Adrienne Martini Reviews Paradox Bound by Peter Clines

Paradox Bound, Peter Clines (Crown 978-0-553-41833-0, $26.00, 374pp, hc) September 2017.

In Peter Clines’s Paradox Bound, Eli Teague was an average kid growing up in Sanders ME. It’s about as small a town as you can get and is one of those places where time just seems to move more slowly. One day, when he’s still a younger kid, a woman driving a Ford Model A shows up on his ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Wind in His Heart by Charles de Lint

Charles de Lint, The Wind in His Heart (Triskell Press 978-0920623787, $21.99, 544pp, tp) Sep­tember 2017.

The American Southwest provides a spectacular backdrop for de Lint’s latest contemporary fantasy novel, related to the Newford series, but with a focus on Native American magic. In Arizona on the Painted Lands Kikimi reservation, three people are forced to face their problems – and the existence of the other­world. Teen Thomas Corn eyes ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews The Real-Town Murders by Adam Roberts

The Real-Town Murders, by Adam Roberts (Gollancz 978-1473221451, $28.99, 240pp, trade paperback) US edition April 2018

Starting in the year 2000, with the appearance of his first book, Salt, I have read (and mostly reviewed) all of the non-parody novels from Adam Roberts, except, for some forgotten reason, Gradisil. (Must save one Roberts treat for my dotage.) In those eighteen years he has never repeated himself and ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Possible by Tara Altebrando

The Possible, Tara Altebrando (Bloomsbury 978-1-61963-805-1, $17.99, 292 pages) June 2017.

For the first six pages of The Possible, Tara Altebrando wrote a YA novel about a smart-ass 17-year old named Kaylee who has two best friends, a crush on a classmate, and a killer talent on the softball mound. All of this is familiar territory and Altebrando delivers it with a degree of sass and wit that conjures up ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Artificial Condition and Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells

Artificial Condition, Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing 979-1–250-18692-8, $16.99, 160pp, hc). May 2018. Cover by Jaime Jones.

Rogue Protocol, Martha Wells (Tor.com Pub­lishing 978-1-250-19178-6, $16.99, 160pp, hc). August 2018. Cover by Jaime Jones.

It’s always a treat to read a Martha Wells story, and it turns out that her Murderbot Diaries are an especial delight. Last year’s All Systems Red introduced readers to the self-described “murderbot,” a sentient construct (part machine, ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Emergence by C.J. Cherryh

Emergence, C.J. Cherryh (DAW 978-0-7564-1414-6, $26.00, 320pp, hc) January 2018. Cover by Todd Lockwood.

C. J. Cherryh’s Foreigner metanovel or roman fleuve has been in operation for  more than two decades, spinning a continuous narrative line over (so far) nineteen entries detailing the delicate and often difficult relations between a population of lost human star travelers and their not-as-human-as-they-look alien hosts, the atevi. This series is also a kind of ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill

Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories, Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin 978-1-61620-797-7, $24.95, 304pp, hc) February 2018.

Kelly Barnhill follows up her Newbery Medal-winning The Girl Who Drank the Moon in a most unexpected fash­ion: with a collection of fantastical short stories for older teens and adults. Dreadful Young La­dies and Other Stories is the kind of writing that does not rely on shock and awe, but rather on fascinating characters doing ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Fireside Fiction

One of the lovely parts of being out of the field for a couple of years is catching up with the venues that have blossomed while I’ve been away. Fireside Fiction looks like it was just hitting its stride as I was fading out. Currently edited by Julia Rios, I’ve been quite impressed with their recent offerings.

One story that stands out for me is “The Secret Lives of the ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard

The Tea Master and the Detective, Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean 978-1-59606-864-3, $40.000, 96pp, hc) March 2018. Cover by Maurizio Manzieri.

Aliette de Bodard is another writer who, in a career of barely more than a decade, has shown remarkable versatility, shifting from the multiple award-winning, far-future space opera settings of her Xuya series to the Dominion of the Fallen fantasy novels, which seem to occupy a territory no one had ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews The Long Sunset by Jack McDevitt

The Long Sunset, Jack McDevitt (Saga 978-1-4814-9793-0, $27.99, 451pp, hc) April 2018. Cover by John Harris.

Here I am, still reading novels from two very long-running series. How could I not? These books have been, like rolling stones, gathering momentum over the years, de­veloping their characters and worlds and (to mix the metaphor) poking and prodding at their givens and motif-sets and turning them around to find new angles or ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, Kelly Robson (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-250-16384-4, $3.99, 232pp, eb). March 2018. Cover by Jon Foster.

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson is cunningly structured, a sly sleight of hand that sees two parallel stories told simultaneously. One of these stories is entirely linear, as befits a time-travel narrative. The other story… is not.

In Mesopotamia, in or around 2024 BCE, the king ...Read More

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Gardner Dozois Reviews Short Fiction: Asimov’s, Analog, F&SF, Clarkesworld, and Lightspeed

Asimov’s 1-2/18
Analog 1-2/18
F&SF 1-2/18
Clarkesworld 1/18
Lightspeed 1/18

2018 is off to a good start – perhaps nothing exceptional enough to make the Hugo bal­lots was published in January, but there was lots of good, entertaining reading.

