Liz Bourke Reviews Star Eater by Kerstin Hall

Star Eater, Kerstin Hall (Tordotcom 978-1-250-62531-1, $26.99, 440pp, hc) June 2021. Cover by Sam Weber.

Kerstin Hall’s novella, The Border Keeper, came out in 2019 to no small acclaim and at least one award nomination. Star Eater demonstrates that the prom­ise of The Border Keeper wasn’t a flash in the pan. This is an exquisitely gripping novel with a bloody, unflinching heart. And yet, for all the intricate ...Read More

Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews In the Watchful City by S. Qiouyi Lu

In the Watchful City , S. Qiouyi Lu ( 978-1250792983, 192pp, $14.99) August 2021.

Close as I can discern, S. Qiouyi Lu began their career circa 2016, with a story in Strange Horizons titled “Her Sacred Spirit Soars.” (Although their CV does list a poem from one year earlier, “Particularities.”) In either case, the succeeding short span of years have been filled with a respectable number of tales from their ...Read More

Read more

Alvaro Zinos-Amaro Reviews Remainders of the American Century: Post-Apocalyptic Novels in the Age of U.S. Decline by Brent Ryan Bellamy

Remainders of the American Century: Post-Apocalyptic Novels in the Age of U.S. Decline, Brent Ryan Bellamy (Wesleyan University Press 978-0819580313, $24.95, 256pp, pb) June 2021.

In this fascinating study of primarily US post-apocalyptic fiction from the end of WWII through the 2007-8 financial crisis, Brent Ryan Bellamy engages with “the fields of American studies, science fiction studies, and print culture studies” to unpack how these narratives have changed over ...Read More

Read more

Alex Brown Reviews This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

This Poison Heart, Kalynn Bayron (Bloomsbury 978-1547603909, 384pp, $18.99, hc) June 2021.

Briseis Greene has a thing for plants. Liter­ally. Ever since she was little, Bri has had the inexplicable ability to make plants grow. Plants react to her emotions and often bend toward her as if she were a walking, talking ray of sunshine. Her adoptive mothers, Thandie and Angie, don’t quite know what to do with her. ...Read More

Read more

Russell Letson Reviews Jack Four by Neal Asher

Jack Four, Neal Asher (Tor UK 978-1529049978, £20.00, 448pp, hc) June 2021. Cover by Steve Stone.

One of Neal Asher’s specialties is monsters (though not of the cute sort), and the new Polity novel, Jack Four, is all monsters, all the time. It starts with brutal mercenaries and their alien customers and works its way up through nearly indestructible mutated alien warriors and their transformed sort-of-human shock troops, ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews The Coming Storm by Regina M. Hansen

The Coming Storm, Regina M. Hansen (Atheneum 978-1-5344-8244-9, $17.99, 272pp, hc) June 2021. Cover by Tran Nguyen.

Regina Hansen’s darkly charming novel, The Coming Storm, is a historic fantasy heavily steeped in folklore and place. Set in 1949 among the Scottish-Canadian community of Prince Edward Island, it tells a story of mythological monsters and music that calls to mind stories like Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks, ...Read More

Read more

Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Uncanny and Apex

Uncanny 5-6/21 Apex #124

Uncanny #40 is full of good fiction. Fran Wilde‘s novelette “Unseelie Brothers, Ltd.” leads off. Gowns made by the legendary Unseelie Brothers atelier have brought everyone in Sera Sebastian’s life together: her Aunt Vanessa and her husband, her father and her mother (who vanished not long after Sera’s birth). The shop, which disappears for periods of time and then appears at varying locations, ...Read More

Read more

Gabino Iglesias Reviews Goblin by Josh Malerman

Goblin, Josh Malerman (Earthling 978-0-9962118-5-7, $50.00, 376pp, hc) October 2017. (Del Rey 978-0-593-23780-3, $28.00, 416pp, hc) May 2021. Cover by Deena Warner.

