Liz Bourke Reviews The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark

The Black God’s Drums, P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com Publishing 978-1250294715, $11.99, 112pp, tp) August 2018.

The Black God’s Drums does leave me feeling very enthusiastic. This delight­ful novella is a breath of fresh air, and promises good things for P. Djèlí Clark’s career – though I should note that he already has no mean track record in shorter fiction.

The Black God’s Drums sets itself in a steampunk-esque alternate history ...Read More

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John Langan Reviews Halcyon by Rio Youers

Halcyon, Rio Youers (St. Martin’s 9781250072412 $27.99, 384pp, hc) July 2018.

While Halcyon, Rio Youers’s new novel, is not a direct sequel to last year’s The Forgotten Girl, it shares the previous novel’s interest in psychic phenomena. Once again, Youers links psychic ability to a young woman, in this case, Edith Lovegrove, 10-year-old daughter of Martin and Laura, younger sister of 15-year-old Shirley. As the novel begins, Edith suffers what ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

My Plain Jane, Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows (Harper Teen 978-0-06-265277-5, $17.99, 464pp) June 2018.

Let’s get this out of the way right now: you do not need to have read (or liked) Jane Eyre to enjoy the hell out of My Plain Jane. Over the years I have tried to finish Charlotte Brontë’s “masterpiece” many times and could never get past my frustration with Jane’s willingness to ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Future is Female!, edited by Lisa Yaszek

The Future is Female! 25 Classic Science Fic­tion Stories by Women, from Pulp Pioneers to Ursula K. Le Guin, Lisa Yaszek, ed. (Library of America 978-1-59853-580-8, $27.95, 532pp, hc) September 2018.

In her pioneering 2016 anthology Sisters of To­morrow, Lisa Yaszek brought to light a number of women SF writers of the pulp era, most long forgotten and out of print for decades. Now, with The Future is Female! 25 ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Low Chicago Edited by George R.R. Martin & Melinda M. Snodgrass

Low Chicago, George R.R. Martin & Melinda M. Snodgrass, eds. (Tor 978-0-7653-9056-1, $27.99, hc) June 2018.

John Jos. Miller sets up the premise for this latest Wild Cards mosaic novel in the first part of “A Long Night at the Palmer House”: a high stakes poker game hosted in the present day by an elite gangster at Chicago’s historic and still luxurious Palmer House Hotel. He also introduces the players ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Adrift by Rob Boffard

Adrift, Rob Boffard (Orbit 978-0356510439, £8.99, 400pp, pb) June 2018.

Adrift is Rob Boffard’s fourth novel and the first piece of his that I’ve read, and it makes me think I’ve been missing out by not noticing his work earlier. This is a strong, well-written effort with an ensemble cast and a solid science fictional setting.

Sigma Station used to be a mining station, but with the end of the ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews The Apex Book of World SF 5

The Apex Book of World SF: Volume 5, edited by Cristina Jurado and Lavie Tidhar (Apex, $16.95, 359pp, hardcover) October 2018

It can be convincingly argued, I believe, that the expressed genuine interest of the English-speaking SF audience in foreign science fiction is exactly coterminous with the birth of the genre. For did not the very first issue of Amazing in 1926 feature work by Jules Verne? Yes, that’s ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Furyborn by Claire Legrand

Furyborn, Claire Legrand (Sourcebooks Fire 978-1492656623, $18.99, 512pp, hc) May 2018.

Claire Legrand is the author of several novels for children and young adults. Her most recent novel is Furyborn, aimed at the YA market but with plenty that would appeal to adult readers of SFF.

Furyborn follows two young women, Rielle Dardenne and Eliana Ferracora, whose worlds are separated by a full millennium, but whose lives and perhaps destinies ...Read More

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Lila Garrott Reviews The Oddling Prince by Nancy Springer

The Oddling Prince, Nancy Springer (Tachyon 978-1-61696-289-0, $15.95, 288pp, tp) May 2018.

