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Reviews from May 2019 (21)

When You Believe

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns  (Rise of the Empress, book 1)

By Julie C. Dao  

17 May, 2019

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do


2017’s Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is the first volume in Julie C. Dao’s Rise of the Empress series. 

Xifeng has been raised from birth to marry Emperor Jun. It is a lofty ambition (very much so given that Xifeng is a poor orphan) but it is not entirely unreasonable. Xifeng’s abusive aunt Guma claims to possess magical powers; she insists that one day Xifeng will be great and powerful. Also, Xifeng is an unparalleled beauty, which should smooth her rise to empress . 

Tired of Guma’s beatings, Xifeng flees with Wei, a young soldier who is utterly besotted with Xifeng. Alas for Wei, she is not besotted with Wei. Xifeng has a plan. A plan that involves the emperor. 

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Run Run Run

Snow White with the Red Hair, book 1

By Sorata Akizuki  

16 May, 2019



Sorata Akizuki’s Snow White with the Red Hair (Akagami no Shirayukihime) is an ongoing shoujo manga. It is very, very, very loosely based on the folktale of Snow White. 

Prince Raji of Tabarun decides to take herbalist Shirayuki as his next concubine. Why? Because her hair is the colour of red ripe apples. It does not occur to him that Shirayuki might have her own thoughts about the matter. He dispatches a summons and awaits his new red-haired lover. 

Rather than submit to being a spoiled prince’s momentary pastime, Shirayuki cuts off her long red hair, leaving it for the prince who valued it so much, then decamps for the neighbouring kingdom of Clarines. Along the way she takes shelter in an abandoned mansion, one that is not so empty as it appears. 

Enter another prince. 

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Family Portrait

The Changeover

By Margaret Mahy  

14 May, 2019

Special Requests


Margaret Mahy’s 1984 The Changeover is a standalone YA fantasy novel. 

Schoolgirl Laura Chant lives with her divorced mother Kate and her younger brother Jacko. One morning she wakes with a premonition that life in the quiet Christchurch suburb of Gardendale is about to change for the worse. She knows from past experience that her premonitions are trustworthy. However, there seems to be nothing she can do to prevent whatever fate is looming. She must carry on as normal and hope for the best. 

She does not get the best. 

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The Ship That Sailed the Time Stream

The Girl From Everywhere  (The Girl From Everywhere, book 1)

By Heidi Heilig  

10 May, 2019

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do


2016’s The Girl From Everywhere is the first volume in Heidi Heilig’s YA time-travel series, The Girl From Everywhere. 

Sixteen-year-old Nix Song has seen more of the world than most people. She has spent most of her life on her father’s ship, the Temptation, sailing the seven seas … and the timestream. Her father, Slate, is a Navigator. His special powers mean that all of recorded history is within reach. 

There is of course a catch. 

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To a Brighter Sunny Day

Velocity Weapon  (Protectorate, book 1)

By Megan E. O’Keefe  

9 May, 2019

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck


Megan E. O’Keefe’s upcoming 2019 Velocity Weapon is the first volume in her projected Protectorate series. 

In the 22nd century, Alexandra Halston’s invention of Prime gave humanity the Casimir Gates and access to the stars. By the 36th century, Prime spans many systems. Prime’s Keepers carefully maintain the network and all that is necessary to create more gates, in return for which they impose tariffs on the goods shipped from system to system. Everyone who matters agrees that this is a just arrangement — save for the planet of Icarion. 

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March of the Volunteers

The Wandering Earth

By Frant Gwo  

8 May, 2019



2019’s The Wandering Earth (Chinese: 流浪地球) is a 2019 Chinese film adaptation of Liu Cixin’s novella of the same name (which I have not read). It is directed by Frant Gwo and stars Qu Chuxiao, Li Guangjie, Ng Man-tat, Zhao Jinmai, Wu Jing, and Qu Jingjing. A major hit in China, it was stealth-released on Netflix on May 62019

Bad news for Earth! The Sun is transitioning from a main sequence star to a red giant five billion years ahead of schedule. Life within the Solar System will soon become impossible. 

There’s an alternative to extinction, at least for humanity. Simply move the Earth to the Alpha Centauri system. 

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I Started a Joke


By Robert Sheckley  

5 May, 2019

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Robert Sheckley’s 1966 Mindswap is a standalone SF comedy. 

Interplanetary travel is prohibitively expensive. Interstellar travel even more-so. Bad news for Marvin Flynn, a small town young man with the travel bug. 

Even though travelling in person is far too expensive for Marvin, there exists an affordable alternative. Simply dispatch his mind to some waiting body on a far-off world. What could go wrong? 

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And When I Walked

Natural Selection

By Malinda Lo  

3 May, 2019

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do


2013’s Natural Selection is an ancillary work to Malinda Lo’s Adaptation1.

Amber was born on distant Kurra before moving with her parents to Earth. She looks human enough to pass without notice. None of Amber’s schoolmates know that an alien is among them2.

This piece describes two rites of passage: one on Kurra (obligatory for Imrians like Amber) and one on Earth (not a formal rite of passage, but nonetheless a formative experience for Amber). Amber’s Earth experience takes place two years before her Kurra rite. 

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