Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker

The Hidden Palace, Helene Wecker (Harper 978-0062468710, 480pp, $28.99) June 2021.

Helene Wecker’s sequel to her stunning 2013 debut, The Golem and the Jinni [reviewed here], succeeds 100 percent in recapturing the assured voice, the delicate magic, the solid historical verisimilitude, and the engaging interplay of personalities that she delivered in the first book. But she does not merely replicate all the pleasures, plot points, devices, and charms of ...Read More

Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews Sidewinders by Robert V.S. Redick

Sidewinders, Robert V.S. Redick (Talos 978-1945863608, 672pp, $25.99) July 2021.

Worldbuilding has developed a bad rap lately. The meticulous and detailed creation of another realm “beyond the fields we know,” with novel cultures, languages, religions, history, geography, flora and fauna, is somehow deemed oppressive and pedantic and tiresome. Well, duh, yeah—if it’s done badly and ham-handedly. Like any tool in the writer’s toolkit, worldbuilding can be employed deftly and ...Read More

Read more

Blinks: Two by Ted Chiang

» New York Times: Ezra Klein: The Author Behind ‘Arrival’ Doesn’t Fear AI. ‘Look at How We Treat Animals.’, subtitled, “The award-winning author and Ezra Klein discuss A.I. suffering, free will, Superman’s failures and more.

» The New Yorker: Ted Chiang: Why Computers Won’t Make Themselves Smarter, subtitled, “We fear and yearn for ‘the singularity.’ But it will probably never come.” ...Read More

Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Complete Ivy Frost by Donald Wandrei

The Complete Ivy Frost, Donald Wandrei (Haffner Press 978-1893887619, 720pp, $49.99, hardcover) December 2020

Haffner Press has been gifting the world of bibliophiles and literature-lovers with enormously attractive and highly readable books since 1998, when they published Jack Williamson’s The Queen of the Legion. (For a complete record of their offerings, visit their ISFDB page.) Any publication from Haffner exemplifies craftsmanship, graphic design ingenuity, and attention to textual ...Read More

Read more

Blinks: Indian sf/f novels; Slate on DeLillo, Lethem, and Forster; Zoologist’s Guide to the Galaxy

» Washington Post: Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Lavie Tidhar: Let’s talk about wonderful Indian science-fiction and fantasy novels

» Slate: COVID-19 Isn’t the Apocalypse We Expected—or the One Some Wanted, subtitled “Recent novels from Don DeLillo and Jonathan Lethem fantasized about turning off screens forever,” beginning with a look back at E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops”

» NYT: Kermit Pattison reviews associational book THE ZOOLOGIST’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY: What Animals ...Read More

Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews Purgatory Mount by Adam Roberts

Purgatory Mount, Adam Roberts (Gollancz 978-1473230941, 336pp, L16.99, hardcover) February 2021

Last year marked the generally under-recognized 20th anniversary of Adam Roberts’s first novel, Salt, and the launching of his career. His prodigious and impressive output in the past two decades has earned him a reputation as one of the field’s most delightfully surprising, adept, and formalistically variant authors. His novums are always startling and innovative and cutting-edge, ...Read More

Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews Robot Artists & Black Swans: The Italian Fantascienza Stories by Bruce Sterling

Robot Artists & Black Swans: The Italian Fantascienza Stories, Bruce Sterling (Tachyon 978-1616963293, 256pp, $25.95, hardcover) April 2021

Certain superficial things change over time, while other essential phenomena remain fixed and permanent. Cyberpunk was born a bit over 35 years ago, and the world is a much different place now than it was in 1985. So it’s foolish to imagine that cyberpunk writing would persist unchanged, adhering to the ...Read More

Read more

Weekly Bestsellers: 15 March 2021

Three strong debuts this week, beginning with Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun (Knopf), ranking #1 at LA Times and #3 at NY Times; Stephen King’s trade paperback original Later (Hard Case Crime), ranking #1 on two lists and #3 on two others; and Cassandra Clare’s Chain of Iron (McElderry), second in the Last Hours series, ranking #1 and #2 on two YA lists.
...Read More Read more

Blinks: Octavia E. Butler; Chen Qiufan; Elizabeth Hand; Lisa Tuttle’s Guardian reviews

» The New Yorker: Julian Lucas on How Octavia E. Butler Reimagines Sex and Survival, subtitled, The parasites, hybrids, and vampires of her science fiction make the price of persisting viscerally real.

