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Reviews from June 2016 (20)

Just Give Me One Extra Season/So I Can Figure Out the Other Four

Hello Summer, Goodbye  (Pallahaxi, volume 1)

By Michael G. Coney  

14 Jun, 2016

Special Requests


British by birth, Canadian by choice, Michael Greatrex Coney seems to be comparatively obscure now, a decade after his death. A shame, because he wrote some interesting, unusual books over the course of his career. Perhaps his finest was the coming-of-age novel Hello Summer, Goodbye.

Alika-Drove, native to a world with both extreme obliquity and orbital eccentricity, accepts as normal its annual extremes. It is, after all, the only world he and his people have ever experienced. For Drove, chaffing at the childish restrictions he feels old enough to flout, his odd little world is a mundane backdrop to what will probably be just another boring summer in the isolated fishing community of Pallahaxi. 

Pallahaxi is not entirely without promise. It is the home of Pallahaxi-Browneyes, a young woman Drove’s age with whom Drove is smitten, a young woman Drove could not work up the courage to address until the previous summer was almost over. But this summer will be completely different!

In fact, if Drove plays his cards right, he may spend the rest of his life with Browneyes.

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Three by Anderson

The Worlds of Poul Anderson

By Poul Anderson  

12 Jun, 2016

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Poul Anderson’s 1974 omnibus The Worlds of Poul Anderson collects three short novels: 1954’s Planet of No Return (also published as Question and Answer ), 1959’s The War of Two Worlds, and 1966’s World Without Stars.

I could have reviewed any one of the three novels, or written three reviews … but I think that these novels belong together (for reasons I will discuss later). There’s more to this than the rights were available.” 

There will be spoilers.

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Suh’s People


By Jay Posey  

11 Jun, 2016

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck


Although professional-game-designer-turned-SF-author Jay Posey has been publishing novels ever since 2013, 2016’s Outriders is the first novel of his that I have read. 

Given a choice between two very different career paths, Captain Lincoln Suh took the one that led him to join the 301st Information Support Brigade’s 519th Applied Intelligence Group. The unit’s name may seem to promise days of riveting paperwork and nights spent staring at glowing screens, but names can be deceptive, particularly in the intelligence game. 

Thus the suit of powered armour the 519 th issues Suh. 

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I just don’t want to die! Is that so unreasonable?”

Sand  (Blake’s 7, volume 48)

By Tanith Lee  

10 Jun, 2016

A Year of Tanith Lee


Sand was the ninth episode in Blake’s 7s fourth and to date final season. It was also the second and final Blake’s 7 episode written by Tanith Lee.

Five years before the start of this episode, an unlucky spacecraft crash-landed on the isolated world Virn. The crew survived long enough to send out a series of increasingly desperate distress calls to the Federation before succumbing to what the castaways thought was a local virus. Now that it is far too late, Commissioner Sleer and a small team have come to investigate Virn, which they believe may contain a mysterious substance of use to the Federation.

Did I say Sleer?” The Commissioner may be using that name but anyone familiar with the series would know at a glance that Sleer” is none other than long time series antagonist Servalan! Who is considerably less dead than her enemies believe!

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For the Union makes us strong

Like a Boss  (Windswept, volume 2)

By Adam Rakunas  

7 Jun, 2016

Miscellaneous Reviews


Adam Rakunas’ 2016 Like a Boss is a sequel to 2015’s Windswept.

Padma Mehta has not only survived her adventures in Windswept, but has become the new owner of a distillery. On the minus side, having her own business and being enough of a folk hero to have her own song doesn’t make up for the fact that her bold stratagem to save the galactic economy left her a trillion yuan in debt1. Not to mention that being a boss is an odd situation for a steadfast union organizer like Padma.

Not to worry! Soon her current situation will appear much more pleasant. Only by contrast, alas, because things are going to get much worse for Padma and her hometown, Santee Anchorage.

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Poe’s Law, Disco Era Edition

The Iron Dream

By Norman Spinrad  

5 Jun, 2016


Norman Spinrad’s 1972 nested alternate history novel The Iron Dream isn’t my favourite Spinrad1, but it is almost certainly his most famous work. It earned a Prix Apollo Award and a Nebula nomination. The book was also indexed by the Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien , the German Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons, for alleged Nazism and was placed on the American Nazi Party’s recommended reading list. Perhaps some explanation is required.

Spinrad’s The Iron Dream is composed of two sections. The final section is a commentary by a fictional academic named Whipple. The first part, the part that earned Spinrad unwanted attention from the BJpM and the American Nazi Party, is Adolf Hitler’s Lords of the Swastika .

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It takes your breath, cause it leaves a scar/But those untouched never got never got very far 

Night’s Sorceries  (Tales of the Flat Earth, volume 5)

By Tanith Lee  

3 Jun, 2016

A Year of Tanith Lee


Tanith Lee’s 1987 Night’s Sorceries: Stories from the Time of Azhriaz is the final volume in the Tales of the Flat Earth quintology. In many cases, the stories illustrate the consequences of an enduring, passionate love (Sovaz/Azhriaz and Chuz) for innocent bystanders.

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One of my tinfoil hat theories

The Ted Quantrill Trilogy

By Dean Ing  

2 Jun, 2016

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck


Dean Ing’s Ted Quantrill trilogy — 1981’s Systemic Shock, 1983’s Single Combat, and 1985’s Wild Country—is an odd relic of Cold War America. Many authors presented us with various versions of Cold Wars Gone Hot, but few took the tack that Dean Ing does in this series.

It’s not just that this is explicitly a sequel to someone else’s book, General Sir John Hackett’s The Third World War. Or that Ing teeters on the edge of inventing the technothriller genre (before Tom Clancy, if one considers The Hunt For Red October the first technothriller; please feel free to debate genre history in comments). Or even that one of the books features a lovingly depicted Segway, decades before those were invented. Ing brings an … ahem … unusual political sensibility to this trilogy. I believe that’s what has kept this series out of print. 

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