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Reviews from March 2015 (29)

Award worthy fiction

Spirits Abroad

By Zen Cho 

31 Mar, 2015

Special Requests

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Zen Cho, a Malaysian author living in London, is familiar from the late, lamented World SF blog, the 2013 Campbell Award for Best New Writer and the 2015 IAFA William L. Crawford Fantasy Award (a literary award given to a writer whose first fantasy book was published during the preceding 18 months) but I do not think I had actually read anything of hers before I started the work under review [1], Cho’s 2014 collection Spirits Abroad. Not to leave you in suspense or anything, I liked it a lot and hope to read more of Cho’s work.

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Henry Kershaw Must Die!

Steel Blues  (Order of the Air, book 2)

By Jo Graham 

30 Mar, 2015

Special Requests

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Second in the Order of the Air series, 2013’s Steel Blues revisits the protagonists of 2012’s Lost Things. Henry Kershaw, a flamboyant plot-enabler, also turns up again. 

It is two years into the Great Depression. Nothing President Hoover has done has helped. One of his measures, pulling all the air mail contracts from the small carriers and consolidating the contracts with just four large carriers [1], threatens Gilchrist Aviation, the small company run by Alma Gilchrist and Mitchell Sorley. Hoover has yanked their mail routes and Gilchrist Aviation is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

There is one faint hope on the horizon. 

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Soaked in 1970s-style sexism like a hopeful swinger reeking of Hai Karate

Colony

By Ben Bova 

29 Mar, 2015

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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1978’s Colony is a sequel of sorts to Bova’s earlier Millennium.

Chet Kinsman’s sacrifice in Millennium was not entirely in vain; the Cold War is over and in 2008, the Earth is governed by a World Government directed by the well-meaning socialist De Paolo. Unfortunately the essential issues — overpopulation, and the pollution and resource depletion that accompany it — that drove the United States and the Soviet Union to contemplate nuclear war didn’t vanish with the Cold War. The weak World Government can manage little beyond palliative measures. Doomsday has been delayed, not prevented.

And there are those who are doing their best to push the world towards its final crisis as quickly as they can.

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Sequel to return to SF about women, by women

Women of Wonder: The Contemporary Years  (Women of Wonder, book 5)

By Pamela Sargent 

28 Mar, 2015

Women of Wonder

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1995’s Women of Wonder: The Contemporary Years is the latest and perhaps final installment in the Women of Wonder series. This collection of stories, novelettes, and novellas presents works written by women and published after Sargent’s 1978 New Women of Wonder. It covers seventeen years, from 1978’s Cassandra” to 1993’s Farming in Virginia.” Even though it covers only half as many years as Women of Wonder: The Classic Years (thirty-four years), it is just as big a book. This would suggest that there was an influx of talented women into the field in the modern era — which there was. 

Despite the fact that there were — and are — those who work tirelessly to keep those pesky wimmin out of SF.

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First Forerunner

Storm Over Warlock  (Warlock, book 1)

By Andre Norton 

27 Mar, 2015

50 Nortons in 50 Weeks

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1960’s Storm Over Warlock begins as Shan Lantee, a low-ranking recruit from an abjectly deprived background, suddenly becomes the senior member of his exploration team on the planet Warlock. Unfortunately this does not come because his worth is suddenly recognized by his superiors. It comes because he’s the only human member of the team who is not in the Terran Survey camp when it and all of its inhabitants are burned to ashes by the hostile alien Throgs.

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Duelist Noir

The Fencing Master

By Arturo Pérez-Reverte 

25 Mar, 2015

Translation

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Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s 1988 novel El maestro de esgrima, published in English under the title The Fencing Master, takes us to the Spain of 1866, where the long, troubled reign of Isabella II is about to stumble to an end in the Glorious Revolution [1]. Although aware of the political turmoil swirling around him, fencing master Don Jaime Astarloa ignores such grimy realities. He would rather focus on his Quixotic search for the perfect sword thrust, while eking out a small income teaching the gentlemanly art of fencing to upper-class students. Unfortunately for Don Jaime, politics is not going to ignore him.

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Boy, was I a gullible teenager

The Third Industrial Revolution

By Harry G. Stine 

22 Mar, 2015

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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G. Harry Stine [1] was an engineer, an SF author (under the pen-name Lee Correy), and for about thirty-five years, off and on, author of a science fact column for Astounding/Analog. He was a big space booster. His 1975 book, The Third Industrial Revolution was a best-selling popularization that predicted a great age of space exploitation that would begin in the 1980s. 

Of course Stine was also a True Believer in the Dean Drive. Maybe fourteen-year-old James should have taken warning from that. In fourteen-year-old James’ defense, he was somewhat credulous when it came to SPACE

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Return to SF about women, by women

Women of Wonder: The Classic Years  (Women of Wonder, book 4)

By Pamela Sargent 

21 Mar, 2015

Women of Wonder

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The first three Women of Wonder anthologies came out over a span of three years in the 1970s. Seventeen years would pass before the next (and to date, final) pair: Women of Wonder: The Classic Years and Women of Wonder: The Contemporary Years. The two books were published in July and August of 1995. Two of my three sources say The Classic Years was published first.

The first issue that I have to deal with in this review concerns

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