Amy Goldschlager Reviews An Excess Male Audiobook by Maggie Shen King

An Excess Male, Maggie Shen King; James Chen, Tim Chiou, and Elaine Kao, narrators (Harper­Collins/Blackstone Audio 978-153845408-4, CD, $44.99, 14 hr., unabridged [also available as a digi­tal download]) September 2017.

This spec-fic debut explores a potential inevitable consequence of China’s One Child policy in a so­ciety that values boys over girls: a future in which the men vastly outnumber the women. In 2030, the competition for wives is so fierce, ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Vallista by Steven Brust

Vallista, Steven Brust (Tor 978-0-7653-2445-0, $25.99, 334pp, hc). October 2017. Cover by Stephen Hickman.

Marissa Lingen, in her review of Steven Brust’s Vallista, noted that “[E]veryone has tol­erance limits on the First Person Asshole voice.” One is accustomed to a certain degree of cocky assholishness from Vlad Taltos, but in Vallista, fifteenth and latest novel in the Vlad Taltos series, the first person asshole voice seems rather more assholish than ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Embers of War by Gareth L. Powell

Embers of War, by Gareth L. Powell (Titan 978-1785655180, $14.95, 411pp, trade paperback) February 2018

The first appearance in Interzone that I can track down for Gareth Powell’s fiction is “Memory Dust” in 2009, although he had been publishing elsewhere since 2004. But Interzone is where I personally discovered this marvelous fellow, and I am glad I did. When his pivotal story “Ack-Ack Macaque” showed up (the three allied ...Read More

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Stefan Dziemianowicz Reviews Strange Weather by Joe Hill

Strange Weather, Joe Hill (Morrow 978-0-06-266313-9, $27.99, 448pp, hc) September 2017.

Strange Weather is Joe Hill’s second book of short fiction after his debut collection, 20th Century Ghosts. Or, to be more accurate, it’s his first col­lection of long short fiction. The book is subtitled “Four Short Novels” which will surely put those readers who measure Hill’s resume against that of his father, Stephen King, in mind of Different Seasons, ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard

The Tea Master and the Detective, Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean 978-1-59606-864- 3, $40.00, 96pp, hc). March 2018. Cover by Maurizio Manzieri.

Aliette de Bodard’s The Tea Master and the Detective is a new story set in her Xuya universe. It’s the third standalone novella to be published in this continuity, after The Citadel of Weeping Pearls (first published in Asimov’s, Oct/Nov 2015, and republished in 2017) and On A Red ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Iraq + 100 Audiobook by Hassan Blassim

Iraq + 100, Hassan Blassim; Peter Ganim, nar­rator (Macmillan Audio, $17.00, digital down­load, 7 hr., unabridged) September 2017.

As Ra Page notes in the afterword to this collection, it has often been suggested that rather than showing the future, sci­ence fiction really depicts the present in which it was written. That is never more true than in these stories, in which Iraqi authors were di­rected to focus on a future ...Read More

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John Langan Reviews Naming the Bones by Laura Mauro

Naming the Bones, Laura Mauro (Self-published 9781544177748, $9.00, 224pp, tp) June 2017.

Naming the Bones, the title of Laura Mauro’s compelling novella, refers to a coping mechanism her protagonist, Alessa, arrives at in order to help her through the post-traumatic stress from which she suffers in the wake of a terrorist bombing. When she feels a panic attack coming on, Alessa begins reciting the bones of the human skeleton, a ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Books by Tamora Pierce, Irene Radford, Margaret Rogerson, Mark Twain & Philip Stead

Tamora Pierce, et al., Tortall: A Spy’s Guide (Random House 978-0-375-86767-5, $24.99, 294pp, hc) October 2017.

