Weekly Bestsellers, 6 September 2021

Two titles by Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles (Ecco trade paperback; first published in 2012) and Circe (Back Bay trade paperback; first published in 2018), previously untracked here, are added this week. The Song of Achilles is notable for ranking #1 on this week’s LA Times paperback list (and ranking on three other lists), not because a film or TV version is imminent, but apparently, according to Wikipedia, due
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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Appleseed by Matt Bell

Appleseed, Matt Bell (Custom House ‎ 978-0063040144, 480pp, $27.99) July 2021.

Matt Bell is a writer whose whole oeuvre (a couple of previous novels and several story collections) is plainly steeped in the elements of fantastika; a writer who is manifestly cognizant of all the hardcore tropes of the genre, able to deploy them deftly. But he is published outside the genre fences, and hailed as non-denominational Literature with ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Everything in All the Wrong Order by Chaz Brenchley

Everything in All the Wrong Order: The Best of Chaz Brenchley, Chaz Brenchley (Subterranean ‎ ‎978-1645240112, 568pp, $45.00) August 2021.

Starting in 1974 with The Best of Stanley G. Weinbaum, Ballantine Books began issuing a series of best-of volumes that became a definitive record of canonical authors and stories, providing a reading map and sense of history for a generation or two of readers. (To a lesser extent, ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Reclaimed by Madeleine Roux

Reclaimed, Madeleine Roux (Ace 978-0451491855, 320pp, $17.00) August 2021.

Not many tropes derive their name from one specific seminal work of art. And yet such a thing did happen with the 1932 Karloff spookfest, The Old Dark House. Over the decades, the movie gradually lent its name to a whole genre or iconography, whose lineaments are now so familiar that their invocation often results in cliché. But mashing ...Read More

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Blinks: Stanislaw Lem; Ursula K. Le Guin; Reviews in NYT, Guardian, WSJ

» NYT: A Century in Stanislaw Lem’s Cosmos

» NYT: When a Fictional Utopia Offers a Pathway Home, by Amy Kurzweil: “Reading Ursula K. Le Guin’s ‘Always Coming Home’ after a cross country move to California.”

» NYT: Amal El-Mohtar reviews books by Marissa Levien, Nghi Vo, and editors Swapna Krishna & Jenn Northington

» Guardian: Lisa Tuttle reviews Catling, Hendrix, Murphy, Clark, Grant

» Wall Street Journal: Tom Shippey ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews City of Iron and Dust by J.P. Oakes

City of Iron and Dust, J.P. Oakes (Titan ‎ 978-1789097108, 400pp, $15.95) July 2021.

If Joe Abercrombie climbed into his time machine to visit famed Black crime writer Chester Himes, and they then collaborated on a new version of the as-yet-unborn Cotton Comes to Harlem, the result might very well resemble Oakes’s debut novel, City of Iron and Dust. The book is a grim’n’gritty yet often blackly humorous ...Read More

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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