Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Of Ants and Dinosaurs by Cixin Liu

Of Ants and Dinosaurs, Cixin Liu (Head of Zeus 978-1-789-54611-8, 256pp, £18.99, hc) April 2020.

Cixin Liu’s satirical novel Of Ants and Dinosaurs seems to have a complex history. A novella with this title was published in China in 2004, later appearing as a standalone book in 2012, translated by Holger Nahm. This was included in Liu’s 2013 collection The Wandering Earth published in Beijing – but not in ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco

Wicked As You Wish, Rin Chupeco (Sourcebooks 978-1-4926-7266-1, $17.99, 400pp, hc) February 2020.

Rin Chupeco’s Wicked As You Wish is a sometimes dizzying combination of classic fairy tales and alternate history that draws heavily from the real world and somehow manages to include everything from the Snow Queen to King Arthur to Wonderland to ICE. (Here’s the unlikeliest quote to appear in a YA fantasy novel ever: ”So ICE ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Creatures of Charm and Hunger by Molly Tanzer

Creatures of Charm and Hunger, Molly Tanzer (John Joseph Adams 978-0-358-06521-0, $16.99, 320pp, tp) April 2020.

When Molly Tanzer introduced her ”Diabolist’s Library” trilogy with Creatures of Will and Temper back in 2017, she combined the sharply insightful coming-of-age tale of two contrasting sisters finding their way in Victorian London with a cleverly gender-swapped version of Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Then, with a skillful narrative ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Race to the Sun, Rebecca Roanhorse (Disney Hyperion 978-136802466-2, $16.99, 298pp, hc) January 2020. Cover by Dale Ray DeForest.

Rick Riordan’s already impressive Disney Hyperion imprint has another winner with Rebecca Roanhorse’s adventure, Race to the Sun. Sporting a southwestern setting and Navajo protagonist while executing a traditional hero/heroine’s journey with aplomb, Race to the Sun hits all the right notes while giving readers an excellent ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again by M. John Harrison

The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again, M. John Harrison (Gollancz 978-0575096356, 272pp, hardcover) June 2020

One does not merely read a novel by M. John Harrison; rather, one inhabits it. Or perhaps the uncanny novel inhabits the lucky reader. For the duration of the reader’s immersion in the text (or the immersion of the text in the reader), his or her consciousness is erased and supplanted with Harrison’s ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe and Liz Bourke Review The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water, Zen Cho (Tor.com 978-1-250-26925-6, $19.99, 160pp, hc) June 2020. Cover by Sija Hong.

After decades of movies, games, manga, and TV, it might well be that contemporary audiences are more familiar with the conventions of wuxia than with the classic American Western – not that there isn’t a fair amount of overlap. The crucial opening scene of Zen Cho’s The ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Interlibrary Loan by Gene Wolfe

Interlibrary Loan, Gene Wolfe (Tor 978-1-250-24236-5, $25.99, 308pp, hc) June 2020.

There was already something of a valedictory tone about Gene Wolfe’s 2015 novel A Borrowed Man, which portrayed a glum, diminished future in which authors survive as helpless ”reclones” who could be checked out of libraries like books (or cubes or disks) – but who could casually be incinerated if they aren’t checked out frequently enough. In ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Fantastic Fiction of Hannes Bok by Hannes Bok

The Fantastic Fiction of Hannes Bok, Hannes Bok (American Fantasy Press 978-0990784678, $45, 448pp, hardcover) March 2020

As a kid, I used to confuse the artwork of Hannes Bok and Boris Artzybasheff. There’s a surface similarity, but when examined closer, Bok’s paintings and drawings exude a kind of Art Deco romance that Artzybasheff’s more cold and clever and satirical drawings never did. We can tell that one man was ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Honeybones by Georgina Bruce and Engines Beneath Us by Malcolm Devlin

Honeybones, Georgina Bruce (TTA Press 978- 1-9163629-1-8, £7.00, 90pp, tp) May 2020.

Honeybones, the sixth in TTA Press’s novella series, deals with ugly subjects in beautifully written prose. Georgina Bruce immediately plunges the reader into young teen Anna Carew’s befuddled mind and places us in a ”house of mirrors… entangled with its selves, a pattern looping inwards, up stairs and through doorways and round corners…” haunted by ”endless ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews By Force Alone by Lavie Tidhar

By Force Alone, Lavie Tidhar (Head of Zeus 978-1838931278, £18.99, 516pp, hc) March 2020. (Tor 978-1-250-75345-8, $27.99, 416pp, hc) June 2020.

Sometimes while reading a Lavie Tidhar novel, there comes a point when you feel like he’s grabbed the wheel, grinning as he drives you aggressively into oncoming traffic and somehow pulls off moves that by all rights ought to be fatal. That’s never been more the case than ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews The Eleventh Gate by Nancy Kress

The Eleventh Gate, Nancy Kress (Baen 978-9821-2458-8, $16.00, 344pp, hc) May 2020. Cover by Bob Eggleton.

