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Reviews in Project: Miscellaneous Reviews (335)

Not the House of Shattered Wings

Of Books, and Earth, and Courtship & In Morningstar’s Shadow

By Aliette de Bodard  

21 Oct, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews


My review title for for this is Not the House of Shattered Wings, but that is just to avoid confusion. What this really isn’t is de Bodard’s Harbinger of the Storm, which I am holding off on reviewing until its author brings the Acatl books back into print. House of the Shattered Wings (part of her Dominion of the Fallen sequence) was plan B until I discovered my Kitchener Public Library’s copy was signed out. 

The nice thing about being in a mood for a de Bodard story is that instant gratification by means of ebooks is now an option. Since I was thinking about de Bodard’s Dominion of the Fallen setting anyway, I bought her short story Of Books, and Earth, and Courtship” from Kobo and since I noticed her related collection In Morningstar’s Shadow was free, I grabbed that as well1.


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“… doesn’t matter if the game is crooked when it’s the only game in town.”

Double Star

By Robert A. Heinlein  

19 Oct, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews


If all goes according to plan, this will be posted on the day of the 2015 Canadian Federal election. On my Livejournal, More Words, Deeper Hole, I asked for suggestions of SF novels about elections. I had already thought of two options: this book, and The Wanting of Levine. I received many good suggestions, but, in the end, two factors ruled in favour of Robert A. Heinlein’s 1956 Hugo Winner Double Star: I own it and it’s short. I didn’t have much time to acquire and read whichever book I chose. 

It turns out at least part of the reason the 1970s-era1 Signet mass market edition is a scant 128 pages is because the font size is microdot. Not that it would have been much longer had it been printed in a reasonable font, as the allegednovel is really more of a novella. Still, it’s long enough to serve its purpose. 

A seemingly chance meeting in a bar drops a job opportunity in Lawrence The Great Lorenzo” Smythe’s lap. While the job, from the few details he gets, sounds like it should be beneath a master thespian like Smythe, it just so happens that his would-be employer, Dak Broadbent, speaks the language that speaks most loudly to a down-on-his-luck actor: money. 

Smythe convinces himself he is being hired as a double for a politician who fears an assassination attempt. The prospect of being shot at does not please Smythe at all. Smythe is half-right — he is being hired to play prominent politician John Joseph Bonforte, leader of the Expansionist Party, currently the Opposition — but he is completely wrong about the reason behind the ruse. 

Smythe has also grossly underestimated the stakes. 

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Now I have to wait another year for the next Angel Crawford book

White Trash Zombie Gone Wild  (White Trash Zombie, volume 5)

By Diana Rowland  

12 Oct, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews


Diana Rowland’s 2015 White Trash Zombie Gone Wild picks up some months after How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back. Angel Crawford may be technically post-mortal (since she’s what normals call a brain-eating zombie), but otherwise her life existence is going pretty well. Work at the coroner’s office is fine, aside from hints of low-key hostility from her boss, Allen Prejean. She’s currently sans boyfriend, but she’s OK with that. Plus, thanks to a little drug she likes to call V12, she’s energetic, chipper, and has a handle on her dyslexia!

It’s true she has to steal the V12. But that’s totes easy; all she has to do is water down Philip Reinhardt’s experimental V12 medication. It’s not like anyone is going to notice! And it’s not like experimental medications ever have undocumented effects! And it’s true V12 greatly increases her need for human brains. But she can just steal those from work! It’s not like anyone would miss a brain or two or even all of them.

Except Allen does. 

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Extension Cord FROM SPACE!

Pillar to the Sky

By William R. Forstchen  

7 Oct, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews


In the past, my main interest in William R. Forstchen was keeping an eye on his Wikipedia entry. Someone, I could not say who, appears to be policing the article (and one of its subsidiary entries) to ensure that no detailed discussion of Forstchen and Gingrich’s 1995 novel,1945, appears. 1945 had a noteworthy sales record1

and in the Darwinian world of modern publishing, it’s all too easy for one poorly selling book like 1945 to torpedo a career. It makes perfect sense that anyone with an interest in the success of an author or authors who have a dud book to their credit would want to minimize public discussion of that book. It is certainly interesting to watch the minimization proceed.

I am happy to say that William Forstchen survived the debacle of 1945 and went on to write quite a lot of novels. I am even happier to say I have not read most of them. If only I could say the same for 2014’s Pillar to the Sky, a book about which the kindest thing I can say is blandly derivative of far better novels published two generations earlier.”

