Liz Bourke Reviews Cast in Oblivion by Michelle Sagara

Cast in Oblivion, Michelle Sagara (Mira 978-0-7783-0784-6, $16.99, 538pp, tp) February 2019. Cover by Glenn Mackay & Shane Rebenschied.

Michelle Sagara has a long career behind her under at least two names. Her House War series as Michelle West is ongoing, and she’s been writing the Chronicles of Elantra series as Mi­chelle Sagara for going on 15 years now. Cast in Oblivion comes to us as the 14th novel ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Grand Dark by Richard Kadrey

The Grand Dark by Richard Kadrey (Harper Voyager 978-0-06-267249-0, $26.99, 432pp, hardcover) June 2019

The history, culture, folklore, politics and superstitions of Middle Europe — otherwise Central Europe or, more exotically, Mitteleuropa, countries including Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Switzerland, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, the Republic of Macedonia, and Albania — offer a rich mine of narrative and thematic possibilities. The same goes for the lands ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Ninth Step Station

Ninth Step Station, Season 1, Episodes 1-8 (of 11), Malka Older, Fran Wilde, Jacqueline Koyanagi & Curtis C. Chen; Emily Woo Zeller, narrator (Serial Box, 1.99 per episode/$13.99 per season, digital download, aprox. 1.5 hr. per episode, unabridged) January–March 2019.

A devastating earthquake, followed by war with both North Korea and China, have left Japan in general, and Tokyo in particular, partially controlled by the Chinese as well as partially ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You by Scotto Moore

Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You, Scotto Moore ( Publishing 978-1-250-31489-5, $3.99, eb) February 2019.

Imagine if Ziggy Stardust really did have some Martian Spiders that were very, very hungry – and you would get close to the idea that drives Scotto Moore’s novella Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You. The idea of music as a force for violent behavior isn’t new, of course, but Moore’s voice and ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Waste Tide by Chen Qiufan

Waste Tide, Chen Qiufan (Tor 978-0-7653-8931-2, $26.99, 352pp, hc) April 2019.

In last year’s The Reincarnated Giant: An Anthology of Twenty-First-Century Chi­nese Science Fiction, co-editor Mingwei Song writes in his introduction, “The single most important change in recent years in the English-language translations of Chinese science fiction has been the unrivaled devotion and efforts of Ken Liu.” It’s a generous assessment, but pretty indisputable. Not only is Liu ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone

Empress of Forever, Max Gladstone (Tor 978-0-7653-9581-8, $18.99, 480pp, tp) June 2019. Cover by Tommy Arnold.

Max Gladstone is unfairly talented. Reviewing his Empress of Forever is a bloody intimidating undertaking, because it’s just that damn good. It’s not enough that his Craft Sequence series is a complex, twisty, delightfully playful and deeply thought provoking set of works that take on themes of power, the ten­sion between progress and ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull

The Lesson, Cadwell Turnbull (Blackstone Publishing 978-1538584644, $26.99, 290pp, hc) June 2019.

Cadwell Turnbull’s debut, The Lesson, has been billed as one of the first science fiction novels set in the Virgin Islands. While this is something to cheer about, what’s more important, especially in the context of the #ownvoices movement, is that Turnbull was raised in the Caribbean in a family that lived there for generations. This ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews The Best of Greg Egan by Greg Egan

The Best of Greg Egan, Greg Egan (Subterranean Press 978-1-59606-942-8, $45.00, 731 pp, hc) October 2019. Cover by David Ho.

I first encountered Greg Egan’s work in 1991, with two stories selected by Gardner Dozois for The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Eighth Annual Collection. Gardner continued to pick up Egan stories with some regularity, and then came the early novels (Quarantine, Permutation City, Distress), ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Luna: Moon Rising by Ian McDonald

Luna: Moon Rising, Ian McDonald (Tor 978-0765391476, $29.99, 448pp, hc) March 2019.

