Adrienne Martini Reviews Paladin’s Hope by T. Kingfisher

Paladin’s Hope, T. Kingfisher (Red Wombat Studio 978-1-61450-551-8, $34.95, 270pp, hc) October 2021.

Paladin’s Hope is the third book in T. Kingfisher’s (AKA Ursula Vernon’s) Saint of Steel series. Like Paladin’s Grace and Paladin’s Strength before it, Paladin’s Hope is a fantasy romance at its core. There are gods and clerics and gnoles set against a medieval-esque city and countryside. The two main characters are destined for each ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews This Thing Between Us by Gus Moreno

This Thing Between Us, Gus Moreno (MCD x FSG Originals 978-0-37453-923-8, $17.00, 272pp, tp) October 2021.

 

I’ve never owned an Amazon Alexa. I do have a Google Nest sitting beside the TV, but other than my daughter asking the device to play songs from The Greatest Showman soundtrack, the family rarely engages with it. I am, however, aware that both the Alexa and the Nest are always listening, ...Read More

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Alex Brown Reviews White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson

White Smoke, Tiffany D. Jackson (Katherine Tegen Books 978-0063029095, $18.99, 384pp, hc) September 2021.

After her public collapse and a stint in rehab, Marigold, a Black high school track star, is finally getting a second chance. When her artist mom gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a residency that comes with a free house, Mari, her mother, brother, step-father, and step-sister move from coastal California to a rundown Midwestern town. ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Shards of Earth: The Final Architecture Book One, Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tor 978-1-5290-5188-9, $28.00, 549 pp, hc) August 2021. Cover by Steve Stone.

Once upon a time I used the term “re­combinant SF” to describe stories that whipped multiple ideas and themes and gadgets and speculations and story-patterns into busy, complicated, surprising concoctions: a Chi­nese AI emperor and Tibetan yak-wranglers on a terraformed Mars; a moon-size ancient alien and clone-soldiers ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Invisible Sun by Charles Stross

Invisible Sun, Charles Stross (Tor 978-1-250-80709-0, $27.99, 285 pp, hc) September 2021. Cover by Neil Lang.

Partway into Charles Stross’s Invisible Sun, a harried intelligence/security chief says, ‘‘We’ve got a lot of balls in the air,’’ a condition that might apply as well to a number of his fellow characters and to Stross himself in his authorial role. This ninth and final entry in what is now called ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee

A Lesson in Vengeance, Victoria Lee (Delacorte Press 978-0-593-30584-3, $18.99, 384pp, hc) August 2021. Cover by Maggie Enterrios.

From start to startling finish, Victoria Lee’s A Lesson in Vengeance is a dream novel for fans of dark academia. Felicity Morrow has returned to the Dalloway School after receiving intense counseling following the previous year’s tragic death of her classmate/girlfriend, Alex. She will now be back in their former dorm, ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Hood by Lavie Tidhar

The Hood, Lavie Tidhar (Head of Zeus 978-1-838-93131-5, £18.99, 448pp, hc) October 2021.

Lavie Tidhar’s ambitious four-novel re­visiting of British mythology – which he calls the Anti-Matter of Britain – began with last year’s By Force Alone, a cheerfully anarchic and thoroughly entertaining assault on Arthuriana, and now, with The Hood, it moves forward a few centuries to the 12th-century era of Robin Hood legends. But while ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction 1950 to 1985 by Andrew Nette & Iain McIntyre

Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction 1950 to 1985, Andrew Nette & Iain McIntyre, eds. (PM Press 978-1-62963-883-6, $59.95, 224pp, hc) October 2021.

I’m a child of the cyberpunk generation. One of the first genre novels that left an impression on me was William Gibson’s Neuromancer (even if I didn’t entirely understand it). It wasn’t until my late twenties, when I started attending the monthly meetings of ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: The National Pastime 2021 Edition, Alternate Plains, and The Adventure of the Golden Woman

The National Pastime 2021 Edition

Alternate Plains, Darren Ridgley & Adam Pe­trash, eds. (Great Plains Publications) October 2021.

