Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Scarab Mission by James L. Cambias

The Scarab Mission, James L. Cambias (Baen 978-1982192396, hardcover, 288pp, $18.00) January 2023

This rousing, unstoppable, non-stop adventure follows Cambias’s The Godel Operation (reviewed here), which introduced his cosmos of the Billion Worlds: a future where our Solar System is overstuffed with a zillion habitats, polities and species (human and other wise), some struggling for supremacy, others just following their mundane blisses. It’s a definite post-scarcity—if not even posthuman—environment, ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Atlas Paradox by Olivie Blake

The Atlas Paradox, Olivie Blake (Tor 978-1-250-85509-1, $27.99, hc, 416pp) October 2022. Cover by Jamie Stafford-Hill.

Blake returned in October with the latest installment in The Atlas series, The Atlas Para­dox, and quickly tossed readers into more intrigue with the Society of Alexandrians and the drama surrounding its newest members. Fans of the first book, The Atlas Six, will be well aware of the major twist and ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Knot of Shadows by Lois McMaster Bujold and After Many a Summer by Tim Powers

Knot of Shadows, Lois McMaster Bujold (Subterranean 978-1-64524-114-0, hardcover, 160pp, $45.00) January 2023.

It’s time for another nigh-aleatory pairing of two novellas, as we dip into the current state of this fascinating artform, which, it has been said, is almost ideal for works of fantastika: long enough for worldbuilding and deep speculations; short enough not to grow wearisome or bogged down.

Today’s offerings both come from the fabulous Subterranean ...Read More

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Maya C. James Reviews The Lies of the Ajungo by Moses Ose Utomi

The Lies of the Ajungo, Moses Ose Utomi (Tordotcom 978-1-25084-906-9, $19.99, 96pp, hc) March 2023. Cover by Alyssa Winans & Christine Foltzer.

Indebted to the wicked Ajungo Empire, all citi­zens of the City of Lies have their tongues cut out when they turn 13. Not only do they sacrifice their blood, but their history. In return for their tribute, they receive just enough water from the Ajungo to keep ...Read More

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Alexandra Pierce Reviews The Future is Female! Vol 2: the 1970s: More Classic Science Fiction by Women edited by Lisa Yaszek

The Future is Female! Vol 2: the 1970s: More Classic Science Fiction by Women, Lisa Yaszek, ed. (Library of America 978-1-59853-732-1, $27.95, 450 pp, hc) October 2022.

I scraped into the 1970s with just a couple of months to spare and, although I’ve done a fair amount of reading from the time, I’m not going to claim any expertise in assessing what is the best, or even what is ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Beyond the Burn Line by Paul J. McAuley

Beyond the Burn Line, Paul J. McAuley (Gollancz 978-1-39960-371-3, £22.00, 455pp, hc) September 2022.

Paul McAuley also makes use of bifurcated time­lines in Beyond the Burn Line, but on a much vaster scale, and he also considers the global ef­fects of the Anthropocene Era, already relegated to the mists of ancient history as his tale rather modestly begins. Eventually we learn that the “burn line” is the historians’ ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Singer Distance by Ethan Chatagnier

Singer Distance, Ethan Chatagnier (Tin House 978-1-95353-443-9, $27.95, hc, 280pp) October 2022.

In the slightly altered Earth history of Ethan Chatagnier’s Singer Distance, Mars made contact in 1896, but not in the way readers may likely expect. Rather than the bold arrival of a spacecraft, this interplanetary communication was prefaced by a Dutch astronomer’s large scale art carving of parallel marks in a Tunisian desert in 1894. When ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Weasels in the Attic by Hiroko Oyamada

Weasels in the Attic, Hiroko Oyamada (New Directions 978-0-81123-118-3, $13/95, 96p, hc) October 2022.

