Colleen Mondor Reviews Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Opposite of Always, Justin A. Reynolds (Katherine Tegen 978-0-06-274837-9, $17.99, 464pp, hc) March 2019.

It is not a spoiler to state that Opposite of Always is a novel about time travel; specifically, the story of Jack traveling back over the same period of months again and again (and again and again) to save the life of his girlfriend, Kate. All of this is revealed on the book’s cover, which ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews No Country for Old Gnomes by Delilah S. Daw­son & Kevin Hearne

No Country for Old Gnomes, Delilah S. Dawson & Kevin Hearne (Del Rey 978-1-52479-777-5, $28.00, 416pp, hc) April 2019.

Can we agree that writing humor is really difficult? And that writing humorous fantasy is even tougher? It’s so easy to write dreadful humorous fantasy, and so difficult to write it well that I can count the definite successes on one hand: Terry Pratchett, Robert Asprin, and maybe Piers Anthony. ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Miranda in Milan Audiobook by Katharine Duckett

Miranda in Milan, Katharine Duckett; Saskia Maaleveld, narrator (Audible Studios, $12.99, digi­tal download, 4.5 hr., unabridged). March 2019.

Fantasy writers never want to accept Miranda’s happy ending with Ferdinand at the end of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. And who can blame them? Ferdinand is the only young man (or perhaps the second young man, depending on how you depict Caliban) that Miranda ever meets; can this really be a ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews An Affair of Poisons by Addie Thorley

An Affair of Poisons, Addie Thorley (Page Street 978-1-62414-713-5, $18.99, 383pp, hc) February 2019.

In 1679 there was a documented plot to assassinate King Louis XIV of France. Instigated by his discarded mistress, Madame de Montespan, a poisoned petition was prepared, and on three separate occasions there were attempts to present it to the king; all of them failed. The plot was uncovered and over 30 people were arrested ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Sing Your Sadness Deep by Laura Mauro

Sing Your Sadness Deep, Laura Mauro (Undertow 978-1988964133, $27.99, 236pp, hardcover) August 2019

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the founding of Undertow Publications, under the aegis of Michael Kelly, who wears a second hat as an accomplished fiction writer himself, thus continuing the field’s grand tradition of editors who know how stories are put together from the inside out (Knight, Dozois, Campbell, et. al). During that span ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey

Magic for Liars, Sarah Gailey (Tor 978-125-017461-1, $25.99, 336pp, hc) June 2019. Cover by Will Staehle.

Sarah Gailey’s Magic for Liars falls on the Lev Grossman’s The Magicians side of the magic schools continuum. Osthorne Academy is less Hogwarts and more Brakebills but with a touch of the former’s whimsy. That doesn’t make Magic for Liars a derivative work that lacks a fresh touch. This is a well that ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Song for the Unraveling of the World by Brian Evenson

Song for the Unraveling of the World, Brian Evenson (Coffee House Press 978-156689-548-4, $16.99, 212pp, tp) June 2019.

In his story “Leaking Out”, which could be read as Brian Evenson’s characteristically oblique take on the haunted house tale, a “malformed man” (another characteristic Evenson figure) starts tell­ing a story with the warning that “this is not that kind of story, the kind meant to explain things. It simply tells ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Brightfall by Jaime Lee Moyer

Brightfall, Jaime Lee (Jo Fletcher 978-1-78747-920-3, £18.99, 312pp, hc) August 2019.

Brightfall is Jaime Lee Moyer’s first novel since her debut trilogy (Delia’s Shadow, A Barricade in Hell, and Against A Brightening Sky, the last of which came out in 2015). Brightfall is both like and unlike these previous books. Like, in that it shares a similar tone and a similar interest in women’s lives ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Laws of the Skies by Grégoire Courtois

The Laws of the Skies, Grégoire Courtois (Coach House 978-1552453872, $16.95, 160pp, tp) May 2019.

In March this year, my eight-year-old son Joshua went camping for the first time. A month later I read The Laws of the Skies by French author Grégoire Courtois (translated by Rhonda Mullins), which involves a group of six-year-olds embarking on their first-ever camp trip. If the order of these two events had been ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Girls with Kaleidoscope Eyes by Howard V. Hendrix

The Girls With Kaleidoscope Eyes: Analog Stories for a Digital Age, Howard V. Hendrix (Fairwood Press 978-1-933846-77-4, $17.99, 318pp, trade paperback) August 2019

I do believe I’ve read all six of Howard Hendrix’s ingenious, well-crafted and entertaining novels, all of which I’ve enjoyed immensely. When, retrospectively, his output of novels seemed to cease with Spears of God, in 2006, I was dismayed and sad. For one reason or ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Longer by Michael Blumlein

Longer, Michael Blumlein (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-250-22981-6, $15.99, 234pp, tp) May 2019.

