Reviews, January 2018

The Darkness Inside You

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach — Kelly Robson

Kelly Robson’s 2018 Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach is a time-travel story.

Large-scale ecological remediation used to be a booming field. Then TERN developed time travel and remediation faltered. Bankers were convinced that access to the past would allow immediate remediation of past insults to the environment. Funds for the slow, laborious process of rebuilding the Earth’s ravaged surface have dried up. Like too many rivers.

Minh, one of the ecological remediators whose projects have been sidelined, must face the inevitable: survival means joining the enemy.

Read review


Look Out Kid, It’s Something You Did

Blood Binds The Pack — Alex Wells
Hob Raveni, book 2

Blood Binds the Pack is the second volume in Alex Wells’ Hob Raveni series.

In the previous volume, Hob Raveni and the Ghost Wolves achieved the near-impossible: they assassinated Mr. Green, one of TransRift’s psionic-adept Weathermen. But that was not the end of the story. TransRift is determined to crush the resistance and take total control of Tanegawa’s World. They have sent a new enforcer: Mr. Yellow. Hob and the Wolves were lucky to kill one Weatherman. Can they kill two?

Read review


We Pray For One Last Landing/ On The Globe That Gave Us Birth

Winds of Gath — E. C. Tubb
Dumarest Saga, book 1

1967’s The Winds of Gath is the first novel of thirty-three in E. C. Tubb’s Dumarest Saga.

The life of an itinerant stellar traveler is hard and dangerous. Earl Dumarest accepts the hazards; traveling is his only hope of finding his lost homeworld, Earth. He does try to minimize risk with due diligence and planning. His latest trip, for example, involves the usual 15% chance he won’t wake from cold sleep (or Low, as it is called in the argot of the starfarer) but if he does wake up, it will be on Broome. He should easily find employment there.

The best-laid plans, etc. Gloria, the Matriarch of Kund, hires the starship on which he was traveling, already in cold sleep. He cannot object when the ship is diverted to the planet Gath. Dumarest’s contract with the ship specified that he was to debark at the next world it touched. Was Broome, now Gath.

Gath has no economy to speak off. No jobs. But unless Dumarest can somehow accumulate enough cash for a trip out, he is trapped on the planet.

Read review


A Complicated Animal Desire

Kitty Goes to Washington — Carrie Vaughn
Kitty Norville, book 2

2006’s Kitty Goes to Washington is the second volume in Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville series.

DJ Kitty Norville receives a subpoena to appear in front of the American senate. The government has taken note of the supernatural. Lucky Kitty wins a starring role in the hearings to come. She is, after all, the best-known werewolf in America.

Read review


School’s Out For Summer

Hiromu Arakawa & Yoshiki Tanaka
The Heroic Legend of Arslan, book 3

The Heroic Legend of Arslan book 3 collects issues 11 to 19 of Hiromu Arakawa’s manga adaptation of Yoshiki Tanaka’s Heroic Legend of Arslan light novel series.

Pars has fallen and its king has been imprisoned, but Prince Arslan is still free. Traitor Kharlan is determined to prove his worth by capturing Arslan. Kharlan has a small army at his command, whereas Arslan counts but four people in his force — and that only if he counts himself.

Read review


Into a Land of Enchantment

Every Heart a Doorway — Seanan McGuire
Wayward Children, book 1

2016’s Nebula and Hugo-winning Every Heart a Doorway is the first volume in Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series.

Children through the ages have stepped through doors to other lands. Some, like Nancy, return — only to find themselves rejected by families unable to accept what their children have become. A lucky few, like Nancy, find their way to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.

Read review


The Black Wind Still Moans

The Poppy War — R. F. Kuang
Poppy Wars, book 1

R. F. Kuang’s 2018 debut The Poppy War is the first volume in her secondary world Poppy Wars fantasy trilogy.

Faced with an arranged marriage to an odious merchant (plan A), Fang “Rin” Runin opts for plan B: pass the arduous Keju test, which will give her a place at the prestigious academy in Sinegard. The odds that a war orphan fostered to a family of no particular rank will pass the exam are poor, but nevertheless, she persists. The highly motivated Rin places first for the entire Rooster province.

She soon discovers that winning entrance at Sinegard is not at all the same thing being accepted there.

Spoilers.

