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Reviews from October 2014 (27)

I hated this book

The Soul of the Robot

By Barrington J. Bayley  

6 Oct, 2014

Special Requests

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Although I think of Barrington J. Bayley as a charming oddity from the 1970s, I see his career actually began in the 1950s and continued into the Aughts. Still, of the sixteen Bayley novels of which I am aware, nine are from the 1970s and only three date from later than the mid-1980s. Apparently he was influential on a number of higher profile authors, all of whom will probably be happier with me if they stop reading now.

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Discontentment in utopia

Don’t Bite The Sun  (Biting The Sun, book 1)

By Tanith Lee  

5 Oct, 2014

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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1976’s Don’t Bite the Sun is apparently the first volume in a trilogy but while the second book, Drinking Sapphire Wine, saw print in 1977, the third volume was never published. I only just discovered there was even supposed to be a third one and I have no idea what it would have been about. My copy is the first printing of the mass market paperback and I read it in a way a reader coming to it could not today, on its own and without reference to the sequel. I am going to tried hard to replicate that experience here.

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Love and engineering; a recipe for armageddon

Devices and Desires  (The Engineer Trilogy, book 1)

By K J Parker  

2 Oct, 2014

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Mezentia, queen of the industrialized cities! Also the only industrialized city of note thanks to its habit of closing guarding its secrets through all available means, up to and including casual genocide; it is a very bad thing to give Mezentia the impression some of their intellectual property has fallen into your soon to be extremely and brutally dead hands. 

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fantasies light and dark, from and about Japan

Phantasm Japan:

 Edited by Nick Mamatas & Masumi Washington 

1 Oct, 2014

Translation

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For some reason the cover says this was edited by Haikasoru” but that is a stand-in for Nick Mamatas and Masumi Washington. As explained in Mamatas’ introduction, the intention here is de-exoticize so if you’re looking for something to reinforce an impression of Japan as Other and Enchantedly Unknowable, look to other works for support in that endeavor. 

Washington for her part makes a point of thanking the translators; they often go unnoticed (and I think in at least one book I am considering for review, uncredited) but anyone who has read a bad translation next to a superior one will know how crucial they are. Lesser publishers could learn from Haikasoru. 

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