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Kaoru Mori: Anything and Something

By Kaoru Mori 

5 Aug, 2015

Translation

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When Yen Press sent me Emma Volume One, they also sent me 2012’s Kaoru Mori: Anything and Something. Unlike A Bride’s Story and Emma, this isn’t an installment in an ongoing series. Rather, it is a collection of Mori’s short pieces, an interesting introduction to her work if you’ve not read her before.

This will be short.

Mori provides such number of short pieces that they exceed my willingness to take this chapter by chapter. The volume is just under 210 pages and there are forty-four items listed in the table of contents. I could take them one by one, but that would result in a very long review. It has been my experience that the longer my reviews, the less likely it is that people will respond to them. As someone once said, More Words, Deeper Hole.

Mori leads with a selection of longer pieces (although if you have not noticed that the collection is to be read right to left, you may think she’s ending with longer pieces inexplicably printed in reverse). These tend to be standalone pieces, essentially short stories. The second half of the book has a selection of shorter pieces, some single page and other, like the extensive study of corsets, somewhat longer.

Although this isn’t a long collection, the number of works included means that the author can cover a fair range in terms of subject matter and tone. There’s screwball comedy, what appears to be a melancholy lesbian romance (or whatever you call it when neither person admits that’s what’s going on), something that may be intended to be to Bunny fantasies what Hotel California” is to the American Dream, non-fiction, and more. Not bad for a book that’s not much over 200 pages.

The author also includes, where appropriate, commentary on the various pieces.

If you haven’t given Mori a try, this is a pretty good place to start. It’s not long, so you are not investing a lot of time, but the number and variety of pieces included means that a reader will get a pretty good idea of Mori’s range. 

Kaoru Mori: Anything and Something is available from Yen Press.

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If not for those meddling kids

Up Against It

By M. J Locke 

4 Aug, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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I like stories set in the Solar System, particularly the modern Solar System as it has been revealed since the 1960s. Or at least I tell myself I do. Paradoxically, my interest in such matters makes me a difficult audience for SF that qualifies, as I suspect this review of 2011’s Up Against It will reveal.

The Solar System of the 24 century is settled; humans live everywhere from the inner system out to the Kuiper Belt. While life in space, such as in 25 Phocaea, for example, is better than life in 24 century USA [1], that’s less a measure of the wonders of life in space and more a measure of the grimdark hellhole that is Future America [2]. Life in space is fragile; cities like 25 Phocaea’s Zekeston are dependent on imported volatiles. Very dependent.

And what happens when the supply of volatiles is suddenly interrupted? 

Nothing good.

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Road trip!

How The White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back  (White Trash Zombie, volume 4)

By Diana Rowland 

3 Aug, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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2014’s [1] How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back, fourth in the series, picks up after Angel Crawford has made a good start at rebuilding her new life after the calamities — flood and various wacky series arc hijinks — that swept through her town in White Trash Zombie Apocalypse. Angel even got her GED after a lot of studying and some private tutoring that helped her to deal with her dyslexia. So that’s good. 

The dead friend who turns up buried in a shallow grave? The wave of kidnappings that sweeps St. Edwards Parish? The fact that Saberton, the malevolent corporation eager to exploit zombieism regardless of the cost to the zombies (and given that at one point they seemed on the verge of triggering a zombie plague, the cost to the world), seems to be back for another swing at the undead piñata? Not so good. And that’s not ever mentioning the brand new, progressive disorder with which both Angel and her spawn Philip are struggling.


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Three children and IT

A Wrinkle in Time  (Meg Murry, volume 1)

By Madeleine L'Engle 

2 Aug, 2015

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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1962’s A Wrinkle in Time won a Newbery, even though it features no dying dogs or other pets and no child drowns tragically in a beloved creek. A star does explode but that happens before the book opens. The Newbery and the book’s heavy-handed Christian imagery gave the work enough of a patina of respectability that schools would stock it — even though it was pretty obviously spec-fic. Despite the official imprimatur, kids liked it enough to actually read it for pleasure. It still has a high enough profile that the net abounds in reviews.

