Paula Guran Reviews The Pallbearers Club by Paul Tremblay

The Pallbearers Club, Paul Tremblay (William Morrow 978-0-06306-991-6, $27.99, 288pp, hc) July 2022.

Paul Tremblay continues his well-deserved suc­cess with his latest, The Pallbearers Club. This time out he adds some interesting twists. The novel is presented as a manuscript with notations, comments, and additions by another hand, that of a woman named (at least in the manuscript) Mercy Brown. Although it is supposed to be a novel, ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Life Ceremony by Sayaka Murata

Life Ceremony, Sayaka Murata (Grove Press 978-0-80215-958-8, $25.00, 256pp, hc) July 2022.

In the title story of Sayaka Murata’s collec­tion Life Ceremony, one of the characters observes that “normal is a type of madness… it’s just that the only madness society allows is called normal.” It’s a sentiment that encapsulates the driving force of Murata’s fiction: a recognition that “normality” is subjective, that acceptable behaviour is a generational ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Samovar, and Slate Future Tense

Clarkesworld 9/22 Samovar 7/22 Slate Future Tense 6/22, 7/22, 8/22

In September, Clarkesworld leads off with a sweet story from Fiona Moore, “The Slow Deaths of Automobiles”. The narrator is writing the story to their one-time partner, ad­dressed as “you” throughout. They start off as a couple in high school, but the narrator goes away to college and the partner remains, caring for an old, sentient car ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Embertide by Liz Williams

Embertide, Liz Williams (Newcon 978-1-914953-21-7, $16.99, 346pp, tp) June 2022.

Writers of both fantasy and historical fiction have long recognized the British landscape as a palimp­sest, maps upon older maps upon older maps, but in fantasy it’s another sort of palimpsest as well, disguising hidden worlds just below the surface of what we can perceive. It’s a tradition refined and extended in various ways by writers as diverse as

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor by Xiran Jay Zhao

Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor, Xiran Jay Zhao (McElderry Books 978-1-6659-0070-6, $17.99, 352pp, hc) May 2022. Cover by Velinxi.

According to the acknowledgements, Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor was born of author Xiran Jay Zhao’s “obsession with Chinese history, sci-fi concepts, and shonen-anime-esque adventure stories” which combine into “one bonkers book.” If any of those things appeal to you, especially adventure, then you are going to love ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Zooscape, Anathema: Spec from the Margins, and Black Cat Weekly

Zooscape 8/22 Anathema: Spec from the Margins 8/22 Black Cat Weekly 8/13/22

Zooscape’s August issue continues the mission of showcasing furry speculative fiction, and pulls no emotional punches with its opening story, “The Best Way to Pro­cure Breakfast” by Dana Vickerson. In it, a cat named Pho is hard at work trying to get his human to stick to the script of feeding him. Something is wrong, ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The World We Make by N.K. Jemisin

The World We Make, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit 978-0-31650-989-3, $30.00, 368pp, hc) November 2022.

The term “urban fantasy” has undergone so many permutations over the past few decades, from modest subgenre to block­buster market segment, that it’s probably the name of an energy drink by now. (Don’t tell me if it is.) At the same time, it’s easy to overlook the tradition of fantasies that are actually and intensely urban ...Read More

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Alexandra Pierce Reviews The Future is Female! Vol 2 by Lisa Yaszek

The Future is Female! Vol 2: the 1970s: More Classic Science Fiction by Women, Lisa Yaszek, ed. (Library of America 978-1-59853-732-1, $27.95, 450 pp, hc) October 2022.

I scraped into the 1970s with just a couple of months to spare and, although I’ve done a fair amount of reading from the time, I’m not going to claim any expertise in assessing what is the best, or even what is ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews Anybody Home? by Michael J. Seidlinger

Anybody Home?, Michael J. Seidlinger (CLASH Books 978-1-95590-409-4, $18.95, 234pp, tp) August 2022.