Read review


Bang Bang, My Baby Shot Me Down

Hammer’s Slammers — David Drake

1979’s Hammer’s Slammers was the first collection of David Drake’s long-running Hammer’s Slammers stories. The Slammers are a mercenary company formed by Alois Hammer.

Read review


Like the Trembling Heart of a Captive Bird

Shards of Honor — Lois McMaster Bujold
Cordelia Vorkosigan, book 1

Lois McMaster Bujold’s 1986 debut novel Shards of Honor is the first Cordelia Vorkosigan book, as well as the first novel set in Bujold’s Vorkosiverse.

A Betan exploratory mission has been sent through a newly discovered wormhole; they have discovered a terrestrial world suitable for colonization. Unfortunately for the Betans, they are the second group to discover Sergyar. The Barrayaran militarists were there first and they don’t want company.

Read review


Earth’s Joys Grow Dim

Tsukumizu
Girl's Last Tour, book 1

Girls’ Last Tour, Volume 1, is the first instalment in Tsukumizu’s Girls’ Last Tour series.

Lost in a vast, empty, decaying city complex, Chito (the smart one) and Yuuri (the other one) wander in search of supplies. Failure may be inevitable; if so, their ultimate fate will be to starve. But at least they will starve together.

Read review


Lady Bug, Lady Bug, Fly Away Home

The Citadel of Weeping Pearls — Aliette de Bodard

Aliette de Bodard’s 2015 space-opera The Citadel of Weeping Pearls is an instalment in her Universe of Xuya, an alternate history/future in which the West never dominated the world. The galaxy is ruled by Confucian powers.

Suu Nuoc is woken from a sound sleep by his alarmed shipmind, The Turtle’s Golden Claw. The artificial intelligence reports that Grand Master of Design Harmony Bach Cuc has seemingly vanished, in a manner the shipmind cannot comprehend. As far as The Turtle’s Golden Claw is concerned, it is up to Suu Nuoc — an Official of the First Order despite his low birth — to work out what happened to the missing scientist.

Read review


And Rain Keeps Falling Like Helpless Tears

Winterlong — Elizabeth Hand
Winterlong Trilogy, book 1

Elizabeth Hand’s 1990 debut novel Winterlong is the first volume in her Winterlong Trilogy.

Nuclear war and germ warfare have left Washington a shadow of its once glorious past. A handful of administrators, descended from self-appointed curators, control the relics of America’s lost past, defending the remnants from the diseased, mutated, and simply unlucky inhabitants of the surrounding sea of ruins.

A desperate woman appealed to House Miramar for refuge. Too damaged to be of use to Miramar, the woman was cast out to die at the hands of the lazars. But Miramar did keep her two beautiful children, as new Paphians for Miramar’s bordellos. Only Raphael proved suitable. Autistic Wendy Wanders was consigned to HEL.

Read review


And What Have You Got At The End Of The Day?

Shadow of a Broken Man — George C. Chesbro
Mongo, book 1

1977’s Shadow of a Broken Man is the first volume in George C. Chesbro’s long-running Mongo series. The Mongo series lives in the intersection of mundane detective fiction and outright science fiction. Or at least I think it does.

Former circus tumbler turned black belt martial artist turned academic, criminology professor Dr. Robert “Mongo the Magnificent” Fredrickson has a minor side-line as a private detective. His cases are often peculiar, as if people with normal cases don’t seek out New York’s only dwarf detective. Lookism, I suppose.

His new case seems pretty straightforward: find out how a dead man managed to design a new building.

Read review


Sorry Cassandra I Didn’t Believe

Empire in Black and Gold — Adrian Tchaikovsky
Shadows of the Apt, book 1

2008’s Empire in Black and Gold is the first volume in Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Shadows of the Apt decalogy. I should note that he completed the whole ten-book series in eight years. Completed, I say, completed. This may be of interest to certain other authors whom I will not name.

In the seventeen years since the Empire of the Wasps conquered the Commonweal city of Myna, Stenwald has been unable to convince his fellow citizens that Collegium (as well as the other city-states of the Lowlands) are on the Wasps’ to-conquer list. Most Lowlanders find it comforting to believe that the Wasps are sated with conquest. Stenwald knows that the Empire was merely taking its time to recover from its long war with the Commonweal.

Now there are hints that the Empire has recovered.

Read review


I Hear You Knocking

Hiromu Arakawa & Yoshiki Tanaka
The Heroic Legend of Arslan, book 2

The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Volume 2 is the second collection of Hiromu Arakawa’s manga adaptation of Yoshiki Tanaka’s light novel series.

