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She knew a happy ending when she saw it.”

The Witling

By Vernor Vinge 

6 Sep, 2015

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Someone — I cannot recall who and Googling has not helped — used to assert that each Vernor Vinge novel was significantly better than the last. I don’t think this is quite true1, but it is often enough true to be useful. The corollary is that the older the Vinge novel, the more likely it is to be bad. Now you must be wondering: just how bad is the worst Vernor Vinge novel? 

I have 1976’s The Witling at hand, so I can tell you the answer to that question: 

Pretty damn bad.” 


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You don’t treat your cousin like a chicken!”

Jupiter Ascending

By Lana Wachowski & Andy Wachowski 

5 Sep, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews


I will admit I was not impressed when I saw trailers for 2015’s Jupiter Ascending. Still, reaction to the film was varied enough that I decided to give it a chance. (Only on DVD, which may have been a mistake. More on that later.) 

What I found was a movie that kept me entertained for a couple of hours, a movie that reminded me very strongly of a particular Hugo-winning novel (or two) … but also a movie that broke one of the fundamental rules of movie story-telling.

Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is an illegal alien who makes a meagre living cleaning other people’s toilets. Jupiter Jones is also a space princess who, if only she knew how to assert her rights, owns the entire planet Earth and everything on it. 

The first fact keeps Jones relegated to low pay and subject to constant risk of deportation. The second puts her life at risk.

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Always Read the Fine Print

Dread Companion

By Andre Norton 

4 Sep, 2015

50 Nortons in 50 Weeks


In Andre Norton’s 1970 standalone novel Dread Companion, Kilda c’Rhyn’s great tragedy is 

Unfortunately, I inherited my mother’s sex but my father’s spirit and interests. I would have been supremely happy as a scout, a seeker-out of far places and strange sights. My favored reading among the tapes were the accounts of exploration, trading on primitive planets, and the like. Perhaps I might have fitted in with the free traders. But among them women are so few and those so guarded and cherished that I might have been even more straitly prisoned on one of their spaceports, seeing my mate only at long intervals, bound by their law to remarry again if his ship was reported missing for more than a stated time. 

It may be so far in the future the location of Earth is but a rumour but sexism is alive and well.

Abandoned by her spacer father, crèche-educated and unsuited to life in her mother’s clan, Kilda is desperate to escape Chalox, the world of her birth, before she is consigned to those roles deemed appropriate for women. When Gentlefem Guska Zobak offers to hire Kilda as her house aide on the distant world Dylan, Kilda doesn’t look too closely at the details.

She should have.

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Thank you, Kitchener Public Library

A Bride’s Story, Volume 1  (A Bride’s Story, volume 1)

By Kaoru Mori 

3 Sep, 2015



I am in no way obsessive but having read volume two of Kaoru Mori’s ongoing A Bride’s Story series without having read volume one induces a mild disquiet, as though a million rats were trying to claw their way out of my brain. Luckily for my brain, my local library had volume one.

At twenty, Amir Halgal is considered very nearly a spinster by her nomadic tribe. When the chance to marry her off presented itself, Amir’s family didn’t look too closely at the deal, or at her spouse.

Which is how twenty-year-old Amir found herself in an unfamiliar town on the Silk Road, married to twelve-year-old Karluk.

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Once Was Science Fiction

Esperanza  (Locas, volume 5)

By Jaime Hernandez 

2 Sep, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews


Once upon a time Margarita Luisa Maggie” Chascarrillo dreamed of being a pro-solar mechanic”; her pulp-SF adventures took her around the world. In 2011’s Esperanza, the fifth volume of the Locas stories of graphic novels, Maggie is a middle-aged apartment complex manager. Her best friend and occasional lover Esperanza Hopey” Glass is studying to be a teacher’s assistant, while doing her best to ignore the slow erosion of her relationship with her current lover, Rosie.

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War of Ghosts


By Claire North 

31 Aug, 2015

Special Requests


When 2015’s Touch begins, things are not going well for protagonist Kepler, who has just been shot twice by a complete stranger. Things are worse for Kepler’s host, Josephine Cebula, She is trapped in her own dying body; Kepler can escape into any living body within arm’s reach.

Kepler has no idea why the stranger attacked. The body-hopper does know that, for some reason, killing Josephine appeared to be as or more important than killing Kepler. Possessing the killer is easy enough, which gives Kepler the killer’s effects to rummage through for clues but that turns out to be just the first and least step on the way to finding Kepler’s real enemy.

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Outside Space and Outside Time

The Big Time  (Change War, volume 1)

By Fritz Leiber 

30 Aug, 2015

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Fritz Leiber's 1958 Hugo winner The Big Time fits a very large setting into a very small package. The context of the novel is the Change War, which is being fought to reshape history across the universe. Narrator Greta, doppelganger of a slain American woman, has a very minor role in the war; she is an entertainer in the Place, an R&R facility tucked away in a pocket universe. Unfortunately for Greta's life of routine, the War is about to intrude into the Place.

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A Malaysian Cornucopia

Cyberpunk: Malaysia

Edited by Zen Cho 

29 Aug, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews


It may seem a little odd to publish a cyberpunk anthology a quarter century after American cyberpunk devolved into an aggregation of simplistic conventions 1. But sub-genres may die in some cultural environments and thrive in others. American 2 cyberpunk may be a shambling zombie (even post-cyberpunk is pretty wheezy), but as 2015’s Cyberpunk: Malaysia proves, in Malaysian hands cyberpunk is alive and well. 

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