Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Map of Tiny Perfect Things Audiobook by Lev Gross­man

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, Lev Gross­man; Michael Crouch, narrator (Hachette Audio 978-1-54910912-6, $5.00, digital download, 1.75 hr., unabridged) February 2021.

Of course, the individual publication of this story, the audio production of this story, and the Amazon Prime film based on this story all came out February 2, 2021. This trapped-in-a-time-loop YA fantasy and its author pay explicit homage to Groundhog Day and several similar works. In ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Curiosities, Cossmass Infinities, On Spec, Analog, and Asimov’s

Curiosities Winter ’20 Cossmass Infinities 9/20 On Spec #115 Analog 3-4/21 Asimov’s 3-4/21

It is always a surprise – unfairly so – to find a small new magazine and realize that it’s re­ally quite good! I had that experience with the previous issue of Curiosities, and now I see the Winter issue, and it does not disappoint.

Konstantine Paradias offers “And the Faces Screamed in the Galleries” – ...Read More

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Maya C. James Reviews The Unbroken by C.L. Clark

The Unbroken, C.L. Clark (Orbit 978-0316542753, $16.99, 544pp, tp) March 2021.

C.L. Clark’s debut novel The Unbroken is a military political fantasy teeming with sapphic romance, treacherous espionage, and violent-but-necessary revolution. Situated in a setting reminiscent of North Africa, Clark pens a precise and horrifying tale of the Ballad­aire Empire’s cruel domination over the Qazāl people. Readers follow Touraine’s journey from an obedient lieutenant to a revolutionary of her ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Best of Harry Turtledove by Harry Turtledove

The Best of Harry Turtledove, Harry Turtledove (Subterranean 978-1645240228, 584pp, $45.00) April 2021.

There was once a filksong dedicated to Gordon Dickson’s reputation for partying. I seem to recall the refrain went like this:

Gordy Dickson, Gordy Dickson, Gordy Dickson, he’s the one. Science fiction is his hobby, but his main job’s having fun!

I’d like to repurpose that tune for Harry Turtledove. I am not aware of any ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found by Rucker Moses & Theo Gangi

Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found, Rucker Moses & Theo Gangi (GP Putnam & Sons 978-0-525-51686-6, $17.99, 288pp, hc) February 2021.

The writing collaboration of Rucker Moses (pen name of Craig S. Phillips & Harold Hayes Jr.) and Theo Gangi has created Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found, an adventure novel of breakneck pacing and major magical concerns. It begins with the return, after four years, ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Rabbit Island by Elvira Navarro

Rabbit Island, Elvira Navarro (Two Lines 978-1-949641-09-7, $19.95, 184pp, tp) February 2021.

Rabbit Island is Spanish writer Elvira Navarro’s first collection to be translated into English by the always terrific Christina MacSweeney. While this is my first encounter with her work, two of Navarro’s novels – A Working Woman and Happy City, both of which have won numerous awards – have also been published in English.

Rabbit Island ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews These Lifeless Things by Premee Mohamed

These Lifeless Things, Premee Mohamed (Solaris Satellites 978-1-78618-448-1, $15.99, 176pp, tp) February 2021.

These Lifeless Things by Premee Mohamed tan­talizes with evocative ideas, excellent characteriza­tion, and beautiful language. It is a perfect story to tell in novella form, a snippet of a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has been defeated too many times to make sense of its struggle. Mohamed alternates the book’s narration between tense, hopeless diary entries and ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews On Fragile Waves by E. Lily Yu

On Fragile Waves, E. Lily Yu (Erewhon 978-1-64566-009-5, $25.95, 288pp, hc) February 2021.

Although it only marginally features any fantastic elements (mainly a rather ingratiating spirit), E. Lily Yu’s luminous first novel On Fragile Waves has a lot to say about both the power of story and the limits of what stories can do. We first meet Firuzeh, the central point-of-view character, as a ten-year-old trying to escape with ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Unity by Elly Bangs

Unity, Elly Bangs (Tachyon 978-1616963422, 304pp, $15.95) April 2021.

This debut novel by Elly Bangs rockets out of the starting gate with the high-powered energy of such nth-gen cyberpunk as Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon, before settling down towards its climax into a (comparatively) meditative ramble on identity, kinship, communication, and individual responsibility for the survival of the species. Along the way, there’s seldom a dull moment—although the success ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Uncanny, Apex, The Dark, Nightmare, Fantasy, and Baffling

Uncanny 1-2/21 Apex #122 The Dark 1/21, 2/21 Nightmare 1/21, 2/21 Fantasy 2/21, 3/21 Baffling 1/21

Uncanny #38 is a strong issue. Sam J. Miller‘s “Tyrannosaurus Hex” posits a future in which alternative realities can be all too real. The story is particularly chilling (and resonates as true) with children as the “early adaptors.” “A House Full of Voices Is Never Empty” by Miyuki Jane ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Witch in the Almond Tree and other stories Audiobook by C.S.E. Cooney

The Witch in the Almond Tree and other stories, C.S.E. Cooney; narrated by the author (Self-published, $4.99, digital download, 4.25 hr., unabridged) December 2020.

