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Reviews in Project: Because My Tears Are Delicious To You (509)

Remember when Niven was fun?

All the Myriad Ways

By Larry Niven  

27 Sep, 2015

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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I will be blunt: this second foray into what I have decided to call the essential collections of Larry Niven, being an irregular review series I may not even get around to finishing or continuing” is an attempt to get the taste of Vernor Vinge’s The Witling out of my mouth. 

1971’s All the Myriad Ways was Niven’s third collection after 1968’s Neutron Star and 1969’s The Shape of Space (which I will not bother to review, because I’ve never seen a copy and anyway all the stories were repeated in later collections; it’s not essential). All the Myriad Ways collects stories published between 1965 and 1971, most of them from the later years of that span 1.


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Bob Shaw’s love letter to Canada

Vertigo

By Bob Shaw  

20 Sep, 2015

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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1979’s Vertigo is not my first Bob Shaw novel. That would be Who Goes Here.

It’s also not my favourite Bob Shaw novel. That would be The Palace of Eternity.


It is, however, the only Bob Shaw novel set in Canada1.

Well, Alberta. But as an Ontarian I regard all of the lesser provinces with equal favour. At least they aren’t Manitoba! Well, except for poor Manitoba. 

Today’s venerables mourn the bustling Moon bases and omnipresent jet packs promised by the futurists and SF writers of ages past. Air Patrolman Rob Hasson’s twenty first century may not have moon bases 2, but it definitely has the counter-gravity harness, that marvelous device that gave the freedom of the skies to millions. 

Millions of idiots. 

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My first Cherryh

Downbelow Station  (Company War, volume 3)

By C J Cherryh  

13 Sep, 2015

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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Although Cherryh was active in the 1970s, I think her 1981 Downbelow Station was my first exposure to her work in general and to her Alliance-Union setting in specific. Not that this is strictly speaking an Alliance-Union novel … at least not until towards the end.

I remember finding it a bit of a slog at the time. Clearly other readers disagreed with me, because it not only won the 1982 Hugo Award for Best Novel, but was named by Locus as one of the top fifty SF novels of all time.

The good news for humanity is that by the 24th century, humans have spread far beyond the confines of the solar system, first at sub-light speeds and later with FTL. The bad news is that the human worlds outside the solar system are caught in a vast interstellar war, with the predatory Earth Company on one side, the authoritarian slave-drivers of the Union on the other, and a handful of neutrals, mainly merchants and a few stations, caught in the middle.

The war between Company and Union has dragged on and on, far beyond the point the balance sheets would justify. Earth Company is ready to beg Union for peace. The problem is, the Earth Company’s Fleet is not ready to stand down, and it answers not to the Company now, but to Commander Conrad Mazian. 

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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

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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.” 

Spoilers

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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

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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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Not the secondary world fantasy you’re expecting

The Northern Girl  (Chronicles of Tornor, volume 3)

By Elizabeth A. Lynn  

23 Aug, 2015

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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Elizabeth A. Lynn’s 1980’s The Northern Girl, is the third book in the Chronicles of Tornor. As was the custom of those ancient days, the book works as a standalone. While reading the first two books would provide interesting context for this work, you don’t need to have read those books to understand this one. As I recall, the first two were good but this one is the longest and most ambitious of the three. It’s also not your bog-standard secondary world fantasy.

Half-a-millennium after its founding, Kendra-on-the-Delta is arguably the greatest of the cities of Arun, the land stretching from the Grey Hills to the ocean. To date, Arun has been not so much a nation or kingdom as a collection of loosely allied city-states and holdings. Now, thanks to the ambitions of a few ambitious men, all that may be about to change.

But that’s not what the book is really about.

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Look out, Telzey Amberdon and Paul Maud’Dib! Here comes Mary!

Mind of My Mind  (Patternist, volume 2)

By Octavia E. Butler  

16 Aug, 2015

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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1977’s Mind of My Mind, second in Octavia E. Butler’s Patternist series [1], is Butler’s take on classic Science Fiction themes: an examination of a world where mental powers are real rather than the delusions of the confused, the bewildered, and the fans of Analog. 

Like Telzey Amberdon and Paul Maud’Dib, Mary is a Campbellian superhuman. Born to a latent telepath and another psychic, Mary has potential mental powers that could dwarf anything ever seen on the Earth of the late 20 century!

Too bad she’s property. Or, possibly, food. 


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From the pages of Astounding and Galaxy

The Diploids and Other Flights of Fancy

By Katherine MacLean  

9 Aug, 2015

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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I have been listening to the old radio show X Minus One . Because her stories provided the basis of several episodes, Katherine MacLean (last seen here in my review of her Missing Man) has been on my mind. Hence this review. The Diploids and Other Flights of Fancy (or as it is called in my edition,


The Diploids and 7 Other Stories), collects a number of her works from the 1950s. 

By purest coincidence, I recently encountered someone who had never read MacLean’s much-anthologized The Snowball Effect.” [1] That does not make me want to read this collection more than I already do — but it does convince me that now is a good time to review this (sadly obscure and wildly out of print) collection.


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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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A worthy adaptation of a classic

Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the Worlds

By Jeff Wayne  

26 Jul, 2015

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that human affairs were being watched from the timeless worlds of space. No one could have dreamed we were being scrutinized, as someone with a microscope studies creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. Few men even considered the possibility of life on other planets and yet, across the gulf of space, minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded this Earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely, they drew their plans against us. 

Ever since its publication in 1897 (1898 if you don’t count serialization as publication), H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds has been adapted to a variety of media: stage, radio, comic book, and, of course, movies, each one worse than the one before.

And of course, there was the concept album, Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the Worlds, whose introduction I quote above. 

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