Paul Di Filippo reviews Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones by Micah Dean Hicks

Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones by Micah Dean Hicks ((John Joseph Adams 978-1-328-56645-4, $24, 304pp, hardcover, February 2019)

Arguably, we live in a golden age for ghost stories, of an excellence and profusion on a par with the Victorian era classics. Writers such as Mike Carey, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Tim Powers, and Paul Tremblay are working in this mode at the top of their game. As an article in ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Bluecrowne by Kate Milford

Bluecrowne, Kate Milford (Clarion Books 978-1328-466884, $17.99, 255pp, hc) October 2018.

In this prequel to The Left-Handed Fate and her popular books about Greenglass House, author Kate Milford ties together elements from across her sprawling literary landscape to show how, basically, a whole lot of things hap­pened for the first time. It is unnecessary to read any of her other books to enjoy Bluecrowne, however, although new readers ...Read More

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Tim Pratt Reviews The People’s Republic of Everything by Nick Mamatas

The People’s Republic of Everything, Nick Mamatas (Tachyon 978-1-61696-300-2, $15.95, 336pp, tp) September 2018.

Nick Mamatas is one of my favorite story writers, mostly because I never know what I’m going to encounter under his byline: satirical SF, black-hearted noir, sly his­torical reimaginings, clear-eyed twists on the Lovecraft mythos, open calls for revolution, left­ist politics (and critiques thereof), and weirder things. His latest collection, The People’s Republic of Everything ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Mere Wife Audiobook by Maria Dahvana Head­ley

The Mere Wife, Maria Dahvana Head­ley; Susan Bennett, narrator (Macmillan Audio 978-1-42729783-9, $44.99, CD, 9 hr., unabridged [also available as a digital down­load]) July 2018.

Maria Dahvana Headley transforms Beowulf into a modern, vicious, and lyrical story about racial, class, and gender divides, and the messy legacy of gentrification. Dana Mills was an African-American marine fighting a desert war when the enemy slaughtered her team, kidnapped her, faked her ...Read More

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John Langan Reviews Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

Cross Her Heart, Sarah Pinborough (HarperCol­lins UK 978-0008132019, £12.99, 384pp, hc) May 2018. (Morrow 9780062856791 $26.99, 352pp, hc) September 2018.

As was the case with Behind Her Eyes, Sarah Pinborough’s previous bestseller, there’s a sig­nificant plot twist in Cross Her Heart, her new novel. The difference is, this crook in the narra­tive arrives at roughly its halfway point and is only the first of several which accelerate ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders

The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders (Tor 978-0-7653-7996-2, $26.99, 368pp, hardcover, February 2019)

Charlie Jane Anders’s debut novel from 2016, All the Birds in the Sky, marked the emergence of a truly distinctive voice. In her tale of battling magicians and scientists, she managed to gainfully conflate a touching love story with a scary apocalypse, yoking the quotidian with the cosmic, the comic ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews The Million, People Change, and Mother of Invention

The Million, Karl Schroeder (Tor.com) August 2018.
People Change, Gwynne Garfinkle (Aqueduct Press) October 2018.
Mother of Invention, Rivqa Rafael & Tansy Rayner Roberts, eds. (Twelfth Planet Press) Sep­tember 2019.

The Million by Karl Schroeder is a very intrigu­ing novella set in the future of his novel Lockstep, which I have not read. In this future, Earth is in­habited by close to one million people who ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Summerland Audiobook by Hannu Rajaniemi

Summerland, Hannu Rajaniemi; Antonia Beamish, narrator (Macmillan Audio, $23.95, digital down­load, 10 hr., unabridged) June 2018.

Rajaniemi’s standalone supernatural spy thriller is set in an alternate Cold War during the 1930s. The British have successfully colonized a piece of the af­terlife, which they call Summerland, and the Soviets have built a supercomputer based on a hive mind of the deceased, controlled by the spirit of Lenin. The two sides ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg

Confessions of the Fox, Jordy Rosenberg (One World 978-0-399-59227-0, $27.00, 334pp, hc) June 2018.

When Jordy Rosenberg’s Confessions of the Fox appeared last summer to some mainstream fanfare, drawing praise from figures as diverse as China Miéville and Kelly Link, it didn’t come to my immediate attention since – at least tech­nically – it’s not quite SF or fantasy. Instead, it concerns a failing professor named Voth who comes ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Plastic Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Plastic Magician, Charlie N. Holmberg (47North 978-1503951778, $24.95, 225pp, hc) May 2018.

Returning to the world of her Paper Magician novels, author Charlie Holmberg takes readers along on the trials and tribulations of Alvie Brechenmacher, as­piring Plastic Magician. There is a journey far from home! Great magical achievements! A smidgeon of romance! A dastardly villain! A battle to save life, limb, and reputation! A robbery! A car! A ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews the Murderbot Audiobooks

All Systems Red, Martha Wells; Kevin R. Free, nar­rator (Recorded Books 978-1-5019-7701-5, $11.95, CD, 3.25 hr., unabridged [also available as a digital download]) October 2017.

