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Reviews from September 2023 (21)

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 modern 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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Later’s Better Than Never

Strange Evil

By Jane Gaskell  

12 Sep, 2023

Miscellaneous Reviews


Jane Gaskell’s 1957 Strange Evil is a stand-alone free love portal fantasy.

Professional model Judith Henderson is enormously put out to discover that her cousin Dorinda has invited herself to stay with Judith. This is the first Judith has heard of Dorinda, Dorinda’s mother having vanished following a scandalous marriage to an Italian aristocrat. Judith has little choice but to host Dorinda while Dorinda visits her mother’s birthland.

Judith soon discovers that there’s an upside to the unwanted guest. The guest has brought her fiancé, Zameis, with her. Judith is immediately besotted with Zameis.

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Everybody Wants to Rule the World

Sons of Darkness  (The Raag of Rta, volume 1)

By Gourav Mohanty  

8 Sep, 2023

Doing the WFC's Homework


Sons of Darkness is the first volume in Gourav Mohanty’s The Raag of Rta epic historical fantasy series.

Muchuk Und is a hero, which as he would say is an honour bestowed upon you when you had killed all those who would have called you a mass murderer.” Employed by the Daevas1 to smite their enemies, Muchuk performed, if not admirably, then effectively. Having served, he expects to be paid before returning to the human realm a nigh-demigod.

The Daevas withheld one or two details of their arrangement. The first is that while Muchuk has spent ten years serving his masters, a hundred years passed in the mortal world. The second is that the Daevas have no intention of letting their bloodthirsty servant run amok on Earth. An irate Muchuk is cast into sleep everlasting. Or almost everlasting.

Twenty thousand years later.…

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Given You a Number

Flight & Anchor

By Nicole Kornher-Stace  

7 Sep, 2023

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

1 comment

The 2023 novella Flight & Anchor belongs to Nicole Kornher-Stace’s Firebreak constellation of novels, novellas, and stories1.

Retrieved as children from a corporate warzone, 06 and 22 were remade by their Stellaxis masters. The pair were the beneficiaries of advanced cyborg enhancements. Faster, tougher, and stronger than baseline humans, the two are proof that the Stellaxis supersoldier program produces valuable results.

Tweens are notorious for ingratitude. Having been transformed at great expense into supersoldiers, twelve-year-olds 06 and 22 use their gifts to escape the Stellaxis training/containment facility and flee into the nearby city.

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When the South Wind Blows

Mermaid Scales and the Town of Sand

By Yoko Komori  

6 Sep, 2023



Yoko Komori’s two-volume Mermaid Scales and the Town of Sand is a coming-of-age manga. Scales was serialized in 2013 and 2014 under the original title Aoi Uroko to Suna no Machi in You. The English translation appeared in 2023.

Following the disintegration of her parents’ marriage, fourteen-year-old Tokiko and her father leave Tokyo to stay with Tokiko’s maternal grandmother in Sunanomori. Tokiko has only been to the small coastal town once before, when she was four1. Tokiko does remember one aspect of the town quite clearly: this is where Tokiko was saved from drowning by a merman.

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Somewhere in the Past

The 7th Annual of the Year’s Best S‑F  (The Year’s Best S‑F, volume 7)

 Edited by Judith Merril 

5 Sep, 2023

Judith Merril’s The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy


1962’s The 7th Annual of the Year’s Best S‑F is the seventh volume in Judith Merril’s Best of Sci-Fi anthology series. The anthology was also published under the counter-intuitive title The Best of Sci-Fi — Two.

Annuals generally limit themselves to the previous twelve months, which can be spread over two calendar years. Merril collected stories from as early as 1949, thirteen years before 1962. What other surprises wait within the covers of this surprisingly hefty tome?

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Stones Crumbling

A Secret History of Time to Come

By Robie Macauley  

3 Sep, 2023

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Robie Macauley’s 1979 A Secret History of Time to Come is a stand-alone post-holocaust novel.

It took surprisingly little time for American to divide itself into white suburbs and black (and other non-white groups) cities and to embrace increasingly extremist politics. The situation is unstable. By the 1980s, a gleefully genocidal civil war distracts the US from global affairs. Whereas the Soviets and Chinese could sit back and enjoy their new global dominance, neither is inclined to share. Across the planet, nuclear explosions begin to bloom.

Centuries later, the former United States is a very empty land.

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