Grimdark fantasy SF that makes the works of Abercrombie and Morgan seem like happy optimistic children’s fiction.

This is the second book in The Broken Earth series and it picks up right after the first book, The Fifth Season, ends. The Earth is still broken. Everyone is still going to die. And things continue to get worse.

The two main characters, Essun and Nassun, mother and daughter, both gifted with powers that make them an outcasts and slaves. They’ve been separated by circumstances and their struggles form the core of the book.

Everyone is so damaged. It’s heartbreaking. Nassun, a young girl, is warped and broken by seeing her father standing over the corpse of her younger brother. He was killed by their father when the father realized that his son had the powers to shape rocks. Nassun, in an effort to survive, travels with her father, manipulating him, developing her powers. Trying to stay alive. Expecting to die. Even when she finds sanctuary among others like herself, even when she becomes powerful in her abilities to shape forces both geological and genetic, she still knows that she will die soon. She knows that at any moment she will be killed. And all around her, the world ends.

Essun, her mother, is similarly damaged by her various pasts. She’s found refuge, temporary refuge, in an underground town. It seems nice and unbelievably, it’s run by a woman who is a member of the same slave caste as she it. But Essun knows that she can’t trust any one there, she knows that she can’t trust the situation to remain safe and peaceful. She knows that the pogrom against her and her kind is inevitable. Her past has taught her that any refuge is temporary and to be prepared for the worst. Happiness is a lie both malign and blind for Essun.

She similarly distrusts those who come to her and tell her that she can save the world. All she has to do is trust them and develop her powers. All she has to do is believe them. And she has no trust left.

Saving the world. It brings up a question I have. Why do the writers of SF fantasy hate the Moon? Richard Morgan in his Dark series turns the Moon into an orbital ring. In this series, Jemisin has the moon flung away and forgotten. What’s up with the lunar hate, guys? Sheesh.

Saving the world also brings up one minor problem I have with the book. In the course of the story, it’s revealed that Essun might have the power to save the world, to stop, even reverse the end of the world. Reading this, it struck me as cliche. It’s just a variant on the hidden scullery boy who can defeat the Evil Dark Lord. In any other fantasy series, I would have just accepted this and moved on. But Jemisin is such a good author that this plot element was especially jarring. It’s the only fly in the ointment. And I trust her that she’ll come up with some interesting twist on the concept.

I grew up in the 80s, so I grew up knowing, in my bones, that the world was going to end in a nuclear war. Which means I read a metric fuck-ton of post-apocalypse fiction. The stuff was everywhere in those days: Horseclans, the Survivalist, Deathlands, that Dean Ing series, Damnation Alley, Swan’s Song, and there are lots more that I’m forgetting. The Obelisk Gate puts them all in the shade, shows them up for the happy clappy optimistic lies that they were. In The Obelisk Gate, for example, cannibalism is inevitable and rationally discussed.

This is a sad book, filled with people just trying to survive the end of the world, just trying to survive for just a little longer. No heroes (and in those other post-apocalypse books, there were always heroes – usually white guys, of course), just people trying to survive amid unremitting horror as the planet dies and other people try to kill them.

Anyway. This is a fantastic book. Very well written. Incredibly grim. I am looking forward to the rest of the books in the series.


This book is pure pulp (this is a compliment, one of my highest). Just look at these words.

The Path Incarnadine, a haemovore death cult that single handedly defended the Carfax Hive on the cardinal world of Aspiratyne from the predations of the dark eldar Fell Witch and her World-Scourgers.

