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Reviews from January 2022 (21)

Tomorrow is My Turn

Siren Queen

By Nghi Vo  

17 Jan, 2022

Doing the WFC's Homework

1 comment

Nghi Vo’s 2022 Siren Queen is a stand-alone novella.

A Chinese-American girl passes by a moving picture theatre, the Comique, as she walks from home to school and back. This is her first exposure to the magic of the movies, still in their infancy. Presented with the opportunity to work in film, if only as an extra, she jumps at the chance. 

Movie magic is very literal magic. It can cost movie folk everything, even their birthname (as is the case with the protagonist). But the actress the world came to know as Luli Wei was willing to risk everything to become a star.

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When Destiny Calls

Manifest Destiny

By Barry B. Longyear  

16 Jan, 2022

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Barry B. Longyear’s 1980 Manifest Destiny is a fix-up collecting four Quadrant Universe stories, as well as ancillary material. 

Legislative Assembly Resolution 991

4 September 2032 A.D.

Adopted without Dissent

That the Legislative Assembly of the Government of the United States of Earth, in all related matters that shall come before it, will decide all such matters in accordance with the Manifest Destiny of Man, that He shall reign supreme in this and in any and all other galaxies of the Universe.

And what glorious future do Earth’s star ship troopers spin from that resolve? It is one of endless war, conquest, and occasional genocides.

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Just Gonna Have To Be A Different Man

The Alteration

By Kingsley Amis  

13 Jan, 2022

Special Requests


Kingsley Amis’ 1976 The Alterationis a stand-alone alternate history novel. 

King Stephen III of England, is dead! Long live King William V, whose reign begins in the Year of Our Lord 1976. Gathered for Steven III’s funeral: many of Europe’s most prestigious figures. It will be a grand occasion. 

Young Hubert Anvil is to sing at the funeral. This is a great honour, but it leads to a demand that he does not want to accept but doesn’t see how to refuse.

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Where, Where Are You?

The Apothecary Diaries, volume 4

By Natsu Hyuuga  (Translated by Kevin Steinbach)

12 Jan, 2022



Natsu Hyuuga’s 2015 The Apothecary Diaries: Volume 4 is yet another volume in her secondary world mystery series. Volume 4’s illustrations are by Touko Shino. The 2021 English translation is by Kevin Steinbach. 

Apothecary Maomao is painfully aware she has, thanks to the revelations of Volume 3, become someone who knows too much about high-ranking eunuch Jinshi. Thus, when a fellow servant enlists Maomao’s help in a mundane matter, Maomao welcomes the distraction. This is an error of judgment. 

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Roll for Initiative

Quag Keep  (Quag Keep, volume 1)

By Andre Norton  

9 Jan, 2022

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


1978’s Quag Keep is the first volume in Andre Norton’s Quag Keep duology. Set in the world Gary Gygax’s Greyhawktmroleplaying game, it has the distinction of being the first Dungeons and Dragons novel. 

Impressed by his gamemaster’s new miniatures, Miles touches one of the small gaming figurines. No sooner does he do this but he and his fellow roleplayers are transported to a tavern in the fantastical city of Greyhawktm.

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Heavenly Kingdom

Gunpowder Alchemy  (Gunpowder Chronicles, volume 1)

By Jeannie Lin  

7 Jan, 2022

Doing the WFC's Homework


Jeannie Lin’s 2017 Gunpowder Alchemy is the first novel in her Gunpowder Chronicles.

1842: Chief Engineer Jin Zhi-fu’s final service to the Chinese empire was to accept all blame for the empire’s disastrous defeat by the Western powers. The emperor being perfect by definition, no blame could be placed on his orders. While not supported by mere facts, Jin’s guilt serves a higher purpose. He is executed for his unforgivable crimes.

Eight years later his family is living in disgrace in an obscure village. Jin’s daughter Soling is desperately trying to keep her opium addicted mother alive and supplied with the drugs she needs. She also must keep her younger brother Tian out of back-breaking servitude. When necessary, she sells family heirlooms. Now she is down to her final treasure, a puzzle box. 

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True and Destined Prince

Lyonesse: Fantasy Roleplaying Based on the Novels by Jack Vance

By Dominic Mooney, Dave Morris, Pete Nash, Mark Shirley & Lawrence Whitaker  

6 Jan, 2022

Roleplaying Games


Design Mechanism’s 2020 Lyonesse roleplaying game is a fantasy roleplaying game based on the Lyonesse novels—Lyonesse (AKA Suldrun’s Garden), The Green Pearl, and Madouc—of Jack Vance. It was written by Dominic Mooney, Dave Morris, Pete Nash, Mark Shirley, and Lawrence Whitaker1.

Despite the best efforts of Andrew Wheeler, I am not myself a Jack Vance fan. Why, then, acquire a copy of a licensed roleplaying game set in a Vancian world I’ve not read?

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Give Your Smile to Me

The Wonders of Vilayet: Being the Memoir, Originally in Persian, of a Visit to France and Britain in 1765

By Mirza Sheikh I'tisām al-Dīn  (Translated by Kaiser Haq)

5 Jan, 2022


1 comment

The Mirza Sheikh I’tisām al-Dīns The Wonders of Vilayet: Being the Memoir, Originally in Persian, of a Visit to France and Britain in 1765 is a travel memoir, recounting the Mirza’s tour of France and Britain in 1765. The English translation is by Kaiser Haq. 

The Bengal-born functionary had been a munshi, a secretary, for the nawabs of Bengal and the British East India Company. In 1765 he set out on a diplomatic mission to Britain on behalf of the Mughal Empire. The Mirza would learn only too late that his mission had been sabotaged by Robert Clive1, making the entire endeavour a wasted effort. But the diplomatic failure nevertheless resulted in a fascinating memoir.

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Dancing in the Sky

Star Rider

By Doris Piserchia  

4 Jan, 2022

Special Requests


Doris Piserchia’s 1974 Star Rider is a stand-alone science fiction novel. 

Like the rest of her Jakalowar (or Jak1for short) kin, Jade and Hinx, (her mind-linked, dog-derived mount) can jink(teleport) from world to world at will, carrying their own bubbles of breathable air as well. The entire Milky Way is the Jaks’ playground. The problem is that none of the Jaks have the range to leap to another galaxy. Thus, the hedonist nomads are trapped in one puny galaxy. 

Luckily, the Jaks have Doubleluck. Well, in a sense.

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