With Goblin, Josh Malerman joins the select group of authors who have given readers a memo­rable fictional town that will forever mark a spot in the literary map of our minds. Like Gabriel García Márquez’s Macondo or Stephen King’s Castle Rock, Malerman’s Goblin feels like a ...Read More

Read more

Adrienne Martini Reviews Version Zero by David Yoon and The 22 Murders of Madison May by Max Barry

Version Zero, David Yoon (Putnam 9-780-59319035-7, $27.00, 368pp, hc) May 2021.

David Yoon – husband to the bestselling writer Nicola Yoon and bestseller himself for Frankly in Love – makes a compelling case for burning the entire internet down in Version Zero. #Jok­ingNotJoking

Yoon has created a here-and-now that is just slightly askew from our own here and now. Main character Max is working in Silicon Valley for ...Read More

Read more

Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Anathema, and BCS

Clarkesworld 6/21 Anathema 5/21 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 5/20/21, 6/3/21

The June Clarkesworld leads off with “Little Animals” by Nancy Kress. Elena is our point-of-view character, a woman who is “borderline depressive.” She’s part of a research team that is using quantum effects to be able to “receive” the mental impressions of people who lived in the past. This is as much an art as a science, and ...Read More

Read more

Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF and Fusion Fragment

F&SF 7-8/21 Fusion Fragment 5/21

A new story by Yukimi Ogawa is some­thing I look forward to, and I was very happy with her latest, “Her Garden, the Size of Her Palm“, from the July-August F&SF. A young woman learns that the money her late mother saved for her college education has been squandered by her father, so she gets a job. She is sent via wormhole to ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews Juniper Wiles by Charles de Lint

Juniper Wiles, Charles de Lint (Triskell Press 978-1-989741-01-6, $14.99, 191pp, tp) April 2021

Charles de Lint returns to the familiar urban fantasy environs of Newford with this new mystery, Juniper Wiles. While the title character is surrounded by characters longtime fans will recognize (Jilly Coppercorn prominent among them), Juniper Wiles’s story is fresh and decidedly modern. Although she is 30, older teens will likely find this book quite ...Read More

Read more

Maya C. James Reviews Home Is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo

Home Is Not a Country, Safia Elhillo (Make Me a World/ Random House Children’s 978-0-593-17705-1, $17.99, 224pp, hc) March 2021. Cover by Shaylin Wallace.

“What if?” is the question that guides Nima’s journey across time and borders. What if her mother had stayed in Sudan, rather than living in a country where their language is feared and hated? What if Nima was a graceful girl, who spoke Arabic gracefully ...Read More

Read more

Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Revelator by Daryl Gregory

Revelator, Daryl Gregory (Knopf 978-0-525-65738-5, $27.00, 352pp, hc) August 2021.

As he demonstrated again earlier this year with The Album of Dr. Moreau, Daryl Gregory is among our most inventive and eclectic writers, but there are a few themes that recur often enough that they begin to seem like preoccupations, if not quite obsessions. One is that families are weird, and dealing with them can be especially trying ...Read More

Read more

Liz Bourke Reviews For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten

For the Wolf, Hannah Whitten (Orbit 978-0-356516363, £8.99, 480pp, tp) June 2021.

Hannah Whitten’s debut novel, For the Wolf, is one of those books I could wish I had enjoyed more. It almost certainly does not need my approbation, for it has all of the traits of a novel that should find broad-based success: a young, headstrong protagonist; a hand­some, self-sacrificing, broody male love interest; an easy-to-read, relatively ...Read More

Read more

Alex Brown Reviews Folklorn by Angela Mi Young Hur

Folklorn, Angela Mi Young Hur (Erewhon 978-1645660163, $26.95, 416pp, hc) April 2021.

It’s rare that I finish a book and find myself at a loss as to how to review it, but here we are with Angela Mi Young Hur’s sophomore novel Folk­lorn. Ostensibly, it is a novel about the daughter of immigrants trying to solve the mystery of what happened to her sister, but it is so ...Read More

Read more

Ian Mond Reviews The Angels of L19 by Jonathan Walker

The Angels of L19, Jonathan Walker (Weather­glass Books 978-1-838-01813-9, £10.99, 240pp, tp) August 2021.