Yes, it’s goofy. But they take place in a goofy world. Because, after all, Atlas Infernal is a Warhammer 40,000 novel, a novel that takes place in a grim future where there is only war. Where the forces of the undying God-Emperor fight ceasely against the forces of Ruinous Chaos. Where fearless, and more or less insane, Inquisitors enforce the Imperial theology against monsters such as

Gallkor-Teth the Decimate

Inquisitor Bronislaw Czevak is one such member of the Inquisition. Very old and very fierce in his pursuit of forbidden knowledge that he needs to fight the Chaos Lord Ahzek Ahriman. Forbidden knowledge that brings him perilously close to the edge of heresy and damnation. Forbidden knowledge that leads him to the Eldar (space elves. there are also space orks. like I said, pure pulp.) and their Black Library.

the Palatyne Sceptoclasm

In his quest, he’s aided by Interrogator Raimus Klute, a TechnoMarine, a blind warp-seer with her pet demon (another cute bit of the Warhammer 40K universe is that in order for a spaceship to travel faster than light, it has to go through Hell, quite literally. Warp space is a hell dimension and only a spaceship’s shields keep it from being destroyed by demons every time it goes FTL), and a group of Savlar Chem-Dogs, drugged out gun bunnies from a penal battalion.

the Flesh Mines of Marriar

It’s a quest story, in its bones. Czevak is searching for pieces of the Demon Lord Mammoshad before Ahriman finds them all, puts them together, and raises the demon lord to fight for Chaos. The group, on the spaceship Malescaythe, travel from planet to planet. They visit a hive city that’s fallen to the forces of Chaos and whose inhabitants have become feral cannibals. There’s an extensive shoot out as they’re discovered raiding the treasure vaults of a Space Marine chapter. Remember, this is still a Warhammer novel and so there’s a lot of shooty-shooty.

Umbragg of the Brazen Flesh and the Rage Lords of Taurm

There are several different kinds of Warhammer 40K novels. Most of them involve the very violent adventures of the Space Marines (genetically engineered giant humans with two hearts and really big armor. Only male Space Marines. The roots of Warhammer 40K lie in the 70s and the gender assumptions of that time and of the gaming industry of that time still are a part of this fictional universe.). Other novels are about various units of the Imperial Guards army, humans fighting in the war that never ends on the ground or in space. The ones that I like the most are those that involve the Inquisition. In those, especially the ones written by Dan Abnett about the Inquisitors Eisenhorn and Ravenor, the reader gets a more human view of Imperial civil society, a street level view of how regular people live, rather than huge ultra-violence of the Space Marines or the never ending battlefields and military life of the Guards.

the sinister shapes of a grimoire-diabolicus of True Names, a hexagrammic stamphammer, a stasis-casked astramoebic warp infestation

This is one of my favorite Warhammer novels. I really like the Gaunt’s Ghosts series as well as the Eisenhorn and Ravenor books, but the sheer baroque pulpiness that Rob Sanders has achieved in Atlas Infernal is very appealing. In the vast number of Warhammer novels, this one stands out.

The Seven Star Hegemony, the Vilo Rouge Twist Cleansings and the Decromunda Hive Holocaust


Carve The Sky is a 1991 science fiction novel by Alexander Jablokov starring Anton Lindgren (Seneschal to George Harvey Westerkamp, Lord Monboddo, Interrogator of Boston, Colonel Division of External Security {Westerkamp wears a lot of hats}) and Vanessa Karageorge (Ordinary Fellow of the Academia Sapientae). Hat tip to Movies With Mikey.

The plot of the novel revolves around the search for a famous and skilled sculptor who’s supposed to have been dead for a couple of years. A new piece by him has appeared and it contains a very special extra-terrestrial mineral. A mineral that might contain the secret to space travel. The Union of Nations wants the mineral. The Technic Alliance of the outer planets and satellites wants it. And nobody knows what the Academia Sapientae wants, but they’re involved. The threat of the Second Solar War looms. It’s a Macguffin hunt. It’s a tour novel.

But what makes this novel special is that it’s so wonderfully decadent, filled with delightful touches. Because of weapons satellites left over from the Orthodox Empire, there’s no high speed travel on Earth. No jets or anything like that. All long distance travel is done by zeppelin and train. A slow decadent pace for a book that goes from Boston to the Pamir Mountains via an art gallery in Paris and a monastery in Istanbul and then to the Asteroid Belt via a stop on the moon for more art and a boar hunt.

