New & Notable Books, May 2022


Eugen Bacon, Mage of Fools (Meerkat 3/22) Bacon’s distinct style stands out in this genre-blending dystopian fantasy novel. Jasmin opposes a dictator who hates fic­tion and has nearly destroyed the environment with the help of his sorcerer – but Jasmin has her late husband’s forbidden story machine with its subversive tales of a better world.



Ben Bova, Sam Gunn Jr. (Blackstone 3/22) The last completed novel from noted SF author and editor Bova, this fun tale follows the adventures of a young man trying to live up to the legend of the father he never knew, Bova’s popular con-man/entrepreneur Sam Gunn.



Maurice Broaddus, Sweep of Stars (Tor 3/22) Broad­dus’s Astra Black trilogy opens with this sweeping Afrofuturist space opera novel, set in a society of African peoples who seceded from Earth’s oppressive governments in 2050, settling around the solar system to build a Black utopia, only to find themselves in 2121 facing shadowy threats at home and an alien conflict on the other side of the galaxy.



Richard Butner, The Adventurists (Small Beer 3/22) Collection of 16 stories, ten new, from an author noted for his grounded details in quirky, often uncanny short fiction. ‘‘If not quite a new voice, Butner’s is one of the most distinctive and memorable I’ve encountered in quite a while.’’ [Gary K. Wolfe]


Yu Chen & Regina Kanyu Wang, eds., The Way Spring Arrives (Tordotcom 3/22) Anthology of 17 stories of Chinese SF and fantasy, all but one in new translation to English, and five new essays, all by women and non-binary authors. ‘‘Both an important and enjoyable anthology, giving a cohort of wildly talented writers awider audience. Recommended without reservation.’’ [Caren Gussoff Sumption]


Marion Deeds, Comeuppance Served Cold (Tordot­com 3/22) Life among the wealthy in 1920s Seattle provides the backdrop for this fantasy mystery novella, a noir caper mystery evoking the spirit of Raymond Chandler in a fascinating puzzle of a tale following a rich girl’s paid companion and a widow running a speakeasy as they get caught up magic politics, police violence, and a heist.


Karen Joy Fowler, Booth (Putnam; Serpent’s Tail 3/22) Fowler brings her distinctive knack with historical fiction to this biographical novel of the family of John Wilkes Booth, which has been getting considerable critical acclaim. Though it only has slight elements of fantasy (or psychological/superstitious beliefs) it pulls together as a kind of worldbuilding of its own, a powerful portrayal of a theatrical family in an era torn by the issue of slavery.


Saad Z. Hossain, Kundo Wakes Up (Tordotcom 3/22) Hossain returns to the devastated world of The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday in this science fantasy novella of an artist searching for his missing wife in Chittagong, a city falling into the sea, its AI guardian silent. From video game parlors to cyberspace and the realm of the djinn, this presents a ‘‘uniqtuely original vision of a future South Asia plagued by environmental disaster… fully as entertaining as we’ve come to expect… Hos­sain’s most mature and unified book to date.’’ [Gary K. Wolfe]


Marlon James, Moon Witch, Spider King (Riverhead 2/22) The Dark Star epic fantasy trilogy continueswith this second novel, which retells the story from the Moon Witch Sogolon’s very different point-of-view, filling in her past, and as a result this version ‘‘feels like a more generous and inclusive novel than its predecessor, with much higher stakes and some very promising doorways for the third volume.’’ [Gary K. Wolfe]


Eleghosa Osunde, Vagabonds! (Riverhead 3/22; Fourth Estate 3/22) Osunde’s exceptional first novel has gotten considerable critical acclaim with its fan­tasy/magical realism exploration of the lives of a wide range of characters, many queer, living on the edge in Lagos, Nigeria, as witnessed by a supernatural spirit. It’s a story told in effective pieces, many previously published separately, coming together in an unexpect­edly uplifting conclusion.


Adam Roberts, The This (Gollancz 2/22) Roberts’s new philosophical SF novel is a thematic sequel to The Thing Itself, which mixed Kant and The Thing; this tackles Hegel, in a tale of a new social media, an injected app that links people mind-to-mind, in ‘‘an utterly bonkers, structurally ambitious novel about love, immortality, and the technological singularity…. An accessible, frequently funny novel… that I found moving.’’ [Ian Mond]


Sarah Tolmie, All the Horses of Iceland (Tordotcom 3/22) The story of how wild horses came to Iceland is the core of this fantasy novella rooted in an engaging mix of history and folklore, ranging from Iceland to Mongolia, a tale that ‘‘gracefully balances its meticu­lous historical detail with a strange and sweeping sense of legend.’’ [Gary K. Wolfe]


From the May 2022 issue of Locus.

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