Rachel Swirsky Reviews The Underwater Ballroom Society Edited by Tiffany Trent & Stephanie Burgis

The Underwater Ballroom Society, Tiffany Trent & Stephanie Burgis, eds. (Five Fathoms Press, $4.99, 330pp, eb) April 2018.

Around the turn of the last century, speculator and con man Whitaker Wright built an underwater aquarium and smoking room beneath one of the lakes stippling his mansion’s grounds. Due to its shape, the room came to be referred to as a ballroom. A description from a 1903 article in The West ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews The End of All Our Exploring by F. Brett Cox

The End of All Our Exploring, by F. Brett Cox (Fairwood Press 978-1933846712, $17.99, 306pp, trade paperback) August 2018

Like a fine vintage wine, Brett Cox’s career has been slowly ripening, almost subliminally, for some time now, a vault-ensconced treasure that we handle and inspect at intervals, as if turning a precious stored bottle to prevent sedimentation, always anticipating the day when the long season’s whole batch is ready ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Fire Dance by Ilana C. Myer

Fire Dance, Ilana C. Myer (Tor 978-0-7653- 7832-3, $27.99, 368pp, hc) April 2018. Cover by Stephan Martinière.

I’m still not sure how I feel about Ilana C. Myer’s Fire Dance. Myer’s first novel, Last Song Before Night, left me feeling a little distant and disengaged from its action and characters. Fire Dance is its sequel, set a handful of months later. It has a few changes among its viewpoint characters ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Blackfish City Audiobook by Sam J. Miller

Blackfish City, Sam J. Miller; Vikas Adam, narrator (Harper Audio and Blackstone Audio 978- 1538497173, $39.99, CD, 10.5 hr., unabridged [also available as a digital download]) April 2018.

After a variety of political and environmental disasters, most of the great nations of the world are either gone or on the verge of collapse. One of the few refuges remaining is Qaanaaq, a city floating on the waters of the Arctic ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews The City of Lost Fortunes by Bryan Camp

The City of Lost Fortunes, Bryan Camp (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 978-1-328-81079-3 $24.00, 367pp, hc) April 2018.

If Neil Gaiman wrote a post-Katrina novel about New Orleans, it just might be The City of Lost Fortunes. It’s stuffed with more-than-meets-the-mortal-eye cityscapes (Neverwhere), immortal schemes and meddling (American Gods), and historical myth and meaning (Norse Mythology). Although many of the novel’s fantasy elements are relatively familiar, the gumbo made from them by ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Defiant Heir by Melissa Caruso

Melissa Caruso, The Defiant Heir (Orbit US 978-0-316-46690-5, $15.99, 515pp, tp) April 2018. Cover by Crystal Ben.

The second volume in the Swords & Fire fantasy trilogy finds Lady Amalia scrambling to stop a war with the Witch Lords of Vaskandar. Meanwhile, someone is killing Falconers and the magic-wielding Falcons they control, and reluctant Falconer Amalia and her powerful fire warlock Zaira are probable targets. Then Amalia meets a Witch ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Tide of Stone by Kaaron Warren

Tide of Stone, Kaaron Warren (Omnium Gatherum 9780615827995, $14.99, 374pp, tp) May 2018.

When the Time Ball Tower is first mentioned in Kaaron Warren’s terrific new novel Tide of Stone, I thought it was an invention of the author. I had no idea they existed and that I’d been liv­ing near one my entire life. For those, like me, ignorant of this ancient time-keeping device, a Time Ball is an ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews One Way by S.J. Morden

One Way, S.J. Morden (Orbit 978-0316522182, $15.99, 391pp, tp) April 2018.

One Way is the first novel under the byline S.J. Morden, but not the first novel by the writer behind it, Simon Morden, producer of The Samuil Petrovitch Trilogy (winner of the 2012 Philip K. Dick Award) and a fistful of other SF and fantasy volumes. I’m not sure why the change in byline, since the tone and attitude ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

The Queens of Innis Lear, Tessa Gratton; Kate Reading, narrator (Macmillan Audio, $39.99, digital, 26.5 hr., unabridged) March 2018.

This magic-infused retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear aims to add backstory and depth to the tragedy, and even rewrite the fates of some of the favorite characters. When Queen Dalat died, her two elder daughters blamed their father King Lear for her demise, and King Lear intensified his study in star ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton

The Price Guide to the Occult, Leslye Walton (Candlewick Press 978-0-7636-9110-3, $18.99, 288pp, hc) March 2018.

The Price Guide to the Occult begins with the story of an island in the Pacific Northwest and the small group of mostly male settlers who arrived there in the mid-1840s. In this prologue, author Leslye Walton sets up the long dark tale of the Blackburn women and the generational burdens inflicted upon them ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Coincidence Makers by Yoav Blum

The Coincidence Makers, Yoav Blum; Ira Moskowitz, translator; Fred Berman, narrator (Macmillan Audio, $20.99, digital download, 8 hr., unabridged) March 2018.