The January/February Asimov’s featured solid storytelling that took us to a number of exotic lo­cales. “Barren Isle” by Allen M. Steele takes us back to the still partially unexplored colony world ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Spirits of the Vasty Deep by Brian Stableford

Spirits of the Vasty Deep, by Brian Stableford (Snuggly Books 978-1-943813-54-4, $17.95, 300pp, trade paperback) March 2018

For a stretch of years in the recent past, the indefatigable and talented Brian Stableford was producing upwards of a dozen books annually. These consisted of his own fiction; translations for the essential Francophile publisher Black Coat Press; and non-fiction critical works, including the massive four-volume set New Atlantis: A Narrative History ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel

Pride and Prometheus, John Kessel (Saga 978-1-4814-8147-2, $27.99, 384pp, hc) February 2018.

One of many things that come to mind in reading Pride and Prometheus, John Kessel’s thoroughly enjoyable full-length expansion of his 2008 Nebula- and Shirley Jackson-winning novelette, is that Pride and Prejudice might have made a pretty suitable title for Frankenstein, at least from the unfortunate creature’s point of view. After all, he’s the product of Victor Frankenstein’s ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Void Black Shadow by Corey J. White

Void Black Shadow, Corey J. White (Tor.com Publishing 978-0–7653-9692-1, $3.99, 218pp, eb). March 2018. Cover by Tommy Arnold.

Void Black Shadow, the sequel to Corey J. White’s explosive Killing Gravity and the sec­ond volume in the Voidwitch Saga, isn’t what you might call measured, not by a long chalk. Hectic is one word for it. Breakneck another.

Mariam “Mars” Xi is a living weapon, a “voidwitch.” A genetically designed psychic ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Uncanny, Anathema, Kaleidotrope, The Dark, and Mythic Delirium

Uncanny 1-2/18
Anathema: Spec from the Margins 12/17
Kaleidotrope Winter ’18
The Dark 1/18
Mythic Delirium 1-3/18

Although more concerned with character than plot, Elizabeth Bear‘s “She Still Loves the Dragon” (Uncanny) still tells the love story of a knight-errant and a dragon. (“She still loves the dragon that set her on fire.”) Since love stories often turn dark and end bit­tersweet, I feel justified in praising it here. Com­pelling, ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Mapping the Bones by Jane Yolen

Mapping the Bones, Jane Yolen (Philomel 978-0-399-25778-0, $17.99, 418pp, hc) March 2018.

I should point out up front that Jane Yolen’s powerful young-adult Holocaust novel Mapping the Bones is a straight historical without overt fantastic elements, although – like her earlier Briar Rose – it’s woven around the armature of a classic fairy tale, in this case “Hansel and Gretel”. Almost inevitably, considering its subject, it’s a horror story, and ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan

The Hollow Girl, Hillary Monahan (Dela­corte 978-1-5247-0186-4, $17.99, 272pp, hc) October 2017.

Author Hillary Monahan takes readers into the world of the Romany people in this brutal blending of realistic fiction and fantasy. Set at some point of the Welsh past (there are no mentions of electronic devices or cars), The Hollow Girl follows the story of Bethan and her grandmother, Drina, the clan’s revered and fearsome wise woman. While ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Origamy by Rachel Armstrong

Origamy, by Rachel Armstrong (NewCon Press 978-1910935781, $14.99, 256pp, trade paperback) April 2018

When she is not wearing her fiction-writer hat and offering us her debut SF novel, Dr. Rachel Armstrong is performing her duties as Professor of Experimental Architecture at the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, University of Newcastle, and, like some character out of an early William Gibson novel, lecturing via TED Talks about “living buildings” ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Tender, Analog, Asimov’s, BCS, Uncanny, Slate, and New Haven Noir

Tender, Sofia Samatar (Small Beer) April 2017.
Analog 1/18
Asimov’s 1-2/18
Beneath Ceaseless Skies 1/4/18
Uncanny 1-2/18
Slate 1/17/18
New Haven Noir, Amy Bloom, ed. (Akashic) June 2017.

I am continuing to catch up on some 2017 stuff I missed. For example, Sofia Samatar‘s col­lection Tender is one of the best collections I’ve seen in some time. This exceptional debut collection includes two new stories, “An Account of the Land ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Semiosis by Sue Burke

Semiosis, Sue Burke (Tor 978-0-7653-9135-3, $25.99, 336pp, hc) February 2018.

Beyond all else, Sue Burke’s Semiosis is a book about biochemistry and about the subtle dance that all living things perform to get the chemical building blocks they need to survive.

On this planet and in our actual reality, humans have the brains to think through how to get what they need. We’re experts at exploiting our environment, which is, ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories by Vandana Singh

Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories, Vandana Singh (Small Beer 978-1-618-73143-2, $16.00, 336pp) February 2018.

