Amy Goldschlager Reviews Three Audiobooks by P. Djèlí Clark

A Dead Djinn in Cairo, P. Djèlí Clark; Sue­hyla El-Attar, narrator (Macmillan Audio 978-1-25062446-8, $1.99, digital download, 1.75 hr., unabridged) August 2019. The Haunting of Tram 015, P. Djèlí Clark; Julian Thomas, narrator (Recorded Books 978-1-9800-3186-4, $13.99, digital download, 3.25 hr., unabridged) February 2019. The Black God’s Drums, P. Djèlí Clark; Chan­nie Waites, narrator (Recorded Books 978-1-9800-3186-4, $13.99, digital download, 3 hr., unabridged) March 2019.

I first encountered ...Read More

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Alvaro Zinos-Amaro Reviews The Time Machine Hypothesis by Damien Broderick

The Time Machine Hypothesis: Extreme Science Meets Science Fiction, Damien Broderick (Springer 978-3030161774, $27.99, 244pp, pb) July 2019.

J. Richard Gott III’s epigraph in Damien Brod­erick’s engaging survey may contain a mission statement of sorts: “To appreciate what scientists are studying now, an excellent first step is to explore major time-travel themes in science fiction, where many ideas in this arena were first advanced.” Brod­erick undertakes this exploration with ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry

The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep, H.G. Parry (Redhook/Orbit 978-0-316-45271-7 $26, 464pp. hc) July 2019.

The idea of a reader being able to bring fictional characters to life is hardly a new one – Jasper Fforde, Jim C. Hines’s Magic Ex Libris series, Genevieve Cogman’s The Invisible Library, and, for younger read­ers, the Inkworld series by Cornelia Funke come readily to mind – but H.G. Parry’s twist in ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Best of Uncanny, Edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas

The Best of Uncanny, edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas (Subterranean 978-1596069183, $40, 680pp, hardcover) December 2019

In this challenging, ever-mutable internet era, when publishers are continually searching for ways to find an audience and stay alive, a magazine can take many forms. Some remain old-school print-only. Some are exclusively web-based. Others are hybrids on a regular basis. But one other interesting business model for zines ...Read More

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Rich Horton, Liz Bourke, and Amy Goldschlager Review Desdemona and the Deep by C.S.E. Cooney

Desdemona and the Deep, C.S.E. Cooney (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-250-22983-0, $14.99, 222pp, tp) July 2019. Cover by Kathleen Jen­nings.

I’ve been looking forward to C.S.E. Cooney‘s Desdemona and the Deep for quite a while, and having arrived, it doesn’t disappoint. This is the third of her Breakers novellas (though it stands completely alone), centered around a set of houses called Breakers in three different worlds: the hu­man world, the ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Last Bus to Everland by Sophie Cameron

Last Bus to Everland, Sophie Cameron (Mac­millan Children’s Books 978-1-509-85318-2, £9.99, 288pp, tp) May 2019. (Roaring Brook Press 978-1-250-14993-0, $17.99, 327pp, hc) June 2019.

After last year’s thoughtful Out of the Blue, author Sophie Cameron returns again to her native Scotland with Last Bus to Everland. In this “magical doorway” fantasy (that title was chosen for a reason), teenager Brody Fair finds the place he has al­ways ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Stealing Worlds by Karl Schroeder

Stealing Worlds, Karl Schroeder (Tor 978-0-7653-9998-4, $29.95, hc) June 2019. Cover by Stephane Martinière.

Thanks to its depiction of a tech-based, street-smart, stick-it-to-the-man coun­terculture, Karl Schroeder’s Stealing Worlds will inevitably be compared to classic cyberpunk, but the vibe is quite distinct and not nearly as noirish. The setting is a just-over-the-horizon heterotopian future that nevertheless had me thinking of the much more exotic and farther-out worlds of Schroeder’s earlier ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews The Municipalists by Seth Fried

The Municipalists, Seth Fried (Penguin 975-0-14-313373-5, $16.00, 268pp, tp) March 2019. Cover design by Lucia Bernard.

