Liz Bourke Reviews Assassin’s Orbit by John Appel

Assassin’s Orbit, John Appel (Solaris 978-1-781089156, £8.99, 430pp, pb) July 2021. Cover by Amazing15.

John Appel’s Assassin’s Orbit is another debut. This one suited me much better than For the Wolf, but then women in their sixties kicking arses and taking names while having complicated interpersonal interactions is pretty much my jam. Appel handles a diverse cast with future versions of religious faiths (Islam, and I think – ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Scholars of Night by John M. Ford

The Scholars of Night, John M. Ford (Tor 978-1250269171, 256pp, $18.99) September 2021.

While we all eagerly await the heretofore-unseen last novel by John M. Ford, Aspects, due in April of next year, we will have to quench our desires for all things Fordian with the various reprints that are tilling the soil for that harvest. We earlier got The Dragon Waiting (my review here) which had gone ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Cossmass Infinities, Conjunctions, and Seasons Between Us

Cossmass Infinities 5-6/21 Conjunctions:76 Seasons Between Us, Susan Forest & Lucas K. Law, eds. (Laksa) August 2021.

In the May issue of Cossmass Infinities – another promising new magazine – I liked dave ring‘s “Top Ten Demons to Kill Before the World Ends“, which is both a list story and a footnotes story. It’s pretty funny, about a demon slayer who is trying to kill ten ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Destroyer of Light by Jennifer Marie Brissett

Destroyer of Light, Jennifer Marie Brissett (Tor 978-1-250-26865-5, $25.99, 304pp, hc) October 2021.

Jennifer Marie Brissett’s Destroyer of Light is a book that sneaks up on you. If you can make it through the disorienting (somewhat intentionally because there is a lot of world building to do) first couple dozen pages, the reward is vast. Brissett has built a story that the 21st century needs, while never forgetting its ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig

The Book of Accidents, Chuck Wendig (Del Rey 978-0-399-18213-6, $28.99, 544pp, hc) July 2021. Cover by Fritz Metsch.

More than about being great, writing is about consistently getting better, and Chuck Wendig’s latest, The Book of Accidents, shows that he’s not only great; he’s also really good at improving. A touching narrative about trauma, magic, and traveling to and from a series of collapsing alternate dimensions, The Book ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Flash Fire by TJ Klune

Flash Fire, TJ Klune (Tor Teen 978-1250203687,$18.99, 384pp, hc) July 2021.

Before I write anything about Flash Fire, T.J. Klune’s sequel to The Extraordinaries, I need to warn that this will be a spoiler-laden review. It’s frankly impossible to write it any other way as everything in the first book so directly impacts the second. So, go read The Extraordinaries and then come back here for my ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Fantasy, Nightmare, and The Dark

Fantasy 5/21, 6/21 Nightmare 5/21, 6/21 The Dark 5/21, 6/21

Fantasy #67 is the strongest issue yet in its new in­carnation. “Like Birdsong, the Memory of Your Touch” by Izzy Wasserstein packs a great deal into 700 words, including a near-future scenario in which nature triumphs over humankind and a relationship ends. P.H. Low‘s “Disenchant­ment” is bittersweet. A girl is born with a hole in ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Spirits Abroad by Zen Cho

Spirits Abroad, Zen Cho (Small Beer 978-1-618-73186-9, $17.00, 352pp, tp), August 2021.[Expanded from the 2015 edition.]

Before Zen Cho earned well-deserved popularity for her revisionist Regency-era fantasies Sorcerer to the Crown and The True Queen, she received the 2015 Crawford Award for her collection Spirits Abroad, from the Malaysian publisher Fixi Novo. It seems fair to say that not a lot of international readers got hold of ...Read More

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

Lightspeed 6/21 Omenana 4/21 Strange Horizons 6/21/21 Tor.com 6/9/21, 6/16/21, 6/23/21

June’s Lightspeed features some interesting scenar­ios in both the science fiction and fantasy sections. Timothy Mudie‘s “Different People” imagines that an unmarried man is contacted by the woman who was his wife in the parallel universe she had to flee from. She finds him and they start a relationship; when she starts to dive back into ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Strange Beasts of China by Yan Ge

Strange Beasts of China, Yan Ge (Tilted Axis 978-1911284444, £9.99, 220pp, tp) November 2020. (Melville House 978-1-612-19909-2, $25.99, 240pp, hc) August 2021.

As an author, Yan Ge’s remarkable career began when, as a teenager, she won a national short-story contest in China. She was quickly picked up by a publisher and released her first collection at the age of 17. By the time Yan Ge moved with her husband ...Read More

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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

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

In the Watchful City , S. Qiouyi Lu (Tor.com 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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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