Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Changeling by Victor LaValle

The Changeling, Victor LaValle (Spiegel & Grau 978-0-8129-9594-7, $28.00, 434pp, hc) June 2017.

At least since his Shirley Jackson Award-winning The Big Machine back in 2009, and probably before that, Victor LaValle has been edging toward more direct engagement with genre materials, although his trademark approach has been to frame such materials in his sharp-edged brand of social realism. Last year, The Ballad of Black Tom (also nominated for multiple ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews The Clingerman Files by Mildred Clingerman

The Clingerman Files, by Mildred Clingerman (edited by Mark Bradley) (Size 5 1/2 B Publishing, 978-1981219926, $25, 306pp, trade paperback) November 2017

Mildred Clingerman (1918-1997) was a writer I grew up on, and loved. Although her heyday came during the 1950s, before I began reading SF, I would run across her memorable tales reprinted in anthologies–and also in their original venues, as I began to accumulate back issues of ...Read More

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Faren Miller Reviews Other Arms Reach Out to Me by Michael Bishop

Other Arms Reach Out to Me: Georgia Sto­ries, Michael Bishop (Fairwood Press/Kudzu Planet 978-1-933846-65-1, $17.99, 238pp, tp) June 2017. [Order from Fairwood Press, 21528 104th St. Ct. E, Bonney Lake WA 98391 (www.fairwoodpress.com).]

Other Arms Reach Out to Me, Michael Bishop’s new collection of Georgia Stories, sits just enough askew from mainstream notions of reality to read like Southern Gothic, whether he’s dealing with spinster nuns, the many kinds of ...Read More

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John Langan reviews Hieroglyphs of Blood & Bone by Michael Griffin

Hieroglyphs of Blood & Bone, Michael Griffin (JournalStone 9781945373527, $13.95, 176pp, tp) February 2017.

Hieroglyphs of Blood & Bone, Michael Griffin’s strong debut novel, is narrated by Guy, a man newly divorced from his wife of more than two decades. Adrift without her, he has moved into a houseboat with Karl, his co-worker at the boatyard where Guy has an office position. Karl is 29, a college dropout, a repository ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe reviews Quillifer by Walter Jon Williams

Quillifer, Walter Jon Williams (Saga 978-1-4814-8997-3, $27.99, 544pp, hc) October 2017.

In one of Donald Barthelme’s funnier stories, a hapless would-be writer finds that one of the questions on the National Writer’s Examination (“a five-hour fifty-minute examination, for his certificate”) involves recognizing at least four archaic words for sword. On the basis of his new novel Quillifer, Walter Jon Williams would get that certificate with flying colors. His vocabulary of ...Read More

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Rich Horton reviews Infinite Stars by Bryan Thomas Schmidt, ed.

Infinite Stars, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, ed. (Titan 9781785655937, $24.95, 688pp, hc) Oc­tober 2017.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt’s new anthol­ogy Infinite Stars is a big collection of space opera stories, split roughly evenly between reprints and originals. The reprints serve to some extent as an introduction to the subgenre, with examples from such classic series as Cordwainer Smith’s Instrumentality of Man­kind, Anne McCaffrey’s Ship Who Sang books, Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series, ...Read More

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Rachel Swirsky reviews Six Months, Three Days, Five Others by Charlie Jane Anders

Six Months, Three Days, Five Others, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor.com 9781250099068, $12.99, 185pp, tp) October 2017.

Charlie Jane Anders is ridiculously bril­liant.

Yes, this is going to be one of those reviews, full of glowing praise. Six Months, Three Days, Five Others collects six stories by Charlie Jane Anders, all edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden for Tor.com. Although some are better than others, they’re all good reads.

Anders’s unique humor ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe reviews Tool of War by Paolo Bacigalupi

Tool of War, Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown 978-0-316-22083-5, $17.99, 378pp, tp) October 2017.

Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker trilogy, which concludes with Tool of War, began as a disturbing ecological fable of young people trying to survive by mining ruined oil tankers for copper and other resources in a devastated southeastern US, mostly around New Orleans, then moved to an almost equally devastated DC area in The Drowned Cities. Over the ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini reviews The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear

The Stone in the Skull, Elizabeth Bear (Tor 978-07-6538-0135, $27.99, 368pp, hc). October 2017. Cover by Richard Anderson.

Full disclaimer: I haven’t read Elizabeth Bear’s first trilogy set in the Eternal Sky world (Range of Ghosts, etc.) but am also not sure it matters. While I’m sure a read­ing of The Stone in the Skull would be enhanced by knowing about this world before dropping into it, that knowledge is ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Down and Out in Purgatory: The Collected Stories of Tim Powers

Down and Out in Purgatory: The Collected Stories of Tim Powers, Tim Powers (Baen 978-1-4814-8279-0, $25, 496pp, hardcover) November 2017

Casual sports fans merely enjoy the games. Hardcore obsessive sports fans compile stats and follow the managerial maneuvers of the franchises. A similar dichotomy exists between casual readers of fantastika and the true aficionados. The latter nerds, such as myself, chart the careers of writers along several axes. And ...Read More

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Stefan Dziemianowicz reviews Haunted Nights by Ellen Datlow & Lisa Morton, eds.

Haunted Nights, Ellen Datlow & Lisa Morton, eds. (Blumhouse/Anchor 978-1-101-97383-7, $16.95, 368pp, tp) October 2017.

In the horror field it’s pretty much a given that every writer has at least one good Halloween story up his or her sleeve. Haunted Nights, edited by Ellen Datlow & Lisa Morton under the auspices of the Horror Writers Association, is an anthology of 16 previously unpublished stories on the Halloween theme that bears ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor reviews Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Wild Beauty, Anna-Marie McLemore (Feiwel and Friends 978-1-250-12455-5, $17.99, 352pp, hc) October 2017.

Entering into the lush, gorgeous garden of writ­ing that infuses Anna-Marie McLemore’s Wild Beauty, readers are lulled into thinking that what lies before them is a diversionary romance with moments of peril neatly inserted into a plot whose happily-ever-after ending is pre-ordained from the start. This, of course, is probably what McLemore wants readers to think; how ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe reviews Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr by John Crow­ley

Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr, John Crow­ley (Saga 978-1-4814-9559-2, $28.99, 464pp, hc) October 2017.

Toward the end of John Crowley’s aston­ishing new novel Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr, the immortal crow of the title asks a Coyote what they have ever got from the humans whose world has encroached upon and finally displaced their own, and the Coyote responds, “Stories…. We’re made of stories ...Read More

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Liz Bourke reviews Horizon by Fran Wilde

Horizon, Fran Wilde (Tor Books 978-0765377876, $27.99, 416pp, hc). September 2017. Cover by Tommy Arnold.

Fran Wilde’s Horizon marks the end of her Bone Universe books – at least for now. Hori­zon follows last year’s Cloudbound and 2015’s award-winning Updraft for a strong conclusion to this powerful trilogy about bone towers, social upheaval, and building the kind of society you want to live in.

Updraft was a novel about uncovering ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo 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, 544pp, hardcover) November 2017

Even disregarding the familiar spectacle of publishers eagerly emulating the bestsellers of their rivals, we can notice that book people like mini-trends. So does the culture in general. No harm to the phenomenon, really, it’s just the way humans operate. Let something fresh become even modestly successful and suddenly the marketplace perceives a hitherto-unrecognized demand, ...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 two Tensorate novellas by JY Yang

The Black Tides of Heaven, JY Yang (Tor.com Publishing 978-0-7653-9541-2, $3.99, 240pp, tp). September 2017. Cover by Yuko Shimizu.
The Red Threads of Fortune, JY Yang (Tor.com Publishing 978-0-7653-9539-9 $3.99, 216pp, tp). September 2017. Cover by Yuko Shimizu.

