Jack of Shadows – Roger Zelazny

On a tidally locked planet, the two sides are protected by different shields – scientific on the sunward side, magical on the spaceward side. Notorious thief and dark lord Shadowjack, killed only to resurrect in the Dung Pits of Glyve, plots an intricate revenge, only to find that enacting it will shift the the whole world. I’m a big Zelazny fan, and books like Jack of Shadows are the reason why. It’s not a perfect…

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Soul – Tobsha Learner

At the close of the 20th century, Julia Huntington is searching for the genetic basis of serenity – more precisely, why some soldiers suffer post-traumatic stress and some don’t. In the 19th century, her ancestor is struggling to find purpose in her life. Both face difficulties in their marriages, and find solace in other men. I downloaded this free from Tor some years back. I was under the strong impression that it was SFF. I…

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This World is Taboo – Murray Leinster

Med Ship #4 Calhoun is a Med Ship man, responsible for human health across a wide swathe of space. But now he’s been called out to a sector where the Med Service screwed up, badly. With one world starving to death, and the other deathly afraid of plague, Calhoun and his alien pet and partner Murgatroyd will have to find a way to save both. As with The Mutant Weapon, another in Murray Leinster’s Med…

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Beacon 23 – Hugh Howey

A reluctant war hero sought out a posting running a remote asteroid beacon, but it turns out not to be quite as lonely as he’d hoped. Hugh Howey got his start writing episodic novels, and Beacon 23 clearly shows that heritage. That’s not necessarily an issue; I very much like Roger Zelazny’s Dilvish, the Damned, for example. Howey doesn’t pull the trick off quite so well. There’s a certain amount of repetition at the start…

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Godbody – Theodore Sturgeon

An assortment of indirectly linked residents of a small town interact with a mysterious stranger. From what I’ve read of Theodore Sturgeon’s work before, Robert Heinlein and Stephen Donaldson seemed unlikely choices for, respectively, the foreword and afterword. On dipping into the novel, however, it began to make sense. Sturgeon’s Godbody is in some ways an amalgam of Heinlein’s own two Smiths – Woodrow Wilson and Valentine Michael, and the focus on a ‘free love…

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The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Arden

A young woman in the depths of the Russian forest faces temporal and supernatural challenges, especially with respect to household spirits that few others can see. The cover of Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale caught my eye at NetGalley. A closer look suggested it wasn’t my kind of book, but then I got several e-mails from the publisher suggesting I try it. They compared Arden to Robin Hobb, and Hobb herself blurbed the…

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