Paul Di Filippo Reviews Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

Ready Player Two, Ernest Cline (Ballantine 978-1524761332, $28.99, 384pp, hardcover) November 2020

I am not often bowled over by first novels, but I admit to being very delighted and impressed with Ernest Cline’s bestseller, Ready Player One, when it appeared nearly ten years ago. I was then a judge for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and cast my vote to ensure it got on the shortlist as ...Read More

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Karen Haber Reviews Three Art Books

Snow, Glass, Apples, Neil Gaiman & Colleen Doran (Dark Horse 978-1-50670-979-6, $17.99, unpaginated, hc) August 2019. Cover by Colleen Doran.

Tanith Lee’s The Silver Metal Lover, Trina Rob­bins (It’s Alive 978-1-7325915-2-3, $24.99, 80pp, hc) September 2019. Cover by Trina Robbins.

Nordic Tales: Folktales from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark, Ulla Thynell (Chronicle Books, 978-1-4521-7447-1, $22.95, 160pp, hc) August 2019. Cover by Ulla Thynell.

Snow, Glass, Apples ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London, Garth Nix (Katherine Tegen Books 978-0-06-268325-0, $19.99, 416pp, hc) September 2020.

In a version of 1983 London that is just a bit not-like the actual 1983 London, Susan Arkshaw is looking for her father. Her mother, whose memories of Susan’s conception are fond but hazy, can provide only the vaguest of clues as to his identity, thus prompting her summertime quest. Susan’s plan to ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Reconstruction by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Reconstruction, Alaya Dawn Johnson (Small Beer 978-1-618731777, $17.00, 278pp, tp) No­vember 2020.

Like a number of writers who have arrived with a splash in the last decade or two, Alaya Dawn Johnson seems to have written nearly as many novels as short stories. That’s not actually the case, of course – her website lists seven novels, and her first collection, Reconstruction, contains ten stories – but it’s probably ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Goldilocks by Laura Lam

Goldilocks, Laura Lam (Orbit 978-0-316-46286-0, $27.00, 244pp, hc) May 2020.

Laura Lam’s Goldilocks opens with five women stealing a small space shuttle, one that will get them to a space station in Earth’s orbit. From there, they’ll hijack the Atalanta, a much larger ship able to travel faster than the speed of light (or so they think), which they’ll pilot to Cavendish, a “Goldilocks” planet that should support human ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Pacific Storm by Linda Nagata

Pacific Storm, Linda Nagata (Mythic Island Press, 978-1937197339, $14.00, 264 pp, tp) October 2020.

Linda Nagata made her reputation with far-far-future adventures featuring near-magical nanotechnology and post-human characters, but in the last few years she has also developed a strong line of closer-to-home sce­narios. This day-after-tomorrow work has veered toward military SF in her Red Trilogy (2013-15) and toward the technothriller in The Last Good Man (2017), both of ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Baffling, Weird Horror, and Fantasy

Baffling 10/20 Weird Horror Fall ’20 Fantasy 11/20

Fall 2020 brought a new online magazine, a new print periodical, and the return of a digital magazine.

Baffling launched October 1, 2020 with four “unapologetically queer and unashamedly weird” stories of under 1,200 words. (Going forward they will publish one flash story a month on Patreon, compile the offerings quarterly, then publish that for free online.) Baffling #1 offers a welcome ...Read More

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Karen Haber Reviews Art of Gary Gianni for George R.R. Martin’s Seven Kingdoms by Gary Gianni

Art of Gary Gianni for George R.R. Martin’s Seven Kingdoms, Gary Gianni (Flesk Publica­tions 978-1-64041-022-0, $49.95, 303pp, hc) March 2020. Cover by Gary Gianni.

It’s easy to get lost in the expressive, romantic linework and painting of master artist Gary Gi­anni’s illustrations for George R.R. Martin’s Sev­en Kingdoms. Somehow the heroes and heroines of A Song of Ice and Fire look more heroic, the villains more dastardly, and the ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Yesterday’s Tomorrows: The Story of Classic British Science Fiction in 100 Books by Mike Ashley

Yesterday’s Tomorrows: The Story of Classic British Science Fiction in 100 Books, Mike Ashley (British Library Published 978-0712353717, £15.00, 320pp, trade paperback) October 2020 (US edition titled Yesterday’s Tomorrows: The Story of Science Fiction in 100 Books, May 2021).

The British Library wants to share their wealth. Realizing that many of their 25 million books have undeservedly faded from current memory and attention, the BL has embarked on ...Read More

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Karen Haber Reviews Middle-earth Journeys in Myth and Legend by Donato Giancola

Middle-earth Journeys in Myth and Legend, Donato Giancola (Dark Horse 978-1-50671-086-0, $29.99, 199pp, hc) April 2019. Cover by Donato Giancola.

