Reviews

Fight Until The End

The Sleeping God — Violette Malan
Dhulyn and Parno, book 1

To quote Violette Malan’s bio,

Violette Malan has a PhD from York University in 18th-Century English Literature, but reports that most people don’t hold it against her. She started reading fantasy and science fiction at the age of eight, and was writing stories not long after. Violette has been a book reviewer, and has written feature articles on genre writing and literature for the Kingston Whig Standard. She has taught creative writing, English as a second language, Spanish, beginner’s French, and choreography for strippers. On occasion she’s worked as an administrative assistant, and a carpenter’s helper. Her most unusual job was translating letters between lovers, one of whom spoke only English, the other only Spanish.
Violette is co-founder of the Scene of the Crime Festival on Wolfe Island, a single-day event focusing on Canadian crime writing, and celebrating the birthplace of Grant Allen, Canada’s first crime writer. Violette is currently the president of the festival board, but in the past she’s given writing workshops, and was the original organizer and co-judge of The Wolfe Island Prize for first crime fiction, which is sponsored by the festival.

2007’s The Sleeping God is the first volume in Violette Malan’s Dhulyn and Parno series.

The contract seemed so straightforward. Escort a young woman to her nation’s capital. Unfortunately for Dhulyn and Parno, they’re heading for the capital of Imrion and disquieting events are underway.

Read review


Like a Butterfly

Fumi Yoshinaga
Ôoku: The Inner Chambers, book 1

2009’s Ôoku: The Inner Chambers, Vol. 1 is the first tankōbon in Fumi Yoshinaga’s long-running alternate history manga series. Volumes 1 and 2 shared the 2009 Tiptree Award with Greer Gilman’s Cloud & Ashes.

Eighty years ago, the Red Pox swept across Japan. Men were peculiarly vulnerable to the disease; even now, there are four women for every man. Too precious to risk, men are kept safely sequestered from danger. Occupations once the monopoly of men are now the realm of women.

Good looking Yunoshin shares his seed generously with the poor women of his town, but social barriers prevent him from marrying O-Nobu, the one woman he loves. Rather than spend his life living near the beloved he cannot have, he applies for a position in the Ôoku, the Shogun’s harem.

Yunoshin vanishes into the inner chambers, never to walk the streets of his hometown again.


Read review


Seasons Crying No Despair

Northern Tier — David Axel Kurtz

2017’s Northern Tier is a standalone post-apocalyptic novel by David Axel Kurtz.

Two centuries after nuclear war and the collapse of petroleum-based civilization, North America is divided between several nations: Nova Scotia et Hibernia, Minnetonka, Central, Two Crowns, and others. Trade between nations has become slow and difficult, creating a niche for couriers who are willing to brave the dangers of the open road to deliver small, valuable packages quickly. The cycers, bicycle couriers like Slip, fill this niche.

Slip is a survivor, smart and cautious enough to survive a lifestyle that kills most cycers young. But this time, one moment of bad judgment on her part may doom not just Slip, but the entire cycer way of life.

Read review


Dance to a Whispered Voice

The Dazzle of Day — Molly Gloss

1998’s The Dazzle of Day is a standalone generation ship novel by Molly Gloss.

Frustrated with conditions on Earth, a community of Quakers re-purposes an orbiting space habitat. Renamed the Dusty Miller, equipped with vast solar sails, the vessel heads into deepest space for a 175-year journey to another star.

Read review


Another Mile of Silence

Orbitsville — Bob Shaw
Orbitsville, book 1

1975’s Orbitsville is the first volume in Bob Shaw’s Orbitsville trilogy.

Vance Garamond is a competent starship pilot but a terrible babysitter. He fails to prevent his boss’s son from falling to his death. His boss, Elizabeth Lindstrom, the autocratic president of the company that controls interstellar flight, is notoriously vindictive. Rather than wait to see what form her vengeance will take, Garamond collects his wife Aileen and son Christopher and flees to the stars in a commandeered flickerwing starship, the Bissendorf.

If only there were somewhere beyond Lindstrom’s reach Garamond and his family could flee …

Read review


Don’t Have Nobody to Call My Own

The Forgotten Tale — J. M. Frey
Accidental Turn, book 2

The Forgotten Tale is the second volume in J. M. Frey’s Accidental Turn series.

Once a supporting character in Elgar Reed’s deplorably written but popular fantasy series, spymaster Forsyth Turn escaped with his beloved Pip to Pip’s native Canada (which, as we all know, is nearly as happy as Denmark). Content in his new life, husband to Pip, father to Alis, Forsyth has no intention of returning to his native Hain or even of maintaining contact with Reed.

