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Reviews from August 2015 (28)

From the pages of Astounding and Galaxy

The Diploids and Other Flights of Fancy

By Katherine MacLean  

9 Aug, 2015

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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I have been listening to the old radio show X Minus One . Because her stories provided the basis of several episodes, Katherine MacLean (last seen here in my review of her Missing Man) has been on my mind. Hence this review. The Diploids and Other Flights of Fancy (or as it is called in my edition,


The Diploids and 7 Other Stories), collects a number of her works from the 1950s. 

By purest coincidence, I recently encountered someone who had never read MacLean’s much-anthologized The Snowball Effect.” [1] That does not make me want to read this collection more than I already do — but it does convince me that now is a good time to review this (sadly obscure and wildly out of print) collection.


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The Sorceress’ Tale

Sorceress of the Witch World  (Estcarp, book 5)

By Andre Norton  

7 Aug, 2015

50 Nortons in 50 Weeks

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1968’s Sorceress of the Witch World picks up where Warlock of the Witch World left off. Kaththea is still recovering from being stripped of her magic by her brother (done to save her from a mistaken alliance with the extremely hunky forces of darkness). When she is separated from her friends by an avalanche, her magic cannot save her.

However, her magical potential can get her into more trouble.…


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I’ve always had a soft spot for radio

Kitty and the Midnight Hour  (Kitty Norville, book 1)

By Carrie Vaughn  

6 Aug, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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Even by 2005, when Carrie Vaughn’s [1] Kitty and the Midnight Hour was first published, I had read a great many urban fantasies/paranormal romances (courtesy of Andrew Wheeler at Bookspan), I had read enough of these to understand that although the Kitty Norville books share many of the surface features common to the genre, the series is more than a little different under the hood.

When we first meet her, Kitty Norville is a late-night radio DJ on Denver’s radio K‑NOB; she is obscure and seemingly fated to stay that way. This changes dramatically when she more or less by accident discovers a brand new niche for late-night call-in shows: the Midnight Hour becomes the show you call if you’re a werewolf, a vampire, or a vampire’s thrall, and you need to talk to someone about the unusual demands your condition imposes on you.

Kitty understands because Kitty is herself a werewolf.


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A small cornucopia

Kaoru Mori: Anything and Something

By Kaoru Mori  

5 Aug, 2015

Translation

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When Yen Press sent me Emma Volume One, they also sent me 2012’s Kaoru Mori: Anything and Something. Unlike A Bride’s Story and Emma, this isn’t an installment in an ongoing series. Rather, it is a collection of Mori’s short pieces, an interesting introduction to her work if you’ve not read her before.

This will be short.

Mori provides such number of short pieces that they exceed my willingness to take this chapter by chapter. The volume is just under 210 pages and there are forty-four items listed in the table of contents. I could take them one by one, but that would result in a very long review. It has been my experience that the longer my reviews, the less likely it is that people will respond to them. As someone once said, More Words, Deeper Hole.

Mori leads with a selection of longer pieces (although if you have not noticed that the collection is to be read right to left, you may think she’s ending with longer pieces inexplicably printed in reverse). These tend to be standalone pieces, essentially short stories. The second half of the book has a selection of shorter pieces, some single page and other, like the extensive study of corsets, somewhat longer.

Although this isn’t a long collection, the number of works included means that the author can cover a fair range in terms of subject matter and tone. There’s screwball comedy, what appears to be a melancholy lesbian romance (or whatever you call it when neither person admits that’s what’s going on), something that may be intended to be to Bunny fantasies what Hotel California” is to the American Dream, non-fiction, and more. Not bad for a book that’s not much over 200 pages.

The author also includes, where appropriate, commentary on the various pieces.

If you haven’t given Mori a try, this is a pretty good place to start. It’s not long, so you are not investing a lot of time, but the number and variety of pieces included means that a reader will get a pretty good idea of Mori’s range. 

Kaoru Mori: Anything and Something is available from Yen Press.

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If not for those meddling kids

Up Against It

By M. J Locke  

4 Aug, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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I like stories set in the Solar System, particularly the modern Solar System as it has been revealed since the 1960s. Or at least I tell myself I do. Paradoxically, my interest in such matters makes me a difficult audience for SF that qualifies, as I suspect this review of 2011’s Up Against It will reveal.

The Solar System of the 24 century is settled; humans live everywhere from the inner system out to the Kuiper Belt. While life in space, such as in 25 Phocaea, for example, is better than life in 24 century USA [1], that’s less a measure of the wonders of life in space and more a measure of the grimdark hellhole that is Future America [2]. Life in space is fragile; cities like 25 Phocaea’s Zekeston are dependent on imported volatiles. Very dependent.

And what happens when the supply of volatiles is suddenly interrupted? 

Nothing good.

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Road trip!

How The White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back  (White Trash Zombie, book 4)

By Diana Rowland  

3 Aug, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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2014’s [1] How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back, fourth in the series, picks up after Angel Crawford has made a good start at rebuilding her new life after the calamities — flood and various wacky series arc hijinks — that swept through her town in White Trash Zombie Apocalypse. Angel even got her GED after a lot of studying and some private tutoring that helped her to deal with her dyslexia. So that’s good. 

The dead friend who turns up buried in a shallow grave? The wave of kidnappings that sweeps St. Edwards Parish? The fact that Saberton, the malevolent corporation eager to exploit zombieism regardless of the cost to the zombies (and given that at one point they seemed on the verge of triggering a zombie plague, the cost to the world), seems to be back for another swing at the undead piñata? Not so good. And that’s not ever mentioning the brand new, progressive disorder with which both Angel and her spawn Philip are struggling.


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Three children and IT

A Wrinkle in Time  (Meg Murry, book 1)

By Madeleine L'Engle  

2 Aug, 2015

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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1962’s A Wrinkle in Time won a Newbery, even though it features no dying dogs or other pets and no child drowns tragically in a beloved creek. A star does explode but that happens before the book opens. The Newbery and the book’s heavy-handed Christian imagery gave the work enough of a patina of respectability that schools would stock it — even though it was pretty obviously spec-fic. Despite the official imprimatur, kids liked it enough to actually read it for pleasure. It still has a high enough profile that the net abounds in reviews.

Pity poor Meg Murry: 


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Island” is Old English for Death Trap”

The Way We Fall  (The Fallen World, book 1)

By Megan Crewe  

1 Aug, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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Megan Crewe’s 2012 novel The Way We Fall takes us to a small Canadian island, the island that narrator Kaelyn calls home. Sixteen year old Kaelyn’s life hasn’t been all that smooth of late. Her father didn’t react particularly well to the revelation that his son Drew is gay; in fact, he moved the whole family back to the island, away from Toronto, to distance Drew from his boyfriend. Kaelyn is also saddened by a jealousy-fueled falling-out with her best friend Leo.

Two years after the quarrel, Kaelyn belatedly regrets the rupture. Her sudden epiphany about how much she misses Leo comes too late; he has left for school on the mainland. In lieu of conversations with him, Kaelyn begins addressing each of her journal entries to Leo. It’s good practice; after all, what are the odds Leo will never return to the island? Who could imagine that life as Kaelyn knows it is about to be irrevocably transformed?

Did I mention The Way We Fall is volume one in the Fallen World trilogy?


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