Imagine Metropolis, the fictional comic book-based city that feels loosely based on Manhattan. Now imagine, instead of Super­man flying around and saving the day, the hero is a city planner, one who only feels satisfaction when the sewer system’s efficiency is improved by 4.73 percent, which is .03 percent above requirements. In Seth ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Broken Places & Outer Spaces by Nnedi Okorafor

Broken Places & Outer Spaces: Finding Creativity in the Unexpected, Nnedi Okorafor (Simon & Schuster 978-1-5011-9547-2, $16.99, 96pp, hc) June 2019.

Nnedi Okorafor’s surprisingly and sometimes achingly personal account of her battle with sco­liosis and post-surgical paralysis, Broken Places & Outer Spaces, isn’t exactly a literary memoir, but one anecdote strikes me as ironically emblematic of her unique relationship with SF: when she was hospitalized, she was ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Spellswept and Snowspelled Audiobooks by Stephanie Burgis

Spellswept and Snowspelled, Stephanie Burgis; Emma Newman, narrator (Tantor Audio 978-1-40012121-2, $19.99, digital download, 7.25 hr., unabridged) May 2019.

I have a great fondness for those stories where the romance and the fantasy genres kiss and com­mingle. Snowspelled, book one of the Harwood Spellbook, and its prequel novella, Spellswept, definitely hit that sweet spot for me.

This previously self-published series is set in an alternate world ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews The Last Supper Before Ragnarok by Cassandra Khaw

The Last Supper Before Ragnarok, Cassandra Khaw (Abaddon Books 978-1-78108-645-2, $11.99, 352pp, pb) June 2019.

What an odd book Cassandra Khaw has written. It’s extraordinarily immediate, inherently diverse, jammed with whip-fast wisecracks, and peppered with language so precise and sophisticated it awes. But the book is also chaotic, unevenly character­ized, and weakly plotted. The difficulty comes in judging the book as a whole, because its ele­ments divide so steeply ...Read More

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Rich Horton and Gary K. Wolfe Review Anthologies Edited by Jonathan Strahan

Mission Critical, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (So­laris 978-1781085806) July 2019.

Jonathan Strahan’s new anthology is Mission Critical. The theme is characters responding to desperate situations, when something goes pear-shaped. Oddly, many of the stories, all well executed, seem a bit too much the same in adher­ing to the theme. The best are “Hanging Gar­dens” by Gregory Feeley, and “Cyclopterus” by Peter Watts. Feeley’s ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Four Tor.com Audiobooks

As Good as New, Charlie Jane Anders; Frankie Corzo, narrator (Macmillan Audio 978-1-25062443-7, $1.99, digital download, 0.75 hr., unabridged) August 2019. The President’s Brain Is Missing, John Scalzi; P.J. Ochlan, narrator (Macmillan Audio 978-1-25062438-3, $1.99, digital download, 0.75 hr., unabridged) August 2019. This World Is Full of Monsters, Jeff Vander­Meer; Vikas Adam, narrator (Macmillan Audio 978-1-25062445-1, $1.99, digital download, 1.5 hr., unabridged) August 2019. Warm Up, ...Read More

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John Langan Reviews Wounds by Nathan Ballingrud

Wounds, Nathan Ballingrud (Saga Press 978-1-534-44992-3, $26.99, 288pp, hc) April 2019.

Wounds, Nathan Ballingrud’s stellar sophomore collection, is bracketed by a pair of stories concerning Hell. In “The Atlas of Hell”, an antiquarian bookseller is sent by a local gangster deep into the Louisi­ana bayou to retrieve the titular object; while in “The Butcher’s Table”, a group of 18th-century diabolists undertake the perilous sea voyage to the near ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Vultures by Chuck Wendig

Vultures, Chuck Wendig (Saga 978-1481448772, $27.99, 416pp, hc) January 2019.