» Wired: Sci-Fi Writer or Prophet? The Hyperreal Life of Chen Qiufan, subtitled, As China’s science fiction authors are elevated to the status of oracles, Qiufan’s career—and his genre’s place in society—have gone through the looking glass.

» ...Read More

Read more

Blinks: Jonathan Lethem in The New Yorker, with a tribute to Robert A. Heinlein; NPR’s Fran Wilde reviews S.B. Divya; Wired’s Jason Kehe on R.A. Lafferty

» The New Yorker: Jonathan Lethem’s story The Crooked House, with an interview with Jonathan Lethem on Robert Heinlein and Other Influences

» Another review of Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun, by NPR’s Annalisa Quinn

» Also at NPR, Fran Wilde reviews S.B. Divya: ‘Machinehood’ Upgrades Asimov’s 3 Laws Of Robotics

» Wired’s Jason Kehe asks, Who Is R. A. Lafferty? And Is He the Best Sci-Fi Writer Ever?, ...Read More

Read more

Weekly Bestsellers, 1 March 2021

Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Silver Flames debuts spectacularly on print lists this week, ranking #1 on three of the four, though it’s dropped precipitously on the Amazon charts.

Meanwhile, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun (Knopf), released tomorrow, is selling today on the Amazon charts, and editions of Colin Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad are selling at Amazon, in anticipation of the Amazon TV series debuting in May.

...Read More Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Memory Theater by Karin Tidbeck

The Memory Theater, Karin Tidbeck (Pantheon 978-1524748333, 240pp, $25.95, hardcover) February 2021

When I reviewed Karin Tidbeck’s story collection Jagannath at The Barnes & Noble Review, I said that it distilled and hybridized “almost every writer in the VanderMeers’ massive anthology The Weird. A century’s worth of potent surrealism and estrangement surge through her veins and onto the page.” With the publication of her new novel, I’ll have ...Read More

Read more

Blinks: Kazuo Ishiguro; reviews of his new novel; new laws or robotics; Shippey reviews Weber & Kenney

» NYT Magazine: Kazuo Ishiguro Sees What the Future Is Doing to Us, by Giles Harvey

» Reviews of Ishiguro’s new novel Klara and the Sun at NYT, by Radhika Jones; Slate, by Laura Miller; Guardian, by Anne Enright; and Wall Street Journal, by Sam Sacks

» Boston Globe: Frank Pasquale suggests Now that science fiction is reality, it’s time for new laws of robotics

» Wall Street Journal: Tom ...Read More

Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Society of Time by John Brunner

The Society of Time, John Brunner (edited by Mike Ashley) (The British Library 978-0712353823, 288pp, hardcover) November 2020

Was John Brunner’s life a tragedy? In some undeniable senses, yes. Possessed of enormous talents, but also an array of character faults, he became his own worst enemy and his later-era career suffered immensely—in large part due to one poor decision to stake too much effort and hopes on a mainstream ...Read More

Read more

Weekly Bestsellers, 22 February 2021

Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Silver Flames (Bloomsbury), fifth in “A Court of Thorns and Roses,” ranks on all three Amazon lists this morning, and its anticipation has pulled a couple of the earlier books back onto the USA Today list. Meanwhile, a new Laurell K. Hamilton “Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter” novel, Rafael (Berkley), debuts strongly on two lists.
...Read More Read more

Blinks: Lisa Tuttle at Guardian; Bill McKibben cites KSR; Greg Bear’s life story

» Guardian: Lisa Tuttle takes over from Eric Brown: The best recent science fiction and fantasy – review roundup covering titles by Samantha Shannon, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Adam Roberts, Marian Womack, and Tim Pratt

» The New Yorker: Bill McKibben’s The Enormous Risk of Atmospheric Hacking cites Kim Stanley Robinson’s “masterly new novel” “The Ministry for the Future”.

» Seattle Times: Lynnwood’s Greg Bear, stalwart of modern science fiction, starts writing ...Read More

Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Best of Walter Jon Williams by Walter Jon Williams

The Best of Walter Jon Williams, Walter Jon Williams (Subterranean 978-1-64524-002-0, $45, 616pp, hardcover) February 2021

A writer always feels an instinctive camaraderie with other writers who debuted more or less simultaneously with one’s own beginnings. This does not mean that all writers in a given generation love and admire each other unconditionally, but only that a person recognizes and bonds more readily with other members of their own ...Read More

Read more