Rocket Girls — Hōsuke Nojiri

Cover of Rocket Girls

Rocket Girls/Rocket Girls: The Last Planet
Hōsuke Nojiri
214/250 pages
published in 1995/1996

Morita Yukari came to the Solomons Islands to look for her long lost father, who disappeared on his honeymoon seventeen years ago, leaving behind her pregnant mother when he went out on a walk to look at the moon. She has little hope of finding him, but feels she has to try after hearing rumours of a Japanese enclave on one of the islands, which led her to Maltide. What she doesn’t know is that the enclave is the Solomon Space Association which is attempting to create a manned rocket capability but having little success with their new booster which keeps going kaboom. So they decide to go back to their older design, but that has less weight lifting capacity so the race is on to shave off as much weight as possible, including from the astronaut. Who promptly flees. Various things happens, Yukari gets caught up in it and when the SSA director sees her, he has the bright idea to turn her into an astronaut — no weight loss needed for a high school girl weighting only fifty kilos.

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My schedule at Mancunicon

What with it being barely a week before Mancunicon kicks off and the programme having been published, what better time to lists the panels I’ll be appearing on? N-not that I expect people to go to them just of course.

The Year Just Gone and The Year Ahead in Books — Saturday 11:30 – 12:30, Room 8&9 (Hilton Deansgate)

What kind of year was 2015 for the speculative genres? What were the patterns, the trends, the themes? Do the awards shortlists announced so far reflect the year as we read it? And — for a change of pace — what are we looking forward to in 2016?

Johan Anglemark (M), Martin Wisse, Niall Harrison, Nina Allan, E.G. Cosh.

Book Reviews in the Age of Amazon — Sunday 13:00 – 14:00, Deansgate 3 (Hilton Deansgate)

It has become a cliché to say that reviewing has changed in the digital era. In place of relatively few “gatekeeper” reviewers in relatively few venues, we have a commons where anyone can review if they choose – and where, increasingly, simple volume of reviews is a determinant of a book’s success. In a world where reaching the magic number of 50 Amazon reviews can have a significant impact on an author’s career, is reviewing moving from something that anyone can do to something that everyone should do, if they can? What are the implications of such a shift, for the nature of reviews, and for the relationships between readers, authors, and publishers? And who wants to be the party-pooper who brings a favourite author’s star average down?

Chris Kammerud (M), Glyn Morgan, Sarah Pinborough, Martin Wisse.

A Future Europe — Sunday 17:30 – 18:30, Room 6 (Hilton Deansgate)

By the time the Helsinki Worldcon arrives the UK may no longer be a part of Europe in a political sense, but in an artistic sense the two will no doubt continue to mingle. What European characteristics and strands can be identified in British SF? How have European ideas shaped British futures, and vice versa?

Martin Wisse (M), Anna Feruglio Dal Dan, Karo Leikomaa, Christopher Priest, Ivaylo Shmilev.

Note that little “m” after my name? That means I’ll be moderating the panel, which will be a first for me.

Books read October

Yes, November has almost finished and I still haven’t put up what I read in October. Looking back at my monthly reading roundups you can really see where I started to lose interest and went for watching anime over more literary pursuits. I just haven’t had the energy or concentration to focus on books, since at least July or so. That’s the first time that’s happened since I started my booklog. So this month again there are only two books I remember reading:

Deconstructing the Starships — Gwyneth Jones
a collection of essays and reviews on fantasy and science fiction dating back to the early to mid nineties. Interesting, even if I don’t necessarily agree with Jones’ opinions. Also interesting to read this a decade and a half after publication, with enough time passed to see which burning issues of the day sizzled out and which are still ongoing concerns.

The Rhesus chart — Charlie Stross
A Laundry novel I bought when Charlie came to Amsterdam for a book signing, but I don’t seem to actually have gotten it signed. A scrum team of high end banking IT nerds independently invents vampirism, things get worse from there on out.

Books read September

Onwards and upwards. Still a way below average month as I’ve not felt much of an urge to read, but at least I managed to finish four books this time:

The Gospel of Loki — Joanne M. Harris
A rewriting of Norse myth from the point of view of the title character. A freebie from Nine Worlds, rather enjoyable.

Two Serpents Rise — Max Gladstone
Californian style water politics imported into fantasyland.

S-F Women A-Z: A Reader’s Guide — Sandra Ulbrich Almazan
A free ebook bundling of blogposts showcasing female SF&F authors. Sometimes I think I should do something similar with a collection of my own blogposts, but this is a good reminder of why that’s most likely a bad idea.

Root of Unity — SL Huang
The third novel in the Russell’s Attic series in which Cas Russell falls apart, in more ways than one.