Paula Guran Reviews Uncanny, Apex, and Three-Lobed Burning Eye

Uncanny 7-8/22 Apex #132 Three-Lobed Burning Eye #36

Uncanny #47 is not themed, but each specu­lative story ultimately deals with common human problems. Marie Brennan’s “Fate, Hope, Friendship, Foe” mixes Greek mythology into a great little story set in a decayed American Midwest of the near-future. Even godlings must make choices. It’s only negative is that it is far too short. “Family Cooking” by AnaMaria ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Carnival and Other Stories by Charles Beaumont

The Carnival and Other Stories, Charles Beaumont (Subterranean Press 978-1645240914, hardcover, 392pp, $45.00) October 2022.

The myths and legends surrounding creative geniuses who died too young are omnipresent and alluring. John Keats, Buddy Holly, Keith Haring, Marilyn Monroe, Janis Joplin— Such names form a pantheon of appreciation for what was accomplished and regrets for the might-have-beens.

Fantastika is not bereft of such a catalogue. Stanley Weinbaum, Cyril Kornbluth, Tom ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews The Last Storm by Tim Lebbon

The Last Storm, Tim Lebbon (Titan 978-1-80336-042-3, $15.95, 352pp, tp) July 2022.

One of the most amazing things about horror is that tropes can become fresh, unique beasts in the hands of the right writer. Years ago I was sure the zombie genre was dead, no pun intended. Literature about the undead had already done it all and there was no way a new zombie horror novel could make ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Ballad of Perilous Graves by Alex Jennings

The Ballad of Perilous Graves, Alex Jennings (Redhook 978-0-7595-5719-2, $28.00, hc, 480pp) June 2022. Cover by Lisa Marie Pompilio.

In a letter to readers of his debut novel, The Ballad of Perilous Graves, author Alex Jen­nings notes that the book was prompted by a discussion back in 2009 about children returning to New Orleans without their parents in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the federal levee failure. ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Conjunctions 78: Fear Itself by Bradford Morrow, ed.

Conjunctions 78: Fear Itself, Bradford Morrow, ed. (Bard 978-0-941964-89-0, $20.00, 322pp, tp) Spring 2022.

My first reaction to picking up Fear Itself, the Spring 2022 issue of the long-running anthology series Conjunctions, was: why? Given everything that’s happening right now – the worsening effects of climate change, never-ending viral pandemics, wars in Ukraine and Tigray, and inflationary pres­sures forcing so many to go with so little – ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: khōréō and Andromeda Spaceways

khōréō 6/22 Andromeda Spaceways 6/22

khōréō continues to publish strong fiction related to themes of immigration and displacement. My favorite of the Summer issue is one that shades into horror, “Banhus” by M. E. Bronstein. Alice starts dating the Word-Eater who is particularly interested in what she remembers of her grandmother’s Yid­dish. He invites her over to his oddly large house, where she becomes trapped, spiritually bound ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Neom by Lavie Tidhar

Neom, Lavie Tidhar (Tachyon 978-1-61696-382-8, $17.95, 240pp, tp) November 2022.

Every so often, arguments erupt on social media about whether it’s even worthwhile to read old-school ‘‘golden age’’ SF, given the vast cultural and demographic broadening of the field during the past few decades. It’s always struck me as an unnecessary dichotomy, since no two writers have the same set of ancestors anyway, and since it’s entirely possible to ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Expect Me Tomorrow by Christopher Priest

Expect Me Tomorrow, Christopher Priest (Gollancz 978-1473235137, hardcover, 336pp, £22.00) September 2022 (US edition December 2022).

In 2023, Christopher Priest turns eighty, a non-trivial milestone. His first short story sale dates to 1966, giving him a career, so far, of over 55 years. And, remarkably, as his new novel amply illustrates, he is still working at the top of his form. SFWA Grand Master nomination, anyone?

Expect Me Tomorrow ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews These Fleeting Shadows by Kate Alice Marshall

These Fleeting Shadows, Kate Alice Marshall (Viking Books for Young Readers 978-0-593-40511-6, $18.99, 357pp, hc) August 2022.

These Fleeting Shadows is described by the publisher as ‘‘The Haunting of Hill House meets Knives Out,’’ which is certainly apt but really nowhere close to what this creepy novel with its unforeseeable plot twists and complex characters is all about. Yes, the house is haunted, and yes, the family ...Read More

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Alexandra Pierce Reviews The Genesis of Misery by Neon Yang

The Genesis of Misery, Neon Yang (Tor 978-1-25078-897-9, $27.99, 432pp, hc) September 2022. Cover by Angela Wang.

There’s a certain magic in using history in science fiction. Perhaps the most common option is alternative history. Another is what I think of as transposing history: taking what makes a sequence of historical events remarkable and moving them to a completely different setting, simultaneously keeping them recognizable and yet also creating ...Read More

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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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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Fiyah, Fireside, and GigaNotoSaurus

Fiyah 7/22 Fireside 7/22 GigaNotoSaurus 7/22

Magazines this year must have gotten the memo that I really like food-centered speculative fiction, because Fiyah’s latest issue is food and cuisine themed. In Lina Munroe’s “The Usual Way”, Danae wants to recreate a recipe of her mother’s in order to capture some of the magic her mother wielded before she died. As she works with her aunt to perfect ...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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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Diabolical Plots, Flash Fiction Online, and Kaleidotrope

Diabolical Plots 7/22 Flash Fiction Online 7/22 Kaleidotrope 7/22

July’s Diabolical Plots had a strong pair of sto­ries, including Andrew K Hoe’s “Heart of a Plesiosaur”, which finds two orphaned siblings practicing bringing inanimate representations of animals to life, if only for brief amounts of time, and competing against others to see whose animations are most impressive. The magic in the piece is fascinating, limited to children ...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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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Escape Pod, Strange Horizons, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Escape Pod 6/23/22 Strange Horizons 6/9/22, 6/13/22, 6/20/22, 6/27/22, 7/4/22, 7/11/22 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 6/30/22, 7/14/22

Moving over to Escape Pod, June saw the release of “Love and Supervillains” by Caroline Diorio, which finds in Rosalind a narrator who was mostly just trying to enjoy her life through personal independence and lots of casual sex until the guy she hooked up with turned out to be a ...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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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Trepass, Decoded Pride and Cast of Wonders

Trespass (Amazon Original Stories) February 2022. Decoded Pride 6/22 Cast of Wonders 6/18/22

I’m starting off today reaching back to Febru­ary, when released a set of origi­nal stories under the theme of “Trespass.” As a whole, the project looks at the intersections of the human world and a wild, non-human world – not necessarily a natural world, but one that is decidedly outside human influence and, at times, understanding. ...Read More

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