Gary K. Wolfe Reviews A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay

A Brightness Long Ago, Guy Gavriel Kay (Berkley 978-0-451-47298-4, $27.00, 448pp, hc) May 2019.

At the risk of oversimplification – well, no, to be honest, with the intent of oversimplification – the fantastic genres have a long and complex relation­ship with historical fiction, but they often tend to use it to provide templates for their own preoc­cupations. Horror seems to love the Middle Ages, with its demons and tortures ...Read More

Read more

Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com

Lightspeed 4/19 Clarkesworld 3/19 Strange Horizons 3/19 Tor.com 2/19, 3/19

The strongest story in April’s Lightspeed magazine is Caroline M. Yoachim‘s “The Archronology of Love“. In the space of a short novelette, Yoachim does three things and does them very well: introduce a complicated new concept, develop a mystery plot, and portray a woman almost broken by grief over the death of her partner. The new concept ...Read More

Read more

Tom Whitmore Reviews The War Within by Stephen R. Donaldson

The War Within, Stephen R. Donaldson (Berkley 978-0-399-58616-3, $28.00, 564pp, hc) April 2019.

Steven R. Donaldson has been putting his characters through hell for decades. The War Within, the second volume of The Great God’s War, does not provide any relief.

This book is set 20 years after the first volume. Prince Bifalt married Princess Estie, and they’ve become the rulers of their respective kingdoms, Belleger and Amika, ...Read More

Read more

Liz Bourke Reviews Not for Use in Navigation by Iona Datt Sharma

Not for Use in Navigation, Iona Datt Sharma (Self-published, $5.25, 210pp, eb) March 2019. Cover by Katherine Catchpole.

I read Iona Datt Sharma’s short-fiction collection Not for Use in Navigation almost by accident, at the end of a chain of happy coincidences that both led me to learn about its existence and to read it in a single sitting. Datt Sharma is a writer at the beginning of their ...Read More

Read more

Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Galaxy’s Edge, Zyzzyva, Interzone, and Mythic Journeys

F&SF 3-4/19 Galaxy’s Edge 3/19 Zyzzyva Winter ’18 Interzone 3-4/19 Mythic Journeys, Paula Guran, ed. (Night Shade) May 2019.

Sometimes I fail to mention stories that may not be earthshaking, but are good fun. In the March-April F&SF, for example, I enjoyed several stories greatly, without necessarily, say, putting them on my prospective Hugo Award nomination list. To wit: Gregor Hartmann‘s “The Unbearable Lightness of Bullets...Read More

Read more

Carolyn F. Cushman Reviews Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer and Cast in Oblivion by Michelle Sagara

Joanna Ruth Meyer, Echo North (Page Street 978-1-62414-715-9, $17.99, 391pp, hc) January 2019.

Fairytales, myths, and even a ballad mix in this lyrical young-adult novel about a young woman lured by a wolf to his magical house, where she finds herself trapped, forced to stay. Echo’s an interesting character: scarred on her face as a child by a wolf she tried to free from a trap, she’s grown up used ...Read More

Read more

Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Exhalation by Ted Chiang

Exhalation, Ted Chiang (Knopf 978-1-101-94788-3, $25.95, 358pp, hc) May 2019.

It’s not exactly as though Ted Chiang’s prolificacy is getting out of hand, but it might be worth noting that his long-awaited new collection Exhalation contains nine stories, while his previous collection Stories of Your Life contained only eight. On the other hand, that earlier collection covered the first 11 years of his career, while the new one covers ...Read More

Read more

Paula Guran Reviews Collision by J.S. Breukelaar

Collision, J.S. Breukelaar (Meerkat Press 978-1-946154-17-0, $16.95, tp, 220pp) March 2019.

You may have encountered a story by J.S. Breukelaar here and there, or even her novels American Monster (2014) or Altheia (2017). Whether her name is familiar or not, her debut collection, Collision: Stories, should be on your “must read” list. Breuke­laar, an American living in Sydney, Australia, writes in a clean, incisive style with razor-sharp opening ...Read More

Read more

Russell Letson Reviews The Chaos Function by Jack Skillingstead

The Chaos Function, Jack Skillingstead (John Joseph Adams 978-1-328-52615-1, $24.00, 294pp, hc) March 2019.