Tamora Pierce, Julie Holderman, Timothy Li­ebe & Megan Messinger put together this selec­tion of items, a mix of correspondence, guides, and spy reports about people and creatures in Pierce’s country of Tortall, the setting for 18 young-adult books so far. In a sense, it’s full of spoilers, as brief biographies note who’s mar­ried to ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Madness Is Better Than Defeat by Ned Beauman

Madness Is Better Than Defeat, by Ned Beauman (Knopf 978-0-385-35299-4, $27.95, 416pp, hardcover) February 2018

When I reviewed Ned Beauman’s first two novels–Boxer, Beetle and The Teleportation Accident–I concluded by citing “his endless fecundity of invention and specificity. No setting is unburnished, no individual, even walk-ons, left undistinguished. Second, and more amazing, is his patterning ability — a skill so important to an author yet one of ...Read More

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Stefan Dziemianowicz Reviews Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix

Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction, Grady Hendrix (Quirk Books 978-1-5947-4981-7, $16.95, 256pp, tp) September 2017.

Looking over the colorful cover repro in Paperbacks from Hell, Grady Hendrix’s compulsively readable history of mass-market horror paperbacks in the ’70s and ’80s, is a bit like rummaging in your clothes closet and running across that pair of paisley bell-bottoms you wore to death in the late ...Read More

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John Langan Reviews The Changeling by Victor LaValle

The Changeling, Victor LaValle (Spiegel & Grau 9780812995947, $28.00, 448pp, hc) June 2017.

In its opening sentence, The Changeling, Vic­tor LaValle’s excellent new novel, describes the story it is about to tell as a fairy tale. The second half of the line locates this fairy tale in a specific year, 1968, during a specific event, a garbage strike. The strike, we learn, is taking place in New York City, and ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Moon and the Other Audiobook by John Kessel

The Moon and the Other, John Kessel; Fir­dous Bamji, narrator (Recorded Books 978-150194830-5, $34.99, digital download, 18.5 hr., unabridged) August 2017.

The matriarchal Society of Cousins is experi­encing unrest. Some men are pushing for the right to vote, a secret agitator who calls herself Looker is posting provocative videos, a famous martial artist and son of one of the lunar colony’s most prominent citizens is suing for custody of his ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Books by Rachel Caine, Kristin Cashore, Genevieve Cogman, Garth Nix & Sean Williams

Rachel Caine, Ash and Quill (Berkley 978-0-451-47241-0, $17.99, 341pp, hc) July 2017. Cover by Katie Anderson.

The third volume in the Great Library se­ries opens with rogue Library Scholar Jess Brightwell and his companions trapped in the city of Philadelphia, home of the Burner movement opposing the Great Library of Alexandria. The City has been under siege for years, and its people have no love for the Library; Jess and ...Read More

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John Langan Reviews Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones

Mapping the Interior, Stephen Graham Jones (Tor.com Publishing 9780765395108, $10.99, 112pp, tp) June 2017.

Mapping the Interior, Stephen Graham Jones’s astonishing novella, begins with the narrator sighting the ghost of his father. Twelve-year-old Junior lives in a small house with his widowed mother and younger brother, Dino, on a Native American reservation somewhere in the American west. His father has been dead for years, long enough ago that his older ...Read More

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Gardner Dozois Reviews Short Fiction

Global Dystopias, Junot Díaz, ed. (Boston Re­view) November 2017.

Children of a Different Sky, Alma Alexander, ed. (Kos Books) November 2017.

Mad Hatters and March Hares, Ellen Datlow, ed. (Tor) December 2017.

There’s no pretense of optimism about the future in Global Dystopias, a special issue of the Boston Review edited by Junot Díaz. The title tells you just what you’re going to get, and most of the stories here ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews Daughters of the Air by Anca L. Szilágyi

Daughters of the Air, Anca L. Szilágyi (Lantern­fish Press 978-1-941360-11-8, $16.00, 260pp, tp) December 2017.

Until just a few years ago, I was barely aware of Argentina’s Dirty War, which purged tens of thousands of its “subver­sive” citizens from 1974 to 1983. These people usually vanished, traceless, leaving behind fami­lies who had no idea what happened to put them at the mercy of the repressive government. The whole affair was ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okora­for

Binti: The Night Masquerade, Nnedi Okora­for (Tor.com Publishing 978-0-7653-9312-8 $14.99, 160pp, tp). January 2018. Cover by Da­vid Palumbo.

