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Reviews from April 2022 (21)

Give Them Shelter

The Bruising of Qilwa

By Naseem Jamnia  

15 Apr, 2022

Doing the WFC's Homework


Naseem Jamnia’s 2022 The Bruising of Qilwa is a stand-alone secondary universe fantasy novel. 

Having fled their birthland of Dilmun for the comparative safety of the Free Democratic City-State of Qilwa, Firuz must find some way to turn their skills into income. They believe Kofi’s Clinic may be key. After all, Firuz may not be fully credentialled, but their healer training is legitimate. Firuz would be a useful staff member at the clinic, particularly in this time of plague. 

Despite needing the job, Firuz is very careful not to list all of their medical assets. It’s important that Kofi know Firuz is a healer and that they were trained in structuralist magic. They don’t want Kofi to know about the blood magic. 

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Plant a Little Garden

The Wild Shore  (California triptych, volume 1)

By Kim Stanley Robinson  

12 Apr, 2022

Terry Carr's Third Ace Science Fiction Specials


1984’s The Wild Shore is the first volume in Kim Stanley Robinson’s California triptych. The Wild Shore was also the first volume published in the Third Ace Science Fiction Specials series. 

In the America of tomorrow, traffic jams, the military-industrial complex, and taxes are all things of the past. Lifelong friends Steve, Gabby, Kristen and Mando, Del and protagonist Henry need not concern themselves with such matters. This is because about fifty years earlier, someone unknown detonated neutron bombs in the centers of the United States’ two to three thousand largest cities. Fifty years after America’s annihilation, the quintet’s home town (San) Onofre is doing well to have assembled a functional village and regional market.

Nevertheless, there are common elements that run through American societies of all varieties. In particular, young people are quite creative about finding stupid ways to waste time and risk their lives.

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The Beast We’ll Never Bind

Hunter of Worlds  (Hanan Rebellion, volume 2)

By C J Cherryh  

10 Apr, 2022

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


1977’s stand-alone space opera Hunter of Worlds is the second of Cherryh’s two Hanan Rebellion books. It is set in the same continuity as Cherryh’s Alliance/Union works, but takes place long after the main A/U sequence. 

Thousands of years ago, the iduve bestowed interstellar civilization on the amaut, the kallia, and no doubt others as well. Five centuries ago, the iduve vanished from the civilized worlds. Why they left is unknown, but few were sad to see them go. Now the iduve are back. 

Kallia Aiela Lyailleue is unfortunate enough to be useful to the iduve. Chimele, Orithain of the vast starship Ashanome, demands his service. From the perspective of his relatives, this is effectively a death sentence. From Aiela’s point of view, it is a life sentence. 

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Mind Gone Silicon

Ion Curtain

By Anya Ow  

8 Apr, 2022

Doing the WFC's Homework


Anya Ow’s 2022 Ion Curtain is a space opera. 

The setting is centuries in the future, but the conflicts facing humanity are depressingly familiar. 

  • One side: the Chinese-dominated UN, a large, diverse polity whose common feature might be described as chaos.”
  • The other side: the Russian-dominated Federation, which provides its citizens with carefully curated news, firm guidance, and a plethora of political functionaries. True power is doled out behind the scenes in ruthless, endless competition between the Federation’s various factions. 

War would serve nobody; however, endless rumours of war ensure that military contractors can thrive. Military funding runs in ratchetting cycles: one side improves its standing and the other side reacts. 

As the Federation is about to discover, some creations are inherently destabilizing.

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Building a Mystery

The Dog Park Club

By Cynthia Robinson  

7 Apr, 2022

Miscellaneous Reviews

1 comment

The Dog Park Club is the first of Cynthia Robinson’s Max Bravo books. It is a comedic mystery. 

Successful opera singer Max Bravo’s social life is as barren as his professional life is rich. Lovers, male and female, are all brief flings. The only two people he sees consistently are his aged grandmother, Baba, and Claudia Fiore, his long-time friend. When marital calamity upends Claudia’s life, Max steps in to care for her neglected dog, Asta. If nothing else, excursions with Asta will provide him with yet another means to avoid his Baba’s incessant efforts to find him a bride. 

Max would be the first to proclaim that he is an utterly self-centered, judgmental snob, the last person who should take an interest in solving a murder. However, clipping the leash onto Asta is the first step towards amateur sleuthing.

Warning: spoilers abound. 

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The Listeners

His Master’s Voice

By Stanislaw Lem  

6 Apr, 2022



Stanislaw Lem’s 1968 His Master’s Voice (Głos Pana) is a stand-alone first-contact novel. The 1983 English edition is by Michael Kandel. 

His Master’s Voice is Professor Peter E. Hogarth’s posthumously-published account of the His Master’s Voice (HMV) project. Neutrino-based telescopy offered the chance to unravel nature’s secrets. Alien signals were an unexpected bonus. Mathematician Hogarth was merely one of many experts recruited to decipher the message.

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Remember What the Dormouse Said

Star Hunters  (Diadem, volume 5)

By Jo Clayton  

5 Apr, 2022

Miscellaneous Reviews


Star Hunter sis the fifth book in Jo Clayton’s Diadem series. 

Half-Vrya Aleytys has reluctantly given up her child. Her life as an agent for Hunters, Inc. is too tumultuous; anyone close to her is in danger. She has broken with her long-term lover Grey and been abandoned by the psionics ghosts living within the Diadem. 

(The Diadem is a powerful magical artifact that she donned at the start of the series, an artifact that she found she cannot remove. For more backstory, check out this earlier JDN review.)

She’s temporarily at a loss. A mission is a welcome distraction. 

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Life in Plastic

Mutant 59: The Plastic Eaters

By Kit Pedler & Gerry Davis  

3 Apr, 2022

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis’ 1971 Mutant 59: The Plastic Eaters (in other editions, Mutant 59: The Plastic Eater) is an environmental disaster thriller. Although thematically and creatively related to Pedler and Davis’ television show Doomwatch, Mutant 59 is not part of that continuity. 

Calamities strike in near-earth orbit (Apollo 19), in the sky (BEA Flight 510 from Paris to Heathrow), in the sea (the nuclear-armed sub HMS Triton) and on land (Lionel Slayter’s computerized learning road system). Why these transport vehicles or services have been destroyed is not clear. At first. There is a trait that they all shared. What that is won’t be clear until London is in ruins and civilization is imperiled. 

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