Paula Guran Reviews The Pallbearers Club by Paul Tremblay

The Pallbearers Club, Paul Tremblay (William Morrow 978-0-06306-991-6, $27.99, 288pp, hc) July 2022.

Paul Tremblay continues his well-deserved suc­cess with his latest, The Pallbearers Club. This time out he adds some interesting twists. The novel is presented as a manuscript with notations, comments, and additions by another hand, that of a woman named (at least in the manuscript) Mercy Brown. Although it is supposed to be a novel, ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Life Ceremony by Sayaka Murata

Life Ceremony, Sayaka Murata (Grove Press 978-0-80215-958-8, $25.00, 256pp, hc) July 2022.

In the title story of Sayaka Murata’s collec­tion Life Ceremony, one of the characters observes that “normal is a type of madness… it’s just that the only madness society allows is called normal.” It’s a sentiment that encapsulates the driving force of Murata’s fiction: a recognition that “normality” is subjective, that acceptable behaviour is a generational ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Embertide by Liz Williams

Embertide, Liz Williams (Newcon 978-1-914953-21-7, $16.99, 346pp, tp) June 2022.

Writers of both fantasy and historical fiction have long recognized the British landscape as a palimp­sest, maps upon older maps upon older maps, but in fantasy it’s another sort of palimpsest as well, disguising hidden worlds just below the surface of what we can perceive. It’s a tradition refined and extended in various ways by writers as diverse as

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor by Xiran Jay Zhao

Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor, Xiran Jay Zhao (McElderry Books 978-1-6659-0070-6, $17.99, 352pp, hc) May 2022. Cover by Velinxi.

According to the acknowledgements, Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor was born of author Xiran Jay Zhao’s “obsession with Chinese history, sci-fi concepts, and shonen-anime-esque adventure stories” which combine into “one bonkers book.” If any of those things appeal to you, especially adventure, then you are going to love ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The World We Make by N.K. Jemisin

The World We Make, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit 978-0-31650-989-3, $30.00, 368pp, hc) November 2022.

The term “urban fantasy” has undergone so many permutations over the past few decades, from modest subgenre to block­buster market segment, that it’s probably the name of an energy drink by now. (Don’t tell me if it is.) At the same time, it’s easy to overlook the tradition of fantasies that are actually and intensely urban ...Read More

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Alexandra Pierce Reviews The Future is Female! Vol 2 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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Gabino Iglesias Reviews Anybody Home? by Michael J. Seidlinger

Anybody Home?, Michael J. Seidlinger (CLASH Books 978-1-95590-409-4, $18.95, 234pp, tp) August 2022.

Writing a novel using second person is tricky. Writing a creepy, bizarre novel in which the use of second person pulls the reader into a dark, violent world where laws are broken and people die is much harder. Michal J. Seidlinger pulls off the latter brilliantly in Any­body Home?, and readers actually end up enjoy­ing ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Other Side of Night by Adam Hamdy

The Other Side of Night, Adam Hamdy (Atria Books 978-1-9821-9618-9, $27.00, hc, 282pp) September 2022. Cover by Jim Tierney.

For much of his complex and thoughtful book, Adam Hamdy’s The Other Side of Night presents as a tightly crafted crime novel. There is a child possibly in peril, a dogged former cop who lost her job despite being very good at it, two murders (maybe), and many red herrings. ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Malarkoi by Alex Pheby

Malarkoi, Alex Pheby (Galley Beggar Press 978-1-91311-130-4, £17.99, 550pp, hc) Sep­tember 2022.

To begin with a question: have you read Alex Pheby’s Mordew? If not, stop read­ing this review. Not just because I’m about to spoil the novel, but because Mordew is simply brilliant. If I were prone to sweeping statements, I’d describe it as the best start to a fantasy tril­ogy in the last decade. If, however, ...Read More

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Alexandra Pierce Reviews Unraveller by Frances Hardinge

Unraveller, Frances Hardinge (Macmillan Chil­dren’s 978-1-50983-697-0, £14.99, 496pp, hc) September 2022. (Amulet 9-781-41985-931-4, $19.99, 432pp, hc). Cover by Vincent Chong. January 2023.

