Liz Bourke Reviews The Name of All Things by Jenn Lyons

The Name of All Things, Jenn Lyons (Tor 978-1-250-17553-3, $26.99, 592pp, hc) October 2019. Cover by Lars Grant-West.

I read Jenn Lyons’ debut, The Ruin of Kings, around the time it was published in early 2019. It’s a brick of a book – traditional, for epic fan­tasy, in terms of its size. Even if it proceeded to make several rather less-traditional choices in its worldbuilding, structure, and characters, ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews World Engines: Destroyer by Stephen Baxter

World Engines: Destroyer, Stephen Baxter (Gollancz, 978-1-473-22317-2, £20.00, 564pp, hc) September 2019.

Stephen Baxter’s novels are generally busy, multi-motif crossroads – interstellar voy­ages intersect with alternate history, space opera crosses into cosmology opera, alien inva­sions get disrupted by time travel, and whole libraries of SF tropes compete for our attention in narratives that often require multiple volumes to work out their complexities and variations. World Engines: Destroyer fits right ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews The Border Keeper by Kerstin Hall

The Border Keeper, Kerstin Hall (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-25020-941-2, $14.99, 238pp, tp) July 2019.

“She lived where the railway tracks met the salt­pan, on the Ahri side of the shadowline.” From this first line of The Border Keeper by Kerstin Hall, the book behaves like a bold, new creature. Its engine is the dazzling imagination of its author, who has assembled a world – really a series of them – ...Read More

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Karen Haber Reviews The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, Illustrated by Ale + Ale

The Time Machine, H.G. Wells, illustrated by Ale + Ale (Rockport 978-1-63159-728-2, $30.00, 208pp, hc) May 2019. Cover by Ale + Ale.

Yes, I know you, the reader, know all about H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine, one of the books that gave birth to the entire SF genre. But you need to know about a brilliant new illustrated edition issued as part of the Classics Reimagined series from ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Starless Sea Audiobook by Erin Morgenstern

The Starless Sea, Erin Morgenstern; Dominic Hoffman, Dion Graham, Bahni Turpin, Fiona Hardingham, Allan Corduner, and Jorjeana Marie, narrators (Random House Audio, $50.00, CD, 18.5 hr., unabridged) November 2019.

When Zachary Ezra Rollins (you get to know his full name really well, since those three words open most of the sections from his perspective, which seems either mythic or repetitive when it’s continually spoken) was a boy, he came ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Zed by Joanna Kavenna

Zed, Joanna Kavenna (Faber & Faber 978-0-571-24515-4, £16.99, 400pp, hc) July 2019. (Doubleday 978-0-385-54547-1, $27.95, 352pp, hc) January 2020.

Outside of climate change and Donald Trump starting World War III (and, if we survive that, World War IV), algorithms pose the greatest existential threat to humanity. Tim Maughan astutely illustrates this in his bril­liant debut, Infinite Detail, which depicts a near-future Manhattan where surveillance, driven by predictive algorithms, ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen

The Merciful Crow, Margaret Owen (Henry Holt 978-1-250-19192-2, $18.99, 369pp, hc) July 2019.

In The Merciful Crow, the first book of her new series, Margaret Owen introduces a world that is both familiar (distracted king ignoring his duties, ambitious second queen who wants her young son to rule, crown prince who is the target of his murderous stepmother, faithful best friend determined to save prince, many many ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Sword and Pen by Rachel Caine and Lost Acre by Andrew Caldecott

Rachel Caine, Sword and Pen (Berkley 978-0-451-48924-1, $17.99, 358pp, hc) September 2019. Cover by Katie Anderson.

Things look grim in this fifth and final book in the Great Library series, which picks up right where the previous left off. Jess Brightwell and his friends have finally made it back to the Great Library at Alexandria, and the corrupt Archivist is on the run – but all the powers in Europe ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews Carl Brandon, Edited by Jeanne Gomoll

Carl Brandon, Jeanne Gomoll, ed. (Union Street Press 978-0-35957-906-8, $16.00, 92pp, tp) June 2019.

