Gary K. Wolfe Reviews A People’s Future of the United States, edited by Vic­tor LaValle & John Joseph Adams

A People’s Future of the United States, Vic­tor LaValle & John Joseph Adams, eds. (One World 978-0-5255-0880-9, $23.00, 410pp, tp) February 2019.

I’ve grumbled before in this space about how dystopia – which by now has nearly grown inde­pendent of SF in the popular imagination – may have become the default model for the future simply because, these days at least, it makes fewer imaginative demands than almost any ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Strange Horizons 12/18
Clarkesworld 12/18
Beneath Ceaseless Skies 12/6/18, 12/20/18, 1/3/19, 1/17/19

Strange Horizons starts December with a unique tale of imprisonment. In “How Pleasant the Red Bloom” by Lucy Har­low, the narrative literally wars with itself, as a well-mannered voice that writes in complete and elaborate sentences is edited and interrupted by a voice that seems deranged. It becomes clear that the first speaker is ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Mars by Asja Bakic

Mars, Asja Bakic (The Feminist Press 978-1-936-93248-1, $16.95, 167pp, tp) March 2019.

I generally don’t draw up New Year’s resolu­tions (I know how lazy I am), but in 2019 I’m making a concerted effort to read and review more speculative fiction in translation. The first cab off the rank is Mars, a collection of stories by the Bosnian writer, poet, and translator Asja Bakic. Originally released by the ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Terminal Uprising by Jim C. Hines

Terminal Uprising, Jim C. Hines (DAW 978-0-7564-1277-7, $26.00, 336p, hc) February 2019. Cover by Daniel Dos Santos.

Jim C. Hines’s work is well known for its verve, energy, and sense of humour. Its fre­quently scatological sense of humour, at that. Hines’s talents have remained over some 12 nov­els, and now extend into a thirteenth, Terminal Uprising, the second book in his Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse series, after 2018’s ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Marlon James (Riverhead 978-0-7352-2017-1, $30.00, 640pp, hc) February 2019.

Novelists who approach genre materials after having been more or less certi­fied as “literary” writers tend to start by revisiting fairly familiar territory – zombie apocalypses (Colson Whitehead), vampires (Justin Cronin), drizzly dystopias (just about everyone else). Marlon James, with his Man Booker Prize for A Brief History of Seven Killings and several other prominent nomina­tions, ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini & Russell Letson Review The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

The Raven Tower, Ann Leckie (Orbit 978-0-316-38869-6, $26.00, 432pp, hc) February 2019.

You likely know Ann Leckie from her multi-award winning books set in the Ancillary Justice universe. These books took a sub-genre we know well – space opera – and told it slant. Yes, the tales spanned gal­axies and generations, but her vision filtered these hoary old tropes into something fresh by focusing on gender and identity, while ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Migration by Helen Marshall

The Migration, Helen Marshall (Random House Canada 978-0-735-27262-0, C$24.99, 304pp, tp) March 2019. (Titan 978-1789091342, £8.99, 288pp, tp) March 2019.

I became aware of Helen Marshall through her short fiction, particularly her stunning debut collection Hair Side, Flesh Side. The stories, laid out like the body of an angel (thanks to Kirstyn McDermott for pointing that out to me), pull off the difficult feat of com­bining the emotionally ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Wicked King by Holly Black and The Supernormal Sleuthing Service: The Sphinx’s Secret by Gwenda Bond & Christopher Rowe

The Wicked King, Holly Black (Little, Brown 978-0-316-31035-2, $18.99, 324pp, hc) January 2019.

Holly Black’s highly anticipated sequel to her outstanding The Cruel Prince has arrived and somehow, she manages to put even more intrigue and tension into this second volume. The Wicked King picks up a few months after the first book’s stunner of an ending, (and get ready – she packs that same cliffhanger punch with this ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Analog, Asimov’s, Amazing, and Longshot Island

Analog 1-2/19
Asimov’s 1-2/19
Amazing Winter ’18
Longshot Island 2/18

Analog opens 2019 with a varied set of sto­ries that include some striking and unusual work. For example “Love in the Time of Immuno-Sharing” by Andy Dudak is set in a future city-state (of sorts), the Moveable Feast, in which sexual fashions turn on mingling disease profiles, with the notion of increasing everyone’s resistance. “Repro-sex” is frowned upon. ...Read More

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

Uncanny 11-12/18
Shimmer 11/18
Nightmare 1/19
Apex 11/18, 12/18
The Dark 12/18

Not all of the stories in Uncanny #25 are dark, but – oh well. The standout story for #25 is Naomi Kritzer‘s novelette “The Thing About Ghost Stories“. Leah’s doctoral dissertation is on the meaning of ghost stories. She gains an academic position just as her mother is descending into dementia. After the mother’s death, ...Read More

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Tom Whitmore Reviews Trial by Treason by Dave Duncan

Trial by Treason, Dave Duncan (Night Shade Books 978-1-59780-954-2, $24.99, 285 pp, hc) October 2018. Cover by Steven Youll.