In my humble opinion, the best surrealist fic­tion being published today is coming out of Japan, spearheaded by female authors like Yoko Tawada, Sayaka Murata, Yōko Ogawa, and Hiromi Kawakami. Included in that list is the elusive and discombobulating work of Hiroko Oyamada, whose third book, Weasels in the Attic, has been translated into ...Read More

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Maya C. James Reviews The Last Dreamwalker by Rita Woods

The Last Dreamwalker, Rita Woods (Forge 978-1-25080-561-4, $27.00, 272pp, hc) Sep­tember 2022.

Layla Hurley spends most of her life avoid­ing her nightmares. Whether through anxiety pills, wine, or a combination of those, she would do anything to sleep through the night without experiencing another lucid dream. But after her mother’s death, Layla learns that her nightmares are not chance recurrences, but a gift passed down from her family through ...Read More

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Alex Brown Reviews Direwood by Catherine Yu

Direwood, Catherine Yu (Page Street Publishing 978-1-64567-612-6, $18.99. 288pp, hc) Septem­ber 2022.

Sisters Fiona and Aja are part of the only Chinese American family in their entire suburban town. It’s the 1990s, the era of grunge and disillusion­ment, and no one is more disillusioned than Aja. Or so she thinks. Fiona is the golden child. She is the perfect daughter beloved by everyone in town. Aja, meanwhile, is rough ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Nightland Express by J.M. Lee

The Nightland Express, J.M. Lee (Erewhon 978-1-64566-003-3, $18.95, hc, 368pp) October 2022. Cover by Jeff Langevin.

In J.M. Lee’s The Nightland Express, it is 1860, and Jessamine Murphy and Ben Foley have each answered an advertisement from the Pony Express:

Special Assignment. St Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California. Two Riders Wanted. Young, Skinny, Wiry Fellows not over eighteen. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Mr. Breakfast by Jonathan Carroll

Mr. Breakfast, Jonathan Carroll (Melville House 9-871-61219-992-4, $27.99, 272pp, hc) January 2023.

With all of the original and idiosyncratic voices in SFF these days, it’s tempt­ing and maybe a bit lazy to casually describe an author as sui generis. But when folks have been saying this for more than 40 years, as is the case with Jonathan Carroll, it begins to sound like a pretty solid verdict. No doubt ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews Fairy Tale by Stephen King

Fairy Tale, Stephen King (Scribner 978-1-66800-217-9, $32.50, 608pp, hc) October 2022. Cover by Kyle Kabel.

The fact that Stephen King can still surprise us is further proof that he’s one of the best living writers, and I say that as someone who recently reviewed the two new and very surprising Cormac McCarthy novels. King’s career is full of books that play across genres and exist in a unique spectrum ...Read More

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Alexandra Pierce Reviews Small Angels by Lauren Owen

Small Angels, Lauren Owen (Random House 978-0-59324-220-0, $28.99, 400 pp, hc) August 2022. Cover by Sarah Whittaker.

The Mockbeggar Woods like stories. If you go to the woods and tell it a story, you may well feel the trees responding. And sometimes a particularly resonant story might be one that the trees decide to keep, and keep alive. This might be a comfort if you think the woods will ...Read More

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Alex Brown Reviews Rust in the Root by Justina Ireland

Rust in the Root, Justina Ireland (Balzer + Bray 978-0-06303-822-6, $18.99. 488pp, hc) September 2022.

Justina Ireland’s latest YA alternate history novel Rust in the Root feels a bit like a cross between P. Djèlí Clark’s Ring Shout, Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation, and Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom. If Ireland’s Dread Nation series (set just after the Civil War and involving zombies, queer Black teens,

...Read More Read more

Maya C. James Reviews The Monsters We Defy by Leslye Penelope

The Monsters We Defy, Leslye Penelope (Red­hook 978-0-316-377911, $17.99, 384pp, tp) Au­gust 2022. Cover design by Lisa Marie Pompilio.

Clara Johnson is a short-tempered woman who can see and speak with spirits. While Clara typically offers her services as one-off favors, she is soon approached by a woman whose son has become lifeless. He still breathes and walks, but will not eat unless prompted, and wanders off if not ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews The Art of Prophecy by Wesley Chu

The Art of Prophecy, Wesley Chu (Del Rey 978-0-593237-63-2, $28.99, 544 pp, hc) August 2022.

