Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Hexagon, Fireside, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Hexagon 3/22 Fireside 3/22 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 3/10/22, 3/24/22

Hexagon Magazine opens its 2022 releases with its eighth issue, featuring five original stories. While the publication does publish stories in English and French (a trend I’ve been happy to note here and in publications like Omenana as well), all the works in this issue are English originals. All the works are also what I’d classify as fantasy, with some interesting ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Prison of Sleep by Tim Pratt

Prison of Sleep, Tim Pratt (Angry Robot 978-0-85766-942-1, $14.99, 400pp, tp) April 2022. Cover by Kieryn Tyler.

Prison of Sleep is the concluding volume of Tim Pratt’s multiverse duology. At this remove, I can’t remember much about the first volume, Doors of Sleep (2021), except for four things: the first-person narrator, Zax, whirled unwillingly from world to world when he slept, pursued by a nemesis; the fact that he’s ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Siren Queen by Nghi Vo

Siren Queen, Nghi Vo (Tor 978-1-25078-883-2, $26.99, 288pp, hc) May 2022.

From Nathanael West to Tim Powers, the vision of Hollywood as a kind of halluci­nogenic inferno of ambition, lust, corrup­tion, and betrayal has nearly become a literary convention, both in fiction and nonfiction. While most novels about Hollywood history succumb to the temptation to name-check real-life movie personalities, even if only as walk-ons, Nghi Vo’s Siren Queen reverts ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews City of Orange by David Yoon

City of Orange, David Yoon (Putnam’s 978-0593422168, hardcover, 352pp, $27.00) May 2022.

For those readers intent on firmly categorizing books—and I admit to having my own moments of fussy classifying obsessiveness—David Yoon’s excellent and engrossing debut novel presents some issues. And even speaking of those issues with specific examples is tricky, because this reviewer hesitates to spoil the twists and turns of the book. I shall confine myself to ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews A Comb of Wishes by Lisa Stringfellow

A Comb of Wishes, Lisa Stringfellow (Quill Tree Books 978-0-06-304345-9, $16.99, hc, 272pp) February 2022.

In some ways, Lisa Stringfellow’s A Comb of Wishes, which was heavily influenced by her father’s West Indian immigrant culture, is a classic ‘‘be careful what you wish for’’ fantasy. With a young protagonist, Kela, who is reeling from her mother’s accidental death only a few months earlier, the novel offers a poignant ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Forkpoints by Sheila Finch

Forkpoints, Sheila Finch (Aqueduct Press 978-1-61976-218-3, trade paperback, 336pp, $19.00) June 2022.

Before we turn our attention to the sterling new collection from Sheila Finch, I beg the reader’s indulgence. Please visit the page at Isfdb for Finch’s publisher, Aqueduct Press, which was founded in 2004. There you will see the titles of over 150 books, each of them assembled with care and craft and curatorial canniness, under the ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: GigaNotoSaurus, Cast of Wonders, and Escape Pod

GigaNotoSaurus 3/22 Cast of Wonders 2-3/22 Escape Pod 3/22

The March story from GigaNotoSaurus is a wonderful take on space opera in “The Law of Take” by Isabel Cañas. Vis has risen from a childhood of poverty all the way to empress, all on the idea that she needs to take what she wants. Money, power, influence – and yet when it comes to love, taking what ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Tell Me an Ending by Jo Harkin

Tell Me an Ending, Jo Harkin (Scribner 978-1-98216-432-4, $27.99, 448pp, hc) March 2022

Somewhere, I imagine Jo Harkin has a book­shelf groaning under the weight of Norton anthologies – at least 2 volumes. I believe this not just because her bio says she studied literature at uni, but because her debut novel, Tell Me an Ending, delicately honors classic narrative structures that are rare in contemporary science fiction.

In ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews My Volcano by John Elizabeth Stintzi

My Volcano, John Elizabeth Stintzi (Two Dol­lar Radio 978-1-95338-716-5, $12.95, 330pp, tp) March 2022.

John Elizabeth Stintzi’s second novel, My Vol­cano, begins in the early hours of June 2, 2016, with a volcano ‘‘sprouting from the middle of the reservoir in Central Park.’’ On that first morn­ing, the volcano is only eight feet high; within a week it has swallowed up Central Park, and ‘‘by June 23, the ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction:Future SF Digest, Clarkesworld, and Asimov’s

Future SF Digest 3/22 Clarkesworld 3/22 Asimov’s 3-4/22

Now more than ever I’d like to put the work of Future Science Fiction Digest front and center. Since 2018 it has been unusually strong in bringing voices from around the world to readers, both in English and in translation. As I write this the war in Ukraine is a few weeks old, and editor Alex Shvarts­man writes movingly in the Foreword ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews The Unfamiliar Garden by Benjamin Percy

The Unfamiliar Garden, Benjamin Percy (Mari­ner Books 978-0-35833-271-8, $26.00, 224pp, hc) January 2022. Cover by Chrissy Kurpeski.

