James Nicoll Reviews

Home > Reviews > By Project

Reviews in Project: Special Requests (386)

Intrigue, sorcery, intrigue, swashbuckling adventure and intrigue”

The Phoenix Guards  (The Khaavren Romances, volume 1)

By Steven Brust  

10 Nov, 2014

Special Requests

0 comments

1991’s The Phoenix Guards seems to have intended as a one-off, as far as I can tell from the two about the author” pieces. Nostalgic for works in the style of Sabatini and Dumas, Brust set out to create a new work reminiscent of the French Romantics, one set in the distant past of his on-going Vlad Taltos series.

Read more ➤

The Whole World is Watching

Ancillary Sword  (Imperial Radch, volume 2)

By Ann Leckie  

6 Nov, 2014

Special Requests

0 comments

2014’s Ancillary Sword is a sequel to 2013’s Ancillary Justice. Ancillary Justice won the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award, the BSFA Award, the Locus Award, and the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Justice also made the Tiptree Honor List, was shortlisted for the Philip K. Dick award, and was a finalist for the Compton Crook Award for best first science fiction/fantasy/horror novel. When a debut novel sweeps awards like this, the author’s second novel will be ruthlessly examined by legions of reviewers and critics who want to see if the author can catch lightning in bottle a second time. Justice won so many awards that Sword will be subjected to particularly close attention. But no pressure! 

Read more ➤

The deep things in science are not found because they are useful; they are found because they are possible to find.”

The Making of the Atomic Bomb

By Richard Rhodes  

16 Oct, 2014

Special Requests

0 comments

I am using the wrong cover for this because for some reason I cannot seem to save a copy of the image of the cover of the 25th Edition.

I am embarrassed to admit that despite the fact I have a collection of books on the theory of nuclear weapons, this is the first time I have ever read this impressive work. Although the author occasionally interrupts the narrative with issues quite irrelevant to the origin of nuclear weapons – peculiar objections to Extinction Level Events and other side issues – there’s a lot of detail in this book and it is well worth the trouble of hunting down. 

Read more ➤

I hated this book

The Soul of the Robot

By Barrington J. Bayley  

6 Oct, 2014

Special Requests

0 comments

Although I think of Barrington J. Bayley as a charming oddity from the 1970s, I see his career actually began in the 1950s and continued into the Aughts. Still, of the sixteen Bayley novels of which I am aware, nine are from the 1970s and only three date from later than the mid-1980s. Apparently he was influential on a number of higher profile authors, all of whom will probably be happier with me if they stop reading now.

Read more ➤

Sound and fury, signifying nothing

The Powers of Light Trilogy: Treasure of Light, Redemption of Light & Abyss of Light

By Kathleen M. O’Neal  

27 Sep, 2014

Special Requests

0 comments

Kathleen O’Neal is probably better known these days as Kathleen O’Neal Gear; particularly in combination with her husband Michael, she is a prolific author, with at least 34 novels published since her debut novel, Abyss of Light, appeared in 1990. I am personally unfamiliar with the main body of her work but it appears for the most part to be an exploration of prehistorical North America, drawing on her training as an archaeologist. Have not read those books, don’t have an opinion on them.

Read more ➤

The Russians Came Knocking

The Russians Came Knocking

By K B Spangler  

11 Sep, 2014

Special Requests

0 comments

Set in the same universe as Digital Divide and Maker Space (and A Girl and Her Fed, which I have still not read), this novella offers a change of pace, eschewing the procedurals of the two Rachel Peng novels for the very sexy adventures of Josh Glassman, Deputy Director of the Office of Adaptive and Complementary Technologies, hunky cyborg media relations expert and self-declared man-whore.

Read more ➤

Digital Divide

Digital Divide  (Rachel Peng, volume 1)

By K B Spangler  

30 Aug, 2014

Special Requests

0 comments

Embarrassing confession time: from time to time people have sent me books to read in my spare time and I accept them, despite knowing I never get around to reading books in my spare time because I try hard never to have spare time. NEVER. I have had a e‑copy of A Digital Divide long enough to misplace it (I bought a new copy, along with a couple of other Spangler books) and I never got around to reading it because I am a terrible person.

Spangler is probably best known for A Girl and Her Fed, which shares a universe with this novel. As it happens, I’ve never read A Girl and her Fed so any elements that would leap out at a fan of that strip were missed by me.

Read more ➤

Search for the Star Stones

Search for the Star Stones

By Andre Norton  

28 Aug, 2014

Special Requests

0 comments

Search for the Star Stones is an omnibus of two linked Norton novels, 1968’s The Zero Stone and 1969’s Uncharted Stars. Many of Norton’s books shared an ancient universe where the history of technological civilizations began long before humans appeared and would presumably long continue once we fell into dust with the rest. While the Zacathans managed to survive through two million years, such longevity is not the usual case and most of the civilizations that rose and fell, lumped together as a misleadingly unitary term Forerunner”, are known only through enigmatic relics.

Read more ➤

Prince of the Godborn, The Children of the Wind, The Dead Kingdom, & The Seventh Gate

Seven Citadels Quartet

By Geraldine Harris  

12 Aug, 2014

Special Requests

0 comments

The Seven Citadels quartet is composed of the books Prince of the Godborn, The Children of the Wind, The Dead Kingdom, & The Seventh Gate and was originally published in the early 1980s.

I dithered about whether to do these as four stand-alone reviews or one but while each book works on its own, I read them all back to back and however I happen to have read something the first time is obviously the best way to have done it. Except for how I read Princess Bride, which involved having my left hand crushed under a rock; I don’t recommend that at all.

Read more ➤