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Reviews from September 2023 (18)

Our Separate Ways

Bedlam Planet

By John Brunner  

26 Sep, 2023

Shockwave Reader


John Brunner’s 1968 Bedlam Planet is a stand-alone science fiction novel.

Most of the nearby solar systems visited by humanity’s first faster-than-light probes contained only dead worlds. Sigma Draconis was the notable exception. Asgard is in many ways Earth’s twin, a world on which humans can survive unprotected. Or so the initial scouting mission suggested. The colonists planned to test Asgard’s habitability for themselves, assisted by two of the original scouts, Pyotr Tang-Lin and Dennis Malone. Starflight being fearfully expensive, the settlers will be left to succeed or fail without help from Earth1.

The settlement begins badly, with a tragic mishap.

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Witness of Change

Where Peace Is Lost

By Valerie Valdes  

22 Sep, 2023

Doing the WFC's Homework


Valerie Valdes’s 2023 Where Peace Is Lost is a science fantasy novel. While it could serve as volume one of an ongoing series, it works as a stand-alone novel.

Facing a war whose costs would be unbearable even should her side win, Kelana Gardavros helped broker a peace with the rapacious Prixori Anocracy, also known as the Pale. Following the cessation of overt hostilities, Kel went into exile. For five years, she has lived quietly on Loth.

Loth is a backwater planet too distant and poor for the Pale to bother conquering it. This will not prevent the Pale from presenting a clear and present danger to Loth. It will not save Kel from being forced to choose between maintaining her low profile or trying to save her neighbors.

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Something To Be

Warped State  (Gifted of Brennex)

By Jo Miles  

21 Sep, 2023

Miscellaneous Reviews

1 comment

2023’s Warped State is the first book in Jo Miles’ The Gifted of Brennex series.

Ravel Corporation is the very model of a modern major corporation. It maximizes shareholder value and CEO compensation, while paying the minimum possible to its employees (who are expected to be grateful for having a job at all). Only a wild-eyed political extremist would see this arrangement as anything other than just … even nigh-utopian.

But Brennex is a planet inhabited by wild-eyed political extremists who have driven Ravel off their world. Few are as wild-eyed or politically extreme as Jasper Wilder, field agent for the Cooperative, that cabal of willful labor organizers.

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Ogami-san Can’t Keep It In, volume 1

By Yu Yoshidamaru  (Translated by Max Greenway)

20 Sep, 2023


1 comment

The 2017 Ogami-san Can’t Keep It In, Volume 1, is the first tankōbon for Yu Yoshidamaru’s paranormal-romance comedy manga Oogami-san, Dadamore desu. It was serialized in Kodansha’s seinen manga magazine Monthly Afternoon from October 2016 to November 2019. The English translation is by Max Greenway.

Schoolgirl Ogami keeps her distance from her classmates, terrified that a slip of the tongue could reveal her dreadful secret. Ogami’s every waking moment is filled with intrusive, unwanted thoughts about es see ex. Surely, her classmates will loath and shun her if they knew what a giant pervert she was. Therefore she isolates herself.

Fellow student Yaginuma is also careful to keep his distance from his classmates. This is to protect them from his embarrassing gift. To touch Yaginuma’s bare skin is to uncontrollably blurt out one’s darkest secrets.

Of course, Ogami and Yaginuma’s paths cross.

[Obligatory this is not the ecchi manga you may be expecting” notice]

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Til That Morning

Ghost Story

By Peter Straub  

17 Sep, 2023

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Peter Straub’s 1979 Ghost Story is a stand-alone horror novel.

Dr. John Jaffrey, businessman Lewis Benedikt, and lawyers Sears James and Ricky Hawthorne are members of Milburn, NY’s so-called Clam Chowder Society. For half a century, they have met to share outrageous stories. Of late, their tales have inclined to the macabre. This is because until one year ago, there were five members of the Society, not four.

Last year’s party was intended as a celebration of Ann-Veronica Moore, the latest inappropriately young actress on whom Dr. Jaffrey’s wandering eye had fallen. The results were anything but celebratory.

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Rise Up Singing

Lincoln in the Bardo

By George Saunders  

14 Sep, 2023

Special Requests


George Saunders’s 2017 Lincoln in the Bardo is a short supernatural/historical novel.

Assured by doctors that their son Willie would recover, President Abraham Lincoln and First Lady Mary proceed with a lavish party. Willie spends his last hours before dying of typhoid listening to the sound of revels elsewhere in the White House.

Neither the President nor the First Lady take the loss well. Abraham Lincoln’s actions have consequences for the boy’s afterlife.

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Take To The Sky

Summer Ghost

By Otsuichi & Loundraw  (Translated by Evan Ward)

13 Sep, 2023



Otsuichis 2021 Summer Ghost is a stand-alone m odern ghost story. Art is by loundraw. The 2023 English translation is by Evan Ward.

Curious about a local urban legend, narrator Tomoya, Aio, and Ryu visit an abandoned airbase to see if the Summer Ghost, the ghost of a young woman, can indeed be summoned with fireworks. Their curiosity is natural. After all, all plan to kill themselves and might well become ghosts themselves.

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