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Reviews from November 2022 (22)

Sailing Toward The Future

The Cat Who Saved Books: A Novel

By Sosuke Natsukawa  (Translated by Louise Heal Kawai)

16 Nov, 2022



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 (Don’t hate his aunt; she would be happy to accommodate him if he were to tell her what he wanted … but he’s too withdrawn and passive to speak up.)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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Signs For All To See

The Silver Sun  (The Book of the Isle, volume 2)

By Nancy Springer  

13 Nov, 2022

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


1980’s The Silver Sun is the second volume in Nancy Springer’s The Book of the Isle series. The Silver Sun is a heavily revised edition of 1977’s The Book of Suns.

The Isle was home to human folly but not willful malevolence. That changed when the Easterners attacked. Divided amongst themselves, the kingdoms of the Isle failed to unify against the existential threat posed by the invaders. Consequently, most of the Isle fell to the Easterners, whose rule is as deliberately cruel as it is unjust.

Seven generations after the invasion, hope appears in the form of a naked man running through a forest.

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Mon Amou

Bitter Medicine

By Mia Tsai  

11 Nov, 2022

Doing the WFC's Homework


Mia Tsai’s 2023 Bitter Medicine is a stand-alone urban fantasy. 

Elle is a purveyor of arcane glyphs; her occupation brings her into contact with many members of the world’s diverse supernatural community. She herself is a descendant of Shénnóng, the Chinese god of medicine, and is comfortable rubbing shoulders with such entities. One customer, however, has caught her attention. He’s attractive.

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Sleight Of Hand

The Quantum Thief  (Jean le Flambeur, volume 1)

By Hannu Rajaniemi  

10 Nov, 2022

Special Requests


2010’s The Quantum Thief is the first volume in Hannu Rajaniemi’s Jean le Flambeur science fiction series.

Jean le Flambeur is famous as a thief par excellence — famous across a quirky, post-human Solar System. As such, he has the right combination of audacity, skill, and luck to accomplish a daunting task for Mieli and her patron.

But … perhaps Jean falls slightly short on the luck front. After all, he is securely locked up in Dilemma Prison, from which escape is impossible. Cue one pre-caper caper.

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Darkness In Her Eyes

The Apothecary Diaries, volume 6

By Natsu Hyuuga  (Translated by Kevin Steinbach)

9 Nov, 2022



2016’s The Apothecary Diaries: Volume 6 is the sixth installment in Natsu Hyuuga’s secondary-but-mundane-universe mystery Light Novel series. It was illustrated by Touko Shino. The 2022 Anglophone edition was translated by Kevin Steinbach.

When last we encountered senior royal Jinshi and apothecary/consulting detective Maomao, they had finally given into their mutual attraction and had engaged in hot torrid sex. Having done so, the two smartest people in the empire manage their new status as only incredibly brilliant people can: awkwardly.

Frankly, a bride’s flamboyant public suicide comes as a welcome distraction.

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Friends of Mr. Cairo


By Richard Kadrey  

8 Nov, 2022

Terry Carr's Third Ace Science Fiction Specials


Richard Kadrey’s 1988 Metrophage is a stand-alone cyberpunk dystopia. Metrophage was the ninth book in Terry Carr’s Third Ace Science Fiction Specials. Like the other Third Ace Science Fiction Specials novels1, Metrophage was Kadrey’s novel-length debut.

Jonny Qabbala sets out on a simple errand: locate fellow reprobate Easy Money at HoloWhores, Easy Money’s place of work, and shoot him in the head. This will be retribution for Easy Money’s murder of Jonny’s quasi-friend and drug source, Raquin.

Johnny will never realize most of his goals, including this one.

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In a Crowded Room

Half Past Human  (Hive, volume 1)

By T. J. Bass  

6 Nov, 2022

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


1971’s Nebula-nominated Half Past Human is the first novel in T. J. Bass’ Hive duology. This fix-up is assembled from several shorter pieces about a far future population bomb.

In the Year of Olga 2349 Earth and its human population have been optimized … from a certain point of view. Under the watchful eye of the planet’s dutiful AIs, three trillion humans lead lives they believe rewarding. 

To say there was no price tag would be a lie.

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You Don’t Know Me

Strike the Zither  (Kingdom of Three, volume 1)

By Joan He  

4 Nov, 2022

Doing the WFC's Homework

1 comment

2022’s Strike the Zither is the first volume in Joan He’s Kingdom of Three series.

The Xin Empire is eternal and indivisible. Or so its elite believes. It has recently suffered setbacks: the elite have split into factions and several regional governments have rashly decided to go it alone. But thanks to the hard work of Prime Ministeress Miasma, in whose resolute care the Empress Xin Bao resides, the Empire is well on its way back to its ordained unity. Or so the ruling faction believes.

This would be wonderful news to strategist Rising Zephyr (Pan Qilin) were she one of Miasma’s retainers. As she is strategist to Xin Ren, the least powerful leader of the remaining elite factions, life is a sequence of narrow escapes from Miasma’s superior forces.

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