If Ian McDonald’s Luna sequence is a trilogy (or, as I see it, a single triple-decker novel), then Luna: Moon Rising is the final volume, since it completes the large-cast, multi-threaded, braided story arc that began with Luna: New Moon (2015) and continued in Luna: Wolf Moon (2017). On the other hand, this capacious, busy, fictional story ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Recursion by Blake Crouch

Recursion by Blake Crouch (Crown 978-1-5247-5978-0, $27, 336pp, hardcover) June 2019

It’s easy to recognize a certain kind of technothriller bestseller, even one that’s skillfully done. The characters are not necessarily flat, but, for easy readerly absorption, they spring from readily identifiable societal niches: cop, businessman, housewife, general, terrorist. The language is pared down and highly cinematic, with lots of scenes plainly intended for the big screen. Not much introspection ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

The Gilded Wolves, Roshani Chokshi (Wednes­day Books 978-1-250-14454-6, $18.99, 388pp, tp) January 2019.

In this glittering journey through a fantastical late 19th-century Paris, author Roshani Chokshi gifts readers with adventure wrapped in mystery wrapped in (unorthodox) family drama that in­corporates aspects of crime thrillers, caper flicks, and a fair bit of James Bond-esque espionage. The descriptions of the 1889 Paris Exposition are exquisite, and the history that Chokshi weaves ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Kingdom of Copper Audiobook by S.A. Chakraborty

The Kingdom of Copper, S.A. Chakraborty; Soneela Nankani, narra­tor (HarperAudio 978-1-98260844-6, $65.99, MP3 CD, 23.25 hr., unabridged [also available as a digital download]) January 2019.

This second in a series picks up five years after The City of Brass, in which Nahri, an orphan from Napoleonic-era Cairo with a magical gift for healing, discovered her true heritage as a Daeva (a tribe of djinn who refuse that name) ...Read More

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Ian Mond and Adrienne Martini Review Golden State by Ben H. Winters

Golden State, Ben H. Winters (Mulholland Books 978-0-31650-541-3, $28.00, 336pp, hc) January 2019.

Ben H. Winters’s new novel the Golden State begins with a lovely bit of cognitive dissonance:

This is a novel. All the words of it are true.

Not only does this pronouncement wrong-foot the reader, echoing Orwell’s clocks striking 13 on a cold April day, but it also establishes a tension between fact and fiction that ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan

The Gutter Prayer, Gareth Hanrahan (Orbit 978-0-316-52531-2, $15.99, 560pp, hc) January 2019.

From the first pages of The Gutter Prayer, it’s obvious that Gareth Hanrahan has a background in writing game books. Read­ing it feels like sitting at a table with an especially long-winded dungeon master who is telling his players everything he possibly can about the world they’re moving through, whether it’s interesting or not. After the ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Broken Stars, Edited by Ken Liu

Broken Stars: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation, Ken Liu, ed. (Tor 978-1250297662, $27.99, 480pp, hc) February 2019.

One aspect of Waste Tide that may come as a slight surprise to readers whose familiarity with Chinese SF is limited to Liu Cixin’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy, with its epic galactic scope and somewhat Clarkean ideas, is the degree to which the novel is grounded in gritty near-future realism, ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews For the Killing of Kings by Howard Andrew Jones

For the Killing of Kings, Howard Andrew Jones (St. Martin’s Press, 978-1250006813, $26.99, 368pp, hc) February 2019.

For the Killing of Kings, the opening volume of a new fantasy trilogy by Howard Andrew Jones, is exciting, absorbing, and a great deal of fun, and it ends on a cliffhanger, which is, perhaps, to be expected. It’s fairly traditional fantasy in form and action, with a small band of heroes ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews And Other Stories Audiobook by Adam-Troy Castro

And Other Stories, Adam-Troy Castro; Stefan Rudnicki, Gabrielle de Cuir, Justine Eyre, Kathe Mazur & Adam-Troy Castro, narrators (Skyboat Media 978-1-98262931-1, $29.95, MP3 CD, 13.3 hr., un­abridged [also available as a digital download]) January 2019.

