Gabino Iglesias Reviews Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

Remote Control, Nnedi Okorafor (Tordotcom 978-1-250-77280-0, 160pp, $17.99, hc) January 2021. Cover by art by Greg Ruth.

Nnedi Okorafor’s Remote Control is a dark fantasy with Africanfuturistic elements that explores life, death, and loneliness while chronicling a few years in the early life of young girl who becomes the Angel of Death. Easy to read, emotionally gritty, and wildly imaginative, this is a short novel that takes readers into ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Relics, Wrecks, & Ruins, Edited by Aiki Flinthart

Relics, Wrecks, & Ruins, Aiki Flinthart, ed. (Cat Press 978-0-648-99173-1, $29.99, 460pp) January 2021.

On her website, novelist and editor Aiki Flinthart tells us that “after being diag­nosed with terminal cancer in late 2019, [she] reached out to as many of the best sci-fi/fantasy/horror authors as would answer.” The end product of this clarion call is Relics, Wrecks, & Ruins, an anthology that, despite the tragic circumstances surrounding ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Ravens by Kass Morgan & Danielle Paige

The Ravens, Kass Morgan & Danielle Paige (HMH Books 978-0-358-09823-2, $18.99, 400pp, hc) November 2020.

Kass Morgan & Danielle Page’s novel The Ra­vens combines several current YA trends. The primary setting is a college sorority comprised of witches who are mostly preoccupied with furthering their own popularity. They live in a gorgeous historic house, attend a Georgia col­lege that has an appropriately creepy cemetery nearby, and spend a lot ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews A Wild Winter Swan by Gregory Maguire

A Wild Winter Swan, Gregory Maguire (Wil­liam Morrow, 978-0-06298-078-6, $27.99, 240pp, Hardcover) October 2020.

One of the best aspects of Gregory Maguire’s work is his refusal to remove the wildness from animals, even anthropomorphized animals, in his books. Animals in his work fail to conform to human behavior and expectations in ways that are totally realistic for animals, and un­heard of in Disney films and their creative descen­dants. Maguire ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Weak Spot by Lucie Elven

The Weak Spot, Lucie Elven (Soft Skull 978-1-593-76630-6, $15.95, 176pp, tp) February 2021.

Lucie Elven’s novella, The Weak Spot, is set in a village somewhere in Europe; “an unrushed place” situated at the top of a mountain, which can only be reached by a funicular. Into this secluded environment comes our unnamed narrator, a young pharmacist who scores a gig at the local chemist, under the tutelage of ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Complete Ivy Frost by Donald Wandrei

The Complete Ivy Frost, Donald Wandrei (Haffner Press 978-1893887619, 720pp, $49.99, hardcover) December 2020

Haffner Press has been gifting the world of bibliophiles and literature-lovers with enormously attractive and highly readable books since 1998, when they published Jack Williamson’s The Queen of the Legion. (For a complete record of their offerings, visit their ISFDB page.) Any publication from Haffner exemplifies craftsmanship, graphic design ingenuity, and attention to textual ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini and Russell Letson Review A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine

A Desolation Called Peace, Arkady Martine (Tor 978-1250186461, $26.99, 496pp, hc) March 2021.

Despite how many readers raved about it, I didn’t manage to read Arkady Martine’s multi-award winning A Memory Called Empire when it first came out. There is never enough time, you know? But when the follow-up – A Desolation Called Peace – hit my in-box, I read the first few pages and was so hooked that ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Uncanny, and The Book of Dragons

F&SF 1-2/21 Uncanny 1-2/21 The Book of Dragons, Jonathan Strahan ed. (Harper Voyager) July 2020.

F&SF opens the year with a remarkable no­vella from John Kessel. “The Dark Side” concerns Leon Czolgosz, the murderer of President McKinley. The story runs on two tracks, one detailing Czolgosz’s actions leading up to his crime, plus some backstory, and also the aftermath as he is tried and executed. The ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses by Kristen O’Neal

Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses, Kristen O’Neal (Quirk 978-1-68369-234-8, $18.99, 384pp, hc). April 2021.

