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Reviews in Project: Special Requests (386)

Just Gonna Have To Be A Different Man

The Alteration

By Kingsley Amis  

13 Jan, 2022

Special Requests

8 comments

Kingsley Amis’ 1976 The Alterationis a stand-alone alternate history novel. 

King Stephen III of England, is dead! Long live King William V, whose reign begins in the Year of Our Lord 1976. Gathered for Steven III’s funeral: many of Europe’s most prestigious figures. It will be a grand occasion. 

Young Hubert Anvil is to sing at the funeral. This is a great honour, but it leads to a demand that he does not want to accept but doesn’t see how to refuse.


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Dancing in the Sky

Star Rider

By Doris Piserchia  

4 Jan, 2022

Special Requests

5 comments

Doris Piserchia’s 1974 Star Rider is a stand-alone science fiction novel. 

Like the rest of her Jakalowar (or Jak1for short) kin, Jade and Hinx, (her mind-linked, dog-derived mount) can jink(teleport) from world to world at will, carrying their own bubbles of breathable air as well. The entire Milky Way is the Jaks’ playground. The problem is that none of the Jaks have the range to leap to another galaxy. Thus, the hedonist nomads are trapped in one puny galaxy. 

Luckily, the Jaks have Doubleluck. Well, in a sense.

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Hopin’ to Pass

A Deadly Education  (Scholomance, volume 1)

By Naomi Novik  

30 Dec, 2021

Special Requests

2 comments

Naomi Novik’s 2020 A Deadly Education is the first volume in her Scholomance series. 

Antisocial Galadriel El” Higgins has survived her time in the combination school/death trap of Scholomance; this despite her manifest lack of social connections or powerful allies. A meet-cute in the form of an unrequested rescue by the Scholomance’s self-appointed hero Orion Lake upends her sullen life.


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And Far Too Old To See

Crown of Shadows  (Coldfire, volume 3)

By C. S. Friedman  

8 Dec, 2021

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0 comments

1995’s Crown of Shadows is the third and final book in C. S. Friedman’s Coldfire science fiction trilogy.

Priest Damien and undead Tarrant return to their respective homes with a much better understanding of the challenges now facing them. On the minus side: many lives (including their own) depend on finding a solution to their problems. On the plus side, there’s a strict time limit. Soon enough it won’t matter what they do.

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Confusion is Nothing New

Doomsday Book

By Connie Willis  

6 Dec, 2021

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4 comments

Connie Willis’ 1992 Doomsday Booktakes place in the same continuity as Firewatch (1982), To Say Nothing of the Dog (1998), and Blackout/All Clear (2010).

A time-travel apparatus provides mid-21st century Oxford University scholars with access to the past, an unparalleled opportunity that the scholars use with all the acumen previously demonstrated by the R‑101, the de Havilland DH.106 Comet, and the UK’s rapid deployment of thalidomide.

In another novel, the combination of time travel with hapless nincompoopery could have led to zany hijinks. Unfortunately for aspiring historian Kivrin Engle, she is not a character in madcap comedy. She’s found herself in a tragedy.

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All Your Dreams of The Future

We Are Legion (We Are Bob)  (Bobiverse, volume 1)

By Dennis E. Taylor  

23 Nov, 2021

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4 comments

We Are Legion (We Are Bob) is the first volume in Dennis E. Taylor’s Bobiverse hard science fiction series. 

Having made a bundle selling his company, InterGator Software, Bob Johansson arranges for his head to be cryogenically preserved in the event of his untimely death. This proves incredibly prudent because having signed the contract, he is almost immediately struck and killed by truck-kun.

One hundred and seventeen years later, Bob regains consciousness. At least, an artificial intelligence that thinks of itself as Bob is activated by researcher Dr. Landers.

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Fairy Tale

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

By Susanna Clarke  

18 Nov, 2021

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0 comments

Susanna Clarke’s 2004 Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is a stand-alone historical fantasy novel1.

In 1806, John Segundus raises a question that many in York’s society of magicians would prefer not to have been asked. Once the North was dominated by the Raven King, whose sorcery is the stuff of legend. Why, then, is there no more magic done in England? 

York’s magicians being theoretical2 rather than practical, some among them feel the question makes as much sense as expecting astronomers to rearrange the stars. In fact, Segundus’ question is incorrect but not for that reason. In fact, there remains at least one practical magician in England: wealthy, antisocial, arrogant Gilbert Norrell. 

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Running With the Shadows of the Night

Bride of the Rat God  (Bride of the Rat God, volume 1)

By Barbara Hambly  

11 Nov, 2021

Special Requests

7 comments

1994’s Bride of the Rat God is the first book in Barbara Hambly’s Bride of the Rat God series. 

Widowed during the Great War and shunned by her surviving relatives for the unforgivable sin of marrying a Jew, Norah is grateful to her movie-star sister-in-law Chrysanda Flamande for rescuing Norah from impoverished servitude in the UK. Norah’s role is to be the responsible person while her sister-in-law enjoys a flurry of cocaine, booze, wild parties, and super-long work days that would inspire coal miners to go on strike. Not only is Chrysanda nicer than Norah’s old boss, but Hollywood’s climate is nicer than Britain’s.

Shame about the curse.


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Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

Feast of Souls  (Magister Trilogy, volume 1)

By C. S. Friedman  

9 Nov, 2021

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0 comments

2007’s Feast of Souls is the first volume in C. S. Friedman’s Magister Trilogy.

The reality of magic is this: magic consumes life force. To practice magic means shortening one’s lifespan. Consequently, prudent witches use their magic judiciously, knowing that each spell brings them closer to a premature death. Magisters have what they feel is a better solution: they draw magic from their so-called consorts. Magisters can cast as much magic as they like, confident that while someone is going to die, it won’t be them. Even better, the link between magister and consort is world-spanning and apparently random, so magisters hardly ever know their living batteries. 

Conscious that non-magisters would likely be displeased if they knew how magister magic is fueled, magisters keep the magister-consort phenomenon secret. Instead, they explain away consort deaths as a mysterious wasting disease. 

Andovan’s terminal case of wasting is a problem. Andovan’s father King Danton has the determination, wealth, and power to ask questions about wasting that magisters very much want not to be asked.

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