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Reviews from April 2018 (22)

With the Reason of Hope and Believing

Space Opera

By Catherynne M. Valente  

16 Apr, 2018

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck


Catherynne M. Valente’s 2018 Space Opera is a standalone space opera.

In the not too distant future, humanity finds itself invited into the Warm Fuzzy Galactic Family, an interstellar community of beings who agree to recognize each others’ personhood. There are a couple of tiny catches: membership is not automatic and failing the test will result in the total extermination of the human race. Also, the test is mandatory. 

The good news is that the test is fairly straightforward: participate in the Metagalactic Grand Prix, a galaxy-wide musical contest. Humanity’s champions don’t even have to win, just avoid coming in dead last. The aliens are even kind enough to provide a list of musicians they feel have a chance of not abjectly losing. It’s too bad that everyone on that list is dead.

Well, not quite everyone. 

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Ghost In Your Arms

Topper  (Topper, volume 1)

By Thorne Smith  

15 Apr, 2018

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

1 comment

Thorne Smith’s 1926 supernatural farce Topper is the first (and best) of two Topper novels.

Many would say that middle-aged Cosmo Topper has a perfect life. Marriage, job, life in the suburbs, pet cat: Cosmo has it all. If he were not far too repressed to be honest, Cosmo would explain that he feels crushed under the weighty bricks of conformity. Even the simple pleasures he might otherwise enjoy are robbed of their joy by the context in which he experiences them.

Cosmo does what so many middle-aged men have done in his position: he buys a flashy car. The car used to belong to George and Marion Kerby, who lived the scandalous life Cosmo might have lived had he not feared the disapproval of society and his long-suffering wife. Cosmo can at least have their car, rebuilt after the wreck that ended the Kerbys’ lives.

To Cosmo’s tremendous surprises, he gets the Kerbys as well. Or at least their ghosts.

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The Thunder Rolling Through Me

The Black God’s Drums

By P. Djèlí Clark  

10 Apr, 2018

Miscellaneous Reviews


P. Djeli Clark’s 2018 The Black God’s Drums is a steampunk fantasy novella.

Orphaned at ten, Jacqueline renamed herself Creeper” and embraced life on the streets of the free city of New Orleans. An independent city state since the British, French, and Haitian airships forced peace on the Union and Confederacy, the city is neutral ground where all nationalities can mix … and conspire against each other.

Little noted by adults, thirteen-year-old Creeper believes what she has overheard will earn her a place on Ann-Marie St. Augustine’s airship Midnight Robber.

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By the Dawn’s Early Light

I, Martha Adams

By Pauline Glen Winslow  

9 Apr, 2018

Reds Under The Bed

1 comment

1984’s I, Martha Adams is a standalone Cold War thriller by Pauline Glen Winslow. 

Former president Ronald Reagan is dead, as is George H. W. Bush; they have been slain by a terrorist bomb. The current President Carmody has allowed Reagan’s visionary defence programs to languish. Now America will pay the price.

Carmody’s 7:30 AM broadcast informs Americans that while they slept, America was defeated. Two and a half hours earlier, Soviet missiles based in Panama and Cuba annihilated America’s nuclear defenses. The attack was followed with an ultimatum: total surrender of the United States to the New Order or total annihilation of the civil population with dirty nuclear bombs. One half hour before his broadcast, the US surrenders.

The immediate consequence for Martha is widowhood. Her husband Josh was incinerated (along with the rest of Grand Forks) when Russian warheads destroyed the nearby ICBM silos. Worse is to come. 

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On Such a Timeless Flight

Blast Off at Woomera  (Chris Godfrey of U.N.E.X.A, volume 1)

By Hugh Walters  

7 Apr, 2018

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


This week’s Tears review is of an old classic I never planned to review because I never expected to find a copy. When I stumbled across one, how could I resist?

1957’s Blast Off at Woomera (also known as Blast Off at 0300) is the first novel in Hugh Walter’s Chris Godfrey of U.N.E.X.A.1 juvenile SF series. 

A chance encounter between seventeen-year-old Chris Godfrey and Sir George Benson convinces Sir George that the college hopeful has just the qualifications required for a joint British-Australian space program.

Chris is bright, educated, and interested in rockets. Of greatest importance, Chris is only four foot, ten inches tall.

[spoiler alert]

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The Family Circle

The Dark Lord of Derkholm  (Derkholm, volume 1)

By Diana Wynne Jones  

6 Apr, 2018

Twelve by Diana Wynne Jones

1 comment

1998’s The Dark Lord of Derkholm (simply Dark Lord of Derkholm in American Guberniya editions) is the first of Diana Wynne Jones’ two Derkholm novels.

Mr. Chesney would argue that his Pilgrim Parties bring fame and wealth to the fantasy realm that is lucky enough to host the annual expeditions. The inhabitants of that realm might reply that Mr. Chesney’s Pilgrim Parties bring chaos, destruction, and massive loss of life. Since Mr. Chesney has a powerful demon on his side, how the locals feel does not really matter.

Determined to end the tours for once and for all, Querida, head of Wizards University, appoints notoriously incompetent wizard Derk as the new designated Dark Lord. He will be the focus for the tourists’ focused ire. He is tasked with creating the illusion of a vast dark kingdom, one in dire need of rescue by determined murder hobos tourists.

Derk is set on fire by an irate dragon, which was not part of the Plan.

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No One Remembers Your Name

Noragami, volume 1

By Adachitoka  

4 Apr, 2018


1 comment

Adachitoka’s 2011 Noragami volume 1 is the first installment in the titular series. It was first published in English in 2014.

One day all Japan will bow to Yato, greatest of all the nation’s gods! Today, however, he is merely a minor kami, known to a very very few and worshiped by none. He lives by performing miracles for the desperate, five yen a wish.

It’s a living…

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Living in the Flames

Killing Gravity  (Voidwitch, volume 1)

By Corey J. White  

3 Apr, 2018

Miscellaneous Reviews


2017’s Killing Gravity is the first instalment in Corey J. White’s Voidwitch series.

The MEPHISTO corporation purchased Mariam from her father and turned her from an unremarkable little girl into a living weapon who could liquefy soldiers and divert asteroids with a thought. Much to the corporation’s surprise, Mariam — Mars Xi — felt little gratitude for the gift of such power; she resented the terrible cost she had paid in pain and suffering. And she was unwilling to become a corporate tool. She fled, hoping to put her past behind her.

Years later, her past catches up to her.

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