Paul Di Filippo reviews Peter Watts’ The Freeze-Frame Revolution

The Freeze-Frame Revolution, by Peter Watts (Tachyon Publications 978-1-61696-252-4, $14.95, 192pp, trade paperback) June 2018

In 2014, I concluded my Locus Online review of Peter Watts’s Echopraxia by saying, “Peter Watts is some precisely engineered hybrid of Lucius Shepard and Gregory Benford, lyrical yet hard-edged, purveyor of sleek surfaces and also the ethical and spiritual contents inside.” I am happy to report, after a torturous wait of four years, ...Read More

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Stefan Dziemianowicz reviews The Outsider by Stephen King

The Outsider, Stephen King (Scribner 978-1-5011-8098-9, $30.00, 576pp, hc) May 2018.

Stephen King’s last three published novels – excluding his collaborations with Richard Chizmar and his son Owen King – comprise a triptych informally known as the Bill Hodges trilogy, named for the retired police detective who is their main character. As a unit – and they are a unit, forged by Hodges’s recurring pas-de-deux through them with supernaturally endowed ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini reviews Head On by John Scalzi

Head On, John Scalzi (Tor 978-07-6538891-9,$25.99, 336pp, hc) April 2018.

John Scalzi’s Head On picks up where Lock In left off, for the most part. FBI agent Chris Shane still has Haden’s Syndrome, a condition where an infected person’s body remains inert while his or her mind roams free in a robotlike machine called a threep. Chris’s partner Leslie Vann, who does not have Haden’s, still remains the more impulsive ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Annex by Rich Larson

Annex, Rich Larson (Orbit 978-0-316-41654-2, $15.95, 336pp, tp) July 2018.

By his own count, Rich Larson has published over 100 stories since 2012, with an impressive number of them making it into year’s best anthologies. That amounts to one of the more stunning debuts in recent SF, even as he’s largely been under the radar for major awards (possibly in part because of that very prolificity). This inevitably creates a ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor reviews Meet Me in the Strange by Leander Watts

Meet Me in the Strange, Leander Watts (Meerkat 978-1-946154-15-6, $16.95, 234pp, hc) March 2018.

This is one unique book.

I was chapters into Meet Me in the Strange before I fully realized that the reviewer part of my brain needed to be turned off (stop noting names and locations, stop paying attention to setting descriptions and plot development) and I just needed to take the ride this book was offering. ...Read More

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Ian Mond reviews Gnomon by Nick Harkaway

Gnomon, Nick Harkaway (William Heinemann 978-1785151279, £14.99, 704pp, hc) November 2017. (Knopf 978-1524732080, $28.95, 688pp, hc) January 2018.

I know I’m late to the work of Nick Harkaway. I’ve meant to read his fiction since the publication of The Gone-Away World back in 2008, I even bought the book, but, for whatever reason, never cracked open the covers. I was planning on picking up Gnomon, until I saw it was ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Harlan Ellison’s Blood’s a Rover

Blood’s a Rover, by Harlan Ellison (Subterranean 978-1596068681, $40.00, 232pp, hardcover) June 30, 2018

The tradition of creating “fixups“–a narrative assembled from previously published pieces, sometimes with new interleaved material, and then issued as an organic whole–is a grand one in science fiction. Such masterpieces as Simak’s City and Vance’s The Eyes of the Overworld have arisen from this process. (The term was coined by A. E. van Vogt ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe reviews How To Stop Time by Matt Haig

How To Stop Time, Matt Haig (Canongate 978-1-782-11861-9, £12.99, 33699, hc) July 2017. (Viking 978-0-525-52287-4, $26.00, 329pp, hc) February 2018.

The notion that living among us there might be immortals – or at least folks with very long lifespans – is itself an idea that just hangs on decade after decade, not only in SF/F circles but in popular potboilers like Viereck & Eldridge’s hoary My First Two Thousand Years ...Read More

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Ian Mond reviews Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi

Frankenstein in Baghdad, Ahmed Saadawi, translated by Jonathan Wright (Penguin Books 978-0143128793, $16.00, 288pp, tp) January 2018.

Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad places the eponymous monster amongst the suicide bombings and devastation of Baghdad in 2005. It opens with an attack on Tayaran Square where a soul, torn from its body, finds a home in a vacated corpse. It’s no ordinary cadaver, but rather a stitched-together amalgamation of parts, the ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor reviews Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Midnight at the Electric, Jodi Lynn Anderson (Harper Teen 978-0-06-239354-8, $17.99, 257pp, hc) June 2017.

Jodi Lynn Anderson accomplishes something unique with Midnight at the Electric, taking a novel clearly set in the future, (the protagonist has just been accepted to a Mars colony program), but grounding it in a historical mystery. This is science fiction that has broad potential appeal; traditional SF readers will be attracted to the glimpses ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Latchkey by Nicole Kornher-Stace

Latchkey, Nicole Kornher-Stace (Mythic De­lirium 978-0-9889124-8- 9, $17.95, 336pp, tp) July 2018. Cover by Jacquelin de Leon.

