Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Alien Virus Love Disaster by Abbey Mei Otis

Alien Virus Love Disaster: Stories, Abbey Mei Otis (Small Beer 978-1-618-73140-1, $16.00, 238pp, tp) August 2018.

As I’ve mentioned before, the better small presses cultivate a curatorial sensibility, a distinct personality which can be a reliable indicator that, whatever this new book is, it’s probably at least interesting. Small Beer Press is near the top of this list, and Alien Virus Love Disaster is a good example of what they ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Hills Have Spies by Mercedes Lackey

Mercedes Lackey, The Hills Have Spies (DAW 978-0-7564-1317-0, $27.00, 360pp, hc) June 2018. Cover by Jody A. Lee.

Lackey returns to Valdemar with this first book in the Family Spies series, the ninth novel featuring Herald Mags, now a father with three children. His eldest, Perry, is only 13, but has been training to follow in his father’s footsteps all his life, and though he has yet to be Chosen ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews The Million by Karl Schroeder

The Million, Karl Schroeder (Tor 978-1-250-18542-6, $14.99, tp) August 2018. Cover by Jan Weßbecher.

Karl Schroeder’s novella The Million belongs to the future designed for his previous novel, Lockstep (2014), a setting that I still find strongly reminiscent of that branch of 1950s and ’60s SF in which One Big Idea generates a whole society (a cousin to Kingsley Amis’s “comic inferno” model). Again there is a strong dose of ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Promise of Space by James Patrick Kelly

The Promise of Space, James Patrick Kelly (Prime 978-1-607-01495-9, $15.95, 384pp, tp) July 2018.

In his afterword to The Promise of Space, James Patrick Kelly assures us that none of the 16 stories were included in his massive Centipede Press collection from a couple of years ago, the impos­ingly titled Masters of Science Fiction: James Patrick Kelly – which serves as an indication that his accomplished career as a short ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Privilege of Peace by Tanya Huff

Tanya Huff, The Privilege of Peace (DAW 978-0-7564-1153-4, $26.00, 342pp, hc) June 2018. Cover by Paul Youll.

Torin Kerr – and the alien plastic – are back in this lively third novel in the Peacekeeper trilogy, itself a follow-up to the military SF Confederation novels. Torin and her Wardens Strike Team Al­pha continue their work keeping the peace when things get violent, but they’re having continued trouble from the group ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Expert System’s Brother by Adrian Tchai­kovsky

The Expert System’s Brother, Adrian Tchai­kovsky (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-250-19756-6, $14.99, 174pp, tp) July 2018. Cover by Raphael Lacoste.

The Expert System’s Brother is a new novella by Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning author Adrian Tchaikovsky (Children of Time, Ironclads) from Tor.com Publishing’s well-regarded novella line. Tchaikovsky is developing quite a range when it comes to science fiction, from the near-future grim military story of Ironclads to the deep-time, far-future hard evolutionary ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik (Del Rey 978-0-399-18098-9, $28.00, 440pp, hc) July 2018.

One of the highlights of Navah Wolfe & Dominic Parisien’s The Starlit Wood a couple of years ago was Naomi Novik’s “Spinning Silver”, a shrewd deconstruction of the Rumpelstiltskin tale, which highlighted, among other things, the anti-Semitic undertones of the original, a point which Jane Yo­len and others have previously noted. Now Novik has expanded Spinning Silver into ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Irontown Blues by John Varley

Irontown Blues, by John Varley (Ace 978-1-101-98937-1, $16, 304pp, trade paperback August 2018

The science fiction and fantasy genres are conducive to long-lived series. Any number of writers who have managed to contrive extensive careers have found fandoms who relish receiving continuing installments of their favorite sagas. Sometimes enthusiastically, sometimes reluctantly, these writers keep the franchises ticking along. Jack Williamson gave us The Legion of Space in 1947–and in ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Red Waters Rising by Laura Anne Gilman

Laura Anne Gilman, Red Waters Rising (Saga 978-1-4814-2975-7, $16.99, 350pp, tp) June 2018. Cover by Emma Ríos.

