Russell Letson Reviews The Long Sunset by Jack McDevitt

The Long Sunset, Jack McDevitt (Saga 978-1-4814-9793-0, $27.99, 451pp, hc) April 2018. Cover by John Harris.

Here I am, still reading novels from two very long-running series. How could I not? These books have been, like rolling stones, gathering momentum over the years, de­veloping their characters and worlds and (to mix the metaphor) poking and prodding at their givens and motif-sets and turning them around to find new angles or ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, Kelly Robson ( Publishing 978-1-250-16384-4, $3.99, 232pp, eb). March 2018. Cover by Jon Foster.

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson is cunningly structured, a sly sleight of hand that sees two parallel stories told simultaneously. One of these stories is entirely linear, as befits a time-travel narrative. The other story… is not.

In Mesopotamia, in or around 2024 BCE, the king ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Spirits of the Vasty Deep by Brian Stableford

Spirits of the Vasty Deep, by Brian Stableford (Snuggly Books 978-1-943813-54-4, $17.95, 300pp, trade paperback) March 2018

For a stretch of years in the recent past, the indefatigable and talented Brian Stableford was producing upwards of a dozen books annually. These consisted of his own fiction; translations for the essential Francophile publisher Black Coat Press; and non-fiction critical works, including the massive four-volume set New Atlantis: A Narrative History ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel

Pride and Prometheus, John Kessel (Saga 978-1-4814-8147-2, $27.99, 384pp, hc) February 2018.

One of many things that come to mind in reading Pride and Prometheus, John Kessel’s thoroughly enjoyable full-length expansion of his 2008 Nebula- and Shirley Jackson-winning novelette, is that Pride and Prejudice might have made a pretty suitable title for Frankenstein, at least from the unfortunate creature’s point of view. After all, he’s the product of Victor Frankenstein’s ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Void Black Shadow by Corey J. White

Void Black Shadow, Corey J. White ( Publishing 978-0–7653-9692-1, $3.99, 218pp, eb). March 2018. Cover by Tommy Arnold.

Void Black Shadow, the sequel to Corey J. White’s explosive Killing Gravity and the sec­ond volume in the Voidwitch Saga, isn’t what you might call measured, not by a long chalk. Hectic is one word for it. Breakneck another.

Mariam “Mars” Xi is a living weapon, a “voidwitch.” A genetically designed psychic ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Mapping the Bones by Jane Yolen

Mapping the Bones, Jane Yolen (Philomel 978-0-399-25778-0, $17.99, 418pp, hc) March 2018.

I should point out up front that Jane Yolen’s powerful young-adult Holocaust novel Mapping the Bones is a straight historical without overt fantastic elements, although – like her earlier Briar Rose – it’s woven around the armature of a classic fairy tale, in this case “Hansel and Gretel”. Almost inevitably, considering its subject, it’s a horror story, and ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan

The Hollow Girl, Hillary Monahan (Dela­corte 978-1-5247-0186-4, $17.99, 272pp, hc) October 2017.

Author Hillary Monahan takes readers into the world of the Romany people in this brutal blending of realistic fiction and fantasy. Set at some point of the Welsh past (there are no mentions of electronic devices or cars), The Hollow Girl follows the story of Bethan and her grandmother, Drina, the clan’s revered and fearsome wise woman. While ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Origamy by Rachel Armstrong

Origamy, by Rachel Armstrong (NewCon Press 978-1910935781, $14.99, 256pp, trade paperback) April 2018

When she is not wearing her fiction-writer hat and offering us her debut SF novel, Dr. Rachel Armstrong is performing her duties as Professor of Experimental Architecture at the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, University of Newcastle, and, like some character out of an early William Gibson novel, lecturing via TED Talks about “living buildings” ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Tender, Analog, Asimov’s, BCS, Uncanny, Slate, and New Haven Noir

Tender, Sofia Samatar (Small Beer) April 2017.
Analog 1/18
Asimov’s 1-2/18
Beneath Ceaseless Skies 1/4/18
Uncanny 1-2/18
Slate 1/17/18
New Haven Noir, Amy Bloom, ed. (Akashic) June 2017.