Writing a novel using second person is tricky. Writing a creepy, bizarre novel in which the use of second person pulls the reader into a dark, violent world where laws are broken and people die is much harder. Michal J. Seidlinger pulls off the latter brilliantly in Any­body Home?, and readers actually end up enjoy­ing ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Other Side of Night by Adam Hamdy

The Other Side of Night, Adam Hamdy (Atria Books 978-1-9821-9618-9, $27.00, hc, 282pp) September 2022. Cover by Jim Tierney.

For much of his complex and thoughtful book, Adam Hamdy’s The Other Side of Night presents as a tightly crafted crime novel. There is a child possibly in peril, a dogged former cop who lost her job despite being very good at it, two murders (maybe), and many red herrings. ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Samovar, Strange Horizons, Drabblecast, and Diabolical Plots

Samovar 7/25/22 Strange Horizons 7/18/22, 8/1/22. 8/8/22 Drabblecast 7/22, 8/22 Diabolical Plots 8/22

The end of July also brought an issue of the specu­lative translation publication Samovar. In it, Chen Chuncheng (translated by Jack Hargreaves) presents a strange and almost bucolic story of a person who manicures clouds so that they always appear fluffy and appealing in “A Cloudcutter’s Diary”. The titular cloudcutter is in something of ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Malarkoi by Alex Pheby

Malarkoi, Alex Pheby (Galley Beggar Press 978-1-91311-130-4, £17.99, 550pp, hc) Sep­tember 2022.

To begin with a question: have you read Alex Pheby’s Mordew? If not, stop read­ing this review. Not just because I’m about to spoil the novel, but because Mordew is simply brilliant. If I were prone to sweeping statements, I’d describe it as the best start to a fantasy tril­ogy in the last decade. If, however, ...Read More

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Alexandra Pierce Reviews Unraveller by Frances Hardinge

Unraveller, Frances Hardinge (Macmillan Chil­dren’s 978-1-50983-697-0, £14.99, 496pp, hc) September 2022. (Amulet 9-781-41985-931-4, $19.99, 432pp, hc). Cover by Vincent Chong. January 2023.

If you live in Raddith, and you hate someone deeply enough and long enough, you might develop what the people there call a curse egg. When you’ve really, really had enough of that per­son, you can let the curse go and the object of your hatred will ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Fantasy, Lightspeed, and F&SF

Fantasy 8/22, 9/22 Lightspeed 8/22, 9/22 F&SF 9-10/22

August’s Fantasy brought a number of works dealing with the power of stories and narratives, including the complex “The Tails that Make You” by Eliza Chan. Written in second person, you are a woman with tails, a huli jing, and though for some it can be a mark of pride and power, for you it is clouded with shame, ...Read More

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Alvaro Zinos-Amaro Reviews Stephen King: A Complete Exploration of His Work, Life and Influences by Bev Vincent

Stephen King: A Complete Exploration of His Work, Life and Influences, Bev Vincent (becker&mayer! books 978-0760376812, $30.00, 240pp, hc) September 2022.

In “After the Accident (2000s)”, the fifth and penultimate chapter of The Stephen King Ul­timate Companion: A Complete Exploration of His Work, Life, and Influences, a profusely illustrated biographical guide to King’s life and career, Bev Vincent writes: “Characters suffering grievous physical injuries began to appear regularly ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler

The Mountain in the Sea, Ray Nayler (MCD 978-0-37460-595-7, $28.00, 464pp, hc) October 2022.

Here’s another genre term that seems to have shifted meaning over time. For a field that some­times proudly calls itself “speculative fiction” – an upscale term designed to get you invited to more parties than “science fiction” would – most SF features remarkably few scenarios in which char­acters actively speculate about much of anything. (I guess ...Read More

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Alexandra Pierce Reviews Station Eternity by Mur Lafferty

Station Eternity, Mur Lafferty (Ace 978-0-59309-811-0, $17.00, 336pp, tp) October 2022. Cover by Will Staehle.

