Weekly Bestsellers, 13 March 2023

Two fantasy novels debut this week, beginning with Samantha Shannon’s A Day of Fallen Night (Bloomsbury), a stand-alone prequel to her 2019 The Priory of the Orange Tree, ranking among the top 5 on three lists. Then Shannon Chakraborty’s The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi (Harper Voyager), first in a new series, ranking among the top 10 of two lists.

The USA Today bestseller list remains on hiatus.

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Hopeland by Ian McDonald

Hopeland, Ian McDonald (Tor 978-0765375551, hardcover, 512pp, $30.99) February 2023

Try to imagine some improbable authorial workmate pairings. Tanith Lee and Andre Norton? Dan Brown and Christopher Priest? Robert Sheckley and M. John Harrison? It’s a given that such mismatches would come to naught. But a similar yoking of semi-antithetical writers—at least in spirit—is at play in Ian McDonald’s big new exciting and tender saga, Hopeland. It’s a ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews High Concepts by Bill Pronzini

High Concepts, Bill Pronzini (Stark House Press 979-8886010176, trade paperback, 234pp, $15.95) February 2023

I love Stark House books. They specialize in reprints of classic and overlooked crime, noir, and mystery books, as well as similarly situated fantastika items. But now and then they also issue something brand-new. In this case, it’s the first collection of SF/F/H from the famed Bill Pronzini, whose bibliography runs to several pages and ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Victory City by Salman Rushdie

Victory City, Salman Rushdie (Random House 978-0593243398, hardcover, 352pp, $30.00) February 2023

Salman Rushdie’s new novel is an un-put-down-able narrative feast, rich with character, incident, aphorisms, and meditations on morality, life, and death. It’s a saga so rich and authentic, narrated with so much fluency and ceaseless invention, that it ranks with the other Ur-romances that Rushdie alludes to, such as the Ramayana. Flavors of The Thousand and ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Thing in the Snow by Sean Adams

The Thing in the Snow, Sean Adams (Morrow 978-0063257757, hardcover, 288pp, $27.99) January 2023

An enormous, spooky, half-abandoned, cryptic building, whose inhabitants pursue ceremonies and rituals with unthinking adherence, while menaces hover both within (due to interpersonal conflicts) and also on the perimeters. We must be talking about Peake’s monumental and essential Gormenghast series, right? Not at all. Instead we are concerned with Sean Adams’s second novel, The Thing ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Scarab Mission by James L. Cambias

The Scarab Mission, James L. Cambias (Baen 978-1982192396, hardcover, 288pp, $18.00) January 2023

This rousing, unstoppable, non-stop adventure follows Cambias’s The Godel Operation (reviewed here), which introduced his cosmos of the Billion Worlds: a future where our Solar System is overstuffed with a zillion habitats, polities and species (human and other wise), some struggling for supremacy, others just following their mundane blisses. It’s a definite post-scarcity—if not even posthuman—environment, ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Knot of Shadows by Lois McMaster Bujold and After Many a Summer by Tim Powers

Knot of Shadows, Lois McMaster Bujold (Subterranean 978-1-64524-114-0, hardcover, 160pp, $45.00) January 2023.

It’s time for another nigh-aleatory pairing of two novellas, as we dip into the current state of this fascinating artform, which, it has been said, is almost ideal for works of fantastika: long enough for worldbuilding and deep speculations; short enough not to grow wearisome or bogged down.

Today’s offerings both come from the fabulous Subterranean ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Illuminations: Stories by Alan Moore

Illuminations: Stories, Alan Moore (Bloomsbury 978-1635578805, hardcover, 464pp, $30.00) October 2022.

Alan Moore is a sly old devil. Famed for his work in comics, his cultural commentary, and for two massive, sui generis novels (Voice of the Fire [1996] and Jerusalem [2016]), he has managed, all these years, to keep his production of short fiction on the downlow. I myself, reasonably conversant with his oeuvre, would have proclaimed, ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Desert Creatures by Kay Chronister

Desert Creatures, Kay Chronister (Erewhon 978-1645660521, hardcover, 352pp, $26.95) November 2022.

Kay Chronister’s second book, this unforgiving, unforgettable debut novel titled Desert Creatures, follows a highly acclaimed short-story collection, Thin Places, which I reviewed for Asimov’s in 2020. At that time, I said:

Her language crisp and fresh and disturbing, blending the matter-of-fact surrealism of Leena Krohn with the cold deliriums of Shirley Jackson, Kay Chronister is ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Cold Water by Dave Hutchinson

Cold Water, Dave Hutchinson (Solaris 978-1786187222, trade paperback, 464pp, $16.99) November 2022.

Having completed his marvelous main sequence of Fractured Europe books with a fourth installment, Europe at Dawn, in 2018 (you can read my review of three-quarters of the series here), Hutchinson now offers a pendant volume, starring a new lead. But the tale is in no way overly reliant upon, inferior to, or less fully developed ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Eversion by Alastair Reynolds

Eversion, Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz 978-0575090767, hardcover, 320pp, £20.00) May 2022. (US edition Orbit 978-0316462822, 352pp,$17.99 August 2022.)

Alistair Reynolds is a grand writer with many arrows in his quiver. But I never suspected him of having any great fondness for the work of Philip K. Dick, nor of being prone to write an homage to that master of SF metaphysical surrealism. And yet that is just what he delivers, ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Citadel of Forgotten Myths by Michael Moorcock

The Citadel of Forgotten Myths, Michael Moorcock (Saga ‎ 978-1982199807, hardcover, 336pp, $28.99) December 2022.

The legendary quip asserting that “The Golden Age of science fiction is thirteen” needs to be modified in my case, and, I suspect, in the case of many other readers. My personal Golden Age of SF lasted a decade: from the moment in 1965 (I was ten) when I discovered Raymond F. Jones’s The ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Flight from the Ages & other stories by Derek Künsken

Flight from the Ages & other stories, Derek Künsken (Solaris 978-1786187284, trade paperback, 400pp, $16.99) December 2022.

It does one’s heart good to see newer writers working in some of the grand traditions of SF, reinvigorating the Old School lineage with up-to-the-minute attitudes, concepts, and styles. Such a writer is Derek Künsken. Although not a youngster (he was born in 1971), he possesses a fresh and breezy way with ...Read More

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