Reviews

Season For Battle Wounds

The Deathworld Trilogy — Harry Harrison

Harry Harrison’s The Deathworld Trilogy consists of three works: 1960’s Deathworld, 1964’s Deathworld 2, and 1968’s Deathworld 3. Alternate titles: Deathworld, The Ethical Engineer, and The Horse Barbarians. All were serialized in the same magazine, which was known as Astounding when Deathworld was published and Analog when the other two came out.

(The Deathworld series is much longer. More on that later.)


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Skies of Blue, Clouds of White

Iruka Shiomiya
Kino's Journey: the Beautiful World, book 1

Iruka Shiomiya’s manga Kino’s Journey: the Beautiful World is based on Keiichi Sigsawa’s light novel series of the same name.

Kino wanders her world in the company of her talking motorcycle, Hermes. The pair visit community after community, never staying more than three days.

Volume one covers three incidents in Kino’s journey.


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Just a Whisper of Smoke

Spirit Hunters — Ellen Oh
Spirit Hunter, book 1

Ellen Oh’s Spirit Hunters is the first volume in her middle grade Spirit Hunter series.

Grade-seven student Harper Raine is coping with an unwanted move to a spooky mansion in Washington, DC. If that were not stressful enough, she has a mysterious past about which her parents are mum and an older sister who blames Harper for all that is wrong in the world. At least her four-year-old brother Michael likes Harper.

Back to the spooky mansion thing….


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Just Something In My Stars

A Dead Djinn in Cairo — P. Djèlí Clark

P. Djèlí Clark’s A Dead Djinn in Cairo is an alternate-history fantasy novella. It shares its setting with The Haunting of Tram Car 015.

Forty years ago, al-Jahiz opened the world to magic. Bad news for the Ottomans, the British, and the French, whose domination of Egypt came to an abrupt halt. Good news for Egypt, independent once more. But magic and magical beings bring problems of their own. Fatma el-Sha’arawi, special investigator with the Egyptian Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities, spends her days dealing with them.

For example, the matter of the dead and bloodless djinn.


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How Deep It Go

The Deep — Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes

The Deep is an upcoming standalone speculative fiction novel by Rivers Solomon, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes.

Each historian selects their replacement. Yatu is the current wajinru historian. Inconveniently for her people, her task may be killing her.


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Space Girl

The Trouble with You Earth People — Katherine MacLean

Katherine MacLean’s 1980 The Trouble with You Earth People is a collection of SF stories. This Starblaze Graphics edition featured interior illustrations by Frank Kelly Freas.


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Don’t Stand in the Doorway

Rebel Seoul — Axie Oh
Rebel Seoul, book 1

Axie Oh’s 2017 young adult dystopian thriller Rebel Seoul is the first volume in Oh’s Rebel Seoul series.

Abandoned in Neo Seoul’s slums by his parents, student Lee Jaewon has clawed his way out of the gangs and into borderline respectability. Only a single test lies between Jaewon and a decent career. Unfortunately for Jaewon, it’s not an easy test and failure means death.


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One Thousand and One Yellow Daffodils

Tuf Voyaging — George R. R. Martin

George R. R. Martin’s 1986 Tuf Voyaging is, I believe, intended to be a fix-up of shorter pieces. It reads like a collection of stories, so that’s how I will review it. The central figure is Haviland Tuf, a minor trader to whom fate grants great power. With great power, as they say, comes even greater megalomania.

Animal harm warning.

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Island of Dreams

Contingency Plans for the Apocalypse And Other Possible Situations — S. B. Divya

S. B. Divya’s 2019 Contingency Plans for the Apocalypse And Other Possible Situations is a single-author collection of short science fiction and fantasy works. It includes the Nebula Award nominee “Runtime.”


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Must Be Funny In a Rich Man’s World

Norstrilia — Cordwainer Smith

Cordwainer Smith’s 1975 Norstrilia was originally published as two shorter novels: 1964’s Hugo-nominated The Planet Buyer (AKA The Boy who Bought Old Earth) and The Underpeople (AKA The Store of Heart’s Desire). The setting for both is Smith’s Instrumentality Universe. The books were later combined in one novel, as indeed Smith had originally intended. Believe it or not, but at one point SFF publishers thought long books didn’t sell.

