Paula Guran Reviews Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones

Night of the Mannequins, Stephen Graham Jones (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-250-75207-9, $11.99, 138pp, tp) July 2020.

Stephen Graham Jones often takes readers into the minds of children and teens. Their fictional brains respond to consensus reality in ways that reflect convincing realities others can’t see. The results of these quirky points of view fuel plots that prove unsettling. His latest novella, Night of the Mannequins, is deeply disturbing. Sawyer, ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Knife Children and The Orphans of Raspay by Lois McMaster Bujold

Lois McMaster Bujold, Knife Children (Spectrum Literary Agency) 2019. (Subterranean Press 978-1-59606-954-1, $25.00, 208pp, hc) February 2020. Cover by Ryan Pentacoast.

Bujold’s latest two novellas finally out in print both involve grown men taking care of girls, but otherwise the tales are quite different. Knife Children adds to the Sharing Knife series, picking up with Barr, a young scapegrace Lakewalker from the original series, now a 33-year-old patroller back from ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Voodoo Shanghai by Kristi Charish and Forced Perspectives by Tim Powers

Kristi Charish, Voodoo Shanghai (Vintage Canada 978-0-345-81592-7, $14.95, 415pp, tp) February 2020.

In this third volume in the Kincaid Strange urban fantasy/mystery series, the Seattle voodoo practitioner is getting tired of being pushed around by the local cops (one her ex-boyfriend) and her new uber-cranky ghost-boss, the sorcerer Gideon Lawrence, who’s teaching her new ways to use mirrors to manage ghosts. Then there’s the Singaporean family whose spoiled teenage daughter ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace

All the Stars and Teeth, Adalyn Grace (Imprint 978-1-250-30778-1, $17.99, 384pp, hc) February 2020.

Adalyn Grace opens All the Stars and Teeth on a day of great importance for her protagonist, Princess Amora Montara. The princess is about to participate in her ‘‘performance,’’ the event during which she will prove herself worthy of the crown of Visidia. As Amora goes about her day in the early chapters, readers learn ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews A Peculiar Peril by Jeff VanderMeer

A Peculiar Peril, Jeff VanderMeer (Macmillan/ Farrar, Straus, Giroux 978-0-374-30886-5, $19.99, 656pp, hc) July 2020.

Jeff VanderMeer’s relationship with the Lambhead family goes back to 2003 when he and Mark Roberts co-edited The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases, a compendium of weird and wonderful ailments, featuring well over 30 entries (and illustrations) from authors as diverse as Neil Gaiman, Jeffrey Ford, L. ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Oasis by Katya de Becerra

Oasis, Katya De Becerra (Imprint 978-1-250- 12426-5, $17.99, 302pp, hc) January 2020.

Oasis begins as a traditional set-up for a teen drama involving a small group of somewhat wealthy kids off on a summer adventure/vacation. Alif and her four friends are flying from Australia to Dubai, where they will join her father’s desert archeological dig as student interns. It is, Alif is certain, the summer where she will ‘‘rediscover’’ ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Virtue and Vengeance, Tomi Adeyemi (Holt 978-1-25017-099-6, $19.99, 416pp, hc) December 2019.

Déjà vu wracks the reading experience in Children of Virtue and Vengeance, the second novel in Tomi Adeyemi’s wildly successful Legacy of Orïsha series. That’s because it’s basically the same story as Children of Blood and Bone: the characters must recover sacred artifacts, defeat a corrupt and fascist leader, and unite despite their ...Read More

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Ian Mond and Paula Guran Review Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey 978-0-5256-207-85, $27.00, 320pp, hc) July 2020.