Benjamin Percy can apparently do it all. From novels to comics to television, Percy seems to be everywhere, but as a reader, I selfishly wish he would just sit at his desk (or wherever he writes) and crank out a novel every three months or so. Yes, The Unfamiliar Garden is that ...Read More

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Maya C. James Reviews Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo

Glory, NoViolet Bulawayo (Viking 978-0-525-56113-2, $27.00, 416pp, hc) March 2022.

Autocrats and their cronies have several names in Glory – Father of the Nation, Old Horse, Dr. Sweet Mother – reverent praise for inept, corrupt officials of the fictional nation of Jidada. Directly inspired by George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Bulawayo’s novel be­gins with an earnest letter to readers, discussing the history behind the novel: Robert Mugabe’s downfall through a ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Mercury Rising by R.W.W. Greene

Mercury Rising, R.W.W. Greene (Angry Robot 978-0857669728, trade paperback, 400pp, $15.99) May 2022.

Greene’s third novel is, overarchingly, a counterfactual tale of what happens in the several decades after the year 1961, when Earth is threatened by invaders from Mercury. But that over-simplified description ignores a host of other themes and virtues and plot contrivances which render the book a jam-packed action-adventure tale centered around a lovable anti-hero. The ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Reckoning, Drabblecast, and Strange Horizons

Reckoning 1/22 Drabblecast 1-2/22 Strange Horizons 2/21/22, 2/28/22, 3/7/22, 3/14/22

Let’s start with the latest release from Reckoning, an annual journal dedicated to environmental justice. Their sixth issue is edited by poetry editor Aïcha Martine Thiam and prose editor Gabriela Santiago. The content is released online throughout the first half of the year, but the journal itself is as large as many an­thologies, and peppered with commentary on the state ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Only a Monster by Vanessa Len

Only a Monster, Vanessa Len (Harper Teen 978-0-06-302466-3, $18.99, hc, 416pp) February 2022.

The cover for Vanessa Len’s Only a Mon­ster includes this great teaser: ‘‘In every story there is a hero and a monster. She is not the hero.’’ It is quickly clear who ‘‘she’’ is: the novel’s protagonist, Joan, whose very normal life is upended in the book’s opening pages when she learns she, like all the ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews All the Wrong Ideas by Jeremy Robert Johnson

All the Wrong Ideas, Jeremy Robert Johnson (Coevolution Press 978-1736781524, $13.99, 272pp, tp) August 2021. Cover by Dave Cordia.

Picture this: one of your favorite bands – one you started listening to when they were doing rough demos in the drummer’s garage, kept listening to when they put out their first few records on an indie label, and ended up screaming their songs alongside thousands of fellow fans once ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews These Prisoning Hills by Christopher Rowe

These Prisoning Hills, Christopher Rowe (Tor­dotcom 978-1250804488, $15.99, 144pp, tp) May 2022.

These Prisoning Hills is the latest installment in Christopher Rowe’s striking vision of a phantasma­gorical future Tennessee that we first encountered in ‘‘The Voluntary State’’ and ‘‘The Border State’’, both included in his 2017 collection Telling the Map. While much of the novella resonates with those earlier tales, familiarity with them isn’t necessary, since Rowe provides ...Read More

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Maya C. James Reviews Call Me Cassandra by Marcial Gala

Call Me Cassandra, Marcial Gala (Farrar, Straus, Giroux 978-0-374-60201-7, $26.00, 211pp, hc) January 2022.

Content warning for Call Me Cassandra by Marcial Gala: transphobic violence and abuse.

Note: The main character is referred to as ‘‘he’’ by the author/translator.

Rauli is not like other children; he’s quiet, sensitive, and always reading stories of gods and myths. His father and brother are violent, and his mother can only do so ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Memory’s Legion: The Complete Expanse Story Collection by James S.A. Corey

Memory’s Legion: The Complete Expanse Story Collection, James S.A. Corey (Orbit US 978-0-316-66919-1, $28.00, 422 pp, hc) March 2022. Cover by Daniel Dociu.

The long main storyline of James S.A. Corey’s Expanse series – nine volumes released over a decade – wrapped up with last year’s Leviathan Falls. At various points along the way, though, Corey (AKA Daniel Abraham & Ty Franke) produced shorter pieces that did not ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Glitterati by Oliver K. Langmead

Glitterati, Oliver K. Langmead (Titan 978-1789097962, trade paperback, 288pp, $15.95) May 2022.

If Jack Vance had scripted the Zoolander movies, the result might look very much like Oliver Langmead’s sophomore novel, Glitterati. It’s an SF version of one of those frothy comedies perfected by Wodehouse and Firbank, Benson and Thirkell, which nonetheless conceals sharp social commentary and a steely lesson in how to learn to live in the only ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction:Slate Future Tense, Translunar Travelers Lounge, and The Sunday Morning Transport

Slate Future Tense 1/22 Translunar Traveler’s Lounge 2/22 The Sunday Morning Transport 1/30, 2/6, 2/13, 2/27/22

The January story in Slate Future Tense is “If We Make It Through This Alive” by A.T. Greenblatt. It’s a really cool story about three friends who enter a road race to try to make it across America, Pennsylvania to California, in a post-collapse future. Crumbled infrastructure is only the start ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews Milk Teeth by Helene Bukowski

Milk Teeth, Helene Bukowski (The Unnamed Press 978-1-95121-335-0, $26.00, 223pp, hc) September 2021. Cover by Chrissy Kurpeski.