The story is simple. There was a boy who bought the planet Earth. We know that, to our cost. It only happened once, and we have taken pains that it will never happen again. He came to Earth, got what he wanted, and got away alive, in a series of very remarkable adventures. That’s the story.


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For a Single Yesterday

Rediscovery Vol 1: SF by Women 1958–1963 — Gideon Marcus, A. J. Howells, Janice Marcus, Erica Frank

2019’s Rediscovery Vol 1: SF by Women 1958–1963 is an anthology of classic science fiction written by women. The managing editor is Gideon Marcus; editing and arrangement are thanks to A. J. Howells, Janice Marcus, and Erica Frank.




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Through the Dark, Through the Door

Sultana’s Dream — Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain

Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain’s 1905 Sultana’s Dream is a feminist utopian novella. It was originally published in The Indian Ladies Journal.

A sultana muses on the condition of women in Calcutta, the city in which she lives. When a woman she takes for an old friend invites her for a walk, the sultana goes with her. It soon becomes clear the sultana has misunderstood the situation.


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I Look Inside Myself

Hooded Swan Hexology — Brian M. Stableford

Brian M. Stableford’s Hooded Swan series consisted of the following short novels:

  1. The Halcyon Drift (1972)

  2. Rhapsody in Black (1973)

  3. Promised Land (1974)

  4. The Paradise Game (1974)

  5. The Fenris Device (1974)

  6. Swan Song (1975)

The story arc begins with a sullen man trapped on a desolate planet.


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When The Blind Remove Their Blinders

The Dragon that Flew out of the Sun: Stories of the Xuya Universe — Aliette de Bodard

Aliette de Bodard’s 2017 The Dragon that Flew out of the Sun: Stories of the Xuya Universe collects three stories set in her alternate-future Xuya universe.


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A Long, Long Way to Heaven

Lent — Jo Walton


Jo Walton’s 2019 Lent is a standalone historical fantasy.

Dominican prior Girolamo Savonarola of Florence is a man of many gifts. He can see demons. He can cast them back to Hell. He has profound powers of persuasion. He is a man who can shape history.

He is also fated to be hanged and burned in May of 1498.


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Just a Soul That’s Changing Its Shape

The Shattered Stars — Richard S. McEnroe

Richard S. McEnroe’s 1984 The Shattered Stars is a standalone (ish) SF novel which takes place in McEnroe’s Far Stars and Future Times setting.

Moses Callahan is the proud owner of the independent trader Wild Goose, which is another way of saying he is a cash-short, desperate man pushed into an economic corner by larger, richer concerns who can afford ships with up-to-date tech. Just the sort of captain who might be greedy enough that he wouldn’t examine closely a chance to earn some quick cash.

Might.


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So Dependable

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter — Alexis Hall

Alexis Hall’s 2019 The Affair of the Mysterious Letter is a standalone fantasy mystery.

Wounded in the war against the Empress of Nothing, Captain John Wyndham returns not to Ey, the straitlaced home of his youth, but to his college town, the cosmopolitan city of Kelathra-Ven. Despite years spent away at the front, John is at heart still a small-town boy.

He ends up rooming with the flamboyantly decadent sorcerer(ess) Shaharazad Haas. Haas appreciates Wyndham for his placid toleration of Haas’ eccentricities.


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Feeling the Chill

Icerigger — Alan Dean Foster
Icerigger Trilogy, book 1

Alan Dean Foster’s 1974 Icerigger is the first volume in the Icerigger Trilogy. It is set in Foster’s Humanx Commonwealth.

Interstellar salesman Ethan Frome Fortune planned to visit the desolate iceworld Tran-ky-ky just long enough to sell some knickknacks. Instead, he stumbled over a kidnapping in progress. Fortune’s inopportune appearance was only the first thing that went wrong with the kidnappers’ plans.

One shuttle crash later and Fortune and his companions are trapped on Tran-ky-ky. The wrong side of Tran-ky-ky, thousands of kilometers from the only Commonwealth base on the planet…


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Dragonfly Out In The Sun

Fiyah Summer 2019 — Troy L. Wiggins & DaVaun Sanders

Fiyah Summer 2019 is the eleventh issue of the Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction. The cover credits Troy L. Wiggins and DaVaun Sanders, but the full masthead is:

Executive Editors: Troy L. Wiggins + DaVaun Sanders + Brandon O’Brien

Acquiring Editors: Brent Lambert + Danny Lore + Kaleb Russell + Eboni J. Dunbar

Art Direction + Layout: LeKesha Lewis

Cover Artwork by Seth Brown

Fiyah often has themed issues. This issue is an exception to that rule.


