Carolyn Cushman Reviews Fallen by Benedict Jacka and The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier

Benedict Jacka, Fallen (Ace 978-0-440-00058-7, $7.99, 296pp, pb) September 2018.

Alex Verus’s life takes a big turn for the worse in this tenth installment in the urban fantasy series. That’s not a huge surprise – this series has had a lot of ups and downs. This time, though, things get pretty desperate. Alex gets caught covering up for his girlfriend Anne, who let her dark self out and some really ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez

The Vanished Birds, Simon Jimenez ((Del Rey 978-0-593-12898-5, $27, 400pp, hardcover) January 2020

Simon Jimenez’s touching, bold, surprising, gorgeous debut novel—a certain manner of postmodern space opera, despite the fantasy-resonant title—is not only the best debut novel I’ve read in ages, but simply one of the best SF novels in recent memory. I am reminded of the excitement I felt when encountering A.A. Attanasio’s Radix (1981). If The Vanished ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Pursuit of William Abbey by Claire North

The Pursuit of William Abbey, Claire North (Orbit 978-0316316842, $16.99, 464pp, tp) No­vember 2019.

The Pursuit of William Abbey is Claire North’s sixth novel in six years, a period during which she also published three no­vellas (The Gamehouse trilogy). It’s a remarkable feat when you consider that (a) these are stand-alone books in an age of multi-volume series and (b) they’ve consistently received critical praise and won awards, including ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring

The Tenth Girl, Sara Faring (Imprint 978-1-250-30450-6, $18.99, 464pp, hc) September 2019.

Sara Faring’s The Tenth Girl is a 1970s Gothic thriller filled with horrifying ghosts in an isolated Argentinian boarding school during the “Dirty War” when 30,000 civilians were disappeared at the hands of the US-backed military government. Eighteen-year old Mavi never knew her father, her rebel mother was recently arrested and hauled away with no hope of ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Joanna Russ by Gwyneth Jones

Joanna Russ, Gwyneth Jones (University of Illinois Press 978-0-252-08447-8, $22.00, 224pp, tp; 978-0-252-04263-8, $99.00, 224pp, hc). September 2019.

Gwyneth Jones’s Joanna Russ, part of the Uni­versity of Illinois Modern Masters of Science Fiction series (edited by Gary K. Wolfe, of this parish), also had me looking back at my reading history. For some reason, I have always thought of Russ, who died in 2011, as a contemporary, even ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Monster, She Wrote by Lisa Kröger & Melanie R. Anderson and The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher

Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pio­neered Horror and Speculative Fiction, Lisa Kröger & Melanie R. Anderson (Quirk 978-1-68369-138-9, $19.99 352pp, hc) September 2019.

Monster, She Wrote is a brief, breezy, yet fairly complete overview of women who pioneered hor­ror and related fiction. It’s a fun read, chock-full of authors genre-lovers should know if they don’t already. Forty authors – from Margaret Caven­dish (“the Kardashian of her day,” according ...Read More

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Stefan Dziemianowicz and Amy Goldschlager Review The Institute by Stephen King

The Institute, Stephen King (Scribner 978-1-9821-1056-7, $30.00, 576pp, hc) September 2019.

It wouldn’t be accurate to say that Stephen King’s new novel, The Institute, is a blueprint for his career as a novelist, but in it King re­prises themes that he has explored regularly over the past 45 years, notably: children endowed with wild paranormal talents (think Carrie, The Shin­ing, and even End of Watch, ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes

Chilling Effect, Valerie Valdes (Harper Voy­ager 978-0-06287-723-9, $16.99, 448pp, tp) September 2019.

I met Valerie Valdes briefly at the Dublin 2019 Worldcon. Part of me wishes I’d already read Chilling Effect, her debut space opera novel, at that point, because I’d like to ask how many of the little things that look like nods to Mass Effect and the likes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine are there ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Odsburg by Matt Tompkins

Odsburg, Matt Tompkins (Ooligan 978-1947845084, $16.00, 202pp, tp) October 2019.

