Liz Bourke and Adrienne Martini Review Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells

Fugitive Telemetry, Martha Wells (Tordotcom 978-1-250-76537-6, $19.99, 176pp, hc) April 2021. Cover by Jaime Jones.

At this point, everyone knows about Murderbot. If you don’t know about Murderbot, what rock have you been hiding under? (Is it a comfy rock? I could use a nice rock-based holiday, away from all the news. And the pandemic.) Martha Wells’s Fugi­tive Telemetry is the sixth outing in the award-winning Murderbot Diaries. It ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Deuces Down, Edited by George R.R. Martin & Melinda Snodgrass

Deuces Down, George R.R. Martin & Melinda Snodgrass, eds. (Tor 978-1-250-22720-1, $28.99, 352pp, hc) January 2021.

Deuces Down is both the 16th and 30th book in the Wild Cards series. The anthology was first published in 2002; this new version is refreshed with added stories by Carrie Vaughn, Mary Anne Mohanraj, and Caroline Spector. Although re­ferred to on the title page as a mosaic novel, it remains – despite ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reveiws Dissipatio H.G.: The Vanishing by Guido Mor­selli

Dissipatio H.G.: The Vanishing, Guido Mor­selli (New York Review Books 978-1681374765, $15.95, 120pp, tp) December 2020.

On the eve of his 40th birthday, a man decides to end his life. He tells us that 40 is “a point of passage… when maturity begins to decline toward old age. I wanted to be off while I was still thirty-nine, if only technically.” He chooses to drown himself up in the ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Don’t Tell a Soul by Kirsten Miller

Don’t Tell a Soul, Kirsten Miller (Delacorte 978-0-525-58120-8, $20.99, 384pp, hc) January 2021.

Kirsten Miller’s outstanding thriller Don’t Tell a Soul is not only a first-rate mystery, it also man­ages to address just what it is about certain ghost stories, specifically those involving dead girls, which are so culturally pervasive. The novel’s protagonist has a special affinity for these girls and how their personal histories and true motiva­tions are ...Read More

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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

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Lightspeed, BCS, and Strange Horizons

Lightspeed 11/20, 12/20 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 10/8/20, 10/22/20 Strange Horizons 10/5/20, 10/12/20

Lightspeed’s November issue breaks from the usual format to offer a single science fiction nov­elette instead of the usual pair of shorter pieces. “Schrödinger’s Catastrophe” by Gene Doucette is worth it, as special agent Alice is sent to rescue/recover a research vessel that was exploring a to­tally empty quadrant of space. It went silent after sending ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Blackthorn Winter by Liz Williams

Blackthorn Winter, Liz Williams (NewCon 978-1-912950-79-9, $15.99, 348pp, tp) January 2021.

One of last year’s most appealing fantasies, Liz Williams’s Comet Weather, introduced us to the redoubtable Fallow sisters, each balancing the challenges of life in contemporary England with a family heritage entwined with fae, ghosts, alternate dimensions, demons, star-sprites, and even time travel. The sequel, Blackthorn Winter, again brings the sisters back to Mooncote, the family ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Big Score by K.J. Parker

The Big Score, K.J. Parker (Subterranean 978-1-64524-000-6, $40.00, 104pp, hc) March 2021.

The Big Score sounds like a title from the golden age of sleazy paperbacks, or maybe a high-octane, low-budget action flick. In fact, it was both, and I suspect K.J. Parker either knew this or didn’t care in choosing it for the latest novella set in his hilari­ously corrupt version of Renaissance Europe, which has shown a ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Hench Audiobook by Natalie Zina Walschots

Hench, Natalie Zina Walschots; Alex McK­enna, narrator (HarperAudio 978-0-062-97860-8, $29.99, digital download, 14.25 hr., unabridged) September 2020.

In a world where superheroes and supervillains are part of everyday society, Anna scrapes by as a data-entry temp for low-level evildoers. In the course of one of these gigs, her smarmy boss, the Electric Eel, asks her to attend a press conference, which turns out to be a live-streamed demonstra­tion of ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews In That Endlessness, Our End by Gemma Files

In That Endlessness, Our End, Gemma Files (Grimscribe 978-0-578-75976-0, $20, 342pp, tp) January 2021.

Fifteen recent (the earliest appears to have been published in 2017) stories by Canadian writer Gemma Files combine to make a terrifically ter­rifying collection, In That Endlessness, Our End. Files doesn’t exactly expose the horror found in the mundane because, once the thin veneer of normalcy is scratched, very little is mundane about her ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Crosshairs by Catherine Hernandez

Crosshairs, Catherine Hernandez (Atria 978-1-982-14602-3, $27.00, 272pp, hc) December 2020.