There’s a lot going on in the little book called Carl Brandon, a self-published volume edited by Jeanne Gomoll. It collects five texts by various authors: an introduction by Nisi Shawl & K. Tem­pest Bradford, who co-founded the Carl Brandon Society; an explanatory essay by Terry Carr, who co-founded Carl Brandon himself; “The Cacher ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Emergency Skin Audiobook by N.K. Jemisin

Emergency Skin, N.K. Jemisin; Jason Isaacs, narrator (Brilliance Audio, $1.99, digital download, 1 hr., unabridged) September 2019.

SF thriller author Blake Crouch solicited and edited six stories about possible futures for his Forward anthology, all of which are available separately, both as ebooks and audio productions narrated by an array of actors.

My favorite story in the bunch, as well as the greatest text/audio matchup in the series, was ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Fighters of Fear, Edited by Mike Ashley

Fighters of Fear: Occult Detective Stories, edited by Mike Ashley (Talos 978-1945863523, $29.99, 624pp, hardcover) January 2020

It is a simple and undeniable fact that the past will in many ways always overpower and outweigh the present. It’s a matter involving sheer numbers and mass. The present is a tiny moving window of some quantum of time in which our consciousness lives. To be generous, let’s denominate “the present” ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Bone Ships by RJ Barker

The Bone Ships, RJ Barker (Orbit 978-0-316-48796-2, $15.99, 500pp, tp) September 2019. Cover by Edward Bettison.

The Bone Ships is RJ Barker’s fourth novel, the first in a new series after his well-received Wounded Kingdom trilogy. I haven’t read the Wounded King­dom books (Age of Assassins, Blood of Assassins, and King of Assassins), which makes The Bone Ships my first encounter with Barker’s work. I ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

The Night Tiger, Yangsze Choo (Flatiron Books 978-1-250-17545-8, $26.99, 384pp, hc) February 2019.

Author Yangsze Choo takes readers on an immersive ride into the past with her entertaining mystery-fantasy ad­venture, The Night Tiger. Set in 1931 Malaya, the novel combines one young boy’s quest to fulfill the deathbed wish of a revered elder with a young woman’s attempt to return a souvenir dismembered finger to the lecherous creep ...Read More

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Ian Mond and Gary K. Wolfe Review Anyone by Charles Soule

Anyone, Charles Soule (Harper Perennial 978-0062890634, $21.99, 400pp, hc) December 2019.

I’ve been avidly reading Charle Soule’s work since I ended my decades-long comics book hiatus in 2011. I began with Soule’s run on DC’s Swamp Thing and then, when I migrated to Mar­vel comics, enjoyed his take on Thunderbolts, the Inhumans, and Daredevil. I was particularly fond of his creator-owned series, the wildly inventive and gonzo Letter 44 ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi

Gingerbread, Helen Oyeyemi (Riverhead 978-1-59463-465-9, $27.00, 272pp, hc) March 2019.

Make no mistake: Helen Oyeyemi’s sixth novel is literary fiction, with a profound central metaphor and wander­ing, unfixed storylines. Its language is heady and attention-getting: “Flowers wilt and shed mottled petals, mold blooms greenish-white on chocolate truffles, and Harriet’s gingerbread hunkers down in its tin, no more attractive than the day it ar­rived, but no more repellent either.” But ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Initiate by James L. Cambias

The Initiate, James L. Cambias (Baen 978-1-98212-435-9, $25, 288pp, hardcover) February 2020

Producing four superior novels in six years, starting with A Darkling Sea in 2014 and extending to the current one in 2020, James Cambias seems to have hit his stride, but not his peak. We can only anticipate many more fine books to follow.