Chuck Wendig’s Vultures is the sixth and fi­nal book in his Miriam Black series. If you’re already familiar with this “take-no-shit, give-no-fucks kinda lady,” as she describes herself, you know if her foul mouth and pitch-black sass are your jam. Wendig sticks the landing on the series – and, possibly, sets up a tangential new series, should he so ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Ivory Apples by Lisa Goldstein

Ivory Apples, Lisa Goldstein (Tachyon 978-1-61696-298-2, $15.95, 276pp, tp) September 2019.

In a career now well into its fourth decade, Lisa Goldstein has made something of a habit of confounding expectations: she made a stun­ning debut with her Holocaust fantasy The Red Magician, veered off into student revolutions and Surrealism in The Dream Years, dabbled with dystopia in A Mask for the General and her own brand ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

To Be Taught, If Fortunate, Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton 978-1-473697164, £12.99, 140pp, hc) August 2019. (HarperVoyager 978-0-062-93601-1, $12.99, 176pp, tp) September 2019.

I wish I had enjoyed Becky Chambers’s To Be Taught, If Fortunate nearly as much. Where Chambers’s previous works (The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet, A Closed and Common Orbit, and Record of a Spaceborn Few) took place in her ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

The Memory Police, Yoko Ogawa (Pantheon 978-1-101-87060-0, $25.95, 288pp, hc) August 2019.

The Memory Police is, by my count, the fifth book by Yoko Ogawa to be translated into English (all by Stephen Snyder). These include The Div­ing Pool: Three Novellas, which was shortlisted for a Shirley Jackson Award back in 2008. While it’s only a small slice of a career that spans three decades and the publication ...Read More

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Tom Whitmore Reviews Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden

Escaping Exodus, Nicky Drayden (Harper Voy­ager 978-0-06-286773-5, $15.99, 300pp, tp) Oc­tober 2019.

On a generation ship, two young people from different classes meet and fall in love. One rises, one falls, and their complex and forbidden rela­tionship causes a major rupture in the society. This is a classic SF trope: Drayden takes it to new places.

In Escaping Exodus, people use a pod of space whales as generation ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Echoes: The Saga Anthology of Ghost Stories, Edited by Ellen Datlow

Echoes: The Saga Anthology of Ghost Stories, Ellen Datlow, ed. (Saga 978-1-53441-346-7, $32.99, 816pp, hc) August 2019.

Ellen Datlow has delved into ghost story-themed anthologies twice before: the all-original The Dark: New Ghost Stories in 2003 and Hauntings, a reprint compilation, in 2013. This massive (over 200,000 words in 816 pages, 30 stories) tome is one of the best works yet by Datlow – and, considering her stellar ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker

A Song for a New Day, Sarah Pinsker (Berkley 978-1984802583, $16.00, 336pp, tp) September 2019

Readers of Sarah Pinsker’s Nebula Award-winning novelette “Our Lady of the Open Road” (included in her collection Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea, reviewed here in March) might be as curious as I was to learn more about the gritty near-future America of that story, and in particular of the plight ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The New Voices in Science Fiction Edited by Hannu Rajaniemi & Jacob Weisman

The New Voices of Science Fiction, edited by Hannu Rajaniemi & Jacob Weisman (Tachyon 978-1-61696-291-3, 432pp, $17.95) November 2019

In the deep past of our genre, how did one become a notable new writer? The first step back then was always the same as it is now: publish some good, standout stories as your apprentice and journeyman work. But subsequent public recognition in the days when print magazines dominated ...Read More

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Stefan Dziemianowicz Reviews Growing Things by Paul Tremblay

Growing Things, Paul Tremblay (Morrow 978-0-06-267913-0, $25.99, 352pp, hc) July 2019.

Growing Things is Paul Tremblay’s latest short fiction collection, after Compositions for the Young and Old and In the Meantime, some of whose contents it shares. It’s also his first book after a trio of novels – A Head Full of Ghosts, Disappear­ance at Devil’s Rock, and The Cabin at the End of the World ...Read More

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Tim Pratt Reviews Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

Wanderers, Chuck Wendig (Del Rey 978-0399182105, $28.99, 800pp, hc) July 2019.

