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Reviews from May 2021 (21)

In the Woods


By Rivers Solomon  

17 May, 2021

Doing the WFC's Homework


Rivers Solomon’s 2021 Sorrowland is a standalone contemporary SF novel.

Vern finally escapes the Blessed Acres of Cain, the African-American separatist community in which she was raised. She leaves behind her mother and Reverend Sherman, the husband she did not want. She takes with her her two unborn children. 

The woods into which she flees are a refuge … but a forbidding one.

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Times of Trouble

Past Master

By R. A. Lafferty  

16 May, 2021

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


R. A. Lafferty’s 1968 Past Master is a standalone science fiction novel.

The planet of Astrobe was planned as a utopia, but it is collapsing into lethal civil discord. Determined to preserve their vision, the triumvirate who regard themselves as Astrobe’s governing committee — rich Cosmos Kingmaker, lucky Peter Proctor, and smart Fabian Foreman — do what any concerned person might do in their place: they resort to time-travel to yank a great man out of history to deal with Astrobe’s problems.

And which historic figure has the unique combination of virtues needed to manage the crisis? None other than Thomas More.

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Cotton Candy

A Day for Damnation  (The War Against the Chtorr, volume 2)

By David Gerrold  

13 May, 2021

Big Hair, Big Guns!


1984’s A Day for Damnation is the second volume in David Gerrold’s The War Against the Chtorr series1.

America has not had a good decade. It has lost a war with the Fourth Worlders and had to submit to shameful surrender conditions. It began to covertly re-arm, only to be hit with an alien invasion. Those who survived the plagues had to deal with voracious alien animals, an entire ecology that was shouldering Earth’s native lifeforms aside. 

Jim McCarthy stumbled his way into America’s elite forces in the first book. Although not entirely convinced that he belongs in the special Uncle Ira group, he does show a talent for not dying, something the majority of humans cannot say. Of course, even the luckiest person eventually rolls snake eyes. 

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Me Say War

86 — Eighty-Six  (Eighty-Six, volume 1)

By Asato Asato  

12 May, 2021



86 — Eighty-Six1 is the first volume in Asato Asato’s Eighty-Six military SF series. Illustrations are by Shirabii. Translation is by Roman Lempert. It is a light novel. 

The Republic of San Magnolia lost half its territory when the neighboring Giadian Empire attacked with superior numbers and sophisticated autonomous robots. Nothing for it but to rise to the occasion with San Magnolia’s own autonomous weapons. 

Regrettably, the Republic’s virtues do not extend to robotics anywhere as advanced as achieved by Giadian tech. San Magnolia’s autonomous robot weapons do not in fact work in battlefield conditions. San Magnolia’s bold visionaries solved this problem with a courageous decision: equip their autonomous weapons with Processors, pilots the Republic’s majority consider subhuman, the so-called 86s.

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Cruel, Cruel Summer

Helliconia Summer  (Helliconia, volume 2)

By Brian W. Aldiss  

11 May, 2021

Big Hair, Big Guns!

1 comment

1983’s Helliconia Summer is the middle volume in Brian Aldiss’ Helliconia trilogy. 

Helliconia’s climate is driven by the proximity of Helliconia to the giant star Freyr, about which Helliconia and its sun Batalix orbit. Currently Batalix and Helliconia are approaching periapsis and temperatures are soaring. Many devout people in the tropical continent Campannlat fear Freyr will consume them all. 

Unbeknownst to Helliconia’s natives, their activities are monitored from above by the space station Avernus. Certain curious practices on Avernus will greatly complicate the already fraught politics of the kingdom of Borlien.

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Trippin’ on Starlight

Dragon’s Egg  (Dragon’s Egg, volume 1)

By Robert L. Forward  

9 May, 2021

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


1980’s Dragon’s Egg is the first novel in Robert L. Forward’s Dragon’s Egg duology.

A supernova transforms a red giant into a neutron star, launching the tiny, dense post-stellar remnant directly at an unsuspecting Solar System. Half a million years later, in April 2020, Jacqueline Carnot, faced with peculiar data from a deep-space Soviet-ESA space probe, realizes that the Solar System is about to have a close encounter with an object that (if it stuck the Earth) would leave very little trace that there was ever an Earth. 


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Speak to Me in Riddles

In the Watchful City

By S. Qiouyi Lu  

7 May, 2021

Doing the WFC's Homework


S. Qiouyi Lu’s 2021 In the Watchful City is a speculative fiction novella. 

The city-state of Ora attracts exiles from all over the Skylands. They form a diverse population whose common element is past trauma. Consequently, Ora takes security very seriously. Key to Ora’s security: the watchful gaze of guardians like Anima. In one sense, æ never leaves ær room. In another sense, Anima is omnipresent, using the Gleaming to project consciousness into the animals of Ora. 

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The Clamour of The Crowded Streets

Chaos on Catnet  (Catnet, volume 2)

By Naomi Kritzer  

6 May, 2021

Miscellaneous Reviews


2021’s Chaos on Catnet is the second book in Naomi Kritzer’s Catnet series. 

The first book ended with Steph’s sociopath hacker father being held without bail on a charge of attempted murder. Steph and her mother no longer need to hide from him. No more false IDs and midnight moves from small town to small town. Now they can move to Minneapolis to build more conventional lives. 

Pity about the looming apocalypse. 

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Back to Haunt You

Jujutsu Kaisen, volume 1

By Gege Akutami  

5 May, 2021



Jujutsu Kaisen, Vol. 1, by Gege Akutami

Gege Akutami’s Jujutsu Kaisen is an on-going Japanese horror manga; it’s been serialized in Shueisha’s Weekly Shōnen Jump since March 2018. Volume one collects the first seven issues.

Exemplary athlete Yuji Itadori declines to join any of his high school’s sports teams. After all, this would mean leaving the Occult Research Club. Itadori isn’t especially interested in the occult, but the club (at least one club is a mandatory activity) doesn’t insist on actual attendance, which gives him time to spend with his dying grandfather. As well, the club has but three members — Iguchi, Sasaki, and Itadori — and without him, it would dip below the minimum membership threshold for a school club and be subject to summary disbanding. 

Which, as it turns out, would have been a good thing for Iguchi and Sasaki.

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A Friend in Me

Black Sun Rising  (Coldfire, volume 1)

By C. S. Friedman  

4 May, 2021

Special Requests


C. S. Friedman’s 1991 Black Sun Rising is the first volume of her Coldfire trilogy. 

The Terrans who discovered Erna initially deferred settlement due to concerns about the planet’s seismic activity. Ultimately, the world was too promising not to colonize, a decision to which their descendants might well object. The incessant quakes are annoying … but they’re not the biggest problem. What is? The Fae.

The eldritch force called the Fae transforms human will into tangible consequence. The result is indistinguishable from magic. If that were not challenge enough, simple human expectations alter the world around them. Consequently, science and technology, reliable elsewhere, aren’t reliable on Erna.

Centuries after settlement, visionaries like Damien Vryce, priest of the Church of Human Unification, are still trying to come to terms with the implications of the Fae. Damien is not all work, however. He is courting Adept Ciani, which is why he is very upset when she is killed and her shop is levelled in a Fae-related mishap. 

Matters are not as they seem. They are much worse.

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