In direct contrast to Stephenson’s much-muchness sits Michael Blumlein’s Longer. In this novella, he folds idea upon idea and builds distinct characters who are in constant and subtle movement. Longer packs so many interesting moments into its compact structure that it is a challenge to not turn immediately back to the first pages after you read the ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Unraveling by Karen Lord

Unraveling, Karen Lord (DAW 978-0-7544-1520-4, $26.00, 258pp, hc) June 2019.

I don’t think it’s giving anything away to note that the final section of Karen Lord’s Unraveling is titled “Metanoia”, since that term has at least a couple of meanings that are relevant not only to the new novel (her fourth), but to the whole body of her work to date. The more-or-less theological meaning, which has to do ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Five Unicorn Flush by T.J. Berry

Five Unicorn Flush, T.J. Berry (Angry Robot US 978-0-85766-783-0, $12.99, 314pp, tp) May 2019. Cover by Lee Gibbons.

T.J. Berry’s debut novel, Space Unicorn Blues, took place in a fantastical space opera world, one in which creatures from human mythology, possessing magical powers, live and struggle alongside humans. These beings are known as the Bala, and the totalitarian, genocidal human government known as the Reason went to war ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Archive of Alternate Endings by Lindsey Drager

The Archive of Alternate Endings, Lindsey Drager (Dzanc 978-1945814822, $16.95, 168pp, tp) May 2019.

Above the ten chapter headings that make up Lindsey Drager’s remarkable short novel The Archive of Alternate Endings are a range of years beginning with 1378 and ending with 2365. Those mathematically inclined will note a 75- to 79-year gap between each year, and those who know their celestial bodies will figure out that this ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe and Adrienne Martini Review Fall; or, Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson

Fall; or, Dodge in Hell, Neal Stephenson (Morrow 978-0-06-245871-1, $35.00, 896pp, hc) June 2019.

Neal Stephenson’s idea of a novel isn’t quite the same as anyone else’s, and for the most part this has served him remarkably well. His Baroque Cycle trilogy was really no more a trilogy than was Asimov’s Foundation series, except that while Asimov’s narrative units were stories and novellas, Ste­phenson’s were entire novels – and ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Broken Shadow by Jaine Fenn

Broken Shadow, Jaine Fenn (Angry Robot US 978-0-85766-803-5, $12.99, 432pp, tp) May 2019. Cover by Andreas Rocha.

Jaine Fenn’s Hidden Sun, out from Angry Robot Books last year, introduced the reader to the world of shadowlands and skylands. In the shadowlands, or at least the ones with which the novel concerns itself, a powerful Church restricts scientific development and unorthodox thought, while a patriarchal society relegates women to ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews Amnesty by Lara Elena Donnelly

Amnesty, Lara Elena Donnelly (Tor 978-1-25017-362-1, $18.99, 384pp, tp) April 2019.

“It is not easy,” Aristide Makricosta tells a gathered crowd early in Amnesty, “to destroy your life. To coat the things you love in kerosene and light a match.” He is talking about Cordelia Lehane, a burlesque dancer turned resistance leader, who did exactly that when she decided to fight against the fascism sweeping across Amberlough. Cordelia ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Triangulum by Masande Ntshanga

Triangulum, Masande Ntshanga (Two Dollar Radio 978-1937512774, $17.99, 367pp, tp) May 2019.

I was predisposed to enjoy Masande Ntshanga’s Triangulum. Some of my favourite books are “found manuscript” novels, including James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, David Means’ Man Booker Prize longlisted Hystopia, and the granddaddy of them all, Mark Z. Danielewski’s breathtaking House of Leaves. Triangulum doesn’t feature the ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Iron Dragon’s Mother by Michael Swanwick

The Iron Dragon’s Mother, Michael Swanwick (Tor 978-1-250-19825-9, $26.99, 366pp, hc) June 2019.

There are hints of the afterlife in Michael Swanwick’s The Iron Dragon’s Mother, but it’s hard to accuse a fantasy world of pretentiousness when it cheerfully includes living metal dragon jet fighters along with Hello Kitty backpacks, or in which the streets of a magical underwater city are lined with Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh

Do You Dream of Terra-Two?, Temi Oh (Saga 978-1-53443-7401 $16.99, 528pp, tp) March 2019.

First, this book is a doorstop. I am not kid­ding, it’s a book about a deep space mission that doesn’t even leave the ground until more than 100 pages in. It has a big cast of char­acters (six living teens, one dead one, four adults, plus mentions of various parents and assorted other living and ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews The Warship by Neal Asher

The Warship, Neal Asher (Night Shade 978-1-59780-990-0, $26.99, 369pp, hc) May 2019. Cover by Adam Burn.

Okay, now it’s getting complicated. I called Infinity Engine (2017), the finale of Neal Asher’s Transformation trilogy, “sprawling and shaggy,” a description that ap­plies as well to his new book. The Warship is the plot-thickening middle volume of a trilogy that is also part of the Polity future history series that so far ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Ragged Alice by Gareth L. Powell

Ragged Alice, Gareth L. Powell (Tor.com Pub­lishing 978-1-250-22018-9, $14.99, 202pp, tp) April 2019.

