Gabino Iglesias Reviews Fishing for Dinosaurs and Other Stories by Joe R. Lansdale

Fishing for Dinosaurs and Other Stories, Joe R. Lansdale (Subterranean Press 978-15960-6993-0, $40.00, 384pp, tp) November 2020. Cover by Timothy Truman.

“It’s no secret that I like to write stories in a variety of genres, and my favorite of those is the Lansdale genre.” That’s the opening line of the introduction Joe Lansdale penned for his own Fishing for Dinosaurs and Other Stories, and it gets to the ...Read More

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

Clarkesworld 1/21 Lightspeed 1/21 Strange Horizons 1/21 Tor.com 1/6/21, 1/19/21 Mysterion 1-2/21

January’s Clarkesworld kicks off with “Inten­tionalities” by Aimee Ogden, where in the near future Sorrel gets trapped in an all-too-plausible system of debt peonage and ends up “confer­ring” a child to Braxos Corp. She bears the child, Abigail, and is able to raise her to the age of five with resources from the corporation, then ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard

Fireheart Tiger, Aliette de Bodard (Tordotcom 978-1-250793263, $14.99, 104pp, tp) February 2021.

Aliette de Bodard seems fascinated by relationships with huge power differentials – angels and mortals, giant mindships and modest students, dragons and young teachers, etc. Thanh, the protagonist of Fireheart Tiger, is a princess of Bình Hải, a small Vietnam-like country seeking to gain protection from the more powerful neighbor Ephteria, and Thanh is assigned by ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore

The Mirror Season, Anna-Marie McLemore (Feiwel & Friends 978-1-250-62412-3 $18.99, 320pp, hc) March 2021.

Content warning: This title deals graphically with the emotional and psychological fallout from sexual assault.

As Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Mirror Season opens, Graciela Cristales (“Ciela”) is dropping off a boy she does not know at the emergency room in her hometown of San Juan Capistrano, California. It quickly becomes clear that the two of them ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Ghost Variations: One Hundred Stories by Kevin Brockmeier

The Ghost Variations: One Hundred Stories, Kevin Brockmeier (Pantheon Books 978-1-524-74883-8, $27.00, 288pp) March 2021.

I became aware of Kevin Brockmeier’s work back in 2008 when Robert Shearman, in an in­terview with Eric Forbes, included Brockmeier in a list of writers “who play with the short story, squeeze as much out of it as they can.” Sadly, I’ve only now gotten around to reading Brock­meier’s short fiction, picking up ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews All the Murmuring Bones and Red New Day by An­gela Slatter

All the Murmuring Bones, A.G. Slatter (Titan 978-1-78909-434-3, $15.95, 368pp, tp) March 2021.

All the Murmuring Bones is A.G. Slatter’s (a semi-pseudonym of Australian author Angela Slatter) first novel-length work set in the Irish-flavored world of her acclaimed Sourdough and Other Stories and The Bitter­wood Bible. For fans of Slatter, that’s probably all that needs to be said to compel immediate acquisition. The rest of you, even ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF and Analog

F&SF 3-4/21 Analog 1-2/21

The March-April issue of F&SF is a sig­nificant one, the first put together by new editor Sheree Renée Thomas. Based on the evidence in front of me, she’s got off to an outstanding start, though we need to wait a few issues before we begin to understand Thomas’s editorial vision.

The issue features a strong Madeleine Robins story, “Mannikin“, about a boy who is ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Out Past the Stars by K.B. Wagers

Out Past the Stars, K.B. Wagers (Orbit Books 978-0356512402, $16.99, 400pp, tp) February 2021.

It is often difficult to begin a review of the third volume in a trilogy, particularly when, as with K.B. Wagers’s Out Past the Stars, it is the third volume of the second trilogy to star its protagonist and her world. Behind The Throne, After the Crown, and Beyond the Empire are ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Purgatory Mount by Adam Roberts

Purgatory Mount, Adam Roberts (Gollancz 978-1473230941, £16.99, 336pp, hc) February 2021.

It’s not too uncommon for an SF story to split itself between different time frames separated by centuries, with the causal links between frames only gradually made apparent – M. John Harrison’s Light is a well-known example – but the odd structure of Adam Rob­erts’s Purgatory Mount still seems pretty bold, as does the novel’s shifting tone from ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Constelación, Metaphorosis, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Constelación 1/21 Metaphorosis 1/21, 2/21 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 1/1/21, 1/14/21

Welcome to 2021! Sure, it might be March or later as you’re reading this, but really my reading “year” runs from the March issue to the February “Year in Review” issue of the following year. I think we’re all look­ing for a better year to come, and the fiction I’ve been reading so far gives me hope.

A genuine newcomer ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews The Unfinished Land by Greg Bear

The Unfinished Land, Greg Bear (John Joseph Adams Books 978-1-328-58990-3, $26.00, hc, 365 pp) February 2021.