Jack Skillingstead’s The Chaos Function invites us to think about the tangle of paths that lead into or away from any given Bad Place, and how hard it is to avoid going down them. It is set ten years from now in a world that differs from the present mainly in improvements in smartphone technology. ...Read More

Read more

Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: BCS, Mithila, Diabolical Plots, and Mad Scientist Journal

Beneath Ceaseless Skies #273, #274 Mithila Review #10 Diabolical Plots #47, #48 Mad Scientist Journal Winter 2019

Beneath Ceaseless Skies #273 brings us two coming-of-age stories, although they’re very different. “Through the Doorways, Whiskey Chile” by S.H. Mansouri is told in a twisted landscape of weirdo magic and a moonshiner Whiskey King. Brady Nokes is the king’s son; his Momma died when he was young and his father ...Read More

Read more

Liz Bourke Reviews Fleet of Knives by Gareth L. Powell

Fleet of Knives, Gareth L. Powell (Titan Books 978-1-785655210, $14.95, 406pp, pb). February 2019.

Fleet of Knives is the sequel to BSFA Award-winning author Gareth L. Powell’s Embers of War, in which sentient ex-warship Trouble Dog and her crew – including Captain Sal Konstanz – fell face first into trouble associated with their job for the House of Reclamation (an apolitical interstellar organisation dedicated to search and rescue), ...Read More

Read more

Ian Mond Reviews Four NewCon Press Novellas

Nomads, Dave Hutchinson (NewCon Press 978-1-912950-00-3, £15.99, 84pp, hc) February 2019. Cover by Peter Holinghurst. Morpho, Philip Palmer (NewCon Press 978-1-912950-01-0, £15.99, 117pp, hc) February 2019. Cover by Peter Holinghurst. The Man Who Would Be Kling, Adam Roberts (NewCon Press 978-1-912950-04-1, £15.99, 57pp, hc) March 2019. Cover by Peter Holinghurst. Macsen Against the Jugger, Simon Morden (NewCon Press 978-1-912950-07-2, £15.99, 63pp, hc) March 2019. Cover by ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Storm by David Drake and A Parliament of Bod­ies by Marshall Ryan Maresca

David Drake, The Storm (Baen 978-1-4814-8369-8, $25.00, xii+274pp, hc) January 2019. Cover by Todd Lockwood.

Lord Pal of Beune returns for more far-future Arthurian adventures in this sequel to The Spark. Pal’s still not entirely comfortable among the lords and ladies in Dun Add, where Jon the Leader rules the Commonwealth of Mankind. Pal’s happy to be a Champion, and believes in Jon’s vision of many lands united by ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

Blanca & Roja, Anna-Marie McLemore (Feiwel & Friends 978-1-250-16271-7, $17.99, 367pp, hc) October 2018.

Anna-Marie McLemore follows up her gorgeous­ly crafted novel Wild Beauty with an equally lush and luminous take on the fairy tale of “Snow White and Rose Red”. Blanca & Roja is the story of two sisters who labor under a generational curse. One is light and the other is dark. One is agreeable, the ...Read More

Read more

Katharine Coldiron Reviews Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice

Moon of the Crusted Snow, Waubgeshig Rice (ECW Press 978-1-77041-400-6, $14.95, 224pp, tp) October 2018.

Moon of the Crusted Snow is a book on the cusp. It’s not a preface to apoca­lypse, and it’s not the postscript; it takes place during the moment in which a society realizes that one kind of life is over, and another kind of life is going to be the norm. Rice isolates and ...Read More

Read more

Rich Horton Reviews Novellas by P. Djèlí Clark, Kate Heartfield, and Paul Di Filippo

The Black God’s Drums, P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com Publishing) September 2018. Alice Payne Arrives, Kate Heartfield (Tor.com Publishing) November 2018. Alice Payne Rides, Kate Heartfield (Tor.com Publishing) March 2019. Aeota, Paul Di Filippo (PS Publishing) February 2019.

