James Nicoll Reviews

Home > Reviews

Reviews

Feel the Wind Blow

Fruits Basket, book 1

By Natsuki Takaya 

10 Feb, 2021

Translation

0 comments

Natsuki Takaya’s Fruits Basket (Japanese: フルーツバスケット, Hepburn: Furūtsu Basuketto ) is a modern fantasy manga. Serialized in the semi-monthly Japanese shōjo manga magazine Hana to Yume , it ran from 1998 to 2006. Volume One contains the first six issues.

High school student Tohru Honda will not let circumstances get her down. True, her father died a long time ago. True, her mother recently died. True, the girl appears to have no contact with her long-dead father’s relatives, while her mother’s kin mostly despise the girl. But at least Tohru’s grandfather is willing to offer her refuge! 

At least her grandfather was until his home needed renovating. Until the renovations are finished, Tohru will have to fend for herself. Tohru would never dream of inconveniencing a friend. Thus her tent in the woods.

Read more ➤

This Very Hour

The Consuming Fire  (The Interdependency, book 2)

By John Scalzi 

9 Feb, 2021

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck

2 comments

2018’s The Consuming Fire is the middle volume in John Scalzi’s Interdependency trilogy. 

Faced with the impeding collapse of the Flow, the phenomena that facilitates the faster-than-light travel on which all the worlds of the Interdependency rely, Cardenia Wu-Patrick AKA Emperox Grayland II is determined to urge her subjects to recognize the impending crisis and consider ways to mitigate it. To this end, she uses her status as church figurehead to begin uttering prophecies of the Doom Which Is to Come. 

This succeeds in convincing a number of powerful people that Grayland II is quite mad.


Read more ➤

Gangsta’s Paradise

Thieves’ World  (Thieves’ World, book 1)

Edited by Robert Asprin & Lynn Abbey 

7 Feb, 2021

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

16 comments

1979’s Thieves’ World is the first volume in Robert Asprin and Lynn Abbey’s shared-universe anthology series. 

Sanctuary: city of adventure! Or to put it another way, Sanctuary: cash-strapped pest-hole to which refugees, riff-raff, and rogues swarm, hoping that an empire uninterested in backwater cities will overlook them. Once a crucial destination along a challenging trade route, Sanctuary’s economy was kneecapped when trade routes changed. Inexorable decline set in. Tragic for the locals who cannot move away but an opportunity for others. 


Read more ➤

You Kill Me With Your Touch

Swordspoint  (Riverside, book 1)

By Ellen Kushner 

4 Feb, 2021

Miscellaneous Reviews

4 comments

1987’s Swordspoint is the first novel in Ellen Kushner’s secondary-universe melodrama-of-manners Riverside series. 

Richard St. Vier ventures out of disreputable Riverside into the fashionable Hill to kill … but only when he has a contract. The aristocrats who call the Hill home have a taste for lethal arguments over points of honour. When they do not feel up to the task of gentlemanly murder, they employ professional duelists like St. Vier to fight in their stead. Everyone wins! Except for the losers, who are too dead to care. 


Read more ➤

Doom Doom Doom

Mörk Borg

By Pelle Nilsson, Johan Nohr & Patrick Stuart 

2 Feb, 2021

Translation

0 comments

2019’s Mörk Borg (Dark Fort ) is a dark fantasy tabletop roleplaying game. Original text, ideas and game design are by Pelle Nilsson; graphic design and artwork by Johan Nohr; English writing and creative consultation are by Patrick Stuart. 

The world may have dwindled down to a gloomy island from which escape is impossible, but at least everyone is doomed. Unfortunately for the player characters, they have not died — yet. Although there is every chance they will. So, there is that to look forward to.


Read more ➤

Each Time It Rains

The Space Merchants

By Frederik Pohl & C. M. Kornbluth 

31 Jan, 2021

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

2 comments

Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth’s 1953 The Space Merchants is a near-future SF satire. It was followed by The Merchant’s War , written by Pohl alone. 

Earth is a utopia. Population continues to soar and with it the economy explodes unchecked. True, supporting such a vast economic enterprise demands bold solutions to the challenge of dwindling resources, but only the worst sort of Consie —the Conservationists, lowest of the low — would object. Nation-states are guided by what best serves the corporations who effectively own the governments. At the top of this most perfect society sit the advertising experts who shape opinion. 

Mitch Courtenay, a Fowler Schocken Associates advertising agency star-class copywriter, is one of the elite. He has his own lavish two-bedroom apartment, can afford unreconstituted food, and enjoys the confidence of Fowler Schocken himself. He is, in other words, a man on his way up.

There are one or two tiny flaws in his idyllic life.

Read more ➤

Like Thousand Eyes

Warchild  (Monstress, book 5)

By Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda 

29 Jan, 2021

Doing the WFC's Homework

0 comments

2020’s Warchild (Monstress, Volume 5) collects issues 25 to 30 of Marjorie Liu’s ongoing cosmic-horror-fantasy-war comic series. Art is by Sana Takeda.

The previous war between the Federation of Man and the Arcanic Empire ended when the city of Constantine was annihilated, taking over a hundred thousand people with it. The Federation credited the weapon used to the Arcanics — inaccurately, although the Arcanics were in no hurry to correct the error — and lacking their own equivalent, backed down to regroup. 

When the Federation’s holy city of Aurum is obliterated by a seemingly similar weapon, the logical inference is that the Arcanic Empire is to blame. They are not but the war is back on regardless.

High on the Federation’s to-conquer list: the city of Ravenna.


Read more ➤