Ideological, familial, and generational tensions have figured prominently in Nancy Kress’s stories as far back as the Beggars sequence of the 1990s, and now in The Eleventh Gate they become major plot drivers. The new novel combines elements of space opera with quasi-dystopian political conflict and intrigue among a collection of extrasolar colonies. ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Uncanny, Black Static, Nightmare, and The Dark

Uncanny 3-4/20 Black Static 3-4/20 Nightmare 3/20, 4/20, 5/20 The Dark 3/20, 4/20

Let’s start with Uncanny #33. Alix E. Harrow‘s ”The Sycamore and the Sybil” is flat-out marvelous. It has the immutabily of myth, the magic of lore, and the power of modern wonder. The narrator is a sycamore who was once a woman (if you know about Daphne, you’ll have no problem accepting that) who ...Read More

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Liz Bourke & Adrienne Martini Review Network Effect by Martha Wells

Network Effect, Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-25022-986-1, $26.99, 352pp, hc) May 2020. Cover by Jaime Jones.

Martha Wells has been writing excellent books since 1993, when Tor Books published her The Element of Fire. The Element of Fire, in its revised 2006 version and Wells’s The Wheel of the Infinite (2000) would feature in a list of my 100 favourite books of all time, so it may ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Made to Order, Edited by Jonathan Strahan, and Anthropocene Rag by Alex Irvine

Made to Order, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Solaris) March 2020. Anthropocene Rag, Alex Irvine (Tor.com Publishing) March 2020.

I don’t think there can be any doubt that the best currently working original anthologist of science fiction is Jonathan Strahan. (Ellen Datlow probably retains that title for fantasy and certainly for horror.) Strahan’s new anthology is Made to Order, on the subject of robots and mostly their desire for ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Queen’s Bargain by Anne Bishop and Shakespeare for Squirrels by Christopher Moore

Anne Bishop, The Queen’s Bargain (Ace 978-1-9848-0662-8, $27.00, 414pp, hc) March 2020.

Bishop returns to her popular Black Jewels series with an eighth novel that picks up with the surviving main characters a few years later. The issues of sexual power and abuse remain prominent, but they get a couple of new twists here, with the introduction of a young Warlord, Lord Dillon, who was promised marriage and used sexually ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews The Last Emperox by John Scalzi

The Last Emperox, John Scalzi (Tor 978-0-7653-8916-9 $26.99, 320pp, hc) April 2020.

The Last Emperox is dedicated ”to the women who are done with other people’s shit.” That alone is a great summation of what drives the plot of the third book of John Scalzi’s Interdependency trilogy, which includes The Collapsing Empire and The Consuming Fire.

While the dedication may be aimed at the reader, it also ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982, Cho Nam-Joo (Liveright 978-1-63149-670-7, $20.00, 176pp, hc) April 2020.

Since its publication in 2016, Cho Nam-Joo’s Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 has sold over a million copies in South Korea, been touted as one of the country’s most important feminist novels, and sparked vicious attacks from anti-feminists, which were reignited when the book was adapted into a film in 2019. Given its popularity and the ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Big Book of Modern Fantasy Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

The Big Book of Modern Fantasy, edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer (Vintage 978-0525563860, $25, 896pp, trade paperback) July 2020

When last we saw our intrepid curatorial editors, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, just a year ago in fact, they were hacking their way resolutely through the jungles of fantastika like Mr. and Mrs. Indiana Jones, emerging with an Ark of the Covenant labeled The Big Book of Classic Fantasy ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Providence by Max Barry

Providence, Max Barry (Putnam 978-0-593- 08517-2, $27, 320pp, hc) March 2020.

Providence by Max Barry opens with a description of a video clip, a fictional one that calls to mind the real world one of the towers coming down on September 11: everyone remembers exactly where they were when they first saw it. In this clip, humanity meets the salamanders, an alien species that can spit tiny black holes ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

The Empress of Salt and Fortune, Nghi Vo (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-25075-029-7, $3.99, 124pp, eb) March 2020.

At this point it should no longer surprise me when Tor.com puts out a gorgeous little novella that robs me of anything meaningful to say, because I want only to luxuriate in its pleasures rather than offering a critical assessment. Yet here we are, The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo ...Read More

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Arley Sorg Reviews Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland

Deathless Divide, Justina Ireland (Balzer + Bray 978-0-06-257063-5, $18.99, 560pp, hc) February 2020.

The sequel to 2018’s Dread Nation, Justina Ireland’s Deathless Divide begins with clever, quick recaps, and is lined throughout with enough unobtrusive explanation that one could easily read it as a standalone. That said, the first book is excellent and shouldn’t be passed up. Anyone who plans to read the first book should not ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Relentless Moon, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor 978-1-250-23695-1, $28.99, 544pp, hc) July 2020.

Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Relentless Moon is exactly the book I needed at the end of March 2020.

