Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: London Centric, Uncanny, On Spec, Pulp Literature, and The New Yorker

London Centric, Ian Whates, ed. (NewCon Press) March 2020. Uncanny 11-12/20 On Spec #114 Pulp Literature Summer ’20 The New Yorker 11/9/20

Here’s an intriguing new anthology from Eng­land’s NewCon Press, London Centric: Tales of Future London, edited by Ian Whates. The anthology is mostly exactly what it says, a collec­tion of looks at a future London, but one of the very best stories is mostly set in ...Read More

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Maya C. James and Rich Horton Review Entanglements, Edited by Sheila Williams

Entanglements: Tomorrow’s Lovers, Fami­lies, and Friends, Sheila Williams, ed. (MIT Press 978-0-26253-925-8, 240pp, $19.95, tp) September 2020.

Artificial intelligence, genome tampering (eugenics), sex bots, and other forms of technology descend upon the middle class in Entanglements, an anthology from Sheila Williams, editor of Asimov’s. Originally launched in 2011 by MIT Technology Review, Twelve Tomorrows is an annual anthology se­ries that explores the role of technology in near and ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews The House of Styx by Derek Künsken

The House of Styx, Derek Künsken (Solaris 978-1786183200, $8.99, eb,) August 2020. (Solaris 978-1781088050, 608pp, $27.99, hc) April 2021.

One of the most notable aspects of Derek Künsken’s short work to date has been a fascination with rigorous worldbuilding, of­ten featuring the extreme, and the politics that often result from adaptation to said environments. These aspects are central to his new novel, The House of Styx, first in ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Uncanny and F&SF

Uncanny 9-10/20 F&SF 11-12/20

The final issue of Uncanny’s sixth year is a particularly strong and SF-oriented one. In Samantha Mills‘s “Anchorage” a medical spaceship stops at an “anchorage” – an isolated pod where a woman lives a hermit-like existence. The story is told by Geneva, the AI running the medical ship, which allows us to slowly learn the backstory of the crewmembers, of dead Earth, and ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Interzone, Galaxy’s Edge, Cynthia Ward, Emily C. Skaftun, and James Van Pelt

Interzone 9-10/20 Galaxy’s Edge 9/20 The Adventure of the Naked Guide, Cynthia Ward (Aqueduct Press) March 2020. Living Forever & Other Terrible Ideas, Emily C. Skaftun (Fairwood Press) November 2020. The Best of James Van Pelt, James Van Pelt (Fairwood Press) November 2020.

I was very excited to see Alexander Glass‘s return to Interzone in the September-October is­sue. He appeared there (and in Interzone‘s sister magazine ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Asimov’s, Analog, Uncanny, Curiosities, and Flyaway

Asimov’s 9-10/20 Analog 9-10/20 Uncanny 7-8/20 Curiosities #7 Flyaway, Kathleen Jennings (Tor.com Publish­ing) July 2020.

Asimov’s September-October issue is, as usual, “slightly spooky.” Among the “spooky” stories I particularly liked were Michael Libling‘s “Robyn in Her Shiny Blue Coffin” and Gregory Frost‘s “Traveling On“. In both cases the protagonists are missing some­one important to them and hoping for a message from “beyond.” In ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Asimov’s, Analog, LCRW, and Galaxy’s Edge

F&SF 9-10/20 Asimov’s 7-8/20 Analog 7-8/20 Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet 6/20 Galaxy’s Edge 7/20

Leah Cypess returns with another strong fairy tale-derived story in the latest F&SF. Like her previous F&SF story, “Stepsister”, “Of Them All” is sharply focused on the moral effects of fairy magic – or, rather, on human choices that may or may not be at­tributable to fairy gifts. The protagonist’s gift is that she ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Pulp Literature, Interzone, Galaxy’s Edge, and Reckoning

Pulp Literature Spring ’20 Interzone 5-6/20 Galaxy’s Edge 5/20 Reckoning 4

The latest issue of the increasingly interesting Canadian ‘zine Pulp Literature features an engaging story from Matthew Hughes, ”The Bicolour Spiral”, one of his stories about Erm Kaslo, an ”op” (private detective) in Hughes’ Jack Vance-derived science fantasy far-future setting. Kaslo is engaged by a woman to investigate her uncle’s murder because she is going to ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews A Sinister Quartet and Aftermath of an Industrial Accident

A Sinister Quartet, Mike Allen, C.S.E. Cooney, Amanda J. McGee & Jessica P. Wick, eds. (Mythic Delirium Books) July 2020. Aftermath of an Industrial Accident, Mike Allen (Mythic Delirium Books) July 2020.