Catherine Hernandez’s vivid, angry, outspoken dystopian novel, Crosshairs, begins in a base­ment somewhere in Toronto. There we meet Kay, a self-identified “Queer Femme Jamaican Filipino man” hiding behind a furnace, sleeping on a bed made from cardboard, and spending his days narrating a “Whisper Letter” to his “beauti­ful Evan.” He recounts the sheer joy of dancing to Liberace’s ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews His Dark Materials: Serpentine Audiobook by Philip Pullman

His Dark Materials: Serpentine, Philip Pullman; Olivia Colman, narrator (Listening Library 978-0-59339842-5, $8.00, digital download, 25 min., unabridged) October 2020.

Waiting for the third Book of Dust novel is hard, especially after the gorgeous gut-punch that was 2019’s The Secret Commonwealth. To help tide us over, Pullman offers us this extremely brief prelude to that work, written several years ago to benefit a charity auction. In this story, ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Spellbreaker by Charlie N. Holmberg

Spellbreaker, Charlie N. Holmberg (47North 978-1-54202009-1, $14.95, 322pp, tp) November 2020.

The primary protagonist of Charlie N. Holmberg’s latest novel, Spellbreaker, has had a difficult life. Elsie Camden was mysteriously abandoned as a young child and subsequently delivered to a workhouse. She later became a servant for a truly odious master and now, although she is thankful to be a valued assistant for a stonemason and artist, she ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Bourbon Penn, and Conjunctions

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet 11/20 Bourbon Penn 11/20 Conjunctions Spring ’20

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet has been one of my favorite magazines for a long time, always publishing work unlike anything you’ll read else­where. The November issue is largely given over to a novella from Sarah Langan, “You Have the Prettiest Mask“. It’s either a timely story or a weirdly untimely story! It’s told by Cathy Lerner, ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Original Audiobook by Brandon Sanderson & Mary Robinette Kowal

The Original, Brandon Sanderson & Mary Robinette Kowal; Julia Whelan, narrator (Recorded Books 978-1-98006289-9, $19.99, digital download, 4 hr., unabridged) September 2020.

This novella, currently available only in audio, is a tight, exciting thriller, blended with emotional nuance and plenty of food for thought.

In the near future, we have become a world of lotus eaters. The global government provides an income to everyone, so no one has to ...Read More

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Elsa Sjunneson Reviews The Burning God by R.F. Kuang

The Burning God, R.F. Kuang (HarperVoyager 978-0-0626-6265-1, $26.99, 640pp, hc) November 2020.

As any writer will tell you, endings are difficult. Sticking the landing of an acclaimed trilogy that has garnered multiple nominations in its field? Yeah, that’s even more difficult, and R.F. Kuang does it beautifully in The Burning God.

The Poppy War Trilogy is the story of Fang Runin’s rise from obscurity to power, and how ...Read More

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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

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Russell Letson Reviews Lockdown Tales by Neal Asher

Lockdown Tales, Neal Asher (NewCon 978-1-912950-75-1, £12.95, 381pp, tp) December 2020. Cover by Vincent Sammy.

We live in monstrous times. Nevertheless, I sometimes find myself wanting not to escape but to symbolically confront the plagues of cruelty, craziness, and consequences (unintended or otherwise) that the last century (or the last week) has visited upon us. Neal Asher’s confrontations tend to distance and displace the monstrous, to locate it in ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Left-Handed Booksellers of London Audiobook by Garth Nix

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London, Garth Nix; Marisa Calin, narrator (Listening Li­brary 978-0-59317187-5, $27.50, digital down­load, 11.25 hr., unabridged) September 2020.

Set in an alternate 1983, this standalone from Garth Nix blends aspects of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere with Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. Susan’s mother has always been very vague on any information about Susan’s father, so when she turns 18, the young woman resolves to go to London ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Africanfuturism: An Anthology, Edited by Wole Talabi

Africanfuturism: An Anthology, Wole Talabi, ed. (Brittle Paper, free, 113pp, eb) October 2020.

It’s a little surprising to realize that it’s been more than a quarter century since the term “Afrofutur­ism” was coined by Mark Dery, and at least a couple of years since Nnedi Okorafor coined “Af­ricanfuturism” to describe more Africa-centered SF (the jury is still out on whether her parallel term for fantasy, “Africanjujuism,” is going to ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews How to Rule an Empire and Get Away With It Audiobook by K.J. Parker

How to Rule an Empire and Get Away With It, K.J. Parker; Ray Sawyer, narrator (Hachette Audio 978-1-54915786-8, $24.98, digital down­load, 12.75 hr., unabridged) August 2020.

In Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City, Orhan, the head of a military corps of engineers and a skilled con artist, managed to defend his adopted city against a besieging army headed by a childhood friend, but when rescue appeared imminent, ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard

Fireheart Tiger, Aliette de Bodard (Tordotcom 978-1-250-79326-3, $13.99, 110pp, tp). Febru­ary 2021.