Artificial Condition, Martha Wells; Kevin R. Free, narrator (Recorded Books 978-1-5019-7700-8, $11.95, CD, 3.25 hr., unabridged [also available as a digital download]) May 2018.

Rogue Protocol, Martha Wells; Kevin R. Free, narrator (Recorded Books 978-1-5019-7699-5, $11.95, CD, 3.75 hr., unabridged [also available ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Through Fiery Trials by David Weber

Through Fiery Trials, David Weber (Tor Books 978-0765325594, $28.99, 752pp, hc) January 2019.

I’m not so much looking forward to what David Weber does next. Reading his work has become something of an ordeal. And yet it remains an ordeal to which I’ve willingly subjected myself many times over – at least ten times, in the case of his Safehold series, of which the most recent instalment is Through ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews The Plotters by Un-su Kim

The Plotters by Un-su Kim ((Doubleday 978-0385544382, $25.95, 304pp, hardcover, January 2019)

The theme of secret conspiracies running our mundane world has sunk deep roots into the genre of fantastika. Although quite often such books exhibit no supernatural or SFnal apparatus, they still manage to evoke speculative or weird effects that resonate with the genre, since they demand a kind of cognitive estrangement: everything you know is wrong. John Crowley ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Shadow Captain by Alastair Reynolds

Shadow Captain, Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz 978-0575090637, 432pp, £18.99, hc) January 2019.

Alastair Reynolds’ Shadow Captain, the sequel to Revenger (2016) moves from the YA-ish space-operatic pirate adventure of the first book to something considerably less light-hearted – not that there weren’t indications in Revenger, starting with the title and extending to the villain, whose comprehensive cruelty was not ignored or minimized. But now the growing-up thematics are ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch

Lies Sleeping, Ben Aaronovitch (DAW 978-0-7564-1513-6, $26.00, 304 pp, hc) November 2018.

Ben Aaronovitch’s Lies Sleeping is not the book to start with if you’re looking to get up to speed on his Rivers of London oeuvre. In Lies Sleep­ing, the media is way beyond res and there is too much to catch up on, which Aaronovitch’s main character Peter Grant acknowledges near this book’s start.

[FSW] stands ...Read More

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Tom Whitmore Reviews Kingdom of Needle and Bone by Mira Grant

Kingdom of Needle and Bone, Mira Grant (Subterranean Press 978-1-59606-8711, $40, 125pp, hc) December 2018. Cover by Julie Dillon.

In Kingdom of Needle and Bone, Mira Grant has written a classic SF tale: it would have been right at home in Gernsback’s Amazing Stories. It’s a medical thriller with some twists, about a variant strain of measles that affects people’s immune response system so that vac­cines no ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman

The Mortal Word, Genevieve Cogman (Ace 978-0399587443, $15.00, 448pp, tp) November 2018.

In lighter news, The Mortal Word is as far from an ordeal as it’s possible for a novel to be. The fifth novel in British author Genevieve Cogman’s ongoing Invisible Library series, it is yet another delightful romp in the style to which her readers have grown accustomed.

The Invisible Library is a library that exists beyond ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch

The October Man, Ben Aaronovitch (Subterranean Press 978-1-59606-908-4, $40, 216 pg, hc) May 2019.

In the novella The October Man, Ben Aaronovitch travels across the English Channel from Peter Grant’s magic-infused London to Tobias Winter’s magic-infused Trier, Germany. While they don’t share a language, Trier and London have a lot in common regardless. Both have rivers and river goddesses who inhabit them. Both were first settled by Romans. ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Asimov’s, Analog, Robots vs Fairies, The Book of Magic, and An Agent of Utopia

Asimov’s 11-12/18
Analog 11-12/18
Robots vs Fairies, Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe, eds. (Saga Press) January 2018.
The Book of Magic, Gardner Dozois, ed. (Ban­tam) October 2018.
An Agent of Utopia, Andy Duncan (Small Beer Press) December 2018.

The stories in the final 2018 issue of Analog that worked best for me seem also exem­plars of “Analog being Analog” – pure SF extrapolation, both near-future ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Let Sleeping Dragons Lie by Garth Nix & Sean Williams, and Legion by Brandon Sanderson

Garth Nix & Sean Williams, Let Sleeping Dragons Lie (Scholastic Press 978-1-338-15849-6, $17.99, 256pp, hc) November 2018. Cover by Ross Dearsley.

Young knights Odo and Eleanor are back in their second middle-grade fantasy adventure, ready to take their talking swords and leave their village for more adventure – but they end up getting a lot more excite­ment than they counted on. A blind old man named Egda and a female ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Tales from the Inner City by Shaun Tan

Tales from the Inner City, Shaun Tan (Arthur A. Levine Books 978-1-338-29840-6, $24.99, 224pp, hc) October 2018.

Shaun Tan’s always remarkable work, from his Oscar-winning short The Lost Thing to his wordless fable of immigration The Arrival, often returns to themes of alienation and belonging, and in Tales from the Inner City he takes on very nearly the whole of nature vs. civilization, or at least the ongo­ing ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Creatures of Want and Ruin by Molly Tanzer

Creatures of Want and Ruin, Molly Tanzer (John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 9781328710253, $16.99, 352pp, tp). November 2018. Cover by Eduardo Recife.

