Paula Guran Reviews Chasing Whispers by Eugen Bacon

Chasing Whispers, Eugen Bacon (Raw Dog Screaming Press 978-1-947879-44-7, $15.95, 198pp, tp) September 2022. Cover art by Lynn Hansen.

African Australian author Eugen Bacon’s latest collection offers thirteen stories – an astounding eleven of which are original to the collection. The publisher describes Chasing Whispers as “a unique Afro-irrealist collection of black specula­tive fiction in transformative stories of culture, longing, hybridity, unlimited futures, a collision of worlds and folklore.” ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Saturnalia by Stephanie Feldman

Saturnalia, Stephanie Feldman (Unnamed Press 978-1951213640, $28.00, 256pp, hc) October 2022.

It’s been a few years since Stephanie Feldman re­ceived the Crawford Award for her first novel, The Angel of Losses, a notable addition to the list of contemporary fantasies that draw on elements of both Jewish mysticism and Gothic tradition, so it’s a delight to find that she’s back, and with a very different sort of novel ...Read More

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Alex Brown Reviews The Bruising of Qilwa by Naseem Jamnia

The Bruising of Qilwa, Naseem Jamnia (Tachyon 978-1-61696-378-1, $15.95. 192pp, pb) August 2022.

With Naseem Jamnia’s debut novella, The Bruising of Qilwa, we get blood magic, dark secrets, political upheaval, body dysmorphia, and imperial oppression as much as we get queer love, true friendship, and self-acceptance.

Firuz-e Jafari, introduced as they-Firuz, works blood magic in their homeland of Dilmun. When a plague sweeps through the land, they and ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Silverberg Business by Robert Freeman Wexler

The Silverberg Business, Robert Freeman Wex­ler (Small Beer Press 978-1-61873-201-9, $17.00, 320pp, tp) August 2022.

Robert Freeman Wexler enjoys playing in worlds counter to our own. This was evident from his 2021 collection, Undiscovered Territories (the title is a bit of a giveaway), where most of the stories take place in fantastical locales and distorted versions of our reality. His new novel, The Silverberg Business, also features a ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Where You Linger by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

Where You Linger, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (Ver­nacular 978-1-952-28322-2, $18.99, 284pp, tp) July 11, 2022. Cover by Ellie Alonzo.

Compiling any author’s stories into a col­lection usually adds a new dimension to readers’ understanding and appreciation of their work, but Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam’s debut col­lection Where You Linger reveals connections, emphasis, and meaning one could not otherwise have gained. The themes of these dozen stories are memory, relationship, and survival. ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Wild Hunt by Emma Seckel

The Wild Hunt, Emma Seckel (Tin House 978-1-953534-22-4, $16.95, 360pp, tp) August 2022.

Set in one of the lesser populated of the Shet­land Islands, The Wild Hunt is a historical novel steeped in supernatural stories and the lingering horrors of war. It can be read both as a tightly woven drama about a community’s struggle to cope with cumulative grief, and also as a darkly appealing look at the ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey

The Mermaid of Black Conch, Monique Roffey (Peepal Tree 978-1845234577, £9.99, 320pp, tp) April 2020. (Knopf 978-0-59353-420-5, $26.00, 240pp, hc) August 2022. Cover art by Sophie Bass.

The Mermaid of Black Conch reads like a fable mixed in with elements of contemporary fiction, a bizarre version of a love story, and a novel about oth­erness and politics. With Caribbean flavor, culture, speech idiosyncrasies, and history permeating the narrative, it’s ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld and Kalicalypse: Subcontinental Science Fiction

Clarkesworld 7/22 Kalicalypse: Subcontinental Science Fiction, Tarun K. Saint, Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay & Francesco Verso, eds. (Future Fiction) June 2022.

