Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Broken Places & Outer Spaces by Nnedi Okorafor

Broken Places & Outer Spaces: Finding Creativity in the Unexpected, Nnedi Okorafor (Simon & Schuster 978-1-5011-9547-2, $16.99, 96pp, hc) June 2019.

Nnedi Okorafor’s surprisingly and sometimes achingly personal account of her battle with sco­liosis and post-surgical paralysis, Broken Places & Outer Spaces, isn’t exactly a literary memoir, but one anecdote strikes me as ironically emblematic of her unique relationship with SF: when she was hospitalized, she was ...Read More

Read more

Amy Goldschlager Reviews Spellswept and Snowspelled Audiobooks by Stephanie Burgis

Spellswept and Snowspelled, Stephanie Burgis; Emma Newman, narrator (Tantor Audio 978-1-40012121-2, $19.99, digital download, 7.25 hr., unabridged) May 2019.

I have a great fondness for those stories where the romance and the fantasy genres kiss and com­mingle. Snowspelled, book one of the Harwood Spellbook, and its prequel novella, Spellswept, definitely hit that sweet spot for me.

This previously self-published series is set in an alternate world ...Read More

Read more

Katharine Coldiron Reviews The Last Supper Before Ragnarok by Cassandra Khaw

The Last Supper Before Ragnarok, Cassandra Khaw (Abaddon Books 978-1-78108-645-2, $11.99, 352pp, pb) June 2019.

What an odd book Cassandra Khaw has written. It’s extraordinarily immediate, inherently diverse, jammed with whip-fast wisecracks, and peppered with language so precise and sophisticated it awes. But the book is also chaotic, unevenly character­ized, and weakly plotted. The difficulty comes in judging the book as a whole, because its ele­ments divide so steeply ...Read More

Read more

Rich Horton and Gary K. Wolfe Review Anthologies Edited by Jonathan Strahan

Mission Critical, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (So­laris 978-1781085806) July 2019.

Jonathan Strahan’s new anthology is Mission Critical. The theme is characters responding to desperate situations, when something goes pear-shaped. Oddly, many of the stories, all well executed, seem a bit too much the same in adher­ing to the theme. The best are “Hanging Gar­dens” by Gregory Feeley, and “Cyclopterus” by Peter Watts. Feeley’s ...Read More

Read more

Amy Goldschlager Reviews Four Tor.com Audiobooks

As Good as New, Charlie Jane Anders; Frankie Corzo, narrator (Macmillan Audio 978-1-25062443-7, $1.99, digital download, 0.75 hr., unabridged) August 2019. The President’s Brain Is Missing, John Scalzi; P.J. Ochlan, narrator (Macmillan Audio 978-1-25062438-3, $1.99, digital download, 0.75 hr., unabridged) August 2019. This World Is Full of Monsters, Jeff Vander­Meer; Vikas Adam, narrator (Macmillan Audio 978-1-25062445-1, $1.99, digital download, 1.5 hr., unabridged) August 2019. Warm Up, ...Read More

Read more

Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Black Static, Uncanny, Nightmare, The Dark, and Cemetery Dance

Black Static 7-8/19 Uncanny 7-8/19 Nightmare 8/19, 9/19 The Dark 7/19, 8/19 Cemetery Dance 7/19

An outstanding issue of Black Static (#70) leads off with Ralph Robert Moore‘s novelette “I Write Your Name“. Roger was 14 when he met infant Mia. They meet again when Roger turns out to be 30-year-old Mia’s next-door neighbor – not that they recall their initial encounter. They fall in love and ...Read More

Read more

John Langan Reviews Wounds by Nathan Ballingrud

Wounds, Nathan Ballingrud (Saga Press 978-1-534-44992-3, $26.99, 288pp, hc) April 2019.

Wounds, Nathan Ballingrud’s stellar sophomore collection, is bracketed by a pair of stories concerning Hell. In “The Atlas of Hell”, an antiquarian bookseller is sent by a local gangster deep into the Louisi­ana bayou to retrieve the titular object; while in “The Butcher’s Table”, a group of 18th-century diabolists undertake the perilous sea voyage to the near ...Read More

Read more

Adrienne Martini Reviews Vultures by Chuck Wendig

Vultures, Chuck Wendig (Saga 978-1481448772, $27.99, 416pp, hc) January 2019.

