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Reviews from December 2023 (22)

Room Without A Roof

Off-Time Jive

By A. Z. Louise  

29 Dec, 2023

Doing the WFC's Homework


A.Z. Louise’s 2023 Off-Time Jive is a stand-alone fantasy mystery novella.

Old Magic is dangerous. New Magic is safer but is fueled by happiness and is the domain of African Americans (Negros in the vernacular of the 1920s when the novel is set). This is a problem for New Magic practitioner Bessie Knox, formerly of the Bronx Academy of Magic. Thanks to a recent magical calamity, Knox’s supply of joy is meagre.

Knox’s problems will only get worse.

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Deep Blue Sea


By Carol Severance  

28 Dec, 2023

The End of History


Carol Severance’s 1991 Reefsong is a stand-alone science fiction novel. 

Although her family has long since been driven off the mountain land they love by the nigh all-powerful World Life Corporation, UN Warden Angie Dinsman still labors to keep one of the last remaining wildernesses on Earth intact. She has no intention of ever leaving.

Wildfire and the World Life Corporation costs Angie her precious post.

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A Book Or Maybe Two

Magus of the Library, volume 2

By Mitsu Izumi  

27 Dec, 2023


1 comment

2018’s Magus of the Library, Volume 2 is the second tankōbon in Mitsu Izumi’s secondary-universe fantasy manga series, Toshokan no Daimajutsushi in the original Japanese. Magus has been serialized in Good! Afternoon since November 2017. The English translation appeared in 2019.

Now a teen, Theo Fumis sets off to the big city, where he hopes to pass the Great Library’s entry exams. This is the first step towards becoming a Kafna, a librarian.

Adventures await on the road.

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Sun-Shiny Day

The Stone That Never Came Down

By John Brunner  

26 Dec, 2023

Shockwave Reader


John Brunner’s 1973 The Stone That Never Came Down is a stand-alone near-future1 science fiction novel.

The future looks like the 1970s dialed to eleven. Society’s leaders being the self-serving liars that they are, every social issue (minority unrest, inflation, decaying cities, rampaging Christians, energy shortages, and the Irish) has been allowed to spiral out of control.

Disgraced teacher Malcolm Fry has more immediate problems. Targeted by deranged Christians, he has lost his job, his wife, his car, and his children2. While this did leave him free to hook up with Ruth, this just makes the unmarried couple the sort of people the Godheads hate and persecute.

A depressed Malcolm goes to a pub and gets hammered. While not in his right mind, he takes a drug from a stranger. The drug is called VC, Was this a tragic error or the best thing ever to happen to Malcolm?

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Visions of You

The Dead Zone

By Stephen King  

24 Dec, 2023

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Stephen King’s 1979 The Dead Zone is a stand-alone paranormal thriller taking place in King’s Castle Rock setting.

1970: life is going well for Castle Rock’s John Johnny” Smith. Johnny has a teaching position, he has pretty girlfriend Sarah, and he has rudimentary precognitive abilities so minor that he’s never really noticed them. His precognition is not enough to keep him from getting into the wrong cab on the wrong night.

One catastrophic head-on collision later and a badly injured Johnny is in a coma. His prognosis is dire.

Four and a half years later…

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Dragon’s Fire

Dragons in a Bag  (Dragons in a Bag, volume 1)

By Zetta Elliott  

22 Dec, 2023

Doing the WFC's Homework


2018’s Dragons in a Bag is the first volume in Zetta Elliott’s Dragons in a Bag middle-grade fantasy series. Illustrations are by Geneva B.

Faced with imminent eviction, Jaxon’s mother takes the landlord to court. Court being no place for a young boy, Jaxon cannot accompany his mother. Having few alternatives, Jaxon’s mother reluctantly leaves Jaxon in the company of the woman known as Ma.

Jaxon is about to learn why his mother was reluctant to turn to Ma.

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Dear Old Dixie

Lincoln’s Dreams

By Connie Willis  

21 Dec, 2023

Big Hair, Big Guns!


Connie Willis’ 1987 Lincoln’s Dreams is a standalone contemporary speculative fiction novel.

Jeff Johnson works as a researcher for historical novelist Broun. His job is to run down answers to questions, some questions significant and some trivial. Broun is an enthusiastic over-thinker and compulsively tinkers with manuscripts already in galley form. Which means that the novelist keeps Jeff busy tracking down historical minutiae. It’s too bad that Jeff is really not all that informed about the history he is researching. This makes his job difficult and his hours long. He doesn’t need any distractions.

But he’s distracted by troubled Annie and her perplexing dreams.

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So Happy

Takopi’s Original Sin, volume 1

By Taizan5  

20 Dec, 2023



Takopi’s Original Sin, Volume One is the first of two tankōbon collecting Taizan5’s science-fiction tragedy. Takopi’s Original Sin was serialized on Shueisha’s web platform Shōnen Jump+ from December 2021 to March 2022. The English translation was published in 2023.

Nnu-Anu-Kf is an alien from the Happy Planet. Unable to return home for reasons never clearly explained, the octopus-like alien travels to Earth equipped with an annoying verbal tic and a bevy of useful gadgets. His mission: make people happy.

Results fall somewhat short of his goal.

Content warning: this is a sad, upsetting manga.

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Good Intentions

Some Desperate Glory

By Emily Tesh  

19 Dec, 2023

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck


Emily Tesh’s 2023 Some Desperate Glory is a stand-alone space opera.

Humanity struggles on, despite the total destruction of the Earth and the death of fourteen billion humans at the manipulators of aliens. Most of the remaining humans have made peace with the wider galactic civilization. But there is one small pocket of fanatical holdouts that has dedicated itself to unending war on the galactics. They live on Gaea Station, under the command of Commander Aulus Jole.

Protagonist Valkry — Kyr for short — thinks of the Commander as her uncle Jole. Having been indoctrinated from birth, Kyr believes fervently in the human cause. The day when she can take her place in the struggle cannot come soon enough.… 

Or so Kyr thinks.

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