James Nicoll Reviews

Home > Reviews


Adapt or Die


By Nicola Griffith 

4 Dec, 2014

Special Requests


Although 1992’s Ammonite1, winner of the Lambda and Tiptree awards link], was not Nicola Griffith’s debut, most of her short fiction to that date had been published in David Pringles’ Interzone, which, despite efforts on my part, I have never been able to find on this side of the Atlantic (not even the issue in which my work turned out — to my surprise—to have appeared). For people like me, for whom Pringles were unpalatable snacks in tubes, this novel would have been the first time we encountered Griffith. It was a strong debut.

Read more ➤

Who to turn to but the French?

Dreaming 2074

By Xavier Mauméjean, Olivier Paquet, Samantha Bailley, Roque Rivas, Jean-Claude Dunyach, Anne Fakhouri, Joëlle Wintrebert & Alain ReyEdited by Comité Colbert 

3 Dec, 2014



The shared world anthology Dreaming 2074: A Utopia Created by French Luxury puts its central conceit right there in the subtitle. Commissioned by the Comité Colbert — 78 firms from the French luxury sector and 14 cultural institutions, which have joined together through common values” — the anthology (comprising short stories and other works) uses a shared universe to paint a picture of a 2074 that has weathered calamity to become a world materially and culturally superior to our own. 

Read more ➤

The Tyne Tug Caper

The Eppleton Hall

By Scott Newhall 

1 Dec, 2014

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


1971’s The Eppleton Hall: Being a True and Faithful Narrative of the Remarkable Voyage of the Last Tyne River Steam Sidewheel Paddle Tug Afloat — Newcastle-upon-Tyne to San Francisco, 1969 – 1970 delivers exactly what it promises in the title. However, despite the title’s remarkable lack of brevity, it neglects to mention that the Eppleton Hall’s voyage came exactly 150 years after the first paddlewheel crossed the Atlantic (a feat performed by the Savannah in 1819).

Read more ➤

A change of pace

Girl Friends

By Milk Morinaga 

26 Nov, 2014



On November 22, I vowed that I swear, the next new book I get sent that’s about the doleful world after EVERYTHING FELL DOWN AND EVERY ONE WAS SAD AND ALSO THE SUN CRIES BITTER TEARS, the review after that is going to be a manga by Morinaga Miruku.” Hoping for recent F&SF that isn’t a variation on EVERYTHING FELL DOWN AND EVERY ONE WAS SAD AND ALSO THE SUN CRIES BITTER TEARS was stupid of me1 but at least having to live up to the vow gave me a pleasant change of pace. 

Doing the requisite background research also drew my attention to an aspect of this work that made me sit back and go huh”. More on that after we visit the land of schoolgirl romances.

Read more ➤

The Editor Strikes Back

Five-Twelfths of Heaven  (The Roads of Heaven, volume 1)

By Melissa Scott 

25 Nov, 2014



1985’s Five-Twelfths of Heaven was Scott’s second published novel after 1984’s The Game Beyond. It is the first volume of the Silence Leigh trilogy. The other volumes are 1986’s Silence in Solitude and 1987’s The Empress of Earth. I enjoyed this back in the 1980s (which is why I picked this particular Scott to review) and I enjoyed rereading it. 

(Note: 1985 is almost thirty years ago. Baen Books was a very different brand then, so people who stumble over an old copy of this will not find the book they may expect given Baen Books’ current output.)

Read more ➤

In this case my tears are for all of you who will never read these stories

Heaven Chronicles  (Heaven Chronicles)

By Joan D. Vinge 

23 Nov, 2014

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Whereas Vinge’s Psion was written in Andre Norton mode, and her Snow Queen was a Space Opera retelling of a fairy tale, Heaven Chronicles contains three works — a novel and two novellas that have been merged into one longer novella — that are all pure, hard SF. However, this volume contains features such as plot and characters not normally (well, not necessarily) found within slide-rule SF. The result is a solid collection of stories I would strongly recommend you purchase if only any of them were actually in print. 

Read more ➤

The 50 Nortons in 50 Weeks Begins

Huon of the Horn

By Andre Norton 

21 Nov, 2014

50 Nortons in 50 Weeks


When I picked up Andre Norton’s 1951 novel, Huon of the Horn, I was expecting a standard fantasy. What I got has a lot more in common with Poul Anderson’s Hrolf Kraki’s Saga,which is also a modern presentation of a centuries-old work. This discovery casts a lot of light on some of the peculiarities of the Witch World series now that I know one of the sources that inspired that series.

Read more ➤