Mike Allen’s Mythic Delirium is one of the smaller presses which sustains our field by publishing original anthologies and story collections. He has put out A Sinister Quartet, an anthology of four novellas (well, three ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Analog, Asimov’s, Uncanny, and Anthems Outside Time by Kenneth Schneyer

F&SF 7-8/20 Analog 5-6/20 Asimov’s 5-6/20 Uncanny 5-6/20 Anthems Outside Time and Other Strange Voices, Kenneth Schneyer (Fairwood Press) July 2020.

The new F&SF features a delightful piece by Madeleine Robins, ”‘Omunculus”, a retelling of My Fair Lady set in a steam-punkish alternate history with the role of Eliza taken by a robot. It’s very funny as it reimagines Eliza and Higgins in this permutation and ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Made to Order, Edited by Jonathan Strahan, and Anthropocene Rag by Alex Irvine

Made to Order, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Solaris) March 2020. Anthropocene Rag, Alex Irvine (Tor.com Publishing) March 2020.

I don’t think there can be any doubt that the best currently working original anthologist of science fiction is Jonathan Strahan. (Ellen Datlow probably retains that title for fantasy and certainly for horror.) Strahan’s new anthology is Made to Order, on the subject of robots and mostly their desire for ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Universal Love by Alexander Weinstein, Not One of Us, and Past Tense, Edited by John Benson

Universal Love, Alexander Weinstein (Henry Holt) January 2020. Not One of Us 4/20 Past Tense, John Benson, ed. (Not One of Us) January 2020.

I loved Alexander Weinstein’s first story collection,  Children  of  the  New  World.  Universal Love, his second, is another proof SF  has  taken  up  permanent  residence  in the mainstream world. Weinstein writes almost exclusively SF but is praised everywhere, and yet the only ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe & Rich Horton Review Avatars Inc, Edited by Ann VanderMeer

Avatars Inc, Ann VanderMeer, ed. (XPRIZE, free, eb) March 2020. [Download from <www.avatars.inc>]

All well-made anthologies offer something like a conversation between the stories included, and in some cases (such as Jonathan Strahan’s recent Made to Order: Robots and Revolution) that conversation is more focused than usual, since the stories all revolve around a classic SF theme. With Ann VanderMeer’s Avatars Inc: A Sci-Fi Anthology, now available ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Interzone, Galaxy’s Edge, Bourbon Penn, and The New Yorker

F&SF 5-6/20 Interzone 3-4/20 Galaxy’s Edge 3/20 Bourbon Penn 3/20 The New Yorker 3/16/20 Prosper’s Demon, K.J. Parker (Tor.com Publish­ing) January 2020. Truer Love and Other Lies, Edd Vick (Fairwood Press) November 2019.

What matters most? Plot? Character? Prose? Something else? The answer is all of the above, I think, and, more im­portantly, each ideally reinforces the other. These thoughts are prompted by an exceptional novelette in the ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Analog, Asimov’s, Pulp Literature, and Uncanny

Analog 3-4/20 Asimov’s 3-4/20 Pulp Literature Winter ’20 Uncanny 3-4/20

Analog offers several impressive stories in its March-April issue. Andy Dudak can be counted on for wild ideas, and “Midstrathe Exploding” delivers on that account. Ciaran is a pickpocket in Midstrathe City, which seems mainly known for the weirdly time-shifted explosion that engulfed it 200 years before and is still expanding with its victims frozen inside it. He ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews City of a Thousand Feelings by Anya Johanna DeNiro and The Menace from Farside by Ian McDonald

City of a Thousand Feelings, Anya Johanna DeNiro (Aqueduct) February 2020.

