Katharine Coldiron Reviews The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison

The Angel of the Crows, Katherine Addison (Tor 978-0-76538-739-4, $27.99, 448pp, hc) June 2020.

According to Guinness World Records, Sherlock Holmes is the most frequently portrayed human character in literary history. One might think that The Angel of the Crows, a kind of anthology novel reimagining Holmes in an alternate London in which angels, hell-hounds, vampires, and a variety of other supernatural beings exist, would be tiresome. Sherlock ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Big Girl by Meg Elison

Big Girl, Meg Elison (PM Press 978-1-62963-783-9, $14.00, 128pp, tp) June 2020.

Meg Elison seemed to come out of nowhere when her 2014 novel The Book of the Unnamed Midwife earned the Philip K. Dick Award, and her short fiction output has remained relatively sparse (although the novel did see two well-received sequels), so Big Girl, her contribution to the long-running ”Outspoken Authors” series from PM Press – ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Suzanne Collins (Scholastic 978-1-338-63517-1, $27.99, 517pp, hc) May 2020.

In all likelihood, this is the most unnecessary review I have ever written. It is the end of May and Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, has already sold 500,000 copies. Few readers are waiting for reviews to decide if this is a book for them. That reality ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet

A Children’s Bible, Lydia Millet (Norton 978-1-324-00503-2, $25.95, 224pp, hc) May 2020.

Lydia Millet’s 12th novel, A Children’s Bible, may feature some of the worst parents ever committed to prose. We’re not talking a single mother or father (like Queen Gertrude from Hamlet or Jack Torrance from The Shining) or even a couple (like Ma and Pa Wormwood from Matilda) but rather a gaggle of horrible ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Thin Places by Kay Chronister

Thin Places, Kay Chronister (Undertow 978-1-988964-18-8, $14.99, 140pp, tp) May 2020.

The final, eponymous story in Kay Chronister’s debut collection Thin Places explains what is meant – in this context anyway – by the phrase ”thin places”:

Thin places are parts of the world where the barrier between the clay and the mist is more fragile, where it can be broken…. Things happen in thin places that can’t happen ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin

Little Eyes, Samanta Schweblin (Oneworld 978-1-786-07792-9, £14.99, 256pp, hc) March 2020. (Riverhead Books 978-0-525-54136-3, $26.00, 256pp, hc) May 2020.

In 2017 Argentinian author Samanta Schweblin caught the attention of English-language readers, critics, and the judges of the International Man Booker Prize with Fever Dream, a nightmarish novella that, amongst other things, critiqued the environmental effect of pesticides. She followed this up in 2019 with a collection of ...Read More

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Alvaro Zinos-Amaro Reviews Science Fiction: Documents of Contemporary Art, Edited by Dan Byrne-Smith

Science Fiction: Documents of Contemporary Art, Dan Byrne-Smith, ed. (The MIT Press 978-0262538855, $24.95, 240pp, pb) April 2020.

The question of who the intended readership is for the non-fiction anthology Science Fiction, edited by Dan Byrne-Smith for the Documents of Contemporary Art MIT Press series, kept nagging at me throughout. The series, we are told, focuses on subjects ‘‘of key influence in contemporary art internationally’’ and seeks to ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Of Ants and Dinosaurs by Cixin Liu

Of Ants and Dinosaurs, Cixin Liu (Head of Zeus 978-1-789-54611-8, 256pp, £18.99, hc) April 2020.

Cixin Liu’s satirical novel Of Ants and Dinosaurs seems to have a complex history. A novella with this title was published in China in 2004, later appearing as a standalone book in 2012, translated by Holger Nahm. This was included in Liu’s 2013 collection The Wandering Earth published in Beijing – but not in ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco

Wicked As You Wish, Rin Chupeco (Sourcebooks 978-1-4926-7266-1, $17.99, 400pp, hc) February 2020.

Rin Chupeco’s Wicked As You Wish is a sometimes dizzying combination of classic fairy tales and alternate history that draws heavily from the real world and somehow manages to include everything from the Snow Queen to King Arthur to Wonderland to ICE. (Here’s the unlikeliest quote to appear in a YA fantasy novel ever: ”So ICE ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Creatures of Charm and Hunger by Molly Tanzer

Creatures of Charm and Hunger, Molly Tanzer (John Joseph Adams 978-0-358-06521-0, $16.99, 320pp, tp) April 2020.

When Molly Tanzer introduced her ”Diabolist’s Library” trilogy with Creatures of Will and Temper back in 2017, she combined the sharply insightful coming-of-age tale of two contrasting sisters finding their way in Victorian London with a cleverly gender-swapped version of Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Then, with a skillful narrative ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Race to the Sun, Rebecca Roanhorse (Disney Hyperion 978-136802466-2, $16.99, 298pp, hc) January 2020. Cover by Dale Ray DeForest.