In Station Eternity, her first novel since Nebula, Hugo, and Philip K. Dick Award nominee Six Wakes, Mur Lafferty turns two old tropes of the PI-murder-mystery genre on their head. Firstly, the misanthropic investigator. It’s an old one, and maybe not seen as much these days, but the loner PI who’s grown

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Flash Fiction Online, Worlds of Possibility, and GigaNotoSaurus

Flash Fiction Online 7/22 Worlds of Possibility 8/22 GigaNotoSaurus 7/22

August brings some editorial additions to Flash Fiction Online, where publisher Anna Yeatts joins Emma Munro as co-editor-in-chief. As for the fiction itself, it’s a strong issue, including Adam Piñon Kerkman’s ‘‘Moon Eater & Housekeep­ing’’, a deep and beautiful piece that looks at the hidden people of the world, those who don’t have power and are cut ...Read More

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Alex Brown Reviews How to Succeed in Witchcraft by Aislinn Brophy

How to Succeed in Witchcraft, Aislinn Brophy (G.P. Putnam’s Sons 978-0-59335-452-0, $18.99, 416pp, hc) September 2022.

Shayna is a junior at the prestigious T.K. Anderson Magical Magnet School in Aislinn Brophy’s debut novel, How to Succeed in Witchcraft. For years she’s been neck and neck with Ana Álvarez, her academic nemesis, but this time she’s determined to come out on top. The Brockton Scholarship is her ticket to

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Russell Letson Reviews Eversion by Alastair Reynolds

Eversion, Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz 978-0-57509-076-7, £20.00, 320pp, hc) May 2022. (Orbit US 978-0-31646-282-2, $17.99, 304pp, tp) August 2022. Cover by Lauren Panepinto.

The strange shuffling sound you will be hear­ing is a reviewer tiptoeing around a text filled with spoiler trapdoors. The book in question is Alastair Reynolds’ Eversion, a novel designed to promote puzzlement, and in fact to be a puzzle as much as a story, which means ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Belladonna by Adalyn Grace

Belladonna, Adalyn Grace (Little, Brown 978-0-316-15823-7, $18.99, hc, 403pp) August 2022.

In Adalyn Grace’s historical fantasy Belladonna, 19-year-old orphan Signa has a problem with Death. He seems to be stalking her, following her from one complicated family situation to another, and always leaving a body behind. She can see Death, she talks to Death, but she doesn’t understand his motivations or how the two of them have formed ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Lucky Girl: How I Became a Horror Writer: A Krampus Story by M. Rickert

Lucky Girl: How I Became a Horror Writer: A Krampus Story, M. Rickert (Tordotcom 978-1-250-81733-4, 110pp, tp; -81734-1, $4.99, ebook) September 2022.

M. Rickert has long demonstrated her skill in managing the venerable tradition of tales nested within tales in such brilliantly constructed stories as ‘‘Journey Into the Kingdom’’ and ‘‘Cold Fires’’ (not to mention last year’s The Shipbuilder of Bellfairie). Her new novella Lucky Girl, which ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews PseudoPod, Nightmare, The Dark, and The Deadlands

PseudoPod 7/27/22 Nightmare 8/22, 9/22 The Dark 7/22, 8/22 The Deadlands 7/22, 8/22

There are numerous worthy re-published stories and a single recent original at its supposedly darker sister PseudoPod. In PseudoPod #821’s “Celestial Shores” by Sarah Day & Tim Pratt, a troubled couple visit a vacation rental and wind up somewhere quite terrifyingly unexpected.

Nightmare #119 has two original short stories and a flash piece. Climate change ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Last Night in Brighton by Massoud Hayoun

Last Night in Brighton, Massoud Hayoun (Darf Publishers 978-1-85077-350-4, £10.99, 240pp, tp) October 2022.

In my review of Robert Freeman Wexler’s, The Silverberg Business, I remarked that I seldom read fiction with characters and situations rep­resenting my faith and culture. Yet here I am, for the second consecutive month, reviewing a novel where Jewish identity is central to the nar­rative. The book in question, Massoud Hayoun’s Last Night ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Leech by Hiron Ennes

Leech, Hiron Ennes (Tordotcom 978-1-25081-118-9, $27.99, 336pp, hc), September 2022. Cover by Sam Weber.