For the record, I’m writing this in April 2020. The state I live in has been essentially locked down since St. Patrick’s Day because of the novel coronavirus. This review will run in June, most likely, which means ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Universal Love by Alexander Weinstein, Not One of Us, and Past Tense, Edited by John Benson

Universal Love, Alexander Weinstein (Henry Holt) January 2020. Not One of Us 4/20 Past Tense, John Benson, ed. (Not One of Us) January 2020.

I loved Alexander Weinstein’s first story collection,  Children  of  the  New  World.  Universal Love, his second, is another proof SF  has  taken  up  permanent  residence  in the mainstream world. Weinstein writes almost exclusively SF but is praised everywhere, and yet the only ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

The House in the Cerulean Sea, TJ Klune (Tor 978-1-250-21728-8, $26.99, 352pp, hc) March 2020.

I am sitting at the dining room table, writing this review on April 19th. In my corner of the world, north of Seattle, we have been thinking about the coronavirus longer than almost anyone else in America. Governor Jay Inslee issued a stay-at-home order on March 23, almost two months after the nation’s first ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

House of Earth and Blood, Sarah J. Maas (Bloomsbury 978-1-63557-404-3, $28.00, 816pp, hc) March 2020.

Sarah J. Maas’s sales numbers make for a reputation that precedes her. Her YA novels, including A Court of Thorns and Roses and Throne of Glass, have sold millions of copies and made her a New York Times bestselling author many times over. Her fans are wild for her work, loyal and loving ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Harpy by Megan Hunter

The Harpy, Megan Hunter (Picador 978-1- 52901-021-3, £14.99, 256pp, hc) September 2020. (Grove 978-0-80214-816-2, $26.00, 256pp, hc) November 2020.

If you’re not familiar with Megan Hunter, you should be. Her 2017 debut, The End We Start From, is a fragmented story about a mother and her newborn child struggling to survive during a climate apocalypse. With prose that’s sparse but beautiful, and drawing on fables and myths, Hunter ...Read More

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Gary. K. Wolfe Reviews Or What You Will by Jo Walton

Or What You Will, Jo Walton (Tor 978-1-250-30899-3, $26.99, 320pp, hc) July 2020.

It’s too bad that Marianne Moore’s imaginary garden with real toads has become such a fossilized cliché, because I thought of it several times while reading Jo Walton’s Or What You Will, which is an imaginary literary landscape with real books in it. Not only does Walton borrow characters and plot points from Shakespeare’s The ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Tyrant Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

The Tyrant Baru Cormorant, Seth Dickinson (Tor 978-0765380760, $32.50, 656pp, hc) August 2020.

Five years ago, I was privileged to review, in the online wing of this fine publication, Seth Dickinson’s debut novel, The Traitor Cormorant. I praised his prose as ”deft and forceful,” while deeming his characters ”all built to clever and deep dimensions, with fully human qualities and motives.” Finding his novel to be a tasty ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh

Blue Ticket, Sophie Mackintosh (Doubleday 978-0-38554-563-1, $26.95, 304pp, hc) June 2020.

Sophie Mackintosh’s much anticipated second novel, Blue Ticket, shares several qualities with her critically acclaimed and Man Booker longlisted debut The Water Cure. Both books feature dystopian settings. Both books are deeply concerned with a new wave of reactionary politics – fuelled by right-wing populists and conservative legislative bodies – that look to undermine women’s rights. ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones

Night of the Mannequins, Stephen Graham Jones (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-250-75207-9, $11.99, 138pp, tp) July 2020.

Stephen Graham Jones often takes readers into the minds of children and teens. Their fictional brains respond to consensus reality in ways that reflect convincing realities others can’t see. The results of these quirky points of view fuel plots that prove unsettling. His latest novella, Night of the Mannequins, is deeply disturbing. Sawyer, ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Knife Children and The Orphans of Raspay by Lois McMaster Bujold

Lois McMaster Bujold, Knife Children (Spectrum Literary Agency) 2019. (Subterranean Press 978-1-59606-954-1, $25.00, 208pp, hc) February 2020. Cover by Ryan Pentacoast.

Bujold’s latest two novellas finally out in print both involve grown men taking care of girls, but otherwise the tales are quite different. Knife Children adds to the Sharing Knife series, picking up with Barr, a young scapegrace Lakewalker from the original series, now a 33-year-old patroller back from ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Voodoo Shanghai by Kristi Charish and Forced Perspectives by Tim Powers

Kristi Charish, Voodoo Shanghai (Vintage Canada 978-0-345-81592-7, $14.95, 415pp, tp) February 2020.

In this third volume in the Kincaid Strange urban fantasy/mystery series, the Seattle voodoo practitioner is getting tired of being pushed around by the local cops (one her ex-boyfriend) and her new uber-cranky ghost-boss, the sorcerer Gideon Lawrence, who’s teaching her new ways to use mirrors to manage ghosts. Then there’s the Singaporean family whose spoiled teenage daughter ...Read More

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