Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume 12, edited Jonathan Strahan

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume 12, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Solaris 978-1781085738, $19.99, 620pp, tp) April 2018. Cover by Adam Tredowski.

After many years – sometimes it feels like too many – of reading year’s best anthologies, I’ve come to the conclusion that they serve three different purposes for three different but over­lapping audiences. The first, and most obvious, is to provide a rich and entertaining ...Read More

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Gardner Dozois Reviews Short Fiction: Beneath Ceaseless Skies and The Father of Lies

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 2/1/18, 2/15/18
The Father of Lies, K.J. Parker (Subterra­nean) January 2018.

Science-fantasy” is a slippery term, one that’s changed over time, as demonstrat­ed in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, issues #244 and #245, the annual science-fantasy double issue. Using the strictest definition, any story that features “impossible” technol­ogy, technology far in advance of what can be achieved by today’s technical capabilities, is “science-fantasy.” I give a break to stories ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: BCS, Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, Galaxy’s Edge, Kaleidotrope, and Apex

Beneath Ceaseless Skies, 2/1/18, 2/15/18, 3/1/18
Lightspeed 2/18, 3/18
Clarkesworld 1/18, 2/18
Galaxy’s Edge 1/18
Kaleidotrope Winter ’18
Apex 2/18

February is Science-Fantasy Month at Be­neath Ceaseless Skies, one of my favorite times! And as a bonus, this year it extends to the first day in March, so there are three is­sues of stories that mix SF and fantasy (often by describing SFnal situations in the language of fantasy.) My ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill

Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories, Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin 978-1-61620-797-7, $24.95, 304pp, hc) February 2018.

Kelly Barnhill follows up her Newbery Medal-winning The Girl Who Drank the Moon in a most unexpected fash­ion: with a collection of fantastical short stories for older teens and adults. Dreadful Young La­dies and Other Stories is the kind of writing that does not rely on shock and awe, but rather on fascinating characters doing ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Fireside Fiction

One of the lovely parts of being out of the field for a couple of years is catching up with the venues that have blossomed while I’ve been away. Fireside Fiction looks like it was just hitting its stride as I was fading out. Currently edited by Julia Rios, I’ve been quite impressed with their recent offerings.

One story that stands out for me is “The Secret Lives of the ...Read More

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Gardner Dozois Reviews Short Fiction: Asimov’s, Analog, F&SF, Clarkesworld, and Lightspeed

Asimov’s 1-2/18
Analog 1-2/18
F&SF 1-2/18
Clarkesworld 1/18
Lightspeed 1/18

2018 is off to a good start – perhaps nothing exceptional enough to make the Hugo bal­lots was published in January, but there was lots of good, entertaining reading.

The January/February Asimov’s featured solid storytelling that took us to a number of exotic lo­cales. “Barren Isle” by Allen M. Steele takes us back to the still partially unexplored colony world ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Uncanny, Anathema, Kaleidotrope, The Dark, and Mythic Delirium

Uncanny 1-2/18
Anathema: Spec from the Margins 12/17
Kaleidotrope Winter ’18
The Dark 1/18
Mythic Delirium 1-3/18

Although more concerned with character than plot, Elizabeth Bear‘s “She Still Loves the Dragon” (Uncanny) still tells the love story of a knight-errant and a dragon. (“She still loves the dragon that set her on fire.”) Since love stories often turn dark and end bit­tersweet, I feel justified in praising it here. Com­pelling, ...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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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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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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Rich Horton Reviews Uncanny, Lackington’s, Rivet, All Systems Red, and The Martian Job

Uncanny 11-12/17
Lackington’s Fall ’17
Rivet Journal Fall ’17
All Systems Red, Martha Wells (Tor.com) Sep­tember 2017.
The Martian Job, Jaine Fenn (NewCon) De­cember 2017.

 

Uncanny in November-December features a very effective story by Tina Connolly, “Pipecleaner Sculptures and Other Necessary Work“, about an android on a generation starship who faces a transition as they reach their destination – from a preschool teacher to a more martial role. The ...Read More

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Gardner Dozois Reviews Short Fiction: Lightspeed, Asimov’s, Analog, and F&SF

Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities: A Collec­tion of Space Futures, Ed Finn & Joey Eschrich, eds. (Arizona State University) December 2017.
Lightspeed 12/17
Asimov’s 11-12/17
Analog 11-12/17
F&SF 11-12/17

With 2018 looming on the horizon, only a few days away as I write these words, let’s do some mop-up of things I haven’t covered yet.

Last month we discussed futurology/Think Tank anthologies. The strongest of this grouping snuck in under the ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies

F&SF 1-2/18
Lightspeed 1/18
Clarkesworld 12/17
Beneath Ceaseless Skies 12/7/17, 12/21/17

The highlight of F&SF‘s first 2018 issue is Dale Bailey‘s gleefully horrifying story “The Donner Party“. It opens with young Mrs. Breen delighted to be tasting human flesh for the first time – at a party given by the influential Lady Donner. Mrs. Breen is of an insignificant family (her grandfather made his money in trade!) and has married ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction, with Spoilers

Locus has been kind enough to allow me to start a different sort of short fiction review column here. If you want to be up-to-date on the amazingly wide variety of short fiction being published in magazines, anthologies, and online—then you need to be subscribing to Locus Magazine. You’ll get Gardner Dozois and Rich Horton’s columns devoted to short fiction and anthology reviews by the rest of the contributors: Gary ...Read More

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Gardner Dozois Reviews Clarkesworld

Clarkesworld 6/17, 7/17, 8/17, 9/17, 10/17, 11/17, 12/17

The last half of the year was uneven for Clarkes­world; while a few of the issues were unexciting, they also published some of the year’s best stories along the way.