If you live in Raddith, and you hate someone deeply enough and long enough, you might develop what the people there call a curse egg. When you’ve really, really had enough of that per­son, you can let the curse go and the object of your hatred will ...Read More

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Alvaro Zinos-Amaro Reviews Stephen King: A Complete Exploration of His Work, Life and Influences by Bev Vincent

Stephen King: A Complete Exploration of His Work, Life and Influences, Bev Vincent (becker&mayer! books 978-0760376812, $30.00, 240pp, hc) September 2022.

In “After the Accident (2000s)”, the fifth and penultimate chapter of The Stephen King Ul­timate Companion: A Complete Exploration of His Work, Life, and Influences, a profusely illustrated biographical guide to King’s life and career, Bev Vincent writes: “Characters suffering grievous physical injuries began to appear regularly ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler

The Mountain in the Sea, Ray Nayler (MCD 978-0-37460-595-7, $28.00, 464pp, hc) October 2022.

Here’s another genre term that seems to have shifted meaning over time. For a field that some­times proudly calls itself “speculative fiction” – an upscale term designed to get you invited to more parties than “science fiction” would – most SF features remarkably few scenarios in which char­acters actively speculate about much of anything. (I guess ...Read More

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Alexandra Pierce Reviews Station Eternity by Mur Lafferty

Station Eternity, Mur Lafferty (Ace 978-0-59309-811-0, $17.00, 336pp, tp) October 2022. Cover by Will Staehle.

In Station Eternity, her first novel since Nebula, Hugo, and Philip K. Dick Award nominee Six Wakes, Mur Lafferty turns two old tropes of the PI-murder-mystery genre on their head. Firstly, the misanthropic investigator. It’s an old one, and maybe not seen as much these days, but the loner PI who’s grown

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Alex Brown Reviews How to Succeed in Witchcraft by Aislinn Brophy

How to Succeed in Witchcraft, Aislinn Brophy (G.P. Putnam’s Sons 978-0-59335-452-0, $18.99, 416pp, hc) September 2022.

Shayna is a junior at the prestigious T.K. Anderson Magical Magnet School in Aislinn Brophy’s debut novel, How to Succeed in Witchcraft. For years she’s been neck and neck with Ana Álvarez, her academic nemesis, but this time she’s determined to come out on top. The Brockton Scholarship is her ticket to

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Russell Letson Reviews Eversion by Alastair Reynolds

Eversion, Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz 978-0-57509-076-7, £20.00, 320pp, hc) May 2022. (Orbit US 978-0-31646-282-2, $17.99, 304pp, tp) August 2022. Cover by Lauren Panepinto.

The strange shuffling sound you will be hear­ing is a reviewer tiptoeing around a text filled with spoiler trapdoors. The book in question is Alastair Reynolds’ Eversion, a novel designed to promote puzzlement, and in fact to be a puzzle as much as a story, which means ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Belladonna by Adalyn Grace

Belladonna, Adalyn Grace (Little, Brown 978-0-316-15823-7, $18.99, hc, 403pp) August 2022.

In Adalyn Grace’s historical fantasy Belladonna, 19-year-old orphan Signa has a problem with Death. He seems to be stalking her, following her from one complicated family situation to another, and always leaving a body behind. She can see Death, she talks to Death, but she doesn’t understand his motivations or how the two of them have formed ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Lucky Girl: How I Became a Horror Writer: A Krampus Story by M. Rickert

Lucky Girl: How I Became a Horror Writer: A Krampus Story, M. Rickert (Tordotcom 978-1-250-81733-4, 110pp, tp; -81734-1, $4.99, ebook) September 2022.