Another entry in Aqueduct Press’s long and always challenging Conversation Pieces series. This is a novelette, City of a Thousand Feelings by Anya Johanna DeNiro, a trans woman whose work I’ve long liked and have missed. This story doesn’t quite work for me, but it’s fascinating and well written, with some spectacular imagery. It’s opens with two ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Uncanny, Galaxy’s Edge, Interzone, and Conjunctions

F&SF 3-4/20 Uncanny 1/20 Galaxy’s Edge 1/20 Interzone 1-2/20 Conjunctions 73

F&SF offers a wide range of impressive stories this issue. Two fine pieces come from an anthology Gardner Dozois was working on prior to his death, The Book of Legends. Matthew Hughes‘s “The Last Legend” is about a young man who had hoped for a respectable career before his uncle spent his inheritance and apprenticed ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Asimov’s, Analog, LCRW, and On Spec

Asimov’s 1-2/20 Analog 1-2/20 Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet 11/19 On Spec #112

The first 2020 issue of Asimov’s is anchored by two novellas – the latest episode of Allen M. Steele‘s series about a human colony on a planet of Tau Ceti and the colonists’ interaction with the doglike intelligent species that controls the planet, “The Palace of Danc­ing Dogs” – these are enjoyable somewhat old-fashioned adventures ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Uncanny, Interzone, Neo-Opsis, Bourbon Penn, and Galaxy’s Edge

F&SF 1-2/20 Uncanny 11-12/19 Interzone 11-12/19 Neo-Opsis #30 Bourbon Penn 11/19 Galaxy’s Edge 11/19

Michael Cassutt‘s rare short fiction is always welcome, and “Banshee”, from the first 2020 issue of F&SF, is a good example. Nik Salida is a NASA administrator. His latest project, Skin Walker, is an exotic shapeshift­ing spaceship, led by the brilliant and troublesome Togo Blaine. But the latest flight test has just failed, and Salida ...Read More

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Short Fiction in Print, 2019 by Rich Horton

My remit here at Locus is primarily to cover short fiction from print sources, and thus I thought to build my year end summary around just that. But don’t forget – there is a great deal of excellent work that appears first online. To that I will add my usual plea – don’t ignore the print work just because it’s harder to find.

I’ll begin with two collections that got ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: The New Yorker, Hexarchate Stories, And Go Like This

The New Yorker 9/30/19 Hexarchate Stories, Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris) June 2019. And Go Like This, John Crowley (Small Beer Press) November 2019.

I’m catching up slightly late with one of the New Yorker‘s occasional fantastical stories, this one quite lightly fantastical, though, I am told, set in Cross River, a city in which the author (Rion Amilcar Scott) has written other stories, all with somewhat ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Asimov’s, Analog, On Spec, and Stray Bats

Asimov’s 11-12/19 Analog 11-12/19 On Spec #110 Popshot Quarterly Summer ’19 Stray Bats, Margo Lanagan (Small Beer Press) November 2019.

I found that I enjoyed several stories in the last issue of Asimov’s for 2019 by, well, men of roughly my age, let’s just say. “Escape from Sanctuary” is Allen M. Steele‘s latest tale of the human settlement on the planet Tawcety and its fraught relationship ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Uncanny, Interzone, Galaxy’s Edge, Not One of Us, and Others

F&SF 11-12/19 Uncanny 9-10/19 Interzone 9-10/19 Galaxy’s Edge 9/19 Not One of Us 10/19

If This Goes On, Cat Rambo, ed. (Parvus Press) March 2019 Tomorrow Girl and Other Stories, Robert Zoltan (Dream Tower) October 2019. Exhalation, Ted Chiang (Knopf) May 2019.

I was very glad to see two stories in F&SF this month from long-time contributors whom we haven’t seen enough from lately. M. Rickert‘s ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Analog, Asimov’s, and f(r)iction

Analog 9-10/19 Asimov’s 9-10/19 f(r)iction Spring ’19

The cover story in the September-October Analog is “The Gorilla in a Tutu Principle; or, Pecan Pie at Minnie and Earl’s“, a novella from Adam-Troy Castro, the third in his series about the era of lunar coloniza­tion, and how the very unusual couple Minnie and Earl helped out. Castro is partly having fun with Analog expectations, because these stories, featuring ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe and Rich Horton Review The Mythic Dream, Edited by Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe

The Mythic Dream, Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe, eds. (Saga 978-1-5344-4228-3, $24.99, 368pp, hc) September 2019.

