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Interstellar Raconteur

Trafalgar

By Angélica Gorodischer 

24 Dec, 2014

Translation

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Translated by Amalia Gladhart.

Angélica Gorodischer’s Trafalgar: A Novel was first published in 1979 but in Argentina and in Spanish, which is why I missed it. The subtitle is a lie; this isn’t a novel but a collection of short stories. That the subtitle is a lie is foreshadowing; Medrano Trafalgar is a charming raconteur who entertains his friends with amusing tales of his adventures trading on alien worlds, rambling accounts told over endless cups of coffee, and he does not come across as a man much inhibited by the truth. 

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In a galaxy not so far away

The Price of the Stars  (Mageworld, book 1)

By Debra Doyle & James D. MacDonald 

23 Dec, 2014

Special Requests

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Back when I had my store, 1992’s The Price of Stars was pitched to me as the sort of book people who like Star Wars would like. It happens I don’t particularly care for Star Wars myself, although I am not hostile to the source material Lucas was — inspired by” won’t attract lawsuits, right? Let’s say inspired by” — but since my personal preferences have played almost no role in what I’ve read in the last thirteen and a half years, I have read many Star Wars novels. So. Very. Many. Stars Wars novels. Against my will, I am something of an expert in this field and so I can say with some authority that this should appeal to fans of Star Wars . Early Star Wars , that is. Not the current stuff.

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The Ur-Space Colony Popularization

Islands in Space: The Challenge of the Planetoids

By Dandridge M. Cole & Donald W Cox 

21 Dec, 2014

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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In memoriam: Roy Scarfo, whose art appears in this work, died of pancreatic cancer on December 8th of this year.

1964’s Islands in Space: The Challenge of the Planetoids, by Dandridge M. Cole and Donald W. Cox, does not seem to have had many editions; I can only find references to two. However, even if you never saw a copy of Islands , if you were ever a space colonization fan you are very likely to have read books by people who were strongly influenced by Cole and Cox’s work. 

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Jane Austen meets Genghis Khan

Jaran  (The Novels of the Jaran, book 1)

By Kate Elliott 

18 Dec, 2014

Special Requests

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I picked up 1992’s Jaran in 1992 and what with one thing and another only just now got around to finishing this anthropological romance (as mandated by this very commissioned review). I have read the Crossroads series so I am not unfamiliar with Elliott’s fiction; it’s just this one I didn’t read at the time. Why? It tickled a peculiar and no doubt shameful prejudice of mine, of which more later0.

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Eliminate human tyranny! The world belongs to Trisolaris!”

The Three-Body Problem  (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, book 1)

By Cixin Liu (Translated by Ken Liu)

17 Dec, 2014

Translation

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First published in China almost a decade ago under the title 三体, Cixin Liu’s Three-Body Problem has finally been brought to audiences in l’anglosphere (at least the l’Amérique du Nord part). This is due to the efforts of translator Ken Liu, publisher Tor Books, and the China Educational Publications Import & Export Corporation. In this novel, Liu grapples with a classic SFnal question — how might contact between two civilizations of vastly different technological ability go? — and the answer is, rather unsurprisingly for anyone familiar with terrestrial history, very poorly for the less advanced civilization.

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The Universe is Antagonist Enough

Deadly Litter

By James White 

15 Dec, 2014

Special Requests

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I freely admit that this review of 1964’s Deadly Litter is a placeholder review. It buys me time until I can toddle over to Dana Porter Arts Library’s Rare Books room, where I hope to read and review their copy of Escape Orbit. I own a lot of White books but not, as it happens, that one. Deadly Litter won out over all of the other James White novels that I could have reread because I could not remember reading it at any point since the 1970s. Also, it was at the top of my stack of James White novels and if I picked any other book, the stack would have fallen over. 

I have to say, that method handed me a better book than have many of my more intellectual approaches.

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Poindexters, Pointy-haired bosses, Villainous Third Worlders, and Dastardly Feminists.

Captain Empirical  (An Analog Book, book 2)

By Sam Nicholson 

14 Dec, 2014

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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According to ISFDB, Sam Nicholson was a pen name for Shirley Nikolaisen, about whom information is pretty scarce (Googling her name led me back to one of my own comments, which was not very helpful).What I can safely assert is that of the twenty Nicholson short works, twelve appeared in 1977, 1978, and 19791. Also, while her debut was in Jim Baen’s Galaxy, most of her short work appeared in an Analog then under the editorship of Ben Bova (ten stories) and Bova’s successor, Stanley Schmidt (seven stories). 

Today’s book under review, 1979’s Captain Empirical, is a result of the Bova connection. It was published in Ace’s An Analog Book series2, edited by Ben Bova. 

Either Nicholson held views that appealed to Bova and his successor, or she adopted those views in her stories out of a keen appreciation of what Bova (and later his replacement) would buy. Bova was a lot friendlier to female writers than his predecessor had been; over the course of his tenure the frequency of women in the table of contents went from 6% to 18%3. It probably didn’t hurt Nicholson that her Captain Schuster stories steadfastly took the side of the embattled white senior employee, who is menaced on all sides by Poindexters, pointy-haired bosses, villainous Third Worlders, and dastardly feminists. 

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