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Reviews in Project: Miscellaneous Reviews (320)

Not with a whimper but a bang

The Fifth Season  (The Broken Earth, volume 1)

By N. K. Jemisin  

17 Aug, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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The unfortunates in 2015’s The Fifth Season live on a world almost as active as Jupiter’s moon Io, a world constantly rattled by tremours and reshaped by volcanoes, a world where geological and historical timescales are the same. 

Embracing whimsical gallows humour, they call their single landmass The Stillness”. 

Any particular community on this world can be certain that, in time, it will be wiped out by earthquake, tsunami, acid rain, or abrupt climate change. Humanity as a whole survives on the Stillness because until now, no calamity massive enough to kill absolutely every human has happened. 

Thanks to the forward-thinking social policies of the Sanze Empire, humanity’s run of luck is about to end. 

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Behind the Mask

Soon I Will Be Invincible

By Austin Grossman  

15 Aug, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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I’m the smartest man in the world. Once I wore a cape in public, and fought battles against men who could fly, who had metal skin, who could kill you with their eyes. I fought CoreFire to a standstill, and the Super Squadron, and the Champions. Now I have to shuffle through a cafeteria line with men who tried to pass bad checks. Now I have to wonder if there will be chocolate milk in the dispenser. And whether the smartest man in the world has done the smartest thing he could do with his life.” 

No, he hasn’t. And thanks to Malign Hypercognition Syndrome, Doctor Impossible won’t. Probably can’t. When his old foe CoreFire vanishes, CoreFire’s old teammates don’t take long to decide that even though Doctor Impossible is in prison, he is the logical suspect.


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I’ve always had a soft spot for radio

Kitty and the Midnight Hour  (Kitty Norville, volume 1)

By Carrie Vaughn  

6 Aug, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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Even by 2005, when Carrie Vaughn’s [1] Kitty and the Midnight Hour was first published, I had read a great many urban fantasies/paranormal romances (courtesy of Andrew Wheeler at Bookspan), I had read enough of these to understand that although the Kitty Norville books share many of the surface features common to the genre, the series is more than a little different under the hood.

When we first meet her, Kitty Norville is a late-night radio DJ on Denver’s radio K‑NOB; she is obscure and seemingly fated to stay that way. This changes dramatically when she more or less by accident discovers a brand new niche for late-night call-in shows: the Midnight Hour becomes the show you call if you’re a werewolf, a vampire, or a vampire’s thrall, and you need to talk to someone about the unusual demands your condition imposes on you.

Kitty understands because Kitty is herself a werewolf.


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If not for those meddling kids

Up Against It

By M. J Locke  

4 Aug, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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I like stories set in the Solar System, particularly the modern Solar System as it has been revealed since the 1960s. Or at least I tell myself I do. Paradoxically, my interest in such matters makes me a difficult audience for SF that qualifies, as I suspect this review of 2011’s Up Against It will reveal.

The Solar System of the 24 century is settled; humans live everywhere from the inner system out to the Kuiper Belt. While life in space, such as in 25 Phocaea, for example, is better than life in 24 century USA [1], that’s less a measure of the wonders of life in space and more a measure of the grimdark hellhole that is Future America [2]. Life in space is fragile; cities like 25 Phocaea’s Zekeston are dependent on imported volatiles. Very dependent.

And what happens when the supply of volatiles is suddenly interrupted? 

Nothing good.

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Road trip!

How The White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back  (White Trash Zombie, volume 4)

By Diana Rowland  

3 Aug, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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2014’s [1] How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back, fourth in the series, picks up after Angel Crawford has made a good start at rebuilding her new life after the calamities — flood and various wacky series arc hijinks — that swept through her town in White Trash Zombie Apocalypse. Angel even got her GED after a lot of studying and some private tutoring that helped her to deal with her dyslexia. So that’s good. 

The dead friend who turns up buried in a shallow grave? The wave of kidnappings that sweeps St. Edwards Parish? The fact that Saberton, the malevolent corporation eager to exploit zombieism regardless of the cost to the zombies (and given that at one point they seemed on the verge of triggering a zombie plague, the cost to the world), seems to be back for another swing at the undead piñata? Not so good. And that’s not ever mentioning the brand new, progressive disorder with which both Angel and her spawn Philip are struggling.


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Island” is Old English for Death Trap”

The Way We Fall  (The Fallen World, volume 1)

By Megan Crewe  

1 Aug, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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Megan Crewe’s 2012 novel The Way We Fall takes us to a small Canadian island, the island that narrator Kaelyn calls home. Sixteen year old Kaelyn’s life hasn’t been all that smooth of late. Her father didn’t react particularly well to the revelation that his son Drew is gay; in fact, he moved the whole family back to the island, away from Toronto, to distance Drew from his boyfriend. Kaelyn is also saddened by a jealousy-fueled falling-out with her best friend Leo.

Two years after the quarrel, Kaelyn belatedly regrets the rupture. Her sudden epiphany about how much she misses Leo comes too late; he has left for school on the mainland. In lieu of conversations with him, Kaelyn begins addressing each of her journal entries to Leo. It’s good practice; after all, what are the odds Leo will never return to the island? Who could imagine that life as Kaelyn knows it is about to be irrevocably transformed?

Did I mention The Way We Fall is volume one in the Fallen World trilogy?


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Meredith Means Well

Shelter

By Susan Palwick  

23 Jul, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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Susan Palwick’s 2007 novel Shelter takes us to a future America where:

  • excessive” altruism has been pathologized;
  • machine intelligences have joined humanity;
  • criminals and the mental ill (then as now overlapping sets) can be mindwiped; 
  • immortality of a sort is available to those with the money to pay for it;

and where, as always, the people who pay for rich people’s mistakes are never the rich people themselves.


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The last of Aud?

Always  (Aud Torvingen, volume 3)

By Nicola Griffith  

20 Jul, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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2007’s Always is the third (and as-of-this-date final) volume in Nicola Griffith’s Aud Torvingen [1] mystery series. The book opens with Aud far from Atlanta (where she makes her home), visiting Seattle to meet her mother’s new husband. She also plans to deal with an investment that isn’t doing as well as it should be.

Aud is a very straightforward person, brusque to the point that she may seem to have a social disability. She does not hesitate to bring the metaphoric hammer down on her local property manager, Karenna Beauchamps Corning, blaming her for the way Aud’s property is under-performing. As Aud soon discovers, there’s more to the story than one lax property manager: someone is going to a lot of trouble to sabotage the businesses that lease Aud’s property


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Tenochtitlan Mystery

Servant of the Underworld  (Obsidian and Blood, volume 1)

By Aliette de Bodard  

18 Jul, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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Aliette De Bodard’s 2010 novel, Servant of the Underworld, is the first of her Acatl novels. For some reason I had the impression these were straight-up mysteries set in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. There’s definitely a strong mystery element; her protagonist, Acatl, would certainly find much in common with Benny Cooperman, Philip Marlowe, and Hercule Poirot. The main difference would be that none of those famous detectives ever had to deal with a living god. For Acatl, High Priest of Mictlantecuhtli, dealing with the gods is a daily reality. 

A mysterious summons draws Acatl, priest to the god of the dead, out of his own temple and into the House of Tears, a school for girls. There he learns that the priestess Eleuia has been abducted. Her room is splashed with enough blood to cast her survival into doubt. Not only that … it is clear that she has been carried off by some occult means. 

Another thing is clear; the list of possible suspects is very short and the man at the top of that short list is Acatl’s own older brother, the warrior Neutemoc. 


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