The stories in July’s Clarkesworld fall all over the genre map, from war stories to meta cyberpunk. My favorite is ‘‘The Sadness Box’’ by Suzanne Palmer. Fundamentally a boy-and-his-(AI)-dog story, this boy is living in suburbia in the midst of a slow-moving, war-torn apocalypse, shuttling between the ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews The Nectar of Nightmares by Craig Laurance Gidney

The Nectar of Nightmares, Craig Laurance Gidney (Underland 978-1-63023-063-0, $16.99, 166pp, tp) July 2022. Cover by Firebird Creative with elements by deryart.

One of the coolest things about reading books with reviewing in mind is that you think about them critically, looking for ways to talk about them once you finally sit down to write your review. I did a quick trip to New York City recently, and Craig ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert

Our Crooked Hearts, Melissa Albert (Flatiron 978-1-250-82636-7, $19.99, 368pp, hc) June 2022. Cover by Jim Tierney.

Melissa Albert’s Our Crooked Hearts is a witch book that manages to be about teenagers finding their way, (and who to trust), while at the same time taking a long hard look at the often compli­cated relationships between parents and children. Granted, this particular parent/child relationship is more complex than most (magic will ...Read More

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Alexandra Pierce Reviews Enclave by Claire G. Coleman

Enclave, Claire G. Coleman (Hachette Australia 978-0-73364-086-5, AU$29.99, 307pp, tp) June 2022. Cover by Grace West.

Claire G. Coleman’s third novel Enclave seems, at first, deceptively simple. Coleman is an Indig­enous Australian; Enclave follows Terra Nullius (published by Hachette in Australia, and Small Beer in the US) and The Old Lie (also Hachette). In this novel, the language is direct and seems to be telling the perhaps ordinary story ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Fantasy: How It Works by Brian Attebery

Fantasy: How It Works, Brian Attebery (Ox­ford University Press 978-0192856234, $27.95, 208pp, hc) October 2022. Cover by Charles Vess.

If Clute is essentially a practical critic, Brian At­tebery has earned a substantial reputation starting from the academic end of the spectrum, begin­ning with The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature way back in 1980 and continuing through his recent editorship of the Ursula K. Le Guin volumes for the Library ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews A Suitable Companion for the End of Your Life by Robert McGill

A Suitable Companion for the End of Your Life, Robert McGill (Coach House Books 978-1-55245-444-2, $21.95, 220pp, tp) June 2022.

Content warning: The following review contains multiple references to self-harm and suicidal ideation.

Robert McGill’s new novel, A Suitable Com­panion for the End of Your Life, has a doozy of a premise. What if people could be flat-packed into boxes like cheaply made furniture? It’s the sort of ...Read More

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Alex Brown Reviews Ordinary Monsters by J.M. Miro

Ordinary Monsters, J.M. Miro (Flatiron 978-1-25083-366-2, $28.99. 660pp, hc) June 2022.

In a freight train boxcar, a runaway servant dis­covers a glowing baby in the arms of his dead wetnurse. In a dusty theater in Meiji-era Japan, a girl tries to save her monstrous little sister. In a fetid jail cell in Mississippi, a Black teen is tortured by racist townsfolk. In a dank alleyway in Vienna, a boy ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Redspace Rising by Brian Trent

Redspace Rising, Brian Trent (Flame Tree Press 978-1787586581, hardcover, 432pp, $26.95) September 2022.

Brian Trent’s fourth novel is a plasma-propelled, gore-violence-war-and-politics fueled waking dream of a military-conspiracy-techno novel, as sleek and fast as an alien spaceship. It calls to mind a delightfully lunatic but irresistible fusion of such writers as John Barnes, A.E. van Vogt, and Neal Asher—along with one other seminal figure whose role I shall discuss below ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Lackington’s and Analog

Lackington’s Spring ’22 Analog 7-8/22

With its 25th issue, editor Ranylt Richildis has decided that Lacking­ton’s magazine will close its doors for now. It’s going out with some fireworks, as this issue is stuffed to the gills with excellent stories, many of which reach out to lost times and lost civilizations. Many of them put me in mind of the atmosphere of Lord Dunsany’s works. I don’t usually review every ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Sticking to the End by John Clute

Sticking to the End, John Clute (Beccon 9781-870824-66-8, £20.00, 415pp, tp) June 2022. Cover by Judith Clute.