The recent Nebula Award nominations alerted me to some work I’d missed. A couple of the novella nominees came out from Tor.com Publishing late last year. Both are very ...Read More

Read more

Liz Bourke Reviews The Hound of Justice by Claire O’Dell

The Hound of Justice, Claire O’Dell (Harper Voyager 978-0-06-269933-6, $15.99, 328pp, tp) July 2019. Cover by Brandon Bourdages.

Claire O’Dell burst onto the near-future science fiction scene last year with A Study in Honor, the opening volume in the Janet Watson Chronicles. A Study in Honor, which I reviewed for this publication, was a tense, compelling near-future thriller, set in a United States in the throes of ...Read More

Read more

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

Nightmare 2/19, 3/19 The Dark 1/19, 2/19 Uncanny 1-2/19 Black Static 1-2/19

Six weeks into 2019 (as I write) and I’m at the fast dwindling point where I foolishly feel I have a handle on most of the new fiction….

Nightmare #77 offers two original stories: “Quiet the Dead” by Micah Dean Hicks and “58 Rules to Ensure Your Husband Loves You Forever” by Rafeeat Aliyu ...Read More

Read more

Ian Mond Reviews Dark Constellations by Pola Oloixarac

Dark Constellations, Pola Oloixarac (Soho Press 978-1-61695-923-4, $26.00, 216pp, hc) April 2019.

Pola Oloixarac’s second novel, Dark Constellation, translated by Roy Kesey, spans a one-hun­dred-forty-year period, beginning in 1882. Plant biologist Niklas Bruun is the youngest member of an expedition charting the archipelago of Juba and specifically the volcanic crater of Famara. There he discovers a plant, Crissia pallida, whose properties will, enigmatically, “remain all but unknown until ...Read More

Read more

Adrienne Martini Reviews Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City by K.J. Parker

Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City, K.J. Parker (Orbit 978-0316270793, $15.99, 384pp, tp) April 2019.

K.J. Parker (AKA Tom Holt) does just what it says on the tin in Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City. In true Parker style, he comes at the topic from an unexpected angle. The perspective is not a royal, nor a peasant, nor a proper soldier. Instead, our hero is Orhan, ...Read More

Read more

Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Big Cat and Other Stories by Gwyneth Jones

Big Cat and Other Stories, Gwyneth Jones (NewCon 978-1-912950-15-7, £24.99, 240pp, hc) April 2019. Cover by Vincent Sammy.

Gwyneth Jones has been writing fiercely intelligent SF for decades, and, despite a few high-profile awards (a Clarke, two World Fantasy Awards, a BSFA, a Tiptree, and a Philip K. Dick), she never seems to have attained the broad, appreciative readership that her fiction warrants (in 2001, she even received one ...Read More

Read more

Liz Bourke Reviews An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass

An Illusion of Thieves, Cate Glass (Tor 978-1-250-31100-9, $16.99, 352pp, tp) May 2019. Cover by Alyssa Winans.

When I first heard about Cate Glass’s An Illusion of Thieves – a fantasy novel, part heist, part political thriller, and part coming-of-age story in a setting inspired by late medieval Italy – I had no idea that Glass was a pen name for notable author Carol Berg, whose novel-writing career began ...Read More

Read more

Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Destroy All Monsters by Sam J. Miller

Destroy All Monsters, Sam J. Miller (Harper Teen 978-0-06-245674-8, $17.99, 400pp, tc) July 2019.

I suppose the first thing to be noted about Sam J. Miller’s third novel, Destroy All Monsters, is that it has nothing to do with the venerable Toho kaiju film with that title, even though there are a few dinosaurs wandering about. They mostly show up in the “Darkside,” a ver­sion of reality occupied ...Read More

Read more

Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Phantom Tollbooth Audiobook by Norton Juster

The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster; Rainn Wilson, narrator (Listening Li­brary 978-1-98488701-6, $25.00, 4 CDs, 4.75 hr., unabridged [also available as a digital download]) March 2019.