For the past 15 years or so, Vandana Singh has been producing consistently interesting and often brilliant short fiction, and her name is often among those mentioned in celebra­tions of SF’s growing diversity. But “diversity” can have a number of meanings, and, as beauti­fully demonstrated in her new collection Ambi­guity Machines and Other Stories, diversity in ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Armored Saint by Myke Cole

The Armored Saint, Myke Cole (Tor.com Pub­lishing 978-0-7653-9595-5, $17.99, 208pp, hc) February 2018. Cover by Tommy Arnold.

Staying with our theme of “dark, with military overtones,” we have Myke Cole’s The Armored Saint, out of Tor.com Publishing’s novella line. Like Ironclads, it’s a slender volume – it tops out at 206 pages in paperback – but unlike either Ironclads or Clockwork Boys, it doesn’t feature any amount of travel. Instead, ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel

Pride and Prometheus, John Kessel (Saga 978-1-5344-1121-0, $27.99, 371pp, hc) February 2018. Cover by Robert Hunt.

In my 2017 wrap-up essay elsewhere in this is­sue, I wonder at and wander around the matter of sequels, prequels, series, and common-back­ground-setting books. All these present particular challenges to a reviewer: how to deal with a work that may begin in medias res (or, god-help-us, on the far side of a cliff-hanger), or ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch

The Gone World, Tom Sweterlitsch (Putnam 978-0-399-16750-8, $27.00, 400pp, hc) Febru­ary 2018.

Tom Sweterlitsch’s The Gone World kept me up at night. My awakeness wasn’t caused by the ideas contained within this moody novel, but from a hunger to know what would happen next to NCIS Special Agent Shannon Moss, whose investigation into the gruesome murder of a Navy SEAL’s family takes some science fictional turns.

In Sweterlitsch’s world, the ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Starlings by Jo Walton

Starlings, Jo Walton (Tachyon 978-1-61696-056-8, $15.95, 288pp, tp) January 2018.

In the introduction to her first collection of stories and poems, Starlings, Jo Walton tells us that she didn’t really figure out how to write short stories until after her award-winning Among Others was published in 2011, and that her earlier efforts “were either extended jokes, poems with the line breaks taken out, experiments with form, or the first chapters ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Books by W. Michael Gear, Seanan McGuire, Tamora Pierce & Ryk E. Spoor

W. Michael Gear, Outpost (DAW 978-0-7564-1337-8, $26.00, 422pp, hc) February 2018. Cover by Steve Stone.

A deadly planet with a struggling corporate colony provides plenty of action in this first book in the Donovan trilogy. Much in the mode of Harry Harrison’s Deathworld, Donovan isn’t a safe place for humans, full of deadly plants and animals, and if they don’t kill you, the heavy metals will. The Corporation has had ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Dark State by Charles Stross

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

Charles Stross has been building – and remodeling and rearranging – his Merchant Princes sequence across seven novels (now in four volumes) over more than a dozen years. The first six books (or three, depending on which packaging one has read) completed a complex arc that focused primarily on how a medieval-level social-political-economic ar­rangement built on the inheritable ability ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Quietus by Tristan Palmgren

Quietus, by Tristan Palmgren (Angry Robot 978-0857667434, $12.99, 464pp, trade paperback) March 2018

Hidden spies from a high-tech culture inserted into the primitive polity of fellow humans in order to gather data, while obedient to a clause not to interfere. Oh, we must be talking about one of Connie Willis’s time-travel novels, or perhaps an installment of Kage Baker’s Company franchise. Maybe even The Man Who Fell to Earth ...Read More

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Karen Haber Reviews Infected by Art, Volume 5 edited by Todd Spoor & Bill Cox

Infected by Art, Volume 5, Todd Spoor & Bill Cox, eds. (Art Order 978-0-69291-194-5, $49.99, 326pp, hc) November 2017. Cover by Rob Rey & Jeremy Deveraturda.

This year’s Infected by Art annual, the fifth juried volume of Imaginative Realist artwork, is considerably improved over last year’s book, IBA 4. Attention has been paid to margin treatment, proofreading, and general appearance, with a defi­nite payoff. This year’s volume has 20 pages ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Creatures of Will and Temper by Molly Tanzer

Creatures of Will and Temper, Molly Tanzer (John Joseph Adams 978-1-328-71026-0, $16.99, 358pp, pb) November 2017. Cover by Eduardo Recife.

Molly Tanzer’s Creatures of Will and Temper, though set in late 19th-century England, is about as far from patriarchal and homophobic as it is possible for a novel set in this period to be. It draws some inspiration from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, according to the author’s ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Uncanny, Lackington’s, Rivet, All Systems Red, and The Martian Job

Uncanny 11-12/17
Lackington’s Fall ’17
Rivet Journal Fall ’17
All Systems Red, Martha Wells (Tor.com) Sep­tember 2017.
The Martian Job, Jaine Fenn (NewCon) De­cember 2017.

 

Uncanny in November-December features a very effective story by Tina Connolly, “Pipecleaner Sculptures and Other Necessary Work“, about an android on a generation starship who faces a transition as they reach their destination – from a preschool teacher to a more martial role. The ...Read More

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