Ian Mond Reviews Earthlings by Sayaka Murata

Earthlings, Sayaka Murata (Grove Press 978-0-8021-5700-3, $26.00, 256pp, hc) October 2020.

Earthlings, Sayaka Murata’s second novel to be skillfully translated into English by Ginny Tapley Takemori, is the evil twin to her much loved and critically acclaimed first book, Convenience Store Woman. That novel was a beautiful, poignant story about a woman in her mid-30s, Keiko, who has never fit in but who finds comfort in the ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews Burning Roses by S.L. Huang

Burning Roses, S.L. Huang (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-25076-399-0, $21.99, 160pp, hc) Septem­ber 2020.

Every talent incubator is bound to have a few misfires. Even Pixar has made a few less-than-perfect movies. But I was still disappointed to read S.L. Huang’s Burning Roses, a novella in the Tor.com Publishing line, which has produced work like Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh and The Border Keeper by Kerstin Hall. Burning ...Read More

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New & Notable Books, November 2020

Susanna Clarke, Piranesi (Bloomsbury US 9/20) This much-anticipated new novel from the author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell departs from Clarke’s magical 19th century to follow the ingenu­ous title character for whom the massive House is the entire world, with halls and rooms that go on forever, an ocean in the lower floors, and only a mysterious Other and corpses for company. “The elegant and ingenious structure of the ...Read More

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PRH to Buy Simon & Schuster

Penguin Random House has announced plans to purchase Simon & Schuster from ViacomCBS for $2.175 billion in an all-cash deal. ViacomCBS had reportedly hoped to sell S&S for at least $1.2 billion. S&S had $814 million in sales in 2019 and $823 million in 2018.

The company was initially offered for sale in March 2020, but plans were put on hold when the coronavirus pandemic hit. After the S&S acquisition ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Dead Lies Dreaming by Charles Stross

Dead Lies Dreaming, Charles Stross (Tor 978-1-250-26702-3, $29.99, 384pp, hc) October 2020.

When I first encountered Charles Stross’s Laundry series a decade or so ago, I took its comic-satiric mixture of spy thriller and Lovecraftian horror to be a genre-mashup game with which the author was amusing himself. The farther into the series I got, though – especially after reading the early, non-Laundry trunk novel, Scratch Monkey (2011) – ...Read More

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2020 Costa Book Awards Shortlists

Shortlists for the 2020 Costa Book Awards, for books “by writers resident in the UK and Ireland,” have been announced. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury) and The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey (Peepal Tree) are on the four-title Costa Novel Award shortlist. Finalists were also announced in First Novel, Biography, Poetry, and Children’s Book categories.

Category winners will be announced January 4, 2021, and will each receive £5,000. ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Machine by Elizabeth Bear

Machine, Elizabeth Bear (Saga 978-1-5344-0301-7, $25.99, 460pp, hc) October 2020.

One thing about Elizabeth Bear’s Machine, the second novel set in her White Space universe after 2019’s Ancestral Night: it’s sure as hell not either shallow or amoral. It is, in fact, fundamentally engaged in wrestling with questions of ethics, culture, worldview, and how much restitution needs to be made when one does harm in order to ...Read More

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Apex Holiday Horrors Flash Fiction Winner

The winner and runners-up of Apex magazine’s Holiday Horrors flash fiction contest have been announced:

  • WINNER: “All I Want for Christmas”, Charles Payseur
  • Runner-up: “Blood and Peppermint”, Clint Collins
  • Runner-up: “Missa do Galo”, Inês Montenegro

Payseur’s story will be published in Apex #121 on January 5, 2021. The runners-up each receive $10 and will be published on Apex‘s blog and Patreon page. The winner and runners-up were chosen by guest

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The New York Times Best Books of 2020

The editors of The New York Times Book Review have selected 100 Notable Books of 2020, including the following titles of genre interest:

  • The Death of Jesus, J.M. Coetzee (Viking)
  • The Death of Vivek Oji, Akwaeke Emezi (Riverhead)
  • Red Pill, Hari Kunzru (Knopf)
  • A Children’s Bible, Lydia Millet (Norton)
  • Tokyo Ueno Station, Yu Miri, translated by Morgan Giles (Riverhead)
  • Earthlings, Sayaka Murata, translated by
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Amazon’s Best Books of 2020

Amazon.com published its yearly array of lists to promote the best books of 2020, with editors’ selections in various cat­egories.

Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer (Little, Brown), Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey), Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore (Flatiron), and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab (Tor) are included in the overall Top 20 list. Editors’ picks for science fiction and fantasy are:

  • Devolution:
...Read More Read more

Video Game Hugo Category Announced

DisCon III, the 79th Worldcon, will include a “Best Video Game” category in the 2021 Hugo Awards. DisCon III co-chair Colette Fozard said,

Since early 2020, many of us have spent more time gaming than we ever expected. This award will offer fans an opportunity to celebrate the games that have been meaningful, joyful, and exceptional over this past year. Video games draw from the same deeply creative well that ...Read More

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Deaver and Harris Named MWA Grand Masters

Jeffery Deaver and Charlaine Harris have been named the 2021 Mystery Writers of America (MWA) Grand Masters. MWA president Meg Gardiner said,

Over the course of decades, Deaver and Harris have gripped tens of millions of readers while broadening the reach of the genre with transformative books—notably, Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme series, and Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels—and while generously encouraging and supporting fellow writers and the reading public. We’re delighted to ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

The Once and Future Witches, Alix E. Harrow (Redhook 978-0-316-42204-8, $28.00, 528pp, hc) October 2020.

Despite its vampires, assassins, and a viciously conspiratorial patriarchy, the main sensibility I took away from Alix E. Harrow’s spectacular debut, The Ten Thousand Doors of January, was one of celebration – a celebration of portal fantasies, of secret histories, of favorite books and tales, most of all of the protagonists’ capac­ity to ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Fiyah, Tor.com, and BCS

Clarkesworld 8/20 Fiyah Spring ’20 Tor.com 7/29/20, 8/12/20, 8/19/20 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 7/30/20, 8/13/20

My favorite story in August’s Clarkes­world is “The Immolation of Kev Magee” by L.X. Beckett. Set in a near future of eco-collapse, it centers on Breeze, a very attractive but somehow naive refugee from Detroit. Breeze is trying to get ahead via the equivalent of vlogging in a commune set up near the ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Fauna by Christiane Vadnais

Fauna, Christiane Vadnais (Coach House Books 978-1-55245-416-9, $15.99, 144 pages) September 2020.

Originally published in French back in 2018, the award-winning Fauna by Quebec author Christiane Vadnais imagines an Earth radically transformed by climate change. The short novel comprises ten linked stories set mostly around Shivering Heights where “life is an enigma of water and sky” and where some days the rain “falls in perfectly formed pearls… [and] on ...Read More

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SFWA and Alan Dean Foster Press Conference

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and author Alan Dean Foster held a press conference November 18, 2020, claiming that Disney has been withholding payment for Foster’s work on Star Wars and Alien novelizations. According to their press release,

Foster was originally contracted to write the Alien novelizations by Titan Books, and the Star Wars novelizations by Lucasfilm. Both companies regularly paid his royalties. When The Walt ...Read More

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People & Publishing Roundup, November 2020


PETER SWIRSKI is now repre­sented by the John Jarrold Literary Agency.


Author TOMI ADEYEMI was named one of the 100 most influen­tial people of 2020 by Time in the “Pioneers” category. For the full list: <time.com/collection/100-most-influential-people-2020/>.

CHARLOTTE HONIGMAN‘s “The Partisan and the Witch” (Skull and Pestle: New Tales of Baba Yaga) won the 2020 Washington Science Fiction Association Small Press Award for Short Fiction. The ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Emperor’s Wolves by Michelle Sagara

The Emperor’s Wolves, Michelle Sagara (Mira 978-0-778-30991-8, $16.99, 516pp, tp) October 2020.

Let me confess: I hadn’t intended to read Michelle Sagara’s The Emperor’s Wolves for this month’s Locus. I could read it closer to its publication date, I thought – but I’d already read the first page, and oh, it turned out that I could really use an Elantra novel right then.

The Emperor’s Wolves is a prequel ...Read More

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2020 National Book Awards Winners

Winners of the National Book Awards (NBA) in the Fiction, Young People’s Literature, and Translated Literature categories were announced November 18, 2020 in a virtual ceremony.

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu (Pantheon) won the Fiction category. King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender (Scholastic) won the Young People’s Literature category. Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri, translated by Morgan Giles (Riverhead), won the Translated Literature category.

Winners for non-fiction and ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson

The Ministry for the Future, Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit 978-0-316-30013-1, $28.00, 576pp, hc) October 2020.

Kim Stanley Robinson has famously shown us a post-neutron-bombed USA, inundated and then frozen the DC area, tossed sizeable chunks of California into the Pacific, flooded most of Manhattan, and even wiped out virtually all of Europe with the plague, but the opening chapters of The Ministry of the Future may be the most ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews The Loop by Jeremy Robert Johnson

The Loop, Jeremy Robert Johnson (Saga 978-1-53445-429-3, $26.99, 320pp, hc) September 2020.