I am continuing to catch up on some 2017 stuff I missed. For example, Sofia Samatar‘s col­lection Tender is one of the best collections I’ve seen in some time. This exceptional debut collection includes two new stories, “An Account of the Land ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Semiosis by Sue Burke

Semiosis, Sue Burke (Tor 978-0-7653-9135-3, $25.99, 336pp, hc) February 2018.

Beyond all else, Sue Burke’s Semiosis is a book about biochemistry and about the subtle dance that all living things perform to get the chemical building blocks they need to survive.

On this planet and in our actual reality, humans have the brains to think through how to get what they need. We’re experts at exploiting our environment, which is, ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories by Vandana Singh

Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories, Vandana Singh (Small Beer 978-1-618-73143-2, $16.00, 336pp) February 2018.

For the past 15 years or so, Vandana Singh has been producing consistently interesting and often brilliant short fiction, and her name is often among those mentioned in celebra­tions of SF’s growing diversity. But “diversity” can have a number of meanings, and, as beauti­fully demonstrated in her new collection Ambi­guity Machines and Other Stories, diversity in ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Armored Saint by Myke Cole

The Armored Saint, Myke Cole ( Pub­lishing 978-0-7653-9595-5, $17.99, 208pp, hc) February 2018. Cover by Tommy Arnold.

Staying with our theme of “dark, with military overtones,” we have Myke Cole’s The Armored Saint, out of Publishing’s novella line. Like Ironclads, it’s a slender volume – it tops out at 206 pages in paperback – but unlike either Ironclads or Clockwork Boys, it doesn’t feature any amount of travel. Instead, ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel

Pride and Prometheus, John Kessel (Saga 978-1-5344-1121-0, $27.99, 371pp, hc) February 2018. Cover by Robert Hunt.

In my 2017 wrap-up essay elsewhere in this is­sue, I wonder at and wander around the matter of sequels, prequels, series, and common-back­ground-setting books. All these present particular challenges to a reviewer: how to deal with a work that may begin in medias res (or, god-help-us, on the far side of a cliff-hanger), or ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch

The Gone World, Tom Sweterlitsch (Putnam 978-0-399-16750-8, $27.00, 400pp, hc) Febru­ary 2018.

Tom Sweterlitsch’s The Gone World kept me up at night. My awakeness wasn’t caused by the ideas contained within this moody novel, but from a hunger to know what would happen next to NCIS Special Agent Shannon Moss, whose investigation into the gruesome murder of a Navy SEAL’s family takes some science fictional turns.

In Sweterlitsch’s world, the ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Starlings by Jo Walton

Starlings, Jo Walton (Tachyon 978-1-61696-056-8, $15.95, 288pp, tp) January 2018.

In the introduction to her first collection of stories and poems, Starlings, Jo Walton tells us that she didn’t really figure out how to write short stories until after her award-winning Among Others was published in 2011, and that her earlier efforts “were either extended jokes, poems with the line breaks taken out, experiments with form, or the first chapters ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Books by W. Michael Gear, Seanan McGuire, Tamora Pierce & Ryk E. Spoor

W. Michael Gear, Outpost (DAW 978-0-7564-1337-8, $26.00, 422pp, hc) February 2018. Cover by Steve Stone.

A deadly planet with a struggling corporate colony provides plenty of action in this first book in the Donovan trilogy. Much in the mode of Harry Harrison’s Deathworld, Donovan isn’t a safe place for humans, full of deadly plants and animals, and if they don’t kill you, the heavy metals will. The Corporation has had ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Dark State by Charles Stross

