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review 2016-08-01 00:06
Himeyuka & Rozione's Story (manga) by Sumomo Yumeka, translation by Kaori Inoue
Himeyuka and Rozione's Story - Created by Sumomo Yumeka

I found this in the clearance section during one of my used book shopping trips. The cover art reminded me of Yun Kouga, although the interior art wasn't quite as easy to follow as I remember Kouga's art being.

This was an anthology of four of Sumomo Yumeka's shorter works. I liked the second story the most, then the first story. The third story was passable, while the final story was confusing garbage. Unfortunately, the final story took up almost half of the volume.

Himeyuka & Rozione's Story:

Himeyuka, a 17-year-old girl, wants nothing more than to be an independent adult. In her mind, that means leaving behind everything from her childhood. Her parents' job transfer gives her to opportunity to live in a place of her own, and she impatiently rejects the childhood items and toys that her mother keeps shipping her. However, strange scribblings all over her building, plus a mysterious little boy named Rozione who declares himself hers, prompt Himeyuka to rethink her determination to completely reject her childhood.

Rozione's identity became obvious fairly quickly, but I still enjoyed this story – it was surprisingly sweet. The two pages devoted to Rozione kissing Himeyuka made me a bit uncomfortable, though. Maybe Yumeka didn't mean anything more by it than the bit where Rozione hugged Himeyuka, but it felt more intimate than that.

Yamamoto, Himeyuka's classmate who constantly kept candy in his pocket, stood out so much that I thought he'd be a recurring character tying the whole volume together. However, none of the rest of the stories had anything in common. Yamamoto was just a strange guy Himeyuka happened to know.

The Princess of Kikouya in District 1:

An is the daughter of the head of a yakuza family. Now that her father has passed away, her family is urging her to go through with an arranged marriage to a member of another yakuza family. She plans to do her duty, but first she has to bring herself to say a proper goodbye to Takeru, a kind guy she met at a ramen shop.

The artwork wasn't anything special, and the story was very cliched, but I loved it anyway. It was such a sweet little romance, very fluffy.

My Very Own Shalala:

A half-witch, half-human girl (?) named Shalala travels to our world with her little companion, Jirou. Because of her half-human ancestry, Shalala's magic is weak. If she wants to become stronger, she has to acquire the tears of the first human boy she sees (no explanation why, that's just how things are). That boy happens to be a loner named Ueno. However, Shalala discovers that Ueno's tears cost more than she may be willing to pay.

All the witch stuff looked like it came straight out of a children's series. Stereotypical Halloween-y witch costume, a ridiculous broom – the only thing missing was an adorable animal familiar of some sort. Jirou was supposedly a bat but looked like a tiny stereotypical “good looking demon” character, so he didn't really count.

The story itself was so-so. Again, pretty stereotypical. About as fluffy as the other stories in this volume, but it didn't grab me as much.

I put a question mark after Shalala's gender, because it occurred to me that I didn't actually know for sure that she was in fact a “she.” Her hair was long and she was wearing a skirt, but I don't think anyone ever referred to her using a particular pronoun, her body type could have worked for either gender, and she seemed just as comfortable assuming a human male form as she was in her original form.

Robot:

It's the future, and for some reason humanity has opted to no longer reproduce, but rather continue on via cloning. This story focuses exclusively on a little “family” composed of two androids and an elderly human. They go out for cake, the human dies, and then everything apparently starts over when a younger version of the human joins the androids again.

When I saw the title of this story, I got excited. The execution was a complete and utter mess, however. I have no idea whether the synopsis I wrote was correct, and I honestly don't understand how or why this world worked the way it did. Things didn't make sense from one page to the next, I wasn't always sure who was thinking or saying things, and I didn't understand why things were happening the way they were. The beginning of the story seemed to imply that the elderly human was being continuously re-cloned to keep one of the robots from destroying the world (because, to do that, he'd have to destroy his favorite human too), but the story was told in such a confusing way that I'm not even sure about that little detail.

Extras:

One full-color illustration, a page of translator's notes, a two-page afterword by Sumomo Yumeka, plus a note on Japanese honorifics. Yumeka's notes in the afterword were short but interesting. Yumeka, too, was very critical of the final two stories in the collection. It turns out that “Robot” was the oldest one of the bunch, which maybe explains why it was such a confusing mess.

 

Rating Note:

 

As I usually do with anthologies, I struggled with rating this. I decided to rate them individually and then use the final average. "Himeyuka & Rozione's Story" got 3.5 stars, "The Princess of Kikouya in District 1" got 4 stars, "My Very Own Shalala" got 3 stars, and "Robot" got a mere half star. The final average was 2.75, which I rounded up because I really liked the first two stories.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2015-12-07 23:38
Deja Vu All Over Again
And Again: A Novel - Jessica Chiarella
Lock In - John Scalzi
Old Man's War - John Scalzi
The Age of Miracles - Karen Thompson Walker

And Again finds a group of 4 people just as they are emerging from the first stages of an experimental medical procedure that will implant their memories into cloned, genetically perfect, replica bodies. As part of the SUBlife program that provided each person an out from terminal illness, they are required to come together for weekly group therapy sessions, and it is through these sessions, as well as each character’s commentary, that we follow their re-entry into a society that had, in some cases, already made peace with those same characters’ deaths.