Greg Bear’s The Unfinished Land is not your standard-issue fantasy adventure, even if it does feature a young naïf who travels across a magical, quasi-living landscape, guided by and encountering a range of strangely powered beings, all on the way to a series of rev­elations about the true natures of said landscape, beings, ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Legendborn, Tracy Deonn (Simon Pulse 978-1-534-44160-6, $18.99, 512pp, hc) September 2020.

In Legendborn, an epic blend of Arthurian legend and Southern Black magical tradition, author Tracy Deonn incorporates the endless allure of collegiate secret societies with a lighter version of Hunger Games-esque battles (not to the death), and a cast of demons to give readers a big adventure that doesn’t stop until the final pages. (And even then ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe and Paula Guran Review Burning Girls and Other Stories by Veronica Schanoes

Burning Girls and Other Stories, Veronica Schanoes (Tordotcom 978-1-250781505, $25.99, 336pp, hc) March 2021.

“History is a fairy tale”, a subtitle in Veronica Schanoes’s story “Emma Goldman Takes Tea with the Baba Yaga”, could almost serve as an epigram for the whole of her first collection, Burning Girls and Other Stories. Schanoes, who is a scholar of fairy tales, feminism, and Jewish literature and history, brings all of ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

Remote Control, Nnedi Okorafor (Tordotcom 978-1-250-77280-0, 160pp, $17.99, hc) January 2021. Cover by art by Greg Ruth.

Nnedi Okorafor’s Remote Control is a dark fantasy with Africanfuturistic elements that explores life, death, and loneliness while chronicling a few years in the early life of young girl who becomes the Angel of Death. Easy to read, emotionally gritty, and wildly imaginative, this is a short novel that takes readers into ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Relics, Wrecks, & Ruins, Edited by Aiki Flinthart

Relics, Wrecks, & Ruins, Aiki Flinthart, ed. (Cat Press 978-0-648-99173-1, $29.99, 460pp) January 2021.

On her website, novelist and editor Aiki Flinthart tells us that “after being diag­nosed with terminal cancer in late 2019, [she] reached out to as many of the best sci-fi/fantasy/horror authors as would answer.” The end product of this clarion call is Relics, Wrecks, & Ruins, an anthology that, despite the tragic circumstances surrounding ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Ravens by Kass Morgan & Danielle Paige

The Ravens, Kass Morgan & Danielle Paige (HMH Books 978-0-358-09823-2, $18.99, 400pp, hc) November 2020.

Kass Morgan & Danielle Page’s novel The Ra­vens combines several current YA trends. The primary setting is a college sorority comprised of witches who are mostly preoccupied with furthering their own popularity. They live in a gorgeous historic house, attend a Georgia col­lege that has an appropriately creepy cemetery nearby, and spend a lot ...Read More

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Katharine Coldiron Reviews A Wild Winter Swan by Gregory Maguire

A Wild Winter Swan, Gregory Maguire (Wil­liam Morrow, 978-0-06298-078-6, $27.99, 240pp, Hardcover) October 2020.

One of the best aspects of Gregory Maguire’s work is his refusal to remove the wildness from animals, even anthropomorphized animals, in his books. Animals in his work fail to conform to human behavior and expectations in ways that are totally realistic for animals, and un­heard of in Disney films and their creative descen­dants. Maguire ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Weak Spot by Lucie Elven

The Weak Spot, Lucie Elven (Soft Skull 978-1-593-76630-6, $15.95, 176pp, tp) February 2021.

Lucie Elven’s novella, The Weak Spot, is set in a village somewhere in Europe; “an unrushed place” situated at the top of a mountain, which can only be reached by a funicular. Into this secluded environment comes our unnamed narrator, a young pharmacist who scores a gig at the local chemist, under the tutelage of ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Complete Ivy Frost by Donald Wandrei

The Complete Ivy Frost, Donald Wandrei (Haffner Press 978-1893887619, 720pp, $49.99, hardcover) December 2020

Haffner Press has been gifting the world of bibliophiles and literature-lovers with enormously attractive and highly readable books since 1998, when they published Jack Williamson’s The Queen of the Legion. (For a complete record of their offerings, visit their ISFDB page.) Any publication from Haffner exemplifies craftsmanship, graphic design ingenuity, and attention to textual ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini and Russell Letson Review A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine

A Desolation Called Peace, Arkady Martine (Tor 978-1250186461, $26.99, 496pp, hc) March 2021.

Despite how many readers raved about it, I didn’t manage to read Arkady Martine’s multi-award winning A Memory Called Empire when it first came out. There is never enough time, you know? But when the follow-up – A Desolation Called Peace – hit my in-box, I read the first few pages and was so hooked that ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Uncanny, and The Book of Dragons

F&SF 1-2/21 Uncanny 1-2/21 The Book of Dragons, Jonathan Strahan ed. (Harper Voyager) July 2020.