Many people have tried to embark on some kind of creative or crafty project during the pandemic; author/narrator Cooney chose to self-produce a recording of three charmingly erotic works. The result is a sweet and steamy distraction. The titular story concerns a brilliant, assertive, and ...Read More

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Alvaro Zinos-Amaro Reviews Michael Bishop and the Persistence of Wonder by Joe Sanders

Michael Bishop and the Persistence of Wonder: A Critical Study of the Writings, Joe Sanders (McFarland 978-1476671512, $39.95, 202pp, pb) January 2021.

Paul Di Filippo concluded his thoughtful re­view of Michael Bishop’s The Sacerdotal Owl and Three Other Long Tales (2018) by recommending that Bishop be considered for a Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award, and I’d like to echo that sentiment here. Besides Bishop’s rich body of work, ...Read More

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Alex Brown and Colleen Mondor Review Written in Starlight by Isabel Ibañez

Written in Starlight, Isabel Ibañez (Page Street 978-1645671329, $18.99, 368pp, hc) January 2021.

Written in Starlight begins not long after the chaotic events of Woven in Moonlight, the first book in Isabel Ibañez’s young-adult fantasy duology. Ximena, the fake condesa, and Princess Tamaya remain in the capital as Catalina, the actual condesa, is banished to the jungle where she is expected to die. All Catalina has ever ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews Ink by Jonathan Maberry

Ink, Jonathan Maberry (St. Martin’s Griffin 978-1250765888, $17.99, 464pp, tp) November 2020. Cover by Jonathan Bennett.

People are the amalgamation of their memo­ries and experiences, and Jonathan Maber­ry’s Ink explores what happens when we lose our most important memories. A sprawling, dark narrative made up of the interwoven stories of a set of misfits that struggle to get by, Ink is a moody horror novel that deals with grief, ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews The Only Living Girl on Earth by Charles Yu and Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

The Only Living Girl on Earth, Charles Yu (Scribd Originals, subscription required, 43pp, eb) January 2021.

I’m going to step out on a limb and make a bold pronouncement: the fourth section of Charles Yu’s novelette The Only Living Girl on Earth is the most beautiful and true summation of what it means to be mortal. The fact that it is also sur­rounded by a poignant and wry story ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The White Library by Paul Voermans

The White Library, Paul Voermans (PS Pub­lishing 978-1-786365-92-4, £25.00, 246pp, hc) November 2020.

Because it happens so rarely, I always get a buzz when my hometown of Melbourne is depicted in genre fiction. It’s even exciting when it’s an alternate version of the city with a different name and a divergent history, provided I can recognise the famous landmarks, the streets, and alleyways. This is the case in Paul ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Stormland by John Shirley

Stormland, John Shirley (Blackstone Publishing 978-1094017822, 368pp, $26.99, hc) April 2021.

Once upon a time, there were two factions of SF writers: the humanists and the cyberpunks. Their differing narrative stances and methodologies, themes, and angles of attack basically broke down along lines of optimistic/pessimistic; liberal/anarchic; spiritual/nihilistic. Of course there were gradations and overlaps, anomalies and paradoxes among and between the two camps; and surely the whole dichotomy is ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and Fiyah

Clarkesworld 2/21 Lightspeed 2/21 Fiyah Winter ’21

February’s Clarkesworld leads with a great cloning story, “The Failed Dianas” by Monique Laban. A young woman return­ing from a space-based financial internship goes to a high-end restaurant and meets a different version of herself, quite a bit older. It turns out that this is the original Diana who disappointed her parents deeply by refusing to go into finance; by ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews Disease by Sarah Tolmie

Disease, Sarah Tolmie (Aqueduct Press 978-1619761933, 120pp, $12.00, tp) August 2020.

Sarah Tolmie’s Disease is a strangely funny book about fictitious diseases and psychological conditions. Presented in a scholarly tone that resembles a series of academic case studies, this book looks at some bizarre ailments that range from scavenging, a psychological affliction in which people compulsively move into old houses, to a poor guy who developed an allergy to ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Mask of Mirrors Audiobook by M.A. Carrick

The Mask of Mirrors, M.A. Carrick; Nikki Massoud, narrator (Hachette Audio 978-1-54919091-9, $26.98, digital download, 23.25 hr., unabridged) January 2021.

Ren, a former child thief turned con artist, seeks the security that she believes can only be found in large sums of money. So she embarks on her greatest scheme yet, returning to her native city of Nadezra in the guise of Alta Renata Viraudax, a foreign daughter of ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Driftwood by Marie Brennan

Driftwood, Marie Brennan (Tachyon 978-1616963460, $15.95, 224pp, tp) August 2020.

Way back in 2008 and 2009 I saw a couple of stories by a writer fairly new to me, Marie Bren­nan, set in an extremely original setting called Driftwood. I liked those stories (“A Heretic by Degrees” and “Drift­wood”) quite a bit. Over time, Brennan added three more stories in this setting, and by-the-by established a reputation as a ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston

The Maleficent Seven, Cameron Johnston (An­gry Robot 978-0857669087, $14.99, 498pp, pb) August 2021.