It’s on the Moon, in the city of Rutherford which rests in the Crater Clavius, where Jablokov sets the scene that truly informs the reader that this isn’t a usual SF novel. The scene is a wild animal hunt. On the Moon. A regular event where the Justice of Clavius, a member of the nobility, releases a flood of wild animals in the streets and forests that stretch below the surface of the Moon. Boar, deer, gazelles, pronghorn antelopes. All of them being hunted with spears and bows by the citizens. On the Moon.

Jablokov does something that I greatly admire on the level of technique. Many of the chapters start with extracts from books, reports, catalogues, tourist guides. The extracts give a little background to the chapter: lunar culture, Anatolian politics, cult history, best place to get noodles in the Asteroid Belt. This is a very artful way to avoid info-dumps. So artful, that I’m going to steal it for my next book.

Jablokov has written several other very good SF novels. River of Dust takes place in the same universe as Carve The Sky, some of the same characters but younger. Same flavor. Nimbus is a near future SF novel informed by the chaos of the post-Soviet 90s. There’s a very cute bit in Nimbus of jazz playing LARPers who pretend to be living in a world where rock and roll never happened. It’s a typically Jablokovian grace note. He’s a very good writer who, as far as I can tell, fell victim to the collapse of the mid-list. And we readers are the poorer for it.

I highly recommend Carve The Sky. A very good SF novel written with imagination and verve.

Next week… Well, next week, I give in and review a Warhammer 40K novel. That’s right, next week is all shooty-shooty stabby-stabby all the time.


This is a horror novel.

This is a book about a horror lurking in the heart of the 20th century. Not “the” horror. Just “a” horror. Because that’s just how bad the 20th century was.

Curzio Malaparte was born Kurt Eric Suckert and he was a fascist right from the beginning of fascism. Huge admirer of Mussolini. Such a huge admirer that Mussolini had him thrown in jail for being such an extreme fascist. Due to his contacts among both the Italian nobility and the Italian government, he was released but sent into a kind of exile as a journalist covering the Eastern Front for Corriere della Sera, the Milan daily newspaper. This book comes out of what he saw during World War 2.

Is this book fiction?

Is this book non-fiction?

Does it fucking matter?

But, yeah, fuck Stephen King. Fuck Thomas Liggotti. Fuck Caitlin Kiernan. They write the best horror novels/stories but when I want a real horror story, I read Kaputt.

For real horror, I read the part of this book that’s about the dinner with Reichminister Frank, Governor General and self proclaimed king of Poland, his wife, and assorted hangers-on in the Imperial Palace in Wroclaw, Poland. A scene of horror as painted by Grosz, as Malaparte says. Power and death, pitiless and fully in the hands of imbecilic boors with grease on their lips. Grease from the fatty foods that are displayed on the table, each course brought out from the kitchen and displayed. And the true skeleton at the feast, the escapee from the House of Usher, the figure that makes Malaparte feel fear rather than contempt. The Gestapo officer at the far end of the table. That’s horror. That’s scary. That’s horrific. That’s really good writing.

And I read the part about the horses frozen into Lake Lagoda while trying to escape a Finnish attack on a Soviet artillery column. The horses look like hell’s own carousel. That’s what I go to when I want really good writing.

The visit to the Warsaw ghetto. The venison dinner afterwards with officials of the Third Reich. Point. Counterpoint. The afternoon spent with Prince Eugene of Sweden and the horses of Tivoli and the memories of the Italian nobility he has known. The memories of war in the Ukraine and the plain of dead men and dead machines. Point. Counterpoint.

That’s the form of the book. He meets some noble that he knows: a count, a Hohenzollern princess. They greet him by name. They talk about like during wartime. And then he tells them a story. A story about what he’s seen. A horror story.