Alas, just because he is done with fantastic adventures in Reed’s poorly–thought-out land does not mean that Hain is done with Forsyth. Or with Forsyth’s family.

Read review


Like the Weave of a Spider

The City of Woven Streets — Emmi Itäranta

Emmi Itäranta’s 2015 standalone secondary world fantasy Kudottujen kujien kaupunki was published in 2016 as The City of Woven Streets. And also as The Weaver (for some reason I cannot comprehend).

The island on which Eliana lives is controlled by a Council much concerned with contamination by uncanny dreams and other such temptations to … well, if I told you more that would be a spoiler. Those deemed Tainted are isolated, a precaution to prevent the spread of Taint. This has not been working well. The island’s rulers do the only sensible thing: double down on enforcement. It’s a small, harsh world.

Read review


Ain’t the Kind of Place to Raise Your Kids

Places in the Darkness — Chris Brookmyre

2017’s Places in the Darkness is a standalone near-future police procedural thriller by Chris Brookmyre.

230,000 kilometres above the Earth’s surface, Ciudad de Cielo is supposed to be the shining city on the hill, a utopia where the technology needed to reach the stars will be developed. It should be filled with pristine rooms and corridors filled with hard-working, well behaved idealists, a glorious celebration of humanity’s loftiest goals.

In actual fact, some fool staffed CdC with actual humans, not flawless paragons. Almost every vice known to humanity exists and is catered to by someone within the great space city. Not murder, however. That’s one failing not found in space.

Until now.

Read review


Freedom, Freedom, We Will Not Obey

Artificial Condition — Martha Wells
The Murderbot Diaries, book 2

2018’s Artificial Condition is the second volume in Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries. A review of the first volume, All Systems Red, is here.

Rather than trust its fate to humans, no matter how well intentioned, the freethinking construct calling itself Murderbot decides to evade its protectors and find freedom. But first, a few loose ends to be cleared. Such as what role Murderbot might have played in the deaths of dozens of people on planet RaviHyral.

Step one is getting to aforesaid obscure world without being exposed as a rogue SecUnit and forcibly returned to factory settings.

Bored AIs piloting interstellar transport ships turn out to be very observant.

Read review


Take That Boy’s Crown

Watchtower — Elizabeth A. Lynn
Chronicles of Tornor, book 1

1979’s Watchtower is the first volume in Elizabeth A. Lynn’s Chronicles of Tornor.

Most of Tornor Keep’s defenders died in a futile attempt to bar invaders led by Col Istor. Knocked out cold early in the battle, the armsman Ryke was spared. Not out of charity. Istor respected Ryke’s abilities and preferred to keep him alive and useful. Not that Istor wholly trusts Ryke, but he does have leverage.

That leverage is Errel, heir to the late lord of Tornor Keep. Errel lives only as long as Ryke serves Istor. At that, Errel survives only as a “cheari” or jester.

Read review


Down to Your Bones

The Starving Queen — Dean Italiano

To quote Dean Italiano’s bio:

Dean Italiano lives with G and their twin boys in Waterloo, ON. Author of Pain Machine, Spirits and Death in Niagara, and Katrina and the Frenchman: A Journal from the Street, Dean also works with G musically to produce CDs Johnny Gruesome and From Skull Tavern, and occasionally does some artwork as well. By day, Dean works in a wonderfully busy elementary school Library. You can find more information at picpublishing.ca.

2017’s The Starving Queen is a stand-alone urban fantasy.

Bev managed to escape the Starving Queen. Her daughter Jasmine won’t be so lucky.

Read review


This Is The End, My Friend

Hiromu Arakawa
Fullmetal Alchemist, book 9


Viz’ Fullmetal Alchemist (3-in-1 Edition), Volumes 25–27 includes Volumes 25, 26, and 27 of the original Japanese manga1. Story and art are by Hiromu Arakawa; English translation by Akira Watanabe; English adaptation by Jake Forbes; touch-up art and lettering by Wayne Truman. The original manga appeared in 2010.

The nice thing about series whose author has a destination in mind is the comparative absence of supporting characters who don’t actually support anything and subplots that don’t go anywhere. The less nice thing is that eventually the story reaches that destination. End of the line.

Which gets me to Fullmetal Alchemist (3-in-1 Edition), Volumes 25–27.

