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Reviews from June 2018 (21)

Fools To Make War

Brothers in Arms  (Miles Vorkosigan, book 4)

By Lois McMaster Bujold  

15 Jun, 2018

A Bunch of Bujolds

6 comments

1989’s Brothers in Arms is the fourth book in the Miles Vorkosigan series. 

Admiral Miles Naismith’s Dendarii Mercenaries have a secret advantage; they are subsidized by the planet Barrayar. Naismith is also Miles Vorkosigan, son of Barrayar’s Lord Regent. 

Miles and the Dendarii put in at Earth to collect desperately needed funds. The funds should be waiting for them. They are not. 

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Please Don’t Insist

Ghost in the Shell, book 1

By Masamune Shirow  

14 Jun, 2018

Translation

1 comment

Masamune Shirow’s 1991 Ghost in the Shell, volume 1, collects the first eleven chapters of the serial post-cyberpunk manga. The 1995 English translation is courtesy of Frederik Schodt and Toren Smith. 

The 2030s! A wonderful era of realistic robotic servants, cybernetic brain enhancement, and advanced prosthetic augmentation. All are valuable tools in the endless struggle between nation-states. As well as the battle to contain terrorists/freedom fighters/mafias. (Which label to apply depends on your POV.) 

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Children of Empire

Cross Fire  (Exo, book 2)

By Fonda Lee  

12 Jun, 2018

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

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2018’s Cross Fire is the second volume in Fonda Lee’s Exo series. 

While the crisis in the previous novel was successfully handled, that did not bring Donovan Reyes’s father back to life, nor did it resolve the fundamental problem of how to reconcile the Commonwealth’s strategic goals with Earth’s defensive needs. Earth is, after all, merely one of a great many worlds in the Mur Erzen Commonwealth and not a particular rich one. Defending it from the Rii could prove expensive. 

The zhree who invaded Earth have a simple, economically justifiable plan: abandon the Earth to their rapacious cousins. 

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Not a Public Inquiry

Freeport

By Maldoror_Chant  

11 Jun, 2018

Special Requests

1 comment

Maldoror_Chant’s 2017 Freeport is a fanfic set in the world of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing.

The grand conflict in MSGW is over. The heroic terrorist protagonists of MSGW now must find new roles for themselves, preferably roles that do not leave a swath of death and property destruction in their wake. 

Chang Wufei’s solution is to become a cop. He is dispatched to problem spot after problem spot, by a federation government striving endlessly to keep discord from boiling over into open chaos. Intrepid, uninhibited by petty bureaucratic rules, Wufei lives on a knife edge: he must be useful enough that he will not be cashiered for his frequent use of excessive force. 

Assigned to bring a hitman known only as Carver to justice, Wufei recruits his old ally Duo. Duo has become a borderline criminal who operates out of the colony of Freeport — which is Carver’s last known destination. Wufei hopes that Duo’s connections will allow Wufei to nab Carver. 

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Rough And Tough And Strong And Mean

Spartan Planet  (John Grimes, book 5)

By A. Bertram Chandler  

10 Jun, 2018

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

5 comments

1968’s Spartan Planet is the fifth book in A. Bertram Chandler’s John Grimes series. 

Policeman Brasidus and his fellow Spartans are quite familiar with human history. Men originated on Sparta. Like all the other animals on Sparta, men reproduce by budding, although medical technology has freed men from this unpleasant method of reproduction. Sparta’s society has been strictly regimented since the earliest days, because that’s the best way of doing things. 

Although Sparta has very little use for advanced technology (which would only take jobs from the helots), there is a single extra-Spartan colony, Latterhaven. It was settled by rebels who maintain a monopoly on starflight. Not that it really matters, since the entirety of Sparta’s annual trade fits into two cargo ships, Latterhaven Hera and Latterhaven Venus. Aside from Sparta and Latterhaven, there are no other inhabited worlds and no races aside from Man. 

A lot of what Brasidus and his fellow Spartans know is untrue. 

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Under the Sea

The Sea Watch  (Shadows of the Apt, book 6)

By Adrian Tchaikovsky  

8 Jun, 2018

A Dozen by Tchaikovsky

4 comments

2011’s The Sea Watch is the sixth volume in Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Shadows of the Apt.

In the midst of a contentious election, Stenwald Maker is alarmed to discover that his niece Cheerwell has chosen not to return to Collegium following the Khanaphes expedition. Worse yet, the ambassadors from the ant city-state of Vek see ill intent in the fact that Collegium has also received envoys from the ant city-state of Tsen. Of all possible enemies, ants feel the direst hate for other ants. 

With so much going on, Stenwald discounts Master Failwright’s complaints about his shipping losses. Mere alarmism, he thinks. He is making a big mistake… 

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One Life For Yourself, And One For Your Dreams

The Empire of Corpses

By Ryoutara Makihara  

7 Jun, 2018

Translation

1 comment

The 2015 anime The Empire of Corpses is director Ryoutarou Makihara’s adaptation of a 2012 steampunk novel by Toh EnJoe1 and Project Itoh. 

Victor Frankenstein taught the world how to re-animate the dead. But one crucial component of Frankenstein’s research was lost: the art of imbuing the reanimated dead with an actual soul. Others may call the dead back to life, but none will be able to replicate the will and soul of the One, Frankenstein’s first creation. No matter: necroware suffices to restore a semblance of life to the dead, a semblance that sentences them to unpaid labour under the direction of the living. 

Doctor John Watson is determined to rediscover the lost method of soul restoration. He is so determined that he persists in his researches even though they are illegal: reanimation is a closely held state secret. He succeeds in resurrecting a dead friend, but fails to restore his soul. The reanimated man is an empty shell, which Watson nicknames Friday. 

The British Empire is adept at dealing with amateurs like Watson. Soon after Friday is reanimated, Watson is arrested. M, head of the Secret Service, offers Watson a choice: a lengthy prison term or service as a British agent overseas, there to use his recherché talent in the interests of the empire. Watson takes the second option. 

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Ancient Savageries

A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent  (Lady Trent, book 1)

By Marie Brennan  

5 Jun, 2018

Special Requests

11 comments

2013’s A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent is the first volume in Marie Brennan’s Lady Trent series.

Scirland is not known for encouraging the intellectual interests of its women — not even its high-born women. Isabella, the future Lady Trent, is one of the determined few who prevailed despite all the pressures to focus on the lady-like pursuits she finds boring beyond words.

Why focus on tedious social gatherings when she lives in a world full of natural wonders like dragons?

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Nothing Without a Woman or a Girl

Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, June 1977

By Ben Bova  

2 Jun, 2018

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

4 comments

I have excoriated Ben Bova’s fiction in the past, but I have nothing but admiration for his work as editor for Analog. While Disco-Era Analog might seem a bit stodgy to modern eyes, at the time Bova was a breath of fresh air. Rather than settle for being a second-rate Campbell, he did his best to be a first-rate Bova. He recruited new authors, many of whom differed (excitingly) from Analogs Old Guard. He also bought more stories by women than did his predecessor1. While some old guard objected to Bova’s direction, enough readers enjoyed it to give him a remarkable six Best Editor Hugo Awards, as well as one nomination for the same category.

It seems unlikely Campbell would have had a Special Women’s Issue. Bova did: Analog, June 1977.

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