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Reviews from January 2020 (23)

Kinda Outta Luck

Untamed Shore

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia  

31 Jan, 2020

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do


Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s 2020 Untamed Shore is a standalone thriller.

Viridiana is determined to escape her small Baja California town. Much to her mother’s displeasure, Viridiana turned down her boyfriend’s proposal and the secure but tedious domesticity that marriage offers her. As soon as the first opportunity to leave appears, Viridiana will take it. The only problem is, such opportunities are uncommon in Desengaño.

Then three rich Americans come to town.

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All the Vibes

Upright Women Wanted

By Sarah Gailey  

30 Jan, 2020

Miscellaneous Reviews


Sarah Gailey’s Upright Women Wanted is a standalone near-future novella.

Esther knows she’s doomed. She’s been unable to resist her illicit sapphic urges; she’s engaged in a covert love affair with another woman. Everything she has been taught tells her that she will be outed and punished by fate itself. Nevertheless, she persists.

Esther’s best friend/lover Beatriz is executed for possession of seditious propaganda. Beatriz’s brutish fiancé needs a new woman and Esther’s father, the sheriff of Valor, Arizona, is happy to oblige. With Esther. 

Perhaps doom can be put off, even if it cannot be avoided. Esther stows away in a Librarian’s cart. If she can become a Librarian, she won’t be forced to marry. She can look forward to a life of chaste service to the State. 

Esther doesn’t know some things she should know about the Librarians.

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And If You Should Fall

Pandora Hearts

By Jun Mochizuki  

29 Jan, 2020



Jun Mochizuki’s manga series Pandora Hearts(Japanese: パンドラハーツ, Hepburn: Pandora Hātsu) was serialized in Monthly GFantasy between May 2006 and March 2015. There are twenty-four volumes. It’s a bit of a read.

Oz Vessalius has it all: social position, a distant, estranged father, one friend (whose salary Oz pays), a doting sister, a loving uncle, and an impeding coming of age ceremony in which he will be elevated to adulthood. 

Mid-ceremony, ominous figures descend on Oz, condemn him for the sin of existing, and consign him to the Abyss, the closest thing to hell that exists in this setting. Oz is somewhat taken aback by this development.

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No Town Without the Company

Maeve  (Diadem, volume 4)

By Jo Clayton  

28 Jan, 2020

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck


1979’s Maeve is the fourth book in Jo Clayton’s Diadem series; it’s the second book in which lead character Aleytys gets to wear clothes on the cover.

Determined to find her mother’s lost home world (which is somewhere towards the galactic core) and her own kidnapped baby, Aleytys funds her way from star system to star system by working her passage. Her latest ride has reached its core-ward extreme. Aleytys disembarks on Maeve to hunt for a ship heading in the right direction.

There are one or two minor complications.

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Cruel Summer

The Arm of the Starfish  (Poly O’Keefe, volume 1)

By Madeleine L'Engle  

26 Jan, 2020

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Madeleine L’Engle 1965’s The Arm of the Starfish is the first of the Poly (later, Polly) O’Keefe quartet. Alternatively, it is an offshoot of the Time Quintet series (which began with A Wrinkle in Time).

Promising biology student Adam Eddington earns a summer tour working for renowned scientist Calvin O’Keefe on the isolated Portuguese island of Gaea. Sounds like a delightful summer? Not so fast. 

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Rocket Man


By John Drury Clark  

25 Jan, 2020

Special Requests


John Drury Clark’s 1972 Ignition!: An Informal History Of Liquid Rocket Propellants is an informal history of rocket propellants. Mostly liquid, but some not. 

In addition to his career as a chemist, Clark was a minor SF author (credited with being the first author to use antimatter in a story) and an avid SF fan1. He died of natural causes at an advanced age, which is not the way anyone reading this text back in 1972 would have bet. 

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A Certified Genius at the Age of Five

Beneath the Rising

By Premee Mohamed  

24 Jan, 2020

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do


Premee Mohamed’s 2020 Beneath the Rising is a standalone cosmic horror novel.

Nick Prasad is poor and brown. Even though he’s quite bright, he can’t even consider going to university; he has family obligations. His friend Joanna Johnny” Chambers is wealthy, white, and a world-famous super-genius scientist. Despite the vast gulf between them, the two teens have been friends since childhood. Nick is madly smitten with Johnny. Johnny is fond of Nick. But there’s this vast gulf between them …

Having cured HIV and Alzheimer’s, Johnny turns her attention to solving climate change. Solution: replace fossil fuels with an inter-dimensional reactor. Too bad that Johnny has saved the world from climate change by creating a gateway to something much worse.

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Not Just a Pretty Face


By Moto Hagio  

22 Jan, 2020



Moto Hagio’s Marginal (Japanese: マージナル, Hepburn: Maajinaru) is a science fiction manga. It was serialized between 1985 and 1987

On all Earth, there is only one person who can birth children: the semi-divine Mother. All across the planet, desperate villages populated entirely by men must wait for Mother to send them children. Mother’s ability to produce children is declining and villages are dying. 

A desperate situation becomes a crisis when extremist Grinja infiltrates the city of Monodor and assassinates Mother during one of her rare public audiences.

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To Walk All Over Thee

The Shadow Saint  (Black Iron Legacy, volume 2)

By Gareth Hanrahan  

21 Jan, 2020

Special Requests


2020’s The Shadow Saint is the second volume in Gareth Hanrahan’s Black Iron Legacy.

Six months after Scar’s miracle reshaped Guerdon’s landscape, the city’s rulers are still locked in internecine conflict. If the city is to survive, cooperation is crucial. Yet each faction is focused solely on attaining supremacy, by fair means or foul.

While Guerdon’s politicians squabble, the Godswar is marching towards Guerdon.

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The World is Our Own


By Jim Kjelgaard  

19 Jan, 2020

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Jim Kjelgaard’s 1951 Fire-Hunter is a prehistoric adventure.

Hawk is his tribe’s master spear-maker. He doesn’t hunt; that’s dangerous and his skills are too valuable to lose. So sayeth the tribe. They’re a conservative bunch. They live on the edge of survival and cling to the old, tried-and-true methods. 

Hawk, however, is an innovator. He sees an exciting new way to cast spears and cannot resist testing it. The new method works until it fails spectacularly, leaving a hunter dead on a woolly rhino’s horn. 

The tribe expels Hawk and wanders off in their nomadic way. 

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