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Wheel of the Infinite

Wheel of the Infinite

By Martha Wells 

5 Aug, 2014

Rediscovery

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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

Special Requests

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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

Special Requests

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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

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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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The Riddle-Master of Hed, Heir of Sea and Fire, Harpist in the Wind

Riddle of Stars

By Patricia A. McKillip 

31 Jul, 2014

Special Requests

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I have owned this ever since that day long ago when I didn’t remember to send back in the little SFBC card, which was one of my standard ways to diversify my library. Perhaps the success of that method explains why I am so comfortable letting other people choose my reading material now?

My copy is missing its dust jacket but the art is on isfdb and I wonder if the lackluster cover is why I passed this over for 30+ years?

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The Long Run: A Tale of the Continuing Time

The Long Run  (The Continuing Time)

By Daniel Keys Moran 

29 Jul, 2014

Rediscovery

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For the life of me I cannot recall who recommended Moran to me but while my mass market paperback is a first printing (I think), I know I did not find it on my own. I remember a figure – tetrapod, bipedal, endothermic, homeothermic, and tachymetabolic — raving about The Long Run in my store decades ago convincingly enough that I made a point of buying it. Having bought it, I then tracked down every other Moran book that I could – Armageddon Blues, Emerald Eyes and later, The Last Dancer. Then silence fell. Publishing is a cruel and arbitrary world and it seemed that like so many other authors, Moran had been cast out into the shadows.

Happily, his books are once again available; the link is at the bottom of this review unless, ha ha, I forgot to include it. A sensible person would add it right now; I wonder what I actually did?

Onwards to The Long Run, and if I ever sound a bit negative, do remember this book was good enough to make me a Moran completist1.

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Wild Seed

Wild Seed  (Patternist, volume 1)

By Octavia E. Butler 

22 Jul, 2014

Rediscovery

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Science fiction has a long, colourful tradition of books about people with very special powers, abilities focused in specific privileged lineages through extended eugenics programs. See, for example, Doc Smith’s Lensmen series, Heinlein’s Howard Family stories and Larry Niven’s Known Space. Generally being a participant in these programs isn’t a bad thing, even though it constrains one’s choice of mates somewhat, and I cannot help but feel the fact most of the authors who come to mind are white and middle or even upper class – not the groups usually subjected to such programs, upper class inbreeding aside – plays a role in how the whole affair is portrayed.

I think it is safe to say Octavia Butler, one of the very very few African American science fiction writers active in the 1970s, had an entirely different model in the back of her mind as to how the whole directed breeding program would work out in real life. Until about 18651 the US had a distinct population whose activities were overtly closely monitored and closely controlled; a pattern that just leaps out at anyone who isn’t a mouth-breathing libertarian or worse is that despite whatever the propaganda of the day said, the program was not being run for the benefit of its subjects. 

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