Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Regrets Audiobook by Amy Bonnaffons

The Regrets, Amy Bonnaffons; Jay Ben Markson, Christie Moreau & Gary Tiedemann, narrators (Hachette Audio 978-1-47899966-9, $25.98, digital download, 6.75 hr., unabridged) February 2020.

When Thomas was a boy, a mistaken encounter with an angel of death turned him into a thrill-seeker, flirt­ing with death out of a longing to see the angel again. When he finally gets his wish in a car accident, the afterlife bureaucracy determines that ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold and Potions Are for Pushovers by Tamara Berry

Luke Arnold, The Last Smile in Sunder City (Orbit US 978-0-316-45582-4, $15.99, 316pp, tp) February 2020.

Fetch Phillips is a hard-boiled (or possibly well-pickled) detective type, working in a city that once ran on magic and hasn’t really recovered since the magic ran out in a devastating war. Being human, Fetch is less affected by the loss of magic than many of the supernatural races that used to run things, ...Read More

Read more

Adrienne Martini Reviews Aftershocks: The Palladium Wars by Marko Kloos

Aftershocks: The Palladium Wars, Marko Kloos (47North 978-1-5420-4355-7, $24.95, 282pp, hc) July 2019.

In Aftershocks: The Palladium Wars, Marko Kloos is setting up a series that will look at what happens once a war is over. It’s a nice change from the smash and bang of what happens during the fighting; instead, here he puts the focus on the aftermath of occupation.

Kloos opens on Aden Robertson, a ...Read More

Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews A Luminous Republic by Andrés Barba

A Luminous Republic, Andrés Barba (Mariner 978-1328589347, $14.99, 208pp, trade paperback) April 2020

Nominated by Granta magazine as one of the best young Spanish novelists of his generation, and winner of several literary prizes, Andrés Barba is little-known, I think it is accurate to say, within our domain of fantastika. I am not sure if this is because his previous eight books (none of which I have encountered) have ...Read More

Read more

Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Rambunctious: Nine Tales of Determination by Rick Wilber

Rambunctious: Nine Tales of Determination, Rick Wilber (WordFire 978-1-68057-068-7, $24.99, 289pp, hc) March 2020.

There are a few things we can reliably expect in a collection of stories from Rick Wilber (whose Alien Morning was a finalist for the Campbell Award a couple of years ago, but whose only previous collection was 1999’s Where Garagiola Waits and Other Baseball Stories). Two of these are pretty common SF preoccupations ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews A Phoenix First Must Burn, Edited by Patrice Caldwell

A Phoenix First Must Burn, Patrice Caldwell, ed. (Viking 978-1-9848-3565-9, $18.99, 306pp, hc) March 2020.

In the new teen anthology A Phoenix First Must Burn, editor Patrice Caldwell has collected a group of 16 stories celebrating “Black girl magic.” The authors include several YA heavy hitters such as L.L. McKinney, Dhonielle Clayton, Justina Ireland, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Rebecca Roan­horse, and the topics range from an interstellar confrontation about ...Read More

Read more

Ian Mond Reviews Providence by Max Barry and Hearts of Oak by Eddie Robson

Providence, Max Barry (Putnam 978-0593085172, $27.00, 320pp, hc) March 2020.

Max Barry and me, we go way back. The year was 1999, and I was undertaking a Graduate Diploma in Publishing and Editing at RMIT (because apparently a Master’s degree in Phi­losophy wasn’t attractive to prospective em­ployees). It’s there that I first met Max, though not in person. Instead, the class was given the task of editing the first ...Read More

Read more

Paula Guran Reviews The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

The Only Good Indians, Stephen Graham Jones (Saga Press 978-1-9821-364-51, $26.99, 320pp, hc) May 2020.

Good horror novels often have you reading and turning the pages as fast as you can. With a great horror novel – one that so arouses a sense of dread, connects so profoundly with that which is just beyond the normal world, is written with such superb craft and charac­terization that it draws you ...Read More

Read more

Liz Bourke Reviews Shadows of Annihilation by S.M. Stirling

Shadows of Annihilation, S.M. Stirling (Ace 978-0399586279, $18.00, 400pp, tp) March 2020.

