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Reviews from April 2020 (21)

Wanted Dead or Alive

Not Your Villain  (Sidekick Squad, volume 2)

By C. B. Lee  

17 Apr, 2020

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do


2017’s Not Your Villain is the second installment in C. B. Lee’s Sidekick Squad series.

Bells Broussard has it made: his shapeshifting abilities have ensured a fast track entry to the Meta-Human Training Center and an eventual post with the Heroes’ League of Heroes. Those same abilities make it possible for Bells to attend under an assumed name, sparing his family unwanted attention and dodging inconvenient questions about how it can be that, in a world where all meta-humans come from known lineages, Bell is the exception.

Bells’ caution proves quite prudent.

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Way Out West

Stardust County

By Nancy Louise Freeman  

16 Apr, 2020

Special Requests


Nancy Louise Freeman’s 2007 Stardust County is a 2‑CD album of SFF-adjacent Western music. From the source website:

Cast: Lon Austin, Nancy Freeman, Larry Warner, Maya Bohnhoff, Jennifer Ashley, Tony Fabris, Tom Tuerff, Michelle Vixy” Dockrey, Forrest Ashley, and Decadent” Dave Clement.

Also featuring: Fiddler Cat Taylor (Avalon Rising); Karl Franzen (Broceliande) on harmonica; and the legendary Jeff Bohnhoff on pyrotechnic guitar, bass, and Every Other Damn Thing

All manner of folk travel along the Stardust County rail line, which runs the length of this eldritch version of the Old West: folk that include traders, travellers, and criminals on the run. Nigel of Ephesus and Nimue fall into the last class.

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Oh, Can’t You See?

Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun, volume 1

By AidaIro  

15 Apr, 2020



Iro Aida’s ongoing Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun (Jibaku Shōnen Hanako-kun) is a Japanese fantasy manga series; it has been serialized in Square Enix’s Monthly G Fantasy since 2014. Volume 1 collects the first five issues.

Hopelessly romantic first-year-student Nene Yashiro spent three years reshaping herself into the sort of girl she thought her crush would prefer before confessing her love to him. Result: a brusk, rude rejection. Desperate for a boyfriend, Nene appeals to Hanako, the powerful supernatural entity who is said to live in the Kamome Academy High School’s girl’s washroom. She will ask Hanako to force the attractive Minamoto-sensei to fall in love with her.

To her surprise, Hanako is real. Even more surprisingly, Hanako is a he, not a she. The final surprise? He’s reluctant to use magic when mundane means could serve. 

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Time Was Just A Clock To Me

The End of Eternity

By Isaac Asimov  

12 Apr, 2020

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Isaac Asimov’s 1955 The End of Eternity is a standalone1 time-travel thriller.

A secretive cabal of Eternals (recruited from the mundanes of various periods) guide human destiny. They monopolize time travel and monitor human societies over a span of 70,000 centuries. They steer societies away from extremes and disasters, towards sustainable optimums. Andrew Harlan is a loyal member of the cabal, known as Eternity. 

Or rather, he was. Now he is working to destroy Eternity.

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Tailor Maid

Spin the Dawn  (Blood of Stars, volume 1)

By Elizabeth Lim  

10 Apr, 2020

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do


Elizabeth Lim’s 2019 Spin the Dawn is the first volume in her Blood of Stars series.

Master Tailor Tamarin had four children; he expected his sons, at least, to become tailors as well. But his three sons have no talent or taste for tailoring. Now, his daughter Maia would make a fine tailor — if she weren’t a woman. In the Empire of A’landi, women are considered unsuited for anything save marriage and motherhood. Her role in the family business is both vital and never publicly acknowledged. 

Master Tamarin is shattered by grief when his wife dies. Two of his sons die in the on-going civil war. One returns home, lame and broken. When the imperial court summons Master Tamarin or his deputy to serve the court, there is no male to send. But if no one reports, the whole family will be punished harshly. 

Maia has the skills and the courage to act. She disguises herself as her brother Keton and travels to Emperor Khanujin’s court.

Maia has misunderstood the nature of the court position available. 

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Don’t Let It Show

Network Effect  (Murderbot Diaries, volume 5)

By Martha Wells  

9 Apr, 2020

Special Requests


Martha Wells’ 2020 Network Effect is the first novel and fifth installment in her ongoing series, Murderbot Diaries. 

Having escaped from the mercilessly exploitive Corporation Rim for the comparative safety of Preservation System (and more remarkably, having not lost any of its human associates in the process, despite said humans having the self-preservation instincts of day-old rabbits), Murderbot is finally free(ish) to find a new place in life that doesn’t involve being an expendable slave. 

This is quite the challenge. Rather conveniently, a real-world crisis intervenes before Murderbot gets too caught up in a crisis of self-definition for which it has few applicable tools. Space raiders! 

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Wish Upon a Star


By L. X. Beckett  

7 Apr, 2020

Special Requests

1 comment

L. X. Beckett’s 2019 Gamechanger is a standalone science fiction novel.

The crises of the 21st centuries brought global disaster, but also reform. In the modern era, trolls and wasters are no longer tolerated. Society expects conservationist, socially responsible behavior, as enforced by a universal social scoring system. 

Unfortunately for political agitator Luciano Pox, his inability to display common courtesy leaves him in the social poorhouse. No matter how he screams at people, they only downrate him while refusing his very reasonable demands for reform. A challenging client for freshly minted lawyer Cherub Whitling.

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Open the Door

Astounding: John W. Campbell Memorial Anthology

 Edited by Harry Harrison 

5 Apr, 2020

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Astounding: John W. Campbell Memorial Anthology, edited by Harry Harrison, is a memorial anthology in honour of the late John W. Campbell, Jr. John W. Campbell was arguable the most influential SF editor of his day. He discovered and published many authors who are still read and loved today. He is also known for his quirks and foibles (such as his embrace of Dianetics) and his troglodytic (even by the standards of the backward era in which he lived) attitudes toward many social issues. 

All the authors who contributed to this volume were members of Campbell’s pool of authors. All are men. 

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A City That Doesn’t Sleep

The City We Became  (Great Cities, volume 1)

By N. K. Jemisin  

4 Apr, 2020

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do

1 comment

N. K. Jemisin’s The City We Became is a contemporary urban fantasy. It is the first in her projected Great Cities series.

New York City is on the edge of a grand transformation, but the person who is the key to the process buckles under pressure and vanishes. Lesser figures must step up … if they can. There is an enemy none of them know they have and it may kill them before they can act.

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