The surreal drinking party in Finland, the suicidal German soldiers, the Alpenjaegers, who have been driven mad by the endless forests of Lapland, and Himmler naked in a sauna.

What they see when they open the freight train car door in Iasi, Romania. Why there’s only a baby left alive in that freight car. Why is it a snide star-fucker Italian wannabe aristo who brings us these images, these truths? The heart of the 20th century.

This book ends with the Boschian scenes in the caverns underneath Naples where people have gathered to wait out the Allied bombing of the city. The deformed driven from the refuge of their homes, a mob of monsters. The soup kitchens, the births, the prayers, all the while bombs drop on to the city above.

Malaparte is the master of the ironic turn of phrase. The armor of cynicism, he pulls it close around himself.

Read this book. Read Nixonland. And you’ll start drinking as much as I do to make the 20th century hurt as little as possible.

Kadath by John Coulthart
Kadath by John Coulthart

Dreams are dangerous.

Dreams are especially dangerous when they are shared, when you walk through the dreamer’s internal visions that are unspooling behind their eyelids. Michael Cisco has shared one of his dreams with us. A fever dream of The Divinity Student and what happens to him the city of San Veneficio. What he does in San Veneficio.

The Divinity Student is taking a break from his studies at The Seminary. He’s taking a walk in the rain and he climbs a hill. Where he’s struck by lightning. Killed. Fried. This happens on the first page.

They cut him open. They toss out his cooked innards. They stuff him with pages. With text. With words. Words become his core. Words bring him back to life.

And words become his mission.

He is sent to the city, to San Veneficio. The city in the desert. The city where giant monitor lizards surround it at night, their eyes reflecting the lights of city. The city where the heat presses down on the streets and plazas and where demons live in the trees.

In San Veneficio, he is trained to retrieve memories from the dead. He starts with dead animals, works his way up to humans. He’s taught this skill because of the Catalog of Unknown Words.

The Catalog lists the words used in the Eclogue, the dialogues between the shepherds of men. These dialogues are the substance of Creation, according to the Seminary Priest who gives the Student his mission.

The Divinity becomes a Mad Scientist, creating machinery to extract the memories from the dead brains of the scholars who created the Catalogue in the first place. To extract the words. He becomes lost in memories, dreams, hallucinations. He lives on formaldehyde.

Every Mad Scientist needs an Igor. The Divinity Student has Teo Desden, the butcher who dreams of the day when he’s the one getting chopped apart on his counters. Desden with his sharpened knives and cleavers. Desden who makes the bodies disappear.

But the Seminary doesn’t know what it has resurrected. The Student goes rogue, flooded with the power and dreams taken from the brains of dead men.

Phantasmagoria. Visions. Dreams. Cisco evokes the Student’s shifting internal landscape with immaculate skill. The read feels how the membrane of reality trembles around the Student as he walks along the street of San Veneficio, as the buildings stare down in dumb regard. And outside the walls, the monitor lizards look on with reflective eyes. Knowing more than they let on.

The outbreaks of superpowers that contort the Student’s body, fling him dancing and leaping over the roofs of the city.

Come on. Share this dream. Read just a page. Just one. It won’t hurt.

Next up: Kaputt by Curzio Malaparte.

injection cover

Review Soundtrack:  Some people are only alive because it’s illegal to kill them. by  Nomadic War Machine from the I have a gun. Give me all the money in the register. CD. Bandcamp.

injection sex ghostThe Case of the Elderly Ghost Sexer

It’s all going to be about sandwiches, in the end, I just know it.injection sandwich01

Volume 2 starts with the discovery of artisanal human ham in a sandwich. A clue that leads to alchemical criminal organizations, vaginal ectoplasm, and the learning curve of a non-human artificial intelligence that was injected into the Internet in order to stop the future from being boring.

