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Book Review: The Wall of Storms by Ken Liu

11 Aug

The second volume in Ken Liu’s Dandelion Dynasty series just had its paperback release, so this felt like a good moment to review this sequel to 2015’s The Grace of Kings. If you aren’t familiar with that start to the series, you can find my review of it here, and I would not recommend starting with the sequel or reading further in this review. The plot of The Wall of Storms actually does stand rather well on its own. However, the framework of Liu’s Chinese-history inspired archipelago kingdom/culture is built in the first book and could be harder to appreciate or grasp without starting there. Continue reading

Book Review: Strange California (anthology)

4 Aug

California is a big state, and occupies an even bigger place in our imaginations, so it’s only to be expected that a collection of stories exploring what makes it so special — so strange — makes for a big book. Which is to say, a promise of value, of bang for one’s buck, is made right up front. Continue reading

Book Review: Blackthorne by Stina Leicht

2 Aug


Eledore has fallen! In the wake of the near-genocidal attack on the already plague-ridden kingdom, the remnants and survivors of the attack by the Acrasian Empire have several pressing problems. First, the Acrasians, now that they have smashed the Kingdom, consider the flinders to be easy pickings. Kainen hunted for sport, territory conquered, a proud kingdom ruined. Worse, the remaining Kainen polities, like the Waterborne Nations, and Ytlain, have to deal with this new political reality, and Eledore’s fallen status means that its people must often go cap in hand to their brethren, and suffer and bargain for what they once could ask for freely. Even more of a problem is the problem that Eledore has stood athwart for centuries and no longer can: The otherdimensional, eldritch problem of the malorum. Now that the gates are opening and malorum are coming through, the survivors of Eledore are under literal siege from this threat.

Not that the Acrasians are as well off as they might be. Yes, the great victory against the Eledorean menace has occurred. But in the wake of that victory, the local and resident nonhuman population, overt and covert, have been restive. Some have even been seeking escape from the Regnum, to get beyond the borders of a state slowly and inexorably tightening into Caesarism. Besides the high level political problems, seen only at a distance and remove, the street-level problems of life in the Regnum are multiplying. The malorum are now a looming threat on the streets of Novus Salernum itself. Continue reading

Being Here, Now: Moonshot Vol. 2 and Centering Indigeneity

31 Jul

Welcome to the latest installment of my comics review column here at Skiffy & Fanty! Every month, I use this space to shine a spotlight on SF&F comics (print comics, graphic novels, and webcomics) that I believe deserve more attention from SF&F readers.

This month, I’d like to direct your attention to the anthology Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection Volume 2. (This review contains spoilers!) Continue reading

Book Review: STEEL VICTORY and STEEL MAGIC by J.L. Gribble

28 Jul

This Sunday I featured Steel Blood for my first offering in the ‘A Book By Its Cover’ series of humorous fake reviews. I haven’t yet read this third volume in J.L. Gribble’s Steel Empires series, but I have read the first two novels, Steel Victory and Steel Magic. Seems the perfect time to write real reviews on them. Continue reading

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