Latchkey is the sequel to Nicole Kornher-Stace’s poorly known (and sorely under­rated) Archivist Wasp. Archivist Wasp, published in 2015 by Big Mouth House, was a genre-straddling story: part post-apocalyptic coming-of-age tale and part fantasy quest, it structured itself as a literal katabasis – a descent to the underworld – in which a young ...Read More

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John Langan Reviews The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Trem­blay

The Cabin at the End of the World, Paul Trem­blay (Morrow 978-0062679109, $26.99, 288pp, hc) June 2018.

Anyone who has followed Paul Tremblay’s short fiction, from the stories collected in the remark­able In the Mean Time, to “Where We Will All Be” in Joseph Pulver, Sr.’s The Grimscribe’s Puppets and “Swim Wants to Know If It’s as Bad as Swim Thinks” in Bourbon Penn magazine, knows that one of his ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Night Fall by Simon R. Green

Simon R. Green, Night Fall (Ace 978-0-451-47697-5, $27.00, 453pp, hc) June 2018.

Green wraps up the Secret Histories and the Nightside series (and a few more) in a massive kitchen-sink of a battle between the righteous Droods and the lawless Nightside that brings together a host of old characters with a bunch of impossibly deadly weapons, a massive body count, and a healthy sprinkling of humor. Some­thing happens in the ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews If Tomorrow Comes by Nancy Kress

If Tomorrow Comes, Nancy Kress (Tor 978-0-765390325, $27.99, 336 pp, hc) March 2018. Cover by Stephan Martiniere.

Nancy Kress’s If Tomorrow Comes is, as the subtitle informs us, the middle volume of three, which some might take to indi­cate an absolute dependence on its predecessor, Tomorrow’s Kin (2017) or the novella of the same title that serves as the first book’s opening section – but such folk would be making ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Reign of the Departed by Greg Keyes

Greg Keyes, The Reign of the Departed (Night Shade 978-1-59780-937-5, $14.99, 348pp, tp) June 2018. Cover by Micah Epstein.

Errol Greyson says he didn’t intend to commit suicide – but he wakes in a body carved of wood and joined by wire and bolts, and his classmate Aster tells him his real body’s in a coma. She’s originally from another world, and needs to re­turn there for the magic water ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Smoke by Simon Ings

The Smoke, Simon Ings (Gollancz 978-0-575-12007-5, £16.99, 298pp, tp) February 2018.

Simon Ings’s The Smoke – his second new SF novel in four years after having taken more than a decade off for more mainstream projects (including a fascinating study of sci­ence under Stalin) – is quite a bit more radical than 2014’s Wolves, which was judiciously and elegantly restrained in its examination of the pos­sible impact of augmented reality, ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Cadaver & Queen by Alisa Kwitney

Cadaver & Queen, Alisa Kwitney (Harlequin Teen 978-1-335-47046-1, $18.99, 320pp, hc) February 2018.

In Alisa Kwitney’s alternate history Cadaver & Queen, the governments of Europe are laser-focused on constructing armies of “Bio-Mechan­icals.” These mechanized cadavers are perceived as the solution to the most painful cost of war: human soldiers lost to combat. The problem is that Bio-Mechanicals have proven themselves to be good at shuffling along and taking basic direction, ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews The Soldier by Neal Asher

The Soldier, Neal Asher (Night Shade 978-1-59780-943-6, $26.99, 375 pp, hc) May 2018. Cover by Adam Burn

Neal Asher keeps extending his already sprawl­ing Polity setting, devising ever more dire and dangerous scenarios and filling in a deep history characterized by predation, warfare, genocide, extinctions, and the apparent impossibility of getting rid of any threat (or extinct species) permanently. One of the most persistent and de­structive features of this universe ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Brief Cases by Jim Butcher

Jim Butcher, Brief Cases (Ace 978-0-451-49210-4, $28.00, 437pp, hc) June 2018. Cover by Chris McGrath.

This new collection in the Dresden Files series offers 12 entertaining stories, some real gems. Three of my favorites, previously collected as Working for Bigfoot, are relatively light stories about Harry and a sasquatch who needs help for his half-human son. Several take the viewpoint of characters other than Harry Dresden, with a couple of ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

Space Opera, Catherynne M. Valente (Saga 978-1481497497, $19.99, 304pp, hc) April 2018.

Like its acknowledged inspiration, The Hitch­hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Catherynne M. Valente’s Space Opera is something of a Christmas tree: a fairly generic template adorned with so many glittering ornaments and exuberant sentences careening along like beaded garlands (some of Valente’s more ambitious sentences sound as though they need bongos for backup), that pretty soon the plot ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Though Hell Should Bar the Way by David Drake

Though Hell Should Bar the Way, David Drake (Baen 978-1481483131, $25.00, 416pp, hc). April 2018.

Though Hell Should Bar the Way is the twelfth and latest novel in David Drake’s Republic of Cinnabar Navy (RCN) series, published in the UK by Titan Books and in the USA by Baen. Drake is well known for his command of military science fiction – his record of success stretches back to the Hammer’s ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Time Was by Ian McDonald

Time Was, Ian McDonald (Tor.com 978-0-7653-9146-9, $14.99, 144pp, tp) April 2018.