Trial by Treason is the second in a series of historical fantasy novels. Duncan, who died last year, was a steady, reliable writer: his stories filled a comfortable niche, and this book is no exception. He completed the third volume, Merlin Redux, before his death, and it’s expected this ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews A Bad Deal for the Whole Galaxy by Alex White

A Bad Deal for the Whole Galaxy, Alex White (Orbit 978-0-316-41210-0, $15.99, 532pp, tp) December 2018. Cover by Lisa Marie Pompilio.

Alex White kicked off a rip-roaring (if you’ll pardon a hoary expression) space opera series in A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe in summer 2018. In December, he followed up with A Bad Deal for the Whole Gal­axy, a new instalment in this inventively ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Infinite Detail by Tim Maughan

Infinite Detail, Tim Maughan (MCD x FSG Originals 978-0-374-17541-2, $16.00, 384pp, tp) March 2019.

Tim Maughan first came to my attention with his 2011 collection Paintwork. The slim book featured three stories involving bleeding-edge technologies like augmented real­ity told from an outsider’s perspective: a street artist in Bristol, gamers in Cuba, an out-of-work documentary film-maker. In 2016 Maughan wrote the short-film In the Robot Skies (directed by Liam ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Fiyah, Deep Magic, Daily SF, Tor.com, and Abyss & Apex

Fiyah Autumn ’18
Deep Magic Fall ’18
Daily SF 11/28/18, 12/12/18, 12/14/18
Tor.com 10/24/18, 11/14/18
Abyss & Apex 4th Quarter 2018

The theme for the eighth issue of Fiyah is Pil­grimage, which is expressed in several different ways. “BULLET” by Stephen Kearse gives us the pilot of a weapon traveling across space for hundreds of days, giving her plenty of time to think about her mission and about ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang and The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

Zero Sum Game, S.L. Huang (Self-published 978-0-996-07003-4, $12.95, 326pp, tp) March 2014. (Tor 978-1-250-18025-4, $25.99, 336pp, hc) October 2018.

Cas Russell uses her more-than-human math skills to find lost things in S.L. Huang’s Zero Sum Game. Those skills are tested when Russell finds herself rescuing a client’s sister who has gotten kidnapped (sort of) by a gang of drug dealers. Huang smartly starts in media res – that ...Read More

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Carolyn F. Cushman Reviews Death & Honey, Edited by Kevin Hearne

Kevin Hearne, ed., Death & Honey (Subterranean Press 978-1-59606-914-5, $45.00, 300pp, hc) February 2019. Cover by Galen Dara.

Murder and bees make an interesting topic for this original anthology of three fantasy novellas by Kevin Hearne, Lila Bowen (Delilah S. Dawson), and Chuck Wendig, each writing in their own popular worlds. Hearne offers “The Buzz Kill”, a peculiarly sweet and funny new tale in the Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries series, a ...Read More

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Tom Whitmore Reviews The Widening Gyre by Michael R. Johnston

The Widening Gyre, Michael R. Johnston (Flame Tree Press, 978-1-78758-145-6, $24.95, 256pp, hc) August 2018. Cover by Flame Tree Studio.

The Widening Gyre is Michael R. Johnston’s first book, and he’s off to a good start. The book is a set of classic space-opera tropes: humans have been almost wiped out a few centuries ago; the rem­nants of a colony ship were picked up by the Zhen Empire, a ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews Lost Gods by Micah Yongo

Lost Gods, Micah Yongo (Angry Robot 978-0-85766-737-3, $12.99, 448pp, pb) July 2018

One of the daunting aspects of epic fantasy is the double duty it must do: it must be a genre novel with its own setting, ideas, and language, and it must be a historical novel, offering a well-thought-out contextual backdrop of nations, epochs, and ruling figures on which to project its characters’ actions. The grandness of this ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Conjunctions 71, Sword and Sonnet, and Aurum

Conjunctions:71: A Cabinet of Curiosity, Bradford Morrow, ed. (Bard College) September 2018.

Sword and Sonnet, Aidan Doyle, Rachael K. Jones & E. Catherine Tobler, eds. (Ate Bit Bear) July 2018.

Aurum, Russell B. Farr, ed. (Ticonderoga Press) October 2018.

I keep an eye on several mainstream “little magazines” (though this one is quite big) that are hospitable to SF. Conjunctions:71: A Cabinet of Curiosity features stories ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

The Psychology of Time Travel, Kate Mascarenhas (Head of Zeus 978-1788540100, £14.99, 368pp, hc) August 2018. (Crooked Lane Books 978-1683319443, $26.99, 336pp, hc) February 2019.

I knew I was going to love Kate Mascarenhas’ debut novel, The Psychology of Time Travel, when, in the opening pages, a soon to be time-travelling bunny is given the name Patrick Troughton. The year is 1967 and four scientists, Barbara, Margaret, Grace, ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark

The Haunting of Tram Car 015, P. Djèlí Clark. (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-250-29480-7, $14.99, 144pp, tp) February 2019. Cover by Stephan Martiniere.