Chuck Wendig’s Vultures is the sixth and fi­nal book in his Miriam Black series. If you’re already familiar with this “take-no-shit, give-no-fucks kinda lady,” as she describes herself, you know if her foul mouth and pitch-black sass are your jam. Wendig sticks the landing on the series – and, possibly, sets up a tangential new series, should he so ...Read More

Read more

Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Ivory Apples by Lisa Goldstein

Ivory Apples, Lisa Goldstein (Tachyon 978-1-61696-298-2, $15.95, 276pp, tp) September 2019.

In a career now well into its fourth decade, Lisa Goldstein has made something of a habit of confounding expectations: she made a stun­ning debut with her Holocaust fantasy The Red Magician, veered off into student revolutions and Surrealism in The Dream Years, dabbled with dystopia in A Mask for the General and her own brand ...Read More

Read more

Liz Bourke Reviews To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

To Be Taught, If Fortunate, Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton 978-1-473697164, £12.99, 140pp, hc) August 2019. (HarperVoyager 978-0-062-93601-1, $12.99, 176pp, tp) September 2019.

I wish I had enjoyed Becky Chambers’s To Be Taught, If Fortunate nearly as much. Where Chambers’s previous works (The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet, A Closed and Common Orbit, and Record of a Spaceborn Few) took place in her ...Read More

Read more

Ian Mond Reviews The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

The Memory Police, Yoko Ogawa (Pantheon 978-1-101-87060-0, $25.95, 288pp, hc) August 2019.

The Memory Police is, by my count, the fifth book by Yoko Ogawa to be translated into English (all by Stephen Snyder). These include The Div­ing Pool: Three Novellas, which was shortlisted for a Shirley Jackson Award back in 2008. While it’s only a small slice of a career that spans three decades and the publication ...Read More

Read more

Tom Whitmore Reviews Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden

Escaping Exodus, Nicky Drayden (Harper Voy­ager 978-0-06-286773-5, $15.99, 300pp, tp) Oc­tober 2019.

On a generation ship, two young people from different classes meet and fall in love. One rises, one falls, and their complex and forbidden rela­tionship causes a major rupture in the society. This is a classic SF trope: Drayden takes it to new places.

In Escaping Exodus, people use a pod of space whales as generation ...Read More

Read more

Paula Guran Reviews Echoes: The Saga Anthology of Ghost Stories, Edited by Ellen Datlow

Echoes: The Saga Anthology of Ghost Stories, Ellen Datlow, ed. (Saga 978-1-53441-346-7, $32.99, 816pp, hc) August 2019.

Ellen Datlow has delved into ghost story-themed anthologies twice before: the all-original The Dark: New Ghost Stories in 2003 and Hauntings, a reprint compilation, in 2013. This massive (over 200,000 words in 816 pages, 30 stories) tome is one of the best works yet by Datlow – and, considering her stellar ...Read More

Read more

Gary K. Wolfe Reviews A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker

A Song for a New Day, Sarah Pinsker (Berkley 978-1984802583, $16.00, 336pp, tp) September 2019

Readers of Sarah Pinsker’s Nebula Award-winning novelette “Our Lady of the Open Road” (included in her collection Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea, reviewed here in March) might be as curious as I was to learn more about the gritty near-future America of that story, and in particular of the plight ...Read More

Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews The New Voices in Science Fiction Edited by Hannu Rajaniemi & Jacob Weisman

The New Voices of Science Fiction, edited by Hannu Rajaniemi & Jacob Weisman (Tachyon 978-1-61696-291-3, 432pp, $17.95) November 2019

In the deep past of our genre, how did one become a notable new writer? The first step back then was always the same as it is now: publish some good, standout stories as your apprentice and journeyman work. But subsequent public recognition in the days when print magazines dominated ...Read More

Read more

Stefan Dziemianowicz Reviews Growing Things by Paul Tremblay

Growing Things, Paul Tremblay (Morrow 978-0-06-267913-0, $25.99, 352pp, hc) July 2019.