Which is to say, Warren Ellis has done it again. He’s put words together in combinations that make me wish for a precisely targeted neurological event that would leave me unable to ever write again. He’s so very fucking good at what he does.injection words

In the first volume of Injection five people get together under the aegis of a shadowy corporate think tank to run scenarios about the future and to figure out what might be coming down the pike. Marie (anthropologist), Simeon (spy), Vivek (detective), Brigid (hacker), and Robin (cunning man {wizard}). They discover, through all the scenarios that they run, that future will be a flat line – no more massive rate of change, no advancement. They decide that is unacceptable. They decide to do something about it. Each of them throws something into the pot. And the Injection is born.

The first volume introduced the characters, showed how the Injection came to be and what it’s capable of, Wayland the Smith is summoned, and someone is skinned alive. The stakes are laid out, in other words.

This volume focuses primarily on Vivek. Warren Ellis has said that this a Sherlock Holmes story and Vivek is taken directly from that mold. Vivek is very wealthy and even smarter and lives high above New York City. John Van Der Zee, a serious financial guy, comes to Vivek with a problem. Someone has stolen a photograph of his dead mistress. And without that photograph, her ghost, the ghost of the dead mistress, no longer appears and has sex with Ven Der Zee. He really wants the photo back. When a piece of Van Der Zee’s son is found in Vivek’s sandwich, Vivek decides to take the case. After all, someone has just fucked with his sandwich!injection sandwich02

It’s a fast paced story, flashbacks of Vivek’s education (mental, physical,… sexual) intertwine with the progress in the case (homicidal clerk at the Brooklyn artisinal deli, interrogations, the final reveal in the study – a classic ending).

In past works, Ellis has stuck to a very formal page structure: only a four panel grid in one book, only a nine panel grid in another. In Injection, he plays it a lot looser, a mix of square panels and horizontal panels. His craft is so polished that each page rewards careful study as to why each specific layout was chosen and what each does for the story beats. How he makes each page both an encapsulated unit. How he gets you to turn the page.

The book ends with the lead in for the next volume. Robin has been pressured by everyone around him, including the ghosts of his mother and his sister, to get a government job. The hereditary job of the his family. Ghost Breaker for Her Majesty’s Government. He bows to the pressure. Reports to The Breaker’s Yard. He now has power. This isn’t going to end well.

I can’t wait for the next volume. Which Ellis has said is a Doctor Who story. Starring Brigid. So we’ll get the black Doctor we’ve always wanted.

Highest recommendation.injection dongzilla

Next up: The Divinity Student by Michael Cisco.

ford cover

This is a collection of a zine created, written, arted, put together by Laura Oldfield Ford that chronicles her travels through and stories about London 2005 – 2009 with memory jaunts back to the 80s and 90s and up to the dystopian future of 2013.

In a way, reading it reminded me of reading the Beverly Cleary books as a kid. The state and place of my fucked up childhood made me approach those books with the eye of an amateur anthropologist. “Tell me of these things called suburbs. Show me how children have neighborhood friends.” In the case of Savage Messiah, I’m a dweller in the post-urban ahistorical sprawl of Los Angeles. So Oldfield shows me what it’s like to live and move in an old, layered, compact city. A city where you can move around on foot and discover all the hidden ways, the forgotten paths, the overgrown lots in the middle of one of the world’s modern capitals.

She stands at the opposite psychogeographical pole from Iain Sinclair, the other chronicler of the streets of London. He’s established, an old guy. He’s got books, columns, appearances in documentaries. He’s a face. Oldfield’s just a young person wandering the streets and paths of London, from squat to rave to demo to couch. And always watched by the cameras and the cops and the cops with cameras. The pall of surveillance and power drapes her every movement and it’s a testament to her skills as a flaneuse that she can sometimes find the hidden and forgotten ways and places to take her out from underneath that oppression. She has nothing but the precarity of all those her age.