New York Times bestselling author Wesley Chu’s The Art of Prophecy, which kicks off his War Arts Saga trilogy, is the anti-Dune. Rather than chart the development of a random kid who fulfills a prophecy despite all of the obstacles in his way, Chu focuses on a kid who knows he’s ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Imperium Restored by Walter Jon Williams

Imperium Restored, Walter Jon Williams (Harper Voyager 978-0-06246-705-8, $17.99, 496 pp, tp) September 2022.

Twenty years ago, Walter Jon Williams started a trilogy, Dread Empire’s Fall, that has since grown to seven novels (two trilogies and a standalone short novel), a novella, and a short story, and gotten new series labels: the First and Second Books of the Praxis. The main line of the series is arguably one long ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Here Be Leviathans by Chris Flynn

Here Be Leviathans, Chris Flynn (University of Queensland Press 978-0-70226-277-7, $A32.99, 240pp, tp) August 2022.

I first encountered the work of Chris Flynn with his third novel, Mammoth. Narrated by an American mastodon and including the view­points of a Tyrannosaurus bataar (not rex), a pterodactyl, a prehistoric penguin, and the sev­ered hand of an Egyptian mummy, Mammoth tells the story of how these bones and fossilised remains came ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews August Kitko and the Mechas from Space by Alex White

August Kitko and the Mechas from Space, Alex White (Orbit 978-0-7564-1483-2, $17.99, 464 pp, tp) July 2022.

August Kitko and the Mechas from Space is the first book in Alex White’s Starmetal Symphony series. It does pretty much what it says on the tin: jazz musician August Kitko finds himself thrown into a battle against mechas from space. The fate of humankind hangs in the balance. It’s excellent fodder ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Expect Me Tomorrow by Christopher Priest

Expect Me Tomorrow, Christopher Priest (Gollancz 978-1-47323-513-7, £22.00, 336pp, hc) September 2022.

Christopher Priest is another author who writes with an illusionist’s skill about shifting reali­ties and identities, not only in his long-running Dream Archipelago sequence of stories and novels, but in such haunting works as The Separation (2002), in which the contrasting adventures of twin brothers lead us into alter­nate versions of WWII. Twins show up again in ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews Old Country by Matt Query & Harrison Query

Old Country, Matt Query & Harrison Query (Grand Central Publishing 978-1-538721-20-9, $28.00, 352pp, hc) July 2022. Cover by Ervin Serrano.

Learning a book came to be because a story be­came popular on Reddit might make some run to read it and turn others away from it immediately. Thankfully, Old Country, written by brothers Matt & Harrison Query after the former wrote a story titled ‘‘My Wife and I ...Read More

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Alexandra Pierce Reviews Twelve by Joan Marie Verba

Twelve, Joan Marie Verba (FTL Publications 978-1-93688-172-7, $19.95, 146pp, hc) July 2022. Cover by GetCovers.

In Twelve, Joan Marie Verba’s first novel since 2020’s Defying the Ghosts, the fairy tale of the 12 dancing princesses is retold from the male protagonist’s perspective. I love a good fairytale retelling, although this one – written down by the Grimms for their 1812 collection – isn’t one I’ve seen reimagined ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Ray Bradbury: Novels & Story Cycles and Ray Bradbury: The Illustrated Man, The October Country, Other Stories

Ray Bradbury: Novels & Story Cycles, Ray Bradbury (Library of America 978-1-59853-700-0, $40.00, 896pp, hc) September 2021.

Ray Bradbury: The Illustrated Man, The Oc­tober Country, Other Stories, Ray Bradbury (Library of America 978-1-59853-728-4, $40.00 989pp, hc) October 2022. [Both volumes available as two-volume boxed set The Ray Bradbury Col­lection (Library of America, 978-1-59853-740-6, $80.00, 1,885pp, boxed set) October 2022.]