A ton of books have been published with were­wolf characters, but debut author Kristen O’Neal has written one that stands out for all that it lacks: no romance, no murder, no vampires, and no climactic battle between good and evil. Lycan­thropy and Other Chronic Illnesses takes read­ers into the world of a chronically ill young ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews What Abigail Did That Summer by Ben Aarono­vitch

What Abigail Did That Summer, Ben Aarono­vitch (Subterranean Press 978-1-64524-029-7, $40.00, 232pp, hc) March 2021.

Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London uni­verse keeps sending new rivulets in unex­pected directions. The series, which started with a relatively straightforward novel about Peter Grant, a London police officer who finds himself confronted with magic, has branched into a comic book series, an audiobook, a handful of short sto­ries, and seven more novels. The ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Alias Space and Other Stories by Kelly Robson

Alias Space and Other Stories, Kelly Robson (Subterranean 978-1645240259, $40.00, 420pp, hc) April 2021.

I’ve sometimes been skeptical of authors who as­semble a story collection almost as soon as they’ve totted up enough publications to make a book – after all, is almost everything you’ve published that worthy of preservation? – and I’ve sometimes been wrong about it, as with writers like Ted Chi­ang or Eileen Gunn. The latest ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Machinehood by S.B. Divya

Machinehood, S.B. Divya (Saga 978-1-9821-4806-5, $27.00, 416pp, hc) March 2021.

S.B. Divya’s first novel Machinehood is a good argument for why it’s important to understand the history of SF, and an equally good argument for why you don’t need to bother with the history of SF at all. Its central conceit – an apparent terrorist organization seek­ing the liberation of all forms of intelligence, ar­tificial and otherwise – carries ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Purgatory Mount by Adam Roberts

Purgatory Mount, Adam Roberts (Gollancz 978-1473230941, 336pp, L16.99, hardcover) February 2021

Last year marked the generally under-recognized 20th anniversary of Adam Roberts’s first novel, Salt, and the launching of his career. His prodigious and impressive output in the past two decades has earned him a reputation as one of the field’s most delightfully surprising, adept, and formalistically variant authors. His novums are always startling and innovative and cutting-edge, ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Future SF Digest and Africanfuturism

Future Science Fiction Digest 12/20 Africanfuturism: An Anthology, Wole Talabi, ed. (Brittle Paper) October 2020.

It’s at least February for those of you reading this column, but just the very end of 2020 as I’m writing it. As usual, I skid into the end of the year having read only a fraction of what’s available in the universe of “short fiction online” – maybe a third if I’m being ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Live; live; live by Jonathan Buckley

Live; live; live, Jonathan Buckley (Sort of Books 978-1-908-74587-3, £11.99, 288pp, tp) July 2020. (New York Review Books 978-1-681-37547-2, $16.95, 272pp, tp) February 2021.

I first heard Jonathan Buckley’s name mentioned on the Locklisted podcast (a Patreon-only spin-off of Backlisted, the best literary podcast on the planet) where the co-host John Mitchinson spoke glowingly of Buckley’s 11th and latest novel, Live; live; live. What caught my ear was ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Robot Artists & Black Swans: The Italian Fantascienza Stories by Bruce Sterling

Robot Artists & Black Swans: The Italian Fantascienza Stories, Bruce Sterling (Tachyon 978-1616963293, 256pp, $25.95, hardcover) April 2021

Certain superficial things change over time, while other essential phenomena remain fixed and permanent. Cyberpunk was born a bit over 35 years ago, and the world is a much different place now than it was in 1985. So it’s foolish to imagine that cyberpunk writing would persist unchanged, adhering to the ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Neil Gaiman Reader by Neil Gaiman

The Neil Gaiman Reader, Neil Gaiman (Wil­liam Morrow 978-0-06-303185-2, $40.00, 736pp) October 2020.