Much-awarded and acclaimed classical realist artist Donato Giancola has such technical mastery that he is able to depict powerful, memorable im­ages in both SF and fantasy throughout his career. From spacesuits to hobbits, he can and has done it all. Here he takes a deep, delicious dive into all ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Evidence by Christopher Priest

The Evidence, Christopher Priest (Gollancz 978-1-473231375, £20.00, 320pp, hc) October 2020.

Long before the notion of worldbuilding became catnip for writer’s workshops and convention panels, Christopher Priest was finding new ways to explore and exploit his mas­sive Dream Archipelago, a string of thousands of islands on a world in which the two major countries on a massive continent waged an endless war, mostly through a frozen south polar wasteland ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: BCS and Omenana

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 9/24/20 Omenana 8/20

Beneath Ceaseless Skies has so many ex­cuses to celebrate! There are the big round number celebrations, like issue number 300 back in March, as well as September’s cal­endar anniversary. All the more opportunity to appreciate a venue that has steadfastly brought us excellent fiction from a broad range of writers, always expanding the remit of “literary adventure fantasy” in secondary world settings. September brings ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Rise of the Red Hand by Olivia Chadha

Rise of the Red Hand, Olivia Chadha (Erewhon 978-1645660101, $18.95, 384pp, hardcover) January 2021.

Olivia Chadha’s heartfelt, adroit, brisk and thoughtful debut novel proves that everything old is new again. While its “Clutian Real Year” (i.e., the headspace and zeitgeist that birthed it and which provided its themes) is definitely 2020, its soul and blood and sinews are somewhere back in 1985, with the nascent Neuromancer. It’s nth-generation ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune

The Extraordinaries, TJ Klune (Tor Teen, 978-1-250-20365-6, $18.99, 399pp, hc) May 2020.

TJ Klune follows up The House in the Cerulean Sea with another compelling human drama that is set in a world like our own, but with a few unexpected fantasy elements. In Cerulean Sea it was people with magical abili­ties; this time around, in The Extraordinaries, it’s somewhat unconventional superheroes. Teen Nick Bell lives with his ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Anthropocene Rag by Alex Irvine

Anthropocene Rag, Alex Irvine (Tor.com Pub­lishing 978-1-250-26927-0, $14.99, 256pp, tp) March 2020.

I’m still not certain what actually happened in Alex Irvine’s Anthropocene Rag – but I do know that this journey into the heart of a transformed-by-nanotech America is a fascinating ride to take. In the end, that may be all that matters.

Irvine’s America is one where the Boom – essentially, programmable bits of tech that are ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Underneath the Oversea by Marc Laidlaw

Underneath the Oversea, Marc Laidlaw (Free­style, $6.99, eb) October 2020.

Here’s an experiment I wish I could con­duct. I would strip all identifying data from Marc Laidlaw’s new fantasy novel, Underneath the Oversea, and then hand the raw text to a number of savvy lovers of fantastika. I’m willing to bet that many of them would react by saying something along these lines: “Wow! This must be some ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Rest and Be Thankful by Emma Glass

Rest and Be Thankful, Emma Glass (Blooms­bury 978-1-526-60107-0, £12.99, 144pp, hc) March 2020.

While I know it’s odd to say anything remotely positive about 2020, I found this to be an incredible year for fiction and especially sophomore novels from some of the UK’s brightest authors, including Daisy Johnson, Sophie Mackintosh, Megan Hunter, and now Emma Glass. Peach, Glass’s debut novel published in 2018, was an ambitious, if ...Read More

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Karen Haber Reviews The Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde by Oscar Wilde & Yuko Shimizu

The Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde: An Illuminated Edition, Oscar Wilde & Yuko Shimizu (Beehive Books 979-1-948886-01-7, $100.00, 140pp, hc) April 2020. Cover by Yuko Shimuzu.

Historically, small presses have been the refuge of non-mainstream writers and artists, whose work they have nurtured and promoted. In the SFnal field they have provided an important home for many award-winning writers (I’m looking at you, Tachyon). In addition to Tachyon Publications ...Read More

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Karen Haber Reviews Leonardo 2 by Stéphane Levallois

Leonardo 2, Stéphane Levallois (NBM/Louvre éditions 978-1-681122-64-9, $29.99, 96pp, hc) October 2020. Cover by Stéphane Levallois.

If we ever needed art, we need it now. Discuss­ing art books in a time of plague may seem frivolous, but there’s an argument to be made that any distraction becomes precious during times of extreme stress. Also valuable is the reminder of the sublime and ingenious ways humans can transmute powerful emotions ...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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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Blade Between by Sam J. Miller

The Blade Between, Sam J. Miller (Ecco 978-0-06-296982-8, $26.99, 384pp, hc) December 2020.