Pity poor Meg Murry: 


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Island” is Old English for Death Trap”

The Way We Fall  (The Fallen World, volume 1)

By Megan Crewe 

1 Aug, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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Megan Crewe’s 2012 novel The Way We Fall takes us to a small Canadian island, the island that narrator Kaelyn calls home. Sixteen year old Kaelyn’s life hasn’t been all that smooth of late. Her father didn’t react particularly well to the revelation that his son Drew is gay; in fact, he moved the whole family back to the island, away from Toronto, to distance Drew from his boyfriend. Kaelyn is also saddened by a jealousy-fueled falling-out with her best friend Leo.

Two years after the quarrel, Kaelyn belatedly regrets the rupture. Her sudden epiphany about how much she misses Leo comes too late; he has left for school on the mainland. In lieu of conversations with him, Kaelyn begins addressing each of her journal entries to Leo. It’s good practice; after all, what are the odds Leo will never return to the island? Who could imagine that life as Kaelyn knows it is about to be irrevocably transformed?

Did I mention The Way We Fall is volume one in the Fallen World trilogy?


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The Warlock’s Tale

Warlock of the Witch World  (Estcarp, volume 4)

By Andre Norton 

31 Jul, 2015

50 Nortons in 50 Weeks

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1967’s Warlock of the Witch World is the sequel to Norton’s 1965 Three Against the Witch World. Having journeyed east to Escore, a long forgotten part of their world, siblings Kyllan (the warrior), Kemoc (the scholar), and Kaththea (the witch) are now caught up in the war between light and darkness that divides that ancient land. 

Rather inconveniently for the siblings, they will find themselves divided in their choice of allies: light or darkness? Are they sure which side is which?


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It’s Latin to Me

NVSQVAM (nowhere)

By Ann Sterzinger 

30 Jul, 2015

Special Requests

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Ann Sterzinger’s 2011 novel NVSQVAM (nowhere) establishes its protagonist Lester Reichartsen as a rather unlikable fellow on its very first page. If asked, Lester would doubtless explain that he’s prickly because he is suffering. Cue litany of woe: a decade ago he was kicked out of his band; he had to marry his pregnant girlfriend Evelyn (so self-centered that she refused an abortion!); he can’t stand the resulting kid; he isn’t keen on his faculty colleagues; he hates his thesis topic, the students he has to teach, and the southern Illinois town where he and his family live; he hates his dad; and he’s not fond of the family cat. 


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Someone to watch over us

The Red: First Light  (Red Trilogy, volume 1)

By Linda Nagata 

29 Jul, 2015

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

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Linda Nagata’s Nebula-nominated The Red: First Light is the first volume in Linda Nagata’s Red Trilogy.

At first glance, life in Nagata’s near-future seems pretty sweet. Many of the civil liberties that have long been such an onerous burden to hard-working Americans have been set aside, allowing them to focus on more important matters. Lieutenant James Shelley is a fine example: in another life he might have wasted his life as a political activist, agitating against wars and other profitable activities. In this life, his first attempt at political activism prompted a firm response from the government that stands in loco parentis over all its subjects. One plea bargain later and Shelly became a hard-working member of America’s military forces serving overseas.

If that wasn’t wonderful enough, the same advances in neurological interfaces that allow Shelley and his fellow soldiers to function as a Linked Combat Squad allow his minders to keep an eye on what he is doing, or even feeling, pretty much 24/7.

There is, however, one glitch in the program. 


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No shinjū featured in this story

Emma  (Emma, volume 1)

By Kaoru Mori 

28 Jul, 2015

Translation

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No, not the Jane Austen Emma. Aside from nation of origin and sex, Kaoru Mori’s Emma has almost nothing in common with the more famous Emma; neither class, occupation, personal character, nor personal history.

Emma has no money, no family, no surname, and she owes her position as a maid (and her education and her glasses) to retired governess Mrs. Stowner’s generosity. Despite her lack of prospects, she gets lots of offers, being a comely lass. But Emma has no interest in matrimony

And then one day, Mrs. Stowner’s former student William Jones comes to pay his (extremely belated) respects to his former governess.…

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