Author and editor Christopher Tolkien, 95, son and literary executor of J.R.R. Tolkien, died January 15, 2020 in Provence, France. Tolkien dedicated his life to his father’s work, editing and shepherding into print more than a score of the elder Tolkien’s books. He organized and edited the The Silmarillion (1977), Unfinished Tales (1980), and the 12 volumes of The History of Middle-earth (1983), along with The Children of Húrin (2007), ...Read More
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Science Fiction & Fantasy ReviewsView All
Benedict Jacka, Fallen (Ace 978-0-440-00058-7, $7.99, 296pp, pb) September 2018.
Alex Verus’s life takes a big turn for the worse in this tenth installment in the urban fantasy series. That’s not a huge surprise – this series has had a lot of ups and downs. This time, though, things get pretty desperate. Alex gets caught covering up for his girlfriend Anne, who let her dark self out and some really ...Read More
The Vanished Birds, Simon Jimenez ((Del Rey 978-0-593-12898-5, $27, 400pp, hardcover) January 2020
Simon Jimenez’s touching, bold, surprising, gorgeous debut novel—a certain manner of postmodern space opera, despite the fantasy-resonant title—is not only the best debut novel I’ve read in ages, but simply one of the best SF novels in recent memory. I am reminded of the excitement I felt when encountering A.A. Attanasio’s Radix (1981). If The Vanished ...Read More
The Pursuit of William Abbey, Claire North (Orbit 978-0316316842, $16.99, 464pp, tp) November 2019.
The Pursuit of William Abbey is Claire North’s sixth novel in six years, a period during which she also published three novellas (The Gamehouse trilogy). It’s a remarkable feat when you consider that (a) these are stand-alone books in an age of multi-volume series and (b) they’ve consistently received critical praise and won awards, including ...Read More
The Tenth Girl, Sara Faring (Imprint 978-1-250-30450-6, $18.99, 464pp, hc) September 2019.
Sara Faring’s The Tenth Girl is a 1970s Gothic thriller filled with horrifying ghosts in an isolated Argentinian boarding school during the “Dirty War” when 30,000 civilians were disappeared at the hands of the US-backed military government. Eighteen-year old Mavi never knew her father, her rebel mother was recently arrested and hauled away with no hope of ...Read More
Joanna Russ, Gwyneth Jones (University of Illinois Press 978-0-252-08447-8, $22.00, 224pp, tp; 978-0-252-04263-8, $99.00, 224pp, hc). September 2019.
Gwyneth Jones’s Joanna Russ, part of the University of Illinois Modern Masters of Science Fiction series (edited by Gary K. Wolfe, of this parish), also had me looking back at my reading history. For some reason, I have always thought of Russ, who died in 2011, as a contemporary, even ...Read More
Paula Guran Reviews Monster, She Wrote by Lisa Kröger & Melanie R. Anderson and The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher
Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction, Lisa Kröger & Melanie R. Anderson (Quirk 978-1-68369-138-9, $19.99 352pp, hc) September 2019.
Monster, She Wrote is a brief, breezy, yet fairly complete overview of women who pioneered horror and related fiction. It’s a fun read, chock-full of authors genre-lovers should know if they don’t already. Forty authors – from Margaret Cavendish (“the Kardashian of her day,” according ...Read More
New Titles & BestsellersView All
The Institute, Stephen King (Scribner 978-1-9821-1056-7, $30.00, 576pp, hc) September 2019.
It wouldn’t be accurate to say that Stephen King’s new novel, The Institute, is a blueprint for his career as a novelist, but in it King reprises themes that he has explored regularly over the past 45 years, notably: children endowed with wild paranormal talents (think Carrie, The Shining, and even End of Watch, ...Read More
Chilling Effect, Valerie Valdes (Harper Voyager 978-0-06287-723-9, $16.99, 448pp, tp) September 2019.
I met Valerie Valdes briefly at the Dublin 2019 Worldcon. Part of me wishes I’d already read Chilling Effect, her debut space opera novel, at that point, because I’d like to ask how many of the little things that look like nods to Mass Effect and the likes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine are there ...Read More
Odsburg, Matt Tompkins (Ooligan 978-1947845084, $16.00, 202pp, tp) October 2019.
I hadn’t intended to review Odsburg by Matt Tompkins. The book I had lined up was False Bingo, a new short-story collection by Jac Jemc (who wrote a terrific haunted house novel, The Grip of It, back in 2014). Unfortunately, while False Bingo is an excellent book, it has zero genre content and therefore is not really ...Read More
Author Mike Resnick, 77, died January 9, 2020 of lymphoma. Resnick was a prolific and acclaimed SF, nominated 27 times for Hugo Awards and winning five. His Hugo Award winners include his first nomination “Kirinyaga” (1988), “The Manamouki” (1990), “Seven Views of Olduval Gorge” (1994), “The 43 Antarean Dynasties” (1997), and “Travels with My Cats” (2004), and his most recent fiction nomination was for “The Homecoming” (2011). His winners and ...Read More
Carolyn Cushman Reviews Laughter at the Academy by Seanan McGuire and Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
Seanan McGuire, Laughter at the Academy (Subterranean Press 978-1-59606-928-2, $40.00, 374pp, hc) October 2019. Cover by Carla Speed McNeil.