JY Yang’s first two Tensorate novellas, The Black Tides of Heaven and The Red Threads of Fortune, provide an interesting contrast to In Evil Times. Although the world the Tensorate novellas are ...Read More

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Russell Letson reviews Provenance by Ann Leckie

Provenance, Ann Leckie (Orbit, 978-0-316-38867-2, $26.00, 393pp, hc) September 2017. Cover by John Harris.

Ann Leckie’s Provenance takes place in the same far future as her Ancillary novels and shares some of that trilogy’s underlying issues: legal versus actual identity and citizenship status; the burdens, benefits, and oddities of cultural artifice or convention; the ways that polities can be subverted or per­verted. But there are no ancillaries or emerg­ing AIs ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini reviews The Real-Town Murders by Adam Roberts

The Real-Town Murders, Adam Roberts (Gollancz 978-14-73221-45-1, £16.99, 234pp, hc). August 2017.

Adam Roberts’s The Real-Town Murders is his version of a locked-room mystery, which is to say, it is both familiar and strange by equal turns. It is also delightful.

What is familiar is the set-up. Alma, a near-future private investigator, is delivered a case about a body found in the trunk of a car. Given that these particular ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Creatures of Will and Temper by Molly Tanzer

Creatures of Will and Temper, Molly Tanzer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/John Joseph Adams 978-1-328-71026-0, $16.99, 368pp, trade paperback) November 2017

The earliest publication from relative newcomer Molly Tanzer–as certified both by ISFDB and her own website–seems to be 2010’s “In Sheep’s Clothing,” from Running with the Pack, an anthology edited by Ekaterina Sedia. Although 2010 seems, from one vantage, to be the day before yesterday, it’s seven years gone ...Read More

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Faren Miller reviews The Strange Bird by Jeff VanderMeer

The Strange Bird, Jeff VanderMeer (Farrar, Straus & Giroux 978-0-374-714932 $2.99, 86pp, eb) July 2017.

Jeff VanderMeer’s short novel The Strange Bird is a spinoff from the novel Borne, with the same background: a wrecked, far-future Earth, now be­ing devastated by techno/magical, quasi-mythic Company Wars. The title character was conjured in a lab where what had been a woman is turned into a creature that’s part avian and capable of ...Read More

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Liz Bourke reviews In Evil Times by Melinda Snodgrass

In Evil Times, Melinda Snodgrass (Titan 978-1-7832-9584-5, $14.95, 400pp, pb). July 2017. Cover by Alex Ronald.

I wanted to have good things to say about In Evil Times, sequel to Melinda Snodgrass’s The High Ground (2016). Instead, I found reading it to be a very alienating experience. This is not, I hasten to add, because of any insufficiency in Snodgrass’s prose or skill as a novelist. Rather, it’s because of ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe reviews A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan El­lison by Nat Segaloff

A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan El­lison, Nat Segaloff (NESFA Press 978-1610373234, $35.00, 416pp, hc) July 2017.

For decades, people (myself included) have asked Harlan Ellison when he might get around to writing an autobiography, bringing together in one volume those voluminous anecdotes and memoirs that have peppered his speeches, introductions, and essays almost since his first story collections and conven­tion appearances. His response, at least when I ...Read More

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Faren Miller reviews The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

The Last Magician, Lisa Maxwell (Simon Pulse 978-1-4814-3207-8, $18.99, 500pp, hc) July 2017. Cover by Craig Howell & Cliff Nielsen.

The Last Magician is billed as YA and its chief protagonist is a girl in her late teens, but Lisa Maxwell doesn’t write down or pull many punches. Only after reviewing Belcher did I notice how the dialog sidesteps around Anne Bonny’s favorite word, while allowing an occasional “shit.” Although ...Read More

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Faren Miller reviews The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisen

The Stone Sky, N.K. Jemisen (Orbit 978-0-316-22924-1, $16.99, 420pp, tp) August 2017.

