Paul Di Filippo Reviews Charles Stross’ Dark State

Dark State, by Charles Stross (Tor 978-0-7653-3757-3, $25.99, 352pp, hc) January 2018.

Charles Stross launched his “Merchant Princes” franchise in 2004 with The Family Trade. There were subsequently five more volumes in what might be thought of as the “first season” of the enterprise. I was able to read the first two installments and review them for Scott Edelman, then editing the online zine SF Weekly. There I ...Read More

Read more

Adrienne Martini Reviews Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Sourdough, Robin Sloan (MCD Farrar, Straus and Giroux 978-0-374-20310-8, $26.00, 272pp, hc) September 2017.

In Robin Sloan’s Sourdough, Lois is a software engineer at one of San Francisco’s hottest tech companies. She’s just moved to town from a per­fectly fine hometown in the Midwest, lured out to the coast by money and a tiny urge for change. And change she does.

The catalyst is a crock of sourdough starter given ...Read More

Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews K.J. Parker’s The Father of Lies

The Father of Lies, by K.J. Parker (Subterranean 978-1596068520, $40.00, 544pp, hardcover) 31 January 2018.

Like many other ultra-prolific and career-splitting authors before him (I’m thinking “Evan Hunter” and “Ed McBain” as an example), Tom Holt manages to put out multiple books every year, one or more under “Tom Holt,” and one or more under “K. J. Parker.” The year 2017 saw the publication of Holt’s The Management Style ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

The Disappearances, Emily Bain Murphy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 978-0-544-87936-2, $17.99, 385pp, hc) July 2017.

Initially, Emily Bain Murphy’s The Disap­pearances reads as straightforward histori­cal fiction. It’s 1942 and teenage Aila is fac­ing the stark reality of life in the wake of her mother’s recent death. To make matters worse, her father is off to the war in the Pacific and she and her younger brother Miles must go live with ...Read More

Read more

Russell Letson Reviews The Corporation Wars: Emergence by Ken MacLeod

The Corporation Wars: Emergence, Ken MacLeod (Orbit 978-0-356-50504-6, £14.99, 336pp, hc) September 2017.

Ken MacLeod’s The Corporation Wars is presented as a trilogy, but I take it to be another of those increasingly common very-long-novels-in-three-decker-form. Even the title format, which puts the overall series title before the volume title, Emergence, signals a single continuous story spread across multiple volumes, with little more separating the acts than the equivalent of a ...Read More

Read more

Adrienne Martini Reviews Provenance by Ann Leckie

Provenance, Ann Leckie (Orbit 978-0-316-38867-2, $26.00, 448pp, hc) September 2017. Cover by John Harris.

Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch Trilogy won more or less every genre award there is – and for good reason. The Ancillary books played with gender and civilization, while still hewing close to a space opera framework. The plot burned along and the characters felt alien, somehow, while remaining familiar.

Provenance returns to that same universe, but ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews Black Light Express by Philip Reeve

Black Light Express, Philip Reeve (Switch Press 978-1630790966, $17.95, 352pp, tp) Au­gust 2017.

Philip Reeve’s absolutely incredible world building again takes center stage in Black Light Express, the sequel to Railhead. The second book picks up soon after the events that brought Railhead to a stunning close, with for­mer thief and unwitting catalyst Zen Starling having fled the Network Empire along with Nova, his android girlfriend. Meanwhile, com­pletely against her ...Read More

Read more

Rachel Swirsky Reviews Madame Zero by Sarah Hall

Madame Zero, Sarah Hall (Custom House 9780062657060, $23.99, 192pp pages, hc) July 2017. Cover by Eugenia Loli.

Madame Zero by Sarah Hall begins with a woman turning into a fox, and ends with one struggling to become herself.

Hall’s collection features nine stories, some speculative and others not. All are invigorated by her literary style of character-driven thematic ex­plorations, written in a witty, mellifluous voice.

“Mrs. Fox”, the story that ...Read More

Read more

Gardner Dozois Reviews Chasing Shadows: Visions of Our Coming Transparent World edited by David Brin & Stephen W. Potts

Chasing Shadows: Visions of Our Coming Transparent World, David Brin & Stephen W. Potts, eds. (Tor) January 2017.

