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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

Tom Whitmore Reviews March of War by Bennett R. Coles

March of War, Bennett R. Coles (Titan 978-1-78329-427-5, $14.95, 336pp, pb) October 2017.

If more military SF books were like the Virtues of War trilogy by Bennett R. Coles, I’d read much more of this subgenre. March of War has grip­ping, suspenseful writing with excellent charac­ters and very believable conflicts within and be­tween individuals, and a firm grasp of the idea that, in any war, there are good and evil ...Read More

Read more

Liz Bourke Reviews The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera

The Tiger’s Daughter, K. Arsenault Rivera (Tor 978-0-7653-9253-4, $15.99, 512pp, tp) October 2017. Cover art by Jaime Jones.

I read The Tiger’s Daughter, K. Arsenault Rivera’s debut novel, with very few expec­tations. I’d heard it was Mongol-inspired epic fantasy. That was about it – and the cover copy doesn’t exactly give one much more than that to go on.

This is, indeed, Mongol-inspired epic fan­tasy. It’s a coming-of-age story, and ...Read More

Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews Charles Stross’ Dark State

Dark State, by Charles Stross (Tor 978-0-7653-3757-3, $25.99, 352pp, hc) January 2018.

Charles Stross launched his “Merchant Princes” franchise in 2004 with The Family Trade. There were subsequently five more volumes in what might be thought of as the “first season” of the enterprise. I was able to read the first two installments and review them for Scott Edelman, then editing the online zine SF Weekly. There I ...Read More

Read more

Adrienne Martini Reviews Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Sourdough, Robin Sloan (MCD Farrar, Straus and Giroux 978-0-374-20310-8, $26.00, 272pp, hc) September 2017.

In Robin Sloan’s Sourdough, Lois is a software engineer at one of San Francisco’s hottest tech companies. She’s just moved to town from a per­fectly fine hometown in the Midwest, lured out to the coast by money and a tiny urge for change. And change she does.

The catalyst is a crock of sourdough starter given ...Read More

Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews K.J. Parker’s The Father of Lies

The Father of Lies, by K.J. Parker (Subterranean 978-1596068520, $40.00, 544pp, hardcover) 31 January 2018.

Like many other ultra-prolific and career-splitting authors before him (I’m thinking “Evan Hunter” and “Ed McBain” as an example), Tom Holt manages to put out multiple books every year, one or more under “Tom Holt,” and one or more under “K. J. Parker.” The year 2017 saw the publication of Holt’s The Management Style ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

The Disappearances, Emily Bain Murphy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 978-0-544-87936-2, $17.99, 385pp, hc) July 2017.

Initially, Emily Bain Murphy’s The Disap­pearances reads as straightforward histori­cal fiction. It’s 1942 and teenage Aila is fac­ing the stark reality of life in the wake of her mother’s recent death. To make matters worse, her father is off to the war in the Pacific and she and her younger brother Miles must go live with ...Read More

Read more

Russell Letson Reviews The Corporation Wars: Emergence by Ken MacLeod

The Corporation Wars: Emergence, Ken MacLeod (Orbit 978-0-356-50504-6, £14.99, 336pp, hc) September 2017.

Ken MacLeod’s The Corporation Wars is presented as a trilogy, but I take it to be another of those increasingly common very-long-novels-in-three-decker-form. Even the title format, which puts the overall series title before the volume title, Emergence, signals a single continuous story spread across multiple volumes, with little more separating the acts than the equivalent of a ...Read More

Read more

Adrienne Martini Reviews Provenance by Ann Leckie

Provenance, Ann Leckie (Orbit 978-0-316-38867-2, $26.00, 448pp, hc) September 2017. Cover by John Harris.

Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch Trilogy won more or less every genre award there is – and for good reason. The Ancillary books played with gender and civilization, while still hewing close to a space opera framework. The plot burned along and the characters felt alien, somehow, while remaining familiar.

Provenance returns to that same universe, but ...Read More

Read more