S.M. Stirling’s Shadows of Annihilation is the third volume in his series of spy thrillers set in an alternate history of the early 20th century. It follows 2018’s Black Chamber and 2019’s Theater of Spies, and, like them, it stars clandestine operative Luz O’Malley Aróstegui and her lover, technical genius Ciara Whelan, as they face a ...Read More

Read more

Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Made to Order: Robots and Revolution, Edited by Jonathan Strahan

Made to Order: Robots and Revolution, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Solaris 978-1781087879, $11.99, 400pp, tp) March 2020.

I suppose it’s both appropriate and inevitable that the coming centennial of Karel Capek’s R.U.R. will have us reconsidering the long and varied history of robots in SF, and an excellent way to start that conversation is by reading Jonathan Strahan’s Made to Order: Robots and Revolution, which brings together 16 original ...Read More

Read more

Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: BCS, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Tor.com, and Diabolical Plots

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 1/16/20 Strange Horizons 1/6/20, 1/20/20 Lightspeed 1/20 Tor.com 1/8/20, 1/15/20 Diabolical Plots 1/20

Beneath Ceaseless Skies # 295 brings us a new Marissa Lingen story, always a treat. “Every Tiny Tooth and Claw (or: Letters from the First Month of the New Directorate)” is an epistolary story told through missives between a separated couple. They’re both academics with different fields of study; one stayed in ...Read More

Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang

Vagabonds, Hao Jingfang (Saga Press 978-1-5344-2208-7, $28.99, 608pp, hardcover) April 2020

The growing corpus of Chinese science fiction translated into English—mainly, as in this case, by that indefatigable polymath, Ken Liu—receives a welcome addition in the form of Hao Jingfang’s meditative and stimulating Vagabonds, arriving on the heels of her award-winning story, “Folding Beijing”. Part of the pleasure of such works is getting the perspective of writers from ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold

Red Hood, Elana K. Arnold (Balzer & Bray 978-0-06-274235-3, $17.99, 368pp, hc) February 2020.

I rarely ever write this, but in this case, I simply had no choice. With Red Hood, author Elana K. Arnold has accomplished something so important and powerful that I strongly believe everyone should read this book. Girls should read it (for sure, girls should read it!), boys should read it, adults and teens ...Read More

Read more

Ian Mond Reviews 88 Names by Matt Ruff

88 Names, Matt Ruff (Harper 978-0062854674, $27.99, 320pp, hc) March 2020.

The inspiration for Matt Ruff’s new novel, 88 Names, harks back more than 40 years to the day he was first introduced to a “newfangled ‘role-playing game’ called Dungeons & Dragons.” Ruff describes that moment as a life-changing event – “nothing has ever been the same since!” – implying that his successful career as a novelist, which ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Books by Ben Aaronovitch, Seanan McGuire, and Carrie Vaughn

Ben Aaronovitch, False Value (DAW 978-0-7564-1646-1, $26.00, 349pp, hc) February 2020; (Gollancz 978-1-473207851, 416pp, hc) February 2020.

Police detective Peter Grant is back on the police force but ends up going undercover in this eighth novel in the ever-entertaining Rivers of London series. As part of an investigation, Peter gets hired as a security officer at the Serious Cybernetics Company, a high-tech firm run by Terrence Skinner, a brilliant Australian/Silicon ...Read More

Read more

Gary K. Wolfe Reviews War of the Maps by Paul McAuley

War of the Maps, Paul McAuley (Gollancz 978-1473217348, £14.99, 432pp, hc) March 2020.

More than 20 years ago, Paul McAuley established his bona fides as a master of the ancient-far-future tradition of Vance and Wolfe with his Confluence series, set on an oddly shaped artificial world with a deep history that unfolded in fragments over the course of three volumes. With War of the Maps, he offers an ...Read More

Read more

Katharine Coldiron and Liz Bourke Review Stormsong by C.L. Polk

Stormsong, C.L. Polk (Tor.com Publishing 978-0-76539-899-4, $17.99, 352pp, tp) February 2020.

