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Cage on the Sea

Cage on the Sea

By Kaoru Ohno (Translated by Giles Murray)

13 Aug, 2014

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Note: the Kindle edition of Cage will be going on deep discount on 8/14 (Thurs), the anniversary of the end of WWII. It will start at 80% off ($1.99), then tick up by approximately $2/day until it returns to its normal $9.99 price.

This is a bit outside my usual remit, a strictly historical novel based on events that occurred from 1944 onwards, but it seemed like an interesting choice to inaugurate Translation Wednesdays. 

By 1944, the war in the Pacific had developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage. Logistical challenges were met with increasingly desperate measures, including dragooned cargo ships being sent out without military cover in the hope that if enough ships left port, a few would make it to their destination. Most, of course, did not. 

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Prince of the Godborn, The Children of the Wind, The Dead Kingdom, & The Seventh Gate

Seven Citadels Quartet

By Geraldine Harris 

12 Aug, 2014

Special Requests

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The Seven Citadels quartet is composed of the books Prince of the Godborn, The Children of the Wind, The Dead Kingdom, & The Seventh Gate and was originally published in the early 1980s.

I dithered about whether to do these as four stand-alone reviews or one but while each book works on its own, I read them all back to back and however I happen to have read something the first time is obviously the best way to have done it. Except for how I read Princess Bride, which involved having my left hand crushed under a rock; I don’t recommend that at all.

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Sight of Proteus

Sight of Proteus

By Charles Sheffield 

10 Aug, 2014

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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(Ah, the lower-case a” Ace colophon. I much prefer it to the capital A that showed up sometime after Baen started running Ace. What was it about him and publishers with triangular colophons)

Charles Sheffield (19352002), born in the UK but resident in the US for much of his life, was a moderately prolific science fiction writer, specializing what’s often called hard SF. You would therefore expect this particular book would be filled with mass ratios, slide-rules white-hot with the speed of calculation and engaging discussions of the implications of the Poynting-Robertson effect on deep space mining. Instead it is a glorious celebration of some of the wackier elements kicking around the United States deep in the now-legendary Disco Era.

2190(ish): three million humans live in space but the majority of the fourteen billion people alive live on an overcrowded Earth that is despite the best efforts of the experts of General Coordination teetering on the edge of collapse. Draconian measures to limit population growth1 have failed to produce a steady state and aside from one act of terrorism that killed a billion people, population has only crept ever closer to the the Malthusian limit. Space resources may help but they are only delaying the crisis and if Earth collapses, the United Space Federation will soon follow.

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The Desert of Stars

The Desert of Stars  (Human Reach, volume 2)

By John J. Lumpkin 

8 Aug, 2014

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John Lumpkin’s second novel serves to remind readers that there is such a thing as well-written, carefully thought military science fiction, and that there is no reason why MilSF fans need to settle for sub-par Extruded MilSF Product churned out by a collective of once-greats and never-weres. 

This picks up where the previous book left off: Japan and China are embroiled in a vast interstellar war, one triggered by the revelation that the distribution of habitable worlds near the Sun is far less homogenous than previously believed and the luck of the draw has gifted China with a natural route to the richest systems.

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Full Fathom Five: A Novel of the Craft Sequence

Full Fathom Five  (Craft Sequence, volume 3)

By Max Gladstone 

7 Aug, 2014

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If the cover still has an Elizabeth Bear blurb on it 0, that’s a plausible choice on Tor’s part but the blurb that they actually went with was The best yet from Max Gladstone.” – Charles Stross1.

Alt Coulomb remained loyal to their surviving god. Dresediel Lex massacred their gods and replaced them with Undying Kings. The tropical island nation of Kavekana chose a third option, replacing their dead gods with what amount to artificial deities, human-crafted idols used as center-pieces in mystical investment schemes. Until now, that compromise has seemingly worked well.

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Wheel of the Infinite

Wheel of the Infinite

By Martha Wells 

5 Aug, 2014

Rediscovery Tuesday

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Maskelle was once of figure of some significance in her native Celestial Empire – the human Voice of the Adversary, the great being charged with fighting evil — but having blotted her copybook with a bit of business involving a false prophecy and a trail of dead bodies she was consigned to exile in the provinces, far from the center of power. Now, after years of exile, she is returning home to Duvalpore, summoned by the Celestial One.

Many great empires style themselves the center of creation. The Celestial Empire is unusual in that this is true, the world is centered on the sacred mountain in the Empire. For the priestly functionaries of the Empire, a map in the sacred mountain can literally be the territory. For the most part the Empire has used this power to carry out rituals necessary for the functioning of the universe.

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Two Serpents Rise: A Novel of the Craft Sequence

Two Serpents Rise  (Craft Sequence, volume 2)

By Max Gladstone 

4 Aug, 2014

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In the follow-up to Three Parts Dead, Gladstone introduces a new cast, as well as a new setting. Unlike Alt Coulomb, the city-state of Dresediel Lex crushed its bloody gods entirely; roles that were fulfilled by the gods now fall to humans and the Craftsmen and Craftswomen of the city. If the humans fumble the ball, the entire city will suffer.

Dresediel Lex is an artificial, fragile oasis in a vast desert; ensuring the water supply is even more central to it than it is to other cities. Red King Consolidated manages the water supply and until now has done an acceptable job of meeting the city’s ever expanding needs. Until now…

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Footfall

Footfall

By Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle 

3 Aug, 2014

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I remembered Footfall as one of those excessively long science fiction novels of the pre-Aught Three and when I picked it up I was surprised to see that my May 1986 Del Rey mass market paperback was only 582 pages (including the authors’ bios at the end), barely an evening’s read. When I put the book back down eight long hours later, I was still surprised that Footfall was only 582 pages because the authors managed cram in the mediocrity and tedium of a much longer novel.

It’s still better than a lot of the competition.

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Three Parts Dead: A Novel of the Craft Sequence

Three Parts Dead  (Craft Sequence, volume 1)

By Max Gladstone 

2 Aug, 2014

Special Requests

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I am very annoyed at the people who have been selecting my reading material for the last 13 years for not having ever sent me a Max Gladstone book and with Gladstone for not having more books in print now that I have discovered them.

Decades ago, the Gods declared war on the human Craftsmen and Craftswomen. The Gods lost, decisively. The Great Powers are for the most part the nations run by and for the interests of the Craftsfolk; this has certain implications0 that are developed over the series.

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Voyage of the Shadowmoon

Voyage of the Shadowmoon  (The Moonworlds Saga, volume 1)

By Sean McMullen 

31 Jul, 2014

Rediscovery Tuesday

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I used to have two rules: always read books by people named Sean and always try books by Australians US publishers went to the trouble of acquiring the rights. Like a lot of arbitrary filters, those worked until they failed catastrophically1 but I was well pleased with discovering Australian author Sean McMullen.

Lights up on a world much like Earth but with crucial differences and the siege of the city of Larmentel by the glorious imperial might of the armies of Emperor Warsovran. Unfortunately for Warsovran’s soldiers, their grand skills at siege-craft were learned from the scholars of Larmentel and the scholars kept their best tricks for themselves. Things are not going well but they are about to become much worse.

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