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

Charles Stross has been building – and remodeling and rearranging – his Merchant Princes sequence across seven novels (now in four volumes) over more than a dozen years. The first six books (or three, depending on which packaging one has read) completed a complex arc that focused primarily on how a medieval-level social-political-economic ar­rangement built on the inheritable ability ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Quietus by Tristan Palmgren

Quietus, by Tristan Palmgren (Angry Robot 978-0857667434, $12.99, 464pp, trade paperback) March 2018

Hidden spies from a high-tech culture inserted into the primitive polity of fellow humans in order to gather data, while obedient to a clause not to interfere. Oh, we must be talking about one of Connie Willis’s time-travel novels, or perhaps an installment of Kage Baker’s Company franchise. Maybe even The Man Who Fell to Earth ...Read More

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Karen Haber Reviews Infected by Art, Volume 5 edited by Todd Spoor & Bill Cox

Infected by Art, Volume 5, Todd Spoor & Bill Cox, eds. (Art Order 978-0-69291-194-5, $49.99, 326pp, hc) November 2017. Cover by Rob Rey & Jeremy Deveraturda.

This year’s Infected by Art annual, the fifth juried volume of Imaginative Realist artwork, is considerably improved over last year’s book, IBA 4. Attention has been paid to margin treatment, proofreading, and general appearance, with a defi­nite payoff. This year’s volume has 20 pages ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Creatures of Will and Temper by Molly Tanzer

Creatures of Will and Temper, Molly Tanzer (John Joseph Adams 978-1-328-71026-0, $16.99, 358pp, pb) November 2017. Cover by Eduardo Recife.

Molly Tanzer’s Creatures of Will and Temper, though set in late 19th-century England, is about as far from patriarchal and homophobic as it is possible for a novel set in this period to be. It draws some inspiration from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, according to the author’s ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Books by Kelly Barnhill, Steven Brust & MaryJanice Davidson

Kelly Barnhill, Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill 978-1-61620-797-7, $24.95, 282pp, hc) February 2018. Cover by Sarah J. Coleman.

There’s always something worth savor­ing in the nine stories in this collection, the author’s first. Recurring images and themes – insects, animals, beauty, love and death, women, and transformation – linger after read­ing. “Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch” tells of a widow who gets involved with ...Read More

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Karen Haber Reviews Art Books

Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vast­lantic, Armand Baltazar (Katharine Tegen 978-0-06-240236-3, $19.99, 607pp, hc) October 2017. Cover by Armand Baltazar.
Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction, Grady Hendrix (Quirk 978-1-5947-4981-7, $16.95, 256pp, tp) September 2017.
Flora & Fauna, J.A.W. Cooper (Flesk 978-1-933865-96-6, $25.00, 80pp, tp) October 2017. Cover by J.A.W. Cooper.
Familiars, J.A.W. Cooper (Flesk 978-1-933865-95-9, $25.00, 80pp, tp) October 2017. Cover ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews No Time to Spare: Thinking about What Matters by Ursula K. Le Guin

No Time to Spare: Thinking about What Matters, Ursula K. Le Guin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 978-1-328-66159-3, $22.00, 218pp, hc) December 2017.

Has the SF arena ever produced a more widely respected public intellectual than Ursula K. Le Guin? Back in the days of the space race, Asimov, Heinlein, or Bradbury would occasionally get hauled before the TV cameras to celebrate all the SFnal dreams that were about to come true ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Clockwork Boys by T. Kingfisher

Clockwork Boys, T. Kingfisher (Argyll Produc­tions 978-1-61450-406-1, $24.95, 230pp, hc) November 2017. Cover by Ursula Vernon.

