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Destined For Death

Furious Heaven  (Sun Chronicles, volume 2)

By Kate Elliott 

8 Feb, 2024

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck


2023’s Furious Heaven is the second volume in Kate Elliott’s Sun Chronicles space-opera series.

Having prevailed in the most recent clash with the Phene Empire, it would be prudent for the Republic of Chaonia to consolidate its gains. The Phene Empire is vaster, wealthier, and enjoys a communications advantage that Chaonia cannot match. An experienced ruler like Chaonia’s Queen-Marshal Eirene would no doubt steer a careful path in the endless struggle with its imperialistic neighbor.

Eirene’s tempestuous daughter Sun would make other choices, but Eirene has considerable experience keeping Sun on a short leash. As long as Eirene is queen-marshal, Sun’s exuberance will be tempered. As long as Eirene is queen-marshal, the Republic’s enemies will have time to orchestrate Sun’s death and replacement as heir by the easily manipulated Prince Jiàn.

As long as Eirene is queen-marshal…

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Starry Notions

SF 12  (The Year’s Best S‑F, volume 12)

Edited by Judith Merril 

6 Feb, 2024

Judith Merril’s The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy


SF 12 is the 12th and final1 volume in Judith Merril’s The Year’s Best S‑F anthology series. It was first published in 1968. A slightly shorter version appeared as The Best of Sci-Fi 12. My Dell edition does not proclaim itself a Best SF anthology. It also makes no pretense of limiting itself to the previous year.

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Colours Changing Hue

A Wreath of Stars

By Bob Shaw 

4 Feb, 2024

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Bob Shaw’s 1976 A Wreath of Stars is a stand-alone near-future science fiction. I am ~80% that certain that it was the second Bob Shaw novel I ever read.

Gilbert Snook used his technical skills to travel the world, maintaining aircraft in the breakaway nations so common in the 1990s. It was good life (for him): he made as much money as he needed and he could be as introverted and anti-social as he liked. This worked… until he ended up in the breakaway republic of Barandi. There he pisses off Colonel Freeborn1, second in command to President Ogilvie, and finds himself sent to the diamond mines. Not as a miner, as a teacher, but it’s still not at all the life he wanted.

Then ghosts start appearing in the deepest parts of the mines. If the mines shut down, Snook may be blamed. Indeed, Freeborn will probably enjoy ordering the grating Canadian executed.

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Very Good Road


By Jasmine Walls & Teo DuVall 

2 Feb, 2024

Doing the WFC's Homework


Jasmine Walls and Teo DuVall’s1 2023 Brooms is a historical fantasy graphic novel.

Magic in 1930s Mississippi is closely regulated, particularly the magic used by persons of colour. Government agents2 scour the state, looking for children with magical knacks. Children unlucky enough to be caught are sent off to academies and residential schools to learn proper, Latin-based, magic. Recalcitrant students who cling to unauthorized magical schools are punished. Some are stripped of their magic entirely.

Luella has had her magic sealed. She is determined to save her cousins Emma and Mattie from the same fate. Emma and Mattie’s parents are just as determined to save their kids. There is, of course, a catch, which boils down to money.

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The War Is Over

Death on Gokumon Island  (Detective Kosuke Kindaichi, volume 2)

By Seishi Yokomizo (Translated by Louise Heal Kawai)

31 Jan, 2024



19481s Death on Gokumon Island is the second volume in Seishi Yokomizo’s Detective Kosuke Kindaichi series. The 2022 English edition was translated by Louise Heal Kawai.

Like many Japanese men, eccentric detective Kindaichi spent 1937 to 1945 serving in the Japanese army. A lucky survivor, he was repatriated back to Japan. Kindaichi has one final war-related task, one that brings the no longer young man to ill-omened Gokumon (Hell’s Gate) Island.

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Just Remember Darling

Web of Everywhere

By John Brunner 

30 Jan, 2024

Shockwave Reader


John Brunner’s 1974 Web of Everywhere is a stand-alone science fiction novel.

Skelters supplied humanity with inexpensive global teleportation1. Island paradises were but a step from vast cities. Likewise novel plagues, irate terrorists, and savage bandits were but numbers on a keypad away from vulnerable populations. Faced with a rising tide of chaos, governments lashed out with nuclear weapons. Two thirds of the human race perished.

Decades later, two men visit an outpost of the long-dead world before the Blowup.

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Never Be Alone

Z for Zachariah

By Robert C. O’Brien 

28 Jan, 2024

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Robert C. O’Brien’s 1974 Z for Zachariah1 is a stand-alone post-apocalypse novel.

The war began in the spring. One week later it was over. The valley in which the Burden farm lay was spared by a quirk of geography and weather. Death lies beyond the hills bordering the valley.

Fifteen-year-old Ann Burden’s family never returned from their final attempt to find survivors outside the valley. After they vanished, Ann tended her farm alone save for the surviving animals. As far as she knows she is the last human on Earth.

One day, a strangely garbed stranger appears.

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