Reviews: Huang, S.L.

Lingered in the Chambers of the Sea

The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist — S. L. Huang

S. L. Huang’s 2017 The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist is a standalone SF retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid.

Dr. Cadence Mbella specializes in piscianthropology, the study of atargati culture and society. Not much is known about the atargati, the so-called mermaids, except that they live in the abyssal depths of the world’s ocean and they are as intelligent as humans.

As Mbella warns anyone reading her ongoing account, it is a mistake to allow the arbitrary terms that humans apply to the abyssals to shape human perceptions. The atargati are quite unlike humans or their myths. Exactly how unlike, Mbella is going to learn first-hand.

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Turn Your Face to the Moonlight

Plastic Smile — S. L. Huang
Russell's Attic, book 4

S. L. Huang’s 2016 Plastic Smile is the fourth volume in Huang’s ongoing Russell’s Attic series.

Six months after the events of the last volume (Root of Unity), Cas Russell is still wrestling with her unexpected discovery that everyone else has memories that go back more than a few years. Where other people have pasts, Cas has a giant blank and she still does not know what to make of it.

On the plus side, she does have an exciting new hobby: saving Los Angeles from itself.

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Implied Spaces

Root of Unity — S. L. Huang
Russell's Attic, book 3

Third in Huang’s Russell’s Attic series, 2015’s Root of Unity sends protagonist Cas Russell on a treasure hunt. Her quest will pit her against a casually murderous criminal gang and it may well threaten her new friends. The prize is nothing less than a proof that will transform mathematics … and mathematics, or at least a specific application of mathematics, happens to be Cas’ superpower.

Successful or not, Cas’ quest will definitely raise more questions than it answers.

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Back to Russell’s Attic

Half Life — S.L. Huang
Russell's Attic, book 2

2014’s Half Life returns the reader to the world of super-mercenary and mathematical genius Cas Russell. Rather to her own surprise, Cas is still friends with both detective Arthur Trestling and his hacker buddy Checker. Even more to her surprise, keeping Arthur happy matters a lot to Cas. In deference to Arthur, Cas has adopted all kinds of extreme restrictions on her behavior, like not killing people even when they get in her way. When the book opens, Cas has gone a whole sixty-three days without killing someone.

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Congress of Monsters

Zero Sum Game — S.L. Huang
Russell's Attic, book 1

2014’s Zero Sum Game, the first volume in the Russell’s Attic series by S. L. Huang (1), is a superhero novel of sorts. If protagonist Cas Russell were a member of the classic-era Legion of Superheroes, her place at the table would have the placard “super-math.” Except, to be honest, while her ability to carry out highly complex applied mathematical calculations is impressive enough to qualify as a bona fide superpower, the LSH would probably bar her from membership on the basis of the trail of bodies she leaves behind her. In fact, a neutral observer might be more inclined to classify Cas as something more along the lines of a supervillain.

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