New & Notable Books, September 2019

Raphael Bob-Waksberg, Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory (Knopf 6/19) Offbeat, absurd, and often hilarious looks at love fill this original collection of 16 stories, a long poem, and a set of vignettes. Several stories fall into the realm of SF or fantasy, with such elements as superheroes, alternate realities, and a canine narrator. This is the first collection from Bob-Waksberg, better known as the creator of the animated series BoJack Horseman.

Neil Clarke, ed., The Best Science Fiction of the Year (Night Shade 7/19) Clarke’s latest year’s-best offers 29 stories from 2018 by an impressive range of authors including Aliette de Bodard, Carolyn Ives Gilman, Daryl Gregory, Ken Liu, Alastair Reynolds, Sofia Samatar, and Lavie Tidhar. In his introduction, Clarke honors the late Gardner Dozois and his noted year’s bests by attempting to add some of the aspects the state of short fiction that Dozois always covered.

Fonda Lee, Jade War (Orbit US 7/19) Intrigue and tension build as the Kaul crime family continues to struggle for control of the Asian-inspired island nation of Kekon and its magical jade. This second book in the Green Bone Saga, begun in the World Fantasy Award-winning Jade City, sees increasing foreign involvement, adding to the complexity of this dynamic world, brought to life in a lively mix of action, intrigue, and vibrant characters.


Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Gods of Jade and Shadow (Del Rey 7/19) Jazz-age Mexico provides the distinc­tive background for this fast-paced fantasy mixing Mayan gods, ghosts, warlocks, and teen Casiopea Tun. She’s stuck tending a wealthy, bitter grandfather and dealing with a loathsome cousin when she acci­dentally resurrects (mostly) the Mayan god of death, who insists she help him track down some missing body parts. The resulting magical adventures include a touch of romance, and encounters with some fasci­nating characters, not least Casiopea herself, “…one of the more appealing and defiant heroines in recent fantasy.” [Gary K. Wolfe]

H.G. Parry, The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep (Redhook 7/19) Charley, a scholar with the occasion­ally uncontrolled power to bring literary characters to life, has always depended on his reluctant brother Rob to help round up escapees – like the slimy Uriah Heep from Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield – but then new characters, ones Charley didn’t create, turn up. Familiar villains and heroes join the fray, with some unexpected twists, making for a thrilling literary romp and an impressive first novel.

Samanta Schweblin, Mouthful of Birds (Riverhead 1/19) Schweblin’s first English-language collection offers 20 stories, many with elements of the sur­real, strange, absurd, and fantastic. Translated from the Spanish Pájaros en la boca (Random House Mondadori 2010) by Megan McDowell. “Even the weakest piece has a mood, an atmosphere that evokes an emotional response.” [Ian Mond]


Sarah Tolmie, The Little Animals (Aqueduct Press 5/19) Tolmie brings a touch of the weird to the history of Dutch microscopist Antoni van Leeu­wenhoek, who discovered tiny lifeforms he called “animalcules” in the late 17th century. But here, he also meets a goose girl who could be out of a Brothers Grimm story, who hears tiny voices from those animalcules, and can read minds of animals. “A charming mannerist fairy tale and a provocative account of the birth of our own modern worldview.” [Gary K. Wolfe]

Ann VanderMeer & Jeff VanderMeer, eds., The Big Book of Classic Fantasy (Vintage 7/19) The noted editors bring a new, more international definition to “classic” fantasy in this hefty selection of 89 stories (and one poem), 14 appearing for the first time in English. Authors include Edgar Rice Burroughs, Willa Cather, Nikolai Gogol, E. Nesbit, Horacio Quiroga, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, and J.R.R. Tolkien.


David Wellington, The Last Astronaut (Orbit US 7/19) An alien object heads towards Earth, ignoring attempts to communicate, in this tense near-future thriller. NASA turns to former Mission Commander Sally Jansen, retired since a disastrous mission to Mars, and now possibly humanity’s only hope – if she and her crew can survive the incomprehensible horrors of the alien ship.


Chuck Wendig, Wanderers (Del Rey 7/19) Sleep­walkers in the US suddenly start to head for an unknown destination in this apocalyptic near-future thriller. Distraught family members and others follow the walkers, while researchers, politicians, a company with an enigmatic AI, and religious fanatics jockey for influence as the country, already dangerously divided, approaches breakdown. A clever and auda­cious tale of American apocalypse that stands with some of the subgenre’s best.

From the September 2019 issue of Locus.

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