Oh, how I love audio-only (and audio-first) books! It gives my life meaning as an audiobook reviewer. Produced by the excellent Skyboat Media, who were also respon­sible for Jennifer Marie Brissett’s Elysium a few ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Prisoner of Midnight by Barbara Hambly

Prisoner of Midnight, Barbara Hambly (Severn House 978-0-7278-8860-0, £21.95, 256pp, hc) January 2019.

Barbara Hambly has been writing excellent novels for over 30 years. Alas, in the last decade her new work has been rather less than widely available. Severn House Press, an outfit that specialises in hardcover crime and mystery novels, publishes both her Benjamin January novels and her James Asher vampire series, but hasn’t made them avail­able ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

We Cast a Shadow, Maurice Carlos Ruffin (One World 978-0-52550-906-6, $27.00, 336pp, hc) January 2019.

The opening chapter of Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s debut novel, We Cast a Shadow, left me gobsmacked. Our narrator – he tells us his name doesn’t matter – is an associate at a high-priced law firm. At the annual party, he dresses as a Zulu Chief and dances for the man­aging shareholders, “flapping his ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton

Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful, Arwen Elys Dayton (Delacorte 978-0-525-58095-9, $18.99, 384pp, hc) December 2018. Cover by Ray Shappell.

If you have a younger teen that you are trying to lure into the SF/F genre, Arwen Elys Dayton’s Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful might be a great gateway read. Dayton’s story extrapolates the technology of human genetic modifica­tion from the possible-in-the-near-future to the interesting-but-unlikely-dozens-of-years-from-now. The book is comprised of ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Books by David F. Shultz, Cynthia Ward, and Peter Watts

Strange Economics, David F. Shultz, ed. (TdotSpec) August 2018. The Adventure of the Dux Bellorum, Cynthia Ward (Aqueduct) September 2018. The Freeze-Frame Revolution, Peter Watts (Tachyon) June 2018.

Strange Economics is an anthology devoted to stories examining economics from highly speculative viewpoints, both science fictional and fantastical, and is quite successful at that. The stories are mostly fairly short and uneven, but I quite liked the ideas ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Vita Nostra Audiobook by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko

Vita Nostra, Marina & Sergey Dyachenko; Jessica Ball, narrator (HarperAudio/Blackstone Audio 978-1-98255504-7, $39.99, MP3 CD, 18.25 hr., unabridged [also available as a digital download]). November 2018.

Lev Grossman’s The Magicians meets Max Barry’s Lexicon in this spooky Russian con­temporary fantasy about a mysterious university in a remote town. High-school student Sasha is enjoying a beach vacation with her mother when a sinister-seeming man convinces her that if she doesn’t ...Read More

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Karen Haber Reviews Art Books

Beyond Science Fiction: The Alternative Real­ism of Michael Whelan, Michael Whelan (Baby Tattoo 978-1-61404-018-7, $25.00, unpaginated, tp) July 2018. Cover by Michael Whelan.

“Here I Am”, Shaun Tan (I Feel Machine, Krent Able & Julian Hanshaw, eds., SelfMadeHero London 978-1-910593-55-4, $22.99, 128pp, tp) September 2018.

The Last Unicorn: The Lost Journey, Peter S. Beagle (Tachyon 978-1-61696-308-8, $19.95, 166pp, tp) November 2018. Cover by Thorsten Erdt.

In ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea by Sarah Pinsker

Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea, Sarah Pinsker (Small Beer 978-1-6187-3155-5, $17.00, 292pp, tp) March 2019.

