James Nicoll Reviews

Home > Reviews

Reviews

A Disco-era View of Atomic Terrorism

The Curve of Binding Energy

By John McPhee 

14 Sep, 2014

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

0 comments

John McPhee is one of America’s great writers, a master of creative non-fiction” whose eye has fallen on subjects as diverse as tennis (1969’s Levels of the Game ), citrus farming (1967’s Oranges ) and the chimera of commercial lighter than air vehicles (1973’s The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed ). In 1974’s The Curve of Binding Energy , McPhee turned his attention to nuclear terrorism as seen from the point of view of Ted Taylor, a talented nuclear weapons designer.

Read more ➤

The Russians Came Knocking

The Russians Came Knocking

By K B Spangler 

11 Sep, 2014

Special Requests

0 comments

Set in the same universe as Digital Divide and Maker Space (and A Girl and Her Fed, which I have still not read), this novella offers a change of pace, eschewing the procedurals of the two Rachel Peng novels for the very sexy adventures of Josh Glassman, Deputy Director of the Office of Adaptive and Complementary Technologies, hunky cyborg media relations expert and self-declared man-whore.

Read more ➤

Math Girls

Math Girls

By Hiroshi Yuki (Translated by Tony Gonzalez)

10 Sep, 2014

Translation

0 comments

So the thing about me and math is I took a lot of math classes in high school despite a near complete lack of aptitude and interest in the subject and except for calculus, which for some reason clicked1, I generally had mediocre marks. Some people find math beautiful for itself, perverts good for them, but I was generally only ever interested in it to the extent I could use math as a tool to examine subjects I did care about, which is why I can rattle off mass ratios (as long as Vdelta/Vexhaust is an exponent of e I’ve memorized) or but am crap at most other applications. Which is a long way of saying I was probably the wrong person to review this book.

Read more ➤

There and Back Again by Max Merriwell

There and Back Again by Max Merriwell

By Pat Murphy 

9 Sep, 2014

Rediscovery Tuesday

0 comments

This is a bit unusual for the Rediscovery series in that while I opened my copy knowing I would ultimately recommend the book, I also went into this knowing that aside from used copies there’s pretty much no way for any of you folks to acquire a copy. I had fun rereading it, though, and isn’t that the important thing?

Centuries in the future, the Solar System has been settled by humans and their derivative varieties and thanks to a combination of hibernation and implausibly (but carefully never explained) Nearly as Fast as Light Hoshi drives, so have the nearer stars. Even better, an alien network of wormholes provides access to the greater galaxy.

There is a catch with the wormhole network, or rather a number of catches: 

Read more ➤

Because my tears are delicious to you” earns its title

Satan’s World  (Polesotechnic League)

By Poul Anderson 

7 Sep, 2014

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

0 comments

Poul Anderson was a prolific science fiction and fantasy author whose career ran from the 1940s to the opening years of the 21st century. Awards include the Hugo and the Nebula, and he was named a A Grand Master” by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America shortly before his death. Unlike many prolific authors, his work was generally of a consistent quality, although I think it’s safe to say he never produced the masterpiece people might have expected from him. In science fiction, one of his fortes was world-building, about which I say more later. The combination of dependability, verisimilitude and prodigious output made him an almost ideal author for me and between the time I purchased this, my first Anderson, and when his various quirks and tics alienated me, I read the better part of a hundred of his works. I think it is safe to say that between 1977 and 1980, he was my favourite SF author. 

Read more ➤

Panicky Malthusianism meets bad physics in the least of the classic Heinlein juveniles

Farmer in the Sky

By Robert A. Heinlein 

6 Sep, 2014

The Great Heinlein Juveniles (Plus The Other Two) Reread

0 comments

I think Heinlein worked on his technique all through the juveniles but to my eye 1950’s Farmer in the Sky, while introducing themes that would persist through the rest of his career, is a half step back, filled with pacing issues and the decision to highlight aspects of his world-building that he probably should have tried very hard to distract people from.

[spoiler warnings]

Read more ➤