Helene Bukowski’s Milk Teeth, which has been beautifully translated from the German by Jen Calleja, is an enigmatic narrative about three women that succeeds as much because of what’s on the page as it does thanks to the questions left unanswered at the core of the story. Atmospheric, dark, a bit ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Boys, Beasts & Men by Sam J. Miller

Boys, Beasts & Men, Sam J. Miller (Tachyon 978-1-61696-3729, $17.95, 330pp, tp) June 2022.

In reading his new collection Boys, Beasts & Men, it came as a bit of a surprise to remember that Sam J. Miller’s first novel, The Art of Starv­ing, appeared only five years ago, and that the earliest of the 14 stories here date back only to 2013. This may in part be ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher

Nettle & Bone, T. Kingfisher (Tor 978-1-25024-404-8, 256pp, $25.99, hc) April 2022.

I am already a fan of T. Kingfisher (AKA Ursula Vernon). The three books (so far) in the Paladin series are full of light romance (with occasional corpses) and have kept me going through the last 18 months. Her young-adult stories like the Lodestar Award-winning The Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking are fun for adults as well ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Candy House by Jennifer Egan

The Candy House, Jennifer Egan (Scribner 978-1-47671-676-3, $28.00, 352pp, hc) April 2022.

As the publishing Gods would have it, Emily St. John Mandel’s Sea of Tranquility is published in the same month as Jennifer Egan’s The Candy House. Moreso than Margaret Atwood, I consider Mandel and Egan to be the mainstream authors who have done the most to blur the artificial lines between literary and speculative fiction, as ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews From Dust, A Flame by Rebecca Podos

From Dust, A Flame, Rebecca Podos (Balzer + Bray 978-0-06-269906-0, $17.39, hc, 416pp) February 2022.

Hannah Williams enjoys a largely manage­able life with her widowed mother and wicked cool older brother, Gabe, finding new homes from city to city in a variety of houses, cabins, apartments, and cottages. They move for no reason other than their mother’s restless spirit but have always landed on their feet and settle in ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Fantasy, Lightspeed, and Xenocultivars: Stories of Queer Growth

Fantasy 3/22 Lightspeed 3/22 Xenocultivars: Stories of Queer Growth, Isa­bela Oliveira & Jed Sabin, eds. (Speculatively Queer) March 2022.

March’s Fantasy Magazine features a new story by Isabel J. Kim, who has been having a very strong year. ‘‘Christopher Mills, Return to Sender’’ focuses on death and resurrection as Chris awakens from his own personal hell, a giant mall without a smoothie place, thanks to the ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow

A Mirror Mended, Alix E. Harrow (Tordotcom 978-1-250-76664-9, $18.99, 144pp, hc) June 2022.

Although it hasn’t really caught on much, ‘‘bib­liofantasy’’ has always seemed to me a useful term for describing a certain kind of recursive fantasy, in which protagonists find themselves transported into classic stories or story-worlds. It has a pretty respectable pedigree, and although some of its earlier classics aren’t read much these days, it’s enjoyed a ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: The Dark, Apex, Nightmare, and Deadlands

The Dark 1/22, 2/22 Apex #129 Nightmare 2/22 Deadlands 1/22, 2/22 The Dark #80’s four original stories include ‘‘Thermophile’’ by Jack Klausner and ‘‘Intru­sions’’ by Margot McGovern. In the former, Lisa’s roomie Stu starts taking really long hot showers. And baths. And acting strange. His only excuse is that he likes the warmth. This is an idea that doesn’t quite turn into a story. In ...Read More

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Alex Brown Reviews The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe, ed.

The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer, Janelle Monáe, ed. (Harp­erVoyager 978-0-06307-087-5, $28.99, 336pp, hc) April 2022.

Celebrity writing projects can be an iffy prospect. Writing is a particular craft, one that doesn’t necessarily translate from act­ing or songwriting, and the results can sometimes feel less like an act of creativity and more like a vanity project. That is absolutely not the case with Janelle Monáe’s The ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories by Yu Chen & Regina Kanyu Wang, eds

The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories, Yu Chen & Regina Kanyu Wang, eds. (Tordotcom 978-1-25076-891-9, $26.99, 400pp, hc) March 2022.

By now, many of us are already prepar­ing for the 81st World Science Fiction Convention next year in China. So it’s the perfect time for an anthology like The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories to hit shelves and tide us over until 2023.

Though Chinese publishers have ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Diabolical Plots, and F&SF

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 2/10/22, 2/24/22 Diabolical Plots 2-3/22 F&SF 3-4/22

Beneath Ceaseless Skies also celebrated an an­niversary in February, putting out its 350th issue. To mark the occasion, two issues are stuffed with extra stories, all of them centered on a crossing of genres, on science fantasy, rather than on a theme. Yoon Ha Lee opens the festivities with “Bonsai Starships”, which weaves a narrative around a young ...Read More

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