I hadn’t intended to review Odsburg by Matt Tompkins. The book I had lined up was False Bingo, a new short-story collection by Jac Jemc (who wrote a terrific haunted house novel, The Grip of It, back in 2014). Unfortunately, while False Bingo is an excellent book, it has zero genre content and therefore is not really ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Laughter at the Academy by Seanan McGuire and Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Seanan McGuire, Laughter at the Academy (Subterranean Press 978-1-59606-928-2, $40.00, 374pp, hc) October 2019. Cover by Carla Speed McNeil.

McGuire’s introduction calls this her first single-author short story collection, which isn’t exactly true, but it is her first collection of non-series stories, 22 of them, all originally published from 2009-2017. The bulk of them are dark tales; she has a tendency to pick one creepy idea and then push it ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews Medusa in the Graveyard by Emily Devenport

Medusa in the Graveyard, Emily Devenport (Tor 978-1-25016-936-5, $18.99, 304pp, tp) July 2019.

The first book in Emily Devenport’s Medusa Cycle, Medusa Uploaded, introduced an intriguing science fiction universe, a society with a complex and lay­ered social structure, and a grandiose, unfathomable pantheon, but it limited the narrator and antihero Oichi Angelis to stepping-stone motivations, mostly espionage and murder. Medusa in the Graveyard, the second volume, grants ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man by Dave Hutchinson

The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man, Dave Hutchinson (Solaris 978-1-78108-584-4, $9.99, 300pp, tp) September 2019.

There are two things that should be noted up front about Dave Hutchinson’s The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man: first, as the title might suggest, it’s quite different in tone and scope from his acclaimed Fractured Europe sequence of novels; and second, despite what the title suggests, it’s not a sequel ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, BCS, Lightspeed, Tor.com, The Future Fire, and Cosmic Roots

Clarkesworld 9/19 Strange Horizons 9/19 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 8/29/19 Lightspeed 10/19 Tor.com 9/11/19, 9/18/19 The Future Fire 8/19 Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores 8/19, 9/19

In September, Clarkesworld takes us all over the future and then back to the past. In the near future we have a trio of stories in various flavors of anomie and alienation. The most flat-out fun is “Dave’s Head” by Suzanne Palmer. ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Homesick: Stories by Nino Cipri

Homesick: Stories, Nino Cipri (Dzanc 978-1945814952, $16.95, 216pp, tp) October 2019.

Nino Cipri’s debut collection, Homesick, is a selection of nine stories (of the more than 20 they have written) that appeared in a variety of venues including Nightmare, Liminal Magazine, Crossed Genres, and Tor.com. It also happens to be one of the best collections I’ve read this year, up there with outstanding books like Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s Someone ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Missing, Presumed Dead by Emma Berquist

Missing, Presumed Dead, Emma Berquist (Greenwillow 978-0-06-264281-3, $17.99, 369pp, hc) May 2019.

In the opening pages of Emma Berquist’s sus­penseful mystery Missing, Presumed Dead, readers learn that there is a growing epidemic of young adults vanishing in Los Angeles. The most recent one works with Lexi at a nightclub named Elysium. Lexi is concerned about Marcus, but she has bigger things to worry about than what might have ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Uncanny, Interzone, Galaxy’s Edge, Not One of Us, and Others

F&SF 11-12/19 Uncanny 9-10/19 Interzone 9-10/19 Galaxy’s Edge 9/19 Not One of Us 10/19

If This Goes On, Cat Rambo, ed. (Parvus Press) March 2019 Tomorrow Girl and Other Stories, Robert Zoltan (Dream Tower) October 2019. Exhalation, Ted Chiang (Knopf) May 2019.

