James Nicoll Reviews

Home > Reviews

Reviews

Cruel Summer

The Arm of the Starfish  (Poly O’Keefe, book 1)

By Madeleine L'Engle 

26 Jan, 2020

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

0 comments

Madeleine L’Engle 1965’s The Arm of the Starfish is the first of the Poly (later, Polly) O’Keefe quartet. Alternatively, it is an offshoot of the Time Quintet series (which began with A Wrinkle in Time).

Promising biology student Adam Eddington earns a summer tour working for renowned scientist Calvin O’Keefe on the isolated Portuguese island of Gaea. Sounds like a delightful summer? Not so fast. 


Read more ➤

Rocket Man

Ignition!

By John Drury Clark 

25 Jan, 2020

Special Requests

0 comments

John Drury Clark’s 1972 Ignition!: An Informal History Of Liquid Rocket Propellants is an informal history of rocket propellants. Mostly liquid, but some not. 

In addition to his career as a chemist, Clark was a minor SF author (credited with being the first author to use antimatter in a story) and an avid SF fan1. He died of natural causes at an advanced age, which is not the way anyone reading this text back in 1972 would have bet. 


Read more ➤

A Certified Genius at the Age of Five

Beneath the Rising

By Premee Mohamed 

24 Jan, 2020

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do

0 comments

Premee Mohamed’s 2020 Beneath the Rising is a standalone cosmic horror novel.

Nick Prasad is poor and brown. Even though he’s quite bright, he can’t even consider going to university; he has family obligations. His friend Joanna Johnny” Chambers is wealthy, white, and a world-famous super-genius scientist. Despite the vast gulf between them, the two teens have been friends since childhood. Nick is madly smitten with Johnny. Johnny is fond of Nick. But there’s this vast gulf between them …

Having cured HIV and Alzheimer’s, Johnny turns her attention to solving climate change. Solution: replace fossil fuels with an inter-dimensional reactor. Too bad that Johnny has saved the world from climate change by creating a gateway to something much worse.


Read more ➤

Not Just a Pretty Face

Marginal

By Moto Hagio 

22 Jan, 2020

Translation

0 comments

Moto Hagio’s Marginal (Japanese: マージナル, Hepburn: Maajinaru) is a science fiction manga. It was serialized between 1985 and 1987

On all Earth, there is only one person who can birth children: the semi-divine Mother. All across the planet, desperate villages populated entirely by men must wait for Mother to send them children. Mother’s ability to produce children is declining and villages are dying. 

A desperate situation becomes a crisis when extremist Grinja infiltrates the city of Monodor and assassinates Mother during one of her rare public audiences.


Read more ➤

To Walk All Over Thee

The Shadow Saint  (Black Iron Legacy, book 2)

By Gareth Hanrahan 

21 Jan, 2020

Special Requests

0 comments

2020’s The Shadow Saint is the second volume in Gareth Hanrahan’s Black Iron Legacy.

Six months after Scar’s miracle reshaped Guerdon’s landscape, the city’s rulers are still locked in internecine conflict. If the city is to survive, cooperation is crucial. Yet each faction is focused solely on attaining supremacy, by fair means or foul.

While Guerdon’s politicians squabble, the Godswar is marching towards Guerdon.


Read more ➤

The World is Our Own

Fire-Hunter

By Jim Kjelgaard 

19 Jan, 2020

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

0 comments

Jim Kjelgaard’s 1951 Fire-Hunter is a prehistoric adventure.

Hawk is his tribe’s master spear-maker. He doesn’t hunt; that’s dangerous and his skills are too valuable to lose. So sayeth the tribe. They’re a conservative bunch. They live on the edge of survival and cling to the old, tried-and-true methods. 

Hawk, however, is an innovator. He sees an exciting new way to cast spears and cannot resist testing it. The new method works until it fails spectacularly, leaving a hunter dead on a woolly rhino’s horn. 

The tribe expels Hawk and wanders off in their nomadic way. 


Read more ➤

Keep Changing the World

Riot Baby

By Tochi Onyebuchi 

18 Jan, 2020

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do

0 comments

Tochi Onyebuchi’s 2020 Riot Baby is a standalone science fiction novella. 

Fleeing LA following the King riots, Ella and her brother Kev are destined for typical American childhoods — that is, typical for African Americans. Frequently unpleasant, subject to violence and injustice. Ella is a precog, which in this case isn’t all that great. She sees what’s coming at her and often it isn’t good. 


Read more ➤

Bon Appetit

Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits, book 1

By Waco Ioka & Midori Yuma 

16 Jan, 2020

Translation

0 comments


2016’s Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits, Vol. 1 (Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi) collects the first five issues of Waco1 Ioka’s manga adaptation of Midori Yūma’s light fantasy series of novels. 

Aoi Tsubaki’s grandfather Shiro had a bad reputation. But to Aoi he was the man who rescued her from childhood misery after her mother abandoned her. Still, she must admit to herself that the reason his funeral was well attended may have been that many people wanted to assure themselves that their exploiter was actually dead. 

Though she is not yet aware of this, Aoi was one of Shiro’s victims.


Read more ➤

Walking Like the Wind Blows

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance

By Ruth Emmie Lang 

15 Jan, 2020

Special Requests

1 comment

Ruth Emmie Lang’s 2017 debut novel Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is a contemporary fantasy.

Goaded by schoolmates into exploring a dilapidated, gloomy dwelling, Roark falls through the roof into a spider-silk snare. She meets the building’s occupant, eccentric coot Weylyn Grey, who proceeds to spin a tale. 

Weylyn is as amiable as he is odd. His uninvited visitor does not have to worry about a horrid fate, unless it’s being talked to death. Weylyn’s rambling biography begins when a young Weylyn, tragically orphaned, does what any boy might do in his position. He runs off to live with wolves.


Read more ➤

Those Who Deserve the Best in Life

Abbott

By Saladin Ahmed 

14 Jan, 2020

Special Requests

0 comments

Saladin Ahmed’s 2018 Abbott is a horror comic. It was nominated for the Hugo and the Stoker.

Illustrator: Sami Kivelä. Colorist: Jason Wordie.

Detroit, 1972. Elena Abbott is a reporter, whose hard work should earn her accolades. Her boss’s bosses at the Detroit Daily are unenthusiastic about employing a reporter who is a woman and black. Detroit police are similarly unenthusiastic about a reporter whose stories on flagrant police brutality inexplicably don’t take the side of the police. Nevertheless, she persists.

Called to the scene of a brutal outrage, Abbott finds the cops baffled. The scene has elements all too familiar to her.


Read more ➤