James Nicoll Reviews

Home > Reviews > By Date

Reviews from December 2018 (21)

Four Winds Converge

Halting State  (Halting State, book 1)

By Charles Stross 

31 Dec, 2018

Special Requests

3 comments

The opening paragraph informs you that the book featured in today’s review is Halting State. This novel was written by Charles Stross and was published in 2007. You muse on how long ago that was. 

The book opens with protagonist one, Sergeant Sue Smith. She is summoned to Hayek Associates, who are victims of a robbery that proves much less straightforward than expected. 

Read more ➤

Not So Little Boys

The Ship Who Sang  (Brainships, book 1)

By Anne McCaffrey 

30 Dec, 2018

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

3 comments

Anne McCaffrey’s 1969’s The Ship Who Sang is a fix-up of SF stories published 1961 – 1969.

Hideously disfigured Helva might have been humanely euthanized, as was routinely done to those outside the norm for her time and place. But she had a brain worth salvaging. Helva survived the conversion process and was reborn as … the brain of interstellar ship XH 834


Read more ➤

Time After Time

Steel

By Carrie Vaughn 

28 Dec, 2018

A Variety of Vaughns

3 comments

Carrie Vaughn’s 2012 Steel is a standalone young-adult time travel story. 

Jill Archer comes in fourth in her fencing tournament. Third would have earned her a bronze medal and a place in the Junior World Fencing Championships. Fourth gets her nothing. 

A family vacation near Nassau should help her get over the setback. But a chance discovery of the broken tip of a rapier, lost to the sea centuries ago, gives her a ticket to an entirely different sort of vacation. Clutching the fragment she has rescued from the water, she falls overboard in the 21st century. She is hauled out of the water in the golden age of piracy. 

Read more ➤

So Why Is My Heart Broke?

The Ancient Magus’ Bride, book 1

By Kore Yamazaki 

27 Dec, 2018

Translation

3 comments

The Ancient Magus’ Bride, volume 1 collects the first five issues of Kore Yamazaki’s ongoing manga Mahō Tsukai no Yome.

Abandoned by her parents, despised by her peers, and plagued by visions she does not understand, high school student Chise Hitori decides to sell herself into slavery. That way, at least, she will have a place in the world. 

The bidding is heated. At the end of it, Chise is the property of mage Elias Ainsworth, a British person of sufficient means to pay five million pounds sterling for Chise. Well dressed and unflappably polite, Elias is a striking figure. 



Read more ➤

Cherry Lips

The Dragon  (Atlan, book 2)

By Jane Gaskell 

23 Dec, 2018

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

1 comment

The Dragon is the second half of the original 1963 hardcover edition of Jane Gaskell’s The Serpent, which in turn is the first part of the Atlan series. Publishers, am I right? Let’s call it book two of the Atlan series and move on. 

Thanks to the tumultuous events towards the end of the previous instalment, Cija is on the run. She manages to hide in plain sight, as her friend Smahil’s lover. Smahil insists on making this pretense real. It’s probably for the best that Cija does not know that Smahil is her half-brother. 

Read more ➤

Whisperer in Darkness

Finders  (Firstborn, Lastborn, book 1)

By Melissa Scott 

22 Dec, 2018

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck

0 comments

2018’s Finders is the first volume in Melissa Scott’s Firstborn, Lastborn series. 

The Ancestors disappeared millennia ago, leaving behind some garbled myths and the scattered relics of their nigh-godlike technology. Cassilde Sam and her partner Dai Winter make their meagre living tracking down and salvaging Ancestor relics. It’s a hard life, but not one that Cassilde will have to endure much longer. Third-stage Lightman’s will soon end her life. There is no treatment for Lightman’s.

Cassilde is desperate to secure financial security for Dai before she dies. An opportunity presents itself, but it comes at a high price: accepting scholar Summerlad Ashe as a partner once more. 

Read more ➤

Itsy Bitsy Spider

The Prisoner of Limnos  (Penric & Desdemona, book 6)

By Lois McMaster Bujold 

21 Dec, 2018

A Bunch of Bujolds

1 comment

2017’s Prisoner of Limnos is the sixth novella in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Penric & Desdemona series. It follows directly on the events of Mira’s Last Dance, which in turn followed directly on the events of Penric’s Mission.

The sorcerer Penric successfully smuggled General Adelis Arisaydia and the general’s half-sister Nikys out of Cedonia to Orbas. Events occurring during this smuggle have upset Nikys, with whom Penric is smitten. Then letters from his superiors arrive, demanding Penric return from his foreign adventures. Penric does what any reasonable person would do in his place: hare off on a side-quest. 

Read more ➤

These Boots Are Made for Walking

Choukakou, book 1

By Xia Da 

20 Dec, 2018

Translation

0 comments

Choukakou, which is also known as Chang Ge Xing, Chang Ge’s Journey or Song of the Long March, is an ongoing manhua (Chinese comic) series by Xia Da. Volume one collects the first four issues. 

Seeking to succeed to the throne in the newly born Tang Dynasty, Li Shimin murders his brothers Crown Prince Li Jiancheng and Prince Li. To prevent future unpleasantness, Li Shimin has his brothers’ families massacred as well. 

Later centuries will remember Li Shimin as Emperor Taizong of Tang, one of China’s most capable emperors. Mission accomplished! Save for one small detail. 


Read more ➤