The Adventure of the Golden Woman, Cynthia Ward (Aqueduct Press) September 2021.

Here’s an unexpected source of some SF: the 2021 issue of The National Pastime, published by the Society for American Baseball Research. This issue is about “the future according to baseball,” and it’s edited by Cecilia M. Tan ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Tor.com, Fiyah, and Clarkesworld, and

Tor.com 8/4/21, 8/18/21, 8/25/21 Fiyah Summer ’21 Clarkesworld 8/21

To start off this month, I’d like to highlight two stories that use abstract mathematics in interesting ways. The August Clarkesworld features “The Serpentine Band” by Congyun ‘Mu Ming’ Gu (translated by Tian Huang) which tips over into novella territory at 18,500 words. It is a beautiful story of a bureaucrat in historical China. We learn about the life ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Complete Short Fiction of Peter Straub by Peter Straub

The Complete Short Fiction of Peter Straub: Volume 1: Stories, Peter Straub (Borderlands Press, $120.00, 477pp, hc) October 2021.

The Complete Short Fiction of Peter Straub: Volume 2: Novellas, Peter Straub (Borderlands Press, $120.00, 477pp, hc) October 2021.

Whenever Peter Straub’s name shows up on social media or in critical discussions of horror, it’s increasingly accompanied by encomiums like “icon” or “living legend” (he even has an award ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews Midnight, Water City by Chris McKinney

Midnight, Water City, Chris McKinney (Soho Crime 978-1-64129-240-5, $27.95, 312pp, hc) July 2021. Cover by Vlado Krizan and Janine Agro.

What would happen if the world was turned upside-down and submerged in the ocean? That’s the first guiding question in Chris McKinney’s Midnight, Water City, an SF novel with one foot in whodunits and the other one in classic noir. There are more questions, of course, but that ...Read More

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

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 7/15/21, 7/29/21, 8/12/21, 8/26/21 Lightspeed 8/21, 9/21 Strange Horizons 7/21

I had fallen behind on Beneath Ceaseless Skies since reading two issues a month is not quite enough to keep up with a once-every-two weeks publishing schedule. It’s always a pleasure to catch up with this particular magazine, since you never know quite where it will take you. Issue #334 has two stories of people displaced from ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Far from the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson

Far from the Light of Heaven, Tade Thompson (Orbit 978-0-75955-791-8, $17.99, 384pp, tp) October 2021.

If you’ve been reading my column for the last three years (has it really been that long?), you’ll know that, along with Lavie Tidhar, Tade Thomp­son is one of my favourite contemporary writers. It was a pleasure, back in 2019, to review books two and three of the Rosewater trilogy for Locus.It’s an incredibly ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Widowland by C.J. Carey

Widowland, C.J. Carey (Quercus 978-1-529-41199-7, £14.99, 436pp, hc) June 2021.

Widowland by C.J. Carey would be a very intense, engaging, and horrifying book if we didn’t live in a world that has 1984, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Brave New World already in it.

Carey – the pseudonym of historical fiction writer Jane Thynne – has created an alternate history of 1950s Britain, one where the Prime Minister ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Analog, Interzone, Galaxy’s Edge, and Fusion Fragment

Analog 9-10/21 Interzone #290-291 Galaxy’s Edge 7/21 Fusion Fragment 7/21

Analog’s latest issue features ‘‘The Silence Before I Sleep’’, a novella in Adam-Troy Castro’s AISource future that introduces Rage Larkin, a contract killer by profession, though she emphasizes that she avoids (or voids) contracts that violate her principles and also tries to come up with alternate solutions. Rage’s latest assignment is on an artificial planet created by ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Shadows of Eternity by Gregory Benford

Shadows of Eternity, Gregory Benford (Saga 978-1534443624, 496pp, $27.99) October 2021.