F&SF opens the year with a remarkable no­vella from John Kessel. “The Dark Side” concerns Leon Czolgosz, the murderer of President McKinley. The story runs on two tracks, one detailing Czolgosz’s actions leading up to his crime, plus some backstory, and also the aftermath as he is tried and executed. The ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Omenana, Strange Horizons, and Samovar

Omenana 12/20 Strange Horizons 11/16/20, 12/1/20 Samovar 10/20

Speaking of speculative fiction from Africa, Omenana‘s 16th issue dropped in December. This one is full of tales of hauntings and other spooky happenings. A very confused ghost nar­rates “A Magician” by Rešoketšwe Manenzhe. In “Drummer Boy in a World of Wise Men” by Tobi Ogundirun, a young boy abandoned by his drummer father knows something ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses by Kristen O’Neal

Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses, Kristen O’Neal (Quirk 978-1-68369-234-8, $18.99, 384pp, hc). April 2021.

A ton of books have been published with were­wolf characters, but debut author Kristen O’Neal has written one that stands out for all that it lacks: no romance, no murder, no vampires, and no climactic battle between good and evil. Lycan­thropy and Other Chronic Illnesses takes read­ers into the world of a chronically ill young ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews What Abigail Did That Summer by Ben Aarono­vitch

What Abigail Did That Summer, Ben Aarono­vitch (Subterranean Press 978-1-64524-029-7, $40.00, 232pp, hc) March 2021.

Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London uni­verse keeps sending new rivulets in unex­pected directions. The series, which started with a relatively straightforward novel about Peter Grant, a London police officer who finds himself confronted with magic, has branched into a comic book series, an audiobook, a handful of short sto­ries, and seven more novels. The ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Alias Space and Other Stories by Kelly Robson

Alias Space and Other Stories, Kelly Robson (Subterranean 978-1645240259, $40.00, 420pp, hc) April 2021.

I’ve sometimes been skeptical of authors who as­semble a story collection almost as soon as they’ve totted up enough publications to make a book – after all, is almost everything you’ve published that worthy of preservation? – and I’ve sometimes been wrong about it, as with writers like Ted Chi­ang or Eileen Gunn. The latest ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Machinehood by S.B. Divya

Machinehood, S.B. Divya (Saga 978-1-9821-4806-5, $27.00, 416pp, hc) March 2021.

S.B. Divya’s first novel Machinehood is a good argument for why it’s important to understand the history of SF, and an equally good argument for why you don’t need to bother with the history of SF at all. Its central conceit – an apparent terrorist organization seek­ing the liberation of all forms of intelligence, ar­tificial and otherwise – carries ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Purgatory Mount by Adam Roberts

Purgatory Mount, Adam Roberts (Gollancz 978-1473230941, 336pp, L16.99, hardcover) February 2021

Last year marked the generally under-recognized 20th anniversary of Adam Roberts’s first novel, Salt, and the launching of his career. His prodigious and impressive output in the past two decades has earned him a reputation as one of the field’s most delightfully surprising, adept, and formalistically variant authors. His novums are always startling and innovative and cutting-edge, ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Future SF Digest and Africanfuturism

Future Science Fiction Digest 12/20 Africanfuturism: An Anthology, Wole Talabi, ed. (Brittle Paper) October 2020.

It’s at least February for those of you reading this column, but just the very end of 2020 as I’m writing it. As usual, I skid into the end of the year having read only a fraction of what’s available in the universe of “short fiction online” – maybe a third if I’m being ...Read More

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

Black Static 11-12/20 The Dark 11/20, 12/20 Nightmare 12/20, 1/21 Fantasy 12/20, 1/21

I can’t really point out the best in Black Static #77. All six stories are the sort that stay with you and deserve at least brief mention (although Steve Rasnic Tem’s may be my favorite.) A vacation in a tropical paradise turns horrific in novelette “The Guardian” by Philip Fracassi. As tired as I ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Live; live; live by Jonathan Buckley

Live; live; live, Jonathan Buckley (Sort of Books 978-1-908-74587-3, £11.99, 288pp, tp) July 2020. (New York Review Books 978-1-681-37547-2, $16.95, 272pp, tp) February 2021.

I first heard Jonathan Buckley’s name mentioned on the Locklisted podcast (a Patreon-only spin-off of Backlisted, the best literary podcast on the planet) where the co-host John Mitchinson spoke glowingly of Buckley’s 11th and latest novel, Live; live; live. What caught my ear was ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Robot Artists & Black Swans: The Italian Fantascienza Stories by Bruce Sterling

Robot Artists & Black Swans: The Italian Fantascienza Stories, Bruce Sterling (Tachyon 978-1616963293, 256pp, $25.95, hardcover) April 2021

Certain superficial things change over time, while other essential phenomena remain fixed and permanent. Cyberpunk was born a bit over 35 years ago, and the world is a much different place now than it was in 1985. So it’s foolish to imagine that cyberpunk writing would persist unchanged, adhering to the ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction from Asimov’s

Asimov’s 1-2/21

The January-February Asimov’s includes the longest story Ray Nayler has yet published, “A Rocket for Dimitrios“. This is another Sylvia Aldstatt story, set in an alternate history where the course of WWII was radically changed by the US discovery of an alien spacecraft and their adoption of its technology. One of the strangest pieces of alien tech allows Sylvia to experience the memories of a recently ...Read More

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