Growing Things is Paul Tremblay’s latest short fiction collection, after Compositions for the Young and Old and In the Meantime, some of whose contents it shares. It’s also his first book after a trio of novels – A Head Full of Ghosts, Disappear­ance at Devil’s Rock, and The Cabin at the End of the World ...Read More

Read more

Tim Pratt Reviews Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

Wanderers, Chuck Wendig (Del Rey 978-0399182105, $28.99, 800pp, hc) July 2019.

My prior knowledge of Chuck Wendig came mostly from his blog and his amusingly profane social media pres­ence – Wanderers is the first novel of his I’ve read. It won’t be the last.

The premise is pure narrative candy: people in rural Pennsylvania begin to sleepwalk, heading west. At first there’s just one walker, but she’s soon joined ...Read More

Read more

Liz Bourke Reviews The House of Sundering Flames by Aliette de Bodard

The House of Sundering Flames, Aliette de Bodard (Gollancz 978-1-473-22340-0, £16.99, 550pp, tp) July 2019.

Also on the list of books I can’t recommend highly enough: Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Sundering Flames, the latest – and for now final – novel-length instalment in the series that began with The House of Shattered Wings and continued in The House of Binding Thorns. It’s worth reading the ...Read More

Read more

Ian Mond Reviews Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-Goff

Last Ones Left Alive, Sarah Davis-Goff (Tinder Press 978-1-472-25520-4, £12.99, 288pp, hc) March 2019. (Flatiron Books 978-1-250-23522-0, $26.99, 288pp, hc) August 2019.

If you were to ask me what was the one horror trope I found tiresome and repetitive, where a millennia-long moratorium on any future work wouldn’t go astray, it would be the zombie apoca­lypse. As far as I’m concerned what needed to be said about zombies was ...Read More

Read more

Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Reading Backwards by John Crowley

Reading Backwards: Essays & Reviews, 2005-2018, John Crowley (Subterranean 978-1-59606-946-6, $40.00, 456pp, hc), November 2019.

Despite his protestations in an essay titled ‘‘On Not Being Well-Read’’, one of 39 essays and reviews collected in Reading Backwards, John Crowley is among the most eclectic and intriguing literary voices around, and no one sitting around in a bar with him would want to get into a contest over who’s more ...Read More

Read more

Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Tor.com, BCS, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Bards and Sages, and Daily SF

Tor.com 6/19/19, 7/10/19 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 7/4/19; 7/18/19 Strange Horizons 7/19 Lightspeed 8/19 Bards and Sages Quarterly 4/19 Daily SF 7/4/19, 7/5/19, 7/8/19

Tor.com in June features a new Michael Swan­wick story in his Mongolian Wizard series. It will come as no surprise that “The New Prometheus” draws from the Frankenstein corpus when pro­tagonist Ritter pursues a being that clearly isn’t human across the Arctic wastes. In this ...Read More

Read more

Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harrow (Redhook 978-0-316-42199-7, $27.00, 384pp, hc) September 2019.

The idea of locking out historical change in order to preserve a particular version of male hegemony is an important theme in Alix E. Harrow’s remarkable first novel, The Ten Thousand Doors of January, but for me to explain further might compromise some of the readerly pleasures of unfolding Harrow’s multilayered, origami-like ...Read More

Read more

Adrienne Martini Reviews Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher

Minor Mage, T. Kingfisher (Argyll Productions 978-1-614-50500-6, $12.95, 174pp, tp) July 2019.

Despite the missing mother and the adolescent mage in potentially fatal situations, Minor Mage is a book for kids – and for adults who enjoy the rich, whimsy-adjacent stories by Ursula Vernon, the writer behind the T. Kingfisher pen name.

Oliver is a nearly teenage mage who is the only source of magic his village has. While ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson

The Saturday Night Ghost Club, Craig Davidson (Knopf Canada 978-0-735-27482-2, C$27.00, 272pp, hc) August 2018. (Penguin 978-0-14-313393-3, $16.00, 206pp, tp) July 2019.

