Liz Bourke reviews In Evil Times by Melinda Snodgrass

In Evil Times, Melinda Snodgrass (Titan 978-1-7832-9584-5, $14.95, 400pp, pb). July 2017. Cover by Alex Ronald.

I wanted to have good things to say about In Evil Times, sequel to Melinda Snodgrass’s The High Ground (2016). Instead, I found reading it to be a very alienating experience. This is not, I hasten to add, because of any insufficiency in Snodgrass’s prose or skill as a novelist. Rather, it’s because of ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe reviews A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan El­lison by Nat Segaloff

A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan El­lison, Nat Segaloff (NESFA Press 978-1-61037, $35.00, 416pp, hc) July 2017.

For decades, people (myself included) have asked Harlan Ellison when he might get around to writing an autobiography, bringing together in one volume those voluminous anecdotes and memoirs that have peppered his speeches, introductions, and essays almost since his first story collections and conven­tion appearances. His response, at least when I ...Read More

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Faren Miller reviews The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

The Last Magician, Lisa Maxwell (Simon Pulse 978-1-4814-3207-8, $18.99, 500pp, hc) July 2017. Cover by Craig Howell & Cliff Nielsen.

The Last Magician is billed as YA and its chief protagonist is a girl in her late teens, but Lisa Maxwell doesn’t write down or pull many punches. Only after reviewing Belcher did I notice how the dialog sidesteps around Anne Bonny’s favorite word, while allowing an occasional “shit.” Although ...Read More

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Faren Miller reviews The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisen

The Stone Sky, N.K. Jemisen (Orbit 978-0-316-22924-1, $16.99, 420pp, tp) August 2017.

N.K. Jemisin ups the ante even more in The Stone Sky, finishing The Broken Earth trilogy with the fate of the planet in just a few hands and time run­ning out. Here millennia of history and lore stand behind gritty dramas of the moment – though perspective shifts feel even more jarring when all foreground action occurs in ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini reviews Upon This Rock: Book 1 – First Contact by David Marusek

Upon This Rock: Book 1 – First Contact, David Marusek (A Stack of Firewood Press 978-0-9988633-0-6, $9.99, 574pp, eb). June 2017.

David Marusek’s first big impact on the SF/F land­scape was 2005’s Counting Heads, a book about genetic engineering peopled with strong, interest­ing characters and a meandering yet purposeful plot. The sequel Mind Over Ship dropped four years later. Then, apart from publishing a couple of quiet short story collections, ...Read More

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Russell Letson reviews Iain M. Banks by Paul Kincaid

Iain M. Banks, Paul Kincaid (University of Illinois Press 978-0-252-04101-3, $95.00, hc; -08250-4, $22.00, 190pp, tp) May 2017. Cover by Mark J. Bradley.

Paul Kincaid’s Iain M. Banks takes on the task of accounting for a writer whose career sprawled across at least two literary categories and whose primary gifts (at least in the view of this reader) are a dizzying verbal adroitness married to a relentless and hard-edged philosophical ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor reviews Sovereign by April Daniels

Sovereign, April Daniels (Diversion Books 978-1-682-308-240, $14.99, 314pp, tp) July 2017.

Teenage superhero Danny Tozer returns for more adventures as the mighty Dread­nought in Sovereign, a sequel that packs a ton of personal and professional drama (plus superhero smashdowns) into its 300+ pages. The first thing, and most important, is that read­ers absolutely must read Dreadnought before tackling Sovereign. Trust me, you’re going to be hopelessly lost otherwise and will ...Read More

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Stefan Dziemianowicz reviews Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

Fever Dream, Samanta Schweblin (Riverhead 978-0-399-18459-8, $25.00, 192pp, hc) Janu­ary 2017.