Rick Riordan’s already impressive Disney Hyperion imprint has another winner with Rebecca Roanhorse’s adventure, Race to the Sun. Sporting a southwestern setting and Navajo protagonist while executing a traditional hero/heroine’s journey with aplomb, Race to the Sun hits all the right notes while giving readers an excellent ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again by M. John Harrison

The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again, M. John Harrison (Gollancz 978-0575096356, 272pp, hardcover) June 2020

One does not merely read a novel by M. John Harrison; rather, one inhabits it. Or perhaps the uncanny novel inhabits the lucky reader. For the duration of the reader’s immersion in the text (or the immersion of the text in the reader), his or her consciousness is erased and supplanted with Harrison’s ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe and Liz Bourke Review The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water, Zen Cho (Tor.com 978-1-250-26925-6, $19.99, 160pp, hc) June 2020. Cover by Sija Hong.

After decades of movies, games, manga, and TV, it might well be that contemporary audiences are more familiar with the conventions of wuxia than with the classic American Western – not that there isn’t a fair amount of overlap. The crucial opening scene of Zen Cho’s The ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Interlibrary Loan by Gene Wolfe

Interlibrary Loan, Gene Wolfe (Tor 978-1-250-24236-5, $25.99, 308pp, hc) June 2020.

There was already something of a valedictory tone about Gene Wolfe’s 2015 novel A Borrowed Man, which portrayed a glum, diminished future in which authors survive as helpless ”reclones” who could be checked out of libraries like books (or cubes or disks) – but who could casually be incinerated if they aren’t checked out frequently enough. In ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Fantastic Fiction of Hannes Bok by Hannes Bok

The Fantastic Fiction of Hannes Bok, Hannes Bok (American Fantasy Press 978-0990784678, $45, 448pp, hardcover) March 2020

As a kid, I used to confuse the artwork of Hannes Bok and Boris Artzybasheff. There’s a surface similarity, but when examined closer, Bok’s paintings and drawings exude a kind of Art Deco romance that Artzybasheff’s more cold and clever and satirical drawings never did. We can tell that one man was ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Honeybones by Georgina Bruce and Engines Beneath Us by Malcolm Devlin

Honeybones, Georgina Bruce (TTA Press 978- 1-9163629-1-8, £7.00, 90pp, tp) May 2020.

Honeybones, the sixth in TTA Press’s novella series, deals with ugly subjects in beautifully written prose. Georgina Bruce immediately plunges the reader into young teen Anna Carew’s befuddled mind and places us in a ”house of mirrors… entangled with its selves, a pattern looping inwards, up stairs and through doorways and round corners…” haunted by ”endless ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews By Force Alone by Lavie Tidhar

By Force Alone, Lavie Tidhar (Head of Zeus 978-1838931278, £18.99, 516pp, hc) March 2020. (Tor 978-1-250-75345-8, $27.99, 416pp, hc) June 2020.

Sometimes while reading a Lavie Tidhar novel, there comes a point when you feel like he’s grabbed the wheel, grinning as he drives you aggressively into oncoming traffic and somehow pulls off moves that by all rights ought to be fatal. That’s never been more the case than ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews The Eleventh Gate by Nancy Kress

The Eleventh Gate, Nancy Kress (Baen 978-9821-2458-8, $16.00, 344pp, hc) May 2020. Cover by Bob Eggleton.

Ideological, familial, and generational tensions have figured prominently in Nancy Kress’s stories as far back as the Beggars sequence of the 1990s, and now in The Eleventh Gate they become major plot drivers. The new novel combines elements of space opera with quasi-dystopian political conflict and intrigue among a collection of extrasolar colonies. ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Uncanny, Black Static, Nightmare, and The Dark

Uncanny 3-4/20 Black Static 3-4/20 Nightmare 3/20, 4/20, 5/20 The Dark 3/20, 4/20

Let’s start with Uncanny #33. Alix E. Harrow‘s ”The Sycamore and the Sybil” is flat-out marvelous. It has the immutabily of myth, the magic of lore, and the power of modern wonder. The narrator is a sycamore who was once a woman (if you know about Daphne, you’ll have no problem accepting that) who ...Read More

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Liz Bourke & Adrienne Martini Review Network Effect by Martha Wells

Network Effect, Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-25022-986-1, $26.99, 352pp, hc) May 2020. Cover by Jaime Jones.

Martha Wells has been writing excellent books since 1993, when Tor Books published her The Element of Fire. The Element of Fire, in its revised 2006 version and Wells’s The Wheel of the Infinite (2000) would feature in a list of my 100 favourite books of all time, so it may ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Made to Order, Edited by Jonathan Strahan, and Anthropocene Rag by Alex Irvine

Made to Order, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Solaris) March 2020. Anthropocene Rag, Alex Irvine (Tor.com Publishing) March 2020.