Guy, Emily, and Eric are Coincidence Makers; they receive assignments in sealed envelopes to set up chains of seemingly accidental events with profound effects. A synching of traffic lights here, a spilled coffee there, can irrevocably lead to two people “unexpectedly” encountering each other, or a buttoned-up number cruncher ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Case of the Deadly Doppelgänger by Lucy Banks

Lucy Banks, The Case of the Deadly Doppelgänger (Amberjack 978-1-944995-47-8, $14.99, 328pp, tp) February 2018.

A woman wakes in the night to see a copy of herself and die – and all her husband vaguely remembers in the morning is “She’s been fetched.” Turns out she’s not the only victim and, even as the officials publicly play down any supernatural elements, they’re looking for help. This is the second book ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Annex by Rich Larson

Annex, by Rich Larson (Orbit 978-0-316-41654-2, $15.99, 368pp, trade paperback) July 2018

I’ve been enjoying the stories of Rich Larson for a couple of years now, amazed at his rate of production and polished skills. (Over a hundred tales sold since his debut in 2011, with several taken for best-of compilations.) So his first novel is a book greatly anticipated, and, happily, it lives up to the measure and ...Read More

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Damien Broderick: Declassifying Psi Research

The Star Gate Archives, Volume 1 (of 4): Remote Viewing, 1972-1984 Reports of the United States Government Sponsored Psi Program, 1972-1995, compiled and edited by Edwin C. May and Sonali Bhatt Marwaha (McFarland 978-1-4766-6752-2, $95, 546pp, hardcover) 2018

For a time—especially in the 1950s—ESP or psi was the hottest trope in the broad fields of science fiction, promoted especially by John W. Campbell, the iconic, quirky editor of Astounding. ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews Echoes of Understorey by Thoraiya Dyer

Echoes of Understorey, Thoraiya Dyer (Tor 978-0-7653-8595-6, $16.99, 350pp, pb) February 2018.

Readers who enjoyed the first book in Thoraiya Dyer’s Titan’s Forest series will probably enjoy the sequel, Echoes of Understorey. The two books have in common a breathtakingly complex world, magic and ability tied to animal and natural realms, a powerful and self-sabotaging female protagonist, and potent political and racial allegories. Readers who found Crossroads of Canopy a ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Black Chamber by S.M. Stirling

Black Chamber, by S.M. Stirling (Ace 978-0-399-58623-1, $16, 400pp, trade paperback) July 2018

For the past twenty years, since the publication of Island in the Sea of Time in 1998, S. M. Stirling has been compounding an immense series of books that fall under the rubric “Novels of the Change.” But he has not focused exclusively on that series, issuing many other titles, standalone and otherwise, in that same ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Beneath the Sugar Sky Audiobook by Seanan McGuire

Beneath the Sugar Sky, Seanan McGuire; Michelle Dockrey, narrator (Macmillan Audio 978-1427293794, $28.99, CD, 4.25 hr., unabridged [also available as a digital download]) January 2018.

One day, a young woman tumbles out of the sky, falling into the lake near Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children, a refuge for children who found portals to other worlds where they had fantastic adventures and then eventually (and usually unhappily) returned home. Rini ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

Red Clocks, Leni Zumas (Little, Brown and Company 978-0316434812, $26.00, 368pp, hc) January 2018.

Given that both novels deal with reproductive rights under a repressive regime, it’s not surprising that critics would compare Leni Zumas’s Red Clocks with Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. The key difference is that while Atwood’s classic is a dystopia where a Christian theocracy has established control, Zumas’s novel is set in the here and now. ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Mad Hatters and March Hares Audiobook, Edited by Ellen Datlow

Mad Hatters and March Hares: All-New Stories from the World of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Ellen Datlow, ed.; C.S.E. Cooney & Eric Michael Summerer, narrators (Tantor Audio 978-1-5414-1327-6, $42.99, 10 CDs, 12.5 hr., unabridged [also available as a digital download]) December 2017.

It is an interesting experience to listen to an anthology inspired by two so intensely visual books. Both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass ...Read More

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Russell Letson reviews The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts

The Freeze-Frame Revolution, Peter Watts (Tachyon Publications 978-1-61696-252-4, $14.95, 190pp, tp) June 2018. Cover by Elizabeth Story.

Whether it’s a novella or a short novel (it’s the latter, by a margin of a thousand words, per a note in the author’s Acknowledgments), Peter Watts’s The Freeze-Frame Revolution is a remarkably compressed and elliptical tale. It belongs to a series that began with the Hugo-winning novelette “The Island” (2009) and continued, ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Clarkesworld, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies

F&SF 5-6/18
Clarkesworld 4/18
Beneath Ceaseless Skies 4/12/18, 4/26/18

In the May-June F&SF my preferred sto­ries were from relatively new voices. Pip Coen‘s first stories appeared last year, and Brian Trent has only been publishing a bit longer. Coen’s “Inquisitive” is the tale of the life of a decidedly non-neurotypical young woman, Saffi Kenyon, and her school career, in which her blunt inquisitiveness puts her on the path to entry ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe reviews European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss

European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman, Theodora Goss (Saga 978-1-4814-6653-0, $26.99, 720pp, hc) July 2018.