In this novella, Powell introduces DCI Holly Craig, a London-based detective who has de­cided to move back to her native Wales in this Broadchurch-esque mystery. The detective grew up in the seaside town Pontyrhudd, where things aren’t always what they seem and the residents are colorful. A young woman has been murdered and Craig’s untangling ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Red Birds by Mohammed Hanif

Red Birds, Mohammed Hanif (Bloomsbury 978-1408897188, £16.99, 304pp, hc) October 2018. (Grove/Black Cat 978-0802147288, $16.00, 304pp, tp) May 2019.

Mohammed Hanif draws on his own experience as an Air Force pilot for his fourth novel, Red Birds, a hit-and-miss satire on America’s attitude toward foreign policy, set in a refugee camp located in an unnamed Arabic country.

The narrative alternates between three charac­ters, the first of which is ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Descendant of the Crane, Joan He (Albert Whitman 978-0-80751-551-8, $17.99, 416pp, hc) April 2019.

I more than liked Joan He’s debut fantasy. Descendent of the Crane sets itself in a world deeply influenced by Chinese history and culture. It’s a lush, deeply realised world, full of laws and ministries and red-light districts, scents and textures and presences, histories and legacies. (I’m almost certainly missing references and reso­nances that would ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok

Spectacle, Jodie Lynn Zdrok (Tor Teen 978-0-7653-9968-7, $17.99, 359pp, hc) February 2019.

Author Jodie Lynn Zdrok’s Paris initially reads as quite familiar to fans of historical fiction. It’s 1887 and the Eiffel Tower is under construction, the Cata­combs are open for tours, and every morning bodies “found in the public domain” are displayed at the morgue. Anyone and everyone lines up for a brief glimpse of the dead. The ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction, Edited by Tarun H. Saint

The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction, Tarun K. Saint, ed. (Hachette India 978-93-88322-05-8, RS599, 382pp, hc) March 2019.

Over the past several months, we’ve looked at anthologies of Chinese, Korean, and Israeli SF, all largely geared towards familiarizing ”outsiders” – namely, English language readers – with these vari­ous national voices. The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction, edited by Tarun K. Saint, is a little different. ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Radicalized by Cory Doctorow

Radicalized, Cory Doctorow (Tor 978-1250228581, $26.99, 304pp, hc) March 2019.

There’s a glib and half-serious theory that the career of every SF writer is contained in embryonic form in their first short-story sale. For Cory Doctorow, this critical trick holds partially true. His first major work – “Craphound” from 1998 – displayed his affinity for droll humor laced with melancholy; his hipness and intimacy with trends, fads, and bubbling-under ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

Early Riser, Jasper Fforde (Viking 978-0-670-02503-9, $28.00, 416pp, hc) February 2019. Cover art by Patrick Leger.

Given how popular Jasper Fforde’s Friday Next books are, I feel like I have to preface this review with a disclaimer: Early Riser is the first Fforde I’ve ever read. As far as I can tell, it does not fit into his most popular series. I also can’t tell you if it is ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews No Way by S.J. Morden

No Way, S.J. Morden, (Orbit US 978-0-316-52221-2, $15.99, 372pp, tp) February 2019.

In One Way (2018), S.J. Morden mashed up two kinds of procedural: a very hard-SF planetary-pioneering adventure (the building of the first Mars base) and a countdown murder mystery modeled on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. That book ends with the murders solved and the surviving character facing an un­certain future. The sequel, No ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Stealing Worlds by Karl Schroeder

Stealing Worlds, Karl Schroeder (Tor 978-0-7653-9998-4, $29.99, 320pp, hardcover) June 2019

There are a handful of SF writers whose novels are both vastly entertaining and which also serve as engineer-level blueprints for refashioning the world. In this category I would put Kim Stanley Robinson, Vernor Vinge, Cory Doctorow, William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, and Charles Stross. Now, with a shift in his focus from far futures ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Station Zero by Philip Reeve

Station Zero, Philip Reeve (Oxford University Press 978-0-19-275915-3, 7.99, 288pp, tp) Janu­ary 2018. (Capstone 978-1684460540, $17.95, 313pp, hc) February 2019.

Having now finished reading Station Zero, the final book in Philip Reeve’s fabulous Railhead trilogy, I remain confused about why this science fiction series is not far more popular. It has politi­cal intrigue, smart and gutsy teens of all shapes, sizes, races, and genders, more than one battle ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Little Animals by Sarah Tolmie

The Little Animals, Sarah Tolmie (Aqueduct 978-1-61976-161-2, $20.00, 378pp, tp) May 2019.

Sarah Tolmie’s approach to the intersection between the historical and the marvelous is comparatively minimalist. The Little Animals is, for the most part, a straightforward account of the early career of the 17th-century Delft scientist Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, as he discovers and records various “animalcules” through his homemade single-lens microscopes and tries to get his findings recognized ...Read More

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