The title of Samanta Schweblin’s first novel, Distan­cia de rescate, translates as “the rescue distance,” the term a character uses to describe the amount of ground she would have to cover in order to reach her young daughter and whisk her away from danger. The title of the English-language edition of the book, however, is Fever Dream, which speaks ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe reviews Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Warrior, Nnedi Okorafor (Viking 978-0-6707-8561-2, $18.99, 480pp, hc) October 2017

It’s been more than six years since Nnedi Okora­for’s Akata Witch, which introduced us to Sunny Nwazue, the American-born daughter of Nigerian parents (or Naijamerican) who moves to Nigeria at 12, begins to discover her own latent powers as a “free agent,” joins the secret society of Leopard people, discovers the magical hidden village of Leopard Knocks, and finally ...Read More

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Liz Bourke reviews An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard

An Unkindness of Magicians, Kat Howard (Saga Press 978-1-4814-5119-2, $25.99, 368pp, hc) September 2017.

Kat Howard’s first novel, Roses and Rot had strong folkloric influences. It was a version of Tam Lin set in an art­ists’ retreat, and its main characters were two sisters – although only one was our viewpoint character – who had survived childhood parental abuse to find relative success in their respective careers as a dancer ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe reviews The Twilight Pariah by Jeffrey Ford

The Twilight Pariah, Jeffrey Ford (Tor.com 978-0-7653-9734-8, $14.99, 164pp, tp) Septem­ber 2017.

A group of college students setting out to ex­cavate the grounds of a long-deserted mansion at night sounds like the plot of about half the low-budget horror films you scroll past while browsing through listings for the Shudder or Chiller channels, and I suspect Jeffrey Ford was perfectly aware of this while writing The Twi­light Pariah, a suitably ...Read More

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Gardner Dozois reviews Extrasolar by Nick Gevers, ed.

Extrasolar, Nick Gevers, ed. (PS Publishing) August 2017.

For the last several years, I’ve proclaimed one book or another by Jonathan Strahan to be the Best Science Fiction Anthology of the Year, but this year Extrasolar, edited by Nick Gevers, may give Strahan a decent run for his money. Unlike many of Gevers’s past Postscripts an­thologies, which have tended toward slipstream and soft horror with only a smattering of SF, ...Read More

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Liz Bourke reviews The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion by Margaret Killjoy

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion, Margaret Killjoy (Tor.com Publishing 978–0-7563-9736-2, $14.99, 128pp, tp) July 2017. Cover by Mark Smith.

Margaret Killjoy’s The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion is a peculiar, compelling, and atmo­spheric novella. I’d never heard of Killjoy before this novella, though I understand she’s written plenty of fiction and nonfiction, largely from an anarchist point of view.

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion is set in a ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor reviews The Leaf Reader by Emily Arsenault

The Leaf Reader, Emily Arsenault (Soho Teen 978-1-61695-782-7, $18.99, 240pp, tp) June 2017.

Emily Arsenault has been writing quirky mys­teries for adults for some time, garnering her a much-deserved following from card catalog aficionados (for The Broken Tea Glass) to Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, and Loretta Lynn fans (for Miss Me When I’m Gone). Now with her young adult debut, The Leaf Reader, the author dives deep into the missing ...Read More

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Faren Miller reviews Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman

Black Mad Wheel, Josh Malerman (HarperCol­lins Ecco 978-0-06-225968-4, $26.99, 292pp, hc) May 2017.

The alternating plotlines of Josh Malerman’s Black Mad Wheel both use the present tense and focus on a man named Philip Tonka. We first see him as a badly injured, yet not completely amnesiac patient in a midwestern hos­pital, someone who still “remembers every detail of the desert” where he was nearly pulverized, yet can’t explain what ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor reviews In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan

In Other Lands, Sarah Rees Brennan (Small Beer/Big Mouth House 978-1-6187-312-03, $19.95, 465pp) August 2017. Cover by Carolyn Nowak.