No one can complain that they’re having a hard ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Kid Wolf and Kraken Boy by Sam J. Miller

Kid Wolf and Kraken Boy, Sam J. Miller (Solaris 978-1-78618-731-4, 176pp, $15.99, tp) July 2022.

Jonathan Carroll isn’t the only one who’s been thinking about magical tattoos lately, and in fact it’s a fairly venerable tradition. But I think Sam J. Miller has probably carved out his own niche with Kid Wolf and Kraken Boy, which may sound like an unrealized Robert Rodriguez film project, but in fact ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Amongst Our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch

Amongst Our Weapons, Ben Aaronovitch (DAW 978-0-7564-1483-2, $27.00, 302 pp, hc) April 2022. Cover by Stephen Walter & Patrick Knowles.

Amongst Our Weapons is not the book to start with if you want to read some Ben Aaronovitch. Instead, pick up series opener Midnight Riot (Rivers of London in the UK) to be fully in­troduced to the world of Detective Constable Peter Grant and the magical demimonde that ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Inconceivable Idea of the Sun by Anil Menon

The Inconceivable Idea of the Sun, Anil Me­non, (Hachette India 978-9-39102-860-2, ₹599.00, 280pp, tp) June 2022.

Anil Menon had me at the contents page of his debut collection, The Inconceivable Idea of the Sun. In place of the expected list of titles, Menon offers up an introductory essay that starts by ridiculing “Western” authors of yesteryear who would begin “with excuses, explanations and snivels about their work” and ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Return to Glory by Jack McDevitt

Return to Glory, Jack McDevitt (Subterranean Press 978-1-64524-073-0, $50.00, 569pp, hc) October 2022. Cover by Edward Miller.

Jack McDevitt has been producing SF for more than four decades now, two dozen novels and enough shorter work to fill five previous collections with remarkably little overlap on the contents pages. Now there is a substantial sixth retrospective volume, Return to Glory, which gathers 32 stories from the whole long ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews Such a Beautiful Thing to Behold by Umar Turaki

Such a Beautiful Thing to Behold, Umar Turaki (Little A 978-1-54203-466-1, $24.95, 256pp, hc) May 2022. Cover by Kimberly Glyder.

It would easy to assume readers want nothing to do with pandemic and post-apocalyptic fiction. It would also be wrong. Even during the worst of the pandemic, fiction about bad things happening to a large number of people were popular. Umar Turaki’s Such a Beautiful Thing to Behold is ...Read More

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Alexandra Pierce Reviews Phase Change: Imagining Energy Futures by Matthew Chrulew, ed.

Phase Change: Imagining Energy Futures, Matthew Chrulew, ed. (Twelfth Planet Press 978-1-92210-173-0, $29.99, 447pp, pb) March 2022. Cover by Cathy Larsen.

“Cli-fi” – climate fiction – seems to be a hip new trend; or at least, a new(ish) name for a type of fiction that has existed for a long time and finally seems to be getting more interest. Phase Change doesn’t quite fit into that mold, for all ...Read More

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Isiah Lavender III Reviews Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction edited by Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, & Zelda Knight

Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fic­tion, Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, & Zelda Knight, eds. (Tordotcom 9781250833006, $27.99, 528pp, hc) November 2022. Cover by Manzi Jackson.

In Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction, Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenecho­vwe Donald Ekpeki, and Zelda Knight mag­nificently produce what I see as the successor to Thomas’s groundbreaking and award-winning Dark Matter anthologies. Dark Matter: A Cen­tury of ...Read More

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Alexandra Pierce Reviews The Mimicking of Known Successes by Malka Older

The Mimicking of Known Successes, Malka Older (Tordotcom 978-1-25086-050-7, $19.99, 176pp, hc) March 2023. Cover by Christine Foltzer.

Imagine a future where the Earth has gone so completely belly-up that people have moved to Jupiter. But humans being humans, they’re not prepared to accept that as the end of the old world. So they set up a university and encourage research in Classics, which focusses on under­standing Earth, its ...Read More

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