Indicative of his desire always to be expanding his range, Cambias’s newest is ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews All Worlds Are Real by Susan Palwick

All Worlds Are Real, Susan Palwick (Fairwood Press 978-1-933846-84-2, $17.99, 320pp, tp) November 2019.

In her introduction to All Worlds are Real, Jo Walton correctly notes that Susan Palwick is “definitely not as well known as a writer this good ought to be at this point in her career.” While one reason for this is that she’s not been especially prolific – four novels and one prior collection ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews A Dream So Dark by L.L. McKinney

A Dream So Dark, L.L. McKinney (Imprint 978-1-250-15392-0, $18.99, 416pp, hc) Sep­tember 2019.

L.L. McKinney picks up the action right where she left off with her new “all hands on deck” sequel to A Blade So Black, A Dream So Dark. After losing one of her closest friends and discovering a major se­cret about her mentor in the closing pages of A Blade So Black, McKinney’s ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Resurgence by C.J. Cherryh

Resurgence, C.J. Cherryh (DAW 978-0-7564-1427-6, $26.00, 340pp, hc) January 2020. Cover by Todd Lockwood.

A quarter-century and 20 volumes into a long-running series, it’s hard to figure the exact audience to address in a review of the newest, Resurgence. When C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner sequence began in 1994, it looked like it might have been the start of a mere trilogy. Over the last 25 years, it has become ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Full Throttle: Stories by Joe Hill

Full Throttle: Stories, Joe Hill (Morrow 978-0-06220-067-9, $27.99, 484pp, hc) October 2019.

Joe Hill’s first collection 20th Century Ghosts – which this reviewer read, reviewed, and then interviewed the author while having no idea he was the son of Stephen King – was full of fresh, genre-bending work. It was a thrill to discover an unknown author with such talent and promise. Of course, Hill went on from there ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu

The Hidden Girl and Other Stories, by Ken Liu (Saga 978-1982134037, $26, 432pp, hardcover) February 2020

Ken Liu is the kind of prodigious talent who makes mere mortals melt in despair at ever matching his accomplishments. He could have been content to remain a software engineer and lawyer, but instead he added to his CV the vocations of editor, translator, and fiction writer. If he had done any of ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe and Ian Mond Review The Deep by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson & Jonathan Snipes

The Deep, Rivers Solomon, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson & Jonathan Snipes (Saga 978-1-534-43986-3, $19.99, 176pp) November 2019.

Rivers Solomon’s The Deep has a pretty colorful and convoluted history, but one that suggests how SF and Afrofuturist conceits are increasingly interacting with the broader culture. The idea of a utopian under­water society built by the water-breathing de­scendants of pregnant slaves thrown overboard from slave ships was first conceived by ...Read More

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Adam Roberts Reviews The Quantum Garden by Derek Künsken

The Quantum Garden, Derek Künsken (Solaris 978-1781085714, $11.99, 300pp, tp) October 2019.

I reviewed Künsken’s debut novel The Quan­tum Magician for Locus and was, I can be honest, unsurprised Solaris elected not to use my summary judgment as a cover-blurb, viz.: “It’s not Proust but it passes the time.” Now here’s the follow-up volume: The Quantum Garden, Quantum Evolution #2. It is more of the same. If you ...Read More

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Russell Letson and Gary K. Wolfe Review Agency by William Gibson

Agency, William Gibson (Berkley 978-1-101-98693-6, $28.99, 416pp, hc) January 2020.

In Agency, William Gibson has produced a sequel to The Peripheral – or as much of a sequel as can be expected of a story space built, not on one alternate history or timeline, but on branching sets of them. Of course, the “multiple alternate histories” enabling device has been around SF for decades, going back as far ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Jakarta by Rodrigo Márquez Tizano

Jakarta, Rodrigo Márquez Tizano (Coffee House Press 978-1566895637, $16.95, 160pp, tp) No­vember 2019.

