K-Ming Chang, Gods of Want (One World 7/22) A stellar collection getting plenty of critical praise, Chang’s latest explores the lives and myths of Asian American women in 16 stories, many with supernatural elements – including ghosts, goddesses, and women out of fairy tales – a powerful mix of darkness, humor, the strange, and the everyday.
N.K. Jemisin, The World We Make (Orbit US & UK 11/22) Urban fantasy doesn’t get more urban than in Jemisin’s Great Cities contemporary fantasy duology about the human avatars of New York City and its neighborhoods; this concluding novel focuses less on Lovecraftian problems (though tentacular threats make a spectacular appearance) and more on human politics, with a “doltish” mayorial candidate who wants to Make New York Great Again. “A love letter to a complicated city and the resiliant spirit of its residents.” [Gary K. Wolfe]
Cassandra Khaw, Breakable Things (Undertow 11/22) Khaw, already known for their style and strikingly disturbing fiction, offers 23 horror stories, one new, in this “superbly strange and beautiful debut collection… Twenty-three stories: some quite short, some without traditional beginning-middle-end structure. All worth reading.” [Paula Guran]
R.B. Lemberg, Geometries of Belonging: Stories and Poems from the Birdverse (Fairwood 11/22) This collection of seven stories (one new) and four poems in Lemberg’s lauded Birdverse series offers some potent glimses of Lemberg’s fascinating, queer and complex world with its diverse cultures, a magic loosely based in geometry, and characters dealing with identity, family, hurt, healing, and change.
L.D. Lewis & Charles Payseur, eds., We’re Here: The Best Queer Speculative Fiction 2021 (Neon Hemlock 9/22) The second volume in this annual series offers 15 stories chosen as the best of 2021. Authors include Sharang Biswas, Aliette de Bodard, C.L. Clark, Ann LeBlanc, Sam J. Miller, and Bogi Takács. Series editor Payseur offers an overview of the year in publishing, while guest editor Lewis comments on the joy of “drowning” in so much “rich, diverse, gorgeously executed short fiction.”
C.L. Polk, Even Though I Knew the End (Tordotcom 11/22) A dark fantasy noir mystery novella with romance, this tale of a lesbian detective who has to track down a notorious serial killer to avoid being sent to Hell has been getting rave reviews. “Powerful, emotional, stylish, and smart… a helluva story that hits dozens of literary high points.” [Colleen Mondor].
Rebecca Roanhorse & John Joseph Adams, eds., The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2022 (Mariner 11/22) The eighth installment of this best-of-the-year series, this offers 20 stories from 2021, many from familiar names, including Elizabeth Bear, P. Djèlí Clark, Meg Elison, Nalo Hopkinson, Stephen Graham Jones, Kelly Link, Sam J. Miller, and Catherynne M. Valente. This includes a summation of the year by noted series editor John Joseph Adams, and an introduction on the stories picked by guest-editor Roanhorse.
Sofia Samatar, The White Mosque (Catapult 10/22) This critically acclaimed mix of memoir and travel writing follows Samatar on a tour/pilgrimage retracing the path of 19th-century Mennonites from Russia who founded a village in what is now Uzbekistan, exploring fascinating details of the region’s history and Samatar’s own identity as half Swiss-Mennonite, half Somali-Muslim, raised Mennonite in the US.
Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki & Zelda Knight, eds., Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction (Tordotcom 11/22) Original anthology with 32 stories by authors both familiar and new, from Africa and the African Diaspora, including Steven Barnes, Maurice Broaddus, Tobias S. Buckell, Tananarive Due, Yvette Lisa Ndlovu, Nuzo Onoh, Wole Talabi, and Tlotlo Tsamaase. Reviewers have called it an important, wide-ranging selection: “simply a gorgeous anthology… truly contains outstanding stories.” [Isiah Lavender III]
Lavie Tidhar, Neom (Tachyon 11/22) Tidhar plays with elements of old-school SF while expanding on his vision of a transformed Middle East in this far-future SF novel in the universe of Central Station. The setting is Neom, the utopian city even now being built by Saudi Arabia by the Red Sea, but here an ancient metropolis, surrounded by a desert littered with dangerous machines left from earlier wars – where the discovery of a giant crashed spaceship draws together a diverse group of characters, even as revolution sparks among humans and sentient machines in the city.
Jeff VanderMeer, Bliss (Subterranean 10/22) VanderMeer brings his gift for the unexpected and weird to this short novel/long novella, a humorous, occasionally unreal, and eventually horrific tale about a rock trio on tour in a nation just coming out of 15-year civil war, traveling downriver on a boat, heading for a mysterious gig that could make or break their careers.
From the December 2022 issue of Locus.
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