Molly Tanzer has a track record of writing weird and marvelous novels that sit uneasily on the border between dark fantasy and horror. Creatures of Want and Ruin is her latest, set in the same continuity as Creatures of Will and Temper, but where Creatures of ...Read More

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Stefan Dziemianowicz Reviews Astounding 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 Books, 978-0-06-257194-6, 528pp, $28.99, hc) October 2018.

The old joke has it that the Golden Age of Science Fiction is… 12 (i.e., the age at which most fans begin reading it). After reading Alec Nevala-Lee›s Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Best of the Best Horror of the Year, Edited by Ellen Datlow

The Best of the Best Horror of the Year: 10 Years of Essential Short Horror Fiction, Ellen Datlow, ed. (Night Shade Books 978-1597809832, $17.99, 432pp, tp) October 2018.

When arguably the finest editor of horror fiction decides to do a ten-year retrospective of the genre you feel obligated as a critic to make pronounce­ments about the health of the field and how it’s changed (for the better or worse) ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi

The Consuming Fire, John Scalzi (Tor 978-07-6538-8971, $26.99, 320 pp, hc) October 2018.

In The Collapsing Empire, the first book in John Scalzi’s Interdependency series, we were introduced to the Flow, a quasi-mysterious force that allows humanity to traverse the vast distances between inhabited planets with relative speed and ease. The Flow has flowed in predictable ways for centuries – until now. In that first book, a Flow ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews In the Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard

In the Vanishers’ Palace, Aliette de Bodard (JABberwocky Literary Agency 978-1-625673-98-5, $12.99, 202pp, tp) October 2018.

A fair amount of Aliette de Bodard’s recent fiction seems to be about life in the ruins, most spec­tacularly the devastated Paris of her Dominion of the Fallen series, the result of a supernatural war decades earlier. She loves putting her characters adrift in huge, cavernous spaces. Her remarkable new novella In the ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Way of the Shield by Marshall Ryan Maresca

The Way of the Shield, Marshall Ryan Maresca (DAW 978-0756414795, $7.99, 354pp, pb) Octo­ber 2018. Cover by Paul Young.

I’m shallow enough to admit I only picked up Marshall Ryan Maresca’s The Way of the Shield because I was told the secondary protagonist was a queer woman. Well, that, and it sounded like a potentially entertaining, city-based, sword-and-sorcery-style adventure.

Dayne Heldrin is a young man whose future with the ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews The Labyrinth Index by Charles Stross

The Labyrinth Index, Charles Stross (Tor 978-1250196088, 368pp, $27.99, hc) October 2018.

Charles Stross’s Laundry Files books have been getting darker with every new entry, and the ninth, The Labyrinth Index, may be the darkest yet – which is saying something, given that the whole series combines some of the more unsettling aspects of the espionage and horror traditions. While I’m unpacking genre/influence components, let me add the ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews A Room Away From the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma

A Room Away From the Wolves, Nova Ren Suma (Algonquin 978-1-61620-373-3, $18.95, 315pp, hc) September 2018.

A Room Away From the Wolves is the story of 17-year-old Sabina (“Bina”) who runs away from her small upstate New York home for a Manhattan boarding house that caters to young women seeking safety and security. Bina’s story is sadly familiar; she and her two stepsisters fight constantly and to keep the ...Read More

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Stefan Dziemianowicz Reviews Dracul by Dacre Stoker & J.D. Barker

Dracul, Dacre Stoker & J.D. Barker (Putnam 978-0-7352-1934-2, $27.00, 512pp, hc) October 2018.

In his “Authors’ Note” appended to Dracul, a “prequel” to Dracula that he co-wrote with J.D. Barker, Dacre Stoker relates peculiarities about the publication of his great-grand-uncle Bram’s landmark vampire novel, some of which will surely be news to many readers, as they were to this reviewer. The manuscript of Dracula as we know the ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Deep and Shining Dark by Juliet Kemp

The Deep and Shining Dark, Juliet Kemp (Elsewhen Press 978-1911409243, £9.99, 272pp, tp). September 2018.

The Deep and Shining Dark is Juliet Kemp’s first novel, out of small outfit Elsewhen Press. Kemp (whose recent novella from Book Smug­glers Publishing you may remember me discuss­ing here before) has written a novel that’s one part high fantasy, one part political fantasy, and one part old-fashioned sword-and-sorcery – without the swords or ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Occupy Me by Tricia Sullivan

Occupy Me, Tricia Sullivan (Gollancz 978-1473212978, £8.99, 288pp, tp) November 2016. (Titan 978-1473212978, $13.99) September 2018.

I had planned to pick up Tricia Sullivan’s Oc­cupy Me two years back when it was first published in the UK. I never got around to it. When the novel was shortlisted for the 2017 Arthur C. Clarke award, I made serious plans to read it with the rest of the nominees. I ...Read More

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