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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Gardner Dozois Reviews Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy edited by Lucas K. Law & Derwin Mak

Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy, Lucas K. Law & Derwin Mak, eds. (Laksa Media 978-1988140049, $28.00, hc) March 2017.

One of the most interesting and encouraging developments in modern science fiction is a flood of good new writers of Asian descent (some Asian-American or Asian-Canadian, some liv­ing in various Asian countries around the world) entering the field. In recent years, writers such as Aliette de Bodard, ...Read More

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Asimov’s, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, BCS, and Tor.com

Asimov’s 9-10/17
Clarkesworld 10/17
Lightspeed 11/17
Beneath Ceaseless Skies 9/28/17
Tor.com 10/17
Prime Meridian, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Indiegogo/Innsmouth Free Press) December 2017.
Singing My Sister Down, Margo Lanagan (Al­len and Unwin) May 2017.

Is the novelette the ideal form for SF? I sup­pose not necessarily, but it does work pretty well, as evidenced by the September-Octo­ber Asimov’s. R. Garcia y Robertson‘s “Grand Theft Spacecraft” is the sort of breathless fun we ...Read More

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Gardner Dozois Reviews Short Fiction: Shadows & Reflections, Omni, and The Hainish Novels and Stories

Shadows & Reflections: Stories from the Worlds of Roger Zelazny, Trent Zelazny & Warren Lapine, eds. (Positronic Publishing) 9/17.

Omni Winter ’17

The Hainish Novels and Stories, Ursula K. Le Guin (Library of America) August 2017.

In the last few years, we’ve had trib­ute anthologies dedicated to Jack Vance, Gene Wolfe, Robert Silverberg, Poul Anderson, and Samuel R. Delany, and now we have one dedicated to Roger Zelazny: Shadows & ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Black Light Express by Philip Reeve

Black Light Express, Philip Reeve (Switch Press 978-1630790966, $17.95, 352pp, tp) Au­gust 2017.

Philip Reeve’s absolutely incredible world building again takes center stage in Black Light Express, the sequel to Railhead. The second book picks up soon after the events that brought Railhead to a stunning close, with for­mer thief and unwitting catalyst Zen Starling having fled the Network Empire along with Nova, his android girlfriend. Meanwhile, com­pletely against her ...Read More

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Rachel Swirsky Reviews Madame Zero by Sarah Hall

Madame Zero, Sarah Hall (Custom House 9780062657060, $23.99, 192pp pages, hc) July 2017. Cover by Eugenia Loli.

Madame Zero by Sarah Hall begins with a woman turning into a fox, and ends with one struggling to become herself.

Hall’s collection features nine stories, some speculative and others not. All are invigorated by her literary style of character-driven thematic ex­plorations, written in a witty, mellifluous voice.

“Mrs. Fox”, the story that ...Read More

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Gardner Dozois Reviews Chasing Shadows: Visions of Our Coming Transparent World edited by David Brin & Stephen W. Potts

Chasing Shadows: Visions of Our Coming Transparent World, David Brin & Stephen W. Potts, eds. (Tor) January 2017.

Last month we discussed one grouping that the year’s original SF anthologies naturally falls into: the space opera/mili­tary SF group. The other major group is what we probably could call futurology anthologies, featuring near-future stories that deal with the effect of technological change on society. Many of them concern the reshaping of ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Luminescent Threads: Connections to Oc­tavia E. Butler edited by Alexandra Pierce & Mimi Mondal

Luminescent Threads: Connections to Oc­tavia E. Butler, Alexandra Pierce & Mimi Mondal, eds. (Twelfth Planet 978-1-922-10144-0, $19.99, 434pp, tp) August 2017.

Next to Philip K. Dick, Octavia Butler seems to have developed the most impressive posthumous career of any late 20th century SF writer. Kindred has become a staple of classrooms and commu­nity reading projects; the Carl Brandon Society has named both a scholarship and an award in her honor; ...Read More

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Faren Miller Reviews Corpselight by Angela Slatter

Corpselight, Angela Slatter (Jo Fletcher 978-1-78429-434-2, £13.99, 388pp, tp) July 2017. Cover by Rory Kee.

In Corpselight, second of Angela Slatter’s Verity Fassbinder series, the hybrid Weyrd/Normal heroine and narrator must keep on with urban-fantastical detection (in the screwy mod­ern Australian city she calls “Brisneyland”) while in the later stages of pregnancy. Her physical and mental state is a lot like Cedar’s: awkward, foul-mouthed, nervous, veering be­tween elation and self-doubt ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines

Jim C. Hines, Terminal Alliance (DAW 978-0-7564-1274-6, $26.00, 358pp, hc) November 2017. Cover by Daniel Dos Santos.

In a definite departure from his previous humor­ous fantasy novels, Hines’s new novel is military SF. OK, it’s humorous military SF, with zombie janitors. In space. But they’re not your usual sort of zombies, mostly. This first book in the Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse series is set in a universe where a zombie ...Read More

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