I was very glad to see two stories in F&SF this month from long-time contributors whom we haven’t seen enough from lately. M. Rickert‘s ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews and The Affair of the Mysterious Let­ter by Alexis Hall

Ilona Andrews, Sapphire Flames (Avon 978-0-06-287834-2, $7.99, 393pp, pb; -295258-5, $26.99, hc) August 2019. Cover by Gene Mollica.

The action-packed Hidden Legacy series of urban fantasy romances starts a new trilogy – the fourth novel overall in the series. The previous trilogy centered on Nevada Baylor and her tempestuous relationship with the powerful Prime Connor Rogan, but now they’re conveniently out of the country on family business, and the focus ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse

Storm of Locusts, Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga 978-1-53441-353-5, $27.99, 320pp, hc) April 2019.

In 2018, Rebecca Roanhorse burst onto the urban fantasy scene with Trail of Lightning, the first in the Sixth World series about post-apocalyptic monster hunter Maggie Hoskie. The book had wonderfully complex characterization, sharply written ass-kicking, and a compelling apocalypse scenario with fresh fantasy elements drawn from indigenous stories. Many readers have waited with great impatience ...Read More

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Arley Sorg Reviews Best New Horror #29, Edited by Stephen Jones

Best New Horror #29, Stephen Jones, ed. (PS Pub­lishing/Drugstore Indian Press 978-178636-392-3, £14.99, 579pp, tp) February 2019. Cover by Howard Nostrand.

In 1990 Constable & Robinson published the first Best New Horror, edited by Stephen Jones & Ramsey Campbell, featuring horror short fiction from 1989. That volume won a British Fantasy Award, a World Fantasy Award, and began a legacy. Jones became sole editor with 1995’s The Best ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews King of the Dogs, Queen of the Cats by James Patrick Kelly

King of the Dogs, Queen of the Cats, James Patrick Kelly (Subterranean 978-1-59606-934-3, $40.00, 128pp, hc) January 2020

One of the most enduring and useful conventions of traditional SF, dating back at least to the pulp era, is the notion of a broad confederation of planetary civilizations, whether it’s Le Guin’s League of All Worlds (later the Ekumen), Poul Anderson’s Pyrotechnic League, or James Patrick Kelly’s The Thousand Worlds ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Salt Slow by Julia Armfield

Salt Slow, Julia Armfield (Picador 978-1529012569, £12.99, 208pp, hc) May 2019. (Flatiron 978-1250224774, $24.99, 208pp, hc) October 2019.

As chaotic as things are at the moment, the last couple of years have been an excellent time for the publication of debut collections, written by women, that explore feminist and intersectional issues through a speculative lens. This includes (and these are just the ones I’ve read, so it’s nowhere near ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse by K. Eason

How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse, K. Eason (DAW 978-1-75641-529-7, $26.00, 416pp, hc) October 2019.

Crash one genre into another unexpectedly, and the resulting explosion might be hard to diagnose. In How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse, K. Eason has elected to cross fairy tales with sci­ence fiction (“Princess Leia meets The Princess Bride,” one summary promises), and, indeed, the result is a mixed bag. Eason uses ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews And Go Like This by John Crowley

And Go Like This, John Crowley (Small Beer 978-1-6187-3163-0, $25.00, 332pp, hc) Novem­ber 2019.

One of John Crowley’s most beautiful novellas, “The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines”, origi­nally appeared in the now-famous, Peter Straub-edited issue of the literary journal Conjunctions in 2002, the first issue to prominently feature SF, fantasy, and horror writers. Crowley’s novella was the lead story, and now it’s quite properly the lead in And Go Like ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Sisters of the Vast Black by Lina Rather

Sisters of the Vast Black, Lina Rather (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-250-26025-3, $14.99, 170pp, tp) October 2019. Cover by Drive Com­munication.