Last month we discussed one grouping that the year’s original SF anthologies naturally falls into: the space opera/mili­tary SF group. The other major group is what we probably could call futurology anthologies, featuring near-future stories that deal with the effect of technological change on society. Many of them concern the reshaping of ...Read More

Read more

Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Luminescent Threads: Connections to Oc­tavia E. Butler edited by Alexandra Pierce & Mimi Mondal

Luminescent Threads: Connections to Oc­tavia E. Butler, Alexandra Pierce & Mimi Mondal, eds. (Twelfth Planet 978-1-922-10144-0, $19.99, 434pp, tp) August 2017.

Next to Philip K. Dick, Octavia Butler seems to have developed the most impressive posthumous career of any late 20th century SF writer. Kindred has become a staple of classrooms and commu­nity reading projects; the Carl Brandon Society has named both a scholarship and an award in her honor; ...Read More

Read more

Faren Miller Reviews Corpselight by Angela Slatter

Corpselight, Angela Slatter (Jo Fletcher 978-1-78429-434-2, £13.99, 388pp, tp) July 2017. Cover by Rory Kee.

In Corpselight, second of Angela Slatter’s Verity Fassbinder series, the hybrid Weyrd/Normal heroine and narrator must keep on with urban-fantastical detection (in the screwy mod­ern Australian city she calls “Brisneyland”) while in the later stages of pregnancy. Her physical and mental state is a lot like Cedar’s: awkward, foul-mouthed, nervous, veering be­tween elation and self-doubt ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines

Jim C. Hines, Terminal Alliance (DAW 978-0-7564-1274-6, $26.00, 358pp, hc) November 2017. Cover by Daniel Dos Santos.

In a definite departure from his previous humor­ous fantasy novels, Hines’s new novel is military SF. OK, it’s humorous military SF, with zombie janitors. In space. But they’re not your usual sort of zombies, mostly. This first book in the Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse series is set in a universe where a zombie ...Read More

Read more

Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Emerald Circus by Jane Yolen

The Emerald Circus, Jane Yolen (Tachyon 978-1-61696-273-9, $15.95, 282pp, tp) November 2017.

One of Jane Yolen’s abiding concerns in the hun­dreds of books she’s written or edited has been the ways in which stories and lives shape each other, so it’s not too surprising that her new collection The Emerald Circus begins and ends with actual historical figures, Hans Christian Andersen and Emily Dickinson. In between, we also briefly meet ...Read More

Read more

Liz Bourke Reviews The Wrong Stars by Tim Pratt

The Wrong Stars, Tim Pratt (Angry Robot 978-0857667090, $7.99, 400pp, pb) November 2017. Cover by Paul Scott Canavan.

Bloody hell, but The Wrong Stars is an amazingly good, extremely fun, very satisfying novel. It’s not like Tim Pratt doesn’t have form for fun: as T.A. Pratt, his (sadly underrated) Marla Mason novels packed an ass-kicking amount of fun, and punch, into a short and weird urban fantasy space. But The ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Strange Music by Alan Dean Foster

Alan Dean Foster, Strange Music (Del Rey 978-1-101-96760-7, $27.00, 269pp, hc) Novem­ber 2017.

Pip and Flinx are back on a new adventure, the 15th novel in the series, part of Foster’s overall Humanx Commonwealth universe. Flinx is living quietly on the waterworld of Cachalot when he gets a visit from an old friend who asks him to go to the planet Largess, where a rogue human is not only violating ...Read More

Read more

Faren Miller Reviews Heroes and Villains by Lewis Shiner

Heroes and Villains, Lewis Shiner (Subterra­nean Press 978-1-59606-840-7, $40.00, 318pp, hc) November 2017. Cover by Ken Laager.

