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Reviews from April 2021 (21)

Oh, Don’t You Let the Wrong Words Slip

Extracurricular Activities

By Yoon Ha Lee  

16 Apr, 2021

Doing the WFC's Homework

1 comment

Yoon Ha Lee’s 2018 novella Extracurricular Activities is a space-opera espionage adventure. Set in the Hexarchate, it is a distant prequel to Lee’s Machineries of Empire series.

Shuos Jedao is a cunning adventurer, expert marksman, and all-round man of action. The Hexarchate he serves is an unpleasant authoritarian regime that, like so many other governments, rewards high-performing employees with yet another dangerous assignment. Jedao’s remarkable achievements win him an equally remarkable assignment.

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A Cunning Plan

Daughter of a Soldier, Volume 2

By Miya Kazuki  

14 Apr, 2021



Miya Kazuki’s Daughter of a Soldier, Volume 2 is the second of three Daughter of a Soldier instalments, which in turn form the first arc of Miya Kazuki’s Ascendance of a Bookworm series. The manga was illustrated by You Shiina; the 2019 edition was translated into English by Quof.

Fanatical bookworm Urano Motosu eluded the homicidal embrace of Truck-Kun, only to be crushed by her own books during a minor earthquake. To her surprise, Urano woke in the body of five-year-old Myne, a sickly child born to an honest but very poor peasant family. Her new society is sufficiently pre-literate that the language in which Urano is now fluent (as Myne) does not have a word for book.

Urano has been working as hard as her frail body will allow to drag society into literacy. This has born fruit, although not quite the fruit she intended.

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Bless the Rains


By G. Harry Stine  

13 Apr, 2021

Big Hair, Big Guns!


G. Harry Stine’s 1983 Manna is a standalone near-future1 science fiction novel.

Alexander Sandhurst Baldwin, formerly a Captain in the United States Aerospace Force, arrives in Topaway, the capital of the United Mitanni Commonwealth, knowing very little about the East African nation. What he does know is the Landlimo Corporation offered him a job, which the disgraced Aerospace Force officer very much needs. 

It’s just as well that his research efforts turned up little info re Mitanni, because most of the available info is pure lies, put out by the dastardly Tripartite Coalition, enemies of free nations everywhere! Although in 2050, the list of free nations everywhere has but one major entry: the Mitanni Commonwealth.

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Babe in the Woods

The Boy at the End of The World

By Greg van Eekhout  

12 Apr, 2021

Doing the WFC's Homework

1 comment

Greg Van Eekhout’s 2011 The Boy at the End of The World is a standalone post-apocalyptic adventure.

Fisher is decanted into a high-tech ark under attack. He’s a newborn in the body of an adolescent boy. He manages to escape the facility before it is destroyed. The good news: Fisher was imbued with a suite of skills before being decanted and he is accompanied by a helpful robot named Click. The bad news: his skills are not applicable to current circumstances and Click is broken.

His new world presents him a whole series of exciting discoveries. For one thing, Fisher is no apex predator. He is in fact very far down this world’s food chain.

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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.

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The Other Side of the Sky

Emilie and the Sky World  (Emilie, volume 2)

By Martha Wells  

8 Apr, 2021

Special Requests


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.

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These Vile Shackles

Fireborne  (Aurelian Cycle, volume 1)

By Rosaria Munda  

7 Apr, 2021

Special Requests


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.

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The Dread and Envy of Them All

The Sword of Kaigen: A Theonite War Story

By Maya Lin Wang  

6 Apr, 2021

Special Requests


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.

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Born on a Pirate Ship

The Light Bearer

By Sam Nicholson  

4 Apr, 2021

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


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.

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Another Measure in the Mystery

The Bone Witch  (Bone Witch, volume 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.

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