Nancy Springer’s long career has produced the Tiptree-winning Larque on the Wing, as well as long-running mystery and YA series and multiple Arthurian novels. The Oddling Prince is not quite an Arthurian novel, existing in a peculiar liminal space in which many traits of the Arthurian legends are present (such as a prophesied once and future king), even ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Salvation by Peter F. Hamilton

Salvation, by Peter F. Hamilton (Del Rey 978-0399178764, $30, 576pp, hardcover) September 2018

Peter Hamilton just keeps getting better and better with each book, more assured and more craftsmanly adroit, and more inventive. And to his credit, he wants to stretch and try different things, not just repeat himself. His newest–the first in a fresh cycle–is, to my eye, rather different than any of his previous books. I detect ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Outsider by Stephen King

The Outsider, Stephen King (Scribner 978-1501180989 $30.00, 576pp, hc) May 2018.

According to Grady Hendrix, who spent a couple of years re-reading Stephen King’s published work for Tor.com (it’s a magnificent undertaking, and you should absolutely check it out) King has written 10 novels where the death of a child is central to the plot. With the release of The Out­sider, that number can be increased by one. This time ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews All I Ever Dreamed and Thoreau’s Microscope by Michael Blumlein

All I Ever Dreamed, Michael Blumlein (Valancourt 978-1-943910-99-1, $22.99, 506pp, tp) May 2018

Thoreau’s Microscope, Michael Blumlein (PM Press 978-1-62963-516-3, $14.00, 118pp, tp) June 2018.

Michael Blumlein has long brought a sharply original perspective to his science fiction, and one possible reason he’s not gained wider recognition is that his most better-known earlier works, such as the now-classic story “The Brains of Rats” and novels such as X,Y were generally ...Read More

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Arley Sorg Reviews Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Dread Nation, Justina Ireland (Balzer + Bray 978-0-06-257060-4, $17.99, 464pp, tp) April 2018.

Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation may have a zombie premise, but the read is far from standard pulp horror fare. Towards the end of the American Civil War, during the battle of Gettysburg, the dead rise, changing history in remarkable ways. With the abolition of slavery, Congress funds the Native and Negro Reeducation Act. Negroes are often put ...Read More

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John Langan Reviews Apart in the Dark: Novellas by Ania Ahlborn

Apart in the Dark: Novellas, Ania Ahlborn (Gallery 9781501187537 $16.00, 384pp, tp) January 2018.

For several years, Ania Ahlborn has been constructing narratives whose concern with aberrant psychology frequently intersects the supernatural. Apart in the Dark collects two novellas, “The Pretty Ones” and “I Call Upon Thee”, previously published electronically, which together offer a good introduction to her work. The book includes an introduction in which Ahlborn discusses her college ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Gone Away Place by Christopher Barzak

The Gone Away Place, Christopher Bar­zak (Knopf Books for Young Readers 978-0399556098, $17.99, 304pp, hc) May 2018.

On May 31, 1985, a series of devastat­ing tornadoes swept through Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Ontario, Canada. To this day it is the largest outbreak to hit the region, leaving 90 people dead, thousands injured, and amassing up to a billion dollars’ worth of damage. Christopher Barzak was ten years old when ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Clockwork Boys and The Wonder Engine by T. Kingfisher

Clockwork Boys, T. Kingfisher (Argyll Produc­tions 978-1614504160, $12.95, 262pp, tp) March 2018.

The Wonder Engine, T. Kingfisher (Argyll Productions 978-1614504177, $24.95, 318pp, hc) March 2018.

In case like me, you didn’t know: the Hugo and Nebula Award winning writer/artist/chicken wrangler Ursula Vernon reserves the name T. Kingfisher for her works that are better suited to an adult audience. Her Clocktaur War books are decidedly that – but not in a ...Read More

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John Langan Reviews Spectral Evidence by Gemma Files

Spectral Evidence, Gemma Files (Trepidatio 9781947654181 $15.95, 212pp, tp) February 2018.