Lewis Shiner aptly describes Heroes and Villains (“Three Short Novels and a Fable”) near the end of his brief introduction. Viewed in sequence, tales that “played out like movies in my head as I wrote them” become “a kind of Saturday matinee, starting with a black-and-white newsreel, continuing with a creature feature and ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Spark by David Drake

David Drake, The Spark (Baen 978-1-4814-8276-9, $25.00, 337pp, hc) November 2017. Cover by Todd Lockwood.

A young man seeks to become a Champion in this unusual novel mixing Arthuriana with an SF premise, but a definite fantasy feel. This universe appears to be a far future where shattered worlds are joined by a strange Road, the remnants, it seems, of an ancient empire with a degree of civilization and technology ...Read More

Read more

Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Overneath by Peter S. Beagle

The Overneath, Peter S. Beagle (Tachyon 978-1-61696-269-2, $15.95, 336pp, tp) November 2017.

Peter S. Beagle’s late career has been something of a marvel, shifting between deeply resonant and apparently autobiographical fictions like “The Rabbi’s Hobby” and “The Rock in the Park” (both in his earlier Tachyon collection Sleight of Hand) with occasional revisits to the greatest-hits territory of The Last Unicorn or The Innkeeper’s Song. His new collection, The Overneath, ...Read More

Read more

Liz Bourke Reviews Breach of Containment by Elizabeth Bonesteel

Breach of Containment, Elizabeth Bonesteel (Harper Voyager 978-0-06-241368-0, $16.99, 576pp, tp) October 2017.

Breach of Containment is Elizabeth Bonesteel’s third novel, the latest in her Central Corps series after The Cold Between and Remnants of Trust. Like the rest of Bonesteel’s novels, this is a book I wanted to like more than I did, but a book I enjoyed nonetheless, despite some flaws.

At the end of Remnants of Trust, ...Read More

Read more

John Langan Reviews Pretty Marys All in a Row by Gwendolyn Kiste

Pretty Marys All in a Row, Gwendolyn Kiste (Broken Eye Books 9781940372310, $9.99, 90pp, tp) November 2017.

Gwendolyn Kiste’s recent collection, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, was one of the more impressive debuts of the past year, com­bining a graceful style with a striking and original vision. With her new novella, Pretty Marys All in a Row, Kiste tries her hand at a longer form. The result is ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne

Kevin Hearne, A Plague of Giants (Del Rey 978-0-345-54860-3, $28.99, 616pp, hc) October 2017. Cover by David G. Stevenson & Gene Mollica.

Hearne’s new Seven Kennings series looks to be a considerable departure from his Iron Druid books, set in a fantasy world of varied realms. Each has a special kenning, magic powers that come to a select few: water-based in one land, plant-based in another, while others have pow­ers ...Read More

Read more

Gardner Dozois Reviews Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation, edited by Phoebe Wagner & Brontë Christopher Wieland

Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation, Phoebe Wagner & Brontë Christopher Wieland, eds. (Upper Rubber Boot 9781937794750, $13.99, 255pp, pb) August 2017

Falling into the futurology/climate change category we discussed last month, like David Brin & Stephen W. Potts’s Chasing Shadows, is Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco- Speculation, edited by Phoebe Wagner & Brontë Christopher Wieland. It’s a bit unclear precisely what ‘‘solarpunk’’ is, or what distinguishes it from ...Read More

Read more

Rachel Swirsky Reviews The Beautiful Ones by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia

The Beautiful Ones, Sylvia Moreno-Garcia (Thomas Dunne Books 978-1250099068, $26.99, 323pp, hc) October 2017.

The Beautiful Ones by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia lives up to its title – it’s beautifully written, both in the sentences themselves and the images they create.

Garcia’s historical fantasy is set in Paris-like Loisail, where rich people gather for summers of courtship, parties, and simply being seen. The main character, Antonina, is a rural girl from a ...Read More

Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews Ada Palmer’s The Will to Battle

The Will to Battle, by Ada Palmer (Tor 978-0-7653-7804-0, $26.99, 352pp, hardcover) 19 December 2017

In my consideration of Ada Palmer’s Too Like the Lightning in a piece at The Barnes & Noble Review, I found this kickoff to her quartet to be rife with Bester-style pyrotechnics, complex and intriguing linguistic and sociopolitical speculations, deep moral and ethical issues, and maximalist kitchen-sink plotting. It was an awesome debut novel, ...Read More

Read more

Russell Letson Reviews Austral by Paul McAuley

Austral, Paul McAuley (Gollancz, 978-1-473-21731-7, £14.99, 276pp, tp) October 2017.

