Colleen Mondor Reviews The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

The Night Tiger, Yangsze Choo (Flatiron Books 978-1-250-17545-8, $26.99, 384pp, hc) February 2019.

Author Yangsze Choo takes readers on an immersive ride into the past with her entertaining mystery-fantasy ad­venture, The Night Tiger. Set in 1931 Malaya, the novel combines one young boy’s quest to fulfill the deathbed wish of a revered elder with a young woman’s attempt to return a souvenir dismembered finger to the lecherous creep ...Read More

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Ian Mond and Gary K. Wolfe Review Anyone by Charles Soule

Anyone, Charles Soule (Harper Perennial 978-0062890634, $21.99, 400pp, hc) December 2019.

I’ve been avidly reading Charle Soule’s work since I ended my decades-long comics book hiatus in 2011. I began with Soule’s run on DC’s Swamp Thing and then, when I migrated to Mar­vel comics, enjoyed his take on Thunderbolts, the Inhumans, and Daredevil. I was particularly fond of his creator-owned series, the wildly inventive and gonzo Letter 44 ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi

Gingerbread, Helen Oyeyemi (Riverhead 978-1-59463-465-9, $27.00, 272pp, hc) March 2019.

Make no mistake: Helen Oyeyemi’s sixth novel is literary fiction, with a profound central metaphor and wander­ing, unfixed storylines. Its language is heady and attention-getting: “Flowers wilt and shed mottled petals, mold blooms greenish-white on chocolate truffles, and Harriet’s gingerbread hunkers down in its tin, no more attractive than the day it ar­rived, but no more repellent either.” But ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Initiate by James L. Cambias

The Initiate, James L. Cambias (Baen 978-1-98212-435-9, $25, 288pp, hardcover) February 2020

Producing four superior novels in six years, starting with A Darkling Sea in 2014 and extending to the current one in 2020, James Cambias seems to have hit his stride, but not his peak. We can only anticipate many more fine books to follow.

Indicative of his desire always to be expanding his range, Cambias’s newest is ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews All Worlds Are Real by Susan Palwick

All Worlds Are Real, Susan Palwick (Fairwood Press 978-1-933846-84-2, $17.99, 320pp, tp) November 2019.

In her introduction to All Worlds are Real, Jo Walton correctly notes that Susan Palwick is “definitely not as well known as a writer this good ought to be at this point in her career.” While one reason for this is that she’s not been especially prolific – four novels and one prior collection ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews A Dream So Dark by L.L. McKinney

A Dream So Dark, L.L. McKinney (Imprint 978-1-250-15392-0, $18.99, 416pp, hc) Sep­tember 2019.

L.L. McKinney picks up the action right where she left off with her new “all hands on deck” sequel to A Blade So Black, A Dream So Dark. After losing one of her closest friends and discovering a major se­cret about her mentor in the closing pages of A Blade So Black, McKinney’s ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Resurgence by C.J. Cherryh

Resurgence, C.J. Cherryh (DAW 978-0-7564-1427-6, $26.00, 340pp, hc) January 2020. Cover by Todd Lockwood.

A quarter-century and 20 volumes into a long-running series, it’s hard to figure the exact audience to address in a review of the newest, Resurgence. When C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner sequence began in 1994, it looked like it might have been the start of a mere trilogy. Over the last 25 years, it has become ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Full Throttle: Stories by Joe Hill

Full Throttle: Stories, Joe Hill (Morrow 978-0-06220-067-9, $27.99, 484pp, hc) October 2019.

Joe Hill’s first collection 20th Century Ghosts – which this reviewer read, reviewed, and then interviewed the author while having no idea he was the son of Stephen King – was full of fresh, genre-bending work. It was a thrill to discover an unknown author with such talent and promise. Of course, Hill went on from there ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu

The Hidden Girl and Other Stories, by Ken Liu (Saga 978-1982134037, $26, 432pp, hardcover) February 2020

Ken Liu is the kind of prodigious talent who makes mere mortals melt in despair at ever matching his accomplishments. He could have been content to remain a software engineer and lawyer, but instead he added to his CV the vocations of editor, translator, and fiction writer. If he had done any of ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe and Ian Mond Review The Deep by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson & Jonathan Snipes

The Deep, Rivers Solomon, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson & Jonathan Snipes (Saga 978-1-534-43986-3, $19.99, 176pp) November 2019.

Rivers Solomon’s The Deep has a pretty colorful and convoluted history, but one that suggests how SF and Afrofuturist conceits are increasingly interacting with the broader culture. The idea of a utopian under­water society built by the water-breathing de­scendants of pregnant slaves thrown overboard from slave ships was first conceived by ...Read More

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Adam Roberts Reviews The Quantum Garden by Derek Künsken

The Quantum Garden, Derek Künsken (Solaris 978-1781085714, $11.99, 300pp, tp) October 2019.

I reviewed Künsken’s debut novel The Quan­tum Magician for Locus and was, I can be honest, unsurprised Solaris elected not to use my summary judgment as a cover-blurb, viz.: “It’s not Proust but it passes the time.” Now here’s the follow-up volume: The Quantum Garden, Quantum Evolution #2. It is more of the same. If you ...Read More

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Russell Letson and Gary K. Wolfe Review Agency by William Gibson

Agency, William Gibson (Berkley 978-1-101-98693-6, $28.99, 416pp, hc) January 2020.