With two well-received anthologies already to their credit (The Starlit Wood and Robots vs Fairies) Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe can’t possibly believe that their idea for the third one – retellings and reshap­ings of world myths – is going to strike anyone as wildly innovative. Not only are there many ...Read More

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Rich Horton, Liz Bourke, and Amy Goldschlager Review Desdemona and the Deep by C.S.E. Cooney

Desdemona and the Deep, C.S.E. Cooney (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-250-22983-0, $14.99, 222pp, tp) July 2019. Cover by Kathleen Jen­nings.

I’ve been looking forward to C.S.E. Cooney‘s Desdemona and the Deep for quite a while, and having arrived, it doesn’t disappoint. This is the third of her Breakers novellas (though it stands completely alone), centered around a set of houses called Breakers in three different worlds: the hu­man world, the ...Read More

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Rich Horton and Gary K. Wolfe Review Anthologies Edited by Jonathan Strahan

Mission Critical, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (So­laris 978-1781085806) July 2019.

Jonathan Strahan’s new anthology is Mission Critical. The theme is characters responding to desperate situations, when something goes pear-shaped. Oddly, many of the stories, all well executed, seem a bit too much the same in adher­ing to the theme. The best are “Hanging Gar­dens” by Gregory Feeley, and “Cyclopterus” by Peter Watts. Feeley’s ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Uncanny, Interzone, Galaxy’s Edge, Bourbon Penn, and Amazing Stories

F&SF 9-10/19 Uncanny 7-8/19 Interzone 7-8/19 Galaxy’s Edge 7/19 Bourbon Penn 7/19 Amazing Stories 7/19

The September-October F&SF is notable for stories by some prominent writers. Maureen McHugh‘s “Under the Hill” is a very well-done, second person point-of-view story about Amelia, who matriculates at Burkman College, a prestigious institution that we quickly learn has an unusual student body – a significant subset are Fair Folk. The arc ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Tin House, LCRW, and The CSZ

Tin House Summer ’19 Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet Summer ’19 The Cascadia Subduction Zone Vol 9 No 2

Sadly, the Summer issue of Tin House is its last – they are closing up shop after 80 issues – a full 20 years of really first-rate fiction, essays, poetry and reviews. They were very hospitable to fantastika, and this holds true in this final outing. “The Gondoliers” by Karen ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Analog, Asimov’s, and F&SF

Analog 7-8/19 Asimov’s 7-8/19 F&SF 5-6/19

I’ve always thought that if Analog was truly the central bastion of hard SF among our magazines it ought to be publishing Greg Egan but, with the exception of “Beyond the Whistle Test” 30 years ago, his work has not appeared in the magazine. Until now! And “The Slipway” qualifies as pure a hard SF story as you might want – so ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Uncanny, Galaxy’s Edge, Bourbon Penn, and Writers of the Future 35

Uncanny 5-6/19 Galaxy’s Edge 5/19 Bourbon Penn 3/19 Writers of the Future, Vol. 35, David Farland, ed. (Galaxy Press) April 2019.

Uncanny‘s May-June issue is also a bit slight. Still, Ellen Klages, as one might expect, doesn’t disappoint with “Nice Things“. Phoebe Morris is dealing with her late mother’s things and, in so doing, dealing with memories of her perfection­ist mother, how she wouldn’t let her ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Interzone, and Amazing

F&SF 7-8/19 Interzone 3-4/19 Amazing Spring ’19

In the July-August F&SF, Cassandra Khaw‘s “Mighty are the Meek and the Myriad” is very impressive. It’s set the year after a human-robot war ended in a treaty, with robots serving as humans, and, in various ways, being “humanized” by having them wear hats and mustaches and giving them corgis as pets. The story follows two somewhat unpleasant hu­man characters: ...Read More

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