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Reviews from February 2015 (24)

More SF about women, by women

More Women of Wonder  (Women of Wonder, book 2)

By Pamela Sargent 

28 Feb, 2015

Women of Wonder

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1976’s More Women of Wonder followed Women of Wonder by nineteen months [1] and offered a second sampling of speculative fiction written by women. As did the first collection, this draws from work published over the previous four decades although this volume has a higher fraction of recent works than the first volume. The stories included are with a single exception novelettes, a form which, like the novella, is in many ways an ideal length for SF [2].

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OH ANDRE NORTON NO

Voodoo Planet  (Solar Queen, book 3)

By Andre Norton 

27 Feb, 2015

50 Nortons in 50 Weeks

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1959’s Voodoo Planet is the second half of the omnibus referenced in the previous review. I was a bit surprised to discover that this is one of the Solar Queen stories. I thought I had been sent all of the Solar Queen stories for review over the years, but I’d never seen this one. Having read it, I suspect I know why this is the Solar Queen tale Norton fans would just as soon pretend does not exist. I will reveal the secret if you follow me into the dark mysteries of a review I will call (borrowing Hradzka’s memorable title) OH ANDRE NORTON NO.

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Interstellar Confidence Game

Star Hunter

By Andre Norton 

27 Feb, 2015

50 Nortons in 50 Weeks

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I am reviewing 1961’s Star Hunter out of sequence because in the original ad for Andre Norton novels, the one that inspired this series, Star Hunter is listed as part of an omnibus edition also containing Voodoo Planet. That novel was published in 1959. This review and the one that follows constitute a review of the omnibus Star Hunter & Voodoo Planet. In cases like this, the publication date of the earlier work is the one I am going to use [1].

Discussion of one of the more interesting aspects of this book requires a pretty major spoiler, so … SPOILER WARNING!

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When is a translation not a translation?

The Blond Baboon  (Grijpstra and de Gier, book 6)

By Van Janwillem de Wetering 

25 Feb, 2015

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Back in the 1980s, there was a very good used bookstore on King Street in Kitchener [1], a store whose name I have forgotten but whose proprietor had an uncanny skill for pointing me at mystery series she thought I would like … and buy. Janwillem van de Wetering’s Grijpstra and de Gier series was one of her recommendations. While I had read a number of police procedural series, I had never read anything like this one.

Although 1978’s The Blond Baboon is six novels (and three years) into the fourteen novel (and twenty-two years) series [2], I picked it for review because it had the unique property of being at the top of a stack of books, not trapped down where the stack would collapse if I removed it. I’ve often used this selection method and I stand by it, as do various stacks of books.

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A Tales of the Commons, Part Two

Black Brillion  (Commons, book 2)

By Matthew Hughes 

24 Feb, 2015

Rediscovery Tuesday

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Black Brillion is one of those books I would never have thought to read if Science Fiction Book Club Senior Editor Andrew Wheeler hadn’t assigned it to me for review. I greatly enjoyed it, as did Andrew (if I am remembering correctly). Various other figures in the publishing industry loved it too, Alas, the readers, those bastards, ignored it.

It is a dismal fact that the set of the books I enjoy and the set of books that the great masses of SF readers favor do not have much overlap. [Imagine a Venn diagram where the circles do not overlap.] At times it seems like me as if me enthusing about a book is the kiss of death [1]. Surely hundreds of thousands of strangers across the world don’t buy the books they do (or rather, don’t buy the books I like) purely to piss me off?

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Back to Russell’s Attic

Half Life  (Russell’s Attic, book 2)

By S.L. Huang 

23 Feb, 2015

Special Requests

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2014’s Half Life returns the reader to the world of super-mercenary and mathematical genius Cas Russell. Rather to her own surprise, Cas is still friends with both detective Arthur Trestling and his hacker buddy Checker. Even more to her surprise, keeping Arthur happy matters a lot to Cas. In deference to Arthur, Cas has adopted all kinds of extreme restrictions on her behavior, like not killing people even when they get in her way. When the book opens, Cas has gone a whole sixty-three days without killing someone.

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Not the Tiptree I expected

Up the Walls of the World

By James Tiptree 

22 Feb, 2015

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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As noted in a previous review, many Disco-era critics and reviewers made fools of themselves by proudly claiming James Tiptree, Jr., one of the important new writers of the period, for Team Penis. As you know, Bob, Tiptree was the pen name of Alice Bradley Sheldon. She is still best known by her pen name, which I will use here. 

James Tiptree, Jr. is remembered for classic short stories such as The Women Men Don’t See,” And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side,” and The Girl Who Was Plugged In.” She did write two SF novels over the course of her too-short career; Up the Walls of the World was the first. 

It’s an oddly Un-Tiptreeian work. 

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By Women, About Women

Women of Wonder  (Women of Wonder, book 1)

By Pamela SargentEdited by Pamela Sargent 

21 Feb, 2015

Women of Wonder

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Ah, the 1970s. Some later authors would have you believe that it was a vast wasteland until it was redeemed by the passage of time and the appearance of their first books. In fact, it was a vibrant period for science fiction, and one of the most significant developments was an influx of talented women into the field. As Damon Knight remarked in the early part of that decade, all the interesting new authors were women, with the exception of James Tiptree, Jr. It’s remarkable how often this sort of faux pas happened. If you were a person of the male gender commenting on SF in the 1970s, making some comment about James Tiptree, Jr. that would later appear to be hilariously misinformed would seem to have been de rigueur. 

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My Very First Norton

Galactic Derelict  (Time Traders, book 2)

By Andre Norton 

20 Feb, 2015

50 Nortons in 50 Weeks

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The 1982 Ace edition of 1959’s Galactic Derelict is billed as Book #2 in the Ross Murdoch series.” That bit is misleading. While Ross does appear in the book, he’s only a supporting character; its true protagonist is Travis Fox. If Ace had billed this as Time Traders #2, that would have dodged the whole who is the protagonist?’ issue.

I could give this book another blurb: first Andre Norton SF reviewer James Nicoll ever read.” That was way back in 1972, an earlier edition of the book, another time. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times … sorry, I get flashbacks. 


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