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Reviews in Project: Miscellaneous Reviews (313)

Return to the Asteroid Belt

Freedom at Feronia  (Asteroid Police, volume 2)

By Richard Penn  

12 Mar, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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2014’s Freedom at Feronia is a follow-up to Penn’s Dark Colony. Having exposed and broken up an illegal secret colony, young cop Lisa Johansen is now faced with new opportunities, not the least of which is legitimate and legal possession of the core materials needed for a nuclear-powered spacecraft. The new opportunities also come with new challenges, one of which is considerably more complex than the one featured in the first book (the illegal colony set up by a criminal cabal). What this challenge is, and how Lisa handles it, reminded me a lot of the Canadian TV show Flashpoint, except, of course, IN SPACE! 

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From the world of Mesoamerican myth

The Bone Flower Throne  (Bone Flower Trilogy, volume 1)

By T L Morganfield  

12 Feb, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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2013’s The Bone Flower Throne, the first book in the Bone Flower Trilogy, is set in the world of Mesoamerican myth, specifically, the story of the great Priest-King Ce Acatl Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl. (In an afterword, the author compares him to King Arthur, which I think is off the mark for reasons I will explain later). I enjoy works set in or drawing on the Pre-Columbian cultures of the New World, but have been unable to find more than a few such works. Fortunately, the author of this book, T. L. Morgenfield, is on my Livejournal friends list, which made finding her book just that wee bit easier.

Of course, just because a work falls into a genre I find interesting and just because I know the author doesn’t mean I have to like the book. I could be the sort of monumental dick who asks for a review copy and finding it not to his taste, rewards the courtesy with a scathing review [1]. Or I might not be. Let’s find out!

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Back to the Raksura

Stories of the Raksura: Volume One: The Falling World & The Tale of Indigo and Cloud  (Raksura, volume 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, volume 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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1983’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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