New & Notable Books, April 2021

Cristina Bacchilega & Jennifer Orme, eds., Invit­ing Interruptions: Wonder Tales in the 21st Century (Wayne State University Press 2/21) This anthology has a mix of 24 art and fiction pieces, with critical notes, each challenging our familiar fairy tale narratives of heteronormative happy end­ings. Contributors include Susanna Clarke, Nalo Hopkinson, Kelly Link, Sofia Samatar, Veronica Schanoes, Nisi Shawl, Shaun Tan, and more.


L.X. Beckett, Dealbreaker (Tor 1/21) In this thrilling near-future SF sequel to Gamechanger, humanity fights for a seat in the galactic govern­ing body, but there are some species who think humans are still too dangerous to be let in. Does humankind deserve a second chance to correct its past mistakes?


Aliette de Bodard, Fireheart Tiger (Tordotcom 2/21) Set in a fantasy world inspired by pre-colonial Vietnam, this beautiful novella follows a princess, a fire spirit, and the politics that entangle neighboring kingdoms. “It is a quiet, powerful story of power and resistance, of control and affection, and of the nature of constraint and alli­ance in both politics and personal relationships.” [Liz Bourke]


Namina Forna, The Gilded Ones (Penguin Ran­dom House/Delacorte 2/21) This YA feminist fan­tasy novel, set in a world inspired by West Africa, begins the Deathless series. A young woman’s golden blood marks her an outcast in her village, but also reveals her to be one of the alaki: nearly immortal, possessed of strange gifts… and useful to the emperor as soldiers.


Nicole Galland, Master of the Revels (Morrow 2/21) In this fast-paced adventure sequel to Gal­land & Neal Stephenson’s The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O., agents from the Department of Diachronic Operations fight to stop a powerful Irish witch from using time travel to reverse the evolution of all modern technology.


Elizabeth Hand, The Best of Elizabeth Hand (Subterranean 2/21) Collection of 16 stories, including two Nebula and three World Fantasy Award winners, with notes on the inspirations of each. “It’s hard to argue with an elegant master­piece like this, or with the balanced overview of Hand’s varied talents that the always-reliable editor Bill Sheehan has assembled here.” [Gary K. Wolfe]


Alaya Dawn Johnson, Reconstruction (Small Beer 1/21) This debut collection from one of our most distinctive voices collects ten stories spanning her 15-year career, including Nebula Award winner “A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai’i” and two originals.



R.B. Lemberg & Lisa M. Bradley, Climbing Lightly Through Forests: A Poetry Anthology Honoring Ursula K. Le Guin (Aqueduct 2/21) This expansive anthology includes 63 poems, 50 of them previously unpublished, with work by poets including Stephanie Burt, Thoraiya Dyer, Mary Soon Lee, Brandon O’Brien, Charles Payseur, Sofia Samatar, Nisi Shawl, David Sklar, Rachel Swirsky, Sonya Taaffe, and Jo Walton, among oth­ers, all “in conversation” with Le Guin’s work. It also features an article by Lemberg exploring Le Guin’s own poetry.

Everina Maxwell, Winter’s Orbit (Tor 2/21) This debut space opera novel, full of political intrigue and queer romance, concerns the Emperor’s ne’er-do-well grandson, who’s commanded to marry the widower of a prince in order to maintain a key treaty. “It’s one of the most enjoyable space (or planetary) opera romances that I’ve had the pleasure to read, and I look forward to seeing more of Maxwell’s work in the years to come.” [Liz Bourke]


Sylvain Neuvel, A History of What Comes Next (Tordotcom 2/21) Neuvel launches the new Take Them to the Stars series, a science fiction histori­cal set mostly in Europe during WWII, about an all-woman secret society that’s been working for 99 generations to help humanity reach the stars… while dodging a mysterious, implacable enemy. Mia’s mission: to steal rocket scientist Werner von Braun away from the Nazis and bring him to the United States.


Ben Okri, Prayer for the Living (Akashic 2/21) This ambitious collection by the Booker Prize-winning literary author includes 23 stories, a dozen of them new, plus a poem, with works mingling the realistic, the magical, and the metafictional. While first published in the UK by Head of Zeus in October 2019, it’s now widely available in the US for the first time.


From the April 2021 issue of Locus.

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