Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Marlon James (Riverhead 978-0-7352-2017-1, $30.00, 640pp, hc) February 2019.

Novelists who approach genre materials after having been more or less certi­fied as “literary” writers tend to start by revisiting fairly familiar territory – zombie apocalypses (Colson Whitehead), vampires (Justin Cronin), drizzly dystopias (just about everyone else). Marlon James, with his Man Booker Prize for A Brief History of Seven Killings and several other prominent nomina­tions, ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini & Russell Letson Review The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

The Raven Tower, Ann Leckie (Orbit 978-0-316-38869-6, $26.00, 432pp, hc) February 2019.

You likely know Ann Leckie from her multi-award winning books set in the Ancillary Justice universe. These books took a sub-genre we know well – space opera – and told it slant. Yes, the tales spanned gal­axies and generations, but her vision filtered these hoary old tropes into something fresh by focusing on gender and identity, while ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Migration by Helen Marshall

The Migration, Helen Marshall (Random House Canada 978-0-735-27262-0, C$24.99, 304pp, tp) March 2019. (Titan 978-1789091342, £8.99, 288pp, tp) March 2019.

I became aware of Helen Marshall through her short fiction, particularly her stunning debut collection Hair Side, Flesh Side. The stories, laid out like the body of an angel (thanks to Kirstyn McDermott for pointing that out to me), pull off the difficult feat of com­bining the emotionally ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Wicked King by Holly Black and The Supernormal Sleuthing Service: The Sphinx’s Secret by Gwenda Bond & Christopher Rowe

The Wicked King, Holly Black (Little, Brown 978-0-316-31035-2, $18.99, 324pp, hc) January 2019.

Holly Black’s highly anticipated sequel to her outstanding The Cruel Prince has arrived and somehow, she manages to put even more intrigue and tension into this second volume. The Wicked King picks up a few months after the first book’s stunner of an ending, (and get ready – she packs that same cliffhanger punch with this ...Read More

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Tom Whitmore Reviews Trial by Treason by Dave Duncan

Trial by Treason, Dave Duncan (Night Shade Books 978-1-59780-954-2, $24.99, 285 pp, hc) October 2018. Cover by Steven Youll.

Trial by Treason is the second in a series of historical fantasy novels. Duncan, who died last year, was a steady, reliable writer: his stories filled a comfortable niche, and this book is no exception. He completed the third volume, Merlin Redux, before his death, and it’s expected this ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews A Bad Deal for the Whole Galaxy by Alex White

A Bad Deal for the Whole Galaxy, Alex White (Orbit 978-0-316-41210-0, $15.99, 532pp, tp) December 2018. Cover by Lisa Marie Pompilio.

Alex White kicked off a rip-roaring (if you’ll pardon a hoary expression) space opera series in A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe in summer 2018. In December, he followed up with A Bad Deal for the Whole Gal­axy, a new instalment in this inventively ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Infinite Detail by Tim Maughan

Infinite Detail, Tim Maughan (MCD x FSG Originals 978-0-374-17541-2, $16.00, 384pp, tp) March 2019.

Tim Maughan first came to my attention with his 2011 collection Paintwork. The slim book featured three stories involving bleeding-edge technologies like augmented real­ity told from an outsider’s perspective: a street artist in Bristol, gamers in Cuba, an out-of-work documentary film-maker. In 2016 Maughan wrote the short-film In the Robot Skies (directed by Liam ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang and The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

Zero Sum Game, S.L. Huang (Self-published 978-0-996-07003-4, $12.95, 326pp, tp) March 2014. (Tor 978-1-250-18025-4, $25.99, 336pp, hc) October 2018.

Cas Russell uses her more-than-human math skills to find lost things in S.L. Huang’s Zero Sum Game. Those skills are tested when Russell finds herself rescuing a client’s sister who has gotten kidnapped (sort of) by a gang of drug dealers. Huang smartly starts in media res – that ...Read More

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Carolyn F. Cushman Reviews Death & Honey, Edited by Kevin Hearne

Kevin Hearne, ed., Death & Honey (Subterranean Press 978-1-59606-914-5, $45.00, 300pp, hc) February 2019. Cover by Galen Dara.

Murder and bees make an interesting topic for this original anthology of three fantasy novellas by Kevin Hearne, Lila Bowen (Delilah S. Dawson), and Chuck Wendig, each writing in their own popular worlds. Hearne offers “The Buzz Kill”, a peculiarly sweet and funny new tale in the Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries series, a ...Read More

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Tom Whitmore Reviews The Widening Gyre by Michael R. Johnston

The Widening Gyre, Michael R. Johnston (Flame Tree Press, 978-1-78758-145-6, $24.95, 256pp, hc) August 2018. Cover by Flame Tree Studio.