Using nothing more than collaged photos, sketches, and text laid out skewed in chunks over the images, she evokes her London with a skill that makes the reader feels the streets, the heat, fugged out pubs, the rush of the drugs coming on as the DJ drops the beat.ford03

I first ran across a mention of this collection in Greil Marcus’ Rock and Roll Top Ten (and I pay special attention to anything he says, one of the most influential writers in my life), and the Mark Fisher wrote about Laura Oldfield Ford and Savage Messiah in his collection, Ghosts Of My Life.

Overgrown old brick buildings, canals, the hidden, unknown, forgotten parts of London. The parts that have avoided the commercial neoliberal rebuilding of London into a plastic city. And walking, always walking (again, no one walks in LA). A city revealing its secrets to the pedestrian, the pedestrian who’s fleeing the fears and pressures of the precarious life.

Ballardian collages of parking lots, brutalist tower blocks, and courtyards. Mainly empty. She chooses her shots so that there are very few or no people on the streets, on the stairs, on the estates, in the hallways, in the doorways. The presence of people come from the sketched portraits pasted, taped, glued over the photos. Laying claim to the abandoned territory. Ghosts.

Alleys, back streets, the gaps in the fences, all the hidden ways known to only the few. All illuminated in the orange sodium glare of the streetlights, the glowing urban night sky (tuned to a dead channel? loglo?).

And the trees. And the bushes. And the vines. The lushness of these hidden places, lush and green and growing even in the black and white photos. Another ford01difference between here and there. Urban jungle vs desert sprawl. Again, showing me different ways, places that people live.

The pictures and sketches frame stories of the lives in these places. People going from pub to apartment to party. Bad decisions made in bad boozers because there are no good decisions to be made. But at least those bad decisions give a person a momentary freedom. People trying to live their lives, trying to figure out how to live their lives, bashing up against the bars.

Stories of the past. Past struggles: riots, demonstrations, all in the past. Past events: raves, gatherings, parties, industrial gigs blasting noise out of the all important and necessary sound systems, speaker stacks. The reverberations still echo in the streets, in the abandoned buildings, in the estate courtyards where the ghost noises bounce off the concrete buildings.

Use Savage Messiah as a map. Ford’s the cartographer making the map become the territory because she brings it to life. Keeps the city alive in our minds. She makes sure that this city and these people who live in it will never die because they’ll never be forgotten.
Next up: Injection Vol. 2 by Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, Jordie Bellaire.


Brooke and Sugar, two brothers, more than brothers, a little different than brothers, are killers for hire.

Casual violence and the intimations of a ghost story when the young nameless boy with the blank palms appears. And then things get horrific.

Brooke and Sugar are captured, separated. Tragedy results. Death. Mindless violence. The two brothers never see each other again. The death of one of them happens at a distance, at the hands of someone who is trying to do good and completely misunderstands the situation.

The violence is sudden. The cannibal is awful. And Sugar’s pregnancy and delivery is surreal. And there is, of course, the high comedy of the high tension scenes of violence.

It’s a western so the temptation is to compare it to Blood Meridian. Amoral monsters wandering around dispensing offhand brutal violence, the urge to invoke St. Cormac is understandable. But the two, while possessing certain genetics in common, are dissimilar enough that Haints Stay can be enjoyed on its own merits. Winnette’s a good writer. And he’s got his own way of telling a story.

Short, sharp sentences, rather than the rolling, ornate utterances of Blood Meridian.

Very stylized dialogue. The two children, orphaned by violence and massacre, don’t really talk as real children would. It seems like that’s a requirement for Westerns, very stylized dialogue. Even Deadwood was that way. More of the influence of St. Cormac on the entire genre, I suppose.

An abrupt ending that echos with the tragedies to come.

Every bit of happiness in the book contains sadness or evil. The only certainty is that there will be violence to come.

A short book and a very good one. Very highly recommended.
Next up: Savage Messiah by Laura Oldfield Ford



Yoon Ha Lee has made a name for himself with such short stories as Snakes  and Falcon-And-Sparrows and The Knight of Chains, The Deuce of Swords. Ninefox Gambit is his first novel.