Read review


Like Moses Before

An Oath of Dogs — Wendy N. Wagner

2017’s An Oath of Dogs is a standalone SF novel by Wendy N. Wagner.

A near-fatal accident has left Kate Standish traumatized, paralyzed by acrophobia. Thanks to her therapeutic dog Hattie, Standish is able to function well enough to work again. Thanks to the selfless benevolence of the Songheuser company, she has a job wherein she can demonstrate her hard-won stability.

Poor Standish.

Read review


Marching As To War

Four Roads Cross — Max Gladstone
Craft Sequence, book 5

Four Roads Cross is the fifth book published in Max Gladstone’s Craft sequence. It is the fourth book by internal chronology.

Many in Alt Coulumb believe that Seril the Moon Goddess betrayed them when she left the city to fight and die in the God Wars. Seril has revived and returned, sans publicity. She helps her people where she can do so without revealing herself. The city’s priests know, but are still considering how best to handle Seril’s reappearance.

When Seril dispatches one of her gargoyles to save a woman from muggers, the victim turns out to be one of Alt Coulumb’s Criers, the local equivalent of a plucky reporter. Being saved from a brutal death is one thing, but a story is a story. The world will learn the goddess walks again.

Journalistic diligence may have doomed a city.

Read review


Ice Cold Hands Takin’ Hold Of Me

A Fond Farewell to Dying — Syd Logsdon

1981’s A Fond Farewell to Dying is a novel-length expansion of Syd Logsdon’s 1978 novella To Go Not Gently.

Of all the nations of Earth, India has been least affected by the Cataclysm that ended Euro-American domination of the world. Though even India was changed: sea level rise has cut it off from mainland Asia and the fallout that made it over the Himalayas has forced birth rates below replacement levels. Two centuries after the nuclear conflict, India is a much emptier place.

Scientist David Singer has abandoned the North America of his birth for India, the most advanced nation on the planet. Now calling himself Ram David Singh, he is researching what he conceives as immortality tech. The odds of an American hick garnering the required resources from the Indian state may seen poor, but geopolitics is his friend.

Read review


Dreams of You All Through My Head

The Red Ring — Jen Frankel
Blood & Magic, book 2

2014’s The Red Ring is the second volume in Jen Frankel’s Blood & Magic series. My review of book one, The Last Rite, is here.

In the previous volume, in order defeat a vicious warlock, almost-sixteen year old Maggie Stuart gave up her magic and now must live as a muggle. None of her former friends remember that she saved them from the warlock (or even that they had been her friends). Her loathsome mentor is pressuring her for sex. If she had any friends, she might cry on their shoulders … but the last three years has sent her decidedly into social reject territory.

Magic is about to come back into her life in a big way.

Read review


Another Day, Another Destiny

Hiromu Arakawa
Fullmetal Alchemist, book 8

Viz’ Fullmetal Alchemist (3-in-1 Edition), Volumes 22–24 includes Volumes 22, 23, and 24 of the original Japanese manga1. Story and art are by Hiromu Arakawa; English translation by Akira Watanabe; English adaptation by Jake Forbes; touch-up art and lettering by Wayne Truman. The original manga appeared in 2009.

Adults are offered many opportunities to defer gratification, such as spacing out the last few volumes of a limited series instead of hoovering them up all at once. Adults can also say “screw delayed gratification; finish the series!” and get away with it. Guess which kind of adult I am.

Which brings us to the eighth, second-to-last, 3-in-1 omnibus of Fullmetal Alchemist. In this volume, plans come together. Sorta kinda.

Read review


Just Like Fire

Jade City — Fonda Lee
Green Bone Saga, book 1

2017’s Jade City is the first installment in Fonda Lee’s Green Bone Saga secondary-world kung-fu gangster saga. At 512 pages, it’s significantly longer than either Exo’s 369 pages or Zeroboxer’s 351. It’s also significantly more ambitious.

The island of Kekon is the only known source of jade, which in this world is a miraculous substance that can grant enhanced abilities to those few whom it does not drive mad or kill. The minority who can use it safely are known as Green Bones. Custom grants the Green Bones a role as protectors of Kekon and its merchants (whether the merchants want protection or not). Since the Green Bone clans are constantly feuding, the island is far from peaceful.

Ayt Mada plans to transform a divided island into a unified whole.

Read review


These Seven League Boots

Exo — Steven Gould
Jumper, book 4

2015’s Exo is the fourth book in Steven Gould’s long-running Jumper series.

