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Reviews from June 2017 (21)

Through Night and Day

The Red Threads of Fortune  (Tensorate, book 2)

By Jy Yang 

14 Jun, 2017

Miscellaneous Reviews

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JY Yang’s The Red Threads of Fortune is the second of two upcoming novellas set in Yang’s Tensorate setting. 

Four years ago, tragedy drove Mokoya away from friends and family and out into the Gusai Desert. Now she uses her Tensor skills to hunt rogue nagas. She has lost her ability to look into the future. She is depressed and often lashes out at those around her 1. She had hoped that time and distance would heal her wounds, but they still fester. 

An emergency jolts her out of her wretched rut. There is something new and terrible out in the desert. 

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Mommy Dearest

The Black Tides of Heaven  (Tensorate, book 1)

By Jy Yang 

14 Jun, 2017

Miscellaneous Reviews

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The Black Tides of Heaven is the first of two Tensorate novellas by JY Yang. 

The Protectorate rules because it commands the magic of Slack1—or rather, the Tensors who can bend Slack to their will. Tensors are ruled in turn by the Protector, who in this generation is a woman of power, intellect, and ruthless determination. Previous generations lost much of their empire; this Protector, Sanao Hekate, has reconquered most of it. 

Drought leads to civil disorder, disorder that the Protector’s Tensors cannot put down unassisted. Sanao turns to the great monastery, where pugilists (read martial artists) train. She promises Head Abbot Sung one of her children in exchange for his help. The Abbot expects to get the youngest child, a promising daughter. The Protector, determined not to lose that child, finds a way out of the promise. A new pregnancy. Twins. 

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Woke Up Screaming Aloud

Roses and Rot

By Kat Howard 

13 Jun, 2017

Special Requests

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2016’s Roses and Rot is Kat Howard’s debut novel.

Imogen and Marin have a nasty mother, an insidiously spiteful mother, a mother worse than an evil step-mom. Imogen escapes domestic torture by enrolling at a distant school that is so prestigious that her status-conscious mother cannot bring herself to cut off that escape. But Marin does not have the option (much to Imogen’s distress; she does not want to abandon her sister). Marin has to escape on her own, which she does indeed manage. She becomes a dancer. 

Years later, both sisters win fellowships to an artists’ colony, Melete. It’s a chance to reconnect. It also turns out to be an encounter with fairy danger.

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I’m Goin’ Up a Hill Rollin’ a Boulder

A Different Light

By Elizabeth A. Lynn 

11 Jun, 2017

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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1978’s standalone novel A Different Light was written by Elizabeth A. Lynn. She is an author I enjoy..

Jimson Alleca has the bad luck (a one in a billion chance) to be an adult cancer patient in a galaxy where cancer is unknown. Modern medicine may have failed him, but it can at least offer him good odds of surviving until his fifties. Provided he is lucky. Provided his doctors can keep finding new treatments faster than the cancer can kill him. Provided he never, ever tries to leave his homeworld; the stress of travel through hyperspace would reduce his remaining years from twenty to one. 

Living to be safe may be extending his life but it’s killing his soul. Others may still applaud his art, but he can tell his development has stalled. When Russell, a former lover who left Jimson years ago, sends an enigmatic message, Jimson cannot resist the lure of mystery and escape. Better one year of glory than decades of stagnation.

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May All Your Rambling Bring You Joy

Thick as Thieves  (Queen’s Thief, book 5)

By Megan Whalen Turner 

10 Jun, 2017

Special Requests

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2017’s Thick as Thieves  is the fifth volume in Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series. Previous books in the series were reviewed here, here, here, and here.

Kamet’s fate is tied to that of his owner, Nahuseresh. For much of his life, his owner’s power and prosperity have served Kamet well. He is educated, owns a handful of possessions, and enjoys considerable power as his owner’s public voice. Of late, however, Nahuseresh has suffered setback after setback. All thanks to Eugenides, former Thief of Eddis turned King of Attolia. Nahuseresh’s setbacks are Kamet’s as well. 

Even so, Eugenides’ offer, relayed by his intermediary Costis, of sanctuary and freedom from his master is laughable. Why would Kamet give up all he has for life in a backward, foreign land filled with illiterate barbarians? 

Escaping death is a good reason. 

