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Reviews from January 2017 (23)

Turn Around and You’re a Young Girl Going Out of My Door

Martians Abroad

By Carrie Vaughn 

17 Jan, 2017

Miscellaneous Reviews

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Carrie Vaughn’s 2017 Martians Abroad is a standalone young-adult SF novel, written in the manner of a very famous series of juvenile SF novels. In fact, it seems to be a response to a specific juvenile SF novel, about which more anon. 

Young Polly Newton has a bold plan for her life, one that involves pilot school and helming humanity’s first starship. Polly’s mother also has bold plans for Polly and her brother Charles. Those plans involve an unwanted sojourn at the prestigious Galileo Academy on Earth. Polly’s plans are irrelevant. Mother knows best. 

Martha Newton didn’t become Director of the Mars Colony by being easy to out-manoeuvre. By the time Polly learns what her mother has planned, it is too late for either Polly or her brother to do anything about it except pack their bags and give in to the inevitable. 

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The Art of Letting Go

The Tombs of Atuan  (Earthsea, book 2)

By Ursula K. Le Guin 

15 Jan, 2017

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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1970’s The Tombs of Atuan is the second volume in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea Cycle. 

The influence of the Nameless Ones has dwindled over the long ages, but they still have power in the Tombs of Atuan. There they still are worshipped. There they are served by their immortal Priestess. 

The little girl once named Tenar is the latest incarnation of the Priestess. The bodies of the One Priestess of the Tombs of Atuan die, but the Priestess lives on, reborn in a newborn body at the time of the Priestess’ death. Stripped of her birth family and her name, the girl who was Tenar becomes Arha, the eaten one,” paramount human servant of the ancient and fearsome Nameless Ones. 

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My Guide the Morning Star 

Two Travelers

By Sarah Tolmie 

13 Jan, 2017

A Year of Waterloo Region Speculative Fiction

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Sarah Tolmie is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Waterloo. Her first spec-fic novel, 2014’s The Stone Boatmen, won a starred review in Publishers Weekly and a glowing blurb from Ursula K. Le Guin. Since The Stone Boatmen, she has published four other books: 2014’s NoFood andSonnet in a Blue Dress and other poems, 2015’s Trio, and the subject of today’s review, a 2016 collection titled Two Travelers.

Two Travelers is a single-author collection containing two short pieces, a novelette (Dancer on the Stairs) and a novella (The Burning Furrow).

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Where the winds of limbo roar

Shin Sekai Yori

By Yusuke Kishi 

12 Jan, 2017

Translation

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I was so annoyed by last week’s Translation Review selection (the Shin Sekai Yori manga) that I hunted down a fan translation of the novel on which the manga was based. Should a North American publisher ever print this or another translation, I will review that as well, with an appropriate link. Hint, hint. 

Yusuke Kishi’s 2008 Nihon SF Taisho Award-winning Shin Sekai Yori is a standalone SF novel. 

A thousand years from now, Saki Watanabe and her schoolmates, Satoru Asahina, Maria Akizuki, Mamoru Itou, Shun Aonuma, and Reiko Amano think that they live in a kindly world, one in which they are protected from danger. Fiends and karma demons cannot be current dangers; they are merely the stuff of summertime ghost stories. 

Poor coddled teens! They are not safe. Fiends and demons are very real. However, the biggest dangers the children will face will be those created by their own society and their own choices. 

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An East Wind Coming

Ninefox Gambit  (The Machineries of Empire, book 1)

By Yoon Ha Lee 

11 Jan, 2017

Miscellaneous Reviews

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2016’s Ninefox Gambit is the first volume in Yoon Ha Lee’s projected trilogy, The Machineries of Empire.

Success is often punished harshly. Consider the case of Captain Kel Cheris of Heron Company, 109 – 229th Battalion. She has excelled on the battlefield due to her skill and ingenuity. Those are exactly the qualities her superiors need if they are to retake the Fortress of Scattered Needles from the rebels who currently hold it.

Well, skill, ingenuity, and expendability.