Witchmark was one of 2018’s critical darlings in genre fiction. Its sequel, Stormsong, has been highly anticipated by readers and reviewers alike, and I believe they will be satisfied. Although the book reads a little predictably, and attaches to its predecessor strongly enough to be difficult to understand at first, it’s a marvelously readable novel set in ...Read More

Read more

Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Uncanny, Galaxy’s Edge, Interzone, and Conjunctions

F&SF 3-4/20 Uncanny 1/20 Galaxy’s Edge 1/20 Interzone 1-2/20 Conjunctions 73

F&SF offers a wide range of impressive stories this issue. Two fine pieces come from an anthology Gardner Dozois was working on prior to his death, The Book of Legends. Matthew Hughes‘s “The Last Legend” is about a young man who had hoped for a respectable career before his uncle spent his inheritance and apprenticed ...Read More

Read more

Ysabeau S. Wilce Reviews The Broken Heavens by Kameron Hurley

The Broken Heavens, Kameron Hurley (Angry Robot 978-0857665621, $16.99, 464pp, tp) January 2020.

Kameron Hurley specializes in rubbing well-established genre tropes together until they create lightning. 2017’s The Stars Are Legion rocketed into uncharted space with all female characters and a heavy dose of unsentimentality towards bodies and their potential usefulness in a resource-poor environment. 2019’s The Light Brigade whirled together military SF and time travel to create the ...Read More

Read more

Paul Di Filippo Reviews War of the Maps by Paul McAuley

War of the Maps, Paul McAuley (Gollancz 978-1473217348, £14.99, 432pp, hardcover) March 2020

From the opening lines of Paul McAuley’s magnificent new novel of an exotic far-future world anchored by intensely human characters, we can sense that certain archetypical templates and genres are in play.

A lone tree leaned over the cistern, its bell-shaped yellow-leaved canopy dinting and swaying in the hot breeze, sprinkling coins of mirrorlight across the ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire

Come Tumbling Down, Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing 978-0-7653-9931-1, $19.99, 208pp, hc) January 2020.

Seanan McGuire continues her beautifully dark Wayward Children series with this fifth installment, Come Tumbling Down. Picking up story threads from Every Heart a Doorway and Down Among the Sticks and Bones, McGuire brings the saga of Jack and Jill to a final, gut-wrenching end, while also adding another evocative chapter to the ongoing ...Read More

Read more

Ian Mond Reviews McSweeney’s 58: 2040 A.D., Edited by Claire Boyle

McSweeney’s 58: 2040 A.D., Claire Boyle, ed. (McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern 978- 1944211707, $26.00, 184p, hc) December 2019. Cover by Wesley Allsbrook.

When I received my subscriber copy of McSweeney’s 58: 2040 A.D., with its eye-catching cover (and interior illustrations) from Wesley Allsbrook, bushfires were raging up and down the Queensland and New South Wales coast. As I read the issue, featuring ten stories that imagine what a climate-affected ...Read More

Read more

Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Mad Scientist Journal and Clarkesworld

Mad Scientist Journal Winter ’20 Clarkesworld 1/20

I am finally emerging into the dawning light of 2020 short fiction. Unfortunately, this winter brings the end of something fun and unique: with its 32nd issue and after eight years, the Mad Scientist Journal, a quirky quarterly, has closed its doors. Its conceit had always been stories specifically by and for mad scientists, and they cast the widest net possible within that ...Read More

Read more

Gary K. Wolfe and Adrienne Martini Review Prosper’s Demon by K.J. Parker

Prosper’s Demon, K.J. Parker (Tor.com Publishing 978-1250260512, $11.99, 104pp, tp) January 2020. Cover by Sam Weber.

One of the things you can count on from a K.J. Parker story, along with the dry wit of the prose, the morally dubious narrator, and the richness of his faux-historical Europe, is a fascination with the actual issues of economics, production, and manufacture that most fantasy writers blithely ignore: how, exactly, do ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Books by Genevieve Cogman, K.D. Edwards, E.E. Knight, and Michelle Sagara

Genevieve Cogman, The Secret Chapter (Pan 978-1-529000573, £8.99, 336pp, tp) November 2019; (Ace 978-1-9848-0476-1, $16.00, 334pp, tp; 978-0-593-19784-4, $26.00, hc) January 2020.

