Paul Di Filippo reviews Morgan Llywelyn

Only the Stones Survive, by Morgan Llywelyn (Tor/Forge 978-0765337924, $25.99, 304pp, hardcover) January 2016

Have I ever discussed the “Ronald Firbank Test” with you? It’s a very rough-hewn, dubious, but possibly still useful internet metric of my own devising.

Ronald Firbank (1886-1926) was a cult writer, a fellow of limited but intense appeal whose mannered, fey works were often brilliant, hilarious and sometimes fantastical. Nonetheless, whatever his merits, his ...Read More

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Russell Letson reviews Linda Nagata

The Red: First Light, Linda Nagata (Saga 978-1-4814-4657-0, $27.99, 405pp, hc) June 2015. Cover by Larry Rostant.

The Trials, Linda Nagata (Saga 978-1-4814-4658-7, $27.99, 447pp, hc) August 2015. Cover by Larry Rostant.

Going Dark, Linda Nagata (Saga 978-1-4814-4659-4, $27.99, 454 pp, pb) November 2015. Cover by Larry Rostant.

As I was saying last month, all kinds of in­teresting variations are coming out of the rather fuzzily delimited ...Read More

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Faren Miller reviews Will Elliott

The Pilo Traveling Show, Will Elliott (Resurrection/Underland 978-1-63023-008-1, $16, 232pp, trade paperback) September 2015

Like most Americans, I came late to The Pilo Family Circus (reviewed in issue #576), since Will Elliott’s unnerving deep-black comedy, a first novel, appeared in Australia in 2006, won an award, and received two more English-language editions in the following years, but didn’t find a US publisher till Underland released it in 2009. By ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Jason Gurley

Eleanor, by Jason Gurley (Crown, 978-1101903513, 384pp, hardcover) January 2016

The trope of a domestic disturbance—a family crisis, a spousal tragedy—triggering a rift in normality, an imbalance in the natural harmony of life, an occult outbreak, is a potent and highly emotional one, capable of engendering great empathy and interest and identification among readers. After all, not all of us can occupy such mythic protagonist roles as savior, leader, ...Read More

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Lois Tilton’s 2015 Reviews in Review

Lovers of SFF can only deplore the late year’s outbreak of divisiveness and animosity, with the hostile parties displaying a willingness to destroy the genre in order to deny it to the other. Calls for unity go unheard while the partisans make plans to continue the hostilities in the upcoming year. The only bright spot is that ordinary readers appear to have largely ignored the entire thing.

While I’m deploring, ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor reviews Nicole Kornher-Stace

Archivist Wasp, Nicole Kornher-Stace (Small Beer/Big Mouth House, 978-1618730978, 256 pp, tp, $14.00) May 2015.Nicole Kornher-Stace’s new novel Archivist Wasp is an utterly beguiling and intense book on bravery for teens. Set in a post-technological world that harkens back to the Middle Ages, the story is steeped in myth and fear with levels of brutality that put The Hunger Games to shame. It is also utterly unique and further ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Adam Roberts

The Thing Itself, by Adam Roberts (Orion/Gollancz 978-0575127722, £16.99, 368pp, trade paperback) December 2015

The clever formal construction of Adam Roberts’s new book (God bless his craftsmanly productivity, which keeps us fans reliably supplied with a fresh annual fix, year after revolutionary year) is just part of the novel’s enigmatic allure. The first thirty pages are a complete narrative arc, a short story, more or less, that could have ...Read More

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Faren Miller reviews Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear

An Apprentice to Elves, Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear (Tor 978-0-7653-2471-9, $26.99, 336pp, hc) October 2015.

All three books of the Iskryne trilogy by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear can make the reader feel the mixed emotions (frustration, challenge, exhaustion, delight) of a foster child being tu­tored in strange crafts a long way from home: someone like Alfgyfa, whose story dominates final volume An Apprentice to Elves. The ...Read More

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Lois Tilton reviews Short Fiction, mid-December 2015

In the previous column I looked at the first print digests of 2016, now it’s time for the last month’s ezines of 2015. This December is dominated by the Lightspeed consortium, with another Destroys issue in addition to the regular publications.

 

Publications Reviewed
  • Lightspeed, December 2015
  • Fantasy Magazine, December 2015
  • Clarkesworld, December 2015
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies #188-189, December 2015
  • Strange Horizons, December 2015
  • GigaNotoSaurus, December 2015

 

Lightspeed, December ...Read More Read more

Paul Di Filippo reviews Adam Christopher

Made to Kill, by Adam Christopher (Tor 978-0-7653-7918-4, $24.99, 240pp, hardcover) November 2015

Adam Christopher’s first novel, Empire State, appeared only in 2011. In the short interval since, he fleshed out that dieselpunk duology with The Age Atomic; completed another series consisting of The Burning Dark and The Machine Awakes; produced two singletons, Seven Wonders and Hang Wire; and now has launched “The LA Trilogy” ...Read More

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James Bradley reviews Dave Hutchinson

Europe at Midnight, Dave Hutchinson (Re­bellion 978-1781083987, $7.99, 384pp, pb) November 2015.