My prior knowledge of Chuck Wendig came mostly from his blog and his amusingly profane social media pres­ence – Wanderers is the first novel of his I’ve read. It won’t be the last.

The premise is pure narrative candy: people in rural Pennsylvania begin to sleepwalk, heading west. At first there’s just one walker, but she’s soon joined ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The House of Sundering Flames by Aliette de Bodard

The House of Sundering Flames, Aliette de Bodard (Gollancz 978-1-473-22340-0, £16.99, 550pp, tp) July 2019.

Also on the list of books I can’t recommend highly enough: Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Sundering Flames, the latest – and for now final – novel-length instalment in the series that began with The House of Shattered Wings and continued in The House of Binding Thorns. It’s worth reading the ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-Goff

Last Ones Left Alive, Sarah Davis-Goff (Tinder Press 978-1-472-25520-4, £12.99, 288pp, hc) March 2019. (Flatiron Books 978-1-250-23522-0, $26.99, 288pp, hc) August 2019.

If you were to ask me what was the one horror trope I found tiresome and repetitive, where a millennia-long moratorium on any future work wouldn’t go astray, it would be the zombie apoca­lypse. As far as I’m concerned what needed to be said about zombies was ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Reading Backwards by John Crowley

Reading Backwards: Essays & Reviews, 2005-2018, John Crowley (Subterranean 978-1-59606-946-6, $40.00, 456pp, hc), November 2019.

Despite his protestations in an essay titled ‘‘On Not Being Well-Read’’, one of 39 essays and reviews collected in Reading Backwards, John Crowley is among the most eclectic and intriguing literary voices around, and no one sitting around in a bar with him would want to get into a contest over who’s more ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harrow (Redhook 978-0-316-42199-7, $27.00, 384pp, hc) September 2019.

The idea of locking out historical change in order to preserve a particular version of male hegemony is an important theme in Alix E. Harrow’s remarkable first novel, The Ten Thousand Doors of January, but for me to explain further might compromise some of the readerly pleasures of unfolding Harrow’s multilayered, origami-like ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher

Minor Mage, T. Kingfisher (Argyll Productions 978-1-614-50500-6, $12.95, 174pp, tp) July 2019.

Despite the missing mother and the adolescent mage in potentially fatal situations, Minor Mage is a book for kids – and for adults who enjoy the rich, whimsy-adjacent stories by Ursula Vernon, the writer behind the T. Kingfisher pen name.

Oliver is a nearly teenage mage who is the only source of magic his village has. While ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson

The Saturday Night Ghost Club, Craig Davidson (Knopf Canada 978-0-735-27482-2, C$27.00, 272pp, hc) August 2018. (Penguin 978-0-14-313393-3, $16.00, 206pp, tp) July 2019.

The Saturday Night Ghost Club is only the slightest wisp of a ghost story. It is far more a memory of childhood, a winsome look back by a narrator who now works in a dif­ficult profession (as a surgeon) and is remembering the most significant summer of ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews World Engines: Destroyer by Stephen Baxter

World Engines: Destroyer, Stephen Baxter (UK: Gollancz 978-1473223172, £20, 576pp, hardcover) September 2019

As nearly as I can suss out, Stephen Baxter currently has no publisher in the USA. His last three books in his classic Xeelee series—Xeelee Endurance (2015), Xeelee Vengeance (2017) and Xeelee Redemption (2018)—appeared from Gollancz in the UK, but not here. And this newest one has no American edition either.

Now, thanks to the ...Read More

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Liz Bourke and Amy Goldschlager Review This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

This Is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone (Saga 978-1-5344-3100-3, $19.99, 200pp, hc) July 2019.

A novel – or rather a novella – that does find me part of its enthusiastic readership is Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone’s first tra­ditionally published collaboration, This Is How You Lose the Time War. Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit. This is the time-travelling queer epistolary romance ...Read More

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