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Reviews from March 2021 (22)

Sweet Mystery of Life

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!, volume 1

By Satoru Yamaguchi  (Translated by Shirley Yeung)

31 Mar, 2021



2015’s My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! Volume 1 is the first of eight volumes in Satoru Yamaguchi’s light novel series. The Illustrator is Nami Hidaka. The 2020 English translation is by Shirley Yeung.

A tomboyish Japanese girl, unnamed save for the nickname monkey girl,” sleepy thanks to her obsession with late-night computer gaming, jumps on her bicycle and races off towards her school, through what turns out to be busier intersection than she expected. Exit unnamed Japanese schoolgirl, having squandered her seventeen years on Earth.

Eight-year-old Katarina Claes recovers consciousness, imbued with the memories of the dead school girl. Her new memories grant her new perspective. Specifically, they assure her that she is very much doomed.

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Or If I Search Inside

Emilie and the Hollow World  (Emilie, volume 1)

By Martha Wells  

30 Mar, 2021

Special Requests


2013’s Emilie and the Hollow World is the first of two books (thus far) in Martha Wells’ Emilie series (a secondary-world gas-lamp fantasy). 

Determined to escape her uncle’s heavy-handed guardianship, sixteen-year-old Emilie sneaks out of his house, planning to take refuge in prestigious Shipands Academy in another city … somehow; many details of her plan are as yet vague. Her simple plan hits an almost immediate snag: she cannot afford the necessary ferry ticket. She stows away on a ferry, but is discovered in short order. She flees in haste, jumps into the harbour, and boards a nearby ship. Bad move, Emilie.

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Off to See the Wizard

The Doomfarers of Coramonde  (Coramonde, volume 1)

By Brian Daley  

28 Mar, 2021

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Brian Daley’s 1977 The Doomfarers of Coramonde is the first of two books in the Coramonde series.

Springbuck, rightful heir to the throne of Coramonde, is going to have problems taking power. He’s short-sighted and a bit timid, neither of which is a plus in the combat-oriented culture of Coramonde. Also, most everyone at court is conspiring against him, in cahoots with malevolent sorcerer Yardiff Bey. 

Providentially, stalwart warrior Duke Hightower appears to save Springbuck! Less providentially, the Duke is almost immediately killed, while Springbuck is temporarily imprisoned.

Meanwhile, in Vietnam, American soldier Gil MacDonald and the crew of the APC Lobo are busy saving the Asian nation from the Communist menace. 

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The Ones We’re Meant to Find

By Joan He  

26 Mar, 2021

Doing the WFC's Homework


Joan He’s 2021 The Ones We’re Meant to Find is a standalone science fiction novel.

Her mother dead, her father aloof and lost in his eco-savior work, neuro-atypical Kasey Mizuhara at least has her sister Celia … at least until Celia vanishes at sea. While others give Celia up as dead, Kasey is not so sure that she’s gone. The blunt prodigy decides to track down her missing sister.

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The Sacred Geometry of Chance

The Mask of Mirrors  (Rook & Rose, volume 1)

By M. A. Carrick  

25 Mar, 2021

Special Requests


2021’s1 The Mask of Mirrors is the first volume in M. A. Carrick’s2 Rook & Rose secondary-universe fantasy trilogy.

Sisters of circumstance Ren and Tess have not set foot in Nadežra since that day, years before, when Ren poisoned sadistic gang-leader Ondrakja. Now, however, they see a prize too precious to resist, one that will require the pair to return to the city of their childhood.

Step one: Ren must inveigle her way into the confidence of paranoid House Traementis.

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Tower of Song

Carole & Tuesday, volume 1

By Morito Yamataka, Bones & Shinichiro Watanabe  

24 Mar, 2021


1 comment

2019’s Carole & Tuesday is the manga adaptation of a science fiction anime of the same name (authors: Morito Yamataka, BONES, and Shinichiro Watanabe). I have not seen the anime. Volume 1 covers the first four episodes1.

Wealthy Tuesday Simmons flees her isolated family mansion, hoping to find her destiny in Mars’ Alba City. Armed with the streetwise worldliness of a day-old chick, she loses her luggage almost immediately. 

Also in Alba: orphan Carole Stanley is an illegally busker. Although Alba’s police seem peculiarly diligent where illegal busking is concerned, Carole manages to evade the law long enough for Tuesday to hear Carole sing. Fleeing the anti-busking police together, the pair become immediate besties.

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Flashing Blades

Sword Dance  (Sword Dance, volume 1)

By A. J. Demas  

23 Mar, 2021

Special Requests

1 comment

2019’s Sword Dance is the first volume in A. J. Demas’ Sword Dance secondary universe series. 

Once a promising soldier, now reduced by injury to holding down a desk as a government functionary, Damiskos is dispatched from great Pheme, seat of empire, to the villa of an old friend, Nione Kukara. His task? To negotiate with the retired Maiden of the Sacred Loom a contract for fish sauce. Hardly the stuff of international intrigue. 

So one would think.

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Something Wrong with Me

Space Doctor

By G. Harry Stine  

22 Mar, 2021

Big Hair, Big Guns!


G. Harry Stines 1981 Space Doctoris a near-future hard SF novel. It was published under his Lee Correy pen-name.

Note recurrence of the term visionary in the following synopsis. 

Democratic Senator Owen Hocksmith is a political powerhouse; he is high in the councils of New Mexico’s Democratic Party. He’s also a wealthy oligarch, with investments in ranching, banking, and high-tech industries. 

One investment is looking shaky. The senator’s Eden Corporation is not subject to short-sighted antitrust laws hobbling truly visionary capitalism and secured the contract to build America’s solar power satellites. Senator Hocksmith is determined to see the project to completion and not just for the vast wealth the project can deliver. He believes nuclear war can only be staved off as long as energy is cheap. SPS (Solar Power Satellites, the company) can deliver cheap energy.

Still, the project presents unprecedented challenges. Several such challenges face Dr. Tom Noels, the project’s medical director.

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Lost in the Fog

The Infinitive of Go

By John Brunner  

21 Mar, 2021

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


John Brunner’s 1980’s The Infinitive of Go is a standalone science fiction novel. 

Cold War paranoia provided the funds to finance Justin Williams and Cinnamon Wright’s revolutionary teleporter. The poster,” as the device is innocuously dubbed, seems to work perfectly. Preliminary tests show that inanimate and animate payloads arrive intact. 

The first long-range human test seems to have gone perfectly until courier George Gunther demands a countersign. Since no such countersign had been arranged, it cannot be given. Gunther immediately kills himself while destroying the documents he was conveying.

Something has clearly gone wrong, but what?

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Now He’s Dead

Hunting Monsters” &Fighting Demons.”

By S L Huang  

19 Mar, 2021

Doing the WFC's Homework


You may have read (or heard about) S. L. Huang’s 2020 novel Burning Roses. You probably haven’t heard about Huang’s two stories in the same setting, 2014’s Hunting Monsters” and 2015’s Fighting Demons.” They created a world; Burning Roses is a sequel. I read the novel first and enjoyed it enough to seek out the stories (which I also enjoyed). 

Both stories involve Xiao Hong, her mother Mei, and Mei’s lover Rosa. They are set in a secondary fantasy universe of the sort encountered in fairy tales, both European and Chinese. 

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