Librarian Irene and dragon prince Kai are off on yet another quest for a special book – but this time their quest is complicated by the brand-new treaty they helped broker between dragons, Fae, and the Library. They can’t steal from participants in the treaty, but they have ...Read More

Read more

Russell Letson Reviews What the Wind Brings by Matthew Hughes

What the Wind Brings, Matthew Hughes (Pulp Literature 978-1988865157, $39.95, 407pp, hc) December 2019. Cover by Willem van de Velde the Younger.

Matthew Hughes is known for his science fiction and fantasy, particularly of the Jack Vance-inspired variety, but he has had a long career in other neighborhoods, notably crime fiction and political speechwriting. His new novel is something quite different from all that – a vivid and carefully ...Read More

Read more

Katharine Coldiron Reviews The Book of Lost Saints by Daniel José Older

The Book of Lost Saints, Daniel José Older (Macmillan 978-1-25018-581-5, $26.99, 336pp, hardcover) November 2019.

In all honesty, I can’t recommend Daniel José Older’s new novel. Older has oodles of fans, enviable sales, and even a Star Wars novel under his belt, so take this opinion as one among many – but the more I try to make the novel’s intention and execution cohere enough for a critical assessment, ...Read More

Read more

Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Postutopian Adventures of Darger and Surplus by Michael Swanwick

The Postutopian Adventures of Darger and Surplus, Michael Swanwick (Subterranean 978- 1-59606-936-7, $40.00, 200pp, hc) April 2020.

When Michael Swanwick first introduced us to his redoubtable rogues Darger and Surplus in the Hugo Award winning “The Dog Said Bow-Wow” back in 2001, many readers immediately saw them as descendants of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, a duo whose DNA has shown up in the work of everyone ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews Summerwood/Winterwood by E.L. Chen

Summerwood/Winterwood, E.L. Chen (ChiTeen 978-1771485029, $14.99, 416pp, hc) October 2019.

In the Summerwood/Winterwood duology, author E.L. Chen riffs on the “other world behind the hidden door” genre with a tale that draws deeply from Narnia while also focusing on the real-world stories that make such fantastical places famous. Young Rosalind Hero Cheung is almost 13 and yearning for adventure in Summerwood and a world weary sufferer of PTSD in ...Read More

Read more

Ian Mond Reviews The Resisters by Gish Jen

The Resisters, Gish Jen (Knopf 978-0525657217, $26.95, 320pp, hc) February 2020.

As an Aussie, I do love my cricket, but I’m the first to admit that some of the most memorable fic­tion and non-fiction I’ve read features America’s favourite summer-sport, baseball. This includes Thomas Dyja’s stunning civil war novel Play for a Kingdom, where Union and Confederate com­panies play a series of baseball games between each battle; Stephen ...Read More

Read more

Liz Bourke Reviews Docile by K.M. Szpara

Docile, K.M. Szpara (Tor.com Publishing 978-1250216151, $27.99, 496pp, hc) March 2020.

Docile is K.M. Szpara’s debut novel. I’ve been hearing about it for months, and my interlocutors have used words like “kinky,” “sexy,” “hot,” “important,” and “squicky.” Now I’ve read it, I can safely say that while I’m sympathetic to its aims and its thematic arguments – and even though intimate explorations of power differentials in relationships are my ...Read More

Read more

Russell Letson Reviews Sea Change by Nancy Kress

Sea Change, Nancy Kress (Tachyon 978-1-61696-331-6, $15.95, 191pp, tp) April 2020. Cover by Elizabeth Storey.

After a string of novels involving aliens, star-travel, deep time, and exotic physics, Nancy Kress returns to the near future, the thriller format, and the biological science issues that drove some of her work of the 1990s. Her new novella, Sea Change, sets its present action in the Pacific Northwest only a dozen ...Read More

Read more