Adrienne Martini reviews The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor 978-0765378385, $15.99, 432pp, tp) July 2018.

Mary Robinette Kowal was writing about midcentury female NASA workers before they hit the pop culture mainstream. While Hidden Figures – both book and movie – brought our collective attention to the women who worked as ‘‘calculators’’ at NASA, Kowal started noodling around with the idea in 2012. Her ‘‘The Lady Astronaut of Mars’’ started life as ...Read More

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Liz Bourke reviews Black Chamber by S.M. Stirling

Black Chamber, S.M. Stirling (Ace 978-0399586231, $16.00, 400pp, tp). July 2018.

I’ll confess I wasn’t expecting as many good things from S.M. Stirling’s Black Chamber as I actually found. I have a peculiar relationship with Stirling’s novels. I’ve read quite a few of them, starting with Island in the Sea of Time, and I liked them quite a bit more before I encountered the author on the internet, explaining history ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Uncharted, by Kevin J. Anderson & Sarah A. Hoyt

Uncharted, by Kevin J. Anderson & Sarah A. Hoyt (Baen 978-1-4814-8323-0, $25, 272pp, hardcover) May 2018

American history is over five hundred years deep–much deeper, of course, if you venture beyond the European presence. The latest findings put the first human footprint in North America at 130,000 years ago. Given this vast tract of time, populated with myriad fascinating cultures and personages, knowable and conjecturable, it seems silly and ...Read More

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Lila Garrott reviews The Book of Hidden Things by Francesco Dimitri

The Book of Hidden Things, Francesco Dimitri. (Titan Books 978-1-785-65707-8, $14.95, 400pp, pb) July 2018.

Francesco Dimitri is a well-regarded fantasy author in Italian. He’s published several novels and graphic novels, and his work has been adapted for film (La ragazza dei miei sogni/The girl of my dreams, 2017). The Book of Hidden Things is his first novel written in English, and it is ambitious in several directions. It’s set ...Read More

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Liz Bourke reviews Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee

Revenant Gun, Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris 978-1781086070, $9.99, 400pp, pb). June 2018. Cover by Chris Moore.

Revenant Gun is the third volume in Yoon Ha Lee’s (excellent) Machineries of Empire trilogy. It’s an untraditional sort of trilogy: while all of the volumes continue the same story, they do so with different approaches and different major characters. Where Ninefox Gambit, the first book, focused on Kel Cheris, a mathematically talented military ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe reviews Summerland by Hannu Rajaniemi

Summerland, Hannu Rajaniemi (Tor 978-1-250-17892-3, $25.99, 304pp, hc) June 2018.

Those who are as impressed as I was with the coruscating style and dense information environment of Hannu Rajaniemi’s Quantum Thief trilogy might be a bit taken aback at the very different sort of world of his Summerland, which is essentially an espionage procedural set in 1938 Britain. It quickly becomes apparent that this isn’t our 1938, and Rajaniemi’s England ...Read More

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Liz Bourke reviews Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

Trail of Lightning, Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga Press 978-1534413498, $27.99, 304pp, hc). June 2018.

Like many of this year’s debuts, Rebecca Roanhorse’s Trail of Lightning has a great deal of anticipatory hype to live up to. A fantasy published by a major press that features Native American mythology, written by a Native author, Trail of Lightning carries a weight of expectations for representation that most works by (non-queer, at least) white ...Read More

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Paul Kincaid reviews Shelter by Dave Hutchinson

Shelter, Dave Hutchinson (Solaris 978-1-78108-504-2, 304pp, £7.99, pb) June 2018. Cover by Sam Gretton.

Dave Hutchinson’s new novel Shelter is what Brian Aldiss called a cozy catastrophe, though such stories were never truly cozy and not always a catastrophe. The question is, of course, why we might need another such catastrophe story, and why now? The answer lies not in finding a new way to tell an old story (though ...Read More

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Russell Letson reviews The Bend at the End of the Road by Barry N. Malzberg

The Bend at the End of the Road, Barry N. Malzberg (Fantastic Books 978-1-5154-1038-6, $13.99, 161pp, tp). May 2018.

When I started reviewing for this magazine, the only instruction I recall getting from Charles Brown was ‘‘Don’t argue with the book.’’ I have tried to follow that dictum over the years, but it is very hard not to argue with Barry Malzberg’s The Bend at the End of the Road ...Read More

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Gardner Dozois Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and F&SF

Clarkesworld 3/18
Lightspeed 3/18
F&SF 3-4/18

The best story in the March Clarkesworld, and one of the best stories published so far this year, is “The Persistence of Blood” by Juliette Wade. This is a novella set in the midst of a complex alien culture made up of several different, rigidly enforced castes (as far as I can tell, no humans appear in the story), with the protagonist, Selemei, a ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini reviews Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

Space Opera, Catherynne M. Valente (Saga Press 978-1-4814-9749-7, $19.99, 304pp, hc) April 2018.