Sticking to the End is the fifth of John Clute’s collections of reviews and essays to appear from Beccon, a small British publisher that for decades has specialized in SF reference and criticism (including collections by Paul Kincaid and yours truly). The title is sadly if coincidentally appro­priate, since Roger Robinson – ...Read More

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Maya C. James Reviews The City of Dusk by Tara Sim

The City of Dusk, Tara Sim (Orbit 978-0-316-45889-4. 592 pp, hc, $17.99) Cover by Ben Zweifel.

Tara Sim’s epic adult fantasy The City of Dusk opens with a dreadful sense that something is seriously amiss in this world, and our main characters are completely oblivious to the extent of it.

The saga takes place in Nexus, where the Four Noble Houses worship their respective Gods. In return for their devotion, ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Neon Yang’s The Genesis of Misery

The Genesis of Misery, Neon Yang (Tor 978-1250788979, hardcover, 432pp, $27.99) September 2022.

I have been lamentably unhip to Neon Yang’s previous books and short fiction, but was delighted to make their acquaintance with their latest, a rousing postmodern space opera that has flavors of Frank Herbert, Cordwainer Smith, and Orson Scott Card, all blended into a uniquely tasty dish. As the book’s early promoters have observed, the core ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Jack Dann: Masters of Science Fiction by Jack Dann

Jack Dann: Masters of Science Fiction, Jack Dann (Centipede Press 978-1-61347-304-7, hardcover, 752pp, $65) July 2022.

I think I am going to have to set up a new creditor in my bank’s automatic withdrawal system. That would be Centipede Press, who insists on issuing a steady stream of must-have volumes, all crafted to the heights of bibliophile perfection. They can just take my money automatically every month without quibble. ...Read More

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Sam J. Miller Reviews Nona the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Nona the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir (Tordotcom 978-1-25085-411-7, $28.99, hc, 480pp) September 2022. Cover by Tommy Arnold.

I must cop to my biases right off the bat: I am a hardened and unrepentant Locked Tomb fanboy. At first I resisted Gideon the Ninth, the way one does when absolutely everyone is saying, “This thing is so great, you’ll love it,” and one was an angry teen punk contrarian still ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews Black Mouth by Ronald Malfi

Black Mouth, Ronald Malfi (Titan 978-1-78909-865-5, $15.95, 448pp, tp) July 2022.

Ronald Malfi is one of the most consistent pur­veyors of great horror fiction, and Black Mouth is a superb addition to his outstanding oeuvre. A creepy novel about a man getting kids to kill other kids, Black Mouth is a gritty narrative about battling alcoholism and inner demons, leaving the past behind, and the power of friend­ship. It’s ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Hooked by A.C. Wise

Hooked, A.C. Wise. (Titan 978-1-78909-683-5, $15.95 336pp, tp) July 2022.

With Hooked, A.C. Wise returns to the exploration of a very dark version of J. M. Barrie’s Neverland that she began in her debut novel, Wendy, Darling (Titan, 2021). Eight years have passed since a grown-up Wendy rescued her daughter Jane from Peter Pan and brought real death to Neverland. It is 1939 and Jane is in London ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Bliss Montage by Ling Ma

Bliss Montage, Ling Ma (Farrar, Straus, Giroux 978-0-37429-351-2, $26.00, 240pp, hc) Septem­ber 2022.

Ling Ma’s debut novel, Severance, was one of my top-five books of 2018. Seven months before the pandemic, Ma told the story of a fungal infection originating in China that spreads rapidly across the world and com­pels the infected to repeat the same mindless tasks before they drop dead from exhaustion and malnutrition. Not only ...Read More

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Maya C. James Reviews An Earnest Blackness by Eugen Bacon

An Earnest Blackness, Eugen Bacon (Anti-Oe­dipus Press 978-0-99-915358-1, $18.95, 124pp, hc) August 2022. Cover by D. Harlan Wilson.

