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Reviews from August 2016 (22)

Baby on Board

Irsud  (Diadem, book 3)

By Jo Clayton 

16 Aug, 2016

Miscellaneous Reviews

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1978’s Irsud is the third volume in Jo Clayton’s Diadem series.

Two volumes ago, Aleytys, the red-haired and occasionally clothed bearer of the diadem, a strange artifact imbued with the minds of previous bearers, managed to find a way off her backward homeworld. Alas, she is no closer to finding her mother’s world. 

Volume two ended on a cliffhanger: Aleytys’ baby stolen and Aleytys herself sold to aliens. Aliens with an … um … parasitic wasp life cycle. I am afraid things will be getting worse for Aleytys before they get better. 

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Tell me why can’t I just reach up and simply touch the sky

Law of Survival  (Jani Kilian, book 3)

By Kristine Smith 

15 Aug, 2016

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

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2001’s Law of Survival is the third novel in Kristine Smith’s Jani Kilian series. 

Jani Kilian has had a tumultuous life. Framed for a murder, cashiered from the service, doomed to life as a fugitive … but eventually she achieves a soft landing. She has been cleared of the murder and is no longer hiding from the law. Well, cleared of that particular crime. Life as a fugitive meant cutting a few legal corners. The smart thing to do would be to find some unobtrusive niche in which she can exercise her considerable bureaucratic skills1 and lay low.

But poor Jani is drawn, willy-nilly, back into human-alien conflict.

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The Man in the Moon is Dead

Inherit the Stars  (Giants, book 1)

By James P. Hogan 

14 Aug, 2016

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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James P. Hogan’s 1977 debut Inherit the Stars, first in the Giants series, makes me sad. It is not so much that it has aged badly — some parts of it have withstood the suck fairy — but because of what happened to its once-promising author. Of that, anon. 

Almost thirty years after man’s triumphant return to the Moon, explorers stumble across a tragic relic: a corpse. It proves oddly difficult to identify Charlie,” as the corpse is nicknamed; he matches no missing spaceman and his spacesuit is of no known make. 

The mystery only deepens when it becomes clear that his body has been lying on the Moon for the last fifty thousand years. 

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Bad Seed

Personal Darkness  (Blood Opera, book 2)

By Tanith Lee 

12 Aug, 2016

A Year of Tanith Lee

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1993’s Personal Darkness is the second volume in Tanith Lee’s Blood Opera trilogy. 

Even as the embers of the House are cooling, ancients Malach and Athena retrieve the surviving Scarabae. The hapless Rachaela is carried along in their wake. The Scarabae have vast resources. The loss of the House is merely the latest forced relocation among many. The dead cannot be saved but the Scarabae can rebuild. 

Rachaela’s demon-child Ruth, last seen fleeing from the corpse-filled House Ruth herself set on fire, has no interest in joining her family in their new stronghold, wherever that may be. She has an entirely different goal. 

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Shadow War

Oath Bound  (Order of the Air, book 5)

By Jo Graham 

10 Aug, 2016

Special Requests

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2016’s Oath Bound is the fifth installment in Melissa Scott and Jo Graham’s ongoing series, Order of the Air .

History books may later claim World War Two did not properly begin until 1939, but the opening shots are already being exchanged in 1935. Germany is busy re-arming. Italy has revealed the essential meaninglessness of League of Nation ideas as its invasion of Ethiopia continues, unopposed by any save the Ethiopians and a handful of volunteers. 

Some volunteers join the struggle of their own choice. Others, like Jerry Ballard and his friends, are recruited. 

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The Pickpocket, the Bounty Hunter and the Demon

Sleight of Hand  (Widdershins, book 1)

By Kate Ashwin 

9 Aug, 2016

Special Requests

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Kate Ashwin’s Widdershins is an ongoing webcomic. It debuted October 2011; Chapter One,  Sleight of Hand, covers the first 59 updates. 

Sidney Malik has an inexplicable, involuntary magical talent: pickpocketing. This results in his expulsion from Widdershins University. He had not quite completed his magical studies degree before the ignominious boot, hence he is uncredentialed — which limits his career options. He is adept in the mundane sort of stage magic (slight of hand, illusions, and what have you) but the demand for stage magicians is too limited to pay his rent. As he faces eviction, he realizes that the logical thing to do is to confess all to his parents … but he cannot bring himself to admit his failure. 

Then he encounters the self-styled Prince of Thieves, Thomas Macavity. 

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The Boy Who Lived

A Wizard of Earthsea  (Earthsea, book 1)

By Ursula K. Le Guin 

7 Aug, 2016

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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Tell me if you’ve heard this before: a young man with a talent for magic leaves his home village (where he was always something of a misfit) to attend a school for wizards, where he finds himself confronting a disembodied evil. Anyone? Anyone?

This is, of course, Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1968 award-winning classic A Wizard of Earthsea, first volume in the Earthsea Cycle.

Sparrowhawk knows just enough magic to save his village from Kargish invaders. He knows so little that his ignorance has nearly killed him. He is saved by Ogion the Silent, who then takes him as an apprentice. Ogion tries to teach him patience, humility, and mystical Balance; spells will come later. 

That’s not enough for the ambitious young magician.

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The way you’d play with me like a child

Dark Dance  (Blood Opera, book 1)

By Tanith Lee 

5 Aug, 2016

A Year of Tanith Lee

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1992’s Dark Dance is the first volume in Tanith Lee’s Blood Opera trilogy.

Most people might react to the death of a parent with grief. Rachaela Day saw her mother’s death as an escape, a chance to live life as she desired: simply and alone, with the bare minimum of social contact. Rachaela is unhappy, therefore, when a representative of the Scarabae, her estranged father’s family, contacts her.

Not as unhappy as she will be after agreeing to meet with her long-lost family.

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Laid the Wide Foundations

Windswept  (Windswept, book 1)

By Adam Rakunas 

4 Aug, 2016

Miscellaneous Reviews

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Adam Rakunas’ 2015 Windswept is the first volume of his Windswept series. Me being me, I read the second book, Like a Boss , first. Whoops. But I am nothing if not a completist. 

Padma Mehta is experienced enough to know not to trust any deal offered by professional scam artist Vytai Bloombeck, especially one as too good to be true as this: forty potential Breaches, defectors from the exploitative labour contracts of the Big Three that run most of Occupied Space. But Padma is desperate to retire to the life of a distillery owner and all that stands between her and that goal is her recruitment quota. Desperation overwhelms prudence. 

Always listen to that little voice that says too good to be true.” 

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