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Reviews from July 2020 (21)

Let It Shine

Between the Firmaments

By J Y Neon Yang  

17 Jul, 2020

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do


JY Neon Yang’s 2018 Between the Firmaments is a standalone fantasy novella.

Armed with sunmetal, the invading Blasphemers descended on Bariegh’s magic-rich world. The world was enslaved; its gods and enchanted creatures were bound and treated as expendable power sources. 

Bariegh of the Jungle is a god, but he takes great pains to conceal this from the Blasphemers. Life as a construction worker is one of brutal exploitation, but it’s better than being used as a battery, to be drained and discarded. Existing under cover also means that he can keep an eye on his great-great-grandniece, Sisu, who has no idea that divine blood flows through her veins.

Caution is for naught when Sunyol arrives.

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The Deepest Cuts Are Healed By Faith

The Old Guard

By Gina Prince-Bythewood & Greg Rucka  

16 Jul, 2020

Miscellaneous Reviews


2020’s The Old Guard was directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and written by Greg Rucka, who also wrote the comic book of the same name (the film is based on the comic). The film stars Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

The promising career of American Marine Nile Freeman (KiKi Layne) comes to a sudden and tragic end when the wounded Afghan insurgent whose life she is attempting to save [1] slits her throat. Nile bleeds to death in moments; her demise is a grim lesson in the cost of inattention.

Much to Nile’s surprise, and the surprise of those around her, this is not the end of her story.

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Certain as the Moon

The Madness Season

By C. S. Friedman  

14 Jul, 2020

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck


C. S. Friedman’s 1990 The Madness Season is a standalone science-fantasy novel.

Centuries ago the Tyr had crushed the Earth. The Tyr are many bodies but one immortal mind. Consequently, they do not truly comprehend humans. They demand obedience from their peons. Immediate execution is the usual punishment for any deviation.

Daetrin Haal is eager to keep a low profile. He has a secret, which is that he’s immortal. As such, he’s a threat to the Tyr. He remembers the pre-invasion human past, which the invaders have carefully erased. 

His mind and his memories make him a threat to the Tyr order. Eventually he is noticed.

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Nearer My God to Thee

Creatures of Light and Darkness

By Roger Zelazny  

12 Jul, 2020

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Roger Zelazny’s 1969 Creatures of Light and Darkness is a standalone science fantasy novel.

For a thousand years, a nameless servant has served Anubis in the House of the Dead. His reward is a personal name and a task. To the nameless servant’s surprise, the name Anubis gives him is not his former name, which would grant him access to his former self, but a new one, Wakim.

His task? Find and kill the Prince Who Was A Thousand.

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Very Hungry Caterpillar

A Matter for Men  (War Against the Chtorr, volume 1)

By David Gerrold  

11 Jul, 2020

Big Hair, Big Guns!


David Gerrold’s 1983 A Matter for Men is the first volume in his as yet unfinished War Against the Chtorr series.

Supine beneath the treaty terms inflicted on America by the Soviets, Chinese, and the rest of an overpopulated world — or just possibly, victorious in a game of fourth dimensional geopolitical chess — America was still recovering from the economic side-effects of surrender when disease made the situation unimaginably worse.

Plague after plague swept the planet, killing four and a half of Earth’s six billion. Young Jim McCarthy’s family tried to wait out the disaster in their mountain cabin, but misjudged the end of the crisis. With half his siblings dead and his family broken by trauma, Jim is drafted into the nation’s Teamwork Army. He soon discovers that the challenge facing America and other, lesser nations, isn’t just disease. It’s an alien invasion.

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Drink My Wine

Mexican Gothic

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia  

10 Jul, 2020

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do


Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s 2020 Mexican Gothic is a standalone Mexican Gothic novel. As you might expect.

Young socialite Noemí Taboada is yanked out of her comfortable school and party-going life by her father. He has recently received an astonishing letter from Noemí’s cousin Catalina, married some months previously to Virgil Doyle. Concerned for Catalina’s well-being, Noemí’s father has been unable to convince Virgil to bring Catalina to Mexico City for a psychiatric assessment. Having no better alternative, Mr. Taboada dispatches Noemí to visit her cousin.

If he knew more about the Doyles, he most certainly would not have done this, but of course the Doyles have gone to great lengths to avoid publicity.

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Turn and Face the Strain

Purple Eyes in the Dark

By Chie Shinohara  

8 Jul, 2020


1 comment

Chie Shinohara’s Purple Eyes in the Dark (Yami no Pāpuru Ai) is a Japanese shōjo manga series. Purple Eyeswas serialized in Shōjo Comic from 1984 to 1986.

First-year high-schooler Rinko Ozaki is a seemingly normal teen, save for a curious birthmark whose significance escapes her. She has a crush on her long-time bad-boy chum Shinya Mizushima, but as yet is too shy to act on it. Her birthmark and that friendship will combine to produce some unfortunate results.

Shinya has enemies. Since Shinya has proved adept at dodging the beating he clearly deserves, why not target helpless Rinko? 

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Some Other Spring

Helliconia Spring  (Helliconia, volume 1)

By Brian W. Aldiss  

7 Jul, 2020

Big Hair, Big Guns!


Brian W. Aldiss’ 1982 Helliconia Spring is the first volume in his hard SF1 Helliconia trilogy, which, curiously contrary to publishing tradition, appears to consist of three, and only three, books. 

In many respects — age, mass, density, insolation, the presence of complex organic life, even the presence of a humanoid native species — the distant world Helliconia is much like Earth. In one very significant respect Helliconia is very different from Earth. That difference has driven the course of civilization on Helliconia for longer than its sentient inhabitants can remember.

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In an Awful Mess

Mr. Adam

By Pat Frank  

5 Jul, 2020

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Pat Frank’s 1946 Mr. Adam is a standalone science fiction comedy.

On September 21, 194_, Bohrville, Mississippi’s nuclear fission complex went boom, taking Mississippi with it. Yeah, it was a tragedy … but then, it was just Mississippi. The world shrugged its collective shoulders and went on with business as usual.

Months later, reporter Stephen Decatur Smith stumbles over a heretofore unnoticed consequence of the nuclear catastrophe. Nine months after the atomic calamity, babies stop being born. It seems that the Bohrville explosion sterilized the entire human race. More specifically, while women appear to immune to the radiation, all men were rendered sterile [1].


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The Wind is My Kin

The Beast Player  (Beast Player, volume 1)

By Nahoko Uehashi  

4 Jul, 2020



Nahoko Uehashi’s 2006 The Beast Player, published as Kemono no Sōja Ichi: Tōda hen, is the first volume of her Beast Player series. Cathy Hirano provided the 2018 English translation.

Despite entrenched distrust between the Ao-Loh and the Aluhan, two peoples of the same land, Elin’s Ao-Loh mother and her Aluhan father fell in love and married. Elin was the result. Elin could have been a barely tolerated freak, grudgingly accepted by the Aluhan thanks to her mother’s job tending the Toda (the great lizards the Aluhan ride into battle, serving1 Lyoza’s spiritual leader, the Yojeh). Instead, her life takes an altogether different direction.

It begins with mass death among the Toda. 

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