The Widening Gyre is Michael R. Johnston’s first book, and he’s off to a good start. The book is a set of classic space-opera tropes: humans have been almost wiped out a few centuries ago; the rem­nants of a colony ship were picked up by the Zhen Empire, a ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews Lost Gods by Micah Yongo

Lost Gods, Micah Yongo (Angry Robot 978-0-85766-737-3, $12.99, 448pp, pb) July 2018

One of the daunting aspects of epic fantasy is the double duty it must do: it must be a genre novel with its own setting, ideas, and language, and it must be a historical novel, offering a well-thought-out contextual backdrop of nations, epochs, and ruling figures on which to project its characters’ actions. The grandness of this ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

The Psychology of Time Travel, Kate Mascarenhas (Head of Zeus 978-1788540100, £14.99, 368pp, hc) August 2018. (Crooked Lane Books 978-1683319443, $26.99, 336pp, hc) February 2019.

I knew I was going to love Kate Mascarenhas’ debut novel, The Psychology of Time Travel, when, in the opening pages, a soon to be time-travelling bunny is given the name Patrick Troughton. The year is 1967 and four scientists, Barbara, Margaret, Grace, ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark

The Haunting of Tram Car 015, P. Djèlí Clark. ( Publishing 978-1-250-29480-7, $14.99, 144pp, tp) February 2019. Cover by Stephan Martiniere.

I’ve yet to meet a story by P. Djèlí Clark that I didn’t like. Mind you, I’ve only read three of them, but on the evidence, he writes delightfully. The Haunting of Tram Car 015 is his second novella from Publishing, and this one returns to ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Rewrite: Loops in the Timescape by Gregory Benford

Rewrite: Loops in the Timescape, Gregory Benford (Saga 978-1-5344-1127-2, $27.99, 368pp, hc), January 2019.

It’s been nearly four decades since Gregory Benford’s classic, multiple award-winning Timescape, which was lauded as much for its convincing portrayal of working scientists as for its ingenious notion of tachyonic cross-time communication. Benford describes Rewrite as a “conceptual sequel” to that novel, but for the most part the scientists in it are walk-on ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

Empire of Sand, Tasha Suri (Orbit 978-0-316-44971-7, $15.99, 480pp, tp) November 2018.

A reliable way to revive epic fantasy, which seems to be going through many of the same motions it’s been tracing for 60 years, is to set it in a culture other than a West­ern one – other than a thinly disguised United Kingdom, to be uncomfortably specific – but if a white writer does this, she ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Hod King by Josiah Bancroft

The Hod King, Josiah Bancroft (Orbit 978-0316517980, $15.99, 624pp, tp) January 2019.

To the familiar litany of author names that illustrate self-publishing successes – Hugh Howey, Andy Weir, E.L. James – you can add that of Josiah Bancroft. Convinced of the quality of his first novel, Senlin Ascends, he issued it himself in 2013, with the goal of “selling five hundred copies.” Five years later, new editions of ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Elevation Audiobook by Stephen King

Elevation, Stephen King; narrated by the author (Simon & Schuster Audio 978-1-50826047-9, $19.99, CD, 3.75 hr., unabridged [also available as a digital download]) October 2018.

Apparently, not only are the people of Castle Rock ME used to experiencing all kinds of hor­rible supernatural events (as per several Stephen King novels, stories, and a Hulu series), they’re also more than a little homophobic. Well, except for Scott Carey, who’s oblivious ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Alliance Rising by C.J. Cherryh & Jane S. Fancher

Alliance Rising, C.J. Cherryh & Jane S. Fancher (DAW, 978-0756412715, $26.00, 354 pp, hc) January 2019. Cover by Micah Epstein.

The title page of C.J. Cherryh and Jane S. Fancher’s Alliance Rising identifies it as “An Alliance-Union Novel,” part of the extensive common-background sequence that goes back to the beginning of Cherryh’s writing career. This particular segment of that sprawl­ing future history belongs to the temporal and spatial neighborhood ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Zero Bomb by M.T. Hill

Zero Bomb by M.T. Hill (Titan 978-1-78909-001-7, $14.95, 304pp, trade paperback) March 2019.

The byline M.T. Hill is a not-too-opaque screen for the writer Matt Hill, whose two previous books under that name have been The Folded Man (2013) and Graft (2016). I mention this fact only because his third novel, Zero Bomb, is so good that you will want to snatch up copies of the first two, as ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

In an Absent Dream, Seanan McGuire ( Publishing 978-0-7653-9929-8, $17.99, 192pp, tp) January 2019.

In Seanan McGuire’s elegantly written In an Absent Dream, readers are taken on a years-long coming-of-age story through the Goblin Market that proves to be just as insightful about our own world as the fantastic one she creates. This new entry in the Wayward Children series (which can be enjoyed as a standalone) follows ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Finders by Melissa Scott

Finders, Melissa Scott (Candlemark & Gleam 978-1-936460-88-5, $20.95, 372pp, tp) Decem­ber 2018.

I have to admit that I’m a fan of Melissa Scott, although I came late to her novels, and later still to her science fiction ones. Her work gen­erally concerns itself in some way with personal relationships, and with social alienation, and with, in some several cases, movements or moments arising out of the solidarity of the ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Today I Am Carey by Martin L. Shoemaker

Today I Am Carey by Martin L. Shoemaker (Baen 978-1-4814-8384-1, $16, 336pp, trade paperback) March 2019.

