Russell Letson Reviews The Accidental War by Walter Jon Williams

The Accidental War, Walter Jon Williams (Harper Voyager 978-0-06-246702-7, $16.99, 476pp, tp) September 2018.

When, back in 2002, I reviewed The Praxis, the first volume of Walter Jon Williams’ Dread Empire’s Fall trilogy, the lede was, “The signals on the outside of [the advance copy of] the first volume of Walter Jon Williams’s new series don’t really prepare you for what’s inside.” I can’t come up with a better lede ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Hazards of Time Travel by Joyce Carol Oates

Hazards of Time Travel, Joyce Carol Oates (Ecco 978-0-06-231959-3, $26.99, 336p, hc) November 2018.

The main problem with contemporary dystopian fiction, I think, is that it no longer demands any imagination. It’s not just that the US is currently being governed by the petulant brat from Jerome Bixby’s “It’s a Good Life” (or that the rest of the government is acting like the terrified adults in that story), but that ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire, Natasha Ngan (Jimmy Patterson Presents 978-0316561365, $18.99, 400pp, hc) November 2018.

In terms of worldbuilding, Natasha Ngan’s Girls of Paper and Fire works a lot better for me. Overall, it just purely works: part of that might be the sheer weight of feeling that Ngan packs into this, her third novel and fantasy debut. (And what an accomplished, explosive novel it is.)

Lei is the ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Infinity’s End Edited by Jonathan Strahan and Infinite Fantastika by Paul Di Filippo

Infinity’s End, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Solaris) September 2018.
Infinite Fantastika, Paul Di Filippo (WordFire Press) September 2018.

Alas, Jonathan Strahan’s Infinity’s End is the final entry in his Infinity Project series. It’s a very strong book, and these volumes stand with the very best original anthol­ogy series ever in the field, series like Fred Pohl’s Star, Damon Knight’s Orbit, Robert Silverberg’s New Dimensions, and Terry Carr’s Universe. This book’s main ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Mosh­fegh

My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Ottessa Mosh­fegh (Penguin Press 978-0525522119, $26.00, 304pp, hc) July 2018.

I’m sure if it was feasible a number of us would jump at the idea of hibernating for an entire year. Anything to avoid the ongoing horror show currently masquerading as politics. It’s certainly the plan of the unnamed protagonist in Ottessa Moshfegh’s new novel My Year of Rest and Relaxation. Except she isn’t ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Tropic of Eternity by Tom Toner

The Tropic of Eternity, Tom Toner (Night Shade 978-1-59780-911-5, $26.00, 380pp, hc) August 2018.

Fans of Saga, that superlative postmodern-space-opera in graphic novel form, creat­ed by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples, had cause to mourn recently. Issue 54 brought the tragic death of a main character, and also the news that the series would go on indefinite hiatus. If I could offer any solace to these read­ers, it would ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst

Inkmistress, Audrey Coulthurst (Balzer & Bray 978-0-06-243328-2, $17.99, 387pp, hc) March 2018.

In its opening paragraphs, Audrey Coulthurst’s Inkmistress seems to be a story about love. The protagonist, Asra, declares her love and longing for Ina, the beautiful girl who lives in the village below, and soon, with the coming of spring, will return to her. They are aware that their relationship must remain secret – the fear engendered by ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Suspended in Dusk II, Edited by Simon Dewar

Suspended in Dusk II, Simon Dewar, ed. (Grey Matter Press 978-1940658971, $13.95, 257pp, tp) July 2018.

It’s shocking that I can’t remember the last time I read a horror anthology. Back in the day – in my late teens and early twenties – horror anthologies were my bread and butter. Whether it was Dark Forces, Prime Evil, Splat­terpunks: Extreme Horror (volume 1 and 2), Midnight Graffiti, or Little Deaths, these ...Read More

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John Langan Reviews Tide of Stone by Kaaron Warren

Tide of Stone, Kaaron Warren (Omnium Gath­erum 9780615827995 $14.99, 374pp, tp) May 2018.

Tide of Stone, Kaaron Warren’s excellent new novel, concerns a unique prison: a great stone tower located on the Australian coast, which houses the worst of the region’s criminals. What distinguishes the prison is neither its shape nor the depravity of its inmates, but the punishment they are undergoing. The residents of nearby Tem­puston, who staff and ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Sense of Wonder: Short Fiction Reviews (2009-2017) by Gardner Dozois

Sense of Wonder: Short Fiction Reviews (2009-2017), Gardner Dozois (Advent/ReAni­mus Press 978-1718795051, $19.99, 444+60pp, tp) May 2018.

A good example of what we’ll be missing – in this magazine in particular – can be found in Dozois’s Sense of Wonder: Short Fiction Reviews 2009-2017, which collects the first nine years of the Gardnerspace columns he wrote for Locus (in his introduction, Dozois makes it clear this title was foisted upon ...Read More

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John Langan Reviews glass slipper dreams, shattered by Doungjai Gam

glass slipper dreams, shattered, Doungjai Gam (Apokrupha 9781721770724 $7.99 74pp, tp) September 2018.