And Again shares the cloned bodies—transferred memories conceit with some of John Scalzi’s books, most recently Lock In, as well as the Old Man’s War series. It shares the tweaked perspective of a relatively normal world with Age of Miracles.

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review 2015-05-21 10:49
An Editor could make this a five-star read
The Brothers Cro-Magnon - Roger Thomas Pepper

We’re all clay, created by evolution and molded by life on Earth.” – Dr. Stu Uhlig, The Brothers Cro-Magnon

 

“The tissue cut clearly shows blood vessels with strong walls. Inside the vessels there is haemolysed blood, where for the first time we have found erythrocytes. Muscle and adipose tissues are well preserved. We have also obtained very well visualised migrating cells of the lymphoid tissue, which is another great discovery. The upper part of the carcass has been eaten by animals, yet the lower part with the legs and, astonishingly, the trunk are very well preserved.” – Viktoria Egorova, chief of the Research and Clinical Diagnostic Laboratory of the Medical Clinic of North-Eastern Federal University

 

She was thrown away like trash. A simple Neanderthal woman, she was gang raped – probably by the new dominant species to come along, the Cro-Magnon. Modern man’s predecessor – and just as vicious. They finished with her, then they threw her into a crevasse where she died and froze, the sperm of her rapists frozen on her thighs. We can’t, of course, know what her name was, or if she even had one. So they called her Galine – God Has Redeemed. Her rape, her cold and lonely death, were not the last of the indignities heaped upon her. No. Bureaucracy had the dubious pleasure of heaping ignominy upon her poor corpse. They burned her. Ah well, maybe that is for the best. To be placed in a glass case and stared at by the ignorant and unwashed would perhaps have been even worse. But the last, the worst humiliation of all?

 

Some of the sperm is alive. It is viable.

And it has been used for insemination.

What could possibly go wrong?

 

Now Catherine “Corky” Mason is in Khatanga, right up near the North Pole. Quite a change from her last ten year posting in the Middle East. Which is worse? Heat exhaustion and sand in your panties, or freezing the skin off your body in 90 below with a stiff wind? Seeing as how her luggage is lost in Moscow, well, you get the picture.

 

In Khatanga at the urging of her editor at the New York Herald, Corky is theoretically on A threatened Northern spotted owl in a fresh clear-cut.vacation, but she is also there to write a story about the cloning of a perfect mammoth specimen retrieved from the Siberian ice. The actual request came from a “crazy” Russian paleontologist named Zuyev. A man who has an unhealthy interest in Corky – an interest that soon turns deadly. For Zuyev is convinced that Corky is the only sister of four very special brothers; Cro-Magnon brothers, born from the sperm of Galine’s rapists. Brothers who have a lot in common with their sadistic sperm donors. The hubris of man, the reach for glory, for fame, for ones name to carry through the centuries. But to what effect?

Cro-Magnon skeleton

Photo courtesy of Sciencephoto.com Yes, the Cro-Magnon people buried their dead.

 

The Brothers Cro-Magnon  has its pluses and minuses. I was absolutely captivated by the concepts of the story. The work on the Vindija-80 (Vi-80) sample led to the first viable steps in unraveling Neanderthal genomics. Today, the Neanderthal genome is an abstract string of billions of DNA letters stored in computer databases”. But that doesn’t mean that it will stay that way. As for the mammoth cloning? In May of 2013 scientists from the Siberian Northeastern Federal University unearthed an absolutely amazing find. On Maly Lyakhovsky Island they found the corpse of a mammoth in the permafrost. A An autopsy of the huge creature - nicknamed Buttercup - will be shown in a Channel 4 documentary later this monthcorpse which, “During excavations, the carcass oozed a dark red liquid that may have been fresh mammoth blood. In fact, the mammoth meat was reportedly fresh enough that one of the scientists took a bite of it.” The female mammoth, nicknamed Buttercup, lived about 40,000 years ago. And she was so well preserved, she actually bled.

 

So, Roger Pepper has his science pat, though a bit ahead of its time. What bothered me, what always bothers me, is the rough, very rough, editorial work. It would have been much better if the prose was tightened up, and especially if the continuity, logic and flow were handled by a good editor. It was frustrating and dragged me out of the story more than I like. Otherwise? A solid entry into the pseudo-scientific. A worthwhile read for anyone who finds the subject matter interesting.

Source: soireadthisbooktoday.com
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review 2015-04-14 13:36
Deep time and human nature
House of Suns - Alastair Reynolds

House of Suns already has plenty of reviews. I agree the most with the review from William'sBookBlog. Compared to other sci fi, this novel is set in the distant future. For me that makes it harder to identify with that setting, but a story in such a distant future does have its own charms. And it's also compensated by the fact that it's a rather good story.

 

While it's not a 5-star masterpiece, the book did contain a lot of good stuff: a good story, sci fi concepts that made me think and smile, plausible astronomical settings and characters that are good enough. I liked it more than Revelation Space and will give it a score of 4+ out of 5.

 

 

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review 2014-05-18 23:50
Review: Cloning Death [Kindle Edition]
Cloning Death - Richard McCullough

Old guy gets what he wants.... or does he?

 

Short story about an old rich guy who wants to cheat death. I won't spoil anything, but I will say that the ending was a surprise... and slightly confusing at first... so you may want to re-read the ending even if at first it seems obvious. The twist was nice and different.

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