It’s hard to label any book the “capstone” to a career when the author in question is still lively, vibrant, intellectually bold, ambitious, au courant, and masterfully proficient. Who knows what new heights such a person might reach beyond the current title? And yet one is tempted to attach this label to Greg Benford’s newest, Shadows of Eternity, ...Read More

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Maya C. James Reviews Walking on Cowrie Shells by Nana Nkweti

Walking on Cowrie Shells, Nana Nkweti (Gray­wolf Press 978-1-644-45054-3, $16.00, 200pp, tp) June 2021.

Nana Nkweti offers ten heart-warming and heart-wrenching stories that span genre, time, and species in her debut collection Walking on Cowrie Shells. From literary realism and romance, to speculative fiction and mystery, Nkweti tackles themes of familial and cultural expectations, all with effortless style and detail.

Nkweti’s writing style is a mixture of sobering ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Artifact Space by Miles Cameron

Artifact Space, Miles Cameron (Gollancz 978-1-473-23260-0, £18.99), 568pp, tp) June 2021.

If you are a fan of space operas with buckets of world building and solid characters, Miles Cameron’s Artifact Space is the book you need. I know this because I am always on the look-out for exactly this, and this book sparked joy.

Humanity has gone through an Age of Chaos – the details of this aren’t super ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The First Law of Thermodynamics by James Patrick Kelly

The First Law of Thermodynamics, James Pat­rick Kelly (PM Press 978-1629638850, $14.00, 128pp, tp) August 2021.

As I’ve mentioned in this space before, PM Press’s Outspoken Authors series, which began in 2009 with titles by Kim Stanley Robinson and series editor Terry Bisson, has become a reliable literary loot box, now up to its 27th volume with James Patrick Kelly’s The First Law of Ther­modynamics. My immediate thought ...Read More

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T.G. Shenoy reviews Cyber Mage by Saad Z. Hossain

Cyber Mage, Saad Z. Hossain (Unnamed Press 978-1-95121-328-2, $18.00, 288pp, tp) Decem­ber 2021.

Saad Z. Hossain continues to break down genre boundaries, weaving mythology and magic into science fiction (and vice versa) with his third novel, Cyber Mage. Set in the same universe as Hossain’s novel Djinn City and the novellas The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday and the forthcoming Kundo Wakes Up, the standalone Cyber ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Juicy Ghosts by Rudy Rucker

Juicy Ghosts, Rudy Rucker (Transreal Books 978-1940948485, 332pp, $24.95) September 2021.

If any currently working SF author can be held up as an instance of the main thesis in that valuable but sadly underutilized volume by the Panshins—The World Beyond the Hill: Science Fiction and the Quest for Transcendence—then Rudy Rucker is that writer. All his work involves humanity’s desire to reach or at least to observe ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Stanisław Lem’s The Truth and Other Stories

The Truth and Other Stories , Stanisław Lem (The MIT Press ‎ 978-0262046084, 344pp, $39.95) September 2021.

“Of these twelve short stories by science fiction master Stanisław Lem, only three have previously appeared in English, making this the first ‘new’ book of fiction by Lem since the late 1980s.” Thus reads the press release accompanying this hot-off-the-presses volume (from a somewhat unlikely source, MIT Press), a plain and sober statement ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Darling by K. Ancrum

Darling, K. Ancrum (Imprint 978-1-250-26526-5, $18.99, hc, 281pp) June 2021.

As author K. Ancrum opens Darling, her dark and mysterious take on Peter Pan, she offers up an epigraph from Barrie’s Peter Pan and Wendy as a hint of what’s to come. Here’s a bit:

The boys on the island vary, of course, in numbers, according as they get killed and so on; and when they seem to ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Escapement by Lavie Tidhar

The Escapement, Lavie Tidhar (Tachyon 978-1-61696-327-9, $16.95, 256pp, tp) September 2021.

