Reviews, January 2019

So Far Away

Dragon Pearl — Yoon Ha Lee

Yoon Ha Lee’s 2019 Dragon Pearl is a standalone science fantasy novel.

Thirteen-year-old Min is a magical fox girl. Other supernatural races may be respected throughout the Thousand Worlds, but not foxes. Foxes are seen as untrustworthy and murderous. Min is brought up to conceal her fox nature from neighbours on Jinju.

Min is biding her time, waiting to turn fifteen, when she will be eligible to join the Thousand Worlds’ space force. That’s one way off backwater Jinju. She knows even a fox can do this, because her older brother Jun managed it.

One day an investigator appears, with bad news about Jun.


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Driven By the Night

The Raven Tower — Ann Leckie

Ann Leckie’s The Raven Tower is a standalone secondary-world fantasy.

Mawat’s story may sound familiar: a northern kingdom; an heir who learns that his father has disappeared and that his uncle has seized power.


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I Just Want To Be Okay Today

ONE & Yusuke Murata
One-Punch Man, book 2

One-Punch Man Volume Two collects Punches (issues) 9 through 15 (plus some bonus material) of ONE and Yusuke Murata’s ongoing manga.

Determined to deal with an annoying campaign of harassment, nigh-indestructible powerhouse Saitama and his earnest cyborg acolyte Genos set out to confront the mysterious House of Evolution.


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A Land So Wild and Savage

World’s Fair 1992 — Robert Silverberg
Regan, book 2


1970’s World’s Fair 1992 is the second in Robert Silverberg’s Regan series.

Would-be xenologist Bill Hasting’s essay on the possibility of life on distant Pluto was far-out stuff, but intriguing enough to win the teen a year’s stay on the 1992 World’s Fair Satellite. It’s not a vacation: he will have to work. Still, he’s enjoying a trip that others must pay $$$ to experience.

Life on the station is less exotic than one might expect.


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Hands Red

Temper — Nicky Drayden

2018’s Temper is a standalone secondary world fantasy novel by Nicky Drayden.

A few pitiful singletons aside, every person has their twin. When one of the pair has a virtue, their twin will have the corresponding vice. There are seven virtues and seven vices; hence it is inevitable that one of the pair will have more virtues, one will have more vices.

Auben is remarkably vice-ridden; he has six of the possible seven vices. His twin Kasim has six virtues. Not that this bothers Auben; he enjoys his vices and is certain that he is smart enough to avoid their consequences.

Then Auben engages with Icy Blue.

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Paint It Black

Voice of the Whirlwind — Walter Jon Williams
Hardwired, book 2

1987’s Voice of the Whirlwind is the second volume in Walter Jon Williams’ Hardwired series. It can be read as a standalone novel1.

Etienne Steward wakes to discover that he is a clone, the Beta, of the man with whose memories he was imbued. More revelations follow, none good:

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Hello, Is There Anybody Else Here?

Adachitoka
Noragami, book 9

Adachitoka’s Noragami Volume 9 collects issues 32 to 35 of the adventures of the stray god Yato. The manga was first published in 2013; the English translation was published in 2015. Included in the volume are

  • 32. “She Who Invites” (誘な女 “Izanami”)

  • 33. “Wielder of an Iron Will” (イシ椎い持ち “Ishi Tsutsui Mochi”)

  • 34. “Such Were Their Desires” (斯く在りし望み “Kaku Arishi Nozomi”)

  • 35. “Death” (死 “Shi”)

Things are not going well for Yato and his former shinki Nora. In fact, the two find themselves in hell.

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Laying Down the Law

Ninth Step Station — Malka Older, Fran Wilde, Jacqueline Koyanagi, Curtis C. Chen

Malka Older, Fran Wilde, Jacqueline Koyanagi, and Curtis C. Chen’s 2018 Ninth Step Station is an anthology of serial shared-world cyberpunk fiction. It is published by Serial Box, who (to quote their site):

Serial Box is a publishing company and mobile app that produces and delivers team-written serialized fiction. We blend story production and distribution practices from television, book publishing and narrative podcasting to create professionally crafted serials that fit your life.

Following earthquake and Chinese invasion, Tokyo is divided between Chinese occupation forces, American forces, and of course the Japanese themselves. Crime is still a fact of life. It is up to Tokyo Metropolitan Police officers like Miyako Korida to deal with it. Because there is no job that cannot be made more complicated, Miyako has the privilege of partnering with Peacekeeper Lieutenant Emma Higashi of the US Navy.

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English Country Garden

The Day of the Triffids — John Wyndham

Although 1951’s The Day of the Triffids was not John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris’ first novel, it was the first that he published under the name John Wyndham. It established him as the master of the Cozy Catastrophe.

His eyes bandaged thanks to an injury, Bill Masen cannot see the wondrous meteor shower that lights up Earth’s sky. As a consequence, he is spared the side-effect that manifests the following day: total blindness. As most of the human population had ooh’d and ah’d at the sight, most of them are blind.

It gets worse.

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Panorama

Hidden Sun — Jaine Fenn
Shadowlands, book 1

2018’s Hidden Sun is the first volume in Jaine Fenn’s Shadowlands series.

Disfigured in a mishap, aristocratic shadowkin Rhia disregards convention and indulges her scholarly interests.

Dej is also unconventional, but she’s not as lucky. She’s a skykin and so a lesser being in the eyes of the shadowkin who run the creche that raised her. Rhia can flout rules; Dej cannot. She is punished for disobedience and eventually sent back to her people, the skykins, who lead hard lives under the bright sun of the skylands.

Who would expect that these two women, of such different backgrounds and tastes, would ever meet?

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Of People Going By

How Long ‘til Black Future Month? — N. K. Jemisin

N. K. Jemisin’s 2018 How Long ‘til Black Future Month? is a collection of short stories. It is her first collection of stories. Nota bene: it’s only been out for a month, but that still makes it a 2018 publication and thus eligible for a 2019 Hugo. Just saying.

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I’m Walking on Air

Psychokinesis — Yeon Sang-Ho

Yeon Sang-Ho’s 2018 Psychokinesis is a superhero movie. It stars Ryu Seung-ryong, Shim Eun-kyung, Park Jung-min, Kim Min-jae and Jung Yu-mi.

Shin Seok-heon (Ryu Seung-ryong) is a bank security guard. He’s content to waste his life filching supplies from the bank and drinking himself into a stupor every night.

 Then:

  • His estranged daughter Shin Roo-mi (Shim Eun-kyung) contacts Seok-heon with the news that his ex-wife is dead, killed in an altercation with thugs.

  • A sip of meteor-tainted water imbues Seok-heon with psychic powers.


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