ➤

Pull the String

The Teahouse of the August Moon

By John Patrick & Vern Sneider

3 Nov, 2019

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

0 comments

1953’s The Teahouse of the August Moon is John Patrick’s Tony- and Pulitzer-winning adaptation of Vern Sneider’s novel of the same name. 

1946! The United States of America’s occupation forces in Okinawa have grand plans to remake Okinawa and its backward natives in America’s image. The Okinawans are not particularly surprised or alarmed by this. As narrator Sakini explains to the audience, Okinawa has been getting invaded and occupied for eight hundred years. If there’s one thing at which the Okinawans excel, it’s being invaded and occupied.

Ambitious Colonel Purdy dispatches newly arrived Captain Fisby to the distant village of Tobiki to transform it into a proper American town. To assist Fisby, Purdy sends along translator Sakini, who hails from Tobiki. While Fisby has failed at everything at which he has ever tried his hand, the army has provided foolproof Plan B to guide him. 

Nothing can go wrong. Nothing does. At least from a certain point of view.


Read more ➤

Ain’t Demented

The Dragon Republic  (Poppy Wars, book 2)

By R. F. Kuang

2 Nov, 2019

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do

1 comment

2019’s The Dragon Republic is the second volume in R. F. Kuang’s Poppy Wars series.

Reducing the Federation of Mugen to ashes and seared corpses has not earned Fang Rin” Runin the accolades of her native Nikan Empire. Empress Su Daji deems Rin and the rest of her team surplus to needs. Consequence: a price on all their heads. 

Luckily, the empire isn’t the only employer in town. Rin has other options.

Read more ➤

Saturday Night Dark Masquerade

The Taking of Satcon Station  (Asher Bockhorn, book 1)

By Jim Baen & Barney Cohen

31 Oct, 2019

Big Hair, Big Guns!

5 comments

Barney Cohen and Jim Baen’s The Taking of Satcon Station is an SF mystery. It is also the sole Jim Baen novel of which I am aware. This is not entirely a bad thing. 

Despite the best efforts of UN red tape to impede space enterprise, a century of development has seen the building of space facilities spanning Earth orbit to the Asteroid Belt. Once the US Space Command enforced the rules. Now that is the domain of Fleet Agents like Bockhorn, working for space concerns like MexAmerican & Pacific. 

As the book opens, Bockhorn is stubbing out his cigarette before disembarking at Satcon Station. In its day, Satcon was a hotbed of cutting-edge research. Most people would say those days are long behind the eighty-eight-year-old station. Most people would be wrong: there’s a very bold project underway on Satcon. Bockhorn is going to find himself up to his … let’s say eyebrows… in it.

Read more ➤