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Reviews from May 2024 (19)

Strange Alchemy

Alchemy and Academe

 Edited by Anne McCaffrey 

26 May, 2024

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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Anne McCaffrey’s 1970 Alchemy and Academe is (to quote an inside page) A Collection of Original Stories Concerning Themselves with Transmutations, Mental and Elemental, Alchemical and Academic.”

Or rather, it’s an anthology etc. Ah, well, still less misleading than the cover, which claims that Alchemy and Academe is Enchanting tales of some sorcerers and their apprentices,” which it isn’t, not really. As far as I can tell, Alchemy and Academe is one of two anthologies edited by McCaffrey.

Of all the editors I would have expected to compare McCaffrey to, it would not have been…

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She Is a Haunting

By Trang Thanh Tran  

24 May, 2024

Doing the WFC's Homework


Trang Thanh Tran’s 2024 She Is a Haunting is a stand-alone modern horror novel.

Jade Nguyen was accepted by UPenn, but failed to get a full scholarship. Jade is painfully aware that, were her mother to learn of Jade’s financial shortfall, Jade’s mother would take out loans and work even more hours at her nail salon. This is unacceptable to Jade. She adds her financial situation to the list of secrets Jade keeps from her mother.

The alternative is almost as unacceptable. To spare her mother, Jade embraces it: appeal to her estranged father, the man who abandoned Jade’s mother, Jade, and Jade’s siblings. Her father agrees to fund Jade’s education… at a price.

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A Nourishing Thing

You Sexy Thing  (Disco Space Opera, volume 1)

By Cat Rambo  

23 May, 2024

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck


2021’s You Sexy Thing is the first volume in Cat Rambo’s Disco Space Opera Series.

Having deployed a regulatory loophole to exit her service to the Holy Hive Mind, Captain Nicolette Niko” Larsen invested her back wages in the TwiceFar Station’s Last Chance restaurant. Aided by those of her subordinates fortunate enough to have survived certain events prior to the novel, Niko has enough funds to keep the Last Chance running for about three months1. If the restaurant cannot be made profitable in that time, the crew will get to explore the exciting world of insolvency.

Salvation appears in the form of food critic Lolola Montaigne d’Arcy deBurgh.

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Who’s That Girl?

A Magical Girl Retires

By Park Seolyeon  

22 May, 2024



Park Seolyeon’s 2022 A Magical Girl Retires is a modern fantasy. The 2024 English translation is by Anton Hur.

Jobless, three million won1 in debt, her dream of becoming a clock repair person dead, now alone in the world, an unnamed twenty-nine-year-old Korean woman resolves to kill herself, ideally in a manner that will inconvenience as few people as possible. Before she can steel herself up to hurl herself from a bridge, Clairvoyant Magical Girl Ah Roa appears in a cab to forestall the twenty-nine-year-old.

The twenty-nine-year-old is not the hapless loser she believes she is. She is a Magical Girl. Rather than being a burden the world would be better off without, the twenty-nine-year-old may be its savior.

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Let This Cup Pass From Me

He Walked Among Us

By Norman Spinrad  

21 May, 2024

What's The Worst That Could Happen?


Norman Spinrad’s 2002 He Walked Among Us is a science fiction messianic fable1 … or possibly an entirely mundane story about deranged people with overlapping manias and the people who exploit them.

The novel’s protagonist, Hugo Award winner Dexter Lampkin, was certain that Transformations was his Big Novel. But Transformations didn’t even earn out its advance. On the advice of Harlan Ellison, Dexter turned to cracking out television scripts. This did not produce the accolades that Dexter was sure should be his, but it did deliver the income he and his family needed.

Despite his Big Novel’s fate, Dexter does not turn his back on SF conventions. After all, SF conventions provide him with a steady stream of low-self-esteem unattractive fat women with whom he can cheat on his hot wife Ellie.

Fate hands Dexter the chance to save the world.

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The Chrysalids

By John Wyndham  

19 May, 2024

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


John Wyndham’s 1955 The Chrysalids is a stand-alone post-apocalyptic coming of age novel. The Chrysalids was also published under the title Re-Birth.

David Strorm lives in Waknuk, a thriving backwoods community in Labrador. The Tribulation that erased the Old People and their semi-mythical civilization left much of the world an uninhabitable desolation. Labrador and nearby Newf are exceptions, but even here the Tribulation left a legacy that has shaped the local culture.

Beware spoilers.

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Face The Truth

The Truth of the Aleke  (Forever Desert, volume 2)

By Moses Ose Utomi  

17 May, 2024

Doing the WFC's Homework

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The Truth of the Aleke is the second and apparently final volume of Moses Ose Utomi’s secondary-universe fantasy series, Forever Desert.

Thanks to its Peacekeepers and Truthseekers, The City of Truth has withstood the Cult of Tutu’s relentless attacks for centuries. Now, it falls to resolute teenage Junior Peacekeeper Osi to end the conflict.

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Every Single Game

Harriet the Invincible  (Hamster Princess, volume 1)

By Ursula Vernon  

16 May, 2024

Miscellaneous Reviews


2015’s Harriet the Invincible is the first volume in Ursula Vernon’s Hamster Princess secondary-universe fantasy middle-grade series.

Harriet is a hamster who is also a princess. Her parents, in particular her mother, have Expectations regarding proper behavior for Harriet, Expectations that are at odds with Harriet’s preferences.

When Harriet is ten, Harriet’s parents reveal delightful news: Harriet is cursed and most certainly doomed.

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Imposter Syndrome

Usotoki Rhetoric, volume 5

By Ritsu Miyako  

15 May, 2024



2015’s Usotoki Rhetoric Volume Five is the fifth tankōbon in Ritsu Miyako’s historical mystery manga series. Usotoki Rhetoric was published in Bessatsu Hana to Yume from June 26, 2012, to March 26, 2018. The English translation of Volume Five was published in 2024.

Kanako Urabe, a young woman who can tell when other people consciously lying, has partnered with private detective Iwai, a young man with a knack for solving mysteries. It’s a precarious life, but one that allows them to use their uncommon gifts.

Like Volume Four, Volume Five is episodic.

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