When Theodora Goss introduced us to the members of the Athena Club in last year’s The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, that fun she was having with her lively and contentious group of women was contagious, but that fun masked a more provocative reconsideration of the roles imposed on women in Victorian society – ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews The Expert System’s Brother by Adrian Tchaikovsky

The Expert System’s Brother, Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tor.com 978-1-25019755-9, $14.99, 176pp, tp) July 2018.

It’s amazing how much world building Adrian Tchaikovsky packs into so few words in The Expert System’s Brother. In other hands, this story of a young man, Handry, who is forced out of a world that literally no longer recognizes him, could be the work of a trilogy, yet, here, it is the perfect length. ...Read More

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Stefan Dziemianowicz reviews The Hunger by Alma Katsu

The Hunger, Alma Katsu (Putnam 978-0-06-7352-1251-0, $27.00, 38pp, hc) March 2018.

The tragic fate of the Donner Party is one of the true American horror stories of the 19th century. The collective of 87 family members and individuals set out from Missouri in May 1846 as part of a larger California-bound wagon train caravan. They epitomized the American pioneer spirit and the nation’s snowballing sense of manifest destiny. Soon thereafter, ...Read More

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Lila Garrott reviews Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik. (Del Rey, 978-0-399-18098-9, $28.00, 434 pp, hc.) July 2018.

Naomi Novik follows Uprooted with a brilliant retelling of Rumpelstiltskin set in a medieval pseudo-Russia. Instead of a miller’s daughter, the protagonist, Miryem, is a moneylender’s daughter. Instead of spinning straw into gold, she can spin silver coins into gold, if she has time to take them through the marketplace, first. The King of the Staryk, the ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews The Book of Hidden Things by Francesco Dimitri

The Book of Hidden Things, by Francesco Dimitri (Titan 978-1-785-65707-8, $14.95, 385pp, trade paperback) July 2018

Authors who write splendid books in languages other than their native tongue must all be rounded up and stopped, so they don’t make us struggling monolinguists look bad. Joseph Conrad, Vladimir Nabokov–well, they’re already canonized. But we still face Salman Rushdie, Hannu Rajaniemi, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, and Lavie Tidhar, among others. Their excellent ...Read More

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Adam Roberts reviews The Quantum Magician by Derek Künsken

The Quantum Magician, Derek Künsken (Solaris 978-1781085707, $11.99, 480pp, tp) October 2018.

This debut novel will do well. It is a fat, fun SF heist-thriller, a sort of Ocean’s 2487. Or The Superstring Sting. Or The It’s-alien Job. Or anything, really, rather than the oddly sword-and-sorcery-ish title Künsken has gone with. Get past the title, though, and the reader settles into a readable, eventful adventure narrative in which the jinks ...Read More

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Liz Bourke reviews The Descent of Monsters by JY Yang

The Descent of Monsters, JY Yang (Tor.com Publishing 9 78-1-250-16585-5, $14.99, 168pp, tp). July 2018. Cover by Yuko Shimizo.

JY Yang has garnered several award nominations for The Black Tides of Heaven. Along with The Red Threads of Fortune, to which it is closely linked, The Black Tides of Heaven – a Hugo finalist in the Best Novella category, as well as a Nebula nominee – was published last August ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Lightspeed, Tor.com, and Giganotosaurus

Lightspeed 5/18
Tor.com 4/11/18
Giganotosaurus 2/18, 3/18, 4/18

The SF in the May Lightspeed interested me most. Carolyn Ives Gilman’s “We Will Be All Right” is a very short, dark reflection on a future in which a gender-based pathogen kills men when their lovers conceive. The narrator is ready to meet her son’s girlfriend… as I said, it’s a short piece, and mostly a meditation, and quite effective in its ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini reviews The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor 978-0765378385, $15.99, 432pp, tp) July 2018.

Mary Robinette Kowal was writing about midcentury female NASA workers before they hit the pop culture mainstream. While Hidden Figures – both book and movie – brought our collective attention to the women who worked as ‘‘calculators’’ at NASA, Kowal started noodling around with the idea in 2012. Her ‘‘The Lady Astronaut of Mars’’ started life as ...Read More

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Liz Bourke reviews Black Chamber by S.M. Stirling

Black Chamber, S.M. Stirling (Ace 978-0399586231, $16.00, 400pp, tp). July 2018.

I’ll confess I wasn’t expecting as many good things from S.M. Stirling’s Black Chamber as I actually found. I have a peculiar relationship with Stirling’s novels. I’ve read quite a few of them, starting with Island in the Sea of Time, and I liked them quite a bit more before I encountered the author on the internet, explaining history ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Uncharted, by Kevin J. Anderson & Sarah A. Hoyt

Uncharted, by Kevin J. Anderson & Sarah A. Hoyt (Baen 978-1-4814-8323-0, $25, 272pp, hardcover) May 2018

American history is over five hundred years deep–much deeper, of course, if you venture beyond the European presence. The latest findings put the first human footprint in North America at 130,000 years ago. Given this vast tract of time, populated with myriad fascinating cultures and personages, knowable and conjecturable, it seems silly and ...Read More

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