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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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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Clockwork Phoenix 2 – Mike Allen

Clockwork Phoenix #2 An anthology of speculative fiction edited by Mike Allen. I didn’t care much for the first Clockwork Phoenix. While some of the stories were good, others felt forced. Overall, they all sounded similar. This second collection is more varied, though few of the stories really stand out. There’s less ‘grotesque for the sake of grotesquerie’, but more pretentious and more experimental work. At least two of the stories were thoroughly irritating in…

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Earth for Inspiration – Clifford D. Simak

Simak Complete Stories #9 A collection of mostly science fiction stories by Clifford Simak. Sadly, Earth for Inspiration is largely uninspired. With a couple of exceptions, these are not stories that will stick in your mind, and while some start well, they tend to fade toward the end. The inclusion of two of Simak’s westerns, both pleasant but formulaic, thins the quality even more. Simak wrote many of his short stories between the 30s and…

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The Long Tomorrow – Leigh Brackett

Generations after global war, the United States has banned cities, and people live in small, self-sustaining communities with limited trade. Len Colter and his cousin Esau feel constrained by the strict rules of their New Mennonite community, and eventually break away, looking for the legendary Bartorstown, said to retain knowledge of science and technology. I haven’t read a lot of Leigh Brackett – an adventure novel or two. I think of her as a solid,…

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