In both of Sam J. Miller’s YA novels, The Art of Starving and Destroy All Monsters, Hudson High School – presumably a version of the same small-town high school that Miller attended in upstate New York – is nearly as powerful an antagonist as the supernatural forces that threaten Miller’s outsider heroes. With The Blade ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews The Midnight Circus by Jane Yolen

The Midnight Circus, Jane Yolen (Tachyon Publications 978-1-616-96340-8, $16.95, 256pp, tp) November 2020.

The prolific, multi-award-winning Jane Yolen is a bona fide legend and, at least to those of us on the darker side of genre, has long been noted for what Theodora Goss calls – in her excellent foreword – the darkness “in much of her work, both fiction and poetry, because her writing is grounded in history ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Saints of Salvation by Peter F. Hamilton

The Saints of Salvation, Peter F. Hamilton (Del Rey 978-0-399-17888-7, $32, 528pp, hardcover) November 2020.

One shameful sensation experienced by the over-burdened reviewer—or by any reader, I suppose, with more books than time—is how many series of novels one begins but then abandons, due solely to time constraints. For instance, after complete enjoyment of their predecessors, I have been unable to make time to read the fourth book in ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Road to Woop Woop and Other Stories by Eugen Bacon

The Road to Woop Woop and Other Stories, Eugen Bacon (Meerkat Press 978-1-94615-431-6, $16.95, 192 pages) December 2020.

The 24 stories that make up Eugen Bacon’s new collection The Road to Woop Woop and Other Stories run the gamut in terms of tone, genre, and structure. There are experimental, modern­ist pieces reminiscent of the New Wave, namely “A Good Ball”, “The Enduring”, or “A Man Full of Shadows”; playful, ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Factory Witches of Lowell by C.S. Malerich

The Factory Witches of Lowell, C.S. Malerich (Tor.com Publishing 978-1250756565, $14.99, 128pp, tp) November 2020.

In the early 19th century, Lowell MA was known for its thriving textile mill industry. Unlike neighboring Rhode Island, the Lowell system developed a workforce made primarily of young women, all of whom worked 80 hours a week, lived in company-owned dormitories, and, be­cause of their gender, earned a lower salary than men. Historically, ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue, V.E. Schwab (Tor 978-0-7653-8756-1, $26.99, 446pp, hc) November 2020.

There are so many classic themes woven together in V.E. Schwab’s The Invisible Life of Addie Larue that at times the novel feels like a gallery of old favorites curated by someone who clearly loves them all. The deal-with-the-devil tale, of course, is as old as the devil. The secret-immortal-living-among-us has been a genre ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews Over the Woodward Wall by A. Deborah Baker

Over the Woodward Wall, A. Deborah Baker (Tor.com Publishing 978-0-76539-927-4, $17.99, 208pp, hc) November 2020.

First things first: I must confess that I have no context for the book I’m about to review. I’ve gathered that it’s a fictional primer of sorts written into Seanan McGuire’s 2019 novel Middlegame. (There is virtually no pretense to the author of this book, A. Deborah Baker, being a real person, rather ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Fleet Elements by Walter Jon Williams

Fleet Elements, Walter Jon Williams (Harper Voyager 978-0-06-246706-1, 489 pp, $16.99, tp) December 2020.

Two years ago, Walter Jon Williams re­turned to the setting and subgenre of his ingeniously unconventional Dread Em­pire’s Fall trilogy with the first of a set of sequels, The Accidental War (now branded A Novel of the Praxis). Though perhaps I should call the series “multi-conventional,” since, while the packaging and promotional language correctly signal ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Monster Movies by David J. Schow

Monster Movies, David J. Schow (Cimarron Street Books, 979-8-651-97809-0 $14.95, 280pp, tp) September 2020.

David J. Schow culled 30 years of his stories (1983-2013) for 13 to fit the titular theme of new collection Monster Movies. Or, more precisely, as the author states: “What happens to the monsters after the movie is over? That’s the backbeat, the true north for much of this book.” Except it is also ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera

Never Look Back, Lilliam Rivera (Blooms­bury 978-1-5476-0373-2, $18.99, 310pp, hc) September 2020.

In this modern retelling of the Orpheus and Eu­rydice myth, “Pheus” is a guitar playing lothario planning a fun-filled summer in the Bronx, and “Eury” is a Puerto Rican refugee of Hurricane Maria sent to recuperate with family. They come together at a typical teen beach party where Pheus tries his usual schtick and Eury exhibits no ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe and Ian Mond Review The Arrest by Jonathan Lethem

The Arrest, Jonathan Lethem (Ecco 978-0-06-293878-7, $27.99, 320pp, hc) November 2020.

A little more than halfway into Jonathan Lethem’s The Arrest comes a chapter titled “Postapocalyptic and Dystopian Stories”, in which the screenwriter protagonist and his movie-producer friend debate the appeal of such tales while name-checking a panoply of authors and titles – Vonnegut, King, Atwood, Walter Tevis, Philip K. Dick, George R. Stewart, Walter M. Miller, Emily St. ...Read More

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