Strap in, kiddos. Cat Valente wants to take you on a wild, glitter-filled ride. You’ll know if you’re ready for it after you read the first sentence of Space Opera:

Once upon a time on a small, watery, excitable planet called Earth, in a small, watery excitable country called Italy, a soft-spoken, rather nice-looking gentleman by the ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe by Alex White

A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe, Alex White (Orbit 978-0-316-41206-3, $15.99, 470pp, tp). June 2018.

I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting from Alex White’s A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe, but as it transpires, what I experienced is a lot weirder than I really anticipated. Good, but weird. White (Every Mountain Made Low, Alien: The Cold Forge) has written a compelling science ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Peter Watts’ The Freeze-Frame Revolution

The Freeze-Frame Revolution, by Peter Watts (Tachyon Publications 978-1-61696-252-4, $14.95, 192pp, trade paperback) June 2018

In 2014, I concluded my Locus Online review of Peter Watts’s Echopraxia by saying, “Peter Watts is some precisely engineered hybrid of Lucius Shepard and Gregory Benford, lyrical yet hard-edged, purveyor of sleek surfaces and also the ethical and spiritual contents inside.” I am happy to report, after a torturous wait of four years, ...Read More

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Stefan Dziemianowicz reviews The Outsider by Stephen King

The Outsider, Stephen King (Scribner 978-1-5011-8098-9, $30.00, 576pp, hc) May 2018.

Stephen King’s last three published novels – excluding his collaborations with Richard Chizmar and his son Owen King – comprise a triptych informally known as the Bill Hodges trilogy, named for the retired police detective who is their main character. As a unit – and they are a unit, forged by Hodges’s recurring pas-de-deux through them with supernaturally endowed ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini reviews Head On by John Scalzi

Head On, John Scalzi (Tor 978-07-6538891-9,$25.99, 336pp, hc) April 2018.

John Scalzi’s Head On picks up where Lock In left off, for the most part. FBI agent Chris Shane still has Haden’s Syndrome, a condition where an infected person’s body remains inert while his or her mind roams free in a robotlike machine called a threep. Chris’s partner Leslie Vann, who does not have Haden’s, still remains the more impulsive ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Annex by Rich Larson

Annex, Rich Larson (Orbit 978-0-316-41654-2, $15.95, 336pp, tp) July 2018.

By his own count, Rich Larson has published over 100 stories since 2012, with an impressive number of them making it into year’s best anthologies. That amounts to one of the more stunning debuts in recent SF, even as he’s largely been under the radar for major awards (possibly in part because of that very prolificity). This inevitably creates a ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor reviews Meet Me in the Strange by Leander Watts

Meet Me in the Strange, Leander Watts (Meerkat 978-1-946154-15-6, $16.95, 234pp, hc) March 2018.

This is one unique book.

I was chapters into Meet Me in the Strange before I fully realized that the reviewer part of my brain needed to be turned off (stop noting names and locations, stop paying attention to setting descriptions and plot development) and I just needed to take the ride this book was offering. ...Read More

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Ian Mond reviews Gnomon by Nick Harkaway

Gnomon, Nick Harkaway (William Heinemann 978-1785151279, £14.99, 704pp, hc) November 2017. (Knopf 978-1524732080, $28.95, 688pp, hc) January 2018.

I know I’m late to the work of Nick Harkaway. I’ve meant to read his fiction since the publication of The Gone-Away World back in 2008, I even bought the book, but, for whatever reason, never cracked open the covers. I was planning on picking up Gnomon, until I saw it was ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Harlan Ellison’s Blood’s a Rover

Blood’s a Rover, by Harlan Ellison (Subterranean 978-1596068681, $40.00, 232pp, hardcover) June 30, 2018

The tradition of creating “fixups“–a narrative assembled from previously published pieces, sometimes with new interleaved material, and then issued as an organic whole–is a grand one in science fiction. Such masterpieces as Simak’s City and Vance’s The Eyes of the Overworld have arisen from this process. (The term was coined by A. E. van Vogt ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe reviews How To Stop Time by Matt Haig

How To Stop Time, Matt Haig (Canongate 978-1-782-11861-9, £12.99, 33699, hc) July 2017. (Viking 978-0-525-52287-4, $26.00, 329pp, hc) February 2018.

The notion that living among us there might be immortals – or at least folks with very long lifespans – is itself an idea that just hangs on decade after decade, not only in SF/F circles but in popular potboilers like Viereck & Eldridge’s hoary My First Two Thousand Years ...Read More

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Ian Mond reviews Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi

Frankenstein in Baghdad, Ahmed Saadawi, translated by Jonathan Wright (Penguin Books 978-0143128793, $16.00, 288pp, tp) January 2018.

Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad places the eponymous monster amongst the suicide bombings and devastation of Baghdad in 2005. It opens with an attack on Tayaran Square where a soul, torn from its body, finds a home in a vacated corpse. It’s no ordinary cadaver, but rather a stitched-together amalgamation of parts, the ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor reviews Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Midnight at the Electric, Jodi Lynn Anderson (Harper Teen 978-0-06-239354-8, $17.99, 257pp, hc) June 2017.

