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Reviews from October 2021 (22)

All Driving Rocket Ships

Bander Snatch

By Kevin O'Donnell, Jr.  

17 Oct, 2021

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


1979’s Bander Snatch was Kevin O’Donnell, Jr.’s debut science fiction novel.

Thanks to off-world resources, 22ndcentury Earth is a paradise … mostly. Most folks in this semiperfect society live in no-coms, small communities that are marvels of conformity and uniformity. There are few opportunities for social friction between dissimilar groups. There has been nothing like a proper war since 2063

No-coms have no place for misfits. The tiny fraction of people unable to adapt to modern life are consigned to places like Federal Dependents Resettlement Area Number Three. If they are particularly unlucky, they may end up in the ruins of Townships 19, 20, 24, and 25, which are still largely unreconstructed after the food riots of 2128. Thanks to agreements that made sense back in 2128, they are still under the control of what are perhaps best called war lords. 

Twenty-two-year-old Bander Snatch is one such war lord.

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Just a Little Breeze

Cradle and Grave

By Anya Ow  

15 Oct, 2021

Doing the WFC's Homework


Anya Ow’s 2020 Cradle and Grave is a stand-alone post-apocalyptic dungeon-crawl adventure. 

Even after an apocalypse, people still need to work. Dar Lien needs to work. She’s a scout, an experienced guide to the wastelands. Wastelands into which no sensible person would venture, had they a choice.

Servetu and Yusef (a halfer, his man’s torso grafted onto a horse’s body) want a guide to take them into and out of the Scab. Dar Lien hesitates. She’d be willing to do this with folks she knows and trusts, but not with two complete strangers. What tips the scale is the fact she is terminally ill. Her would-be employers are offering her fifteen thousand taels, which would pay for a treatment that could save her life. 

Desperation trumps caution.

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Pushing Down On Me

Lonely Castle in the Mirror

By Mizuki Tsujimura  (Translated by Phillip Gabriel)

13 Oct, 2021



Mizuki Tsujimura’s Lonely Castle in the Mirror is a stand-alone portal fantasy novel. Originally published in 2017 as Kagami No Koji, Phillip Gabriel’s English translation came out in 2020

Kokoro Anzai has been the target of mass bullying at school1. Rightfully dubious of the school’s ability and willingness to protect her, she has arrived at a simple but effective countermeasure. She refuses to attend school; she won’t even leave her house. Aware that their daughter is skipping school but not understanding why, her parents find her a new school. Kokoro confounds their efforts. Anything outside her house has become too frightening. 

Respite comes from her mirror. 

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The Fire of Thine Eyes


By Cynthia Felice  

10 Oct, 2021

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

1 comment

1978’s Godsfire was Cynthia Felice’s debut science fiction novel. 

Heao, a felinoid sentient, lives in the tableland region of the shadowed highlands. Her country is sophisticated and technologically advanced, but it has not been able to resist a felinoid neighbor avid for conquest. The tableland has been overrun by a cunning military strategist from the shadowed lowlands. Now the tableland is just another province in the King-conqueror’s empire; the tableland’s ruler, Prince Chel, is a mere vassal. 

Heao is one of the few surviving tableland scholars; she’s a mapmaker. This will make her of use to the King-conqueror, although not immediately. 

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In Brightest Day

Far Sector

By N. K. Jemisin & Jamal Campbell  

8 Oct, 2021

Doing the WFC's Homework

1 comment

N. K. Jemisin’s Far Sector is a stand-alone limited-run comic book series set in the DC comic universe. Illustrations are by Jamal Campbell. The original run was from 2019 – 2020. The collection came out as a book in 2021

Sojourner Jo” Mullein is a newly minted Green Lantern, armed by a Guardian of Oa with an innovative version of the famous Green Lantern ring [1]. She has been an interstellar cop for the last half year. So far, not a busy cop; she’s been assigned to a beat in a distant community, one famous for having no violent crime. 

The vast space structure known as the City Enduring is home to twenty billion people from three species: the nigh-human Nah, the AI @at (pronounced at-at”), and the carnivorous vegetable keh-Topli. Maintaining the peace between cultures is challenging enough. Maintaining it between species more so. Past failures left two worlds in ruins. For the past five centuries, the city government has mandated that every one of its emotionally volatile citizens install an emotional damper known as the Emotion Exploit.

The system performs flawlessly, which raises this question: why, in a city without homicide, is Jo looking at the half-eaten corpse of a murder victim?

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What Fire Begets This Fire

The Assassins of Thasalon  (Penric and Desdemona, volume 10)

By Lois McMaster Bujold  

7 Oct, 2021

Special Requests

1 comment

2021’s The Assassins of Thasalon is the tenth installment in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Penric and Desdemona secondary-universe fantasy series. It is set in her Five Gods Universe.

Eight months ago, the Emperor of Cedonia died of what appeared to be (and may have been!) a simple accident. The emperor’s son being a minor, a regency council was established, including in its number of the most determined power-grabbers in the Empire. Since then, a number of the council members have died, in battle and of what appeared to be natural causes. The stability of the court has been upended. For men like Minister Methani, the current circumstances are an opportunity.

Methani is well aware others may also see opportunity in imperial chaos. Thus, he dispatches two subordinates to deliver a message to the exiled General Adelis Arisaydia, who could be tempted home to command a military faction in the impending struggle. That message is please drop dead,” expressed as several sincere assassination attempts. 

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Seasons Out of Time

The Crab-Flower Club  (The Story of the Stone, volume 2)

By Cao Xueqin  (Translated by David Hawkes)

6 Oct, 2021



The Crab-Flower Club is the second volume of Cao Xueqin’s 1791(ish) The Story of the Stone; also known as (perhaps better known as) The Dream of the Red Chamber. David Hawkes’ translation is from 1977.

The scion of a well-placed family of Chinese bureaucrats, young Bao-yu must one day pass the exams, gain a position, serve the emperor, and ensure his family’s continued prosperity. That day is not today. The young man has other concerns.

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