Gary K. Wolfe and Adrienne Martini Review Fall; or, Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson

Fall; or, Dodge in Hell, Neal Stephenson (Morrow 978-0-06-245871-1, $35.00, 896pp, hc) June 2019.

Neal Stephenson’s idea of a novel isn’t quite the same as anyone else’s, and for the most part this has served him remarkably well. His Baroque Cycle trilogy was really no more a trilogy than was Asimov’s Foundation series, except that while Asimov’s narrative units were stories and novellas, Ste­phenson’s were entire novels – and ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Broken Shadow by Jaine Fenn

Broken Shadow, Jaine Fenn (Angry Robot US 978-0-85766-803-5, $12.99, 432pp, tp) May 2019. Cover by Andreas Rocha.

Jaine Fenn’s Hidden Sun, out from Angry Robot Books last year, introduced the reader to the world of shadowlands and skylands. In the shadowlands, or at least the ones with which the novel concerns itself, a powerful Church restricts scientific development and unorthodox thought, while a patriarchal society relegates women to ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews Amnesty by Lara Elena Donnelly

Amnesty, Lara Elena Donnelly (Tor 978-1-25017-362-1, $18.99, 384pp, tp) April 2019.

“It is not easy,” Aristide Makricosta tells a gathered crowd early in Amnesty, “to destroy your life. To coat the things you love in kerosene and light a match.” He is talking about Cordelia Lehane, a burlesque dancer turned resistance leader, who did exactly that when she decided to fight against the fascism sweeping across Amberlough. Cordelia ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Triangulum by Masande Ntshanga

Triangulum, Masande Ntshanga (Two Dollar Radio 978-1937512774, $17.99, 367pp, tp) May 2019.

I was predisposed to enjoy Masande Ntshanga’s Triangulum. Some of my favourite books are “found manuscript” novels, including James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, David Means’ Man Booker Prize longlisted Hystopia, and the granddaddy of them all, Mark Z. Danielewski’s breathtaking House of Leaves. Triangulum doesn’t feature the ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Iron Dragon’s Mother by Michael Swanwick

The Iron Dragon’s Mother, Michael Swanwick (Tor 978-1-250-19825-9, $26.99, 366pp, hc) June 2019.

There are hints of the afterlife in Michael Swanwick’s The Iron Dragon’s Mother, but it’s hard to accuse a fantasy world of pretentiousness when it cheerfully includes living metal dragon jet fighters along with Hello Kitty backpacks, or in which the streets of a magical underwater city are lined with Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh

Do You Dream of Terra-Two?, Temi Oh (Saga 978-1-53443-7401 $16.99, 528pp, tp) March 2019.

First, this book is a doorstop. I am not kid­ding, it’s a book about a deep space mission that doesn’t even leave the ground until more than 100 pages in. It has a big cast of char­acters (six living teens, one dead one, four adults, plus mentions of various parents and assorted other living and ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews The Warship by Neal Asher

The Warship, Neal Asher (Night Shade 978-1-59780-990-0, $26.99, 369pp, hc) May 2019. Cover by Adam Burn.

Okay, now it’s getting complicated. I called Infinity Engine (2017), the finale of Neal Asher’s Transformation trilogy, “sprawling and shaggy,” a description that ap­plies as well to his new book. The Warship is the plot-thickening middle volume of a trilogy that is also part of the Polity future history series that so far ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Ragged Alice by Gareth L. Powell

Ragged Alice, Gareth L. Powell (Tor.com Pub­lishing 978-1-250-22018-9, $14.99, 202pp, tp) April 2019.

In this novella, Powell introduces DCI Holly Craig, a London-based detective who has de­cided to move back to her native Wales in this Broadchurch-esque mystery. The detective grew up in the seaside town Pontyrhudd, where things aren’t always what they seem and the residents are colorful. A young woman has been murdered and Craig’s untangling ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Red Birds by Mohammed Hanif

Red Birds, Mohammed Hanif (Bloomsbury 978-1408897188, £16.99, 304pp, hc) October 2018. (Grove/Black Cat 978-0802147288, $16.00, 304pp, tp) May 2019.

Mohammed Hanif draws on his own experience as an Air Force pilot for his fourth novel, Red Birds, a hit-and-miss satire on America’s attitude toward foreign policy, set in a refugee camp located in an unnamed Arabic country.

The narrative alternates between three charac­ters, the first of which is ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Descendant of the Crane, Joan He (Albert Whitman 978-0-80751-551-8, $17.99, 416pp, hc) April 2019.

I more than liked Joan He’s debut fantasy. Descendent of the Crane sets itself in a world deeply influenced by Chinese history and culture. It’s a lush, deeply realised world, full of laws and ministries and red-light districts, scents and textures and presences, histories and legacies. (I’m almost certainly missing references and reso­nances that would ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok

Spectacle, Jodie Lynn Zdrok (Tor Teen 978-0-7653-9968-7, $17.99, 359pp, hc) February 2019.