The selections in The Neil Gaiman Reader were chosen neither by an outside editor nor by Gaiman himself, as he did with his earlier collections. Instead, apparently, the book was edited by the internet. In 2019, Gaiman invited his readers to name their three favorite Gaiman sto­ries, and the result – from nearly 6,000 responses, we ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Of One Blood: Or, the Hidden Self by Pauline Hopkins

Of One Blood: Or, the Hidden Self, Pauline Hopkins (Poisoned Pen Press 978-1-464-21506-3, £11.05, 208pp, tp) February 2021.

Recently I asked my friends list on Face­book (many of them genre fans) if they recognised the name Pauline Hopkins. The vast majority said no. To be fair, I had no idea who she was either. If not for Poisoned Press and the Horror Writers Association reprinting Hopkins’s Of One Blood, ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Within the Wires: Season 5: Voicemail by Jeffrey Cranor & Janina Matthewson

Within the Wires: Season 5: Voicemail, Jeffrey Cranor & Janina Matthewson; Amiera Darwish, narrator (Night Vale Presents, ten episodes, 3.5 hrs.) <www.nightvalepresents.com/within­thewires> August-December 2020.

The events of 2020 made it difficult for me to establish and hold the focus I needed to listen to audiobooks and write about them. (The super-long column in the January 2021 Locus sug­gests that I’ve maybe started to get my mojo back.) When I ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Analog/Virtual: And Other Simulations of Your Future by Lavanya Lakshminarayan

Analog/Virtual: And Other Simulations of Your Future, Lavanya Lakshminarayan (Ha­chette India 978-9-389-25308-5, Rs399, 310pp, tp) February 2020.

Having thoroughly enjoyed Lavanya Lakshminarayan’s Analog/Virtual: And Other Simula­tions of Your Future, I’ve decided that all far-future dystopias should be structured as a series of linked short stories. That’s not to say George Orwell missed a trick by neglecting the perspec­tives of Julia, Mr. Charrington, or O’Brien; 1984 famously generates its ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Kind of a Big Deal by Shannon Hale

Kind of a Big Deal, Shannon Hale (Roaring Brook 978-1-250-20623-7, $18.99, 389pp, hc) August 2020.

When Shannon Hale’s thoughtful Kind of a Big Deal opens, readers quickly discover that protagonist Josie Pie (her stage name), is living the unenviable reality of having peaked in high school. After flaming out in an ill-thought Broadway attempt, she is now the nanny for a sweet little girl whose dy­namic mother recently relocated ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Red Noise by John P. Murphy and The Preserve by Ariel S. Winter

Red Noise, John P. Murphy (Angry Robot 978-0-85766-847-9, $14.99, 448pp, tp) July 2020. Cover by Kieryn Tyler.

It’s easy to find the Western that lurks beneath the surface of Red Noise, the novel-length debut of Nebula Award finalist John P. Murphy. A drifter wanders into a nearly deserted town and finds two sides in a long-term stand-off. Only in this version, the town is a converted asteroid named ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Only Living Girl on Earth by Charles Yu

The Only Living Girl on Earth, Charles Yu (Scribd Originals, subscription required, 43pp) January 2021.

Last year Charles Yu wrote one of my favourite novels of 2020, Interior Chinatown, the de­served winner of the National Book Award. It’s a comic, surreal and emotional story about the struggles of being an immigrant, and the child of immigrants, in America. Yu is not so prolific as to have written another ...Read More

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Alvaro Zinos-Amaro Reviews Pocket Workshop: Essays on Living as a Writer, Edited by Tod McCoy & M. Huw Evans

Pocket Workshop: Essays on Living as a Writer, Tod McCoy & M. Huw Evans, eds. (Hy­dra House 978-0997951073, $17.95, 196pp, pb) February 2021.