In Hiron Ennes’s debut novel, Leech, the far future has gotten really weird. Sure, there’s been extreme climate change – debilitating summers, isolating winters, and literal acid precipitation – no surprises there, given our current state of affairs. The wealthy few have grown wealthier, especially the Baron of the Château de Verdira, a northern

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews Mary by Nat Cassidy

Mary, Nat Cassidy (Nightfire 978-1-25026-523-4, $21.99, 416pp, tp) August 2022.

Nat Cassidy’s Mary is an outstanding debut horror novel. It’s also a novel that shouldn’t work. Take, for example, just a few of the ele­ments present in this novel’s wild mix of ideas: ghosts, anxiety, serial killers, an abusive aunt, depression, reincarnation, and insects that aren’t really there. Might sound like too much but, in Cassidy’s capable hands, it ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Telluria by Vladimir Sorokin

Telluria, Vladimir Sorokin (NYRB Classics 978-1681376332, trade paperback, 352pp, $18.95) August 2022.

Vladimir Sorokin is a postmodern, pissed-off Stanislaw Lem. In line with his belonging to a younger generation (Sorokin was born in 1955, Lem in 1921), Sorokin is less cerebral, more emotionally “hot.” But while not necessarily as deeply invested in philosophical/ontological/epistemological issues as Lem was, Sorokin shares Lem’s abilities to push old tropes and novums to the ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Tor.com, and PodCastle

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet 7/22 Tor.com 8/10/2022 PodCastle 6/7/22, 6/14/22, 6/21/22, 6/28/22

If you enjoy truly original fiction, you’ll ap­preciate Lady Churchill’sa Rosebud Wristlet #45. Anna O’Connor’s “The Rattling Seed” features a young man who meets a stranger and accompanies him to a strange ritual in the woods. The protagonist of “This World Will Be True” by Ellen Rhudy is struggling to hold onto the ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Baffling, Fusion Fragment, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Cast of Wonders

Baffling 7/22 Fusion Fragment 7/22 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 7/28/22, 8/11/22, 8/25/22 Cast of Wonders 7-8/22

I’m starting this month with July’s Baffling, which features seven stories with LGBTQIA+ elements. The issue opens with a mix of messy fun and danger with Fruzsina Pittner’s “The Serpent Crouches in the Heart of the Unravelling”. Written in second person, you are cast as a kind of dimensional fixer, a witch

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Every Version of You by Grace Chan

Every Version of You, Grace Chan (Affirm Press 978-1-92280-601-7, $32.99, 288pp, hc), July 2022.

Tao-Yi and Navin are in love. Really in love. In the 2080s of Grace Chan’s Every Version of You, a supportive, genuine relationship like the one they have is just as pre­cious and rare as right now.

Things are not easy for the couple, however. Tao-Yi’s mother, Xin-Yi, lives with chronic clini­cal depression. Navin

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Night Shift by Eileen Gunn

Night Shift, Eileen Gunn (PM Press 978-1-629639-42-0, $15.00, 115pp, tp; -56-7, $8.95, ebook) August 2022.

I’ve come to think of PM Press’s Outspoken Authors series, which has by now been going on for some 13 years under the editorship of Terry Bisson, as my favorite collection of author hang­outs. These modest collections of fiction, essays, bibliographies, and interviews have ranged from legendary authors like Le Guin and Delany to

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Asimov’s, Future SF Digest,and Clarkesworld

Asimov’s 7/8-22 Future SF Digest 6/22 Clarkesworld 8/22

The July/August Asimov’s starts off with a novelette by Will McIntosh. “Work Minus Eighty” is set in the same universe as his novels Bridesicle and Love Minus Eighty. In this world dead women can be frozen and brought back to life if someone rich enough is interested in marrying them. Aurelia has worked her way up the ranks ...Read More

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