McGuire’s introduction calls this her first single-author short story collection, which isn’t exactly true, but it is her first collection of non-series stories, 22 of them, all originally published from 2009-2017. The bulk of them are dark tales; she has a tendency to pick one creepy idea and then push it ...Read More
The Washington Science Fiction Association is now accepting nominations of “works published for the first time in the English language in 2019” for its Small Press Award, given annually to an outstanding story of “imaginative literature” (17,500 words or fewer) published in the small press. Authors and small-press publishers are among those eligible to nominate, and need not be members of WSFA. Finalists are selected “by a committee of five ...Read More
Public voting is now open for the Analog Science Fiction and Fact Analytical Laboratory (AnLab) and Asimov’s Science Fiction Readers’ Awards, covering works published in their 2019 issues. Readers can select three favorite choices from each magazine in novella, novelette, short story, poem, and cover categories, as well as a “Best Science Fact” article from Analog. The deadline to vote is February 1, 2020.
For more information, see the Analog ...Read More
Medusa in the Graveyard, Emily Devenport (Tor 978-1-25016-936-5, $18.99, 304pp, tp) July 2019.
The first book in Emily Devenport’s Medusa Cycle, Medusa Uploaded, introduced an intriguing science fiction universe, a society with a complex and layered social structure, and a grandiose, unfathomable pantheon, but it limited the narrator and antihero Oichi Angelis to stepping-stone motivations, mostly espionage and murder. Medusa in the Graveyard, the second volume, grants ...Read More
Vernor Vinge is the winner of the 2020 Robert A. Heinlein Award, given for “outstanding published works in science fiction and technical writings that inspire the human exploration of space,” recognizing his body of work, including nine novels, more than 24 short stories, and many non-fiction articles. The award is administered by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS).
The winner was chosen by a committee of SF authors chaired by ...Read More
The Romance Writers of America (RWA) announced that they will not hold the RITA Awards in 2020, after numerous judges and entrants withdrew their participation. The move occurs amid significant controversy within the organization and following the resignation of its president, directors, and many members. RWA plans to use “next year’s contest to celebrate 2019 and 2020 romances,” and any RWA members who have already entered the 2020 contest will ...Read More
New titles this week are by Sean Adams, Lois McMaster Bujold, Andrew Caldecott, C.J. Cherryh, Patrick Chiles, Genevieve Cogman, Tessa Gratton, Gareth Hanrahan, Marc-Uwe Kling, Seanan McGuire, Daniel José Older, John Ringo, Kacey Ezell & Christopher L. Smith, Sarena Ulibarri, and Django Wexler. ...Read More
The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man, Dave Hutchinson (Solaris 978-1-78108-584-4, $9.99, 300pp, tp) September 2019.
There are two things that should be noted up front about Dave Hutchinson’s The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man: first, as the title might suggest, it’s quite different in tone and scope from his acclaimed Fractured Europe sequence of novels; and second, despite what the title suggests, it’s not a sequel ...Read More
Nominations are now open for the 2020 Hugo Awards, the 1945 Retro Hugo Awards, the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, and the Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book. They will be presented at the 78th World Science Fiction Convention, CoNZealand, to be held July 29 – August 2, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand. Members with an attending or supporting membership of CoNZealand or Dublin 2019 are eligible to ...Read More
Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, BCS, Lightspeed, Tor.com, The Future Fire, and Cosmic Roots
Clarkesworld 9/19 Strange Horizons 9/19 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 8/29/19 Lightspeed 10/19 Tor.com 9/11/19, 9/18/19 The Future Fire 8/19 Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores 8/19, 9/19
In September, Clarkesworld takes us all over the future and then back to the past. In the near future we have a trio of stories in various flavors of anomie and alienation. The most flat-out fun is “Dave’s Head” by Suzanne Palmer. ...Read More
Seth Fishman will manage a new west coast office of literary agency The Gernert Company in Culver City CA, with plans to hire new employees. Fishman has spent three years operating from Los Angeles, and told Publishers Lunch, “I have been going to LA three or four times a year for 20 years, primarily doing work for John Grisham, and have always thought it would be ideal to open an ...Read More
Homesick: Stories, Nino Cipri (Dzanc 978-1945814952, $16.95, 216pp, tp) October 2019.
Nino Cipri’s debut collection, Homesick, is a selection of nine stories (of the more than 20 they have written) that appeared in a variety of venues including Nightmare, Liminal Magazine, Crossed Genres, and Tor.com. It also happens to be one of the best collections I’ve read this year, up there with outstanding books like Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s Someone ...Read More
Author and philanthropist James Patterson is offering bonuses (a total of $200,000) to Barnes & Noble booksellers this year in the form of a contest: he will give $300 to the bookseller in each B&N branch who creates the best display, as judged by store managers. He says, “I’m excited about all the recent changes at Barnes & Noble and to see where they go next. But I’ve always been ...Read More
Missing, Presumed Dead, Emma Berquist (Greenwillow 978-0-06-264281-3, $17.99, 369pp, hc) May 2019.
In the opening pages of Emma Berquist’s suspenseful mystery Missing, Presumed Dead, readers learn that there is a growing epidemic of young adults vanishing in Los Angeles. The most recent one works with Lexi at a nightclub named Elysium. Lexi is concerned about Marcus, but she has bigger things to worry about than what might have ...Read More