N.K. Jemisin ups the ante even more in The Stone Sky, finishing The Broken Earth trilogy with the fate of the planet in just a few hands and time run­ning out. Here millennia of history and lore stand behind gritty dramas of the moment – though perspective shifts feel even more jarring when all foreground action occurs in ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini reviews Upon This Rock: Book 1 – First Contact by David Marusek

Upon This Rock: Book 1 – First Contact, David Marusek (A Stack of Firewood Press 978-0-9988633-0-6, $9.99, 574pp, eb). June 2017.

David Marusek’s first big impact on the SF/F land­scape was 2005’s Counting Heads, a book about genetic engineering peopled with strong, interest­ing characters and a meandering yet purposeful plot. The sequel Mind Over Ship dropped four years later. Then, apart from publishing a couple of quiet short story collections, ...Read More

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Russell Letson reviews Iain M. Banks by Paul Kincaid

Iain M. Banks, Paul Kincaid (University of Illinois Press 978-0-252-04101-3, $95.00, hc; -08250-4, $22.00, 190pp, tp) May 2017. Cover by Mark J. Bradley.

Paul Kincaid’s Iain M. Banks takes on the task of accounting for a writer whose career sprawled across at least two literary categories and whose primary gifts (at least in the view of this reader) are a dizzying verbal adroitness married to a relentless and hard-edged philosophical ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor reviews Sovereign by April Daniels

Sovereign, April Daniels (Diversion Books 978-1-682-308-240, $14.99, 314pp, tp) July 2017.

Teenage superhero Danny Tozer returns for more adventures as the mighty Dread­nought in Sovereign, a sequel that packs a ton of personal and professional drama (plus superhero smashdowns) into its 300+ pages. The first thing, and most important, is that read­ers absolutely must read Dreadnought before tackling Sovereign. Trust me, you’re going to be hopelessly lost otherwise and will ...Read More

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Stefan Dziemianowicz reviews Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

Fever Dream, Samanta Schweblin (Riverhead 978-0-399-18459-8, $25.00, 192pp, hc) Janu­ary 2017.

The title of Samanta Schweblin’s first novel, Distan­cia de rescate, translates as “the rescue distance,” the term a character uses to describe the amount of ground she would have to cover in order to reach her young daughter and whisk her away from danger. The title of the English-language edition of the book, however, is Fever Dream, which speaks ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe reviews Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Warrior, Nnedi Okorafor (Viking 978-0-6707-8561-2, $18.99, 480pp, hc) October 2017

It’s been more than six years since Nnedi Okora­for’s Akata Witch, which introduced us to Sunny Nwazue, the American-born daughter of Nigerian parents (or Naijamerican) who moves to Nigeria at 12, begins to discover her own latent powers as a “free agent,” joins the secret society of Leopard people, discovers the magical hidden village of Leopard Knocks, and finally ...Read More

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Liz Bourke reviews An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard

An Unkindness of Magicians, Kat Howard (Saga Press 978-1-4814-5119-2, $25.99, 368pp, hc) September 2017.

Kat Howard’s first novel, Roses and Rot had strong folkloric influences. It was a version of Tam Lin set in an art­ists’ retreat, and its main characters were two sisters – although only one was our viewpoint character – who had survived childhood parental abuse to find relative success in their respective careers as a dancer ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe reviews The Twilight Pariah by Jeffrey Ford

The Twilight Pariah, Jeffrey Ford (Tor.com 978-0-7653-9734-8, $14.99, 164pp, tp) Septem­ber 2017.

A group of college students setting out to ex­cavate the grounds of a long-deserted mansion at night sounds like the plot of about half the low-budget horror films you scroll past while browsing through listings for the Shudder or Chiller channels, and I suspect Jeffrey Ford was perfectly aware of this while writing The Twi­light Pariah, a suitably ...Read More

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