Alex Brown Reviews The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe, ed.

The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer, Janelle Monáe, ed. (Harp­erVoyager 978-0-06307-087-5, $28.99, 336pp, hc) April 2022.

Celebrity writing projects can be an iffy prospect. Writing is a particular craft, one that doesn’t necessarily translate from act­ing or songwriting, and the results can sometimes feel less like an act of creativity and more like a vanity project. That is absolutely not the case with Janelle Monáe’s The ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories by Yu Chen & Regina Kanyu Wang, eds

The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories, Yu Chen & Regina Kanyu Wang, eds. (Tordotcom 978-1-25076-891-9, $26.99, 400pp, hc) March 2022.

By now, many of us are already prepar­ing for the 81st World Science Fiction Convention next year in China. So it’s the perfect time for an anthology like The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories to hit shelves and tide us over until 2023.

Though Chinese publishers have ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Base Notes by Lara Elena Donnelly

Base Notes, Lara Elena Donnelly (Thomas & Mercer 978-1-542-03070-0, $15.95, tp, 408pp) January 2022.

Lara Elena Donnelly’s Base Notes appears ini­tially (if you ignore the dead body in the brief introduction) to be about perfumer Vic Fowler’s unique ability to capture memories in scent. Vic is struggling to keep her small perfume company afloat in a hostile financial environment, and a side hustle selling these special perfumes to high ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill

When Women Were Dragons, Kelly Barnhill (Doubleday 978-0385548229, $28.00, 352pp, hc) May 2022.

I suppose there are plenty of human-dragon metamorphoses in fantasy novels, but they aren’t what immediately came to mind when reading Kelly Barnhill’s first adult novel When Women Were Dragons – in which 642,987 American women suddenly transform into dragons on a single day in 1955. Instead, I was reminded of Ionesco’s 1959 play Rhinoceros, ...Read More

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Alex Brown Reviews Fire Becomes Her by Rosiee Thor

Fire Becomes Her, Rosiee Thor (Scholastic 978-1-33867-911-3, $18.99, 368pp, hc) Febru­ary 2022.

In Rosiee Thor’s Fire Becomes Her, Candesce, a nation similar to the United States in the 1920s, is on the cusp of an historic presidential election. Gwendolyn Brooks, a former entertainer, is chal­lenging Senator Holt, an excessively wealthy man everyone believes is a shoe-in. When she was a child, Ingrid Ellis’s father was thrown in jail ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews The Paradox Hotel by Rob Hart

The Paradox Hotel, Rob Hart (Ballantine 978-1-98482-064-8, 324pp, $28, hc) February 2022.

Rob Hart’s The Paradox Hotel sums its own energy up with one line of dialog: ‘‘We’re at DEFCON Level Holy Shit.’’ Hart not only starts in media res, he puts us on the rollercoaster that is the Paradox Hotel just as it is tipping down the first big hill. The pace never really lets up until the ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Sea of Tranquility, Emily St. John Mandel (Knopf 978-0-59332-144-7, $25.00, 272pp, hc) April 2022.

There is this wink-to-the-audience moment about halfway through Sea of Tranquility where Olive Llewellyn, bestselling author of Marienbad, is asked what it’s like to have written such a successful book.

Oh. It’s surreal, actually. I wrote three books that no one noticed, no distribution beyond the moon colonies… when I published Marienbad, I ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Temperature of Me and You by Brian Zepka

The Temperature of Me and You, Brian Zepka (Disney-Hyperion 978-1-36806-471-2, $17.99, hc, 416 pp) January 2022.

Author Brian Zepka set out to blend a sweet romance with high school drama and a major science fiction twist in The Temperature of Me and You, a novel involving the teen victim of a lab accident/experiment that has left him literally burning from the inside out. I’ll be honest; I’m a ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Masters of Science Fiction: Robert Sheckley by Robert Sheckley

Masters of Science Fiction: Robert Sheckley, Robert Sheckley (Centipede Press 978-1-61347-311-5, hardcover, 728pp, $65 February 2022.

There have been four previous volumes in Centipede Press’s gorgeous series Masters of Science Fiction. (Lordy, how splendidly assembled and adorned these books are!) The dedicatees are: James Patrick Kelly, Fritz Leiber, Richard Wilson, and Kate Wilhelm. I endorse these selections wholeheartedly. (I even did the introduction to the Wilson volume.) True ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Light Years from Home by Mike Chen

Light Years from Home, Mike Chen (MIRA 978-0-7783-1173-7, $28.00, 353 pp, hc) Janu­ary 2022.

The American painter, Conrad Marca-Relli, was known best for his abstract depictions of the body. He often relied on cut paper forms to build his work, famously stating, ‘‘You get a linear quality from collage that is more rapid than the swiftest drawn line.’’

While Mike Chen’s newest novel, Light Years from Home, is ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

The Atlas Six, Olivie Blake (Self-published 978-1-679-91099-9, 383pp, tp) January 2020. (Tor 978-1-25085-451-3, 536pp, $25.99, hc) March 2022.