The June Clarkesworld was another good issue, with three strong stories, “My Dear, Like the Sky and Stars and Sun” by Julia K. Patt, which follows the owner of a shop that ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf 978-1-55597-788-7, $16.00, 250pp, tp) October 2017.

Award nominations are no way to judge anything, but it would be nice to think that the recogni­tion afforded Carmen Maria Machado’s first collection Her Body and Other Parties might represent, if not a complete blurring of the lines between “literary” and genre fiction, at least a diminishing level of mutual intolerance. Not only was ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction

F&SF 11-12/17
Asimov’s 11-12/17
Analog 11-12/17
Lightspeed 12/17
Clarkesworld 11/17
Beneath Ceaseless Skies 11/21/17
Uncanny 9-10/17
Not One of Us 10/17
Omni Winter ’17

Global Dystopias, Junot Díaz, ed. (Boston Re­view) November 2017.
Infinity Wars, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Solaris) October 2017.
Acadie, Dave Hutchinson (Tor.com Publishing) September 2017.

F&SF’s November/December issue features “Stillborne“, a significant and, as always, enjoyable entry in Marc Laidlaw‘s Spar/Gorlen series. The two join a caravan ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Father of Lies by K.J. Parker

The Father of Lies, K.J. Parker (Subterranean 978-1-59606-852-0, $40.00, 542pp hc) January 2018.

K.J. Parker’s major new collection The Father of Lies doesn’t actually contain a story by that title, but it doesn’t need to: the old trickster’s techniques run like a twisted thread through these 12 equally twisted stories and novellas (three of them published earlier by Subterranean as standalones). All but two take place in Parker’s now-familiar shadow-Europe ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction

Lightspeed 11/17, 12/17
Nightmare 12/17
Tor.com 10/24/17
Clarkesworld 11/17
Uncanny 11-12/17
Shimmer #40
Kaleidotrope Autumn ’17
The Dark 11/17
Black Static 11-12/17

It is already a new year as you read this, but it is not even Thanksgiving as I write. It is also the time of the year when those of my ilk are already considering what fiction was the “best” of the year: a rewarding endeavor, but also ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Robots vs Fairies edited by Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe

Robots vs Fairies, Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe, eds. (Saga 978-1-4134-6236-5, $27.99, 384pp, hc) January 2018.

It certainly started long before Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier’s Zombies vs. Unicorns anthology a few years ago, and before the movie Batman vs. Superman turned a game kids had been playing for a half-century into gloomy sludge, and it probably even dates back before things like King Kong vs. Godzilla. But I suspect ...Read More

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Gardner Dozois Reviews Short Fiction

Global Dystopias, Junot Díaz, ed. (Boston Re­view) November 2017.

Children of a Different Sky, Alma Alexander, ed. (Kos Books) November 2017.

Mad Hatters and March Hares, Ellen Datlow, ed. (Tor) December 2017.

There’s no pretense of optimism about the future in Global Dystopias, a special issue of the Boston Review edited by Junot Díaz. The title tells you just what you’re going to get, and most of the stories here ...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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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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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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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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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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Gardner Dozois Reviews Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation, edited by Phoebe Wagner & Brontë Christopher Wieland

Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation, Phoebe Wagner & Brontë Christopher Wieland, eds. (Upper Rubber Boot 9781937794750, $13.99, 255pp, pb) August 2017

Falling into the futurology/climate change category we discussed last month, like David Brin & Stephen W. Potts’s Chasing Shadows, is Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco- Speculation, edited by Phoebe Wagner & Brontë Christopher Wieland. It’s a bit unclear precisely what ‘‘solarpunk’’ is, or what distinguishes it from ...Read More

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Gardner Dozois Reviews Short Fiction

Infinity Wars, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Solaris) September 2017.
Infinite Stars, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, ed. (Titan) October 2017.

There were a number of original SF anthologies this year that presented themselves as offering a mix of space opera and military SF, among them the two anthologies under consideration here, Infinity Wars, edited by Jonathan Strahan, and Infinite Stars: The Definitive Anthology of Space Op­era and Military SF, edited by Bryan Thomas ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction

F&SF 9-10/17
Analog 9-10/17
Beneath Ceaseless Skies 8/17/17
Lightspeed 10/17
Tor.com 9/6/17

The most exciting short fiction news this month is surely the appearance in the September/October F&SF of a new story by Samuel R. Delany. Even better, “The Hermit of Houston” is exceptional work! It’s set some time in a strange future and is hard to get a grip on (the best kind). From one angle it seems a ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction

Apex 9/17, 8/17
Black Static 9-10/17
Uncanny 9-10/17
The Dark 8/17
Nightmare 10/17
Beneath Ceaseless Skies 8/17

As of September 2017, Apex Magazine has survived for eight years and four months and made it to its hundredth issue – a more remarkable achievement than the average reader might expect. The issue’s three more-or-less originals are all entertaining and dark enough for me to write about.

Kameron Hurley‘s “Tumbledown” (also published ...Read More

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Gardner Dozois Reviews Short Fiction

Tor.com 8/9/17, 7/19/17, 8/2/17, 5/17/17
F&SF 9-10/17
Overview: Stories of the Stratosphere, Mi­chael G. Bennett, Joey Eschrich & Ed Finn, eds. (ASU Center for Science and the Imagination) August 2017.

Tor.com has had a run of strong stories in the past couple of months. Best of them is Greg Egan‘s “Uncanny Valley“, posted on August 9, which deals shrewdly and poignantly with the question of whether the “copy” of a ...Read More

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