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Reviews in Project: Miscellaneous Reviews (281)

Back to the Raksura

Stories of the Raksura: Volume One: The Falling World & The Tale of Indigo and Cloud  (Raksura, book 4)

By Martha Wells  

10 Feb, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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Well’s 2014 collection Stories of the Raksura: Volume One: The Falling World & The Tale of Indigo and Cloud shares a setting, the Three Worlds, with some of Wells’ previous works: The Cloud Roads, The Serpent Sea, and The Siren Depths.

I should admit, up front, that this review isn’t really a Tuesday Rediscovery so much as it is a review of a book I had intended to review long before now. I am using my Rediscovery slot to highlight a book that, IMHO, deserves highlighting. 

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Not quite the Traveller novel I was expecting

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

By Becky Chambers  

1 Feb, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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2014’s The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is Becky Chambers debut novel. 

I picked it up because, over on Livejournal, Heron61 said

It’s basically what you’d get if you took Firefly (minus the unfortunate Civil War metaphors) or an average campaign of the Traveller RPG and focused more on interpersonal dynamics and character’s emotional lives, while substantially reducing the level of violence. 

Traveller was the first table top RPG I played extensively and I still remember it fondly. Yes, this book reminds me of Traveller; it even begins with an event that could very well be someone failing their low passage roll [1]. That said, while I see the similarities that Heron61 mentions, I was more strongly reminded of James Tiptree, Jr.‘s short story And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side” … that is, if James Tiptree, Jr. instead of being relentlessly, inexorably depressing, had been a cheerful optimist. The book isn’t quite what I was expecting, but it was a refreshing change of pace.

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Go to the ant, thou sluggard

Herland  (Gilman’s Utopian Trilogy, book 2)

By Charlotte Perkins Gilman  

22 Jan, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s 1915’s feminist utopia Herland is the middle volume of a trilogy, being preceded by Moving the Mountain and followed by With Her in Ourland. I had not previously read this book and didn’t know what to expect. Well, given the time when it was written, I did expect some form of genteel racism, perhaps coupled with eugenics, and I wasn’t wrong. But there’s more here than that.

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The evil that men do lives after them

Collected Editorials from Analog

By John W. Campbell  

11 Dec, 2014

Miscellaneous Reviews

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Reading this collection won’t make your life better; on Facebook I compared it to eating a whole box of bon-bons, if said bon-bons were not in fact candy but deceptively-shaped pieces of dog-shit. What it will do is give you a pretty good idea what sort of person John W. Campbell, Jr. was — terrible — and if you’re an SF fan that matters because Mr. Campbell, he was influential within the world of science fiction. Very influential. 

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Why aren’t we all atomic ash?

The Wizards of Armageddon

By Fred Kaplan  

8 Dec, 2014

Miscellaneous Reviews

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l1983’s The Wizards of Armageddon documents America’s1 long struggle to come up with a conceptual framework for the effective conduct of nuclear war. An awful lot of people, including a number of the people who were actually the ones who would be calling the shots during WWIII, assumed that nuclear war would be a matter of throwing as many nukes at the other guy as possible while trying to survive what the enemy tossed back, However, at least one community of intellectuals yearned for something more nuanced. Many of these people ended up at a think tank called RAND and had a hand in shaping the Cold War that those of us from the Before Times lived through. 

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Special Double Review! Part Two! 

Black God’s Kiss

By C L Moore  

15 Nov, 2014

Miscellaneous Reviews

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I would like to say that Jirel would never wear a battle-bikini. She wears a full set of armour, enough that it’s not clear if she is a man or a woman. 

Two thousand years before Northwest Smith wandered between the planets, Jirel used her impressive capacity for violence to rule and protect the fiefdom of Joiry, somewhere in France. Proud, easy to offend, and very, very stabby, Jirel is not stupid but she never over-thinks situations, preferring direct solutions. 

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Special Double Review! Part One! 

Northwest of Earth: The Complete Northwest Smith

By C L Moore  

15 Nov, 2014

Miscellaneous Reviews

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And now, a very special double review! 

C.L. Moore was one of the comparatively few1 women active in pulp-era fantasy and science fiction. Whether on her own or with husband Henry Kuttner (whom she met when he sent her fan mail), she was one of the big names of the period. Moore won both the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement and the Gandalf Grand Master Award; she would have been the first woman Grand Master of the Science Fiction Writers of America had her second husband not intervened to prevent this2 on the grounds it would confuse Moore, now suffering from Alzheimers . 

Among her many works were two series linked by a common setting. Her two protagonists, Northwest Smith and Jirel of Joiry, were born two thousand years apart in a solar system that was old before humans ever conquered it:

Man has conquered space before. You may be sure of that. Somewhere beyond the Egyptians, in that dimness out of which come echoes of half-mythical names — Atlantis, Mu — somewhere back of history’s first beginnings there must have been an age when mankind, like us today, built cities of steel to house its star-roving ships and knew the names of the planets in their own native tongues — heard Venus’ people call their wet world Sha-ardol” in that soft, sweet slurring speech and mimicked Mars’ guttural Lakkdiz” from the harsh tongues of Mars’ dryland dwellers. You may be sure of it. Man has conquered Space before, and out of that conquest faint, faint echoes run still through a world that has forgotten the very fact of a civilization which must have been as mighty as our own.

Humans are not the only ones who have left relics across the many habitable worlds of the Solar System. Visitors from other stars and other universes have also laid claim the worlds orbiting the sun. Some of those visitors are long since gone. Others.…

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