Dolphin Island – Arthur C. Clarke

A young boy, unhappy living with his aunt, investigates a long-haul hovership, only to find himself adrift in the deep ocean. When dolphins rescue him, his life changes. I give Arthur C. Clarke credit for introducing me, many decades back, to SF characters who were truly three-dimensional. He brings that same sympathy to bear in Dolphin Island. Unfortunately, the rest of the story doesn’t hold up as well, even for a young adult story. While…

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Wheel of the Infinite – Martha Wells

Maskelle was once the Voice of the Adversary – the only Ancestor that never took human form. Now, she’s returning from exile at the command of the Celestial One to help remake the Wheel of the Infinite – and deal with a problem that risks the existence of the entire world. I give Martha Wells credit for developing a very different world here. This is not your standard medieval fantasy, nor quite your less-standard Eastern…

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Beyond the Farthest Star – Edgar Rice Burroughs

Shot through the heart, his fighter plane falling to certain death, a man suddenly finds himself on the distant world of Poloda – 500,000 light years away. With not one word of the language, in a world at war, he nonetheless finds himself a place among the brave citizens of Unis. It’s a bit of a surprise to find Edgar Rice Burroughs conversant with calculation of light years. There’s no good reason he shouldn’t be,…

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The Silver Horse – Elizabeth A. Lynn

Susannah’s brother, Niall, got a painted silver horse for his birthday. His mother told him that if he didn’t name it, it would go to the Land of Runaway Toys. That night, they all find themselves in the Land, and Susannah must rescue Niall before dawn. While she’s not exactly unknown, I consider Elizabeth A. Lynn to be a sadly under-appreciated author. I admit that it’s largely on the basis of her dark novel, The…

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The Grace of Kings – Ken Liu

Dandelion Dynasty #1 Emperor Mapidere united the various countries of Dara, but his grandiose ways have sewn the seeds of rebellion. The elements for it all fall in place through chicanery and happenstance, but once the revolution has started, the tides change with every new occurrence, and power shifts unpredictably. I’m a big admirer of Ken Liu. His short fiction is extraordinary, and he’s done wonders to bring Chinese speculative fiction to an English-speaking audience.…

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The Death of Nnanji – Dave Duncan

Seventh Sword #4 Wallie Smith, reincarnated as Shonsu of the Seventh Sword, is now the deputy head of a widespread Tryst of peace. When his principal Nnanji is attacked and badly injured, the entire Tryst risks coming apart unless Wallie can find a clever solution. The Seventh Sword was Dave Duncan’s first fantasy trilogy, and not a particularly good one. With The Death of Nnanji, he revisits the world with a great deal more authorial…

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