Karen Burnham Reviews Creative Surgery by Clelia Farris

Creative Surgery, Clelia Farris (Rosarium Pub­lishing) September 2020.

Creative Surgery is Italian author Clelia Far­ris‘s debut collection (with translations by Rachel Cordasco and Jennifer Delare), and it’s a great start. The first story, “A Day to Remember” is an extended meditation on living in a world that feels much smaller when circumscribed by cli­mate change. We follow an artist in a post-flood Italy as she tours ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews The Best Horror of the Year Volume Twelve, Edited by Ellen Datlow

The Best Horror of the Year Volume Twelve, Ellen Datlow, ed. (Night Shade Books 978-1-59780-973-3, $15.99, 480pp, tp) October 2020.

Ellen Datlow’s career as the doyen of “year’s best” editors began with The Year’s Best Fantasy: First Annual Col­lection in 1988 (with co-editor Terri Windling), and the series was renamed The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror with the third annual col­lection. After 21 volumes, the series ended, but Datlow ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews The Best of Walter Jon Williams by Walter Jon Williams

The Best of Walter Jon Williams, Walter Jon Williams (Subterranean 978-1645240020, $45.00, 610pp, hc). Cover by Lee Moyer. Feb­ruary 2020.

Exactly 30 years ago, this column’s lede was “Walter Jon Williams is an interest­ingly various writer….” The intervening decades have given me no reason to alter that opinion, variations on which I have been re­peating just about every time I write about a Williams title. So why should I ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Best of Elizabeth Hand by Elizabeth Hand

The Best of Elizabeth Hand, Elizabeth Hand (Subterranean 978-1-64524-005-1, $45.00, 560pp, hc) February 2021.

I’ve always distrusted the notion of “comfort reading,” especially as it applies to our little corner of the swamp. After all, the very idea of horror fiction involves discomfort, and SF characteristically challenges our sense of the stability of everything from nations to our bod­ies to the planet itself. I suppose fantasy does leave room ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Big Blind by Lavie Tidhar

The Big Blind, Lavie Tidhar (PS Publishing 978-1-786365-98-9, £18.00, 164pp, hc) November 2020.

With its long and shady history, poker seems to have a natural affinity for fantasy writers, ranging from Edward Whittemore (Jerusalem Poker) to Tim Powers (Last Call). It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the ever-eclectic Lavie Tidhar turns his attention to it with The Big Blind, which is peppered with ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Inscape by Louise Carey

Inscape, Louise Carey (UK: Gollancz 978-1473232747, £14.9920, 432pp, trade paperback) January 2021

Some genetically talented, culturally nurturing families produce writers across multiple generations, or multiple sibling iterations in the same clade. Famous literary lineages are almost too numerous to name. John le Carré and Nick Harkaway. Stephen King and progeny. Nathaniel and Julian Hawthorne. The McCaffreys. Peter and Emma Straub. The Powys clan; the LaFarge clan. And on and ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark

Ring Shout, P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-250-76702-8, $19.99, 192pp, hc) October 2020. Cover by Henry Sene Yee.

P. Djèlí Clark’s Ring Shout is a wildly imaginative, superbly written narrative about friendship, magic, and fighting racism that occupies a strange interstitial space between historical fiction, fantasy, and body hor­ror. It is also a smart reimagining of history that pushes current racial tensions to the forefront and forces readers to ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Doors of Sleep by Tim Pratt

Doors of Sleep, Tim Pratt (Angry Robot 978-0-857-66874-5, $14.99, 272pp, tp) January 2021.

Tim Pratt’s last trilogy from Angry Ro­bot, the Axiom (The Wrong Stars, The Dreaming Stars, and The Forbidden Stars), was precisely the kind of space opera romp guaranteed to delight me. Fast paced, and with a rag-tag crew of heroes and a selection of batshit weird dangers, it drove an appealing course ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2020, Edited by Diana Gabaldon & John Joseph Adams

The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2020, Diana Gabaldon & John Joseph Adams, eds. (Mariner 978-1328613103, $16.99, 432pp, tp) November 2020.