It’s military SF, which (stating my biases upfront) was a bit disappointing, since the genre is inherently conservative one within the infinite possibilities of science fiction.

The Hexarchate (which used to be the Heptarchate before the Liozh were declared heretics and destroyed) is a standard authoritarian interstellar government that keeps its power through the enforcement of calendrical and religious protocols. All conquered peoples are forced to follow the same date and time systems. Control at the level of basic societal assumptions.

The Hex in the Hexarchate refers to the castes in the system: Kel, Shuos, Nihrai, Rahal, Andan, and the last one that starts with a V (Vordai? Sorry, bad note taking while reading). The lead character in the book is Captain Kel Cheris. She’s a genius at math and has been very successful in the ranks of the Kel, the Hexarchate’s military caste. Her success has brought her to the attention of the leaders of the Hexarchate who are dealing with an outbreak of heresy that has taken over the Fortress of Scattered Needles. When asked what weapon she will need to destroy the heretics and take the Fortress, she answers that she needs the insane traitor General Shuos Jedao. Jedao has been on ice for the last 400 years, too traitorous and insane to keep alive, too useful to kill. He never lost a battle, you see. The Hexarchate responds with a long ooooookayyyyy… and gives Cheris what she wants.

Cheris goes into battle with Jedao welded to her shadow, offering her advice and strategy in her mind. Which is a problem for Cheris when she realizes that Jedao is playing a very long game. A game of vengeance. An extremely long gambit.  

Lee uses his imagination best in this novel when it comes to weapon design. Amputation guns. Threshold winnowers. Carrion bombs which leave behind nothing but shards of personality traits and memories that can be ingested. Cannons both erasure and dire. Infantry formations that bring on hive mind states and also act as mathematical armor for the entire formation. Military SF, yes, but not your standard shooty-shooty (yes, Warhammer 40K, I’m looking at you).

There’s a lot of talking in this novel. But Lee is a skilled writer and is able to keep the scenes tension filled and moving along. It’s never a boring novel.

One of the weakness of the book is that there isn’t a great sense of place. A variety of command centers and hallways, it seemed.

Reminded me a lot of Anne Leckie’s Imperial Radch series, down to gloves as civilizational signifier and AIs that are secretly helpful to those who they like.

It’s almost like a fantasy novel (cue: any sufficiently advanced tech = magic). Sword and sorcery overlay of the science fiction elements. This came to mind when I read the place names: Fortress of the Scattered Needles, the Entangled March, the Citadel of Eyes.

I’m not saying Ninefox Gambit is a bad novel. It’s imaginative. Read it if you can get it from a library or torrent. I’m going to read the next one in the series. I was just hoping for the pure quill weirdness that Lee showed in his short stories.
Next Review: Haints Stay by Colin Winnette


Adam Minter’s dad was a scrap dealer. His grandfather and grandmother ran a junkyard. It’s in his blood. And in this fantastic book, he lays out the networks of the global 21st century junk trade.
If you have any interest in how goods move around the world, in the hidden drivers of world commerce, any interest in the growth of China, this book is invaluable.
In one part of the book, Adam follows around a Chinese scrap buyer who’s traveling throughout the US, going from scrap yard to scrap yard, buying containers of metal and shipping them back to China. Based on what the buyer and his partner pay for the scrap, the global price of copper feels it, given how many containers of copper scrap, bales of Christmas tree light wire, are shipped back to China.
Another interesting factoid that I gleaned from book had to do with the cost of shipping. Because of the trade imbalance between China and the US, shipping companies run the risk of having ships sail partially empty from the US to China. So those companies give a really steep discount to anyone shipping bulk from the US to China. This works in the scrap dealers’ favor.
This is also the story of the innovators and entrepreneurs on both sides of the Pacific who are coming up with new ways, new ideas, new machines to sort through the scrap in order to make as much money as possible from things that have been thrown away.
A well-written and fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of the world economy.
Highest recommendation.