In volume one, overconfidence and arrogance led King Andragoras and his vast Parsian army into ambush and defeat at the hands of the Lusitanian invaders. The King’s fate is unknown. Prince Arslan escaped, but it is unclear how long he can remain free.

Read review


Secret Harmonies

A Darker Shade of Magic — V. E. Schwab
Shades of Magic, book 1

A Darker Shade of Magic is the first volume in V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series.

Kell is an Antari, one of two known world-walkers, able to travel between the four known alternate Londons, White, Red, Gray, and forbidden Black. His is a gift rare enough to make him a treasured possession of Red London’s Royal Family.

Officially, Kell uses his gift to serve as an ambassador between the three Londons — White, Red, and Gray — that are still in limited contact with each other. On his own time Kell likes to collect souvenirs. That’s forbidden. But moving minor trinkets from one world to another seems a harmless hobby.

It isn’t.

Read review


Those Little Eyes

Anthonology — Piers Anthony

Piers Anthony’s 1985 Anthonology is a collection of his short works, with added commentary by the author’s foremost admirer, Piers Anthony. The stories are for the most part dreadful … but at least there are a lot of them.

Read review


The Bright Blessed Day

Another Look at Atlantis and Fifteen Other Essays — Willy Ley

Willy Ley’s 1969 Another Look at Atlantis and Fifteen Other Essays is a collection of non-fiction pieces. From 1952 to his death in 1969, Ley had a regular science column in Galaxy Magazine, For Your Information. As far as I can tell, none of these essays were drawn from that source.

This was my first exposure to Ley. If I am reading the bibliographic information correctly, it was the final Ley book published while Ley was alive.

Read review


Cut You Like The Tiny Slivers Of Glass

Howl’s Moving Castle — Diana Wynne Jones
Howl, book 1

1986’s Howl’s Moving Castle is the first book in Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl series.

Life in Ingary is a faerie tale affair, as its inhabitants well know. How wonderful for Martha Hatter! As the youngest of three sisters, she is surely destined for fame, wealth, and a perfect marriage.

It is considerably less wonderful for Sophie Hatter, the oldest of the three sisters. Everyone knows the oldest child will have at best an unremarkable life — if they are lucky. The oldest might be more likely to suffer a grim fate, which will serve to cast the youngest’s destiny in a brighter light. They might even, as Sophie does, find themselves the target of a curse that by rights should have been cast on a younger sister.


Read review


Fast Falls The Eventide

Tsukumizu
Girls' Last Tour, book 2

Girls’ Last Tour, Volume 2 is the second collection of Tsukumizu’s Girls’ Last Tour manga.

Just because the world has ended doesn’t mean the struggle to stay alive one more day is over. Just ask Yuuri and Chito. Driving through a vast, unnamed city after some event removed or killed most of the population, they live hand-to-mouth, salvaging supplies in an empty world.

Chito is the dark haired smart one. Yuuri is blonde and rarely burdened by excessive introspection.

Read review


Blame It On Cain

A is for Alibi — Sue Grafton
Alphabet, book 1

1982’s Shamus Award nominee A is for Alibi is the first volume in Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series. Grafton died in late 2017, twenty five books into a twenty six book series.

After serving eight years for murdering her husband, socialite turned reluctant ex-con Nikki Fife hires private investigator Kinsey Millhone to clear her name. Five thousand dollars1 is enough to get Millhone’s attention, although not, as she warns her client, her exclusive attention.

The first step is to figure out who wanted Laurence Fife dead. Millhone very quickly discovers that the list of suspects is a long one.

Read review


The Narrow Way

The Lilies of Dawn — Vanessa Fogg

Vanessa Fogg’s 2016 The Lilies of Dawn is a standalone fantasy.

Kai’s mother and foremothers have served as the Dawn Mother’s priestesses for many generations. They live next to the sacred lake and never marry. Nonetheless, they have daughters. Each priestess chooses her successor from among her daughters. Traditionally the successor is the older daughter. But Kai’s mother chose Kai, the younger daughter, over her older sister Suna. Kai cannot understand the why of the odd choice; unlike Suna or their mother, Kai has never heard the Dawn Mother’s voice.

Not that it matters, since their ancient way of life is doomed.

Read review


Support me with a Patreon monthly subscription!

Review Categories

By Author/Editor

Reviews by Date