I have rewritten the first paragraph of this re­view a half-dozen times, trying to find some way to make clear that Sarah Rees Brennan has created a nearly perfect YA fantasy without gushing. I can’t do it. In Other Lands is brilliantly subver­sive, assuredly smart, and often laugh-out-loud funny. It combines ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe reviews Tender: Stories by Sofia Samatar

Tender: Stories, Sofia Samatar (Small Beer 978-1-618-73126-5, $24.00, 280pp, hc) April 2017.

The practice of including original stories in a collec­tion of mostly reprints is usually an astute marketing decision, but perhaps not always the best literary decision. There have been cases, some in fairly recent memory, in which brilliant tales that helped establish the writer’s reputation are mixed with what one suspects were trunk stories that never found a ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Above the Timberline by Gregory Manchess

Above the Timberline, by Gregory Manchess (Simon & Schuster/Saga Press 978-1-4814-5923-5, $29.99, 240pp, hardcover) October 2017

For nearly twenty years I have been a member of an egroup called Fictionmags, founded by David Pringle, best known for his helming of Interzone. Our broad remit covers “all magazine fiction of any sort.” Populated with passionate readers and bibliophiles, the group naturally tends however to wander all over the literary map ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini reviews The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch

The Furthest Station, Ben Aaronovitch (Subter­ranean 978-1-59606-833-9, $40.00, 146pp, hc) June 2017. Cover by Stephen Walters.

I’m already in the tank for Ben Aaronovitch’s Midnight Riot series of books, which follows the trials of one Peter Grant, a police constable in London’s Metropolitan Police. He’s in a special unit, one that is charged with tracking down crimes that involve magic or, as his non-magical brothers in stab vests say, “weird ...Read More

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John Langan reviews Ill Will by Dan Chaon

Ill Will, Dan Chaon (Ballantine 9780345476043 $28.00, 480pp, hc) March 2017.

Dustin Tillman, the protagonist of Dan Chaon’s brilliant, thrilling Ill Will, sits at the nexus of two sets of murders. The first occurred when he was a young child: his mother, father, aunt, and uncle were shot to death the morning the two families were supposed to leave for a vacation to Yellowstone Park. Dustin accused his older, adopted ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman reviews The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

Laurie Forest, The Black Witch (Harlequin Teen, 978-0-373-21231-6, $19.99, 601pp, hc) May 2017.

Oppressed teens begin to see the world differ­ently at university in this first book in the young-adult Black Witch Chronicles series. The story centers on Elloren Gardner, granddaughter of the last Black Witch. Elloren looks eerily like her late grandmother but lacks any magical ability herself. However, the reader knows she does have magic, a lot of ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe reviews Telling the Map: Stories by Christopher Rowe

Telling the Map: Stories, Christopher Rowe (Small Beer 978-1-618-73132-6, $16.00, 270pp, tp) July 2017. Cover by Kathleen Jennings.

One of the surviving conventions of golden age SF is the notion that any sort of complicated future is likely to be both urban and coastal, but there’s also been a smaller but distinctive tradition of flyover-state futures that imagine the towns and rural areas of the South or Midwest as something ...Read More

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Russell Letson reviews Tomorrow’s Kin by Nancy Kress

Tomorrow’s Kin, Nancy Kress (Tor 978-0-765390295, $25.99, 352pp, hc) July 2017.

I’m going to have the same problem reviewing Nancy Kress’s Tomorrow’s Kin that I did with Steal Across the Sky a few years back: how to describe its virtues without giving away what are clearly meant to be surprises. (As I have not seen the finished book, I don’t know what hints and details the jacket copy might offer.) ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini reviews River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

River of Teeth, Sarah Gailey (Tor.com Publishing 978-0-7653-9523-8, $14.99, 176pp, tp) May 2017. Cover by Richard Anderson.

Here’s what is true: at the turn of the 20th century, a couple of American business tycoons (and wannabe tycoons) floated the idea of populating the swampy south with hippopotami. The beasts would make great eating, they thought, which means they could make some money. The whole story – and it’s a great ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe reviews Mother Go by James Patrick Kelly

Mother Go, James Patrick Kelly; January LaVoy, narrator (Audible, $29.95, 10 hrs., un­abridged, digital download) July 2017.