M. Rickert has long demonstrated her skill in managing the venerable tradition of tales nested within tales in such brilliantly constructed stories as ‘‘Journey Into the Kingdom’’ and ‘‘Cold Fires’’ (not to mention last year’s The Shipbuilder of Bellfairie). Her new novella Lucky Girl, which ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Last Night in Brighton by Massoud Hayoun

Last Night in Brighton, Massoud Hayoun (Darf Publishers 978-1-85077-350-4, £10.99, 240pp, tp) October 2022.

In my review of Robert Freeman Wexler’s, The Silverberg Business, I remarked that I seldom read fiction with characters and situations rep­resenting my faith and culture. Yet here I am, for the second consecutive month, reviewing a novel where Jewish identity is central to the nar­rative. The book in question, Massoud Hayoun’s Last Night ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Leech by Hiron Ennes

Leech, Hiron Ennes (Tordotcom 978-1-25081-118-9, $27.99, 336pp, hc), September 2022. Cover by Sam Weber.

In Hiron Ennes’s debut novel, Leech, the far future has gotten really weird. Sure, there’s been extreme climate change – debilitating summers, isolating winters, and literal acid precipitation – no surprises there, given our current state of affairs. The wealthy few have grown wealthier, especially the Baron of the Château de Verdira, a northern

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews Mary by Nat Cassidy

Mary, Nat Cassidy (Nightfire 978-1-25026-523-4, $21.99, 416pp, tp) August 2022.

Nat Cassidy’s Mary is an outstanding debut horror novel. It’s also a novel that shouldn’t work. Take, for example, just a few of the ele­ments present in this novel’s wild mix of ideas: ghosts, anxiety, serial killers, an abusive aunt, depression, reincarnation, and insects that aren’t really there. Might sound like too much but, in Cassidy’s capable hands, it ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Telluria by Vladimir Sorokin

Telluria, Vladimir Sorokin (NYRB Classics 978-1681376332, trade paperback, 352pp, $18.95) August 2022.

Vladimir Sorokin is a postmodern, pissed-off Stanislaw Lem. In line with his belonging to a younger generation (Sorokin was born in 1955, Lem in 1921), Sorokin is less cerebral, more emotionally “hot.” But while not necessarily as deeply invested in philosophical/ontological/epistemological issues as Lem was, Sorokin shares Lem’s abilities to push old tropes and novums to the ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Every Version of You by Grace Chan

Every Version of You, Grace Chan (Affirm Press 978-1-92280-601-7, $32.99, 288pp, hc), July 2022.

Tao-Yi and Navin are in love. Really in love. In the 2080s of Grace Chan’s Every Version of You, a supportive, genuine relationship like the one they have is just as pre­cious and rare as right now.

Things are not easy for the couple, however. Tao-Yi’s mother, Xin-Yi, lives with chronic clini­cal depression. Navin

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Night Shift by Eileen Gunn

Night Shift, Eileen Gunn (PM Press 978-1-629639-42-0, $15.00, 115pp, tp; -56-7, $8.95, ebook) August 2022.

I’ve come to think of PM Press’s Outspoken Authors series, which has by now been going on for some 13 years under the editorship of Terry Bisson, as my favorite collection of author hang­outs. These modest collections of fiction, essays, bibliographies, and interviews have ranged from legendary authors like Le Guin and Delany to

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Alvaro Zinos-Amaro Reviews Brian W. Aldiss by Paul Kincaid

Brian W. Aldiss, Paul Kincaid (University of Il­linois Press 978-0252044489, $25.00, 216pp, tp) July 2022.

“There is almost too much to be said about Brian Aldiss,” Paul Kincaid observes early on in this book. Indeed, “in a career of sixty years Brian Aldiss produced over eighty books and more than four hundred short stories, not counting his numerous poems, plays, and other occasional writings.” These books include a notable

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Carnival and Other Stories by Charles Beaumont

The Carnival and Other Stories, Charles Beaumont (Subterranean Press 978-1645240914, hardcover, 392pp, $45.00) October 2022.