Well worth a look is Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti: The Night Masquerade, third and concluding volume in her trilogy of novellas starring a young Himba woman who defies cultural expectations to go to an off-planet university. Binti is a har­moniser, with a natural talent for mathematics and a predisposition towards bringing people into ...Read More

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Niall Harrison Reviews Taty Went West by Nikhil Singh

Taty Went West, Nikhil Singh (Jacaranda 978-1-909762-61-9, £9.99, 408pp, pb) October 2017. (Rosarium Publishing 978-0-998705-90-3, $17.95, 400pp, tp) January 2018.

In search of reference points for Nikhil Singh’s energetically transgressive first novel, perhaps cued by the 40-odd black-and-white illustra­tions scattered throughout the text, I find my­self reaching as much for graphic novels as the prose kind. Think of Grant Morrison circa The Invisibles or Alan Moore circa Lost Girls, mix ...Read More

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Faren Miller Reviews The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

The City of Brass, S.A. Chakraborty (Harper Voyager 978-0-06-267810-2, $25.99, 535pp, hc) November 2017.

The City of Brass by first-novelist S.A. Chakraborty begins a trilogy. Though notably ambitious – taking fantastic elements (and El­ementals) from a wide range of Eastern/Middle Eastern myths and folklore and switching be­tween viewpoint characters in two plotlines that converge – it flows with such natural ease, 500-plus pages become swift and compelling. Back­ground emerges from ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews You Should Come With Me Now: Stories of Ghosts by M. John Harrison

You Should Come With Me Now: Stories of Ghosts, M. John Harrison (Comma Press 978-1-910-97434-6, £9.99, 272pp, tp) November 2017.

“I’m moving forward into something here,” thinks the main character in M. John Harrison’s story “Yummie”, “but I don’t know what it is.” That’s a pretty succinct description of what it feels like to enter many of the stories and sketches in You Should Come With Me Now: Stories of ...Read More

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Rachel Swirsky Reviews Mandelbrot the Magnificent by Liz Ziemska

Mandelbrot the Magnificent, Liz Ziemska (Tor.com Publishing 9780765398055, $10.99, 128pp, November 2017, trade paperback). Cov­er artist Will Staehle.

“I want to make a discovery just like Kepler’s,” Mandelbrot announced, [his] life’s purpose sud­denly clear to [him], “a discovery so simple, so obvious, that no one else has thought of it.”

Liz Ziemska’s Mandelbrot the Mag­nificent is a fantastical, fictionalized biography of Benoit Mandelbrot and his discovery of the Man­delbrot set. ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Sisters of the Crescent Empress by Leena Likitalo

The Sisters of the Crescent Empress, Leena Likitalo (Tor.com Publishing 978-0-7653-9545-0, $17.99, 322pp, tp). November 2017. Cover by Anna & Elena Balbusso.

The Sisters of the Crescent Empress is the second volume in Leena Likitalo’s Waning Moon duology, after this summer’s The Five Daughters of the Moon. The first book was full of promise, told in the five individual voic­es of five different sisters, daughters of the em­press and in ...Read More

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Faren Miller Reviews Future Home of the Living God by Louise Er­drich

Future Home of the Living God, Louise Er­drich (Harper 978-0-06-269405-8, $28.99, 280pp, hc) November 2017.

In Future Home of the Living God, Louise Erdrich works elements from taut near-fu­ture dystopian thrillers, apocalyptic SF, and epic fantasy into a narrative where the sudden change that’s stricken Earth is too great and new to comprehend, the perspective too intensely personal for Avatars of Good and Evil to battle over the planet’s fate. ...Read More

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Gardner Dozois Reviews Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy edited by Lucas K. Law & Derwin Mak

Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy, Lucas K. Law & Derwin Mak, eds. (Laksa Media 978-1988140049, $28.00, hc) March 2017.

One of the most interesting and encouraging developments in modern science fiction is a flood of good new writers of Asian descent (some Asian-American or Asian-Canadian, some liv­ing in various Asian countries around the world) entering the field. In recent years, writers such as Aliette de Bodard, ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Creatures of Will and Temper by Molly Tanzer

Creatures of Will and Temper, Molly Tanzer (Houghton Mifflin Mariner 978-1-328-71026-0, $16.99, 346pp, tp) November 2017.

