Ian Mond Reviews The Little Devil and Other Stories by Aleksey Remizov

The Little Devil and Other Stories, Aleksey Remizov (Columbia University Press 978-0-23118-381-9, $16.95, 336pp) April 2021.

As fate, coincidence, or the publishing gods would have it, in the same month that New York Review Books is releasing a collection of supernatural stories by Teffi, Columbia University Press is publishing a collection of supernatural stories by Teffi’s compa­triot and contemporary: Aleksey Remizov. As with Teffi, I was unaware of Remizov’s ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Wendy, Darling by A.C. Wise

Wendy, Darling, A.C. Wise (Titan 978-1-78909-681-1 $15.95 336pp, tp) June 2021.

At the end of J.M. Barrie’s novel Peter and Wendy (also known as Peter Pan), Wendy, her brothers and the Lost Boys adopted by their parents have all grown up. Wendy is married and has a daughter, Jane, whom she’s filled with tales of their adventures in Neverland. When Peter Pan shows up at the nursery window, ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker

The Hidden Palace, Helene Wecker (Harper 978-0062468710, 480pp, $28.99) June 2021.

Helene Wecker’s sequel to her stunning 2013 debut, The Golem and the Jinni [reviewed here], succeeds 100 percent in recapturing the assured voice, the delicate magic, the solid historical verisimilitude, and the engaging interplay of personalities that she delivered in the first book. But she does not merely replicate all the pleasures, plot points, devices, and charms of ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Not One of Us, Bourbon Penn, and Speculative Los Angeles

Not One of Us 1/21, 4/21 Bourbon Penn 3/21 Speculative Los Angeles, Denise Hamilton, ed. (Akashic) February 2021.

The always intriguing Not One of Us has gone to slimmer issues. I have two at hand. January opens, appropriately enough, with “January House“, an absolutely lovely story by Alexandra Seidel. Isla Glas returns to her childhood home perforce, as her mother has died and she’s now the ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews How to Mars by David Ebenbach and Questland by Carrie Vaughn

How to Mars, David Ebenbach (Tachyon 978-1-61696-356-9, $16.95, 256pp, tsk) May 2021. Cover by Elizabeth Story.

David Ebenbach’s How to Mars is one of those books that could be easy to write-off as a delightful bit of fluff. Six humans from various backgrounds take a one-way trip to the red planet, sent there by a publicity-seeking corporation that monetizes their training and early days via a reality series. The ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

The Chosen and the Beautiful, Nghi Vo (Tor­dotcom 978-1-250-78478-0, $26.99, 272pp, hc) June 2021. Cover by Greg Ruth.

When the copyright protection of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby expired at the beginning of this year, the speculation was predictably rampant and occasionally dire. The tale of Gatsby’s fabulous but shady wealth, his giant parties, his pining for the love of Daisy (now married to a racist millionaire), all ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews A Chorus Rises by Bethany C. Morrow

A Chorus Rises, Bethany C. Morrow (Tor Teen 978-1250316035, $17.99, 272pp, hc) June 2021.

In A Chorus Rises, sequel to A Song Below Water, Bethany C. Morrow continues to give her penetrating attention to the hazards young Black women face when they possess a significant amount of magic and power. Following closely on the heels of the earlier book’s shattering finale, A Chorus Rises picks up the ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Other Worlds: Peasants, Pilgrims, Spirits, Saints by Teffi

Other Worlds: Peasants, Pilgrims, Spirits, Saints, Teffi (NYRB Classics 978-1-68137-539-7, $17.95, 256pp, tp) April 2021.

New York Review Books’ publication of Other Worlds: Peasants, Pilgrims, Spirits, Saints continues a rediscovery of Teffi’s short fiction that began with the Pushkin Press release of Subtly Worded back in 2014. I should note that before picking up a review copy of Other Worlds, my interest piqued by references to the occult ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Sidewinders by Robert V.S. Redick

Sidewinders, Robert V.S. Redick (Talos 978-1945863608, 672pp, $25.99) July 2021.

Worldbuilding has developed a bad rap lately. The meticulous and detailed creation of another realm “beyond the fields we know,” with novel cultures, languages, religions, history, geography, flora and fauna, is somehow deemed oppressive and pedantic and tiresome. Well, duh, yeah—if it’s done badly and ham-handedly. Like any tool in the writer’s toolkit, worldbuilding can be employed deftly and ...Read More

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Alvaro Zinos-Amaro Reviews After Human: A Critical History of the Hu­man in Science Fiction from Shelley to Le Guin by Thomas Connolly

After Human: A Critical History of the Hu­man in Science Fiction from Shelley to Le Guin, Thomas Connolly (Liverpool University Press 978-1800348165, $130, 240pp, hc) May 2021.

What is meant, or assumed to be meant, by human, non-human, and whatever division between them stands the test of various philosophical and science fictional thought experiments, falls centrally within this book’s ambit. As Thomas Connolly states in the Introduction to his ...Read More

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Maya C. James Reviews Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Son of the Storm, Suyi Davies Okungbowa (Orbit US 9780316428941, $14.49, 480pp, tp) May 2021.

