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Reviews from October 2018 (22)

A Million Miles Away

City of Ash and Red

By Hye-Young Pyun  

17 Oct, 2018

Translation

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Hye-Young Pyun’s 2010 City of Ash and Red is a standalone horror novel. The 2018 translation is by Sora Kim-Russell. 

Although in no way a remarkable worker, the unnamed protagonist is promoted to a post in the head office of his pest extermination company. The office is located in an unfamiliar city, Y, in even more unfamiliar country, C. 

He finds himself a figure of envy for his co-workers. But the loss of his friends (if grudgingly tolerant co-workers can be considered friends) is just another blow, following upon a nasty divorce. He can only hope that the transfer will let him rebuild his life. 

Or perhaps not. Perhaps the transfer is merely the first step in another, even more epic catastrophe. 

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Like Dreamers Do

Otherbound

By Corinne Duyvis  

16 Oct, 2018

Miscellaneous Reviews

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Corrine Duyvis’ 2014 Otherbound is a standalone fantasy. 

Arizona teen Nolan is a visionary. He doesn’t imagine things: he sees things. Whenever he closes his eyes — when he blinks, for example — he sees whatever Amara sees. 

Amara lives in another realm where magic is real. She has a talent, healing, which makes her nigh unkillable. You’d think this would make her a power in the world in which she lives. It doesn’t. She’s a slave. She’s a slave on the run, following her mistress. 


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In the Arms of the Angel

Passenger to Frankfurt

By Agatha Christie  

14 Oct, 2018

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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Agatha Christie’s 1970 Passenger to Frankfurt is a standalone thriller and dystopian novel. 

Sir Stafford Nye’s diplomatic career is less due to any aptitude for the job and more because in the gently declining post-Empire world, no better candidate presented themself for the job. On his way back from another fairly pointless summit in Malaya, Nye’s one noteworthy characteristic catches the eye of a desperate spy. 

His bold fashion sense. 

Spoilers follow. 


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Whispers in the Dark

Seal of the Worm  (Shadows of the Apt, book 10)

By Adrian Tchaikovsky  

12 Oct, 2018

A Dozen by Tchaikovsky

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2014’s Seal of the Worm is the tenth and final volume in Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Shadow of the Apt series. 

Good news for Wasp Empress Seda: its old enemy Collegium has fallen and occupied by Wasp forces. Stenwold Maker has vanished and is presumed dead (at least by some). Seda’s mystic rival Cheerwell Maker has been consigned to the lightless realm of the Worm, which is as close to hell as this world offers. 

There are just a few minor hitches. The Wasp Empire’s alliance with the Spiderlands proved all too brief. Imperial forces need guard their flank from their former ally. What seemed an unstoppable advance has stalled. 

More importantly, when Seda tipped Cheerwell and her friends into the Worm’s realm, Seda released something terrible. 


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From Here to Mars

The Fated Sky  (Lady Astronaut, book 2)

By Mary Robinette Kowal  

11 Oct, 2018

Miscellaneous Reviews

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2018’s The Fated Sky is the second volume in Mary Robinette Kowal’s Lady Astronaut series. 

Earth is doomed … but not immediately. There is enough time to try to establish colonies on the other worlds of the Solar System, for a chosen few to survive catastrophe. But who, exactly, will qualify to be among the lucky handful to have a future? 


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Screaming to Say

In the Vanisher’s Palace

By Aliette de Bodard  

10 Oct, 2018

Miscellaneous Reviews

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Aliette de Bodard’s 2018 novel In the Vanishers’ Palace is a standalone secondary world fantasy (unless it’s SF; see comments). 

The Vanishers used the world as their toy until they broke it. Having ruined the world, they absconded, leaving their former slaves and playthings behind to scrabble for life in the poisoned wreckage. 

Yên’s village has no room for the useless or the weak. Her mother’s knack for healing magic pays her own way, but it’s not enough to support Yên. She is only a mediocre scholar. She has failed to pass the metropolitan exam and escape to the comparative security of the imperial court. It’s only a matter of time before Elder Tho finds a pretext to eject Yên from the village or feed her to the purifying artifact in the Plague Grove. 

Giving Yên to a dragon to do with as the dragon wishes is also acceptable to Elder Tho. 

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King of the Road

Special Deliverance

By Clifford D. Simak  

9 Oct, 2018

Special Requests

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Clifford D. Simak’s 1982 Special Deliverance is a standalone SF novel. 

When a student hands in an atypically good paper with citations unfamiliar to Professor Edward Lansing, Lansing summons the student to his office for questioning. The student admits he did not write the paper. No surprise. What is a surprise is the source of the paper: a slot machine in the basement of the Student Union Building1.

Of course, Lansing has to see this paper-writing slot machine for himself. 

The machine is terribly insistent that it has to provide everyone who activates it with a boon. When the machine’s dirty joke fails to amuse, it provides Lansing with two keys and detailed instructions. Curiosity gets the better of Lansing. In short order he finds himself in very unfamiliar territory. 

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Welcome to the Future

The Day After Tomorrow

By Robert A. Heinlein  

7 Oct, 2018

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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The Day After Tomorrow is an alternate title for Robert A. Heinlein’s mercifully standalone Yellow Peril novel, Sixth Column.

Fifty years after the Noninterference Act ended contact between America and PanAsia, PanAsia launches a sudden and overwhelming attack on the US. Armed with superior military intelligence and impressive weapons, the PanAsians crush the Americans. Having won the war, the PanAsians move onto the next phase of their plan: reducing white Americans to slaves in a land they once called their own. 

All is not lost. The Citadel remains, an advanced military research facility overlooked by the PanAsians. It is America’s last hope. 

If only most of the personnel were not dead. 

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Bloom for Me and You

A Study in Honor

By Claire O’Dell  

6 Oct, 2018

Miscellaneous Reviews

12 comments

Claire O’Dell’s 2018 A Study in Honor is a near-future Holmesian mystery. 

Public spirit compelled Dr. Janet Watson to serve on the Federal side of the New Civil War1. After an enemy bullet cost her an arm, the government thanked her for her service by providing her with a second-hand, defective prosthetic limb and a medical discharge. 

She has broken up with her girlfriend. She is having a hard time finding a job (not that many jobs for one-armed African-American surgeons). She is depressed and struggling with PTSD. Nevertheless, she persists. Watson settles for a position well below her skill level, as a medical technician whose tasks are limited to ticking boxes on a checklist. Now she has to find a place to live in the crowded capital (a quest complicated, of course, by the melanin content of her skin). 

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Fortunate Son

Drowned Ammet  (Dalemark Quartet, book 2)

By Diana Wynne Jones  

5 Oct, 2018

Twelve by Diana Wynne Jones

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1977’s Drowned Ammet is the second volume in Diana Wynne Jones’ Dalemark Quartet. 

At first, Alhammit Mitt” Alhammitson’s childhood is happy enough, even though his family is not in the best of circumstances. They are peasants, living on land belonging to the malevolent Earl Hadd. The earl is far too busy feuding with other earls to even notice a farming couple and their child. Unfortunately, the family does not escape the notice of Hadd’s rent collector. He takes a dislike to them, doubles their rents, and eventually forces them off the land. 

Mitt’s father joins the Free Holanders, a group of radicals. The group is betrayed to the earl; Mitt’s father disappears and is later said to have been killed by the earl’s soldiers. Mitt’s mother Milda believes that she knows who betrayed her husband and raises Mitt in the belief that he must take vengeance on the remaining Free Holanders: Siriol, Dideo, and Ham. Who but they could have betrayed their comrade? Why else would they have survived the earl’s heavy hand? 

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