I’m a confirmed fan of Aliette de Bodard’s work. Quite aside from her novels, In the Vanishers’ Palace is perhaps my favourite fantasy novella in a field bursting with excellent novellas, and her Xuya science fiction includes the award-winning The Tea Master and the Detective – so I’m not alone in valuing her work highly.

Fireheart Tiger ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Last Good Man by Thomas McMullan

The Last Good Man, Thomas McMullan (Bloomsbury 978-1-526-60924-3, £12.99, 313pp, hc) November 2020.

Did you know there’s a Wikipedia entry on On­line Shaming with more than 140 references and what feels like an endless (though I’m sure not complete) list of examples? I didn’t; though, given the way Twitter and social media more broadly have made the act of “dog-piling” so much easier, it doesn’t come as much of ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home Audiobook by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home, Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor; Mara Wilson, narrator (HarperAudio 978-0-06295660-6, $26.99, digital download, 9.25 hr., unabridged) March 2020.

The third in the companion novel series to the podcast Welcome to Night Vale is a memoir of sorts from one of the most iconic characters in the show, the titular strange being who si­multaneously occupies everyone’s house in a mysterious ...Read More

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Alex Brown Reviews Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Black Sun, Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga 978-1-534-43767-8, $27.99, 464pp, hc) October 2020. Cover by John Picacio.

“Today he would become a god. His mother had told him so.” Rebecca Roanhorse kicks off her latest novel, Black Sun, with an opening line that hits hard, then rolls into one of the best first chapters I’ve read in a very long time. After I finished it, I had to set the ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk

The Midnight Bargain, C.L. Polk (Erewhon Books 978-1-64566-007-1, $25.95, 384pp, hc) October 2020.

In C.L. Polk’s sparkling third novel, The Mid­night Bargain, Beatrice Clayborn is a young woman with a terrible problem. As a debutante participating in “Bargaining Season,” she must capture the attention of an appropriately wealthy and suitable man who will propose marriage and thus save her family from an ever-increasing threat of poverty and social ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Beowulf Audiobook by Maria Dahvana Headley

Beowulf, Maria Dahvana Headley (translator); JD Jackson, narrator (Macmillan Audio 978-1-25023217-5, $12.64, digital download, 4 hr., unabridged) August 2020.

For several months now, the literary world has been abuzz about Headley’s modern translation of this ancient saga concerning a mighty war­rior who saves a kingdom by slaying a monster and his vengeful mother, rules his own land in peace for years, and then dies as an old man in ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Asimov’s, Analog, and Interzone

Asimov’s 11-12/20 Analog 11-12/20 Interzone 11-12/20

I’ll start with a story from the November-December Asimov’s that doesn’t really qualify as SF or fantasy, but that will appeal to many of our readers. This is Connie Willis‘s latest Christmas story, “Take a Look at the Five and Ten“. Ori is telling about her Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners with her ex-stepfather, who has a habit of inviting almost everyone ...Read More

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Maya C. James and Gary K. Wolfe Review Attack Surface by Cory Doctorow

Attack Surface, Cory Doctorow (Tor 978-1-250-75753-1, $26.99, 384pp, hc) October 2020.

Privacy is a luxury in Cory Doctorow’s Attack Surface, a political technothriller that follows the questionable choices of former spy, gov­ernment operative, and traitor, Masha Maximow, as she builds cyberweapons for authoritarian govern­ments, greedy cyber firms, and progressive activists alike. Taking place a few years after the events of Little Brother and Homeland, this standalone novel ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Piranesi Audiobook by Susanna Clarke

Piranesi, Susanna Clarke; Chiwetel Ojiofor, narrator (Bloomsbury, $16.35, digital download, 7 hr., unabridged) September 2020.

The protagonist of this short work lives in the House, a building so big it has clouds in the up­per floors and an ocean in the lower ones. He believes that this is the entire world, and appar­ently, the only world he’s ever known – except that his journal entries make constant references to ...Read More

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Arley Sorg Reviews The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: Vol­ume One, Edited by Paula Guran

The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: Vol­ume One, Paula Guran, ed. (Pyr 978-1645060253, $19.95, 440pp, tp) October 2020.

Paula Guran started her The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror series in 2010 with Prime Books. After working as a senior editor for Prime for seven years, Guran parted ways with the company and published the final installment in that series in 2019. Guran returns in 2020 with no ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds

Early Departures, Justin A. Reynolds (Kath­erine Tegen 978-0-06-274840-9, $17.99, 480pp, hc) September 2020.

It is not a spoiler to share that Justin A. Reynolds’s latest, Early Departures, is about what happens when someone you care about dies suddenly and then, through the miracle of technology, is reanimated for a few weeks so everyone can say a proper goodbye. This is not a zombie novel nor, surprisingly, much of ...Read More

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