I’ve yet to meet a story by P. Djèlí Clark that I didn’t like. Mind you, I’ve only read three of them, but on the evidence, he writes delightfully. The Haunting of Tram Car 015 is his second novella from Tor.com Publishing, and this one returns to ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Rewrite: Loops in the Timescape by Gregory Benford

Rewrite: Loops in the Timescape, Gregory Benford (Saga 978-1-5344-1127-2, $27.99, 368pp, hc), January 2019.

It’s been nearly four decades since Gregory Benford’s classic, multiple award-winning Timescape, which was lauded as much for its convincing portrayal of working scientists as for its ingenious notion of tachyonic cross-time communication. Benford describes Rewrite as a “conceptual sequel” to that novel, but for the most part the scientists in it are walk-on ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

Empire of Sand, Tasha Suri (Orbit 978-0-316-44971-7, $15.99, 480pp, tp) November 2018.

A reliable way to revive epic fantasy, which seems to be going through many of the same motions it’s been tracing for 60 years, is to set it in a culture other than a West­ern one – other than a thinly disguised United Kingdom, to be uncomfortably specific – but if a white writer does this, she ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Hod King by Josiah Bancroft

The Hod King, Josiah Bancroft (Orbit 978-0316517980, $15.99, 624pp, tp) January 2019.

To the familiar litany of author names that illustrate self-publishing successes – Hugh Howey, Andy Weir, E.L. James – you can add that of Josiah Bancroft. Convinced of the quality of his first novel, Senlin Ascends, he issued it himself in 2013, with the goal of “selling five hundred copies.” Five years later, new editions of ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Elevation Audiobook by Stephen King

Elevation, Stephen King; narrated by the author (Simon & Schuster Audio 978-1-50826047-9, $19.99, CD, 3.75 hr., unabridged [also available as a digital download]) October 2018.

Apparently, not only are the people of Castle Rock ME used to experiencing all kinds of hor­rible supernatural events (as per several Stephen King novels, stories, and a Hulu series), they’re also more than a little homophobic. Well, except for Scott Carey, who’s oblivious ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Alliance Rising by C.J. Cherryh & Jane S. Fancher

Alliance Rising, C.J. Cherryh & Jane S. Fancher (DAW, 978-0756412715, $26.00, 354 pp, hc) January 2019. Cover by Micah Epstein.

The title page of C.J. Cherryh and Jane S. Fancher’s Alliance Rising identifies it as “An Alliance-Union Novel,” part of the extensive common-background sequence that goes back to the beginning of Cherryh’s writing career. This particular segment of that sprawl­ing future history belongs to the temporal and spatial neighborhood ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Zero Bomb by M.T. Hill

Zero Bomb by M.T. Hill (Titan 978-1-78909-001-7, $14.95, 304pp, trade paperback) March 2019.

The byline M.T. Hill is a not-too-opaque screen for the writer Matt Hill, whose two previous books under that name have been The Folded Man (2013) and Graft (2016). I mention this fact only because his third novel, Zero Bomb, is so good that you will want to snatch up copies of the first two, as ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

In an Absent Dream, Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing 978-0-7653-9929-8, $17.99, 192pp, tp) January 2019.

In Seanan McGuire’s elegantly written In an Absent Dream, readers are taken on a years-long coming-of-age story through the Goblin Market that proves to be just as insightful about our own world as the fantastic one she creates. This new entry in the Wayward Children series (which can be enjoyed as a standalone) follows ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Uncanny, Interzone, Galaxy’s Edge, and Bourbon Penn

F&SF 11-12/18
Uncanny 11-12/18
Interzone 9-10/18
Galaxy’s Edge 11/18
Bourbon Penn 11/18

Sean McMullen‘s “Extreme” from the November-December F&SF can be called SF horror, I suppose, though the horror is moral and arises from the social and economic extrapolation at the center of the story. Set in the relatively near future, the narrator is a man addicted to extreme experiences, due to genetics with the help of ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Finders by Melissa Scott

Finders, Melissa Scott (Candlemark & Gleam 978-1-936460-88-5, $20.95, 372pp, tp) Decem­ber 2018.

I have to admit that I’m a fan of Melissa Scott, although I came late to her novels, and later still to her science fiction ones. Her work gen­erally concerns itself in some way with personal relationships, and with social alienation, and with, in some several cases, movements or moments arising out of the solidarity of the ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Today I Am Carey by Martin L. Shoemaker

Today I Am Carey by Martin L. Shoemaker (Baen 978-1-4814-8384-1, $16, 336pp, trade paperback) March 2019.

Martin Shoemaker’s debut novel (he had his first story publication in 2011), is based on his tale “Today I Am Paul“. That quietly emotional story about “Medical Care Android BRKCX-01932-217JH-98662” garnered Shoemaker a Nebula nomination, and consequently a fair number of readers will certainly be quite interested to see how Shoemaker expands what was ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Friday Black, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (Mariner Books 978-1328911247, $14.99, 208pp, tp) October 2018.

In Lit Hub’s Ultimate Fall Books Preview, which aggregates recommendations made by “various online publications,” Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s debut collection, Friday Black, was listed alongside such heavyweights as Bar­bara Kingsolver’s Unsheltered, Kate Atkinson’s Transcription, and Michelle Obama’s Becoming as one of the season’s most anticipated books. The hype reminded me of another debut ...Read More

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