It’s always seemed to me that John Joseph Ad­ams’s Best American Science Fiction and Fan­tasy series, now in its sixth volume, has served a somewhat different if equally important purpose than the more traditional year’s best volumes which have been a staple of SF publishing for more ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

The Space Between Worlds, Micaiah Johnson (Del Rey 978-0593135051, $28.00, 336pp, hc) August 2020.

Micaiah Johnson’s The Space Between Worlds is built on a solid SFnal idea: a shadowy genius has figured out how to travel between parallel Earths and is raiding them for information and resources. There’s a catch, of course. The only humans who can make the jump between the worlds are those who don’t have a ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: London Centric, Uncanny, On Spec, Pulp Literature, and The New Yorker

London Centric, Ian Whates, ed. (NewCon Press) March 2020. Uncanny 11-12/20 On Spec #114 Pulp Literature Summer ’20 The New Yorker 11/9/20

Here’s an intriguing new anthology from Eng­land’s NewCon Press, London Centric: Tales of Future London, edited by Ian Whates. The anthology is mostly exactly what it says, a collec­tion of looks at a future London, but one of the very best stories is mostly set in ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Clerk by Guillermo Saccomanno

The Clerk, Guillermo Saccomanno (Open Letter 978-1-948-83025-6, $15.95, 138pp, tp) September 2020.

Going back to the country’s independence in 1816, Argentina has been a rich source of genre and genre-adjacent fic­tion. Most will be aware of Jorge Luis Borges – the father of magical realism – but there’s also Silvina Ocampo, Carlos Gardini, and An­gélica Gorodischer, whose 1979 mosaic novel Trafalgar was finally translated into English in 2013 thanks ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

Ready Player Two, Ernest Cline (Ballantine 978-1524761332, $28.99, 384pp, hardcover) November 2020

I am not often bowled over by first novels, but I admit to being very delighted and impressed with Ernest Cline’s bestseller, Ready Player One, when it appeared nearly ten years ago. I was then a judge for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and cast my vote to ensure it got on the shortlist as ...Read More

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Karen Haber Reviews Three Art Books

Snow, Glass, Apples, Neil Gaiman & Colleen Doran (Dark Horse 978-1-50670-979-6, $17.99, unpaginated, hc) August 2019. Cover by Colleen Doran.

Tanith Lee’s The Silver Metal Lover, Trina Rob­bins (It’s Alive 978-1-7325915-2-3, $24.99, 80pp, hc) September 2019. Cover by Trina Robbins.

Nordic Tales: Folktales from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark, Ulla Thynell (Chronicle Books, 978-1-4521-7447-1, $22.95, 160pp, hc) August 2019. Cover by Ulla Thynell.

Snow, Glass, Apples ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London, Garth Nix (Katherine Tegen Books 978-0-06-268325-0, $19.99, 416pp, hc) September 2020.

In a version of 1983 London that is just a bit not-like the actual 1983 London, Susan Arkshaw is looking for her father. Her mother, whose memories of Susan’s conception are fond but hazy, can provide only the vaguest of clues as to his identity, thus prompting her summertime quest. Susan’s plan to ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Reconstruction by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Reconstruction, Alaya Dawn Johnson (Small Beer 978-1-618731777, $17.00, 278pp, tp) No­vember 2020.

Like a number of writers who have arrived with a splash in the last decade or two, Alaya Dawn Johnson seems to have written nearly as many novels as short stories. That’s not actually the case, of course – her website lists seven novels, and her first collection, Reconstruction, contains ten stories – but it’s probably ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Goldilocks by Laura Lam

Goldilocks, Laura Lam (Orbit 978-0-316-46286-0, $27.00, 244pp, hc) May 2020.