Martin Shoemaker’s debut novel (he had his first story publication in 2011), is based on his tale “Today I Am Paul“. That quietly emotional story about “Medical Care Android BRKCX-01932-217JH-98662” garnered Shoemaker a Nebula nomination, and consequently a fair number of readers will certainly be quite interested to see how Shoemaker expands what was ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Friday Black, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (Mariner Books 978-1328911247, $14.99, 208pp, tp) October 2018.

In Lit Hub’s Ultimate Fall Books Preview, which aggregates recommendations made by “various online publications,” Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s debut collection, Friday Black, was listed alongside such heavyweights as Bar­bara Kingsolver’s Unsheltered, Kate Atkinson’s Transcription, and Michelle Obama’s Becoming as one of the season’s most anticipated books. The hype reminded me of another debut ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Rosewater Audiobook by Tade Thompson

Rosewater, Tade Thompson; Bayo Gbada­mosi (Hachette Audio 978-1-54917090-4, $25.98, digital download, 13.5 hr., un­abridged) September 2018.

This first in a trilogy is set in an alternate mid-21st-century Nigeria, in which aliens have landed on Earth multiple times and seeded the atmosphere with mysterious, fungi-like microorganisms. The remaining alien is now permanently located in Nige­ria, surrounded by a biodome which, when it opens, grants miraculous healing powers, causes mysterious biological ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews How to Fracture a Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen

How to Fracture a Fairy Tale, Jane Yolen (Tachyon 978-1-61696-306-4, $16.95, 320pp, tp) November 2018.

Chances are that not every reader of Jane Yo­len’s collection How to Fracture a Fairy Tale – which follows close upon her World Fantasy Award winning The Emerald Circus – will remember the classic Rocky and Bullwinkle segments from nearly 60 years ago, narrated by Edward Everett Horton, which as far as I know ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Sarah Pinsker’s Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea

Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea by Sarah Pinsker (Small Beer Press 978-1-61873-155-5, $17, 286pp, trade paperback) March 2019

Having published her first story as recently as 2012 — that date surely seems barely in the rearview mirror to me, although your personal chrono-mileage may vary — Sarah Pinsker has accomplished a lot. With nearly fifty stories to her credit, and a couple of major awards, she has ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Alliance Rising by C.J. Cherryh & Jane S. Fancher

Alliance Rising, C.J. Cherryh & Jane S. Fancher (DAW 9780756412715, $26.00, 352pp, hc) Janu­ary 2019. Cover by Micah Epstein.

Alliance Rising is the first novel to be published by the partnership of SFWA Grand Master C.J. Cherryh and her wife, author and artist Jane S. Fancher. It’s also the latest novel to be set in Cherryh’s Alliance-Union continuity, a literary universe that incorporates novels like Downbelow Station and Cyteen ...Read More

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John Langan Reviews The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky by John Hornor Jacobs

The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky, John Hornor Jacobs (Harper Voyager $3.99 127pp, eb) Oc­tober 2018.

John Hornor Jacobs’s The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky is an excellently written, Lovecraft-inflected novella concerned with the history of an invented South American nation and the life of its most famous poet. It begins in Malaga, Spain, in 1987, with Isabel, the first-person narrator, noticing an older man wearing an ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Faerie Knitting Audiobook by Alice & Lisa Hoffman

Faerie Knitting, Alice & Lisa Hoffman; Janu­ary LaVoy, narrator (Simon & Schuster Audio/Blackstone Audio 978-150827645-6, $21.99, CD, 1.5 hr., unabridged [also available as a digital download]) September 2018.

Somewhere I have a half-finished article that I always intended to submit to a knitting maga­zine, concerning the strong parallels between SF geekery and knitting geekery. Both involve a certain intensity of focus on the topic, utilize a specialized vocabulary, hold ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar

Unholy Land, Lavie Tidhar (Tachyon Publica­tions 978-1616963040, $15.95, 288pp, tp) October 2018.

In 1938 (or possibly 1939) there was a plan to settle European Jews facing rising anti-semitism in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. It never eventuated. More than a century prior, and a good 80 years before the establishment of modern-day Zionism, Mordechai Manuel Noah attempted to establish a Jewish State, called Ararat, in Grand Island NY. ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Uncommon Miracles by Julie C. Day

Uncommon Miracles, Julie C. Day (PS 978-1-786363-34-3, £20.00, 234pp, hc) October 2018.

Well, aren’t we about overdue for the bunny apoc­alypse? That seems to be the question Julie C. Day raises in “Everyone Gets a Happy Ending”, the lead story in her first collection Uncommon Miracles, and it’s not quite as whimsical as it sounds. It follows the familiar pattern of end-of-days tales, with two friends making their ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Foundryside Audiobook by Robert Jackson Bennett

Foundryside, Robert Jackson Bennett; Tara Sands, narrator (Random House Audio, $32.95, digital download, 19.5 hr., unabridged) August 2018.

The city of Tevanne runs on magitech: “Scrivings,” writings based on the relics of an ancient magical civilization, are used to power vehicles and all manner of technologi­cal innovations. But only the wealthy merchant guilds and their employees benefit from these, or indeed, from any public services at all. The guild­less ...Read More

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