Author Jodie Lynn Zdrok’s Paris initially reads as quite familiar to fans of historical fiction. It’s 1887 and the Eiffel Tower is under construction, the Cata­combs are open for tours, and every morning bodies “found in the public domain” are displayed at the morgue. Anyone and everyone lines up for a brief glimpse of the dead. The ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction, Edited by Tarun H. Saint

The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction, Tarun K. Saint, ed. (Hachette India 978-93-88322-05-8, RS599, 382pp, hc) March 2019.

Over the past several months, we’ve looked at anthologies of Chinese, Korean, and Israeli SF, all largely geared towards familiarizing ”outsiders” – namely, English language readers – with these vari­ous national voices. The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction, edited by Tarun K. Saint, is a little different. ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Radicalized by Cory Doctorow

Radicalized, Cory Doctorow (Tor 978-1250228581, $26.99, 304pp, hc) March 2019.

There’s a glib and half-serious theory that the career of every SF writer is contained in embryonic form in their first short-story sale. For Cory Doctorow, this critical trick holds partially true. His first major work – “Craphound” from 1998 – displayed his affinity for droll humor laced with melancholy; his hipness and intimacy with trends, fads, and bubbling-under ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

Early Riser, Jasper Fforde (Viking 978-0-670-02503-9, $28.00, 416pp, hc) February 2019. Cover art by Patrick Leger.

Given how popular Jasper Fforde’s Friday Next books are, I feel like I have to preface this review with a disclaimer: Early Riser is the first Fforde I’ve ever read. As far as I can tell, it does not fit into his most popular series. I also can’t tell you if it is ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews No Way by S.J. Morden

No Way, S.J. Morden, (Orbit US 978-0-316-52221-2, $15.99, 372pp, tp) February 2019.

In One Way (2018), S.J. Morden mashed up two kinds of procedural: a very hard-SF planetary-pioneering adventure (the building of the first Mars base) and a countdown murder mystery modeled on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. That book ends with the murders solved and the surviving character facing an un­certain future. The sequel, No ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Stealing Worlds by Karl Schroeder

Stealing Worlds, Karl Schroeder (Tor 978-0-7653-9998-4, $29.99, 320pp, hardcover) June 2019

There are a handful of SF writers whose novels are both vastly entertaining and which also serve as engineer-level blueprints for refashioning the world. In this category I would put Kim Stanley Robinson, Vernor Vinge, Cory Doctorow, William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, and Charles Stross. Now, with a shift in his focus from far futures ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Station Zero by Philip Reeve

Station Zero, Philip Reeve (Oxford University Press 978-0-19-275915-3, 7.99, 288pp, tp) Janu­ary 2018. (Capstone 978-1684460540, $17.95, 313pp, hc) February 2019.

Having now finished reading Station Zero, the final book in Philip Reeve’s fabulous Railhead trilogy, I remain confused about why this science fiction series is not far more popular. It has politi­cal intrigue, smart and gutsy teens of all shapes, sizes, races, and genders, more than one battle ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Little Animals by Sarah Tolmie

The Little Animals, Sarah Tolmie (Aqueduct 978-1-61976-161-2, $20.00, 378pp, tp) May 2019.

Sarah Tolmie’s approach to the intersection between the historical and the marvelous is comparatively minimalist. The Little Animals is, for the most part, a straightforward account of the early career of the 17th-century Delft scientist Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, as he discovers and records various “animalcules” through his homemade single-lens microscopes and tries to get his findings recognized ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Fire Opal Mechanism by Fran Wilde

The Fire Opal Mechanism, Fran Wilde (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-250-19654-5, $14.99, 208pp, tp) June 2019. Cover by Tommy Arnold.

The Fire Opal Mechanism is billed as a sequel to an earlier novelette by award-winning author Fran Wilde (Updraft, Cloudbound, Horizon). That novelette was The Jewel and Her Lapidary, a work with elegant prose, a deeply compelling friendship between two young women, and an am­bivalent – ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Lanny by Max Porter

Lanny, Max Porter (Faber & Faber 978-0571340286, £12.99, 224pp, hc) March 2019. (Graywolf 978-1555978402, $24.00, 160pp, hc) May 2019.

I picked up Max Porter’s debut, Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, when it was nominated for The Goldsmiths Prize back in 2015. It was unlike anything I’d ever read, a glorious, experimental fusion of poetry and prose, capturing the raw, jagged emotions of a father and his two ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Things She’s Seen by Ambelin & Ezekiel Kwaymullina

The Things She’s Seen, Ambelin & Ezekiel Kwaymullina (Knopf 978-1-9848-4937-3, $17.99, 208pp, hc) May 2019.