Jodi Lynn Anderson accomplishes something unique with Midnight at the Electric, taking a novel clearly set in the future, (the protagonist has just been accepted to a Mars colony program), but grounding it in a historical mystery. This is science fiction that has broad potential appeal; traditional SF readers will be attracted to the glimpses ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Latchkey by Nicole Kornher-Stace

Latchkey, Nicole Kornher-Stace (Mythic De­lirium 978-0-9889124-8- 9, $17.95, 336pp, tp) July 2018. Cover by Jacquelin de Leon.

Latchkey is the sequel to Nicole Kornher-Stace’s poorly known (and sorely under­rated) Archivist Wasp. Archivist Wasp, published in 2015 by Big Mouth House, was a genre-straddling story: part post-apocalyptic coming-of-age tale and part fantasy quest, it structured itself as a literal katabasis – a descent to the underworld – in which a young ...Read More

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John Langan Reviews The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Trem­blay

The Cabin at the End of the World, Paul Trem­blay (Morrow 978-0062679109, $26.99, 288pp, hc) June 2018.

Anyone who has followed Paul Tremblay’s short fiction, from the stories collected in the remark­able In the Mean Time, to “Where We Will All Be” in Joseph Pulver, Sr.’s The Grimscribe’s Puppets and “Swim Wants to Know If It’s as Bad as Swim Thinks” in Bourbon Penn magazine, knows that one of his ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Night Fall by Simon R. Green

Simon R. Green, Night Fall (Ace 978-0-451-47697-5, $27.00, 453pp, hc) June 2018.

Green wraps up the Secret Histories and the Nightside series (and a few more) in a massive kitchen-sink of a battle between the righteous Droods and the lawless Nightside that brings together a host of old characters with a bunch of impossibly deadly weapons, a massive body count, and a healthy sprinkling of humor. Some­thing happens in the ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews If Tomorrow Comes by Nancy Kress

If Tomorrow Comes, Nancy Kress (Tor 978-0-765390325, $27.99, 336 pp, hc) March 2018. Cover by Stephan Martiniere.

Nancy Kress’s If Tomorrow Comes is, as the subtitle informs us, the middle volume of three, which some might take to indi­cate an absolute dependence on its predecessor, Tomorrow’s Kin (2017) or the novella of the same title that serves as the first book’s opening section – but such folk would be making ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Reign of the Departed by Greg Keyes

Greg Keyes, The Reign of the Departed (Night Shade 978-1-59780-937-5, $14.99, 348pp, tp) June 2018. Cover by Micah Epstein.

Errol Greyson says he didn’t intend to commit suicide – but he wakes in a body carved of wood and joined by wire and bolts, and his classmate Aster tells him his real body’s in a coma. She’s originally from another world, and needs to re­turn there for the magic water ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Smoke by Simon Ings

The Smoke, Simon Ings (Gollancz 978-0-575-12007-5, £16.99, 298pp, tp) February 2018.

Simon Ings’s The Smoke – his second new SF novel in four years after having taken more than a decade off for more mainstream projects (including a fascinating study of sci­ence under Stalin) – is quite a bit more radical than 2014’s Wolves, which was judiciously and elegantly restrained in its examination of the pos­sible impact of augmented reality, ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Cadaver & Queen by Alisa Kwitney

Cadaver & Queen, Alisa Kwitney (Harlequin Teen 978-1-335-47046-1, $18.99, 320pp, hc) February 2018.

In Alisa Kwitney’s alternate history Cadaver & Queen, the governments of Europe are laser-focused on constructing armies of “Bio-Mechan­icals.” These mechanized cadavers are perceived as the solution to the most painful cost of war: human soldiers lost to combat. The problem is that Bio-Mechanicals have proven themselves to be good at shuffling along and taking basic direction, ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews The Soldier by Neal Asher

The Soldier, Neal Asher (Night Shade 978-1-59780-943-6, $26.99, 375 pp, hc) May 2018. Cover by Adam Burn

Neal Asher keeps extending his already sprawl­ing Polity setting, devising ever more dire and dangerous scenarios and filling in a deep history characterized by predation, warfare, genocide, extinctions, and the apparent impossibility of getting rid of any threat (or extinct species) permanently. One of the most persistent and de­structive features of this universe ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Brief Cases by Jim Butcher

Jim Butcher, Brief Cases (Ace 978-0-451-49210-4, $28.00, 437pp, hc) June 2018. Cover by Chris McGrath.

This new collection in the Dresden Files series offers 12 entertaining stories, some real gems. Three of my favorites, previously collected as Working for Bigfoot, are relatively light stories about Harry and a sasquatch who needs help for his half-human son. Several take the viewpoint of characters other than Harry Dresden, with a couple of ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

Space Opera, Catherynne M. Valente (Saga 978-1481497497, $19.99, 304pp, hc) April 2018.

Like its acknowledged inspiration, The Hitch­hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Catherynne M. Valente’s Space Opera is something of a Christmas tree: a fairly generic template adorned with so many glittering ornaments and exuberant sentences careening along like beaded garlands (some of Valente’s more ambitious sentences sound as though they need bongos for backup), that pretty soon the plot ...Read More

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