Noemí Taboada is a flighty but intelligent young socialite in 1950 Mexico City. Perhaps she’s growing out of her capriciousness, though. She seems focused on a career in anthropology and is determined to live up to family duty and her father’s trust. Her recently married cousin Catalina has written Noemí’s father a distressing letter stating her husband ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Hella by David Gerrold

Hella, David Gerrold (DAW 978-0-7564-1657-7, $26, 448pp, hardcover) June 2020

Somehow, with the publication of this novel, the twenty-three-year-old wunderkind who created The Trouble with Tribbles (1967) has entered into the fifty-third year of his career, a long, varied, and satisfying one. I myself am not quite sure how this transformation from newbie to Grand Old Man occurred in what sometimes seems, to a reader who was present at ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews American Demon by Kim Harrison and Spells for the Dead by Faith Hunter

Kim Harrison, American Demon (Ace 978-0- 593-10141-4, $28.00, 473pp, hc) June 2020. Cover by Chris McGrath.

Rachel Morgan’s back in the Hollows for her 14th novel in the series, set before the happily-ever- after epilogue in the previous volume. She’s been outed as a demon and blamed for letting the demons free, the old church that was her home and office is unliveable, her living vampire housemate Ivy seems to ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Unbecoming by Lesley Wheeler

Unbecoming, Lesley Wheeler (Aqueduct 978-1-61976-167-4, $18.00, 236pp, tp) May 2020.

Lesley Wheeler is an accomplished poet and a named professor at Washington and Lee, so it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that her first novel is peppered with striking language (“She was already a ghost of linen and warm air”; kids “flock and wheel”) and shrewd portraits of some familiar denizens of academia. Wheeler’s major previous venture into fantasy, ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Londonia by Kate A. Hardy

Londonia, Kate A. Hardy (Tartarus Press 978-1-912586-19-6, £35.00, 405pp, hc) April 2020.

Kate A. Hardy’s London of 2072 in Londonia is divided into two worlds. In the Cincture (hyper-center of old London Town, also called the Egg), the elite live a more-than-comfortable, mostly frivolous life, protected from the harsh realities of dire post-apocalyptic weather and a hand-to-mouth existence. Londonia (also known as The Pan), where life is nasty, brutish, ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews The Human by Neal Asher

The Human, Neal Asher (Tor UK 978-1-509-86244-3, £18.99, 544pp, hc) April 2020. (Night Shade 978-1-950994-83-0, $26.99, 433 pp, hc) June 2020. Cover by Adam Burn.

I don’t know whether Neal Asher had figured out the nature of the ancient, alien, civilization-destroying Jain technology back when he introduced it in some of the early Polity-universe novels (The Line of Polity, Polity Agent), but he certainly has now. ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Pew by Catherine Lacey

Pew, Catherine Lacey (Farrah, Straus, Giroux 978-0374230920, $26.00, 224pp, hc) May 2020.

Catherine Lacey first came to my attention with her 2017 novel The Answers, a quirky thought experiment about pain management, the biology of love, and a bizarre project into human relationships funded by an eccentric movie star. Her latest book, Pew, is about a stranger, with no name, no memory, and no identity, who drops ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Out of Body by Jeffrey Ford

Out of Body, Jeffrey Ford (Tor.com 978-1-250-25015, $14.99, 168pp, tp) May 2020.

Jeffrey Ford is consistently one of the most graceful writers we have, and when he decides to revisit some of the classic tropes of horror fiction – such as the haunted house in his recent The Twilight Pariah and “The Jew­eled Wren” – we can reliably expect a couple of things. For one, the clarity of the ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Nine Shiny Objects by Brian Castleberry

Nine Shiny Objects, Brian Castleberry (Custom House 978-0062984395, $27.99, 336pp, hardcover) June 2020

The Great Matter of UFOs, a topic which has intrigued the general public for over seventy years, has always resided at a strange tangential intersection with science fiction. Prior to the rash of strange aerial object sightings in 1947 that kickstarted what we know today as UFO-ology, science fiction of course had given us many stories ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews The Heart Is a Mirror for Sinners and Other Stories by Angela Slatter

The Heart Is a Mirror for Sinners and Other Stories, Angela Slatter (PS Publishing 978-1-78636-563-7, £25.00, 331pp, hc) April 2020.