There’s plenty of humor and wisdom for the adult listener to discover in this new recording of the classic Phantom Tollbooth, one of the most beloved books from my childhood. Young Milo finds most things that adults want to teach him dull, silly, ...Read More

Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull

The Lesson, Cadwell Turnbull (Blackstone 978-1538584644, $26.99, 290pp, hardcover) June 2019

The nations of the Caribbean are so close to the USA, and share such a rich, tangled, fraught history with the States, that one would imagine many writers would have capitalized on the consanguinity to set their fantasies or futures there. And yet the bibliography at the handy website Caribbean SF lists titles for only thirty-some relevant novels. ...Read More

Read more

Russell Letson Reviews Edges by Linda Nagata

Edges, Linda Nagata (Mythic Island 978-1-937197-27-8, $18.00, 411pp, tp) April 2019. Cover by Sarah Anne Langton. [Order from MythicIslandPress.com, PO Box 1293, Kula HI 96790-1293; <mythicislandpress.com>.]

Linda Nagata’s first four novels – Bohr Maker (1995), Tech-Heaven (1995), Deception Well (1997), and Vast (1998) – constituted a long future history, eventually labelled the Nanotech Succession. Edges is the first volume of an exten­sion of that series, a sequence bearing the ...Read More

Read more

Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Fiyah, Lightspeed, Future Tense, Abyss & Apex, and Cosmic Roots

Fiyah Winter ’19 Lightspeed 3/19 Future Tense 1/19 Abyss & Apex 1st Quarter ’19 Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores 1/19

Fiyah has its first unthemed issue with #9, which also marks a transition as founding editor Justina Ireland moves on and DaVaun Sanders joins Troy L. Wiggins on the editorial team. The stories here are all over the genre landscape, from fantasy to SF with more than a little surrealism ...Read More

Read more

Ian Mond Reviews The Book of Flora by Meg Elison

The Book of Flora, Meg Elison (47North 978-1-54204-209-3, $14.95, 322pp, tp) April 2019.

Meg Elison’s The Book of Flora is the final novel of a trilogy that began with The Book of the Un­named Midwife, one of my favourite novels of 2014 and a deserved winner of the Philip K. Dick Award. A plague of post-apocalyptic proportions has wiped out most of humanity, but particularly mothers and newborns. ...Read More

Read more

Liz Bourke Reviews Cast in Oblivion by Michelle Sagara

Cast in Oblivion, Michelle Sagara (Mira 978-0-7783-0784-6, $16.99, 538pp, tp) February 2019. Cover by Glenn Mackay & Shane Rebenschied.

Michelle Sagara has a long career behind her under at least two names. Her House War series as Michelle West is ongoing, and she’s been writing the Chronicles of Elantra series as Mi­chelle Sagara for going on 15 years now. Cast in Oblivion comes to us as the 14th novel ...Read More

Read more

Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Analog, Asimov’s, Uncanny, and Black Infinity

Analog 3-4/19 Asimov’s 3-4/19 Uncanny 3-4/19 Black Infinity Fall ’18

The March-April issue of Asimov’s is a spe­cial issue in memory of their great former editor Gardner Dozois, who died about a year ago. As such, it includes his Nebula Award-winning story “The Peacemaker“, many brief memoirs of his effect on writers, and, of course, plenty of new stories. There is a novella from Greg Egan, ...Read More

Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Grand Dark by Richard Kadrey

The Grand Dark, Richard Kadrey (Harper Voyager 978-0-06-267249-0, $26.99, 432pp, hardcover) June 2019

The history, culture, folklore, politics and superstitions of Middle Europe — otherwise Central Europe or, more exotically, Mitteleuropa, countries including Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Switzerland, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, the Republic of Macedonia, and Albania — offer a rich mine of narrative and thematic possibilities. The same goes for the lands ...Read More

Read more

Amy Goldschlager Reviews Ninth Step Station

Ninth Step Station, Season 1, Episodes 1-8 (of 11), Malka Older, Fran Wilde, Jacqueline Koyanagi & Curtis C. Chen; Emily Woo Zeller, narrator (Serial Box, 1.99 per episode/$13.99 per season, digital download, aprox. 1.5 hr. per episode, unabridged) January–March 2019.

A devastating earthquake, followed by war with both North Korea and China, have left Japan in general, and Tokyo in particular, partially controlled by the Chinese as well as partially ...Read More

Read more