In Agency, William Gibson has produced a sequel to The Peripheral – or as much of a sequel as can be expected of a story space built, not on one alternate history or timeline, but on branching sets of them. Of course, the “multiple alternate histories” enabling device has been around SF for decades, going back as far ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Jakarta by Rodrigo Márquez Tizano

Jakarta, Rodrigo Márquez Tizano (Coffee House Press 978-1566895637, $16.95, 160pp, tp) No­vember 2019.

The fact that Rodrigo Márquez Tizano’s debut, Jakarta, (originally published in 2016 and trans­lated by the always brilliant Thomas Bunstead) does not take place in Indonesia is one of the least puzzling aspects of this hallucinogenic novel. The setting is the city of Atlantika, a crumbling dys­topia, struggling to recover from the Z-Bug, the latest ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Minor Prophets by Jimmy Cajoleas

Minor Prophets, Jimmy Cajoleas (Amulet 978-1-4197-3904-0, $18.99, 368pp, hc) September 2019.

Minor Prophets by Jimmy Cajoleas is presented as a thriller with slight supernatural elements. In the opening pages, teen Lee recounts how he has long suffered from prophetic visions, many of which have come true. One of those visions strikes hard after his mother and stepfather have a loud fight and she roars off in her car, declaring, ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The House of Sundering Flames by Aliette de Bodard

The House of Sundering Flames, Aliette de Bodard (Gollancz 978-1-47322-340-0, £16.99, 560pp, tp) July 2019. (JABberwocky Literary Agency 978-1-625674-61-6, $16.00, 386pp, tp) September 2019.

I’m sure that someone, somewhere, has pointed out a possible relationship between fantasy trilo­gies and the structure of classical sonatas or symphonies, with the final movement recapitu­lating major themes while accelerating the pace and leading toward an aggressively dramatic climax, but Aliette de Bodard’s Dominion ...Read More

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Near Future Speculator: Paul Di Filippo Reviews Unamerica, Rule of Capture, The Warehouse, and Future Tense Fiction

Unamerica, Cody Goodfellow (978-1732124059)

Rule of Capture, Christopher Brown (978-0062859099)

The Warehouse, Rob Hart (978-1-9848-2379-3)

Future Tense Fiction, edited by Kirsten Berg, Torie Bosch, Joey Eschrich, Ed Finn, Andrés Martinez and Juliet Ulman (978-1944700959)

The world is running a fever, and science fiction is the thermometer, if not also the febrifuge. That is, whenever the genre is not busy gallivanting across the galaxy, science fiction can, ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern and To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

The Starless Sea, Erin Morgenstern (Doubleday 978-0-38-55412-13, $28.95, 512pp, hc) Novem­ber 2019.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is more or less the pro­tagonist in The Starless Sea, Erin Morgenstern’s follow-up to her bestselling The Night Circus. The “more or less” caveat is there because Morgenstern takes great glee in subverting expectations for what a story needs to contain in this, um, story. There are characters, each of whom is ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews A Little Hatred by Joe Abercombie

A Little Hatred, Joe Abercombie (Orbit 978-0-316-18716-9, $27.00, 480pp, hc) September 2019.

Toward the end of Joe Abercombie’s A Little Hatred, the beginning of a new trilogy set in the world of his First Law novels and stories, one of the main characters, Rikke, comes across an imposing, temple-like building and asks “What is this?… A school for wizards?” The mage accompanying her explains, “Not quite…. It is ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews All of Us With Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil

All of Us With Wings, Michelle Ruiz Keil (Soho Teen 978-1-64129-034-0, $18.99, 360pp, hc) June 2019.

All of Us with Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil is a love letter to San Francisco in the late 1980s that includes a combustible love affair, a forthright coming-of-age tale (for multiple characters), and a vengeance-fueled subplot that incorporates elements of magic realism. The plot is largely straightforward, but the emotional conflicts are ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Factory by Hiroko Oyamada

The Factory, Hiroko Oyamada (New Directions 978-0811228855, $13.95, 116pp, tp) October 2019.

The Factory is Hiroko Oyamada’s fiction debut both in English, where it’s been translated by David Boyd, and in Japanese, where it was origi­nally published in 2013. The short novel (really a novella) follows three people recently employed at an industrial factory located somewhere in Japan. Yoshiko Ushiyama, who works in Print Services, where she spends her ...Read More

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Alvaro Zinos-Amaro Reviews Monster, She Wrote by Lisa Kröger & Melanie R. Anderson

Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pio­neered Horror and Speculative Fiction, Lisa Kröger & Melanie R. Anderson (Quirk Books 978-1683691389, $19.99, 288pp, hc) September 2019.

