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

Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Evidence by Christopher Priest

The Evidence, Christopher Priest (UK: Gollancz 978-1473231375, £20, 320pp, hardcover) October 2020

I think we can all agree that 2020 was a pretty horrible year. Nonetheless, I am not willing to write it off entirely, if only because it gave us new books by both M. John Harrison and Christopher Priest. These two British writers both began their extraordinary careers in 1966. That’s fifty-four years ago, folks! The fact ...Read More

Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews Inscape by Louise Carey

Inscape, Louise Carey (UK: Gollancz 978-1473232747, £14.9920, 432pp, trade paperback) January 2021

Some genetically talented, culturally nurturing families produce writers across multiple generations, or multiple sibling iterations in the same clade. Famous literary lineages are almost too numerous to name. John le Carré and Nick Harkaway. Stephen King and progeny. Nathaniel and Julian Hawthorne. The McCaffreys. Peter and Emma Straub. The Powys clan; the LaFarge clan. And on and ...Read More

Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

Ready Player Two, Ernest Cline (Ballantine 978-1524761332, $28.99, 384pp, hardcover) November 2020

I am not often bowled over by first novels, but I admit to being very delighted and impressed with Ernest Cline’s bestseller, Ready Player One, when it appeared nearly ten years ago. I was then a judge for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and cast my vote to ensure it got on the shortlist as ...Read More

Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews Yesterday’s Tomorrows: The Story of Classic British Science Fiction in 100 Books by Mike Ashley

Yesterday’s Tomorrows: The Story of Classic British Science Fiction in 100 Books, Mike Ashley (British Library Published 978-0712353717, £15.00, 320pp, trade paperback) October 2020 (US edition titled Yesterday’s Tomorrows: The Story of Science Fiction in 100 Books, May 2021).

The British Library wants to share their wealth. Realizing that many of their 25 million books have undeservedly faded from current memory and attention, the BL has embarked on ...Read More

Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews Rise of the Red Hand by Olivia Chadha

Rise of the Red Hand, Olivia Chadha (Erewhon 978-1645660101, $18.95, 384pp, hardcover) January 2021.

Olivia Chadha’s heartfelt, adroit, brisk and thoughtful debut novel proves that everything old is new again. While its “Clutian Real Year” (i.e., the headspace and zeitgeist that birthed it and which provided its themes) is definitely 2020, its soul and blood and sinews are somewhere back in 1985, with the nascent Neuromancer. It’s nth-generation ...Read More

Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Saints of Salvation by Peter F. Hamilton

The Saints of Salvation, Peter F. Hamilton (Del Rey 978-0-399-17888-7, $32, 528pp, hardcover) November 2020.

One shameful sensation experienced by the over-burdened reviewer—or by any reader, I suppose, with more books than time—is how many series of novels one begins but then abandons, due solely to time constraints. For instance, after complete enjoyment of their predecessors, I have been unable to make time to read the fourth book in ...Read More

Read more