Dave Hutchinson’s Europe in Autumn was one of the real delights of 2014, a perfectly pitched riff on the spy thriller that married the shifting realities of Christopher Priest to a blackly comic vision of the absurdities and contradictions of European nationalism.

Now, 18 months later, we have Europe at Midnight, a novel set in the ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Carter Scholz

Gypsy Plus…, by Carter Scholz (PM Press 978-1-62963-118-9, $13, 160pp, trade paperback) November 2015

To examine the forty-year-long bibliography of Carter Scholz at ISFDB is to dream of alternate timelines. First, a continuum where, perhaps, circumstances—interior and exterior to the author—allowed Scholz to produce a far greater amount of fiction than the modestly substantial amount on display. But also we can imagine a timeline where this exact same CV ...Read More

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Lois Tilton reviews Short Fiction, early December 2015

Trying to close out the old year, and on comes the new one with January issues of the digests, beginning with a double from Analog.

 

Publications Reviewed
  • Analog, January/February 2016
  • Asimov’s, January 2016
  • F&SF, January/February 2016

 

Analog, January/February 2016

Featuring a novella from Wil McCarthy. If the zine can find more like this one, we could look forward to a good year.

“Wyatt Earp 2.0” by Wil McCarthy ...Read More Read more

Gary K. Wolfe reviews Lisa Goldstein

Weighing Shadows, Lisa Goldstein (Night Shade 978-1-59780-840-8, $15.99, 318pp, tp) November 2015.

I’ve long contended that Lisa Goldstein is one of the more underappreciated of modern American fantasists, from her award-winning Holocaust novel The Red Magician, to her Borgesian Amaz stories and the novel Tourists, to her revisiting classic Grimm materi­als in 2011’s The Uncertain Places, her most recent novel until Weighing Shadows. But Weighing ...Read More

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Lois Tilton reviews Short Fiction, late November

A fairly lackluster bunch of stories this time.

 

Publications Reviewed
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies #186-187, November 2015
  • Tor.com, November 2015
  • Uncanny, November/December 2015
  • Lackington’s, Fall 2015
  • Shimmer, November 2015

 

Beneath Ceaseless Skies #186-187, November 2015

Issue #186 reworks older material; #187 has oppression and rebellion.

#186

“Holy Water, Holy Blood” by Bruce McAllister

Another installment in the author’s serial about the Child Pope Bonifacio, his companions, and their quest ...Read More

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Laird Barron reviews Damien Angelica Walters

Sing Me Your Scars, Damien Angelica Walters (Apex Book Company 978-1-9370-0928-1, $15.95, 200pp, hc) February 2015.

The new millennium has indeed proven a bountiful era for readers of weird fiction. Sing Me Your Scars is another debut collection of horror and dark fantasy stories by an outstanding young author. I’ve observed Damien Angelica Walters’s progress over the past few years, not­ing that she has quickly gone from an intriguing ...Read More

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Russell Letson reviews Greg Bear

Killing Titan, Greg Bear (Orbit 978-0-316-22400-0, $26.00, 326pp, hc) October 2015.

I should probably cop to this: I’m fascinated by military history, but I’ve never been much taken by what I think of as genre military SF, by which I mean adventure stories set in the military establishment and emphasizing weaponry, com­radeship, chains of command, career progress, and (of course) combat. As much as I enjoyed and understood Starship ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman reviews Terry Pratchett, Sarah Prineas, David Weber

Terry Pratchett, The Shepherd’s Crown (Harper 978-0-06-242997-1, $18.00, 276pp, hc) September 2015. Cover by Jim Tierney.

Pratchett’s last Discworld novel is fifth in the Tiffany Aching series, and it comes with a major spoiler that is a little hard to talk around, for the few fans who haven’t already heard, but I’ll try. Tiffany Aching finds herself leading all the witches she can gather as elves – not the nice, ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman reviews Julie E. Czerneda, Tanya Huff, Yanni Kuznia

Julie E. Czerneda, This Gulf of Time and the Stars (DAW 978-0-7564-0869-5, $25.95, 453pp, hc) November 2015. Cover by Matt Stawicki.

Someone is hunting the M’hiray, the people who can teleport themselves through the M’hir. Whoever this someone is, they have influence and money to send killers after many all at once. Sira di Sarc and her human telepath Chosen, Jason Morgan, try to save as many of the M’hiray ...Read More

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Lois Tilton reviews Short Fiction, mid-November 2015

Another anthology this time, featuring African authors. Also the final Interzone of the year and a couple of regular monthly ezines.