Note: Son of the Storm refers to very light-skinned Africans (i.e. “high yellow”) as “yellowskin.” It refers to people with albinism and not people of Asian descent (all characters are of African descent in this novel).

Forbidden knowledge, half-truths, and a woman with magic that is not supposed to ex­ist. Son of the Storm ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe and Adrienne Martini Review The Album of Dr. Moreau by Daryl Gregory

The Album of Dr. Moreau, Daryl Gregory (Tor­dotcom 978-1250782106, $14.99, 176pp, tp) May 2021.

Already in the public domain for years, H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau has practi­cally spawned a microgenre all its own, with Brian Aldiss, Gwyneth Jones (as Ann Halam), Gene Wolfe, Theodora Goss, the Simpsons, and even Marlon Brando having a whack at the story or its characters and themes. I’m pretty sure, though, ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Subdivision by J. Robert Lennon

Subdivision, J. Robert Lennon (Graywolf Press 978-1-64445-048-2, $16.00, 240pp, tp) April 2021.

If my column has a mission statement, it’s to shine a light on literary or translated works with speculative elements that rarely get recognised or discussed within the genre. J. Robert Lennon is an example of the former, a literary author whose fiction has increasingly gravitated toward the fantastic but who is likely to be unfamiliar to ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews Broken Fevers by Tenea D. Johnson

Broken Fevers, Tenea D. Johnson (Rosarium 978-1732638853, $14.95, 272pp, tp) March 2021.

Tenea D. Johnson’s Broken Fevers is a wildly imaginative short story collection that tackles some important topics with style and delivers a healthy heaping of meaning in each narrative, regardless of length. A solid mix of genres, this collection pulls readers into short stories that do a lot more than just entertain.

Johnson sets the atmosphere in ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Impossible Resurrection of Grief by Octavia Cade

The Impossible Resurrection of Grief, Octavia Cade (Stelliform Press 978-1-777091767, $14.99, 82pp, tp) May 2021.

Octavia Cade is a writer new to me, even though since 2016 she’s won three Sir Julius Vogel Awards, the national SF awards of New Zealand, and has published a fair amount of short fiction in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere. Her new novella, The Impos­sible Resurrection of Grief, comes to us ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro (Knopf 978-0-59331-817-1, $28.00, 320pp, hc) March 2021.

Over the last couple of years, it’s been sur­prising to see literary authors of the cali­bre of Jeanette Winterson and Ian McE­wan, with their respective novels Frankissstein (which I reviewed in 2019) and Machines Like Me, raise concerns about machine consciousness. Compared to climate change, pandemics, or the fallout from late-stage capitalism, the robot-apocalypse is ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Soulstar by C.L. Polk

Soulstar, C.L. Polk (Tordotcom 978-1-250-20357-1, $17.99, 302pp, tp) February 2021. Cover by Will Staehle.

Soulstar is the conclusion to Polk’s Kingston trilogy, a cycle of books that each take politics and romantic and familial relationships as their focus. In Witchmark, it was Miles Hensley and his mysterious lover Tristan, and a series of deaths connected with an unjust war; in Stormsong, Miles’s sister Grace (and her romantic ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews Later by Stephen King

Later, Stephen King (Hard Case Crime 978-1-78909-649-1, $14.95, 272pp, tp) March 2021. Cover by Paul Mann.

Later, Stephen King’s latest, is a horror story – something the narrator reminds readers of from time to time – but it’s one dressed up like a thriller with supernatural ele­ments, and it has all the working parts of a pulpy crime novel. King has been known to walk the interstitial ...Read More

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Maya C. James Reviews Prayer for the Living by Ben Okri

Prayer for the Living, Ben Okri (Head of Zeus 978-1789544596, £14.99, 240pp, hc) October 2019. (Akashic Books 978-1-61775-863-8, 216pp, hc) February 2021.

Ben Okri’s Prayer for the Living offers a simple suggestion at the beginning: read slowly. This is sage advice – if you pick through his words too quickly, you might miss a fateful turn within a story or a sentence that will steal your soul away. Reading ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF and Speculate

F&SF 5-6/21 Speculate, Dominique Hecq & Eugen Bacon (Meerkat) January 2021.

Sheree Renée Thomas’s second issue of F&SF is a strong one, and the longest sto­ries are particularly good.” In “Babylon SystemMaurice Broaddus tells of Lij Tafari, newly and unjustly sent to prison in an alternate America that is part of the Albion Empire. In some ways it’s a classic prison narrative, with the protagonist remaining ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Miss Bennet’s Dragon by M Verant

M Verant, Miss Bennet’s Dragon (Acerbic Press 978-1-7366629-1-5, $17.99, 367pp, tp) May 2021.

There’s something about Jane Austen, particularly her Pride and Prejudice, that other authors can’t resisting playing with. M Verant shows a great love for the work and period in this charming retelling, while adding dragons and somewhat modernizing the actual writing. Most of the familiar characters are here, but we’re seeing them from slightly differ­ent angles. ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

Black Water Sister, Zen Cho (Ace 978-0425283431, $14.99, 384pp, tp) May 2021.