I don’t think there can be any doubt that the best currently working original anthologist of science fiction is Jonathan Strahan. (Ellen Datlow probably retains that title for fantasy and certainly for horror.) Strahan’s new anthology is Made to Order, on the subject of robots and mostly their desire for ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Queen’s Bargain by Anne Bishop and Shakespeare for Squirrels by Christopher Moore

Anne Bishop, The Queen’s Bargain (Ace 978-1-9848-0662-8, $27.00, 414pp, hc) March 2020.

Bishop returns to her popular Black Jewels series with an eighth novel that picks up with the surviving main characters a few years later. The issues of sexual power and abuse remain prominent, but they get a couple of new twists here, with the introduction of a young Warlord, Lord Dillon, who was promised marriage and used sexually ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews The Last Emperox by John Scalzi

The Last Emperox, John Scalzi (Tor 978-0-7653-8916-9 $26.99, 320pp, hc) April 2020.

The Last Emperox is dedicated ”to the women who are done with other people’s shit.” That alone is a great summation of what drives the plot of the third book of John Scalzi’s Interdependency trilogy, which includes The Collapsing Empire and The Consuming Fire.

While the dedication may be aimed at the reader, it also ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982, Cho Nam-Joo (Liveright 978-1-63149-670-7, $20.00, 176pp, hc) April 2020.

Since its publication in 2016, Cho Nam-Joo’s Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 has sold over a million copies in South Korea, been touted as one of the country’s most important feminist novels, and sparked vicious attacks from anti-feminists, which were reignited when the book was adapted into a film in 2019. Given its popularity and the ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Big Book of Modern Fantasy Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

The Big Book of Modern Fantasy, edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer (Vintage 978-0525563860, $25, 896pp, trade paperback) July 2020

When last we saw our intrepid curatorial editors, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, just a year ago in fact, they were hacking their way resolutely through the jungles of fantastika like Mr. and Mrs. Indiana Jones, emerging with an Ark of the Covenant labeled The Big Book of Classic Fantasy ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Providence by Max Barry

Providence, Max Barry (Putnam 978-0-593- 08517-2, $27, 320pp, hc) March 2020.

Providence by Max Barry opens with a description of a video clip, a fictional one that calls to mind the real world one of the towers coming down on September 11: everyone remembers exactly where they were when they first saw it. In this clip, humanity meets the salamanders, an alien species that can spit tiny black holes ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

The Empress of Salt and Fortune, Nghi Vo (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-25075-029-7, $3.99, 124pp, eb) March 2020.

At this point it should no longer surprise me when Tor.com puts out a gorgeous little novella that robs me of anything meaningful to say, because I want only to luxuriate in its pleasures rather than offering a critical assessment. Yet here we are, The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo ...Read More

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Arley Sorg Reviews Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland

Deathless Divide, Justina Ireland (Balzer + Bray 978-0-06-257063-5, $18.99, 560pp, hc) February 2020.

The sequel to 2018’s Dread Nation, Justina Ireland’s Deathless Divide begins with clever, quick recaps, and is lined throughout with enough unobtrusive explanation that one could easily read it as a standalone. That said, the first book is excellent and shouldn’t be passed up. Anyone who plans to read the first book should not ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Relentless Moon, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor 978-1-250-23695-1, $28.99, 544pp, hc) July 2020.

Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Relentless Moon is exactly the book I needed at the end of March 2020.

For the record, I’m writing this in April 2020. The state I live in has been essentially locked down since St. Patrick’s Day because of the novel coronavirus. This review will run in June, most likely, which means ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Universal Love by Alexander Weinstein, Not One of Us, and Past Tense, Edited by John Benson

Universal Love, Alexander Weinstein (Henry Holt) January 2020. Not One of Us 4/20 Past Tense, John Benson, ed. (Not One of Us) January 2020.

I loved Alexander Weinstein’s first story collection,  Children  of  the  New  World.  Universal Love, his second, is another proof SF  has  taken  up  permanent  residence  in the mainstream world. Weinstein writes almost exclusively SF but is praised everywhere, and yet the only ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

The House in the Cerulean Sea, TJ Klune (Tor 978-1-250-21728-8, $26.99, 352pp, hc) March 2020.

I am sitting at the dining room table, writing this review on April 19th. In my corner of the world, north of Seattle, we have been thinking about the coronavirus longer than almost anyone else in America. Governor Jay Inslee issued a stay-at-home order on March 23, almost two months after the nation’s first ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

House of Earth and Blood, Sarah J. Maas (Bloomsbury 978-1-63557-404-3, $28.00, 816pp, hc) March 2020.

Sarah J. Maas’s sales numbers make for a reputation that precedes her. Her YA novels, including A Court of Thorns and Roses and Throne of Glass, have sold millions of copies and made her a New York Times bestselling author many times over. Her fans are wild for her work, loyal and loving ...Read More

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