First, a non-spoiler plot point about The Things She’s Seen: the primary narrator, 16-year-old Beth, is dead. Readers learn this in the first pages, and the reality of Beth’s deadness grounds the narrative. Beth can see (and hear) things because she is a ghost, while the fact that her father can clearly see ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Ghost Clause by Howard Norman

The Ghost Clause, Howard Norman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 978-0544987296, $27, 256pp, hardcover) July 2019

Never having read any of Howard Norman’s previous dozen widely acclaimed books, I was eager to have cause to trek through his newest, due to its falling within my fantastika remit. I discovered a charming, meticulously crafted, laid-back ghost story, a kind of inversion of Thorne Smith’s Topper, not quite so absurdist. Whereas, in that ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Lent by Jo Walton

Lent, Jo Walton (Tor 978-0-7653-7906-1, $26.99, 384pp, hc) May 2019.

Jo Walton goes full multiverse in Lent, her fascinating examination of the life, or possible lives, of the Florentine cleric and prophet Girolamo Savonarola. Except for serious history buffs, Savonarola is mostly remembered for his famous Bonfire of the Vanities – which Walton, in an afterword, insists was “more like Burning Man” than a traditional repressive book burning ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Perihelion Summer by Greg Egan

Perihelion Summer, Greg Egan (Tor.com Pub­lishing 978-1-250-31378-2, $10.39, 215pp, tp) April 2019.

Once again the imagination of disaster is upon us, haunting our dreams and filling our entertainments with scary scenarios. What is disaster that we should be mindful of it in an entertainment? Or, to be precise, what is there in scary, disaster-haunted storytelling that goes beyond the threats and thrills followed by the relief that comes from ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Theater of Spies by S.M. Stirling

Theater of Spies, S.M. Stirling (Ace 978-0-399-58625-5, $16.00, 464pp, tp) May 2019.

Since the 1980s, S.M. Stirling has been writing novels that revel in the minutiae of technological development, generally with a militaristic bent and frequently with an alternate-history (or alternate-present) setting. This attention to technological minutiae accom­panies an interest in cultures and societies, and the ways in which those cultures approach military conflict. Theater of Spies, a ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews New Suns, Edited by Nisi Shawl

New Suns, Nisi Shawl, ed. (Solaris 978-1-78108-578-3, $15.99, 279pp, tp) March 2019.

New Suns is subtitled “Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color”. I hope it’s not news to anyone that there are a lot of people of color who write spectacular speculative fiction. This book includes writers of Hispanic heritage, those from all over Asia, those of Native American heritage, and of course African and African-American writers. It ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews Gather the Fortunes by Bryan Camp

Gather the Fortunes, Bryan Camp (John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 978-1-328-87671-3, $24.00, 384pp. hc) May 2019.

Last year, I reviewed Bryan Camp’s first novel (and the first of his Crescent City novels), The City of Lost Fortunes. Even though I found that novel flawed, I still looked forward to the next one in the series. Camp had invented an interest­ing alternate New Orleans, and his idea of the ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Rus­sell

Orange World and Other Stories, Karen Rus­sell (Knopf 978-0525656135, $25.95, 288pp, hc) May 2019.

Given my taste for narratives that straddle the literary and the fantastic, it might come as a surprise to know that I’ve never read Karen Russell’s fiction. It’s not that I haven’t been aware of her work; it’s hard to ignore the Pulitzer she was a finalist for in 2012 for her debut novel Swamplandia! ...Read More

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Carolyn F. Cushman Reviews Titanshade by Dan Stout and The Unspeakable Unknown by Eliot Sappingfield

Dan Stout, Titanshade (DAW 978-0-7564-1486-3, $26.00, 403pp, hc) March 2019. Cover by Chris McGrath.

A diplomat is murdered and Carter, an honest homicide cop out of favor, decides to bull his way through the halls of power and privilege to solve the case, getting into lots of trouble along the way, helped by his newbie partner. What makes this mystery so much fun is the off-kilter version of the 1970s ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Intimations of Death by Felix Timmermans

Intimations of Death, Felix Timmermans (Valancourt Books 978-1948405409, $15.99, 152pp, trade paperback) July 2019

The past is a seemingly inexhaustible trove of forgotten wonders. At least so the current literary rediscovery and reprint bonanza would tell us. (With concurrence from the music world, where lost tapes of fabulous concerts resurface regularly.) Formerly rare and unobtainable and legendary volumes such as The Ship That Sailed to Mars and The Temple ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay

A Brightness Long Ago, Guy Gavriel Kay (Berkley 978-0-451-47298-4, $27.00, 448pp, hc) May 2019.

At the risk of oversimplification – well, no, to be honest, with the intent of oversimplification – the fantastic genres have a long and complex relation­ship with historical fiction, but they often tend to use it to provide templates for their own preoc­cupations. Horror seems to love the Middle Ages, with its demons and tortures ...Read More

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Tom Whitmore Reviews The War Within by Stephen R. Donaldson

The War Within, Stephen R. Donaldson (Berkley 978-0-399-58616-3, $28.00, 564pp, hc) April 2019.

Steven R. Donaldson has been putting his characters through hell for decades. The War Within, the second volume of The Great God’s War, does not provide any relief.

This book is set 20 years after the first volume. Prince Bifalt married Princess Estie, and they’ve become the rulers of their respective kingdoms, Belleger and Amika, ...Read More

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