Something often overlooked in this whole business of setting fiction in the Victorian era, whether steampunk or its various fan­tasy and horror offshoots, is that the Victorians were perfectly capable of writing their own fan­tasy, SF, and horror, some of it classic. This may be one reason I have less sympathy for novels and ...Read More

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Angela Slatter Reviews The Silver Well by Kate Forsyth & Kim Wilkins

The Silver Well, Kate Forsyth & Kim Wilkins (Ticonderoga 978–1–925212–52–5, $30.00, 272pp, tp) November 2017. Cover by Kathleen Jennings. [Order from: Ticonderoga Publica­tions, PO Box 29 Greenwood WA 6924 Austra­lia; or <www.ticonderogapublications.com>].

“People have always come to make wish­es at the Silver Well: in Pagan times and Christian, during revolution and war. When Rosie arrives in the tiny village of Cerne Abbas with a broken heart, she becomes connected across ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Artemis by Andy Weir and The Wrong Stars by Tim Pratt

Artemis, Andy Weir (Crown 978-0-553-44812-2, $27.00, 320pp, hc) November 2017.

The Wrong Stars, Tim Pratt (Angry Robot 978-0857667090, $7.99, 400pp, pb) November 2017.

How do you follow-up on a runaway success like The Martian? If you’re Andy Weir, you go to the moon.

Artemis, his sophomore story, takes place in the titular habitat on the moon. The plot revolves around Jasmine “Jazz” Bashara, a porter/smug­gler who is getting by as ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Star-Begotten: A Life Lived in Science Fic­tion by James Gunn

Star-Begotten: A Life Lived in Science Fic­tion, James Gunn (McFarland 978-1-4766-7026-3, $25.00, 209pp, tp) November 2017. Cover photo by Jason Dailey.

I hope I might be excused for injecting personal notes into a review of James Gunn’s autobiog­raphy, Star-Begotten: A Life Lived in Science Fiction. As I read it, I couldn’t help noticing how many times and in how many ways my life in SF was affected by Gunn’s work ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson

The Murders of Molly Southbourne, Tade Thompson (Tor.com Publishing 978-0765397133, $11.99, 120pp, tp). October 2017. Cover by Rekha Garton/Arcangel.

Tade Thompson’s first two novels, Making Wolf and Rosewater, were both very well re­ceived – the first winning the Kitschies Golden Tentacle Award, and the second shortlisted for the John W. Campbell Award. The Murders of Molly Southbourne, part of Tor.com Publish­ing’s novella line, has already been optioned for the screen. ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Tim Wirkus’s The Infinite Future

The Infinite Future, by Tim Wirkus (Penguin Press 978-0-7352-2432-2, $28, 400pp, hardcover) January 2018

The concept of “steam engine time” should be familiar to most SF readers. The notion derives from a line by Charles Fort in his book Lo!. “A social growth cannot find out the use of steam engines, until comes steam-engine-time.” This initial formulation evolved into a broader principle, as defined by the Urban Dictionary: ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

An Unkindness of Ghosts, Rivers Solomon (Akashic Books 978-1-61775-588-0, $15.95, 350pp, tp) October 2017.

Whether or not you believe generation starships will ever be a viable concept (an argument most recently engaged by Kim Stanley Robinson in Aurora), the stories are never going to go away: the notion is just too useful in too many ways. The idea of putting a large number of people in a confined vessel and ...Read More

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Rachel Swirsky Reviews The Fisher of Bones by Sarah Gailey

The Fisher of Bones, Sarah Gailey (Fireside Fiction 9780998778327, $14.99, 130pp, tp) Oc­tober 2017. Cover by Miranda Meeks.

Since August, Fireside Fiction has been se­rializing Sarah Gailey’s novella The Fish­er of Bones online. Now readers can also get the complete 12 parts in book form.

The story begins with the death of a prophet. On his deathbed, he names his daughter to serve as prophet after him. Now tasked with ...Read More

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