I’d never heard of Lina Rather before I was informed I should keep an eye out for Sisters of the Vast Black. The words used to engage my attention were “nuns, lesbians, living ships, and murderous political conspiracies,” and that definitely worked, so maybe I should have heard of ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Fall; or, Dodge in Hell Audiobook by Neal Stephenson

Fall; or, Dodge in Hell, Neal Stephenson; Malcolm Hillgartner, narrator (Brilliance Audio 978-1-5113-2841-8, $44.99, 25 CDs, 31.75 hr., unabridged [also available on MP3-CD and as a digital download]) June 2019.

After about an hour’s worth of really heavy fore­shadowing about how hard it is to make convinc­ing virtual replicas of real-world phenomena and the potential danger of accidentally eating before a minor medical procedure that requires fasting, tech guru ...Read More

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Ian Mond and Gary K. Wolfe Review The Rosewater Redemption by Tade Thompson

The Rosewater Redemption, Tade Thompson (Orbit 978-0316449090, $16.99, 416pp, tp) October 2019.

I wasn’t expecting the third book in Tade Thomp­son’s Wormwood Trilogy to be released so soon after the second, The Rosewater Insurrection. Not that I’m complaining. I’ve been eager to find out how Thompson would resolve the numerous threads he left dangling at the conclusion of The Rosewater Insurrection. The relatively short lead time between ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Ninth House, Leigh Bardugo (Flatiron 978-1-250-31307-2, $27.99, 448pp, hc) October 2019.

If you are a fan of Lev Grossman’s Magicians series or Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, odds are much better than even that you’ll fall head­first into Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House and not want to ever emerge again. Like the worlds in those two titles/universes, Bardugo’s version of Yale, one where the secret societies practice certain sorts of ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Teeth in the Mist Audiobook by Dawn Kurtagich

Teeth in the Mist, Dawn Kurtagich; Al­lan Corduner, Gemma Dawson, Marisa Calin, Polly Lee & Steve West, narrators (Hachette Audio 978-1-54917591-6, $24.98, digi­tal download, 12.75 hr., unabridged) June 2019.

A medieval Welsh monk bargains with demonic forces to extend his life, a deal which taints the lives of three young women in different historical periods at Mill House, a sinister manor on a Welsh mountain. In the late 16th ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews The Menace from Farside by Ian McDonald

The Menace from Farside, Ian McDonald (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-250-24779-7, $14.99, tp) November 2019. Cover by Richard Anderson.

Ian McDonald’s The Menace from Farside is also an extension of ideas – and specific settings – from the author’s previous work, in this case his Luna sequence. The Menace from Farside is set earlier, in 2089, when much of the lunar infrastructure is still a-building, but with its wildly multicultural-libertarian social ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Gies­brecht

The Monster of Elendhaven, Jennifer Gies­brecht (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-250-22568-9 $16.99. 160pp, hc) September 2019.

Johann is a monster who kills as easily as he breathes. Apparently superhuman, he is able to quickly heal from any injury. Johann lives in Elendhaven, a dying city that lies on a “foul spit of land” in the (literally) black sea of a bay called Bad Moon. Elendhaven’s culture, one character says, is tragedy. ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Anyone by Charles Soule

Anyone, Charles Soule (Harper Perennial 978-0-06-289063-4, $21.99, 432pp, hardcover) December 2019

Alas for me, I have not yet had a chance to read Charles Soule’s well-regarded debut novel from 2018, The Oracle Year. But I have certainly enjoyed his clever, inventive, and exciting comics scripting, on such titles as Swamp Thing, Red Lanterns and She-Hulk. So I came to his sophomore book, Anyone, expecting a treat, and ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Curious Toys by Elizabeth Hand

Curious Toys, Elizabeth Hand (Mulholland 978-0-316-48588-3, $27.00, 384pp, hc) October 2019.

Like her darkly wonderful Cass Neary crime novels, Elizabeth Hand’s Curious Toys is what we here at Locus Genre Control refer to as “associational,” meaning it’s not materially SF or fantasy, but con­tains much of interest to genre readers – and not solely because of Hand’s distinguished career in these parts. Curious Toys is being marketed largely as ...Read More

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