The fact that Rodrigo Márquez Tizano’s debut, Jakarta, (originally published in 2016 and trans­lated by the always brilliant Thomas Bunstead) does not take place in Indonesia is one of the least puzzling aspects of this hallucinogenic novel. The setting is the city of Atlantika, a crumbling dys­topia, struggling to recover from the Z-Bug, the latest ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Minor Prophets by Jimmy Cajoleas

Minor Prophets, Jimmy Cajoleas (Amulet 978-1-4197-3904-0, $18.99, 368pp, hc) September 2019.

Minor Prophets by Jimmy Cajoleas is presented as a thriller with slight supernatural elements. In the opening pages, teen Lee recounts how he has long suffered from prophetic visions, many of which have come true. One of those visions strikes hard after his mother and stepfather have a loud fight and she roars off in her car, declaring, ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The House of Sundering Flames by Aliette de Bodard

The House of Sundering Flames, Aliette de Bodard (Gollancz 978-1-47322-340-0, £16.99, 560pp, tp) July 2019. (JABberwocky Literary Agency 978-1-625674-61-6, $16.00, 386pp, tp) September 2019.

I’m sure that someone, somewhere, has pointed out a possible relationship between fantasy trilo­gies and the structure of classical sonatas or symphonies, with the final movement recapitu­lating major themes while accelerating the pace and leading toward an aggressively dramatic climax, but Aliette de Bodard’s Dominion ...Read More

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Near Future Speculator: Paul Di Filippo Reviews Unamerica, Rule of Capture, The Warehouse, and Future Tense Fiction

Unamerica, Cody Goodfellow (978-1732124059)

Rule of Capture, Christopher Brown (978-0062859099)

The Warehouse, Rob Hart (978-1-9848-2379-3)

Future Tense Fiction, edited by Kirsten Berg, Torie Bosch, Joey Eschrich, Ed Finn, Andrés Martinez and Juliet Ulman (978-1944700959)

The world is running a fever, and science fiction is the thermometer, if not also the febrifuge. That is, whenever the genre is not busy gallivanting across the galaxy, science fiction can, ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern and To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

The Starless Sea, Erin Morgenstern (Doubleday 978-0-38-55412-13, $28.95, 512pp, hc) Novem­ber 2019.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is more or less the pro­tagonist in The Starless Sea, Erin Morgenstern’s follow-up to her bestselling The Night Circus. The “more or less” caveat is there because Morgenstern takes great glee in subverting expectations for what a story needs to contain in this, um, story. There are characters, each of whom is ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews A Little Hatred by Joe Abercombie

A Little Hatred, Joe Abercombie (Orbit 978-0-316-18716-9, $27.00, 480pp, hc) September 2019.

Toward the end of Joe Abercombie’s A Little Hatred, the beginning of a new trilogy set in the world of his First Law novels and stories, one of the main characters, Rikke, comes across an imposing, temple-like building and asks “What is this?… A school for wizards?” The mage accompanying her explains, “Not quite…. It is ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews All of Us With Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil

All of Us With Wings, Michelle Ruiz Keil (Soho Teen 978-1-64129-034-0, $18.99, 360pp, hc) June 2019.

All of Us with Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil is a love letter to San Francisco in the late 1980s that includes a combustible love affair, a forthright coming-of-age tale (for multiple characters), and a vengeance-fueled subplot that incorporates elements of magic realism. The plot is largely straightforward, but the emotional conflicts are ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Factory by Hiroko Oyamada

The Factory, Hiroko Oyamada (New Directions 978-0811228855, $13.95, 116pp, tp) October 2019.

The Factory is Hiroko Oyamada’s fiction debut both in English, where it’s been translated by David Boyd, and in Japanese, where it was origi­nally published in 2013. The short novel (really a novella) follows three people recently employed at an industrial factory located somewhere in Japan. Yoshiko Ushiyama, who works in Print Services, where she spends her ...Read More

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