I am late to the Olivie Blake (AKA Alexene Farol Follmuth) party because I can’t com­mit to TikTok, which is where The Atlas Six first caught the imaginations of thousands of readers. This Tor edition is an expanded and revised edit of the version of the book that made the rounds ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Under Fortunate Stars by Ren Hutchings

Under Fortunate Stars, Ren Hutchings (Rebel­lion/Solaris 978-1-78618-592-1, $24.99, 480pp, hc) May 2022

It takes less than ten pages to understand the deep love Ren Hutchings has for space operas. Classic ones, modern ones. Movies, series, adaptations. From Firefly to The Forever War, the homages run deep in Under Fortunate Stars. But this is no cookie-cutter hack or half-baked collage. Under Fortunate Stars manages to tease out the ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Jawbone by Mónica Ojeda

Jawbone, Mónica Ojeda (Coffee House Press 978-1-56689-621-4, $16.95, 272pp, tp) Febru­ary 2022.

On occasion, I’ve been known to make bold pro­nouncements in this column. Back in January, I crowned John Darnielle’s Devil House as one of the best books of the year, having read less than a handful of novels published in 2022. Three months later and I stand by that proclamation. Having just finished Mónica Ojeda’s Jawbone, ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller

The Bone Orchard, Sara A. Mueller (Tor 987-1-250-77694-5, $26.99, 432pp, hc) March 2022.

The Bone Orchard is Sara A. Mueller’s debut novel. Aesthetically, it has more than a touch of the gothic; thematically, its arguments about autonomy and identity, personhood and empire, remind me strikingly of Arkady Martine’s science fiction, Max Gladstone’s Craft books, and A.K. Larkwood’s debut The Unspoken Name. Bones and traps and secrets, oh ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Flint and Mirror by John Crowley

Flint and Mirror, John Crowley (Tor 978-1250817525, hardcover, 256pp, $26.99) April 2022.

Shortly after the 2017 publication of John Crowley’s masterful novel, Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr, Crowley was heard to opine that the book might be his last piece of long fiction, some fifty years of hard work and exquisite dreaming having taken their natural toll and led to a point of closure and ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Battle of the Linguist Mages by Scotto Moore

Battle of the Linguist Mages, Scotto Moore (Tordotcom 978-1-250-76772-1, 448pp, $28.99, hc) January 2022.

Scotto Moore’s debut story Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You was a weird trip into the wild world of streaming music and touring bands. It was a strange delight – and at about 128 pages, it was just enough too muchness to be fun. Battle of the Linguist Mages is very much a Moore creation ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Aspects by John M. Ford

Aspects, John M. Ford (Tor 978-1250269034, hardcover, 496pp, $26.99) April 2022.

I discovered something unique in all my years of reading, upon encountering John M. Ford’s posthumously published novel: it is possible to be both elated and melancholy at the same time. I am elated because what we have here—in nearly five hundred pages of polished text—is a shining, brilliant example of fantasy writing, nothing but pure pleasure and ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Quantum of Nightmares by Charles Stross

Quantum of Nightmares, Charles Stross (Tor­dotcom 978-1-25083-937-4, $27.99, 368 pp, hc) January 2022.

Charles Stross’s Quantum of Nightmares is the 11th of the Laundry Files books, a series whose trademark is the blending of tropes, motifs, and narrative conventions from the supernatural-horror and intrigue/crime/spy-thriller genre families. At the beginning, these struck me as light entertainment, part Lovecraftian-gothick, part secret-agent adven­ture, with a generous dollop of political-social satire, all delivered ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom – Volume Two: 1940 by David Ritter & Daniel Ritter

The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom – Volume Two: 1940, David Ritter & Daniel Rit­ter (First Fandom Experience 978-1-7366596-1-8, $195.00, 484pp, hc) December 2021.

It’s already been a couple of years since David & Daniel Ritter’s The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom, Volume One: The 1930s gave us a sort of tomb-raider’s view of the early days of fan culture, more or less concluding with the first ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Crazy in Poughkeepsie by Daniel Pinkwater

Crazy in Poughkeepsie, Daniel Pinkwater (Tachyon 978-1-61696-374-3, $16.95, 192pp hc) April 2022.

There’s always a degree of satisfaction, maybe bor­dering on smugness, in finding that a favorite quirky writer is also a favorite of other writers you respect. In a career of half a century, Daniel Pinkwater has gained the admiration of writers as diverse as Cory Doctorow, Neil Gaiman, and Charlie Jane Anders – some lucky enough to ...Read More

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Maya C. James Reviews The Broken Tower by Kelly Braffet

The Broken Tower, Kelly Braffet (Mira Books 978-0-77833-179-7, $27.99, 480pp, hc) Cover by Micaela Alcaino.

Content-warning: mentions of self-harm, child abuse.

Kelly Braffet’s The Broken Tower picks up right after the The Unwilling, where Judah the Foundling jumps from the top of a castle tower to save her stepbrother, Gavin. Following her leap of faith, she finds herself in the company of two mysterious men, and her magical ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe reviews The Long Game by K.J. Parker

The Long Game, K.J. Parker (Subterranean 978-1-64524-080-0, $44.88, 108pp, hc) March 2022.

