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Reviews from January 2023 (22)

Footnotes of Doom

A Midsummer Tempest

By Poul Anderson  

15 Jan, 2023

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Poul Anderson’s 1974 A Midsummer Tempest is an alternate-history fantasy novel.

Lights up on a familiar scene. The Royalists are trounced by the Roundheads at the Battle of Marston Moor. Royalist commander Prince Rupert flees the debacle but is captured by Shelgrave’s forces. While capture does set-up a meet-cute between Rupert and his captor’s niece Jennifer Alayne, it seems the end of Rupert’s career is at hand.

Despite similarities, there is a crucial difference between this Battle of Marston Moor and the one we know. In this world, William Shakespeare is not the great playwright. He is the Great Historian, whose works record events that actually happened.

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Raconteurs & Rapscallions

Into the Riverlands  (The Singing Hills Cycle, volume 3)

By Nghi Vo  

13 Jan, 2023

Doing the WFC's Homework


2022’s Into the Riverlands is the third installment in Nghi Vo’s secondary-world fantasy series, The Singing Hills Cycle1.

Cleric Chih and their intelligent talking bird companion, Almost Brilliant, venture down into the Riverlands. On the plus side, along the river there are fewer fantastical beasts to fear. But … there are lots of humans, who can be just as troublesome as shape-shifting tigers. 

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GURPS, 3rd Edition (Revised)

By Steve Jackson  

12 Jan, 2023

Roleplaying Games


Steve Jackson’s GURPS, 3rd Edition (Revised) is (as one might expect) the third, revised edition of GURPS, whose first edition was published in 1986. Also, as one might expect, it is published by Steve Jackson Games1, founded by GURPS designer Steve Jackson (human Texan)2.

In a previous review, I discussed the sad history of the venerable tabletop roleplaying game The Fantasy Trip (TFT). It was doomed to decades of oblivion by a combination of clashing personalities and business setbacks. But all was not lost. We soon heard that Steve Jackson was working on a great unnamed roleplaying system, to be given a shinier name once Steve Jackson thought of one. In 1986, that shiny new name was revealed: GURPS. Which stood for Generic Universal Roleplaying System.

GURPS prevails. While a 4thedition is available, this is a (commissioned) review of the 3rdedition.

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A Better Tomorrow

The Scales of Prometheus  (Appleseed, book 3)

By Masamune Shirow  

11 Jan, 2023



The Scales of Prometheus is the third tankōbon in Masamune Shirow’s Appleseed (originally Appurushīdo) near-future science fiction manga. Published as Purometeusu no ko tenbinin 1987, the English translation appeared in 1991.

Having survived World War Three and its aftermath and having played a crucial role in resolving the crisis in the previous tankōbon, Deunan Knute and her cyborg chum Briareos Hecatonchires continue their careers as two of would-be utopian world-government Aegis’ heavily armed enforcers.

This volume begins far from Aegis’ capital city of Olympus, in the shattered ruins of once vibrant New York City, where feral bioroid1 Artemis is hiding.

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Poor Pitiful Me

Black Snow Days

By Claudia O'Keefe  

10 Jan, 2023

Terry Carr's Third Ace Science Fiction Specials

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Claudia O’Keefe’s 1990 Black Snow Days is a stand-alone post-apocalypse novel. Black Snow Days was the eleventh debut novel published in the Third Ace Science Fiction Specials. Editorship of the series was assumed by Damon Knight following the untimely death of editor Terry Carr.

Eric Pope was cognitively enhanced by his mother (whom Eric unsurprisingly thinks of as Mother); she feared that her son might other languish with a merely average intelligence. Eric Pope didn’t choose to be who he is and expresses his discontent by behaving badly. His story comes to an abrupt and violent end as an ill-considered car race ends in a catastrophic crash.

Cut to 2058.… 

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Imagine Dragons

The Dragon and the George  (Dragon Knight, volume 1)

By Gordon R. Dickson  

8 Jan, 2023

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


1976’s The Dragon and the George is the first volume in Gordon R. Dickson’s secondary-world fantasy Dragon Knight series.

Jim Eckert’s quest to marry fiancée Angie Farrell faces a number of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, most of which boil down to insufficient income.” Even if they were to combine their resources, medieval historian Jim’s instructor salary and laboratory assistant Angie’s wage wouldn’t pay the rent on the cheapest trailer park domicile in Minneapolis1. If they cannot afford to combine households, how can they possibly get married?

Psychology graduate student Grottwold, rival for Angie’s heart, provides a solution of sorts when Grottwold inadvertently teleports Angie to another universe. No Angie, no marriage, no need to look for a better job for Jim. Problem solved!

Jim does not see it that way.

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What Will I Be?

She Eats the Night  (The Night Eaters, volume 1)

By Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda  

6 Jan, 2023

Doing the WFC's Homework


The Night Eaters: She Eats the Night is the first volume in writer Marjorie Liu and artist Sana Takeda’s The Night Eaters Book horror graphic-novel series.

Ipo and Keon overcame numerous challenges to relocate from China to the United States of America. The Chinese couple flourished. Alas, their twin children, Billy and Milly, do not meet Ipo’s (mom’s) exacting standards.

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Alight the Match

Beyond the Burn Line

By Paul McAuley  

5 Jan, 2023

Special Requests


Paul McAuley’s 2022 Beyond the Burn Line is a stand-alone science fiction novel.

Six hundred thousand years before the time of the novel, the ogres failed so egregiously to properly caretake the Earth that scorch marks are still visible in the geological record. The ogres were replaced by the cruel but capable bears, whose domination of their home continents lasted for thirty millennia. Six centuries ago, the bears fell to madness, leaving their domain in the hands of their former Procyonic slaves. In the six centuries since, the citizens of the Union and United Territories have done their best to follow an equitable and prudent course that will steer them away from the fates of ogre- and bear-kind.

The first signs that unexpected transformation is coming arrives in the form of an academic puzzle.

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Solution Unsatisfactory

Witch Hat Atelier, volume 9

By Kamome Shirahama  

4 Jan, 2023


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Witch Hat Atelier Volume 9 is the ninth tankōbon in Kamome Shirahama’s Witch Hat Atelier secondary universe fantasy manga series. Titled Tongari Bōshi no Atorie in the original Japanese, Witch Hat Atelier has been serialized in Kodansha’s Monthly Morning Two magazine since July 2016. First published in Japan in 2021, the English translation of Volume 9 was released in 2022.

Volume 9 begins with a mystery and a revelation. Unfortunately, they are unrelated to each other.

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