James Nicoll Reviews

Home > Reviews

Reviews

The Past Through Tomorrow

The Past Through Tomorrow  (Future History)

By Robert A. Heinlein 

19 Jun, 2014

0 comments

I know my comments are going to come off as half-hearted for the most part but in the two years between when I bought this and when I apparently stalled in mid-book (going by the two library slips I found between the pages) I read this until it was battered and scuffed. Part of the issue is it is hard to read these stories as naively as I did when I was 14 but I think it’s also possible I reread this so often I buffed off my Heinlein receptors.

Read more ➤

Healer

Healer

By F. Paul Wilson 

15 Jun, 2014

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

0 comments

I bought this in the summer of 1977 and while I don’t remember buying it I do remember reading it next to Columbia Lake at the University of Waterloo. I think the lake had been closed to swimmers 1 by then but maybe we dropped by to hang out next to it on the bank.

What impressed me at the time about this book was the sweep of history, as the immortal protagonist witnesses a thousand years of history. Why it was this book that struck me that way and not, say, the Foundation series I am not sure but it could have been that Foundation changes points of view as it changes eras.

Read more ➤

Nine Layers of Sky

Nine Layers of Sky

By Liz Williams 

10 Jun, 2014

Rediscovery Tuesday

0 comments

I don’t know for a fact this was overlooked when it came out a decade ago but I remember that Bantam Spectra didn’t seem to be doing a stellar job of promoting their authors at the time and Williams move to Night Shade is at least suggestive.

What I actually set out to read what Williams’ Banner of Souls but whatever place I thought was an intuitively obvious place to file it wasn’t the W section of my paperback/trade/ARC F&SF library. I hope to stumble over Banner of Souls at some point but until then have a review of an entirely different book. As it turns out I have apparently been confusing by copy of this with my copy of Banner for over a decade and had never actually read it so this really worked out in my favour. Although I still want to reread Banner of Souls.

Read more ➤

The Star Treasure

The Star Treasure

By Keith Laumer 

7 Jun, 2014

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

0 comments

Although Laumer is probably best known for his Retief and his Bolo stories or perhaps the medical calamity that overshadowed the majority of his career, this particular book is significant to me because it happens to be the very first Laumer I ever encountered, spotted during of my covert forays up into the adult section of Waterloo Public Library.

Right after the superfluous prologue we get a hint Things Have Changed from the date: Sarday, Ma 35, 2190. Ban Tarleton is a loyal, excessively loyal, officer in the United Planetary Navy, taking the claims of his superiors at face value and interpreting what he sees in light of the lies he has been raised on. 

Read more ➤

Sword of the Lamb

Sword of the Lamb  (The Phoenix Legacy, book 1)

By M K Wren 

20 May, 2014

Rediscovery Tuesday

0 comments

As so often is true, I reread an old book to discover what I remembered about it is not necessarily what it is about. I remembered this as a romance set against a plot about overthrowing an oppressive order but that’s not exactly correct.

Near the beginning with a fairly contrived history lesson framed as a good-bye from a beloved teacher to his two priviledged students; this allows the author to drop a fairly weighty infodump about the next twelve centuries. Short version: a combination of resource shortages, ecological crises, plagues and the odd nuclear war bring our civilization down and what replaces it is the Concord, a star spanning feudal society divided into three castes: Elite, Fesh and Bond. This culture is able to provide a high standard of living for the hundred thousand or so Elite and a fair one for the somewhat larger class of Fesh, the trained class who keep the wheels of civilization turning in two different stellar systems but the cost is the brutal exploitation of the Bonds who make up the vast majority of the population.

Read more ➤

The Language of Power

The Language of Power  (Steerswoman, book 4)

By Rosemary Kirstein 

13 May, 2014

Rediscovery Tuesday

0 comments

Reading this, the conclusion I come to is that either I never actually read it – which is sad because I do have a copy – or I managed to completely forget the plot. The books tend to jump back and forth between the civilized Inner Lands and the more wild regions; this is a return to an Inner Land-focused plot. The author also likes to shift between sub-genres from volume to volume; this would be a caper novel.

Read more ➤