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Reviews from June 2016 (20)

Turn Your Face to the Moonlight

Plastic Smile  (Russell’s Attic, book 4)

By S.L. Huang 

29 Jun, 2016

Miscellaneous Reviews

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S. L. Huang’s 2016 Plastic Smile is the fourth volume in Huang’s ongoing Russell’s Attic series.

Six months after the events of the last volume (Root of Unity), Cas Russell is still wrestling with her unexpected discovery that everyone else has memories that go back more than a few years. Where other people have pasts, Cas has a giant blank and she still does not know what to make of it.

On the plus side, she does have an exciting new hobby: saving Los Angeles from itself. 

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The Final Piece of the Puzzle

Clay’s Ark  (Patternist, book 4)

By Octavia E. Butler 

28 Jun, 2016

Miscellaneous Reviews

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Published last, Octavia E. Butler’s 1984 Clay’s Ark was the fourth installment in her five book Patternist series. Along with 1978’s Survivor, of which we do not speak, it abandons the series’ focus on psychic monsters. Rather, it examines an entirely different kind of monster

Humanity’s first foray to an alien world ended in disaster. The remains of the starship Clay’s Ark are scrap scattered across an American desert; the crew are dead. All but one of the crew are dead, that is. Better for troubled Earth had the ship simply broken apart and burned up during re-entry.

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Acknowledging McCaffrey

Decision at Doona  (Doona, book 1)

By Anne McCaffrey 

26 Jun, 2016

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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On the one hand, I am not a fan of Anne McCaffrey’s fiction. On the other, she was a significant figure in the field, one of just five women named Grand Master of Science Fiction; at some point I need to acknowledge her. I find that I do have some of her books1. One of those books is the initially standalone2 1969 novel Decision at Doona. 

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Deeds Not Words

Grass  (Arbai, book 1)

By Sheri S. Tepper 

23 Jun, 2016

Special Requests

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I’m not a huge fan of Sheri S. Tepper, which is why I’ve only now read her 1990 novel, Grass. Not even the 1991 Hugo nomination was enough to tempt me. Why read it now? Someone commissioned this review. I apologize if the result isn’t quite what they expected.

Grass is the first volume in Tepper’s Arbai trilogy; it is set on the planet after which the novel is named. Comparatively few humans call Grass home. There are the bons, self-styled aristocrats, obsessed with hunting and indifferent to the outside world; there are the port city Commoner Town and the friary of Green Brothers. Not much to attract off-world visitors, particularly in an era when the dominant Great Power, Earth-based Sanctity, sees colonies as hotbeds of apostasy and chaos. 

But it is of some interest that Grass seems to be the only world where people do not die of a mysterious plague. This not-officially-acknowledged disease seems likely to wipe out the entire human race1. While the theocrats of Sanctity are comfortable with the idea of a mass cull, particularly of heretics, heathens, and non-believers, they would just as soon not see humanity, including themselves, go extinct. 

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Home Again, Home Again

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō  (Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō, book 9)

By Hitoshi Ashinano 

22 Jun, 2016

Translation

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I had an interesting experience as a result of last week’s review of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō, volume eight. Someone attending an event I was co-hosting showed up on a scooter much like the one Alpha rides, specifically because I reviewed YKK. That’s awesome! And now I am a little worried about how people will commemorate the MilSF and Cosmic Horror books I review.

Ahem. Back to Volume Nine of Ashinano’s Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō.

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For an ugly week

The Jagged Orbit

By John Brunner 

19 Jun, 2016

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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1969’s The Jagged Orbit is the second novel in John Brunner’s dystopian quartet. This is not my favourite of the four books, but (when I chose it) it seemed thematically appropriate for this ugly week. Where Stand on Zanzibar was about the consequences of population growth, The Sheep Look Up about unchecked pollution, and The Shockwave Rider about Future Shock, The Jagged Orbit concerns itself with racial divisions, paranoia, and violence dialed up to eleven.

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Nice Planet, Shame About the Comet

On the Edge of Gone

By Corinne Duyvis 

18 Jun, 2016

Special Requests

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Corinne Duyvis’ 2016 young adult novel On the Edge of Gone is the first of the author’s novels that I have encountered. It will not be the last. 

There will be spoilers.…

Life in mid-21st Century Netherlands with her drug-addicted mother is already challenging enough for autistic teen Denise. She really didn’t need to deal with the end of the world as we know it, courtesy of an impending cometary impact1. The Netherlands is a civilized nation and they have not simply abandoned their population to survive or die as change determines. Instead, the government built a network of shelters2.

If only Denise and her mother were in a shelter. If only her mother had not insisted on waiting for Denise’s sister Iris to join them before setting out. Now there is no time to make it to their designated shelter.

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