Many of the most famous examples of horror fiction are brief, from such campfire classics as “The Hook” to Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”. (Even Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” falls on the shorter end of the spectrum.) Despite this, writing a truly effective short horror story, let alone one at flash fiction length, is a rock upon which ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi (Henry Holt 978-1-250-17097-2, $18.99, 448pp, hc) March 2018.

Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone was released with a deafening boom in March, arriving on the heels of a near-seven figure film deal on top of the seven-figure publishing contract for the trilogy. This is big book in every way: big story, big pay­check and, at nearly 400 pages, it’s a physically big ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Static Ruin by Corey J. White

Static Ruin, Corey J. White (Tor.com Publishing 978-1250195548, $15.99, 224pp, tp) November 2018. Cover by Tommy Arnold.

Corey J. White’s Static Ruin is the third – and for now final – volume in his Voidwitch Saga series of novellas. Static Ruin follows on from Void Black Shadow, and it’s much less of a hectic hot mess than that volume, and it serves up a decent helping of cathartic resolution – ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction by Alec Nevala-Lee

Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction, Alec Nevala-Lee (Dey Street/William Morrow 978-0-06-257194-6, $28.99, 528pp, hc) October 2018.

In the acknowledgements to Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Hein­lein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction, Alec Nevala-Lee quotes the late Algis Budrys arguing that “we need a long, objec­tive look at John ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Way of the Shield by Marshall Ryan Maresca and Séances Are for Suckers by Tamara Berry

Marshall Ryan Maresca, The Way of the Shield (DAW 978-0-7564-1479-5, $7.99, 354pp, pb) October 2018. Cover by Paul Young.

Maresca keeps adding new series set in the city of Maradaine, all running more-or-less concurrently, each focusing on a different facet of the city. This first volume in the Maradaine Elite series follows a young man trying to join an archaic military order, one of two surviving orders from the past, ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Tell Me Like You Done Before: And Other Stories Written on the Shoulders of Giants by Scott Edelman

Tell Me Like You Done Before: And Other Stories Written on the Shoulders of Giants, Scott Edelman (Lethe Press 978-1-59021-544-9, $20, 332pp, trade paperback, December 2018)

As a writer who labors meticulously and intensively and slowly at his craft of short fiction, and as one who has publicly proclaimed that he has no interest in writing novels, Scott Edelman accumulates published work at a relatively slow rate—at least compared to ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Adventure of the Dux Bellorum by Cynthia Ward

The Adventure of the Dux Bellorum, Cynthia Ward (Aqueduct Press 978-1-61976-154-4, $12.00, 128pp, tp) October 2018.

This story follows on from the events of The Adventure of the Incognita Countess, in which Lucy Harker, half-vampire (dhampir) daughter of Mina Harker and Dracula and current agent for the British secret service, encountered the vampire Carmilla (famed in history, now reformed from murder and known as Clarimal) and found a deep attraction ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Red Moon by Kim Stanley Robinson

Red Moon, Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit 978-0-316-26237-8, $27.00, 480pp, hc) October 2018.

As far as I know, Kim Stanley Robinson hasn’t bothered to develop a consistent fu­ture history in the manner of Heinlein and others, and it’s just as well: why be constrained by a future concocted years or decades earlier, when everything that’s happened in the interim could alter that future radically? (Robinson recognized this when he updated the ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Agony House Cherie Priest

The Agony House, Cherie Priest (Scholastic/Levine 978-0-545-93435-0 $18.99 272pp, hc) September 2018. Cover by Tara O’Connor.

Cherie Priest takes a pause from adult fiction with this second foray into YA after the cyberthriller I Am Princess X. This time she goes full creepy with a haunted house story set in New Orleans that also manages to throw in a hefty dose of the history of comic books and some thoughtful ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Hidden Sun by Jaine Fenn

Hidden Sun, Jaine Fenn (Angry Robot 978-0857668011, $12.99, 448pp, tp) September 2018. Cover by Andreas Rocha.

Jaine Fenn is probably best known for her Hidden Empire science fiction series, begun in 2008 with Principles of Angels, the last entry for which was Queen of Nowhere in 2013. Hidden Sun is her first novel-length publication in five years, and her first fantasy novel.

Well. For certain values of fantasy. It’s set ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Rosewater by Tade Thompson

Rosewater, Tade Thompson (Apex 978-1-937009-29-8, $16.95, 360pp, tp) November 2016. (Orbit 978-0-316-44905-2, $15.99, 394pp, tp) September 2018.

I missed Tade Thompson’s Rosewater when it first appeared from Apex a couple of years ago and subsequently won the inaugural Nommo award and became a Campbell Award finalist. Since then, it’s generated quite a bit of discussion, not only for its inventive and ambitious plot, but because it seemed to represent yet ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Chercher La Femme by L. Timmel Duchamp

Chercher La Femme, L. Timmel Duchamp (Aq­ueduct Press 978-1619761476, $19.00, 320pp, tp) August 2018.