Jonathan Walker’s The Angels of L19 is the second offering from newly established small press Weatherglass Books. Founded by Da­mian Lanigan and Neil Griffiths, Weatherglass is part of the vanguard of micro- and small publishers, including Galley Beggar Press, Sublunary Edi­tions, Tramp Press, Fitzcarraldo Editions, Boiler House Press, and Influx Press, breathing life into a ...Read More

Read more

Maya C. James Reviews What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo

What Big Teeth, Rose Szabo (Farrar, Straus, Gi­roux Books for Young Readers 978-0374314309, 400 pp, $18.99, tp) February 2021. Cover by Aurora Parlagreco.

Eleanor Zarrin’s family is a weird and violent bunch. They read fortunes in the guts of birds, go running in the woods just for the hell of it, and also don’t have any table manners, among other quirks. But, they’re the only people that Eleanor can ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

The Infinity Courts, Akemi Dawn Bowman (Simon & Schuster 978-1534-456495, $19.99, 465pp, hc) January 2021. Cover by Casey Wel­don.

It is not a spoiler to say that the protagonist of Akemi Dawn Bowman’s The Infinity Courts spends most of the novel dead. Nami Miyamoto is shot and killed by an armed robber in a con­venience store by page 18 of the narrative. From that moment, she spends her time ...Read More

Read more

Gary K. Wolfe Reviews No Gods, No Monsters by Cadwell Turnbull

No Gods, No Monsters, Cadwell Turnbull (Blackstone 978-1-9826-0372-4, $23.99, 330pp, hc) September 2021.

I have to confess that I’m probably losing track of all the monsters. There was a time, before even I was born, when Universal Studios effectively created the first multi-movie franchise by teaching a generation that monsters consisted of some very specific properties – Dracula, Frankenstein’s creature, mummies, werewolves, invisible men, all the way up to ...Read More

Read more

Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Shipbuilder of Bellfairie by M. Rickert

The Shipbuilder of Bellfairie, M. Rickert (Undertow 978-1-988964-32-4, $17.99, 248pp, tp), August 2021.

Even though her short fiction is consistently brilliant on its own terms, occasionally a story by M. Rickert leaves us with the feeling that there’s a good deal more to learn about these haunted characters or equally haunted settings. Such was the case a few years ago when Rickert’s collection You Have Never Been Here included ...Read More

Read more

Rich Horton Reviews Whether Change by Scott Gable & C. Dombrowski, eds.

Whether Change, Scott Gable & C. Dombrowski, eds. (Broken Eye Books 978-1-940372-62-4, $19.99, 180pp, tp) August 2021.

Whether Change is a new anthology subtitled ‘‘The Revolution will be Weird’’ – hence, stories about (leftist) radical change; but with a weird component. I thought the best pieces had the weirder ideas – in particular stories from Nick Mamatas and S.B. Divya. Mamatas’s ‘‘The Nth International’’ shows a billionaire (rather obviously

...Read More Read more

Liz Bourke and Adrienne Martini Review You Sexy Thing by Cat Rambo

You Sexy Thing, Cat Rambo (Tor 978-1-250-26930-0, $25.99, 304pp, hc) September 2021.

You Sexy Thing, Cat Rambo’s first space opera novel, is in fact a romp. If you’re the kind of person who likes Mass Effect, or enjoyed Valerie Valdes’s Chilling Effect and Prime Deceptions, or fell head-over-heels for Tim Pratt’s Axiom trilogy (The Wrong Stars and sequels), then this book is definitely for you. This is ...Read More

Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews Appleseed by Matt Bell

Appleseed, Matt Bell (Custom House ‎ 978-0063040144, 480pp, $27.99) July 2021.

