Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Alien Virus Love Disaster by Abbey Mei Otis

Alien Virus Love Disaster: Stories, Abbey Mei Otis (Small Beer 978-1-618-73140-1, $16.00, 238pp, tp) August 2018.

As I’ve mentioned before, the better small presses cultivate a curatorial sensibility, a distinct personality which can be a reliable indicator that, whatever this new book is, it’s probably at least interesting. Small Beer Press is near the top of this list, and Alien Virus Love Disaster is a good example of what they ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Promise of Space by James Patrick Kelly

The Promise of Space, James Patrick Kelly (Prime 978-1-607-01495-9, $15.95, 384pp, tp) July 2018.

In his afterword to The Promise of Space, James Patrick Kelly assures us that none of the 16 stories were included in his massive Centipede Press collection from a couple of years ago, the impos­ingly titled Masters of Science Fiction: James Patrick Kelly – which serves as an indication that his accomplished career as a short ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor reviews A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh & Elsie Chapman

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, Ellen Oh & Elsie Chapman, eds. (Greenwillow 978-0-06-267115-8, $17.99, 336pp, hc) June 2018.

In the introduction to A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, editors Elsie Chapman & Ellen Oh write of their deep love for myth and leg­end, something many readers will likely identify with. However, for Chapman and Oh, immersion in tales of Greek and Norse gods, while exciting, was always a bit disappointing. The ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction from Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, LCRW, and Ian McDonald

Clarkesworld 5/18
Lightspeed 6/18
Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet 3/18
Time Was, Ian McDonald ( Publishing)

In the May Clarkesworld I liked Sally Gwylan‘s “Fleeing Oslyge” most. It’s set on a colony planet which has been overtaken by the Tysthänder, who have used overwhelming power to subdue the colo­nists, apparently with the aim of removing them from the planet. Their motives are fuzzy – environmental perhaps? Or simply a desire to ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction from, Analog, and Asimov’s 5/18
Analog 5-6/18
Asimov’s 5-6/18

Just as I was preparing this month’s column I heard the stunning news of the hospitalization, rapid decline, and death, of my colleague here at Locus, Gardner Dozois. Gardner was not just my colleague, both as Locus short fiction columnist and as anthologist, he was a friend. He treated me from the first as an equal, as I surely was not; always happy to ...Read More

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Rachel Swirsky Reviews The Underwater Ballroom Society Edited by Tiffany Trent & Stephanie Burgis

The Underwater Ballroom Society, Tiffany Trent & Stephanie Burgis, eds. (Five Fathoms Press, $4.99, 330pp, eb) April 2018.

Around the turn of the last century, speculator and con man Whitaker Wright built an underwater aquarium and smoking room beneath one of the lakes stippling his mansion’s grounds. Due to its shape, the room came to be referred to as a ballroom. A description from a 1903 article in The West ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Mad Hatters and March Hares Audiobook, Edited by Ellen Datlow

Mad Hatters and March Hares: All-New Stories from the World of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Ellen Datlow, ed.; C.S.E. Cooney & Eric Michael Summerer, narrators (Tantor Audio 978-1-5414-1327-6, $42.99, 10 CDs, 12.5 hr., unabridged [also available as a digital download]) December 2017.

It is an interesting experience to listen to an anthology inspired by two so intensely visual books. Both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass ...Read More

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

F&SF 5-6/18
Clarkesworld 4/18
Beneath Ceaseless Skies 4/12/18, 4/26/18

In the May-June F&SF my preferred sto­ries were from relatively new voices. Pip Coen‘s first stories appeared last year, and Brian Trent has only been publishing a bit longer. Coen’s “Inquisitive” is the tale of the life of a decidedly non-neurotypical young woman, Saffi Kenyon, and her school career, in which her blunt inquisitiveness puts her on the path to entry ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Lightspeed,, and Giganotosaurus

Lightspeed 5/18 4/11/18
Giganotosaurus 2/18, 3/18, 4/18

The SF in the May Lightspeed interested me most. Carolyn Ives Gilman’s “We Will Be All Right” is a very short, dark reflection on a future in which a gender-based pathogen kills men when their lovers conceive. The narrator is ready to meet her son’s girlfriend… as I said, it’s a short piece, and mostly a meditation, and quite effective in its ...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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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Lightspeed, Clarkesworld,, and Bourbon Penn

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 3/15/18
Lightspeed 4/18
Clarkesworld 3/18 2/18, 3/18
Bourbon Penn 3/18

In the May 15 issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Siobhan Carroll offers a powerful if slanted look at the course of a war in “The War of Light and Shadow, in Five Dishes”. A chef is captured by soldiers of the Iron Crusade, in the act of collecting an egg for his lord. The commander impulsively ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Horrible Consequences for Digital People

I suspect that science fiction will never run out of ways for things to go wrong with uploaded consciousness. Right now we can’t even simulate a mouse brain accurately, and maybe in the far distant future of Greg Egan’s Amalgam stories everything will be flawless (at least as far as the tech is concerned), but between now and then lies a vast and storyable gulf in which advances will be ...Read More

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

Asimov’s 3-4/18
Analog 3-4/18
Clarkesworld 2/18
Lightspeed 2/18

The March/April Asimov’s is a strong issue. Ray Nayler’s “A Threnody for Hazan” is melancholy story about a scientist who is trying to develop a dangerous, potently fatal method of time-travel, and her complex relation­ship with her colleague (and, eventually, lover) who is willing to give up everything in order to support her, even if it means losing her. Bill Johnson’s novella ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Analog, and Asimov’s

F&SF 3-4/18
Analog 3-4/18
Asimov’s 3-4/18

Let’s begin with the March-April issues of the three leading digests. F&SF continues its strong recent run, with a March-April issue full of enjoyable work. Susan Palwick’s “Hideous Flowerpots” is a heart-warming story about a woman running a successful art gallery who isn’t happy, as evidenced by, among other things, her harsh reaction to people bringing her substandard art, and how another woman stages ...Read More

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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 ( 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 ( 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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