British and World Fantasy Award recipient Angela Slatter’s writing is elegant, elo­quent, evocative, and exquisitely disturb­ing; polished to the rich patina found only on the finest quality antique silver, it casts a spell on the reader. Luckily, the Australian author is nearly as prolific as she is talented. The ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Songs for Dark Seasons Lisa L. Hannett

Songs for Dark Seasons: Stories, Lisa L. Hannett (Ticonderoga Publications 978-1-925212-44-0, A$50.00, 280pp, hc) April 2020.

Lisa L. Hannett’s three previous collections, two co-authored with Angela Slatter, earned awards and critical acclaim. Songs for Dark Seasons is just as laudable. Since the Canadian-born author lives in Australia and Ticonderoga is an Australian press, the volume may be a bit hard to come by for some, but it is well ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey

When We Were Magic, Sarah Gailey (Simon Pulse 978-1-5344-3287-1, $18.99, 352pp, hc) March 2020.

Sarah Gailey’s When We Were Magic opens with a murder. (This is no spoiler, because the first sentence of the book is, “I didn’t mean to kill Josh Harper.”) Everything that follows is the result of that murder: all the action, all the drama, all the angst. If Josh Harper hadn’t died (in a very ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, Grady Hendrix (Quirk Books 978-1683691433, $22.99, 408pp, hc) April 2020.

The year is 1993, and Patricia Campbell, along with her career-driven husband Carter and their two malcontent teenagers Korey and Blue, live in the Old Village, the wealthy section of Mt. Pleasant SC and the backdrop to Grady Hendrix’s latest novel The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. Once ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Oppenheimer Alternative by Robert J. Sawyer

The Oppenheimer Alternative, Robert J. Sawyer (Arc Manor/Caezik SF & Fantasy 978-1-64710-013-1, $16.99, 374pp, trade paperback) June 2020

The vast, ineluctable, ineffable reality of World War II has provided infinite substance for fiction writers from 1939 to the present. It seems doubtful that the material will ever be exhausted. Like the earlier Victorian period (the still essential and tangible reality of which fuels steampunk), the WWII era is the ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews The Book of Koli by M.R. Carey

The Book of Koli, M.R. Carey (Orbit 978-0-31647-753-6, $16.99, 416pp, tp) April 2020.

The Book of Koli doesn’t read much like the initial book of a genre trilogy. It’s quiet, deeply humanistic, and full of lush characterization and worldbuilding, rather than action or adventure. But what a glorious beginning it is. M.R. Carey hefts astonishing story­telling power with plainspoken language, heartbreak­ing choices, and sincerity like an arrow to the ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Properties of Rooftop Air by Tim Powers

The Properties of Rooftop Air, Tim Powers (Subterranean 978-1-59606-974-9, $35.00, 80pp, hc) June 2020. Cover by David Palumbo.

There were plenty of evil clowns before Stephen King’s Pennywise basically photobombed the whole trope, and one of the most disturbing was Horrabin from Tim Powers’s The Anubis Gates, who would deliberately disfigure some of the beggars in his gang in order to make them appear more pitiful. Now Horrabin ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy 3 , Edited by William Schafer

Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy 3, William Schafer, ed. (Subterranean 978-1-59606- 966-4, $40.00, 240pp, hc) July 2020.

The third of an occasional anthology series (previous volumes appeared in 2008 and 2011), William Schafer’s Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy 3 offers ten stories by top-notch writers. It starts off with ”An Orderly Progression of Hearts” by Kat Howard, a very short rumination on the vagaries of the human heart. Next ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Rebelwing by Andrea Tang

Rebelwing, Andrea Tang (Razorbill 978-1-9848-3509-3, $17.99, 368pp, hc) February 2020.

