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Reviews from November 2022 (20)

Runnin’ Low on Faith And Gasoline

Hegira

By Greg Bear  

27 Nov, 2022

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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Greg Bear’s 1979 Hegira is a stand-alone far-future megastructure science fiction novel. Hegira was Bear’s debut novel.

A structure far larger than fabled Earth, Hegira is home to a multitude of human cultures. In other contexts, worlds of Hegira’s scale might have ensured that communities diverged radically from each other. Hegira has obelisks, which have made all the difference.


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Your Light in the Mist

The Night Tiger

By Yangsze Choo  

25 Nov, 2022

Doing the WFC's Homework

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Yangsze Choo’s 2019 The Night Tiger is a historical fantasy set in 1930s Malaya.

Before Dr. MacFarlane died, he charged his faithful servant Ren with a vital task. Locate MacFarlane’s finger and bury it with the doctor within forty-nine days of the doctor’s death. If Ren fails, MacFarlane’s spirit will be cursed to wander the earth.

Although MacFarlane has a good idea where his finger might be, it’s an absurd responsibility with which to saddle a thirteen-year-old servant. Ren lied about his age. He is actually eleven.

Meanwhile, in nearby Ipoh, dance-hall girl Ji Lin has gained an extra finger.


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A Ravenous Town

Gun, with Occasional Music

By Jonathan Lethem  

24 Nov, 2022

The End of History

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Jonathan Lethem’s 1994 Gun, with Occasional Music is a near-future stand-alone noir novel. It was Lethem’s debut novel.

Drugs are free, television is entirely abstract, animals have been uplifted, and prison has been replaced by involuntary hibernation … but the life of a private dick is much the same as it was back in the days of Black Mask.

Former Inquisitor turned not particularly successful private inquisitor, Conrad Metcalf is offered a case that he can tell is a loser.


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To Dungeons Deep

Delicious in Dungeon, volume 7

By Ryōko Kui  

23 Nov, 2022

Translation

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2019’s Delicious in Dungeon, Volume 7 is the seventh tankōbon of Ryoko Kui’s secondary-universe comedic ecological-fantasy manga. Originally published as Danjon Meshi, Delicious in Dungeon appears in Enterbrain’s Harta. Volume 7 was translated into English in 2019.

In this volume, Laios and his companions (half-elf mage Marcille, halfling security expert Chilchuck, dwarf fighter Senshi, and new party member beastkin-chimera-ninja Izutsumi) go deeper into the dungeon. Up on the surface, unwanted visitors arrive.


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Out From The Ghostly Freighter

The Red Scholar’s Wake

By Aliette de Bodard  

22 Nov, 2022

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck

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Aliette de Bodard’s 2022 The Red Scholar’s Wake is a space opera set in de Bodard’s Xuya Universe.

Captured by Red Banner space pirates, scavenger Xích Si is painfully aware of a number of possible fates. She will probably have to choose between immediate death and involuntary indenture to the pirate fleet. Should she somehow survive capture without joining the fleet, she will forever be an outcast; her native An O Empire will assume that she bought her life with signing up as a pirate and will execute her for crimes against the state1. If Xích Si were to contact her relatives, they could be arrested and executed for abetting piracy.

To Xích Si’s astonishment, the recently widowed mindship Rice Fish comes to Xích Si with a proposition. Or rather, a proposal.

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Searching for Paradise

Under the Canopy

By Barbara Paul  

20 Nov, 2022

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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Barbara Pauls 1980 Under the Canopy is a stand-alone science fiction novel.

Gaia is the Interplanetary Union’s outermost and least significant world. The only IU official on the whole planet is Margo Kemperer, who finds herself in that lonely position due to the death of her boss and a short-lived interstellar civil war that cut off communication for a time. Margo does her best to keep her little patch of Earth civilization functioning.

The insurrection having ended, colonial headquarters dispatches Stephanie Leeds to Gaia, there to assist Margo. What senior bureaucrat doesn’t want an underling or two? Had Margo suspected the problems that Stephanie would cause, she would probably have refused the reinforcement.


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Happier Than Ever

Walking in Two Worlds

By Wab Kinew  

18 Nov, 2022

Doing the WFC's Homework

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Wab Kinew’s 2022 Walking in Two Worlds is a near-future science fiction novel.

Recurring pandemics have forced North American society to embrace hitherto unknown or unpopular ways to cope with disruption. However, some fundamentals of North American1 life remain unchanged. There are still sequestered territories, Rez, for Indigenous people. Teens living on them are required to attend school, and school is for many teens an exercise in awkward discomfort.

Luckily for Anishinaabe teen Bagonegiizhigok Bugz” Holiday, she has another life, in the Floraverse.


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Sword & Sorcery

Swords of the Serpentine

By Kevin Kulp & Emily Dresner  

17 Nov, 2022

Roleplaying Games

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Kevin Kulp and Emily Dresner’s Swords of the Serpentine1 is a fantasy roleplaying game (RPG) set in Venice Eversink, an entirely fictional secondary world fantasy city that is simultaneously a geological mystery, a thriving trade community, and the living embodiment of a goddess. Core mechanics are based on Robin Laws’ Gumshoe game engine. The game emulates the heroic fantasy of Howard, Leiber, Lackey, and Pratchett.


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Sailing Toward The Future

The Cat Who Saved Books: A Novel

By Sosuke Natsukawa  (Translated by Louise Heal Kawai)

16 Nov, 2022

Translation

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Sosuke Natsukawa’s 2017 The Cat Who Saved Books: A Novel is a modern fable. The 2021 English translation is by Louise Heal Kawai.

Antisocial bookworm Rintaro Natsuki has been raised by his grandfather, a bookshop owner. After his grandfather dies, Rintaro finds himself the ward of his aunt, who doesn’t understand what the shop means to him. He is told to shut down the shop. 

That’s a good excuse for the boy to stop attending high school. He spends each day in the shop … but rather than shut it down, he attends to customers as though no deadline were bearing down on him. He doesn’t want to see his grandfather’s legacy dismantled, but he doesn’t know how to stop the process. (Don’t hate his aunt; she would be happy to accommodate him if he were to tell her what he wanted … but he’s too withdrawn and passive to speak up.)

Then the talking cat walks into the store.


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Found Family

Black Wine

By Candas Jane Dorsey  

15 Nov, 2022

The End of History

1 comment

Candas Jane Dorsey’s 1997 novel Black Wine is very hard to categorize. All I can confidently assert is that it is not set in the present. It was Dorsey’s debut novel.

A nameless waif fell from the sky into a predatory society, which enslaved her. Her life is one of hard labour and repeated rape. An encounter with a mysterious madwoman leaves the waif in possession of a book. There are consequences.


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