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Straight On To Morning

To Be Taught, if Fortunate — Becky Chambers


To Be Taught, if Fortunate is a standalone hard-SF novella from Becky Chambers.

Flight engineer Ariadne O’Neill and mission specialists Elena Quesada-Cruz,

Jack Vo, and Chikondi Daka have been dispatched aboard the OCA spacecraft Merian to the red dwarf star Zhenyi (BA-921), just which is a mere fourteen light-years from Sol.

Faster than light drives do not exist and neither does terraforming. Instead, the explorers must depend on somaforming, a technologically induced metamorphosis that will adapt them to the worlds they visit.

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The Ghosts That Haunt Me

Yellow Tanabe
Kekkaishi, book 1

Kekkaishi, Volume 1 includes the first seven chapters of Yellow Tanabe’s manga of the same name.

Young Yoshimori Sumimura is in training to become the 22nd demon-fighting kekkaishi of the Sumimura lineage. His neighbour Tokine Yukimura is also in training to become a kekkaishi for her own family lineage. The two opposed branches of the Hazama clan have lived side by side for 400 years and for most of that time the two families have been bitter rivals, a tradition Yoshimori’s grandfather and Tokine’s grandmother maintain to the modern day. Consequently, Yoshimori and Tokine have kept their friendship secret.

Tokine is two years older, weaker, more studious, and far more skilled than Yoshimori. Yoshimori compensates for his lack of diligence with raw power. Yoshimori’s carelessness allows a demon Ayakashi to gravely injure Tokine, an event that that forever changes the repentant Yoshimori.


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Everywhere a Wilderness

Off the Main Sequence: The Other Science Fiction Stories of Robert A. Heinlein — Robert A. Heinlein

Off the Main Sequence: The Other Science Fiction Stories of Robert A. Heinlein was edited by Andrew Wheeler, then of the Science Fiction Book Club. It delivers exactly what it says on the tin.

This book has been out of print since its first and only printing in 2005 [1]. It seems to be surprising available as a used book (which I would not have expected) but I was spared the immense difficulty of ordering and waiting for a copy, as I already owned an early cut of the book, thanks to my then job at the Science Fiction Book Club.


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As Dreamers Do

The Traveler in Black — John Brunner


John Brunner’s 1971 fantasy collection The Traveler in Black was the first book published as an Ace Science Fiction Special. It has since been republished under several titles and with varying contents; nevertheless, like its protagonist, we can say that it has but one nature.

He had many names, but one nature, and this unique nature made him subject to certain laws not binding upon ordinary persons. In a compensatory fashion, he was also free from certain other laws more commonly in force.


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Oh, So Pretty

The Belles — Dhonielle Clayton
The Belles, book 1

2018’s The Belles is the first book in Dhonielle Clayton’s The Belles secondary-world fantasy series.

Orléans is a hermit monarchy, isolated from the rest of the world. The autocratic Queen Celeste Elisabeth the Third rules with a heavy hand: harsh penalties for the disobedient and lavish rewards for the faithful.

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle, gifted with the magical power to change bodies at will. Belles control beauty in appearance-obsessed Orléans and the Queen controls the Belles.

Sixteen-year-old Camellia, fresh out of training, is desperate to be named the Queen’s favourite. But she hasn’t been desperate enough to follow the rules set out for Belles and her sister Amber becomes the new favorite.

Camellia is bitterly disappointed. There are, as Camellia will soon learn, far worse things in Orléans than disappointment.

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Like to Rage

Carry On — Rainbow Rowell
Simon Snow, book 1

Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On is a fanfic of Gemma T. Leslie’s Simon Snow series. It would be an unauthorized fanfic were it not that Gemma T. Leslie and Simon Snow were both created by Rainbow Rowell. They were introduced in Rowell’s novel Fangirl.

Simon Snow returns to wizard school Watford for the final year of his magical education. Summer at the latest foster home in the Normal world has been dreadful as always. Life at Watford isn’t without its challenges, but at least at Watford Simon has his friendship with Penelope and his joyless romance with the beautiful Agatha.


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