The Devil’s West trilogy concludes – sort of – with this novel, which finds Isobel and Gabriel head­ing south for the winter, ending Isobel’s training trip as the Devil’s Hand on the eastern edge of the Devil’s Territory, across the Big Muddy river from what would be New Orleans in our world. Isobel’s ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews A Voice in the Night by Jack McDevitt

A Voice in the Night, by Jack McDevitt (Subterranean 978-1-59606-880-3, $40.00, 464pp, hardcover) 31 August 2018

With nearly two dozen novels published, Jack McDevitt is one of those writers whose sturdy and engaging presence in the territory of long-form fiction definitely overshadows his stature at shorter lengths. But since his first story sale in 1981–nigh unto forty years ago, impossible as that seems!–he has accumulated, by ISFDB’s catalog, over ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Trem­blay

The Cabin at the End of the World, Paul Trem­blay (William Morrow, 978-0062679109, $26.99, 288pp, hc) June 2018.

I’m not a fan of secluded countryside chalets where the 4G is patchy, there’s no wifi, and the closest neighbor is 20 minutes away. These places fill me with existential dread; every creak and whisper a possible axe-murderer out for an easy kill. Paul Tremblay’s The Cabin at the End of the ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor reviews A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh & Elsie Chapman

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, Ellen Oh & Elsie Chapman, eds. (Greenwillow 978-0-06-267115-8, $17.99, 336pp, hc) June 2018.

In the introduction to A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, editors Elsie Chapman & Ellen Oh write of their deep love for myth and leg­end, something many readers will likely identify with. However, for Chapman and Oh, immersion in tales of Greek and Norse gods, while exciting, was always a bit disappointing. The ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Rose Legacy by Jessica Day George

Jessica Day George, The Rose Legacy (Blooms­bury USA 978-1-59990-647-8, $18.99, 259pp, hc) May 2018. Cover by Kevin Keele.

Kids who dream of having horses should love this middle-grade fantasy novel about an unwanted orphan girl who ends up with an uncle she didn’t know she had, who raises forbidden animals: horses. This has an interesting setting in a king­dom vaguely reminiscent of an early-20th-century Great Britain, with trains and early ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews 84K by Claire North

84K, Claire North (Orbit 978-0316316804, $15.99, 480pp, tp) May 2018.

Since 2014 Claire North has tapped into a rich vein of high concept speculative thrillers. Starting with The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, each stand-alone novel has been framed around a straightforward “what if.” For example, what if there were people who, when they died, cycled back to the day they were born, but with all their memories intact? ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction from Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, LCRW, and Ian McDonald

Clarkesworld 5/18
Lightspeed 6/18
Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet 3/18
Time Was, Ian McDonald (Tor.com Publishing)

In the May Clarkesworld I liked Sally Gwylan‘s “Fleeing Oslyge” most. It’s set on a colony planet which has been overtaken by the Tysthänder, who have used overwhelming power to subdue the colo­nists, apparently with the aim of removing them from the planet. Their motives are fuzzy – environmental perhaps? Or simply a desire to ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Rock Manning Goes for Broke by Charlie Jane Anders

Rock Manning Goes for Broke, Charlie Jane Anders (Subterranean 978-1-59606-878-0, $40.00, 128pp, hc) September 2018.

When Kingsley Amis coined the very useful term “comic inferno” back in 1959, he wasn’t thinking of Harold Lloyd comedies, and certainly couldn’t have imagined the sort of Jackass-style homemade movie stunts that are at the heart of Charlie Jane Anders’s novella Rock Manning Goes for Broke. But the term is a pretty useful description ...Read More

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Lila Garrott Reviews The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

The Poppy War, R.F. Kuang (Harper Voyager 978-0-06-266256-9, $26.99, 544 pp, hc.) May 2018.