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I don’t care what happens to these characters

Luna: New Moon

By Ian McDonald  

28 Sep, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews


I knew before opening this book that it was unlikely to please me (I will explain why later). I probably would have avoided reviewing 2015’s Luna: New Moon (unless paid) … except that Tor went to the trouble of sending me a copy. I am torn between 

1) ignoring what Tor clearly hopes is going to be a popular novel, one they spent money to send me, and

2) giving a full and frank account of what I actually think about it. 

It’s not clear which would be worse from Tor’s point of view. Still, as Roscoe Arbuckle might have said There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” And it’s not like me panning The Wind Up Girl had any negative effect on its sales. 

Luna: New Moon reminds me of Robinson’s 2312 in a number of ways, none of them positive. I have the same sense that this is one of those books fated to be widely praised as a brilliant work of hard science fiction, whereas I will be once again reprising my role as Tolstoy in Nobody Cares Why You Hate Shakespeare, Leo.

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Penny Century Versus the World

God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls

By Jaime Hernandez  

26 Sep, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews


I was in the mood for something like Gilbert Hernandez’s Palomar collection, but the library didn’t seem to have anything along those lines. They did have collections by both Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, as well as several by Jaime Hernandez alone. It was one of the latter that caught my eye. 

While I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped I would, it did speak to a question raised by another Hernandez collection. 

A footnote in my review of Esperanza read, in part:

The original setting had superheroes in the way our world has rock stars; they were around, but the odds were that mundanes never got to meet them. One of Maggie’s friends, Penny Century, was a genuine adventurer who kept hoping she’d have an origin.

Thanks to God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls, I now know that’s not the full story.

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If not for that interfering cop, BZ Gundhalinu.

The Summer Queen  (Snow Queen Cycle, volume 3)

By Joan D. Vinge  

21 Sep, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews


As has been previously established, I am very fond of Joan D. Vinge’s The Snow Queen. I was delighted to hear that Tor Books is bringing it back into print, after a lapse of fifteen years1. Granted, it is being republished without the wonderful original Leo and Diane Dillon cover,

but this Michael Whelan kid Tor tapped to provide the new cover 

seems like he has potential. 

What better way to celebrate the re-release of a book I like than with a shiny new review!

Alas, unaware that The Snow Queen was going to be re-released this year, I reviewed the novel in question last year.

So what you’re actually going to get today is a review of one of the two sequels, 1991’s The Summer Queen, plus! extra! bonus! exhortations to buy both The Snow Queen and The Summer Queen.

The Hegemony has temporarily retreated from Tiamat, forced to abandon the only source of the Water of Life, the elixir which reverses aging. Tiamat’s twin suns are again nearing the black hole around which they orbit and the hyperspace route to Tiamat is unstable and unsafe. The Hegemony (the miniscule successor to a fallen galactic Empire) is forced to leave Tiamat to its own devices for the next century. Time enough for Tiamat’s Summer Queen, Moon Dawntreader, to encourage the two cultures of her world to modernize. If she succeeds, Tiamat will no longer be defenseless in the face of superior technology.

Or at least that was Moon’s plan. She’d have gotten away with it too, if not for that interfering cop, BZ Gundhalinu.

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You don’t treat your cousin like a chicken!”

Jupiter Ascending

By Lana Wachowski & Andy Wachowski  

5 Sep, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews


I will admit I was not impressed when I saw trailers for 2015’s Jupiter Ascending. Still, reaction to the film was varied enough that I decided to give it a chance. (Only on DVD, which may have been a mistake. More on that later.) 

What I found was a movie that kept me entertained for a couple of hours, a movie that reminded me very strongly of a particular Hugo-winning novel (or two) … but also a movie that broke one of the fundamental rules of movie story-telling.

Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is an illegal alien who makes a meagre living cleaning other people’s toilets. Jupiter Jones is also a space princess who, if only she knew how to assert her rights, owns the entire planet Earth and everything on it. 

The first fact keeps Jones relegated to low pay and subject to constant risk of deportation. The second puts her life at risk.

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Once Was Science Fiction

Esperanza  (Locas, volume 5)

By Jaime Hernandez  

2 Sep, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews


Once upon a time Margarita Luisa Maggie” Chascarrillo dreamed of being a pro-solar mechanic”; her pulp-SF adventures took her around the world. In 2011’s Esperanza, the fifth volume of the Locas stories of graphic novels, Maggie is a middle-aged apartment complex manager. Her best friend and occasional lover Esperanza Hopey” Glass is studying to be a teacher’s assistant, while doing her best to ignore the slow erosion of her relationship with her current lover, Rosie.

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