Zen Cho quickly earned a reputation for wit and style with her debut novel Sorcerer to the Crown, with its entertaining but sharp critique of racism, sexism, and colonialism in Regency England, but the novel also introduced a power­ful Malaysian witch. Malaysian magic played a more central role in the sequel The True Queen, but ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Dead Souls by Sam Riviere

Dead Souls, Sam Riviere (Catapult 978-1-646-22028-1, $26.00, 320pp, hc) May 2021.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Sam Riviere loathes poetry. His shaggy dog tale of a second novel, Dead Souls, is, amongst other things, an evisceration of the poetry industrial complex: the poems, their au­thors, and the publishers. Riviere is, of course, famously a poet who runs an independent press (If a Leaf Falls Press) and has ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Hard Reboot by Django Wexler

Hard Reboot, Django Wexler (Tordotcom 978-1-250-79026-2, $14.99, 150pp, tp) May 2021.

Django Wexler’s Hard Reboot is a standalone sci­ence fiction novella from the author of Ashes of the Sun (2020) and the Wells of Sorcery trilogy (Ship of Smoke and Steel, City of Stone and Silence, Siege of Rage and Ruin). It sets itself in a far-future where Earth is a relatively lawless backwater in ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews We Are Satellites by Sarah Pinsker

We Are Satellites, Sarah Pinsker (Berkley 978-1984802606, $16.00, 400pp, tp) May 2021.

When I reviewed Sarah Pinsker’s collection Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea a couple of years ago, it seemed to me that her approach to SF was fairly restrained, usually focusing on the impact of a particular new tech­nology, like a process for suppressing memories in “Remembery Day”, or a virtual concert tech­nology called StageHolo ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

Sorrowland, Rivers Solomon (MCD 978-0-374-26677-6, $27.00 268pp, hc) May 2021.

Fifteen-year-old Vern Fields – abused, Black, pregnant, albino, nearly blind – escapes cult compound the Blessed Acres of Cain and its leader, her husband, fleeing into a forest. There she gives birth to twin boys she names Howling and Feral. She is prepared to survive in the wild by her upbringing in Cain­land: founded by Black nationalists in the ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Defekt by Nino Cipri

Defekt, Nino Cipri (Tordotcom 978-1-250-78749-1, $14.99, 176pp, tp) April 2021.

Nino Cipri’s enjoyable new novella, Defekt, is a perpendicular sequel to last year’s Finna: perpendicular because both books briefly meet then diverge in different directions. Like Finna, Defekt is set in LitenVärld, a company that bears more than a passing resemblance to a Swedish multinational famous for its flat-pack, do-it-yourself furniture and maze-like stores. The wonderfully ...Read More

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Alvaro Zinos-Amaro Reviews Vivid Tomorrows: On Science Fiction and Holly­wood by David Brin

Vivid Tomorrows: On Science Fiction and Holly­wood, David Brin (McFarland 978-1-4766-8338-6, $29.95, 241pp, tp) March 2021.

In addition to his well-established body of fictional work, David Brin has been writing genre-related non-fiction since the 1980s. More recently, he co-edited the anthologies King Kong Is Back! An Unauthorized Look at One Humongous Ape (2005) and Star Wars on Trial (2006) – his con­tributions to both of which are reprinted here ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews This is Not the Jess Show by Anna Carey

This is Not the Jess Show, Anna Carey (Quirk 978-1-68369-197-6, $18.99, hc, 298pp) Febru­ary 2021.

From the moment readers first meet her in Anna Carey’s breakneck thriller, This is Not the Jess Show, it is clear that Jess Flynn is living a classic 1998 life. True, her younger sister Sara has been bat­tling an extremely rare disease for a few years and her parents are obviously frazzled with ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Man Who Never Was by R.A. Lafferty

The Man Who Never Was, R.A. Lafferty (Centipede Press 978-1-61347-266-8, $65.00, 384pp, hc) March 2021.

By literally eyeballing the list of Lafferty short stories at ISFDB, I get a rough count for his canon of some 200 to 250 short stories. This figure consorts with what his Wikipedia entry maintains. The current Centipede Press series collecting his less-than-novel-length oeuvre is featuring about 20 stories per volume. So now, with ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe and Liz Bourke Review A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark

A Master of Djinn, P. Djèlí Clark (Tordotcom 978-1250267689, $ 27.99, 400pp, hc) May 2021. Cover by Stephan Martiniere.

The notion of magic returning to the world has been a familiar trope for so long that it’s nearly become part of the performance repertoire of fantasy writers, like locked-room murders for mystery writers or alien invasions for SF. The idea by itself doesn’t have much air left in it, ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Rise & Shine by Patrick Allington

Rise & Shine, Patrick Allington (Scribe 978-1-925-84976-9, $27.99, 224pp, hc) June 2020; (Scribe US 978-1-950-35442-9, $16.00, 240pp, tp). April 2021.

I’ve noticed that I seem to be gravitating toward post-apocalyptic fiction. This is not something I set out to do, and yet when I look back at my col­umn over the last seven months, I’ve read at least six post-apocalyptic novels (more if you include dystopian fiction). What’s striking ...Read More

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