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Game Design in Kitchener-Waterloo

Game Design in Kitchener-Waterloo

By Anna Kreider 

9 Jun, 2017

A Year of Waterloo Region Speculative Fiction

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Waterloo Region has had a gaming community for as long as I’ve been aware of gaming and probably longer. Unsurprisingly, this extends to the creative side of things as well. Local gaming companies have included firms like RAFM and Guardians of Order. Waterloo Region adjacent creators have included Jose Garcia, Dave Okum, and Ed Greenwood (if memory series). There are many others. I’ve been out of the field for 16 years, so I didn’t feel comfortable writing up the local gaming scene. Instead I turned to Anna Kreider of Peach Pants Press to write a piece about her work and the work of others in the region.

By complete coincidence (I first spoke to Anna about the possibility of her writing an essay for me months ago), two of her games are featured in this week’s Bundle of Holding! 

Game Design in Kitchener-Waterloo

When I first moved to Kitchener-Waterloo, I had trouble connecting with the local tabletop gaming scene and felt very disconnected from the hobby. It wasn’t until several years later that I was connected by chance to a thriving local gaming scene, which has only grown more vibrant since the opening of local board game cafes like The Adventurers’ Guild, Crossroads, and Games On Tap. And while designing games isn’t quite as popular a hobby as playing them is, Kitchener has several local game designers doing interesting work.

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The Dreams That You Dare To Dream

Sea of Wind  (The Twelve Kingdoms, book 2)

By Fuyumi Ono 

8 Jun, 2017

Translation

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1993’s portal fantasy Sea of Wind  is the second volume in Fuyumi Ono’s Twelve Kingdoms series. The 2007 English language edition was translated by Alexander O. Smith and Elye J. Alexander. 

Taiki spent his childhood wracked with guilt for continually disappointing his judgmental grandmother, who never fully explained what he had done wrong. Small wonder that the ten-year-old leapt at a mysterious summons from another realm. Bye granny! Destiny awaits! 

Destiny and, it turns out, heavy responsibilities and great danger. 

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There’s a Stranger in My Soul

Trotsky’s Run  (James Burbage, book 1)

By Richard Hoyt 

6 Jun, 2017

Reds Under The Bed

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1982’s Trotsky’s Run is the first of Richard Hoyt’s James Burbage thrillers. 

Twenty years after fleeing to Moscow, Kim Philby wants to escape his dreary life in the Soviet Union. Returning to the United Kingdom is not in the cards. But what Philby knows (or can prove) may suffice to buy his way into the United States. 

He claims that a Soviet mole is slated to become President of the United States. 

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Silent, Upon a Peak in Darien

Bakka Books

 

4 Jun, 2017

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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Reviewing reviews is a bit meta, but … if I were going to review another reviewer in this series, the reviewer would be Spider Robinson, whose columns I devoured as a teenager. His review in the December 1976 issue of the late, lamented Galaxy Magazine (RIP) had an enormous effect on me, because in it he revealed a previously unknown fact: Toronto, then Canada’s second largest city, had a bookstore specializing in science fiction and fantasy. A bookstore called Bakka Books. 

There was just one problem. I didn’t live in Toronto. In fact, I didn’t even live in Kitchener-Waterloo. I lived adjacent to KW, on a farm well away from any intercity bus routes. Then as now, I did not drive. While I am an avid walker, 100 km to Toronto and 100 km back seemed a bit far. What to do? 

Misappropriate school resources, of course. 

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Peacekeeper, Take Your Time

A Peace Divided  (Peacekeeper, book 2)

By Tanya Huff 

3 Jun, 2017

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

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2017’s A Peace Divided  is the second novel in Tanya Huff’s Peacekeeper series.

War’s end means that many former soldiers are dumped back into civilian life. Not all of the veterans are suited to peacetime occupations. Some, like Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr and her team, find gainful employment as Wardens, the interstellar police of the Confederation. Less fortunate cast-offs, like Commander Yurrisk and his soldiers, become bandits and mercenaries. 

33X73’s natives vanished long before the Confederation was formed. Even at their height, they never got close to star-flight or Elder-Race-level technology. Why then did Yurrisk’s mercenaries attack and occupy an archaeological dig on 33X73

The fact that the attackers are drawn from both Confederation and Primacy forces is a clue. Though rivals, the two polities do have a mutual enemy: the so-called plastic aliens. 33X73 offers a unique opportunity to hit back at the enemy. 

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