There’s something to be said for a story that jams its foot on the accelerator and leaves it there for 300 pages, an engine that runs at 5,000 RPM for the entire length of a narrative, pushing on until it has spent itself completely. That’s the kind of book Jeremy Robert Johnson’s The Loop is: a sprinting, ...Read More

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SFWA Releases Bud Webster Legacy Kit

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) released the Bud Webster Legacy Kit, a resource list to help writers protect their literary estates.

The Legacy Kit was created in honor of Bud Webster, a driving force behind the SFWA Estates Program. It includes a checklist of important documents, sample book inventories and tables, and a layman’s glossary of important terms in addition to explanatory articles on the relevant ...Read More

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Meg Elison: They’re Made Out of Stories

Meg Elison was born May 10, 1982. Her military family moved frequently, living in Europe and more than a dozen US states. She left home at 14 and dropped out of high school, but later attended community college and completed her degree at the University of California, Berkeley.

Elison’s debut, feminist postapocalyptic novel The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (2014), won the Philip K. Dick Award and launched the Road ...Read More

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2020 Ignotus Winners

Winners of the 2020 Ignotus Awards (the Spanish equivalent of the Hugo Awards), honoring the best works published in Spain last year, were announced during the online Hispacón.

Novela extranjera (Foreign Novel)

  • WINNER: La brigada de luz [The Light Brigade], Kameron Hurley, translated by Natalia Cervera (Alianza)
  • Ararat, Christopher Golden, translated by Efraim Suárez (Grupo Tierra Trivium)
  • El cielo de piedra [The Stone Sky], N.K. Jemisin, translated by David
...Read More Read more

Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: The Dark, Nightmare, Uncanny, and Shoreline of Infinity

The Dark 7/20, 8/20 Nightmare 8/20, 9/20 Uncanny 7-8/20 Shoreline of Infinity #18

Although I’m writing this in the heat of summer, by the time you read it autumn will be beckoning with fictional chills as well as cooler weather. If you haven’t caught up to these stories by then, they will still be worthy of the season.

The Dark #62 offers two originals. “Agog” by Stephen Volk ...Read More

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2020 Endeavour Award Winners

What the Wind Brings by Matthew Hughes (Pulp Literature) and The Witch’s Kind by Louisa Morgan (Redhook) have jointly won the 2020 Endeavour Award, announced November 13, 2020 during the online OryCon 42. Other finalists were:

  • Merlin Redux, Dave Duncan (Night Shade)
  • Shadow Stitcher, Misha Handman (EDGE)
  • Middlegame, Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)

The award is given to “a distinguished science fiction or fantasy book, either a novel ...Read More

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Publishing News

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt fired 525 employees on the first of October, fol­lowed by more than 150 employees who took early retirement in September. In all, their workforce has dropped by over 20%, from about 3,3000 to 2,600. They have implemented other cost-cutting measures, most related to the increased popularity of ebooks and a new “digital first” approach.

Harper Children’s has announced changes at their Harper imprint. Director of publishing VP ...Read More

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Goldsmiths Fantasy Prize “Winners”

Goldsmiths University of London announced “‘winners’ to date” of the hypothetical Goldsmiths Fantasy Prize, for “a novel by any British or Irish writer published since 1759.” The “Fantasy” in the prize title refers to the counterfactual nature of the award, not to genre; nonetheless, several titles of genre interest were selected as “winners”:

  • The Atrocity Exhibition, J.G. Ballard (4th Estate; originally Jonathan Cape 1970)
  • A Clockwork Orange, Anthony
...Read More Read more

Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Episodes: A Collection by Christopher Priest

Episodes: A Collection, Christopher Priest (Gollancz 978-1473200630, £8.99, 368pp, tp), May 2019. (Gollancz 978-1-473-22600-5, $24.99, 368pp, hc) August 2020.

Last month I had the opportunity to review an important 50-year retrospective of M. John Har­rison stories, and so it seems appropriate to take a look at Episodes, a similar long-term retrospective from Christopher Priest, originally published in the UK last year and now available to the likes of ...Read More

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Chiang Receives Unleash Imagination Award

Ted Chiang was honored with the Imagination in Service to Society Award, presented November 12, 2020 by the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation during their 2020 Unleash Imagination online event. The award was given “for his thoughtful and thought-provoking science fiction, leading us to examine in fresh ways our own beliefs.”

For more information, including Chiang’s video conversation, see the Clarke Foundation website.

While you are here, please take a moment ...Read More

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ISFiC Writers Contest Deadline Extension

The 2020 Illinois Science Fiction in Chicago (ISFiC) short fiction contest for unpublished writers of science fiction and fantasy has extended its deadline for submissions to November 27, 2020. First prize includes $300, publication in the Windycon 47 program book and on the ISFiC website, and membership and accommodations for Windycon 47, to be held at the Westin in Lombard, Illinois on November 12-14, 2021, COVID-permitting, featuring all of the ...Read More

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