Cent is one of just three humans able to teleport; the other two are her mother Millie and her father Davy. The ability allows the family to treat the entire planet as their home. It has also led to decades of persecution (stalking, abduction, imprisonment) by those determined to control and exploit the trio.

So far, they have survived by hiding. Only a handful of people know what the three can do. Thanks to Cent’s current hobby, that’s going to change.

Read review


When You Hear the Wild Geese Calling

The Exiles Trilogy — Ben Bova

1971’s Exiled From Earth, 1972’s Flight of Exiles, and 1975’s End of Exile form Ben Bova’s Exile Trilogy.

Cast out from overcrowded Earth, will our heroes be able to maintain a stable culture for the decades or centuries it will take to find a new Earth … or will they, like pretty much every other generation ship in the genre — last week’s excepted — end up recapitulating Robert Heinlein’s Orphans of the Sky?

Read review


There’s a Light

Ward Against Darkness — Melanie Card
Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer, book 2

2013’s Ward Against Darkness is the second volume in Melanie Card’s Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer series.

The good news is that Ward De’Ath is spending less time worrying about being outed as a practitioner of the forbidden surgical arts. That’s because he is facing a far more immediate problem: a band of highly motivated assassins want to kill Ward and his dead…ish companion Celia.

Ward and Celia manage to elude their hunters and head for a wilderness that might just be wild enough to hide them. There’s just one catch.

Read review


When The Night Has Come

Hiromu Arakawa
Fullmetal Alchemist, book 7

Viz’ Fullmetal Alchemist (3-in-1 Edition), Volumes 19–21 includes Volumes 19, 20, and 21 of the original Japanese manga [1]. Story and art are by Hiromu Arakawa; English translation by Akira Watanabe; English adaptation by Jake Forbes; touch-up art and lettering by Wayne Truman. The original manga appeared in 2008.

All seems lost!

  • Roy Mustang’s trusted subordinates have been scattered across Amestris;

  • Major General Olivier Mira Armstrong (formerly of Briggs Fortress) appears to have gone over to Team Evil, leaving her beloved Fortress in the hands of officers very definitely loyal to the malevolent Father;

  • the great transmutation circle needed for the sacrifice of an entire nation is almost finished;

and worst of all, Alphonse Elric’s soul is beginning to reject the armour that houses it.

Read review


Taking This One To The Grave

Emissaries From The Dead — Adam-Troy Castro
Andrea Cort, book 1

2008’s Emissaries from the Dead is the second story and first novel in Adam-Troy Castro’s Andrea Cort series.

When she was eight, Andrea Cort’s home community on Bocai descended into violent mass insanity. Cort succumbed to the madness but emerged one of the few survivors. Cort still thinks of herself as a Monster-with-a-capital-M but her trauma makes her valuable to the Homo Sapiens Confederacy Diplomatic Corps. The Corps stands between Cort and the aliens who would like her tried for her past. If Cort is to stay within the Corps’ safe harbour, she must accept every crappy assignment they hand her.

Which is how Associate Legal Counsel for the Homo Sapiens Confederacy Diplomatic Corps Judge Advocate Andrea Cort finds herself headed to One One One, with strict orders to find a politically acceptable person to blame for a brutal murder, regardless of who the actual killer might be.

Read review


Living in the Shadow of the Messes That You Made

Fuzzy Sapiens — H. Beam Piper
Little Fuzzy, book 2

1964’s Fuzzy Sapiens, first published under the title The Other Human Race, is the sequel1 to H. Beam Piper’s Little Fuzzy.

Previously: old Jack Holloway, Ben Rainsford, Ruth Otheris, and their allies triumphed over the forces of pure capitalist evil, as represented by Victor Grego and his Chartered Zarathustra Company. Zarathustra was reclassified from Class-III to Class-IV and its native Fuzzies legally accepted as people.

Now Jack and his friends get to grapple with the consequences of winning.

Read review


Muscle and Blood and Skin and Bones

Noumenon — Marina J. Lostetter

2017’s Noumenon is a standalone generation-ship epic from Marina J. Lostetter.

Reggie Straifer is twice lucky. First, he has boosted his career with his discovery of an enigmatic stellar object, one that is quite possibly artificial. Second, he has made his discovery at a time when humanity has both the means and the will to travel to that distant object.

There’s just one catch: the round trip will take two thousand years by Earth’s clocks and over two centuries by any traveller’s clock. Happily, the means and the will to deal with that issue also exist. Less happily, the means turns out to be inhumane.

Read review


 
  

Support me with a Patreon monthly subscription!

Review Categories

By Author/Editor

Reviews by Date