Gathered here are 28 essays (six reprints, 22 originals) by instructors of the Clarion West Writers Workshop, intended, as Tod McCoy explains in his foreword, as “a way to give back to a community who may not be able to attend the workshop by delivering thoughts ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Memory Theater by Karin Tidbeck

The Memory Theater, Karin Tidbeck (Pantheon 978-1524748333, 240pp, $25.95, hardcover) February 2021

When I reviewed Karin Tidbeck’s story collection Jagannath at The Barnes & Noble Review, I said that it distilled and hybridized “almost every writer in the VanderMeers’ massive anthology The Weird. A century’s worth of potent surrealism and estrangement surge through her veins and onto the page.” With the publication of her new novel, I’ll have ...Read More

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Liz Bourke and Adrienne Martini Review Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells

Fugitive Telemetry, Martha Wells (Tordotcom 978-1-250-76537-6, $19.99, 176pp, hc) April 2021. Cover by Jaime Jones.

At this point, everyone knows about Murderbot. If you don’t know about Murderbot, what rock have you been hiding under? (Is it a comfy rock? I could use a nice rock-based holiday, away from all the news. And the pandemic.) Martha Wells’s Fugi­tive Telemetry is the sixth outing in the award-winning Murderbot Diaries. It ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Deuces Down, Edited by George R.R. Martin & Melinda Snodgrass

Deuces Down, George R.R. Martin & Melinda Snodgrass, eds. (Tor 978-1-250-22720-1, $28.99, 352pp, hc) January 2021.

Deuces Down is both the 16th and 30th book in the Wild Cards series. The anthology was first published in 2002; this new version is refreshed with added stories by Carrie Vaughn, Mary Anne Mohanraj, and Caroline Spector. Although re­ferred to on the title page as a mosaic novel, it remains – despite ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reveiws Dissipatio H.G.: The Vanishing by Guido Mor­selli

Dissipatio H.G.: The Vanishing, Guido Mor­selli (New York Review Books 978-1681374765, $15.95, 120pp, tp) December 2020.

On the eve of his 40th birthday, a man decides to end his life. He tells us that 40 is “a point of passage… when maturity begins to decline toward old age. I wanted to be off while I was still thirty-nine, if only technically.” He chooses to drown himself up in the ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Don’t Tell a Soul by Kirsten Miller

Don’t Tell a Soul, Kirsten Miller (Delacorte 978-0-525-58120-8, $20.99, 384pp, hc) January 2021.

Kirsten Miller’s outstanding thriller Don’t Tell a Soul is not only a first-rate mystery, it also man­ages to address just what it is about certain ghost stories, specifically those involving dead girls, which are so culturally pervasive. The novel’s protagonist has a special affinity for these girls and how their personal histories and true motiva­tions are ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Society of Time by John Brunner

The Society of Time, John Brunner (edited by Mike Ashley) (The British Library 978-0712353823, 288pp, hardcover) November 2020

Was John Brunner’s life a tragedy? In some undeniable senses, yes. Possessed of enormous talents, but also an array of character faults, he became his own worst enemy and his later-era career suffered immensely—in large part due to one poor decision to stake too much effort and hopes on a mainstream ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Blackthorn Winter by Liz Williams

Blackthorn Winter, Liz Williams (NewCon 978-1-912950-79-9, $15.99, 348pp, tp) January 2021.

One of last year’s most appealing fantasies, Liz Williams’s Comet Weather, introduced us to the redoubtable Fallow sisters, each balancing the challenges of life in contemporary England with a family heritage entwined with fae, ghosts, alternate dimensions, demons, star-sprites, and even time travel. The sequel, Blackthorn Winter, again brings the sisters back to Mooncote, the family ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Big Score by K.J. Parker

The Big Score, K.J. Parker (Subterranean 978-1-64524-000-6, $40.00, 104pp, hc) March 2021.

The Big Score sounds like a title from the golden age of sleazy paperbacks, or maybe a high-octane, low-budget action flick. In fact, it was both, and I suspect K.J. Parker either knew this or didn’t care in choosing it for the latest novella set in his hilari­ously corrupt version of Renaissance Europe, which has shown a ...Read More

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