Rebecca Kuang’s first novel is the start of an epic fantasy trilogy set in an alternate-universe China, the Nikara Empire, in which human beings access the magical powers of the gods by taking psychedelic drugs – which, in practice, means that it’s about people fighting wars while high. These shamanic practices are something of an open ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews King of Ashes by Raymond E. Feist

Raymond E. Feist, King of Ashes (Harper Voyag­er 978-0-00-726485-8, £20.00, 545PP, hc) April 2018. (Harper Voyager US 978-0-06-146845-2, $29.99, 466pp, hc) May 2018.

Feist returns with the first volume in the new Firemane fantasy series, centered on a land that was once five kingdoms, until the Betrayal, which saw the king of Ithrace, known as Firemane, betrayed by some allies in a war with a neighbor­ing kingdom. One of the ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Adjustment Day by Chuck Palahniuk

Adjustment Day, Chuck Palahniuk (Norton 978-0393652598, $26.95, 316pp, hc) May 2018.

Before Reddit, 4chan, Pepe, Men’s Rights Activists, and Incels, Chuck Palahniuk’s debut novel, Fight Club, explored how consumerism and the touchy-feely attitudes of the ’90s created a generation of disaffected, frustrated, angry men. Twenty-two years later and Palahniuk revisits this subject with his latest book, Adjust­ment Day, substituting capitalism and self-help groups with Social Justice Warriors and cultural Marxism. ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Point of Sighs by Melissa Scott

Point of Sighs, Melissa Scott (Lethe Press 978-1-59021-645-3, $18.00, 276pp, tp) May 2018. Cover by Ben Baldwin.

Melissa Scott’s Astreiant is a city to conjure with. It shares some commonalities with Ellen Kush­ner’s Riverside, though the first book, Point of Hopes (co-written with the late Lisa A. Barnett) was initially published in 1995 to Kushner’s Swordspoint‘s 1987. (And it involves a little less duelling.) Astreiant is a rich, complex setting, ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction from Tor.com, Analog, and Asimov’s

Tor.com 5/18
Analog 5-6/18
Asimov’s 5-6/18

Just as I was preparing this month’s column I heard the stunning news of the hospitalization, rapid decline, and death, of my colleague here at Locus, Gardner Dozois. Gardner was not just my colleague, both as Locus short fiction columnist and as anthologist, he was a friend. He treated me from the first as an equal, as I surely was not; always happy to ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Born to the Blade, Season 1

Born to the Blade, Season 1, Episodes 1–6 (of 11), Michael R. Underwood, Marie Brennan, Cassandra Khaw & Malka Older; Xe Sands, narrator (Serial Box, $1.59 per episode, digital download, 1-1/5 hr. per episode), April–May 2018.

This new shared-universe effort created by Michael R. Underwood is a fun little exercise in political fantasy that boasts several sorts of magic. A some­what contentious alliance of floating island nations practice diplomacy on ...Read More

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Rachel Swirsky Reviews The Underwater Ballroom Society Edited by Tiffany Trent & Stephanie Burgis

The Underwater Ballroom Society, Tiffany Trent & Stephanie Burgis, eds. (Five Fathoms Press, $4.99, 330pp, eb) April 2018.

Around the turn of the last century, speculator and con man Whitaker Wright built an underwater aquarium and smoking room beneath one of the lakes stippling his mansion’s grounds. Due to its shape, the room came to be referred to as a ballroom. A description from a 1903 article in The West ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews The End of All Our Exploring by F. Brett Cox

The End of All Our Exploring, by F. Brett Cox (Fairwood Press 978-1933846712, $17.99, 306pp, trade paperback) August 2018

Like a fine vintage wine, Brett Cox’s career has been slowly ripening, almost subliminally, for some time now, a vault-ensconced treasure that we handle and inspect at intervals, as if turning a precious stored bottle to prevent sedimentation, always anticipating the day when the long season’s whole batch is ready ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Fire Dance by Ilana C. Myer

Fire Dance, Ilana C. Myer (Tor 978-0-7653- 7832-3, $27.99, 368pp, hc) April 2018. Cover by Stephan Martinière.

