I had no idea what to review this week … so I left it to chance. Manga Fox’s surprise me option handed me the manga adaptation of Yusuke Kishi ’s 2008 Nihon SF Taisho Award-winning novel Shin Sekai Yori (From the New World ). If there exists a translation of the novel, I am unaware of it. That’s too bad, because the sense I get from the manga is that the novel is an interesting work poorly served by its adaptation into a new medium.
Dorothy Heydt originally published 1990’s The Interior Life under the pen name Katherine Blake.
Post-Reagan-era housewife Sue’s life isn’t the stuff of melancholy country music, but it’s not exactly rewarding. Her boisterous kids make housecleaning a Sisyphean struggle. Her husband Fred loves her and she still loves him, but there are days when she can barely stand to look at him.
Small wonder she escapes to a fantasy world, even one where the stakes are high and defeat apparently certain.
1988’s Venus of Shadows is the middle volume of Pamela Sargent’s Venus trilogy. It was preceded by 1986’s Venus of Dreams and followed by 2001’s Child of Venus.
I know it is odd to start reviewing a series in the middle … but for various reasons this seemed an apt choice for a review that will go live the same day that Americans strain to make the difficult choice between a flawed candidate and a weasel-headed fucknugget once described by helpful Scots as a “tiny-fingered, Cheeto-faced, ferret-wearing shitgibbon.” Although Shadows is a close follow-up to the first volume, Venus of Dreams, it was published in a bygone era when even series books were expected to stand on their own; thus, it can be read without having read the first book.
Tell me if you’ve heard this story before: a well-meaning man founds a school for gifted youngsters. The gifted youngsters are mutants, children of the atom, each with their own gifts. They are mutants to whom the world will react with fear and anger when their existence is revealed.
Like most well-read SFF fans, I’d heard of Wilmar H. Shiras’ 1953 classic Children of the Atom . I had a vague idea what later works
plagiarized … were inspired by Shiras’ collection. I had never actually read Children until I discovered that an ebook edition had been published. Knowing when the original text was written, where it was published, and the works it inspired, I thought I had a pretty good idea how the plot had to play out.
I was wrong.
There will be spoilers.
By 1973, the 1959 accident that left the staff of an atomic reactor dying of radiation poisoning is long forgotten. When child psychologist Peter Welles is asked to examine fourteen-year-old Tim, the accident seems to have no relevance to his patient. At a first glance, Tim seems like a perfectly normal young boy. At second glance, it becomes clear that Tim is concealing a great secret. He believes that if anyone were to learn his secret, he would become a pariah.
He’s not wrong.
C. J. Cherryh’s 1978 The Faded Sun: Kesrith was her fourth novel and the first in her Faded Sun trilogy. It would have been a fine choice for my Because My Tears Are Delicious to You series … save for the trifling fact that I managed to overlook it until the 1980s, after I had stopped being a teenager.
The alien Regul are fighting a losing war with the human Federation. That is, mri mercenaries are doing so, on behalf of their Regul clients. The mri are in many ways difficult: aloof, easily affronted, and inflexible — but they are extremely effective warriors. The Regul have nobody but themselves to blame for their losses. The Regul are bad bosses, the sort who insist on taking a hand in matters they do not understand, then blaming and punishing subordinates for the ensuing setbacks.
Octavia E. Butler’s 1976 novel Patternmaster was the first in her Patternist series to be published; this is not surprising, as this book was her debut novel. In terms of internal chronology, it is the final book in the series, the endpoint to which all the other books—Wild Seed, Mind of My Mind, Clay’s Ark, and Survivor—led.
(I will probably review all of Butler’s books eventually. Perhaps even including Survivor.)
Patternmaster is a gloomy destination for a future history.
I had never even heard of C. L. Moore’s 1957 novel Doomsday Morning until an ebook version showed up in my inbox. It would have made a fine election day review, if only I had read it a bit earlier. Oh, well.
President Raleigh rebuilt America after the Five Days War and a grateful electorate has re-elected him five times. Of course, the electorate might have been nudged in that direction by one of the tools Raleigh created to rebuild America: Communications US aka Comus. Constant monitoring and finely targeted media control allow the government to nudge Americans in the direction of the most sensible decisions.
Now Raleigh is dying. Someone will have to replace him. Comus boss Tom Nye is determined to be that someone … but there’s a hitch. Which I will explain later. Tom schemes to remove the hitch with the aid of an old friend, the once great actor1 Howard Rohan …
As previously mentioned, I am very fond of Ballantine’s Classic Library of Science Fiction. That said, editor Lester del Rey did have one blind spot in common with many of his contemporaries. You won’t find many women in Ballantine’s Classic Library of Science Fiction.
I note just two: Leigh Brackett, reviewed here fairly frequently, and Catherine Lucille Moore, the author of this week’s Rediscovery. Diversion has republished Moore’s 1975 collection, The Best of C. L. Moore, as an ebook. More relevantly to this review, they sent me a copy.
Moore was prolific and well-regarded. She would have been the second woman to be named Grandmaster of the Science Fiction Writers of America, had her second husband not intervened. He claimed that the honour would only confuse her (Moore had Alzheimer’s). But her work has nonetheless been acknowledged in other ways … by collections like this one, for example.
Note: this edition is not quite identical with the 1975 edition; the new ebook omits Lester del Rey’s introductory essay, 40 Years of C. L. Moore.
2011’s The Traitor’s Daughter is the first book of the Veiled Islands Trilogy. Readers may know author Paula Brandon better as Paula Volsky. It’s a nice example of a specific subgenre of secondary world fantasy, a variation on castle opera — or, depending how the coming apocalypse works out, The End of the World. Since I was reviewing for the Science Fiction Book Club at the time this was published, I am surprised that this sponsored review is the first time I have encountered this book.
Of course, this book may also be an example of yet another kind of book: poorly marketed books consigned to undeserving obscurity This may explain why I never saw it when it first came out and why, so far as I can tell, it didn’t sell particularly well.
2007’s Water Logic is the third volume in Marks’ Elemental Logic quartet. It is also, somewhat to the distress of Marks fans, the most recently published volume in Marks Elemental Logic quartet. To quote the series’ publisher, Small Beer Press:
March 2014: We don’t have any update yet on Air Logic. But, we have seen a very early draft of the manuscript. Once it is finished and actually delivered to us, there will be at least one round of editing and then we’ll get the book out as fast as we can. We love these books and are so glad that there are so many readers out there, just like us, waiting
I have heard that there are others who have seen early drafts; I myself am not among those people. Until then, fans of the series will just have to be satisfied with the three books that do exist.
The problem with negotiating an end to a bitter war is