The myths and legends surrounding creative geniuses who died too young are omnipresent and alluring. John Keats, Buddy Holly, Keith Haring, Marilyn Monroe, Janis Joplin— Such names form a pantheon of appreciation for what was accomplished and regrets for the might-have-beens.

Fantastika is not bereft of such a catalogue. Stanley Weinbaum, Cyril Kornbluth, Tom ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews The Last Storm by Tim Lebbon

The Last Storm, Tim Lebbon (Titan 978-1-80336-042-3, $15.95, 352pp, tp) July 2022.

One of the most amazing things about horror is that tropes can become fresh, unique beasts in the hands of the right writer. Years ago I was sure the zombie genre was dead, no pun intended. Literature about the undead had already done it all and there was no way a new zombie horror novel could make ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Ballad of Perilous Graves by Alex Jennings

The Ballad of Perilous Graves, Alex Jennings (Redhook 978-0-7595-5719-2, $28.00, hc, 480pp) June 2022. Cover by Lisa Marie Pompilio.

In a letter to readers of his debut novel, The Ballad of Perilous Graves, author Alex Jen­nings notes that the book was prompted by a discussion back in 2009 about children returning to New Orleans without their parents in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the federal levee failure. ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Conjunctions 78: Fear Itself by Bradford Morrow, ed.

Conjunctions 78: Fear Itself, Bradford Morrow, ed. (Bard 978-0-941964-89-0, $20.00, 322pp, tp) Spring 2022.

My first reaction to picking up Fear Itself, the Spring 2022 issue of the long-running anthology series Conjunctions, was: why? Given everything that’s happening right now – the worsening effects of climate change, never-ending viral pandemics, wars in Ukraine and Tigray, and inflationary pres­sures forcing so many to go with so little – ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Neom by Lavie Tidhar

Neom, Lavie Tidhar (Tachyon 978-1-61696-382-8, $17.95, 240pp, tp) November 2022.

Every so often, arguments erupt on social media about whether it’s even worthwhile to read old-school ‘‘golden age’’ SF, given the vast cultural and demographic broadening of the field during the past few decades. It’s always struck me as an unnecessary dichotomy, since no two writers have the same set of ancestors anyway, and since it’s entirely possible to ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Expect Me Tomorrow by Christopher Priest

Expect Me Tomorrow, Christopher Priest (Gollancz 978-1473235137, hardcover, 336pp, £22.00) September 2022 (US edition December 2022).

In 2023, Christopher Priest turns eighty, a non-trivial milestone. His first short story sale dates to 1966, giving him a career, so far, of over 55 years. And, remarkably, as his new novel amply illustrates, he is still working at the top of his form. SFWA Grand Master nomination, anyone?

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Colleen Mondor Reviews These Fleeting Shadows by Kate Alice Marshall

These Fleeting Shadows, Kate Alice Marshall (Viking Books for Young Readers 978-0-593-40511-6, $18.99, 357pp, hc) August 2022.

These Fleeting Shadows is described by the publisher as ‘‘The Haunting of Hill House meets Knives Out,’’ which is certainly apt but really nowhere close to what this creepy novel with its unforeseeable plot twists and complex characters is all about. Yes, the house is haunted, and yes, the family ...Read More

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Alexandra Pierce Reviews The Genesis of Misery by Neon Yang

The Genesis of Misery, Neon Yang (Tor 978-1-25078-897-9, $27.99, 432pp, hc) September 2022. Cover by Angela Wang.

There’s a certain magic in using history in science fiction. Perhaps the most common option is alternative history. Another is what I think of as transposing history: taking what makes a sequence of historical events remarkable and moving them to a completely different setting, simultaneously keeping them recognizable and yet also creating ...Read More

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