There are a lot of things to like about Sarah Pinsker’s first collection, Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea, and not the least is a tactful sense of restraint. I don’t mean restraint in telling her tales – Pinsker is willing to try a lot, including a story ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Million Mile Road Trip by Rudy Rucker

Million Mile Road Trip by Rudy Rucker (Night Shade Books 978-1-59780-992-4, $24.99, 504pp, hardcover) May 2019.

It’s been a highly productive year or so for Rudy Rucker. In August of 2018 he self-published the excellent Return to the Hollow Earth (review here). Now, only nine months later, from his new publisher Night Shade, comes Million Mile Road Trip, along with reissues of nine of his classics. Who says life ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Women’s War by Jenna Glass

The Women’s War, Jenna Glass (Del Rey 978-198-481720-4, $28.00, 560pp, hc) March 2019.

I wish I felt that The Women’s War was doing more interesting work. According to Jenna Glass’s bio, she’s published more than 20 books under a variety of different names. The pseudonym is sufficiently open to identify at least one of those names: Jenna Black, author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance. I’ve never read any ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Final Exam by Carol J. Perry and Marked by S. Andrew Swann

Carol J. Perry, Final Exam (Kensington 978-1-4967-1460-2, $7.99, 358pp, pb) March 2019.

A high school reunion goes wrong in this seventh mystery in the Witch City series set in Salem MA. Lee Barrett’s settling into her job as a TV news reporter, and she’s got a little extra time to help her Aunt Ibby prepare for her 45th high school reunion. But then a vintage car is discovered underwater in ...Read More

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Karen Haber Reviews A Middle-earth Traveler by John Howe

A Middle-earth Traveler: Sketches from Bag End to Mordor, John Howe (HMH 978-1-328-55751-3, $28.00, 193pp, hc) October 2018. Cover by John Howe.

Just when you thought another high quality tie-in book to the Tolkien Universe wasn’t possible, A Middle-earth Traveler shows up. This attractive volume, with wrap-around cover art, offers glossy paper stock, sewn-in binding, and first-rate image reproduction of the well-featured art, especially the linework. This is ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The True Queen by Zen Cho

The True Queen, Zen Cho (Ace 978-0-425-28341-7, $15.00, 384pp, tp) March 2019.

If G. Willow Wilson offers some insightful contrasts be­tween Islamic and Christian legend, Zen Cho, in her follow-up novel to Sorcerer to the Crown, does something a bit similar with Malaysian vs. English views of magic and faerie. In The True Queen, we learn that the command central of the spirit realm is called the ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Ninth Step Station by Malka Older, Curtis C. Chen, Jacqueline Koyanagi, & Fran Wilde

Ninth Step Station, Malka Older, Curtis C. Chen, Jacqueline Koyanagi, & Fran Wilde (Serial Box 978-1-68210-589-4 $13.99, 324pp eb) March 2019. Cover by Christine Barcellona.

Ninth Step Station is one of two new science fiction serial offerings from publisher Serial Box this year. (The other is The Vela, starting in March.) Cre­ated by Malka Older and written by Older, Fran Wilde, Curtis C. Chen, & Jacqueline Koyanagi, Ninth ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Famous Men Who Never Lived by K Chess

Famous Men Who Never Lived, K Chess (Tin House Books 978-1947793248, $24.95, 324pp, hc) March 2019.

Over the last couple of years, there’s been a wave of debut authors from outside the field putting a fresh twist on genre staples. In An Unkindness of Ghosts, Rivers Solomon explored slavery, race, and gender on a generation starship; Ling Ma’s Severance employed an apocalyptic killer-flu to critique and satirise late-stage ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Tesla Legacy by K.K. Pérez

The Tesla Legacy, K.K. Pérez (Tor Teen 978-1-250-08489-7, $17.99, 368pp, tp) March 2019.

K.K. Pérez’s The Tesla Legacy presents a familiar but always compelling premise: what if you are not the person you think you are? In this case, high school senior Lucy thinks she knows herself very well. She’s a former homeschooler now happily ensconced in public school, living just outside New York City, where she pursues an ...Read More

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