Throughout his career, Ian McDonald has demon­strated a remarkable versatility of style and language. His recent fiction has ranged from the YA sense-of-wonder exuberance of his parallel-world Everness series to the efficient social melodrama narration of the Luna novels, but he’s always been equally capable of great lyricism, and his new novella, Time Was, is a persuasive and gorgeous ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron reviews MEM: A Novel by Bethany C. Morrow

MEM: A Novel, Bethany C. Morrow (Unnamed 978-1-944700-55-3, $25.00, 175pp, hc) May 2018.

MEM is a short novel with so many complex elements, so many wild and wonderful ideas, that summarizing it proves difficult. Yet the circumstances of its world are set forth so gracefully and confidently that understanding it is easy. In its opening pages a woman walks into a vault and explains to the receptionist waiting there that ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews A Call to Vengeance by David Weber, Timothy Zahn & Thomas Pope

A Call to Vengeance, David Weber, Timothy Zahn & Thomas Pope (Baen 978-1476782102, $26.00, 480pp, hc) March 2018.

A Call to Vengeance by David Weber, Timothy Zahn & Thomas Pope is the third and latest novel in the Manticore Ascendant series, which began with A Call to Duty and continued in A Call to Arms. Set several hundred years prior to the events of Weber’s Honor Harrington novels, the series ...Read More

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John Langan Reviews The Hunger by Alma Katsu

The Hunger, Alma Katsu (Putnam 978-0735212510, $27.00, 384pp, hc) March 2018.

Every history is to some extent a secret his­tory, offering new information on its sub­ject, or, barring that, a fresh perspective, which may yield similar results. Nowhere is this more true than in books addressing themselves to famous subjects, which must make a greater effort to earn space on bookshelves already crowded. If historical fiction has the advantage of ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Lake Silence by Anne Bishop

Anne Bishop, Lake Silence (Ace 978-0-399-58724-5, $27.00, 402pp, hc) March 2018.

The need for understanding between humans and Others remains the crux of this first volume in a new arc in Bishop’s world of the Others. There are definite similarities with the previous volumes, such as the focus on bemused Others learning from a hu­man female needing protection from bad men, but new characters and the small-town setting offer intriguing ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Embers of War by Gareth L. Powell

Embers of War, Gareth L. Powell (Titan 978-1785655180, $14.95, 412pp, pb) February 2018.

While there are novels that unapologetically defy categorisation to a single subgenre, Em­bers of War is very definitely space opera – one might even say defiantly so. Gareth L. Powell’s previously best-known novel (Ack-Ack Ma­caque, joint winner of the 2013 BSFA Best Novel Award) isn’t the kind of work that would appear to lead into a seamless ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Witchy Winter by D.J. Butler

D.J. Butler, Witchy Winter (Baen 978-1-4814-8314-8, $25.00,591pp, hc) April 2018. Cover by Daniel Dos Santos.

War and winter are coming in this second vol­ume in the epic flintlock fantasy series begun in Witchy Eye, which introduced this fascinating alternate history of a world where magic is real, and has greatly changed the course of history. Re­ligions are fascinatingly altered, and the magic, from various cultures, is intriguing. Despite the changes, ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller

Blackfish City, by Sam J. Miller (Ecco 978-0-06-268482-0, $22.99, 336pp, hardcover) April 2018

I’m going to confess to an idiosyncratic critical weakness: if you want me to be immediately predisposed towards your novel, preface it with an epigram from Dhalgren. Not only will I instantly respect your taste and cultural leanings, but I will be excited to see if your own book can possibly be worthy of bearing ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

The Cruel Prince, Holly Black (Little, Brown 978-0-316-31027-7, $18.99, 371pp, hc) Janu­ary 2018.

Immersing oneself in the writing of author Holly Black, readers quickly discern that her formula is to create intricate, tricky, heart-stopping plots in which her characters will end up running for their lives across brilliantly invented landscapes, while also cementing and/or blowing up friendships and possibly falling in love (or at the very least engaging in some ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Books by A.P. Winter and Patricia Briggs

A.P. Winter, The Boy Who Went Magic (Chicken House UK 978-1910655092, £6.99, tp) June 2017; (Chicken House US 978-1-338-21714-8, $17.99, 279pp, hc) April 2018. Cover by Manuel Sumberac.

Magic is a myth repressed by the government in this rousing middle-grade fantasy, a solid first novel. Some 200 years before, when kings had real power, people believed in magic and the magical land of Ferenor. Bert Rumsey, an orphan raised at ...Read More

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John Langan Reviews The Teardrop Method by Simon Avery

The Teardrop Method, Simon Avery (TTA Press £8.00, 160pp, tp) November 2017.

Krisztina, the protagonist of Simon Avery’s excel­lent novella, The Teardrop Method, is a musician living in Budapest. A singer whose debut album earned her promising notice, she turned her back on the music industry in favor of love. In the aftermath of a devastating accident that befalls her partner, however, Krisztina begins to hear fragments of a new ...Read More

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