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Reviews from October 2020 (19)

Big Bad Wolf

The Route of Ice and Salt

By José Luis Zárate  

24 Oct, 2020


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José Luis Zárate’s 1998 The Route of Ice and Salt is a nautical horror novel. The 2020 English translation is by David Bowles.

The captain of the Demeter is a skilful, experienced mariner, known for his attention to his crew. Not all captains are as humane.

His latest commission seems straightforward enough. The route from Varna to Whitby is well charted. Nothing could be more harmless than a few crates of Transylvanian soil.

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A Bargain with the World

The Space Between Worlds

By Micaiah Johnson  

23 Oct, 2020

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do

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Micaiah Johnson’s 2020 The Space Between Worlds is a science fiction novel. 

Adam Bosch has invented a machine that gives Wiley City (and to a lesser extent the dystopian hellscape beyond its walls) access to the multiverse. New resources, new information … that’s the good part. But there is a catch. Indeed, a number of catches. 

Adam’s machine will only work to connect timelines that are quite similar. Even though there are an infinity of possible worlds, Wiley City only has access to 380. Travel between timelines is physically challenging. Not only that: living beings who travel to parallel worlds in which they have a living analog will die horrible deaths. 

Privileged people, important people, tend to have analogs in most of the other realities. They’ve led protected lives, as have most of their analogs. Traversing would surely mean death. But there are a lot of people who haven’t led protected lives. Beyond Wiley City’s walls live the poor, doomed to short and dangerous lives. Send such a poor person across the worlds and it’s just possible that the poor person may live. 

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When the World Comes In

The Angel of the Crows

By Katherine Addison  

21 Oct, 2020

Miscellaneous Reviews


Katherine Addison’s 2020 The Angel of the Crows is a standalone gas-lamp fantasy. 

Near-fatally savaged by a fallen angel encountered in Afghanistan, Dr. J. H. Doyle, late of Her Majesty’s Imperial Armed Forces Medical Corps, returns home to England. Doyle’s pension is small; living alone will be impossible. Doyle is forced to look for a flatmate. Doyle is painfully aware that it will be an odd flatmate indeed who will be able to tolerate the doctor’s quirks.

Odd flatmate found: Crow, a consulting detective. Crow is also an angel. 

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Into the Calm and the Quiet

Time Piper  (Tom Humboldt’s Time Machine, book 1)

By Delia Huddy  

20 Oct, 2020

Special Requests


Delia Huddy’s 1979 Time Piper is the first volume in a duology (Tom Humboldt’s Time Machine). 

Eighteen-year-old Luke Crantock first encounters Hare Bingley as she flees a group of local bullies. This fails to serve as a meet-cute for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because Luke discovers that he is too cowardly to intervene; she has to escape on her own. Secondly, because Hare, on her part, isn’t at all interested in forming personal connections. 

Nevertheless, Luke cannot stop thinking about the beautiful young woman.

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Start Again at Your Beginnings

Star Driver

By G. Harry Stine  

18 Oct, 2020

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


1980’s Star Driver is a standalone SF novel by G. Harry Stine, writing under the pen name Lee Correy. It ended a twenty-four-year hiatus in Stine’s SF novel writing career. A flurry of novels followed.

Government funding cuts end astronomer Mike Call’s research project and his job. This is a big problem, because Call is qualified (experience counts!) but he is under-credentialled. Many possible jobs are out of his reach.

Call isn’t just a scientist. He is a trained pilot. NEMECO can use a man like him. 

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You Leave Me Speechless

Komi Can’t Communicate, book 1

By Tomohito Oda  

17 Oct, 2020



Tomohito Oda’s manga Komi Can’t Communicate (Japanese: 古見さんは、コミュ症です。, Hepburn: Komi-san wa, Komyushou desu.) has been serialized in Shogakukan’s Weekly Shōnen Sunday since May 2016. The English translation of volume one was published in 2019

Shouko Komi is revered by her fellow students at elite Itan Private High School. The beautiful student never responds to attempts to converse with her, which her classmate take as an indication that they are but worms beneath Komi’s feet, a status with which the teens are surprisingly comfortable. 

Komi is not aloof. She is too terrified to speak.

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Uh Oh, We’re In Trouble

Prime Deceptions  (Chilling Effect, book 2)

By Valerie Valdes  

16 Oct, 2020

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do

1 comment

2020’s Prime Deceptions is the second volume in Valerie Valdes’ Chilling Effect series.

In the previous volume Captain Eva Innocente escaped the clutches of a criminal empire known as the Fridge, giving it a black eye in the process of regaining her ship La Sirena Negra. Prudence would suggest adopting a low profile. Eva is terrible at being prudent, as suggested by the fact that when the book opens, someone is shooting at her.

Eva at least knows better than to accept job offers from her duplicitous sister Mari. As it turns out, knows better” is different from does not.” In Eva’s defence, the task seemed so straightforward.

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Though Cowards Flinch and Traitors Sneer

The Last Girl Scout

By Natalie Ironside  

15 Oct, 2020

Miscellaneous Reviews


Natalie Ironside’s 2020 The Last Girl Scout is a standalone post-apocalypse adventure. 

After the war, what was once the United States is a patchwork of pocket nations interspersed with radioactive wastelands overrun by zombie hordes. In the middle of one such wasteland lies an enigmatic structure known as the Citadel. The Ashland Confederated Republic decides to seize it. Result? Two companies march into the wasteland. Two survivors straggle back. 

Common sense would suggest that it would be wise to leave the Citadel alone. But when Ashland learns that another pocket nation is targeting the Citadel, it does what it should have done at first: send a scouting mission into the wasteland. Commissar Magnolia Mags” Blackadder very reluctantly agrees to join the mission. 

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