Matt Bell is a writer whose whole oeuvre (a couple of previous novels and several story collections) is plainly steeped in the elements of fantastika; a writer who is manifestly cognizant of all the hardcore tropes of the genre, able to deploy them deftly. But he is published outside the genre fences, and hailed as non-denominational Literature with ...Read More

Read more

Ian Mond Reviews The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

The Final Girl Support Group, Grady Hendrix (Berkley 978-0593201237, $26.00, 352pp, hc) July 2021.

With his fiction and non-fiction, Grady Hendrix has spent the last five years analysing and re­defining the tropes that made horror fiction so popular during the ’70s and ’80s. His “Freaky Fridays” column, which he wrote for back in 2017, was Hendrix’s hilarious look back at the out-of-print, garish paperbacks that I’m sure many ...Read More

Read more

Paula Guran Reviews Big, Dark Hole by Jeffrey Ford

Big, Dark Hole, Jeffrey Ford (Small Beer Press 978-1-618-73184-5, $17, 320pp, tp) July 2021.

No matter how bizarre a situation is or may rapidly become in a Jeffrey Ford story, the reader feels instantly at home, open and accepting of everything that one should never be open and accepting of. In “The Match”, from new collection Big, Dark Hole, an adjunct professor gets a letter in the mail ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Million Dollar Demon by Kim Harrison and Cast in Conflict by Michelle Sagara

Kim Harrison, Million Dollar Demon (Ace 978-0-593-10144-5, $28.00, 464pp, hc) June 2021.

Rachel Morgan’s got plenty of problems in this 15th book in the Hollows series. Everyone now knows she’s a demon, the church that was her home and office is in ruins and no contractor will work on it, her efforts to find a new place keep falling through, she’s on the outs with her demon mentor, her rich ...Read More

Read more

Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Notes from the Burning Age by Claire North

Notes from the Burning Age, Claire North (Orbit 978-0-316-4988-49883-8, $14.99, 448pp, tp) July 2021.

Having garnered a World Fantasy and a Campbell Award under her Claire North pseudonym, it prob­ably shouldn’t be surprising that the prolific English writer Catherine Webb should turn her unique vi­sion to climate fiction. As others have discovered before her, however, the generations-long trashing of our planet is, by itself, pretty unwieldy as a plot ...Read More

Read more

Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and BCS

Clarkesworld 5/21 Lightspeed 5/21 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 4/22/21, 5/6/21

In May Clarkesworld starts off with a new David D. Levine story, always a treat. “Best Laid Plans” is a charming story about a mod­est space station run by a small university. Dr. Chelle Yan is studying how genetically modified mice (not allowed on Earth) transmit knowledge, but all that’s interrupted when the station starts leaking air, no one ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews The Girl from Shadow Springs by Ellie Cypher

The Girl from Shadow Springs, Ellie Cypher (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 978-1-534-46569-5, $19.99, 311pp, hc) February 2021. Cover by Lente Scura.

In the extremely gritty survival story, The Girl from Shadow Springs, 17-year old Jorie and her sister Brenna carve out a sad living in the frozen wasteland surrounding the barely there town of the title. Jorie finds the corpses of treasure hunters out on ...Read More

Read more

Ian Mond Reviews Slipping by Mohamed Kheir

Slipping, Mohamed Kheir (Two Lines Press 978-1949641165, $16.95, June 2021, pb) June 2021.

It still amazes me how long it takes for acclaimed writers in non-English speaking countries to have their first novel, book of poetry, or short story collection translated into English. I know it’s a question of economics, that translated works are a labour of love for those, primarily small presses, who do publish these books. But ...Read More

Read more

Maya C. James Reviews The Tangleroot Palace by Marjorie Liu

The Tangleroot Palace, Marjorie Liu (Tachyon 978-161696-352-1, $16.95, 256 pp, tp) June 2021. Cover by Sana Takeda.

Dangerous women and magic lurk in Marjorie Liu’s The Tangleroot Palace, a collection of short fiction that spans a variety of subgenres. In these imagined worlds, the bones of the innocent bring liberation to fledg­ling witches, crystal skulls power war machines, and the Amish lead post-apocalyptic villages through nights of terror ...Read More

Read more