In An Earnest Blackness, computer scientist, critic, and speculative fiction author Eugen Bacon offers 12 critical essays on “blackness, Afrofuturism, colonialism, historicity, and (mis)recognition,” among other topics. Bacon’s sweeping lived and academic experiences are evident not only in her knowledge of the genre, but in her intimate experiences with some ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Silverberg Business by Robert Freeman Wexler

The Silverberg Business, Robert Freeman Wexler (Small Beer 978-1-61873-201-9, $17.00, 271pp, tp) August 2022.

Probably the first thing SFF readers need to know about Robert Freeman Wexler’s The Silverberg Business is that it has nothing to do with any legendary grand masters of the field. Instead, it’s one of the mostly deeply weird novels I’ve read in some time, at times hallucinatory and dreamlike, at other times gritty and ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews The Extractionist by Kimberly Unger

The Extractionist, Kimberly Unger (Tachyon 978-1-61696-376-7, $17.95, 290pp, tp) July 2022.

When Eliza McKay is contracted by a shadowy government agency, all of her instincts scream this job will be like no other, and, in Kimberly Unger’s latest novel, The Extractionist, we quickly learn McKay is spot on. McKay is the titular extractionist, a freelance super-hacker who specializes in rescuing people stuck in the “Swim,” a fully immersive ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution by R.F. Kuang

Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution, R.F. Kuang (Harper Voyager 978-0-06302-142-6, $27.99, 560pp, hc) August 2022.

With Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Transla­tors’ Revolution, the multi-award nominated R.F. Kuang travels to 1830s Oxford University to build a tale about a tower built on languages whose fate is all but guaranteed. Her story about ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Hard Places by Kirstyn McDermott

Hard Places, Kirstyn McDermott (Trepidatio 978-1-68510-057-5, $22.95, 312pp, tp) July 2022.

The year was 1994 and I was attending the monthly meeting of the Melbourne Horror Society at the Māori Chief Hotel in South Melbourne. Issue #3 of Bloodsongs – Australia’s first professional horror fiction magazine – had just been released, and the members, which in­cluded the periodical’s two editors, were poring over copies and discussing the content. Sitting ...Read More

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Maya C. James Reviews A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows

A Strange and Stubborn Endurance, Foz Meadows (Tor 978-1-25082-913-9 Tor. 544 pp, hc July 2022).

Content warning: rape, sexual assault.

A Strange and Stubborn Endur­ance has a lot going on: court politics, diplomatic disasters, arranged marriages, and a bit of magic sprinkled throughout. A lot going on isn’t always a bad thing, but in this case, it’s certainly a lot to mull over. Lord Velasin vin Aaro, a gay ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Unbalancing by R.B. Lemberg

The Unbalancing, R.B. Lemberg (Tachyon 971-1-61696-380-4, $17.95, 246pp, tp) September 2022.

Back in 2015, R.B. Lemberg published in Strange Horizons a poem titled ‘‘Ranra’s Unbalancing’’, part of their ongoing Bird­verse series of stories and poems that eventually gained wider recognition (and award nomina­tions) with the novella The Four Profound Weaves a couple of years ago. Despite some intriguingly cryptic elements (it’s apparently ad­dressed to someone inexplicably obsessed with quince), ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers

A Prayer for the Crown-Shy, Becky Chambers (Tordotcom 978-1-25023-623-4, $21.99, 160pp, hc) July 2022. Cover art by Feifei Ryan.

Becky Chambers’s A Prayer for the Crown-Shy picks up where A Psalm for the Wild-Built ends: Sibling Dex (a monk) and Mosscap (a robot) have begun their journey from the wilds back out into the built world. The robot has questions about happiness (which lead to conversations about more than ...Read More

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