Spectral Evidence, Gemma Files’s excellent new collection, is her first such book since 2004’s The Worm in Every Heart (2014 did bring We Will All Go Down Together, which assembled a number of shorter works, but it did so in the interest of fashioning them into a larger whole, a kind of hyper-novel, which is a different, though clearly ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews I Still Dream by James Smythe

I Still Dream, James Smythe (The Borough Press 978-0007541942, £12.99, 400pp, hc) April 2018.

James Smythe’s gripping, decades-spanning new novel I Still Dream begins with 17-year-old Laura Bow hiding a recent phone bill from her parents. She knows it’s a delaying tactic: her stepfather will eventually discover the charges she’s racked up, but access to the phone is a must-have. The year is 1997, the Internet has entered the mainstream, ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Phantom Files: Twain’s Treasure by William B. Wolfe

William B. Wolfe, The Phantom Files: Twain’s Treasure (Dreaming Robot Press 978-1-940924-29-8, $12.95, 247pp, tp) July 2018.

Mark Twain provides the focus for this amusing middle-grade fantasy novel, which follows a boy trying desperately to hide the fact he can see ghosts. Alex April can’t always tell the dead from the living, and that gets him into trouble because the ghosts always want things from him, and aren’t necessarily rational ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Leech Girl Lives by Rick Claypool

Leech Girl Lives, Rick Claypool (Spaceboy Books 978-0-9987120-7-9, $13.95, 322pp, tp) September 2017.

Art Inspector Margo Chicago (named in honor of boundary-pushing art creator Judy Chicago) is in a pickle. She’s trapped outside of the Bublinaplex, a geodesic dome city that protects its residents from the giant fungi and other unsavories that slither and ooze through the landscape. Outside is not a great place to be, if you are a ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Michael Bishop’s The Sacerdotal Owl and Three Other Long Tales

The Sacerdotal Owl and Three Other Long Tales, by Michael Bishop (Fairwood Press 978-1933846729, $17.99, 280pp, trade paperback) August 2018

Vividly do I recall purchasing the 1970 issue of Galaxy magazine that contained Michael Bishop’s first story sale, “Piñon Fall.”  After all, I was only sixteen years old at the time, and in the midst of my own personal Golden Age of SF immersion.  Liking the eerie and evocative ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Dreadful Company by Vivian Shaw

Vivian Shaw, Dreadful Company (Orbit US 978-0-316-43463-8, $15.99, 323pp, tp) July 2018. Cover by Will Staehle.

Dr. Greta Helsing goes to Paris for a medical conference on treating supernatural sorts and natu­rally runs into monsters, from an unexpected little wellmonster in her sink, to some overly cliché goth vampires with pretentious names and a leader with an old grudge against Lord Ruthven. He’s only in Paris long enough to take ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Alien Virus Love Disaster by Abbey Mei Otis

Alien Virus Love Disaster: Stories, Abbey Mei Otis (Small Beer 978-1-618-73140-1, $16.00, 238pp, tp) August 2018.

As I’ve mentioned before, the better small presses cultivate a curatorial sensibility, a distinct personality which can be a reliable indicator that, whatever this new book is, it’s probably at least interesting. Small Beer Press is near the top of this list, and Alien Virus Love Disaster is a good example of what they ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Hills Have Spies by Mercedes Lackey

Mercedes Lackey, The Hills Have Spies (DAW 978-0-7564-1317-0, $27.00, 360pp, hc) June 2018. Cover by Jody A. Lee.

Lackey returns to Valdemar with this first book in the Family Spies series, the ninth novel featuring Herald Mags, now a father with three children. His eldest, Perry, is only 13, but has been training to follow in his father’s footsteps all his life, and though he has yet to be Chosen ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews The Million by Karl Schroeder

The Million, Karl Schroeder (Tor 978-1-250-18542-6, $14.99, tp) August 2018. Cover by Jan Weßbecher.

