James Nicoll Reviews

Home > Reviews > By Date

Reviews from April 2021 (7)

Filling Up My Mind

Sinister Barrier

By Eric Frank Russell  

11 Apr, 2021

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

1 comment

Eric Frank Russell’s 1939 Sinister Barrier is a standalone Fortean novel.

2015! The distant future! Bill Graham, a liaison officer handling relations between scientists and the U.S. Department of Special Finance, is alarmed at a recent wave of deaths amongst America’s top geniuses. Some died of what seems to be natural causes, others by suicide. Graham is convinced someone is murdering the USA’s brain trust. 

Graham is on the right track but he does not grasp the scale of the crisis. The culprit isn’t the Soviets, the Asian Combine, or even some sort of sinister world-spanning conspiracy like Hydra, Thrush, Spectre, or the Phone Company, but something far more ominous. The target is not merely the United States of America. It is humanity as a whole.


Read more ➤

The Other Side of the Sky

Emilie and the Sky World  (Emilie, book 2)

By Martha Wells  

8 Apr, 2021

Special Requests

2 comments

2014’s Emilie and the Sky World is the second in Martha Wells’ secondary-universe gas-lamp-fantasy Emilie series. 

After the stupendous adventures of the first volume, Emilie finally reaches her studious cousin Karthea. Emilie scarcely has time to relate her adventures to Karthea when two complications present themselves. The first is her domineering Uncle Yeric, determined to bring his scandalous niece to heel. The second is a mysterious object in the sky, whose nature is entirely unclear.


Read more ➤

These Vile Shackles

Fireborne  (Aurelian Cycle, book 1)

By Rosaria Munda  

7 Apr, 2021

Special Requests

0 comments

2019’s Fireborne is the first book in Rosaria Munda’s Aurelian Cycle. 

First Protector Atreus had a grand vision of what Callipolis could become under his guidance. The serfs would be freed, the masses would be educated, and people would be given positions according to merit, not accident of birth. For that to happen, however, the aristocratic dragonlords had to die, root and branch; mature dragons had to go as well. The dragons could be poisoned, but the massacring the aristocrats was left to mobs angry over famine and systemic abuse.

Repelled by the violence that he himself set in motion, Atreus spares the life of young Leo Stormscourge, sole survivor of his family. The boy is consigned to a state orphanage. Having matters of state to occupy him, Atreus forgets all about Leo. 

Almost a decade passes.


Read more ➤

The Dread and Envy of Them All

The Sword of Kaigen: A Theonite War Story

By M. L. Wang  

6 Apr, 2021

Special Requests

0 comments

M. L. Wang’s 2019 The Sword of Kaigen: A Theonite War Story is a standalone novel set in her Theonite universe. Sword won Mark Lawrence’s 5th Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO).

The Kaigenese Empire is the greatest of all nations! Its economy is thriving, its people are consumed with patriotic fervour, and its military is second to none. Or as someone willing to attract the ire of the Empire might phrase it, its economy is struggling, the penalties for dissent are severe, and its military is a joke. 

The Empire does have one undeniable asset: the warriors of the Kusanagi Peninsula.

Read more ➤

Born on a Pirate Ship

The Light Bearer

By Sam Nicholson  

4 Apr, 2021

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

6 comments

Sam Nicholson’s 1980 The Light Bearer is a standalone science fiction novel. It was Nicholson’s only novel and as far as I can tell, this was its only edition in any form.

Sam Nicholson is a pseudonym; the author is said to have been a certain Shirley Nikolaisen, about whom we know almost nothing. We don’t know why she stopped writing.

Stumbling over a planet populated by Bronze Age primitives, the so-called Space Givers saw only a world of rustics who would no doubt be overjoyed to be raised up to the galactic level. In short order the Space Givers discovered that the locals saw them not as paragons to be emulated but as sheep to be shorn. Having retreated to their orbital complex, the Space Givers embarked on a lengthy attempt to gradually civilize a world that considered Space Giver ideals laughable at best. 

Many years later, at the great city of Mus-al-ram, Zeid the Light-Bringer offers the Space Givers hope that their project is finally bearing fruit.

Read more ➤

Another Measure in the Mystery

The Bone Witch  (Bone Witch, book 1)

By Rin Chupeco  

2 Apr, 2021

Doing the WFC's Homework

1 comment

2017’s The Bone Witch is the first volume of Rin Chupeco’s Bone Witch trilogy. 

The witches of the village of Knightscross predict a wonderous future for Tea, although their prognostications are short on specifics. Further clarification arrives after the tragic death of Tea’s brother Fox, a soldier slain by a daeva, a wandering monster. Overwrought with grief, Tea raises her brother from the dead. Or at least, she raises him. Fox is still dead but he is conscious and mobile once more.

Tea is a bone witch, a necromancer.


Read more ➤