K.J. Parker may not have invented the idea of using an exasperated, put-upon narrator to under­cut the implicit pretensions of a classic fantasy setting, but he’s certainly become its reigning virtuoso. His latest novella, The Long Game, is again set in his alternate late-medieval Europe, with its not-quite-recognizable place names like Idalia or Sabades Amar but ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Freaks by Brett Riley

Freaks, Brett Riley (Imbrifex 9781945501531, $18.99, 283pp, hc) March 2022.

Hey, speculative fiction reader, indulge me on a hunch. Here it is: high school was not… great. Probably not a time you look back on with much fondness. Not one you’d willingly return to for all the money in the world. The awkwardness. The delicately balanced social rules – trying to balance being an individual with fitting in, wanting ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews Road of Bones by Christopher Golden

Road of Bones, Christopher Golden (St. Martin’s Press 978-1-25027-430-3, $27.99, 240pp, hard­cover) January 2022.

Christopher Golden’s Road of Bones packs a mixture of horror and adventure its 240 pages that makes it feel like a 100-page novella. Full of memorable characters and taking place in a truly unique and inhospitable location, the narrative walks a fine line between an all-out horror story about impossible creatures threatening a group of ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Kundo Wakes Up by Saad Z. Hossain

Kundo Wakes Up, Saad Z. Hossain (Tordotcom 978-1-250-82392-2, $15.99, 208pp, tp) March 2022.

Saad Z. Hossain’s Kundo Wakes Up returns us to the uniquely original vision of a future South Asia plagued by environmental disaster, swarm­ing with airborne nanotech, governed by mostly benevolent AIs, and occasionally plagued by rogue djinns, that we first encountered in The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday back in 2019. Even one of his ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews All the Horses of Iceland by Sarah Tolmie

All the Horses of Iceland, Sarah Tolmie (Tor­dotcom 978-1-250-80793-9, $15.99, 112pp, tp) March 2022. Cover by Erin Vest.

The protagonist of Sarah Tolmie’s historical fantasy All the Horses of Iceland, Eyvind of Eyri, is not particularly heroic. The Ice­lander is hardheaded and practical, but since he’s impotent and deaf in one ear, he’s considered to be an old man at 25 years of age. His adventure is geographically ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Dark Ride: The Best Short Fiction of John Kessel by John Kessel

The Dark Ride: The Best Short Fiction of John Kessel, John Kessel (Subterranean 978-1-64524-058-7, $45.00, 584pp, hc) June 2022.

In his insightful introduction to The Dark Ride: The Best Short Fiction of John Kessel, Kim Stanley Robinson grapples with the somewhat thorny question of how Kessel’s stories relate to the genres of the fantastic, and at one point he even invokes allegory, citing Kessel’s own musing about what ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Dark Breakers by C.S.E. Cooney

Dark Breakers, C.S.E. Cooney (Mythic De­lirium 978-1-73264-406-9, $33.95, 292pp, hc) February 2022.

Dark Breakers is the first of two books to be released in 2022 by the wonderful C.S.E. Cooney, who swept me away a couple of years back with her terrific short novel “The Twice Drowned Saint”. (The second book is Saint Death’s Daughter, the first in a trilogy that, based on the cover blurb, looks like ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews Spontaneous Human Combustion by Richard Thomas

Spontaneous Human Combustion, Richard Thomas (Keylight Books 978-1-68442-755-0, $29.99, 250pp, hc) February 2022.

Richard Thomas is a seasoned professional and one of the best short story writers out there. Spon­taneous Human Combustion might be his best yet. As dark as a pool of black ink at midnight on a moonless night, the fourteen stories that make up this collection bring together noir and horror in ways that explore humanity ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller

The Bone Orchard, Sara A. Mueller (Tor 978-1-250-77694-5, $27.00, 432pp, hc) March 2022.

Sara A. Mueller’s debut novel, The Bone Or­chard, is a brilliant, cautionary tale about the dangers of repressing trauma, disguised as a sweeping fantasy about political machinations and magic. Charm, proprietor of Orchard House – the high-class pleasure club of Boren – is also the mistress of the Emperor. It’s a relationship built less on ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Spear by Nicola Griffith

Spear, Nicola Griffith (Tordotcom 978-1-250-81932-1, $19.99, 192pp, hc) April 2022.

In terms of actual scholarship, it’s probably a good thing that historians have largely aban­doned the pejorative “Dark Ages” to describe the early medieval period, since it had become such a broad-brush pop-culture shorthand that it eventually seemed to refer to everything between the fall of Rome and the rise of Amazon. For fantasy writers, on the other hand, ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Agents by Grégoire Courtois

The Agents, Grégoire Courtois (Coach House 978-1-55245-432-9, $17.95, 224pp, tp) January 2022.

The Agents, initially published in France in 2019, is Grégoire Courtois’s second novel to be translated into English (by Rhonda Mullins). I reviewed Courtois’s first book, The Laws of the Skies, several years back: a nihilistic take on Lord of the Flies that sees a psychotic six-year-old slaughter his schoolmates and their chaperones on a ...Read More

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