Karl Schroeder’s novella The Million belongs to the future designed for his previous novel, Lockstep (2014), a setting that I still find strongly reminiscent of that branch of 1950s and ’60s SF in which One Big Idea generates a whole society (a cousin to Kingsley Amis’s “comic inferno” model). Again there is a strong dose of ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Promise of Space by James Patrick Kelly

The Promise of Space, James Patrick Kelly (Prime 978-1-607-01495-9, $15.95, 384pp, tp) July 2018.

In his afterword to The Promise of Space, James Patrick Kelly assures us that none of the 16 stories were included in his massive Centipede Press collection from a couple of years ago, the impos­ingly titled Masters of Science Fiction: James Patrick Kelly – which serves as an indication that his accomplished career as a short ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Privilege of Peace by Tanya Huff

Tanya Huff, The Privilege of Peace (DAW 978-0-7564-1153-4, $26.00, 342pp, hc) June 2018. Cover by Paul Youll.

Torin Kerr – and the alien plastic – are back in this lively third novel in the Peacekeeper trilogy, itself a follow-up to the military SF Confederation novels. Torin and her Wardens Strike Team Al­pha continue their work keeping the peace when things get violent, but they’re having continued trouble from the group ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Expert System’s Brother by Adrian Tchai­kovsky

The Expert System’s Brother, Adrian Tchai­kovsky (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-250-19756-6, $14.99, 174pp, tp) July 2018. Cover by Raphael Lacoste.

The Expert System’s Brother is a new novella by Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning author Adrian Tchaikovsky (Children of Time, Ironclads) from Tor.com Publishing’s well-regarded novella line. Tchaikovsky is developing quite a range when it comes to science fiction, from the near-future grim military story of Ironclads to the deep-time, far-future hard evolutionary ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik (Del Rey 978-0-399-18098-9, $28.00, 440pp, hc) July 2018.

One of the highlights of Navah Wolfe & Dominic Parisien’s The Starlit Wood a couple of years ago was Naomi Novik’s “Spinning Silver”, a shrewd deconstruction of the Rumpelstiltskin tale, which highlighted, among other things, the anti-Semitic undertones of the original, a point which Jane Yo­len and others have previously noted. Now Novik has expanded Spinning Silver into ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Irontown Blues by John Varley

Irontown Blues, by John Varley (Ace 978-1-101-98937-1, $16, 304pp, trade paperback August 2018

The science fiction and fantasy genres are conducive to long-lived series. Any number of writers who have managed to contrive extensive careers have found fandoms who relish receiving continuing installments of their favorite sagas. Sometimes enthusiastically, sometimes reluctantly, these writers keep the franchises ticking along. Jack Williamson gave us The Legion of Space in 1947–and in ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Red Waters Rising by Laura Anne Gilman

Laura Anne Gilman, Red Waters Rising (Saga 978-1-4814-2975-7, $16.99, 350pp, tp) June 2018. Cover by Emma Ríos.

The Devil’s West trilogy concludes – sort of – with this novel, which finds Isobel and Gabriel head­ing south for the winter, ending Isobel’s training trip as the Devil’s Hand on the eastern edge of the Devil’s Territory, across the Big Muddy river from what would be New Orleans in our world. Isobel’s ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews A Voice in the Night by Jack McDevitt

A Voice in the Night, by Jack McDevitt (Subterranean 978-1-59606-880-3, $40.00, 464pp, hardcover) 31 August 2018

With nearly two dozen novels published, Jack McDevitt is one of those writers whose sturdy and engaging presence in the territory of long-form fiction definitely overshadows his stature at shorter lengths. But since his first story sale in 1981–nigh unto forty years ago, impossible as that seems!–he has accumulated, by ISFDB’s catalog, over ...Read More

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