Laura Lam’s Goldilocks opens with five women stealing a small space shuttle, one that will get them to a space station in Earth’s orbit. From there, they’ll hijack the Atalanta, a much larger ship able to travel faster than the speed of light (or so they think), which they’ll pilot to Cavendish, a “Goldilocks” planet that should support human ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Pacific Storm by Linda Nagata

Pacific Storm, Linda Nagata (Mythic Island Press, 978-1937197339, $14.00, 264 pp, tp) October 2020.

Linda Nagata made her reputation with far-far-future adventures featuring near-magical nanotechnology and post-human characters, but in the last few years she has also developed a strong line of closer-to-home sce­narios. This day-after-tomorrow work has veered toward military SF in her Red Trilogy (2013-15) and toward the technothriller in The Last Good Man (2017), both of ...Read More

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Karen Haber Reviews Art of Gary Gianni for George R.R. Martin’s Seven Kingdoms by Gary Gianni

Art of Gary Gianni for George R.R. Martin’s Seven Kingdoms, Gary Gianni (Flesk Publica­tions 978-1-64041-022-0, $49.95, 303pp, hc) March 2020. Cover by Gary Gianni.

It’s easy to get lost in the expressive, romantic linework and painting of master artist Gary Gi­anni’s illustrations for George R.R. Martin’s Sev­en Kingdoms. Somehow the heroes and heroines of A Song of Ice and Fire look more heroic, the villains more dastardly, and the ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Yesterday’s Tomorrows: The Story of Classic British Science Fiction in 100 Books by Mike Ashley

Yesterday’s Tomorrows: The Story of Classic British Science Fiction in 100 Books, Mike Ashley (British Library Published 978-0712353717, £15.00, 320pp, trade paperback) October 2020 (US edition titled Yesterday’s Tomorrows: The Story of Science Fiction in 100 Books, May 2021).

The British Library wants to share their wealth. Realizing that many of their 25 million books have undeservedly faded from current memory and attention, the BL has embarked on ...Read More

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Karen Haber Reviews Middle-earth Journeys in Myth and Legend by Donato Giancola

Middle-earth Journeys in Myth and Legend, Donato Giancola (Dark Horse 978-1-50671-086-0, $29.99, 199pp, hc) April 2019. Cover by Donato Giancola.

Much-awarded and acclaimed classical realist artist Donato Giancola has such technical mastery that he is able to depict powerful, memorable im­ages in both SF and fantasy throughout his career. From spacesuits to hobbits, he can and has done it all. Here he takes a deep, delicious dive into all ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Evidence by Christopher Priest

The Evidence, Christopher Priest (Gollancz 978-1-473231375, £20.00, 320pp, hc) October 2020.

Long before the notion of worldbuilding became catnip for writer’s workshops and convention panels, Christopher Priest was finding new ways to explore and exploit his mas­sive Dream Archipelago, a string of thousands of islands on a world in which the two major countries on a massive continent waged an endless war, mostly through a frozen south polar wasteland ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Rise of the Red Hand by Olivia Chadha

Rise of the Red Hand, Olivia Chadha (Erewhon 978-1645660101, $18.95, 384pp, hardcover) January 2021.

Olivia Chadha’s heartfelt, adroit, brisk and thoughtful debut novel proves that everything old is new again. While its “Clutian Real Year” (i.e., the headspace and zeitgeist that birthed it and which provided its themes) is definitely 2020, its soul and blood and sinews are somewhere back in 1985, with the nascent Neuromancer. It’s nth-generation ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune

The Extraordinaries, TJ Klune (Tor Teen, 978-1-250-20365-6, $18.99, 399pp, hc) May 2020.

TJ Klune follows up The House in the Cerulean Sea with another compelling human drama that is set in a world like our own, but with a few unexpected fantasy elements. In Cerulean Sea it was people with magical abili­ties; this time around, in The Extraordinaries, it’s somewhat unconventional superheroes. Teen Nick Bell lives with his ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Anthropocene Rag by Alex Irvine

Anthropocene Rag, Alex Irvine (Tor.com Pub­lishing 978-1-250-26927-0, $14.99, 256pp, tp) March 2020.