It’s been a busy year for Lavie Tidhar. Due to the vagaries of publishing, made all the more uncertain by COVID, 2021 has seen Tidhar author two novels (The Escapement and The Hood), a collection (The Lunacy Commission), and short stories (including ‘‘Judge Dee and the Three Deaths of Count Werdenfels’’), and edit an ...Read More

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Alex Brown Reviews Bacchanal by Veronica G. Henry

Bacchanal, Veronica G. Henry (47North 978-1542027816, $24.95, 352pp, hc) June 2021.

In her debut historical fantasy novel Bacchanal, Veronica G. Henry takes readers on a tour of the Depression-era American south and southwest. In Louisiana, lonely Eliza Meeks encounters the mostly all-Black carnival as it comes to her town. With no prospects, no family, and no money, joining the carnival may be her only chance at independence. Clay, ...Read More

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Alvaro Zinos-Amaro Reviews The Modern Myths: Adventures in the Ma­chinery of the Popular Imagination by Philip Ball

The Modern Myths: Adventures in the Ma­chinery of the Popular Imagination, Philip Ball (University of Chicago Press 978-0226719269, $30.00, 368pp, hc) May 2021.

Though I endeavor, in this space, to bring to your attention genre-related volumes of only the most recent or imminent vintage, I would be remiss to let Philip Ball’s The Modern Myths pass unnoticed, even if I’m a little tardy to the party. Ball’s fascinating study ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Artifact Space by Miles Cameron

Artifact Space, Miles Cameron (Gollancz 978-1-473-23260-0, £18.99), 568pp, tp) June 2021.

If you are a fan of space operas with buckets of world building and solid characters, Miles Cameron’s Artifact Space is the book you need. I know this because I am always on the look-out for exactly this, and this book sparked joy.

Humanity has gone through an Age of Chaos – the details of this aren’t super clear ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman reviews Double Threat by F. Paul Wilson

F. Paul Wilson, Double Threat (Forge 978-1-250-77664-8, $27.99, 365pp, hc) June 2021.

Wilson returns to his first novel, Healer, with a drastic rewrite that sets the story on contemporary Earth and also mixes in elements from the novella Wardenclyffe in his Secret History series, which adds a touch of cosmic horror and the work of Nikola Tesla to the mix. What makes the connec­tion to Healer clear, though, is ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

Light from Uncommon Stars, Ryka Aoki (Tor 978-1-250-78906-8, 384pp, $25.99, hc) September 2021.

Good speculative fiction has long been a shell game. We think we’re escaping into a cool story about first contact, intergalactic wars, reluctant fulfillers of life-or-death prophesy… you know, stuff not about here. Or now. Until, of course, we realize, it’s all a gorgeous deceit: we’ve swallowed a heap of nutri­tious vegetables believing it to be ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Summer in the City of Roses by Michelle Ruiz Keil

Summer in the City of Roses, Michelle Ruiz Keil (Soho Press 978-1-64129-171-2, $16.99, 336pp, hc) July 2021.

Michelle Ruiz Keil follows up her gor­geous novel All of Us With Wings with a magical realism, myth-infused adventure set in Portland, Oregon. Summer in the City of Roses is the story of Iph and Orr, siblings who are separated by the machinations of their well-meaning father, who makes a decision with ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Uncanny, The Burning Day and Other Strange Stories and Fantastic Americana

Uncanny 7-8/21

The Burning Day and Other Strange Stories, Charles Payseur (Lethe Press) August 2021.

Fantastic Americana, Josh Rountree (Fairwood Press) August 2021.

Uncanny’s general excellence is never surpris­ing. I was really intrigued by Shaoni C. White’s ‘‘Diamond Cuts’’, set in a world whose magic reenacting the way that magic was brought to the world – by an alchemist’s partner stealing a star and sacrificing ...Read More

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