It’s been more than a decade since James Patrick Kelly’s short novel, Burn, and his new one Mother Go is unusual in that its first publication comes as an audiobook (this review is based on the text version). Kelly is deservedly well respected for his short fiction, and two of the three stories ...Read More

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Faren Miller reviews The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley

The Bedlam Stacks, Natasha Pulley (Blooms­bury 978-1-6240-967-1, $26.00, 332pp, hc) July 2017.

In The Bedlam Stacks, Natasha Pulley’s uncon­ventional imagination finds a new voice. Merrick Tremayne spent the 1850s working for Britain’s notorious East India Company as a kind of agent/enforcer/drug smuggler in China. This left him washed up at age 30, back at the crumbling family home in Cornwall with little hope of full recovery from a bad leg ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

Autonomous, Annalee Newitz (Tor 978-0-7653-9207-7, $25.99, 306pp, hc) September 2017.

With only a handful of stories published – sometimes in think-tankish venues such as Hieroglyph or Bruce Sterling’s Twelve Tomorrows – and with a distinguished career in science and SF non-fiction and journalism, Annalee Newitz might well be expected to produce the sort of programmatic first novel that we used to get from professional ‘‘futurists’’ like Robert Theobald or even ...Read More

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Rachel Swirsky Reviews An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King

An Excess Male, Maggie Shen King (Harper Voyager 9780062662552, $15.99, 416pp, tp) September 2017.

Wei-Guo is An Excess Male. One of a huge population of unmarried men in China, Wei-Guo has never slept with a woman apart from his weekly government-allotted sex worker. Finally, at 40, he and his fathers have saved enough money for a small dowry, just enough to attract the attention of May-Ling and her two husbands, ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Paolo Bacigalupi

Tool of War, by Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown 978-0-316-22083-5, $17.99, 384pp, hardcover) October 2017

The famously hazy interzone between fiction for adults and fiction for youths totally inverts, evaporates, resubstantiates, and turns into a four-dimensional labyrinth when we consider a novel such as Paolo Bacigalupi’s Tool of War. Demarcations and prohibitions and expectations become meaningless or double-valued, and in the end all one can say is that, no ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Blood Enemies by Susan R. Matthews

Blood Enemies, Susan R. Matthews (Baen 976-1476782164, $16.00, 256pp, tp) April 2017. Cover by Kurt Miller.

Susan R. Matthews’ Blood Enemies is the long-awaited conclusion to her Under Jurisdiction series. The first book in that series, An Exchange of Hostages, was first published in 1997. Until Baen recently republished previous volumes in the series as Fleet Inquisitor and Fleet Renegade, it was entirely out of print and there seemed to ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Innkeeper Chronicles by Ilona Andrews

The Innkeeper Chronicles, Volume One, Ilona Andrews (Subterranean Press 978-1-59606-836-0, $75.00, 773pp, hc) May 2017. Cover by Doris Mantair.

An inn for otherworlders visiting Earth takes center stage in this thoroughly entertaining omnibus collecting Andrews’s first three novels in the Innkeeper Chronicles series: Clean Sweep, Sweep in Peace, and One Fell Sweep. (All three were originally published as serials on Andrews’s website, then self-published.) Despite this volume’s considerable heft, it’s ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Quillifer by Walter Jon Williams

Quillifer by Walter Jon Williams (Simon & Schuster/Saga Press 978-1-4814-8997-3, $27.99, 544pp, hardcover) October 2017

Walter Jon Williams is one of those genre writers whose talents and ambitions are too large to be contained by any single mode of fantastika. He’s done space opera and near-future thrillers, high fantasy and steampunk, dystopias and cyberpunk. One never knows exactly what mode he will next attempt and conquer. His latest book does ...Read More

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