I’m still not certain what actually happened in Alex Irvine’s Anthropocene Rag – but I do know that this journey into the heart of a transformed-by-nanotech America is a fascinating ride to take. In the end, that may be all that matters.

Irvine’s America is one where the Boom – essentially, programmable bits of tech that are ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Underneath the Oversea by Marc Laidlaw

Underneath the Oversea, Marc Laidlaw (Free­style, $6.99, eb) October 2020.

Here’s an experiment I wish I could con­duct. I would strip all identifying data from Marc Laidlaw’s new fantasy novel, Underneath the Oversea, and then hand the raw text to a number of savvy lovers of fantastika. I’m willing to bet that many of them would react by saying something along these lines: “Wow! This must be some ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Rest and Be Thankful by Emma Glass

Rest and Be Thankful, Emma Glass (Blooms­bury 978-1-526-60107-0, £12.99, 144pp, hc) March 2020.

While I know it’s odd to say anything remotely positive about 2020, I found this to be an incredible year for fiction and especially sophomore novels from some of the UK’s brightest authors, including Daisy Johnson, Sophie Mackintosh, Megan Hunter, and now Emma Glass. Peach, Glass’s debut novel published in 2018, was an ambitious, if ...Read More

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Karen Haber Reviews The Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde by Oscar Wilde & Yuko Shimizu

The Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde: An Illuminated Edition, Oscar Wilde & Yuko Shimizu (Beehive Books 979-1-948886-01-7, $100.00, 140pp, hc) April 2020. Cover by Yuko Shimuzu.

Historically, small presses have been the refuge of non-mainstream writers and artists, whose work they have nurtured and promoted. In the SFnal field they have provided an important home for many award-winning writers (I’m looking at you, Tachyon). In addition to Tachyon Publications ...Read More

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Karen Haber Reviews Leonardo 2 by Stéphane Levallois

Leonardo 2, Stéphane Levallois (NBM/Louvre éditions 978-1-681122-64-9, $29.99, 96pp, hc) October 2020. Cover by Stéphane Levallois.

If we ever needed art, we need it now. Discuss­ing art books in a time of plague may seem frivolous, but there’s an argument to be made that any distraction becomes precious during times of extreme stress. Also valuable is the reminder of the sublime and ingenious ways humans can transmute powerful emotions ...Read More

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Maya C. James and Rich Horton Review Entanglements, Edited by Sheila Williams

Entanglements: Tomorrow’s Lovers, Fami­lies, and Friends, Sheila Williams, ed. (MIT Press 978-0-26253-925-8, 240pp, $19.95, tp) September 2020.

Artificial intelligence, genome tampering (eugenics), sex bots, and other forms of technology descend upon the middle class in Entanglements, an anthology from Sheila Williams, editor of Asimov’s. Originally launched in 2011 by MIT Technology Review, Twelve Tomorrows is an annual anthology se­ries that explores the role of technology in near and ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews The House of Styx by Derek Künsken

The House of Styx, Derek Künsken (Solaris 978-1786183200, $8.99, eb,) August 2020. (Solaris 978-1781088050, 608pp, $27.99, hc) April 2021.

One of the most notable aspects of Derek Künsken’s short work to date has been a fascination with rigorous worldbuilding, of­ten featuring the extreme, and the politics that often result from adaptation to said environments. These aspects are central to his new novel, The House of Styx, first in ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Blade Between by Sam J. Miller

The Blade Between, Sam J. Miller (Ecco 978-0-06-296982-8, $26.99, 384pp, hc) December 2020.

In both of Sam J. Miller’s YA novels, The Art of Starving and Destroy All Monsters, Hudson High School – presumably a version of the same small-town high school that Miller attended in upstate New York – is nearly as powerful an antagonist as the supernatural forces that threaten Miller’s outsider heroes. With The Blade ...Read More

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