James Nicoll Reviews

Home > Reviews > By Date

Reviews from April 2019 (20)

Do You Believe in Magic?

The Barrow Will Send What It May  (Danielle Cain, book 2)

By Margaret Killjoy 

30 Apr, 2019

Miscellaneous Reviews

1 comment

2018’s The Barrow Will Send What It May is the second entry in Margaret Killjoy’s Danielle Cain series. 

Danielle and her new chums Brynne, Doomsday, Vulture, and Thursday survived the events in The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion, the previous book in the series. However, they find themselves suspected of causing (rather than surviving) the pile of dead police in the town of Lamb. Rather than try to convince skeptical detectives that the dead cops were slain by a demon, the quintet have hit the road. Perhaps they can become itinerant demon-hunters? 

America’s great highway network will whisk them away from suspicion. It’s a fine plan. Too bad Danielle manages to total the car near Pendleton, Montana. 


Read more ➤

Outside of That

Beyond This Horizon

By Robert A. Heinlein 

28 Apr, 2019

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

11 comments

1948’s Beyond This Horizon1 is a standalone novel by Robert A. Heinlein. 

The development of workable methods for genetic selection sparked two genocidal wars. But all that’s in the past. The world has recovered. The Americas are practically a utopia. A long-running program aimed at creating the perfect human is close to completion. The latest iteration is Hamilton Felix. He would be the perfect man save for two flaws: 

  • He could have a perfect memory (or so think the program planners2).

  • He refuses to marry and produce the child who would be the perfect human. 

Oh, and his pal Monroe-Alpha has committed a spot of treason. We’ll get to that later. 


Read more ➤

You Say You Got A Real Solution

Schismatrix

By Bruce Sterling 

27 Apr, 2019

Big Hair, Big Guns!

2 comments

Bruce Sterling’s 1985 hard SF novel Schismatrix is the sole novel set in his Shaper/Mechanist universe, a setting also featured in handful of short pieces1.

The human colonies of the Solar System are divided into two factions: the Shapers, who want to enlist biology in reshaping humanity, and the Mechanists, who rely on technology. The two sides loath each other and are engaged in an increasingly tense cold war. It isn’t clear which camp will shape humanity’s future. 

Abelard Lyndsay, born to a high-ranked family in the Mare Serenitatis Circumlunar Corporate Republic, was sent as envoy to the Shaper city-states in the Rings of Saturn. This was during a brief period when the Republic was flirting with a Shaper alliance. Once the lunar aristocrats allied with the Mechanists, Abelard found himself an embarrassing relic of a failed policy. 

Already radicalized by the Shapers, Abelard turned to extreme political gestures. Upshot: Abelard’s lover Vera dead, and Abelard an exile from his former home. 


Read more ➤

A Box Just For Wishes

The River Twice  (Edge to Center, book 1)

By Brenda W. Clough 

25 Apr, 2019

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do

1 comment

2019’s The River Twice is the first volume in Brenda W. Clough’s Edge to Center series. 

It’s good to be the king! And if one lives in a purported republic with a dubious record of democratic transfer of power, it’s good to be the grand-daughter of the President. Calla Ang’s grandmother is Madame President of Jalanesia and (save for the tragic deaths of Calla’s parents when she was but a child) Calla’s life has so far been prosperous. Her future as the likely inheritor of her grand-mother’s position seems secure. 

Her comfortable life is disrupted by the sudden appearance of a bewhiskered Englishman. 


Read more ➤

Numb to Pain

Gangsta, book 1

By Kohske 

25 Apr, 2019

Translation

0 comments

Gangsta, Volume 1 collects the first five issues of Kohske’s eponymous SF crime manga. First published in 2011, the English language edition came out in 2014

Ergastulum is a hive of scum and villainy, populated by monsters and victims. The cops are crooked, the criminals are in charge, and life is for the most part unpleasant. 

Worick Arcangelo and Nicolas Brown are handymen. They handle problems the other people of Ergastulum are unwilling or unable to face. 


Read more ➤

Follow Me Now To The Vault Down Below

Atlas Alone  (Planetfall, book 4)

By Emma Newman 

23 Apr, 2019

Miscellaneous Reviews

1 comment

2019’s Atlas Alone is the fourth installment in Emma Newman’s Planetfall series. 

Humanity’s second crewed starship is on its way to the distant star system pioneered by the Pathfinder. The 10,400 people on board Atlas 2 have a twenty-year voyage ahead of them1, which raises the question of how they are to fill their time. Dee knows exactly how she will spend it. 

(spoilers for After Atlas)


Read more ➤

Wounds Are All I’m Made Of

Akira

By Katsuhiro Otomo 

22 Apr, 2019

Big Hair, Big Guns!

0 comments

Katsuhiro Otomo’s manga Akira was serialized in Young Magazine from 1982 to 1990. The first English translation was published by Marvel Comics’ Epic line from 1988 to 19951. The US edition pioneered the use of computer colourization, courtesy Steve Oliff. For many North Americans this was their introduction to manga. 

Viktor Haag was kind enough to lend me his Epic collection. 


Since I am not sure how the Epic volumes map onto the current version from Dark Horse, I decided to review the entire, 2000+ page work as a whole. 

All together now: 

TETSUOOOO!”


Read more ➤

Waiting in the Sky

Identified  (UFO, book 1)

By Sylvia Anderson 

21 Apr, 2019

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

6 comments

1970’s Identified” was the first episode of the TV series UFO. The series was helmed by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, with Reg Hill. The episode was written by the Andersons and Tony Barwick and directed by Gerry Anderson. Unlike previous Anderson efforts, characters were portrayed not by puppets, but by live actors. 

Humanity has incontrovertible proof that aliens have discovered Earth and are taking a close interest in humans. This interest outs itself whenever the aliens notice humans noticing them; the luckless humans are killed. One such attack on a highly placed colonel (played by Ed Bishop) moves the top powers of the day (US, USSR, etc.) to adopt a new strategy: secrecy. They’ll form a task force that will covertly investigate the aliens. 

Ten years later… 

Read more ➤