I’m still not sure how I feel about Ilana C. Myer’s Fire Dance. Myer’s first novel, Last Song Before Night, left me feeling a little distant and disengaged from its action and characters. Fire Dance is its sequel, set a handful of months later. It has a few changes among its viewpoint characters ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Blackfish City Audiobook by Sam J. Miller

Blackfish City, Sam J. Miller; Vikas Adam, narrator (Harper Audio and Blackstone Audio 978- 1538497173, $39.99, CD, 10.5 hr., unabridged [also available as a digital download]) April 2018.

After a variety of political and environmental disasters, most of the great nations of the world are either gone or on the verge of collapse. One of the few refuges remaining is Qaanaaq, a city floating on the waters of the Arctic ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews The City of Lost Fortunes by Bryan Camp

The City of Lost Fortunes, Bryan Camp (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 978-1-328-81079-3 $24.00, 367pp, hc) April 2018.

If Neil Gaiman wrote a post-Katrina novel about New Orleans, it just might be The City of Lost Fortunes. It’s stuffed with more-than-meets-the-mortal-eye cityscapes (Neverwhere), immortal schemes and meddling (American Gods), and historical myth and meaning (Norse Mythology). Although many of the novel’s fantasy elements are relatively familiar, the gumbo made from them by ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Defiant Heir by Melissa Caruso

Melissa Caruso, The Defiant Heir (Orbit US 978-0-316-46690-5, $15.99, 515pp, tp) April 2018. Cover by Crystal Ben.

The second volume in the Swords & Fire fantasy trilogy finds Lady Amalia scrambling to stop a war with the Witch Lords of Vaskandar. Meanwhile, someone is killing Falconers and the magic-wielding Falcons they control, and reluctant Falconer Amalia and her powerful fire warlock Zaira are probable targets. Then Amalia meets a Witch ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Tide of Stone by Kaaron Warren

Tide of Stone, Kaaron Warren (Omnium Gatherum 9780615827995, $14.99, 374pp, tp) May 2018.

When the Time Ball Tower is first mentioned in Kaaron Warren’s terrific new novel Tide of Stone, I thought it was an invention of the author. I had no idea they existed and that I’d been liv­ing near one my entire life. For those, like me, ignorant of this ancient time-keeping device, a Time Ball is an ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews One Way by S.J. Morden

One Way, S.J. Morden (Orbit 978-0316522182, $15.99, 391pp, tp) April 2018.

One Way is the first novel under the byline S.J. Morden, but not the first novel by the writer behind it, Simon Morden, producer of The Samuil Petrovitch Trilogy (winner of the 2012 Philip K. Dick Award) and a fistful of other SF and fantasy volumes. I’m not sure why the change in byline, since the tone and attitude ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

The Queens of Innis Lear, Tessa Gratton; Kate Reading, narrator (Macmillan Audio, $39.99, digital, 26.5 hr., unabridged) March 2018.

This magic-infused retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear aims to add backstory and depth to the tragedy, and even rewrite the fates of some of the favorite characters. When Queen Dalat died, her two elder daughters blamed their father King Lear for her demise, and King Lear intensified his study in star ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton

The Price Guide to the Occult, Leslye Walton (Candlewick Press 978-0-7636-9110-3, $18.99, 288pp, hc) March 2018.

The Price Guide to the Occult begins with the story of an island in the Pacific Northwest and the small group of mostly male settlers who arrived there in the mid-1840s. In this prologue, author Leslye Walton sets up the long dark tale of the Blackburn women and the generational burdens inflicted upon them ...Read More

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