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Reviews from March 2015 (29)

Slip-sticks, space stations and wise-cracking secretaries 

The Complete Venus Equilateral

By George O. Smith  

8 Mar, 2015

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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Even when I picked up The Complete Venus Equilateral way back in 1976, the stories it contained were for the most part pretty creaky material. Of the thirteen stories in this collection, eleven had been published between 1942 and 1945. There was a 1947 straggler, written to provide a coda and then one last story, written decades later (for reasons I will get into later). For the most part these ran in Astounding (now Analog) and they are straightforward gadget stories. There are a few stories worth remembering, and these exceptions are why I still have my copy of this book.

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Yet more SF about women, by women

New Women of Wonder  (Women of Wonder, volume 3)

By Pamela Sargent  

7 Mar, 2015

Women of Wonder

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1978’s The New Women of Wonder was the third volume in the series. Until 1995, when the fourth volume Women of Wonder: the Classic Years was released, this was the concluding anthology in the Women of Wonder series. Unlike the first two volumes, New Women of Wonder focused entirely on contemporary (from the perspective of the late 1970s) works of science fiction by women.

A majority of the stories are also linked by an air of despair and hopelessness. They suggest that coexistence with men means at best subjugation, and at worst, much worse. How far we’ve come, eh?

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fascinating little oddity

Secret of the Lost Race

By Andre Norton  

6 Mar, 2015

50 Nortons in 50 Weeks

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1959’s Secret of the Lost Race is a fascinating little oddity; it has what must be the most bleak passage I’ve encountered in a Norton novel, the first (possible but not confirmed) matriarchy I remember encountering in her fiction (despite not having any on-stage women to speak of, which is an odd combination), and, because the copy I happened to find was the 1969 Ace reprint, a very interesting essay by Lin Carter. 

But first, a word from the fan site Andre Norton Books:


March 17, 2015
Marks ten years since the world has been without Andre Norton.
Andre-Norton-Books.com will be doing a special tribute to
The Grand Dame of Science Fiction and Fantasy
We have a special gift to share with all of Andre’s fans.
Please honor Andre by emailing us with any words of tribute
that you wish to share with Andre and her fans.
Email us at webmaster@andre-norton-books.com

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Basically, I have no sense of humour

Nine Goblins

By T. Kingfisher  

5 Mar, 2015

Special Requests

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I expect I won’t make friends with this review of 2013’s Nine Goblins. However, I can do no other, thanks to a minor quirk of mine. I discovered this quirk when rereading Matt Ruff’s Sewer, Gas & Electric: The Public Works Trilogy. At some point when I wasn’t paying attention, comedic genocide just stopped working for me. This is a shame because so much fantasy and SF depends on genocide as positive plot element. This trifling oddity of taste must have robbed me of hours of morally equivocal entertainment.

It is very clear that Kingfisher believes what is being done to the goblins is wrong. Nevertheless, Kingfisher is aiming at humour in Nine Goblins. She may well have succeeded for the majority of her readers, but, thanks to my quirk, she did not succeed with me. 

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Better off alone than in bad company

As Red as Blood  (The Snow White Trilogy, volume 1)

By Salla Simukka  (Translated by Owen Witesman)

4 Mar, 2015

Translation

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2014’s As Red As Blood, first book in the Snow White Trilogy, answers a question I didn’t know I had, which is what would happen if a plucky girl detective like Nancy Drew wandered into a Kurt Wallander [1] novel?” Not that seventeen-year-old art student Lumikki Andersson had any intention of playing detective or getting involved in the affairs of three foolish classmates.

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Are peace and pacifistic attitudes now passé?

The City, Not Long After

By Pat Murphy  

3 Mar, 2015

Rediscovery Tuesday

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Pat Murphys 1989 novel The City, Not Long After exists in the intersection between two subgenres, the post-apocalyptic story and the nonviolent resistance story. There are far more post-apocalyptic stories than stories about nonviolent resistance. That’s because Everything Blew Up and Then Fell Down is a hell of a lot easier to write than stories where the protagonists are not allowed to solve social problems with cathartic violence [1]. Also, if you do write about nonviolent resistance, you will only enrage Gregory Benford and Charles Platt.

This is the sort of subgenre that almost compels spoilers and so, SPOILER WARNING.

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A Canadian sports classic!

The Tim Tebow CFL Chronicles

By Jon Bois  

2 Mar, 2015

Special Requests

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When I accepted the commission to review The Tim Tebow CFL Chronicles, I assumed I was agreeing to read some sort of mundane Canadian sports history, which, while outside my usual haunts, is a genre with which I have experience [1]. I had a vague awareness that Tebow existed and that he played one of the lesser sports known south of the border. It made perfect sense that such a person might try to better themself by playing one of the many superior sports native to Canada — football, hockey, lacrosse, snow plow coup-counting — but it turns out I had totally misjudged the genre. This multimedia work, which can be experienced only on the web, belongs to another genre (but also one with which I am fairly familiar): absurdist sports fantasy. 

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Who Decides?

Missing Man

By Katherine MacLean  

1 Mar, 2015

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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I discovered MacLean in the 1970s [1] but her career began in the 1940s. During the 1950s she was one of the more prominent women writing science fiction, with stories like Pictures Don’t Lie,” The Snowball Effect,” and Incommunicado.” Like most authors at the time, she focused on short works rather than novels, but in the 1970s she did produce a small number of novels, of which this would be the best remembered.

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