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Freedom land will be my last location

Survival Rout  (Earthside, book 2)

By Ana Mardoll 

10 Jan, 2017

Miscellaneous Reviews

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2016’s Survival Rout is the second book in Ana Mardoll’s Earthside series.

College roommates Aniyah and Miyuki expect a summer vacation rich in opportunities for hanging out and having intense discussions about gender and orientation. Thanks to their ever-so-helpful chums Timothy and Craig, what they actually get is kidnapped, mindwiped, and sold to the faerie lord Master of Masques.

Keoki is in the wrong place at the wrong time; his good Samaritan instincts get him abducted and sold as well.

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Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft

Mindbridge

By Joe Haldeman 

8 Jan, 2017

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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Haldeman’s first novel under his own name1, a fix-up titled The Forever War, won a Hugo, a Nebula, a Ditmar, and a Locus. There’s something to said for not winning that many awards the first time out, because it’s hard to go anywhere but down from such initial success. After that, a single Hugo nomination (something that would normally seem a boast-worthy success — assuming, of course, that this did not result from inclusion on a Puppy slate) will seem like a comparative failure.

Which brings us to Joe Haldeman’s 1976 standalone Mindbridge, his second novel as Haldeman. 

By the mid-21 century, Earth is a garden world, an artificial Eden for eleven billion humans. This idyll is dependent on complex technology, and on the solar power that drives that technology. If anything were to disrupt the system, billions would die. 

The Levant-Meyer Translation (LMT) providentially offers humanity an off-site back-up. But there’s a catch. Several catches, in fact.

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A Shining Artifact of the Past 

After Atlas  (Planetfall, book 2)

By Emma Newman 

7 Jan, 2017

Miscellaneous Reviews

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Emma Newman’s 2016 After Atlas is a sequel to her 2015 novel Planetfall.

The Pathfinder, Lee Suh-Mi, led her people to a glorious destiny among the stars. The Pathfinder’s starship only had room for the chosen few. Carlos Moreno’s mother made the cut, but Carlos and his father did not. His father then joined a community of starship rejectees, one led by a Lee deputy named Alejandro Casales, dragging an unhappy young Carlos in his wake. It took years for Carlos to escape. 

Decades later, Carlos is a prized asset of the Noropean Ministry of Justice. He is a talented investigator whose indentured status ensures that his efforts on the MOJ’s behalf will not be sabotaged by nonsense like so-called human rights. 

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Creeping Through the System

The Adolescence of P‑1

By Thomas J. Ryan 

6 Jan, 2017

A Year of Waterloo Region Speculative Fiction

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The Adolescence of P‑1 is the first and (so far as I know) only work of science fiction by Thomas J. Ryan. Ryan is an enigmatic author about whom little is known. His middle name was Joseph and he was born in 1942; if he has died, that fact is not known to my sources. There is one other fact about Ryan that one can easily deduce from this novel: he was very familiar with the University of Waterloo as it existed in the early 1970s. His book was the first SF novel I had ever read that drew on places and institutions I found cosily familiar. 

Our protagonist is Gregory Burgess, a student at the University of Waterloo, majoring in Honours Getting Laid, with a minor in Keeping His Marks Just High Enough to Avoid Expulsion. His indifference to hard study vanished when he first encountered a book on computer programming. Girls were forgotten as Burgess honed his hacking skills and began to amass files and resources to which he was not remotely entitled. He was talented, but not quite talented enough: UW spotted and expelled him.

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Where the Tides of Madness Swell

Shin Sekai Yori, book 1

By Yusuke Kishi 

4 Jan, 2017

Rediscovery Tuesday

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I had no idea what to review this week … so I left it to chance. Manga Fox’s surprise me option handed me the manga adaptation of Yusuke Kishi s 2008 Nihon SF Taisho Award-winning novel Shin Sekai Yori (From the New World ). If there exists a translation of the novel, I am unaware of it. That’s too bad, because the sense I get from the manga is that the novel is an interesting work poorly served by its adaptation into a new medium. 

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