“Darkly funny” is a phrase that also describes Ursula Vernon’s (writing as T. Kingfisher) Clock­work Boys, the first volume in the Clocktaur War duology, which will be completed in spring with the release of The Wonder Engine. Clockwork Boys is a little darker than most of Vernon/Kingfisher’s oeuvre. It starts by introducing us to ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews The Coincidence Makers by Yoav Blum

The Coincidence Makers, by Yova Blum (St. Martin’s 978-1250146113, $26.99, 304pp, hardcover) March 2018

It is a shame that English-speaking readers are deprived of two out of Yoav Blum’s three books to date, since they exist only in Israeli editions in his native land. Consider this description of his latest, The Unswitchable. “[The novel] takes place in a world where everybody has a bracelet that enables them to ...Read More

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Karen Haber Reviews Spectrum 24 edited by John Fleskes

Spectrum 24: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, John Fleskes, ed. (Flesk 978-1-933865-99-7, $45.00, 304pp, hc) November 2017. Cover by Iain McCaig & Emily Chen.

Spectrum 24 is remarkable in its consistent excel­lence in production values, design, and selection of art, all the more impressive when you consider that the roster of judges changes with each annual, as does the art submitted for consideration.

John Fleskes’s masterful editing and passion ...Read More

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John Langan Reviews Strange Weather by Joe Hill

Strange Weather, Joe Hill (William Morrow 978-0-06-266311-5, $27.99, 448pp, hc) October 2017.

Henry James famously called the novella the “blessed form,” and it’s long been a truism that the form is especially well-suited to horror narratives, offering sufficient length to develop character and situation, but sufficient concentration to fo­cus effect. James’s own The Turn of the Screw exemplifies this combination, as do many of the most famous examples of the ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Ironclads by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Ironclads, Adrian Tchaikovsky (Solaris 978-1-78108-568-4, $30.00, 160pp, hc) November 2017. Cover art by Maz Smith.

Of late I find it difficult to know how to begin to discuss new books. It feels as though I have read so many of them this year that my head is practically bloated with connections and similarities, novelties and clichés, unexpected successes and shocking disappointments. Espe­cially difficult are novellas, whose comparative brevity tends to ...Read More

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Karen Haber Reviews The Art of the Pulps edited by Douglas Ellis, Ed Hulse & Robert Weinberg

The Art of the Pulps, Douglas Ellis, Ed Hulse & Robert Weinberg, eds. (IDW 978-1-68405-091-8, $49.99, 240pp, hc) October 2017.

Pulp magazine lovers should be delighted with The Art of the Pulps: An Illustrated History, the first definitive visual history of the genre magazines that provided popular “literary” entertainment before the birth of paperback books, circa 1900-1949. The Art of the Pulps is a treasury of pulp magazine facts, cover ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Bridges to Science Fiction and Fantasy: Outstanding Essays from the J. Lloyd Eaton Conferences

Bridges to Science Fiction and Fantasy: Outstanding Essays from the J. Lloyd Eaton Conferences, edited by Gregory Benford,‎ Gary Westfahl,‎ Howard V. Hendrix,‎ and Joseph D. Miller
(McFarland 978-1476669281, $26, 271pp, trade paperback) February 2018

Despite the flourishing of courses devoted to fantastika in the groves of academia, it seems to me that actually, in any given year, very few scholarly volumes emerge. Most of the non-fiction books–the candidates ...Read More

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John Langan Reviews She Said Destroy by Nadia Bulkin

She Said Destroy, Nadia Bulkin (Word Horde 978-1-9399-05-33-8, $16.99, 264pp, tp) August 2017.

“Intertropical Convergence Zone”, the opening story in Nadia Bulkin’s strong debut collection, She Said Destroy, details the efforts of a general to gain the abilities that will enable him to rule his native country. In consultation with a local shaman, he consumes a succession of objects, each of which grants him a new power. By the story’s ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Phoresis by Greg Egan

Phoresis, Greg Egan (Subterranean 978-1-59606-866-7, $40.00, 163pp, hc) April, 2018.

Greg Egan’s Phoresis is, at around 40,000 words, a long novella and close to the same length as many of the mass-market, full-length paperback novels I grew up on. Into that relatively small space Egan has packed the story of several multiple-generation, low-tech engineering projects that range from geoengineering to interplanetary exploration and colonization, while also creating an exotic planetary ...Read More

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