“Why are women great at writ­ing horror fiction?” ask Lisa Kröger & Melanie R. Ander­son in the Introduction to this excellent primer on women writers and the history of horror. One possible answer: “Maybe because horror is a transgressive genre…. In any era, women ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews 2020 Vision, Edited by Jerry Pournelle

2020 Vision, Jerry Pournelle, ed. (Avon Books 18390, $.95, 192pp, paperback) February 1974

Friedrich Nietzsche famously opined, “If you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” I’d like to contribute a corollary observation: “When you stare into the future, you invite the future to stare back at you.” Every attempt at speculative forecasting, every probe of futurity, invites a look in the rear-view ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe and Amy Goldschlager Review The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

The Testaments, Margaret Atwood (Doubleday 978-0-385-54378-1, $28.95, 422pp, hc) Septem­ber 2019.

When Margaret Atwood published The Hand­maid’s Tale in 1985, the year after the real-life 1984 and at the height of the Thatcher/Reagan era, figures like Phyllis Schlafly and Jerry Fal­well were still ascendant, and the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment in the US was still a raw memory. It made sense to ask, as Atwood did, just ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Ghosts of the Shadow Market, Edited by Cassandra Clare

Ghosts of the Shadow Market, Cassandra Clare, ed. (McElderry Books 978-1-5344-3362-5, $24.99, 607pp, hc) June 2019.

Ghosts of the Shadow Market is a mammoth anthology of stories written to accompany Cassandra Clare’s immersive Shadow Market world. Clare has brought an impressive group of co-writers along with her – Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, Kelly Link, and Robin Wasser­man – and indulges all manner of fan obsessions and questions in ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews A Chain Across the Dawn by Drew Williams and The Girl Who Could Move Sh*t with Her Mind by Jackson Ford

A Chain Across the Dawn, Drew Williams (Tor 978-1-250-18614-0, $27.99, 320pp, hc) May 2019.

Drew Williams’s A Chain Across the Dawn delivers all of the sensawunda space opera that his first book (The Stars Now Unclaimed) did, which isn’t a huge surprise since it picks up a couple of years after his debut novel left off. Jane, an explorer/badass who is looking for kids with gifts, is ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews A Very Scalzi Christmas by John Scalzi and Grave Importance by Vivian Shaw

John Scalzi, A Very Scalzi Christmas (Subterranean 978-1-59606-932-9, $40.00, 142pp, hc) November 2019. Cover by Natalie Metzger.

For a fancy stocking stuffer, this collection of holiday items, most originally published on Scalzi’s Whatever blog, presents a mix of hilarious Santa snark and heartwarming sentiment, with a mix of lists, poems, interviews with some of Santa’s helpers, stories, and more. Three items are brand new, but many of the older items ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Sabbath by Nick Mamatas

Sabbath, Nick Mamatas (Tor 978-1250170118, $27.99, 304pp, hc) November 2019.

Sabbath is a book I would generally avoid. One: it’s an adaptation, a literary sub-genre I under­stand is very popular (see all the books based on console games) but which I find to be surplus to requirement given the thousands of original works I’ve yet to read. Two: the source material, Matthew Tomao & Josh Medor’s Sabbath: All Your ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All, Laura Ruby (Balzer & Bray 978-0-06-231764-3, $17.99, 384pp, hc) October 2019.

Stop whatever you are reading right now and get your hands on a copy of Laura Ruby’s Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All. If litera­ture exists to make us think, to broaden our minds, to make a difference, then there can be no better a book to read right now. That ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Novellas by David Sandner & Jacob Weisman, Robert Levy, and James Patrick Kelly

Mingus Fingers, David Sandner & Jacob Weisman (Fairwood 978-1933846873, $8, 68pp, trade paperback) November 2019

The boom in novellas shows no signs of petering out, as their bite-sized yet sufficiently mouth-filling substantiality continues to appeal to readers who want more than a short story but less than a novel. Here we have a go at three recent fine examples of the form.

If I had a time machine, one ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer

Dead Astronauts, Jeff VanderMeer (MCD 978-0374-27680-5, $27.00, 352pp, hc) December 2019.

Whatever success the British and Ameri­can New Wave had in broadening our definition of science fiction and fantasy, the Modernist techniques the movement embodied never caught on. There are strong, market-driven reasons why this is the case, why, if you want to a read a genre novel that deliberately eschews a linear, conventional structure you need to look ...Read More

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Alvaro Zinos-Amaro Reviews Hidden Wyndham: Life, Love, Letters Amy Binns

Hidden Wyndham: Life, Love, Letters, Amy Binns (Grace Judson Press 978-0992756710, $14.95, 304pp, pb) October 2019.

In the Preface to his biography of Somerset Maugham, who was notoriously uncooperative with biographers, Ted Morgan recounts how Maugham directed his executors to prevent the publication of his letters. “Maugham,” writes Morgan, “who had spent most of his long life prying into the affairs of humankind, did not want his own affairs ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews A Choir of Lies by Alexandra Rowland

A Choir of Lies, Alexandra Rowland (Saga 978-1-53441-283-5, $26.99, 464pp, hc) Septem­ber 2019.

“Stories are powerful. Stories are ar­rows and swords. Written down, they become a copy of a mind. These words right now, on the pages under my hands – what am I doing with them? What power have I put into this? Is it safe? Is it right?” So asks Ylfing, one of the dual narrators of ...Read More

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