The Saturday Night Ghost Club is only the slightest wisp of a ghost story. It is far more a memory of childhood, a winsome look back by a narrator who now works in a dif­ficult profession (as a surgeon) and is remembering the most significant summer of ...Read More

Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews World Engines: Destroyer by Stephen Baxter

World Engines: Destroyer, Stephen Baxter (UK: Gollancz 978-1473223172, £20, 576pp, hardcover) September 2019

As nearly as I can suss out, Stephen Baxter currently has no publisher in the USA. His last three books in his classic Xeelee series—Xeelee Endurance (2015), Xeelee Vengeance (2017) and Xeelee Redemption (2018)—appeared from Gollancz in the UK, but not here. And this newest one has no American edition either.

Now, thanks to the ...Read More

Read more

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

F&SF 9-10/19 Uncanny 7-8/19 Interzone 7-8/19 Galaxy’s Edge 7/19 Bourbon Penn 7/19 Amazing Stories 7/19

The September-October F&SF is notable for stories by some prominent writers. Maureen McHugh‘s “Under the Hill” is a very well-done, second person point-of-view story about Amelia, who matriculates at Burkman College, a prestigious institution that we quickly learn has an unusual student body – a significant subset are Fair Folk. The arc ...Read More

Read more

Liz Bourke and Amy Goldschlager Review This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

This Is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone (Saga 978-1-5344-3100-3, $19.99, 200pp, hc) July 2019.

A novel – or rather a novella – that does find me part of its enthusiastic readership is Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone’s first tra­ditionally published collaboration, This Is How You Lose the Time War. Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit. This is the time-travelling queer epistolary romance ...Read More

Read more

Ian Mond Reviews The Old Lie by Claire G. Coleman

The Old Lie, Claire G. Coleman (Hachette Australia 978-0-733-64084-1, A$32.99, 368pp, tp) August 2019.

You’d be forgiven for initially mistak­ing the setting of Claire G. Coleman’s sophomore novel, The Old Lie, as the battlefields of the First World War. The opening chapter begins with a stanza from “Dulce Et Decorum Est” by poet and WWI soldier Wil­fred Owen, and features a death march through a devastated terrain redolent ...Read More

Read more

Katharine Coldiron Reviews FKA USA by Reed King

FKA USA, Reed King (Flatiron Books 978-1-25010-889-0, $27.99, 480pp, hc) June 2019.

Whether Reed King’s FKA USA works for you is going to depend on who you are as a reader. To some extent, this is true of any book in the world, but it’s particularly true for this book, a sprawling, self-conscious novel of the American apocalypse inspired by equal parts David Foster Wallace and The Wizard of ...Read More

Read more

Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz

The Future of Another Timeline, Annalee Newitz (Tor 978-0-7653-9210-7, $26.99, 352pp, hc) September 2019.

Stories about time wars, or temporal wars, or change wars (in Fritz Leiber’s classic formulation), along with related tales about time police, time guards, time patrols, time ref­erees, or even just time nudniks, have gotten so ubiquitous that even Sarah Connor must be getting bored. Collectively, they constitute a kind of sub-subgenre somewhere in the ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal

Five Midnights, Ann Dávila Cardinal (Tor Teen 978-1-250-29607-8, $17.99, 288pp, hc) June 2019.

Welcome to the seedy side of Puerto Rico, where at an early age teens are roped into gangs and drug dealing, the economy is under perpetual attack by greedy US business interests, and a terrifying murderer is on the prowl. It looks like a couple of young men walking on the wrong side of the law ...Read More

Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews All Worlds Are Real by Susan Palwick

All Worlds Are Real Era, Susan Palwick (Fairwood 978-1933846842, $17.99, 322pp, hardcover) November 2019

With the publication of her new story collection, All Worlds Are Real, Susan Palwick charts her sixth book over the course of her 35 years of professional publication. Measured reductionistically by number of pages produced, she has not been extremely prolific. But when gauged by the quality of her prose and the allure and ...Read More

Read more