 

Publications Reviewed
  • AfroSF 2, edited by Ivor W. Hartmann
  • Interzone, November/December 2015
  • Lightspeed, November 2015
  • Strange Horizons, November 2015

 

AfroSF 2, edited by Ivor W Hartmann

A rather unusual anthology, comprised of five novellas—some of a length that certainly count as short novels and could ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Catherynne M. Valente

Radiance, by Catherynne M. Valente (Tor 978-0-7653-3529-6, $24.99, 432pp, hardcover) October 2015

Only with the passage of time can certain literary trends, personalities, influences, movements and scenes be evaluated. While we are in the midst of such happenings, objectivity is clouded and patterns are often indiscernible. Perhaps it is merely a case that not enough evidentiary points have yet been established for any connect-the-dots linkages to be manifested. History ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Clifford D. Simak

I Am Crying All Inside and Other Stories: The Complete Short Fiction of Clifford D. Simak, Vol. 1, by Clifford D. Simak (Open Road 978-1-5040-1267-6, $15.99, 332pp, trade paperback) October 2015

When Robert Heinlein died on May 8, 1988, the SF field of course mourned his passing en masse. But in that shared and dominant sadness, as frequently happens in life, the mourning process for another writer who had ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Mission: Tomorrow

Mission: Tomorrow, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt (Baen 978-1-4767-8094-8, $15, 336pp, trade paperback), November 2015

It seems incredible to me that the title Mission: Tomorrow has never yet been affixed to any story or book. And yet so I am told by inquiries at ISFDB and Google and Abebooks. The phrase is so quintessentially stefnal in nature, so resonant with glory and hope and possibility, those classic hallmarks of ...Read More

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Lois Tilton reviews Short Fiction: early November 2015

This time I feature a science fiction anthology and recommend the John Barnes story as one of the year’s best. Also a couple of first-of-the-month publications.

 

Publications Reviewed
  • Meeting Infinity, edited by Jonathan Strahan
  • The Dark, November 2015
  • Clarkesworld, November 2015

 

Meeting Infinity, edited by Jonathan Strahan

The fourth in the editor’s fine “Infinity” series of anthologies. The introduction states that the stories deal with change and ...Read More

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Faren Miller reviews Nancy Jane Moore

The Weave, Nancy Jane Moore (Aqueduct Press 978-1-61976-077-6, $19.00, 356pp, tp) July 2015. [Order from Aqueduct Press, P.O. Box 95787, Seattle WA 98145-2787].

The Weave, a first novel by Nancy Jane Moore, is science fiction that thoroughly deserves its ad­vance praise by Vonda N. McIntyre and Michael Bishop. Rather than simply chronicle the first hu­man expedition to a solar system beyond our own, First Contact with sentient aliens, ...Read More

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Lois Tilton reviews Short Fiction, late October 2015

A special issue of BSC with lots of extra fantasy and the final stories of the year from the digests, where I find plenty of science fiction. Also a strong month’s worth of stories from Tor.com.

 

Publications Reviewed
  • Analog, December 2015
  • Asimov’s, December 2015
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies #183-185, October 2015
  • Tor.com, October 2015

 

Beneath Ceaseless Skies #183-185, October 2015

A double dose of fantasy from this zine, as ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Matthew De Abaitua

If Then, by Matthew De Abaitua (Angry Robot 978-0857664662, $7.99, 416pp, mass market paperback) September 2015

Given that Matthew De Abaitua’s first novel from 2007, The Red Men, has had no USA edition, as of this writing, his second book, If Then, newly issued by Angry Robot, more or less amounts to his introduction to a large cohort of readers. And a more splendid first impression could ...Read More

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Faren Miller reviews Ken Scholes

Blue Yonders, Grateful Pies and Other Fanciful Feasts, Ken Scholes (Fairwood Press 978-1-933846-51-4, $17.99, 272pp, tp) August 2015. [Order from Fairwood Press]

While the titles in Ken Scholes’s Psalms of Isaak sequence for Tor seem as monumental as Bach oratorios (Lamentation, Canticle, Antiphon, Requiem and the forthcoming Hymn), his col­lections have longer, more offbeat yet deliberately chosen names. In November 2008 (issue #574) I ...Read More

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Ysabeau Wilce reviews Marguerite Reed

Archangel, Marguerite Reed (Arche Press 978-1630230111, $16.00, 298pp, tp) May 2015. [Or­der from Resurrection House/Arche Press]

Though Archangel, Marguerite Reed’s debut SF novel, may begin with the warning ‘‘This is not Eden,’’ the planet Ubastis certainly seems that way to those not privileged enough to live there. Earth, exploited and exhausted by human greed, is dying. The space colonies are crowded and miser­able. To the desperate, Ubastis is ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews William R. Forstchen

One Year After, by William R. Forstchen (Forge 978-0-7653-7670-1, $25.99, 304pp, hardcover) September 2015

In my review of this novel’s predecessor, One Second After, I said, “Remorselessly, brutally deracinating, incontestable in its precise extrapolations, this leering skull of a novel exists as far from such ‘cozy catastrophes’ as The Day of the Triffids (1951) as does Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006).” But will such evaluations still apply to ...Read More

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Lois Tilton reviews Short Fiction, mid-October

A miscellaneous group of zines this time, several with quarterly or irregular schedules.

 

Publications Reviewed
  • Kaleidotrope, Autumn 2015
  • Apex Magazine, October 2015
  • Unlikely Story, October 2015
  • On Spec, Spring 2015
  • Strange Horizons, October 2015

 

Kaleidotrope, Autumn 2015

The stories here this time are mostly fantasy, although some show initial signs of science-fictionality.

“Rites of Passage” by Julia August

A sequel to previous work featuring a potent but naive ...Read More

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