Andrea Tang’s dystopian prep school/cybernetic dragon/political conspiracy novel Rebelwing has a ton of action, some intriguing world-building and more than a few complicated relationships to unpack. It scores well on some fronts and struggles a bit on others, but certainly packs a lot of thrills for readers and provides a science fiction diversion that reads as all too possible ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews We All Hear Stories in the Dark by Robert Shearman

We All Hear Stories in the Dark, Robert Shearman (PS Publishing 978-1-786364-46-2, $£90.00, 1,759pp, three volumes, hc) April 2020.

Robert Shearman’s new collection, We All Hear Stories in the Dark, is a remarkable feat of storytelling. Nine years in the making, it comprises over 100 pieces of fiction, spans three volumes (with introductions from Angela Slatter, Michael Marshall Smith, and Lisa Tuttle, and a “peculiar” middleword by Steven ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews Everyone on the Moon Is Essential Personnel by Julian K. Jarboe

Everyone on the Moon Is Essential Personnel, Julian K. Jarboe (Lethe Press 978-1-59021-692-7, $17.99, 222pp, tp) March 2020.

It’s a pity, but not a surprise, that Julian K. Jerboe’s first book hasn’t been released by the kind of large publishing house that can garner big-name blurbs, a splashy publicity campaign, and inclusion on a jillion lists and roundups. Ev­eryone on the Moon Is Essential Personnel is a strange, limber, ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: BCS, Clarkesworld, Tor.com, Lightspeed, Kaleidotrope, and Giganotosaurus

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 2/27/20, 3/12/20 Clarkesworld 3/20 Tor.com 2/26/20 Lightspeed 3/20 Kaleidotrope Winter 2020 Giganotosaurus 3/20

Beneath Ceaseless Skies‘s “Science Fan­tasy Month” – now in its fifth iteration – is one of my favorite biennial events in speculative fiction. Issues #298 and 299, both doubles, are given over to stories that blend science fiction and fantasy in whatever propor­tions the authors care to offer, and the results are universally intriguing. ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Shadowshaper Legacy by Daniel José Older

Shadowshaper Legacy, Daniel José Older (Scholastic 978-1-338-61487-9, $18.99, 432pp, hc) January 2020.

Daniel José Older brings his ambitious, intense and thoroughly satisfying Shadowshaper Cypher series to an end with the very nearly overwhelming action of Shadowshaper Legacy. Sierra and her friends must confront one more big bad in their efforts to bring peace and security to Brooklyn and finally obtain safe control of the Deck of Worlds. A ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Temporary by Hilary Leichter

Temporary, Hilary Leichter (Coffee House Press 978-1566895668, $16.95, 208pp, tp) March 2020.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve reviewed several novels that borrow from the genre toolkit to critique modern-day capitalism. Ling Ma’s 2018 novel Severance (a book that has seen a massive upsurge in popularity for reasons that will soon become obvious) uses an apocalyptic pandemic, born in the sweatshops of China, to echo Marx’s view that ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi

Riot Baby, Tochi Onyebuchi (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-25021-475-1, $19.99, 176pp, hc) January 2020.

Riot Baby is a good book, an angry book, a useful book. It drenches the reader in cold fire: fury and clarity at once, directed not at individuals but at the systems that make life unfair and treacherous for Black people in America. It wobbles a little when it must create and maintain the alternate near-future reality ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe & Rich Horton Review Avatars Inc, Edited by Ann VanderMeer

Avatars Inc, Ann VanderMeer, ed. (XPRIZE, free, eb) March 2020. [Download from <www.avatars.inc>]

All well-made anthologies offer something like a conversation between the stories included, and in some cases (such as Jonathan Strahan’s recent Made to Order: Robots and Revolution) that conversation is more focused than usual, since the stories all revolve around a classic SF theme. With Ann VanderMeer’s Avatars Inc: A Sci-Fi Anthology, now available ...Read More

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