As I was preparing this piece, virtual-paging through 26 years’ worth of reviews of Paul McAuley’s work, I recognized (again) how his stories refuse to drop neatly into single categories – they like to squirm out of whatever boxes they’re stuffed into and find their own shapes. What remains stable is the sharp ob­servation of each imagined world, whether it’s ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews To Guard Against the Dark by Julie E. Czerneda

Julie E. Czerneda, To Guard Against the Dark (DAW 978-0-7564-0878-7, $26.00, 428pp, hc) October 2017. Cover by Matt Stawicki.

The Clan Chronicles wraps up with this ninth volume (third in the Reunification trilogy), which finds Jason Morgan still mourning from losing Sira when the Clan left their bodies to live in the dimension some call AllThereIs. Unlike some of the recent novels in the series, this volume doesn’t spend much ...Read More

Read more

Faren Miller Reviews Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr by John Crowley

Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr, John Crowley (Simon & Schuster/Saga Press 978-1-4814-9559-2, $28.99, 444pp, hc) October 2017. Cover by Sonia Chagetzbanian.

John Crowley’s Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr sets the lead character between his two realms and hints at the wrecked planet of the frame story. In Dar’s iconic parlance, Ka is the life and mindset of Crows, Ymr the world that People inhabit ...Read More

Read more

Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Man in the Tree by Sage Walker

The Man in the Tree, Sage Walker (Tor 978-0-7653-7992-4, $26.99, 382pp, hc) September 2017.

More than 20 years ago, Sage Walker won a Locus Award for her first novel, Whiteout (recently reprinted by Tor), and then nearly disappeared from the field entirely, except for a couple of short stories, but it’s apparent she hasn’t been ignoring the field all that time. Her second novel, The Man in the Tree, is ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire

Seanan McGuire, The Brightest Fell (DAW 978-0-7564-13431-6, $26.00, 354pp, hc) September 2017. Cover by Chris McGrath.

Family provides the focus for this 11th novel in the October Daye series, which opens with Toby’s bachelorette party, complete with karaoke and a very odd assortment of friends. Back home that night, though, things go downhill fast when Toby’s mother Amandine turns up. The youngest of the children of Oberon and Titania, Amandine ...Read More

Read more

Liz Bourke Reviews The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear

The Stone in the Skull, Elizabeth Bear (Tor 978-0-7653-8013-5, $27.99, 368pp, hc) Sep­tember 2017. Cover art by Richard Anderson.

I can’t be objective about Elizabeth Bear’s The Stone in the Skull. I can’t even pretend to even-handed objectivity, that necessary sleight-of-hand performed by every subjective reviewer: I love it just a bit too hard and too much. This is a problem I have encountered before, not least with Elizabeth Bear’s ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel José Older

Shadowhouse Fall, Daniel José Older (Scho­lastic 978-0-545-95282-8, $18.99, 368pp, tp) September 2017.

Here’s a sequel I’ve been very excited to read: Daniel José Older’s Shadowhouse Fall! Following up on the smash hit, Shadowshaper, the sequel returns to Brooklyn and its band of unlikely teen ‘‘urban sorcerers’’ in yet another exciting thriller that tackles both the prevailing social issues of our time and some dark monsters intent on nefarious deeds. Every­thing ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones

Kelly Jones, Murder, Magic, and What We Wore (Knopf 978-0-553-53520-4, $17.99, 287pp, hc) September 2017. Cover by Sarah Watts.

A young lady in 1818 London learns her father is dead and she’s now destitute in this charming young-adult fantasy Regency mystery/spy novel. Annis Whitworth isn’t the sort to give in easily to her change in circumstance; she’s figured out that her father was a spy, and she’s found a clue ...Read More

Read more