I’d never heard of Cameron Johnston before I received a review copy of his The Maleficent Seven, due out from Angry Robot. Its pitch is “fantasy Magnificent Seven, but everyone’s a villain,” and while I don’t normally enjoy a book that’s all about bad people doing bad things, this one works surprisingly well.

For ...Read More

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Maya C. James Reviews Honeycomb by Joanne M. Harris

Honeycomb, Joanne M. Harris (Saga 978-1-534-43305-8, 28.00, 432pp, hc) May 2021. Cover by Charles Vess.

Like most remarkable stories, Honeycomb begins with a dream.

But in this universe of sadistic kings, wounded creatures, and wise honeybees, even a dream is more elusive than one might think. In “Nectar”, the origin story of Honeycomb, the Dream is a river that runs through the Nine Worlds, reflecting the hearts and ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders

Victories Greater Than Death, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor Teen 978-1-250317315, $18.99, 288pp, hc) April 2021.

It goes without saying that I’m not exactly the tar­get audience for Charlie Jane Anders’s new YA trilogy, which begins with Victories Greater Than Death. But, as I’ve argued before, there’s a huge overlap between YA and SF readers. A good deal of classic SF works perfectly well as YA, and some tropes ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

Lost in the Never Woods, Aiden Thomas (Swoon Reads 978-1-250-31397-3, $18.99, 384pp, hc) March 2021.

We all know the story of Peter Pan. It’s the kind of cultural phenomena that seeps into our bones at the earliest of ages. We learned it from a movie, someone read it to us, or we caught a glimpse of Tinker Bell on a backpack or T-shirt and had to know more. Because ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Never Have I Ever: Stories by Isabel Yap

Never Have I Ever: Stories, Isabel Yap (Small Beer 978-1-61873-182-1, $17.00, 248pp, tp) March 2021.

Isabel Yap’s debut collection Never Have I Ever offers a wide variety of stories. They range from the definitely horrific “Good Girls” (The Retreat is a place intended to reform bad girls; whether it works on its young inmates is, in general, an open question, but it definitely doesn’t work for the monstrous Kaye) ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Machinehood by S.B. Divya

Machinehood, S.B. Divya (Saga 978-1-982-14806-5, $27.00, 416pp) March 2021.

S.B. Divya’s debut Machinehood is that rare thing in contemporary science fiction: a novel with a near-future setting that’s not a dystopia or post-apocalyptic hellscape. To be clear, Divya’s rendition of the late 21st century (the story takes place in 2095) isn’t all shining cities and jetpacks. Climate change has made parts of the planet unin­habitable, with most people living ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews The Memory Collectors by Kim Neville

The Memory Collectors, Kim Neville (Atria Books, 978-1-98215-758-6, $16.99, 400pp, pb) March 2021.

The Memory Collectors relies upon a deeply poetic set of ideas. In it, objects and places give off emotional auras, which can be perceived by people sensitive to these energies. Each of the characters – Evelyn, a fragile young woman; Harriet, a lonely hoarder; Owen, a kind but somewhat mysterious artist; and Noemi, Evelyn’s careless, ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison

The Witness for the Dead, Katherine Addison (Tor 978-0-765-38742-4, $25.99, 240pp, hc) June 2021.

The Witness for the Dead isn’t a sequel, focusing as it does on an almost entirely different cast of characters and set as it is far away from the imperial court. But despite its altered milieu, it has a similar flavour, with an intimate, personal emotional register and a thematic concern with duty and ethics, ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Galaxy’s Edge, Fusion Fragment, and The OK End of Funny Town

Galaxy’s Edge 1/21 Fusion Fragment 1/21 The OK End of Funny Town, Mark Polanzak (BOA Editions) May 2020.

Galaxy’s Edge for January has a nice story from Elise Stephens, “Drowned Prison“. A lumanar named Hallis comes to Kardag Prison, where the dangerous “Banner Lords” are held. These are experts in a sort of painting called lumastration, in which the painter magically infuses their art with emotions, ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Paladin’s Strength by T. Kingfisher

Paladin’s Strength, T. Kingfisher (Argyll Productions 978-1-614-50530-3, $34.95, 438pp, hc) February 2021. Cover by Ursula Vernon.

Paladin’s Strength is another novel with a vivid and engaging voice. A sequel of sorts to Paladin’s Grace, T. Kingfisher’s latest quirky romantic fantasy sees Istvhan, one of Paladin’s Grace‘s minor characters, and Clara, a lay sister from a fairly unique religious order, develop a mutual attraction while having some fairly ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews Fishing for Dinosaurs and Other Stories by Joe R. Lansdale

Fishing for Dinosaurs and Other Stories, Joe R. Lansdale (Subterranean Press 978-15960-6993-0, $40.00, 384pp, tp) November 2020. Cover by Timothy Truman.

“It’s no secret that I like to write stories in a variety of genres, and my favorite of those is the Lansdale genre.” That’s the opening line of the introduction Joe Lansdale penned for his own Fishing for Dinosaurs and Other Stories, and it gets to the ...Read More

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