L. Timmel Duchamp’s eighth novel, Cher­cher La Femme, might have been more than 20 years in the making, involving numerous re-writes and multiple critiques, but I can report that the final product justifies the effort.

The book’s premise is simple enough. A rescue mission is sent from Earth to the far-off world of La Femme to ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Hazards of Time Travel by Joyce Carol Oates

Hazards of Time Travel Joyce Carol Oates (Ecco 978-0-06-231959-3, $26.99, 336pp, hardcover, November 2018)

Joyce Carol Oates turned eighty this year, and her fabled productivity seems undiminished. Given that she began her career at age nineteen by winning a short story contest sponsored by Mademoiselle, she has passed sixty years of unceasing and exemplary creativity. Moreover, she continues to delve into areas outside her familiar remits of mimetic fiction, crime ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

A Blade So Black, L.L. McKinney (Macmillan/Imprint 978-1-250-15390-6 $18.99, 352pp, tp) September 2018.

Author L.L. McKinney is not coy about what she has to offer with her debut novel A Blade So Black. The protagonist is named Alice, her mentor is named Addison Hatta (a “punk Prince Charming” who strolls onto the page in a t-shirt reading “We’re All Mad Here”), and a couple of her pals are a snarky ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Salvation’s Fire by Justina Robson

Salvation’s Fire, Justina Robson (Solaris 978-1781086087, £7.99, 432pp, pb) September 2018.

Salvation’s Fire is Leeds-native Justina Robson’s twelfth novel. Robson’s previous works have been finalists for the Arthur C. Clarke Award (Silver Screen, Mappa Mundi, Living Next Door to the God of Love) and the Philip K. Dick Award (Silver Screen, Natural History, Living Next Door to the God of Love), among others, but although she’s combined fantasy and science ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Vigilance by Robert Jackson Bennett

Vigilance, Robert Jackson Bennett (Tor.com 978-1250209443, $14.99, 448pp, hc) January 2019.

People keep telling me I should read Robert Jackson Bennett’s work, and I keep meaning to. But his 196-page-long novella from Tor.com Publishing, is the first of his work I’ve actually managed to read so far, and, on the evidence, Bennett can pack a hell of a punch.

Vigilance is less a story than an intensely distilled mood, an ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Julia Unbound Audiobook by Catherine Egan

Julia Unbound, Catherine Egan; Erin Spencer, narrator (Listening Library, $32.95, digital download, 11.5 hr., un­abridged). August 2018.

The final installment of The Witch’s Child trilogy is a real race against time that practically explodes with plot. Julia’s brother Dek has been captured by the sinister Casimir and implanted with a sac of poison that will kill him in a couple of weeks. To save her brother, Julia has accepted Casimir’s ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews The Stars Now Unclaimed by Drew Williams

The Stars Now Unclaimed, Drew Williams (Tor 978-1-250-18611-9, $24.99, 448pp, hc) August 2018.

Drew Williams’s The Stars Now Unclaimed is not deep but is a bucket of fun that hews close to the space opera spirit of Star Wars and Firefly.

Jane, our hero, is one of the Justified, a band of be­ings whose goal is to protect the rest of the universe from the Pulse, a technology destroying burst ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews and Night and Silence by Seanan McGuire

Ilona Andrews, Magic Triumphs (Ace 978-0-425-27071-4, $26.00, 327pp, hc) August 2018. Cover by Juliana Kolesova.

The Kate Daniels series wraps up in this tenth volume with some heartwarming bits, grave danger, and yet another epic battle. Kate and Curran have a baby, and Kate’s determined to keep her mad god of a father away from his grandchild. Meanwhile, she deals with Atlanta’s usual magical crises, but a new case involving ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Merry Spinster Audiobook by Mallory Ortberg

The Merry Spinster, Mallory Ortberg; Christina Tra­ister, narrator (Brilliance Audio 978-1-9786-0777-4, $26.99, 5 CDs, 5.25 hr., unabridged [also available on MP3-CD and as a digital download]) July 2018.

The narrator of this short-story collection reads with great feeling and expression. It is therefore a pity that the emotions being exhibited by these modern responses to fairy tales and classic children’s fiction primarily seem to be cynicism and contempt. I am ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Fire & Blood by George R.R. Martin

Fire & Blood: 300 Years Before A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin (Bantam 978-1524796280, 736pp, hardcover, November 2018)

When first the weighty brazen tome yclept Fire & Blood did wend its serendipitous way into mine hands, I was struck with poignant recognition, as by the sharp lance of mine foe. “Magister Martin,” I did spontaneously vociferate, “hath written his own version of The Silmarillion!” But little did ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Apocalypse Nyx by Kameron Hurley

Apocalypse Nyx, Kameron Hurley (Tachyon 978-1-61696-294-4, $15.95, 288pp, tp) July 2018.

Kameron Hurley’s Apocalypse Nyx isn’t a stand-alone novel in her God’s War series, AKA the Bel Dame Apocrypha series, depending on which internet oracle you ask. And I had to ask, because the world Hurley illustrates in the five works of short fiction collected in Apocalypse Nyx is a world I want to return to again and again.

The ...Read More

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