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Reviews from August 2021 (22)

All I’m Asking

Sibyl Sue Blue  (Sibyl Sue Blue, volume 1)

By Rosel George Brown  

17 Aug, 2021

Special Requests


Rosel George Brown’s 1966 Sibyl Sue Blue is the first of two books featuring detective Sibyl Sue Blue. 

1990! A decade after scaled Centaurians began moving to the USA, they have settled in slum ghettos, where they are the newest minority hate target for bigoted nativists, replacing the Italians, Irish, and others of earlier times. Undercover cop Sibyl Sue Blue becomes interested in Centaurians when every Centaurian she encounters tries to kill her. The cigar-smoking widow isn’t putting with any of that; she beats up her assailants. Oddly enough, this doesn’t put a stop to the attempted murders.

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Roll the Bones


By John M. Ford  

15 Aug, 2021

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


John M. Ford’s science fantasy Starquest is an extremely early roleplaying game, found only in the pages of the July 1979 Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine1. The game was presented within an article titled On Evenings Beyond the Fields We Know, which as you all know was my introduction to the very concept of roleplaying games (which Mr. Ford for some reason called rôle-playing games”).

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Most Heinous of Crimes

The Vow  (Monstress, volume 6)

By Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda  

13 Aug, 2021

Doing the WFC's Homework


Marjorie Liu’s 2021 Monstress, Volume 6: The Vow collects Monstress: Talk-Stories #1 – 2 and Monstress #31 – 35.

When we left our characters, the (mainly human) Federation of Man was once again at war with the Arcanics, whom the humans consider to be useful magical fuel. Too bad the fuel is contained within monsters who don’t want to be destroyed in processing. 

Next on the Federation’s list for conquest: the city of Ravenna. Understandably reluctant to be painfully converted to lilium (the magical fuel), the Arcanics put up a heated defense. 

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Little Evil Me

When True Night Falls  (Coldfire, volume 2)

By C. S. Friedman  

12 Aug, 2021

Special Requests

1 comment

1993’s When True Night Falls is the second book in C. S. Friedman’s Coldfire Trilogy. 

Having vanquished a Big Bad in the first volume (as explained in the lengthy mission report provided at the beginning of the novel), Damien Vryce (Warrior Priest), Hesseth (a rakh, native to the planet), and Gerald Tarrant (former Prophet of the Church for Human Unification on Erna) head East, pursuing some as yet unidentified great evil they believe resides there. 

The expedition is not the first to set out from the West for the East. There have been several previous expeditions, all of which vanished without a trace. Now Damien and his allies get to find out why. 

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One Step Closer

Mao, volume 1

By Rumiko Takahashi  

11 Aug, 2021



Mao, Volume 1 is the first of four volumes in Rumiko Takahashi’s time-spanning fantasy series. It was first published in Japan in 2019. The English translation came out in 2021

Schoolgirl Nanoka survived the road accident that killed her parents. Her doting grandparents see her as frail and coddle her. Nanoka has never had any reason to doubt their assessment. After all, she is without a doubt the worst athlete in school. 

Although she dislikes passing by the spot where her parents died, it’s on the shortest way home from school. One day she takes a route she has never taken before. She steps almost a century into the past.

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Darkness Be Over Me


By Keith Roberts  

8 Aug, 2021

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Keith Roberts’ 1968 Pavane is a collection of linked alternate-history stories. 

Mortally wounded by an assassin’s bullet, Queen Elizabeth dies. The ensuing Protestant/Catholic civil war leaves England vulnerable to external enemies. England is conquered, its armies used to crush the rest of Protestantism. The Catholic Church reclaims its role as the sole religion of Europe well into the 20th Century1.

I can’t see a way of discussing the background without massive spoilers so here, have a massive spoiler warning.


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Fly Away

For a Muse of Fire  (Shadow Players)

By Heidi Heilig  

6 Aug, 2021

Doing the WFC's Homework


2018’s For a Muse of Fire is the first volume in Heidi Heilig’s Shadow Players secondary-world fantasy trilogy.

Aquitan’s armies suppressed Le Trépas, the mad monk terrorizing Chakrana, then occupied Chakrana. They are there, they declare, to ensure that Chakrana’s boy king Raik Alendra will peacefully ascend the throne. In the meantime, Aquitan is benevolently guiding Chakrana to true civilization, which is of course Aquitanian. This means suppressing the bad old ways, such as monasticism. The result: civil war. 

It’s a good time to flee Chakrana, as Jetta and her family are planning to do. They are travelling players; they fear running into Aquitan soldiers or perhaps freedom fighters and bandits (who are not always clearly distinguishable). Not only that: Jetta needs medical treatment available only in Aquitan.

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Tremble, Tyrants and Traitors

A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians  (Shadow Histories)

By H. G. Parry  

5 Aug, 2021

Special Requests


2020’s A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is the first volume in H. G. Parry’s Shadow Histories.

Centuries after the Vampire Wars, European monarchies agree on one thing: magic must be carefully managed, certain schools of magic banned outright, and commoners must be denied the use of any inborn magic they might have. All the nations of Europe rely on the Templars, who are given the authority and tools needed to ensure stability … regardless of the cost to lower orders.

As unpleasant as the life of a commoner can be, it would be paradise for those who fall prey to Europe’s slavers. Africans are kidnapped and transported to the New World, where they face brutal, merciless exploitation for the remainder of their lives. To ensure compliance, slaves are forced to consume an alchemical potion that renders them prisoners in their own bodies. They may be screaming in defiance internally, but they cannot disobey orders.

In the late 18th century, the aristocrats and slavers discover the limits of the oppressed’s tolerance for abuse.

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Forgive and Forget


By Yasutaka Tsutsui  

4 Aug, 2021



Yasutaka Tsutsui’s Hell is a stand-alone contemporary fantasy novel. It was first published in 2003 as Heru; the 2007 English translation is by Evan Emswiler.

Nobutero, Yuzo and Takeshi were childhood chums during World War II but took different paths in life afterward. Takeshi was a law-abiding guy, albeit one with a fatal weakness for seducing married women. Yuzo joined the Yakuza. Nobutero steered a middle path between respectability and criminality. 

Hell waits for them all.

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