Paula Guran Reviews My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

My Heart Is a Chainsaw, Stephen Graham Jones (Saga 978-1-982137-63-2, $26.99. 416pp, hc) August 31, 2021.

I am not a fan of slasher films, but I know enough – as just about anyone with any pop cultural awareness does – to soundly appreci­ate Stephen Graham Jones’s use of the subgenre he so brilliantly employs in My Heart Is a Chain­saw. Not being a slasher aficionado means there’s at ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Eat Your Heart Out by Kelly Devos

Eat Your Heart Out, Kelly Devos (Razorbill 978-0-593-20482-5, $18.99, 352pp, hc) June 2021.

Just when you thought no one needed another zombie novel, author Kelly Devos gives readers Eat Your Heart Out, a terror-filled foray into weight-loss camp that will not be soon forgotten. Personally, I’ve never understood the appeal of zombie stories, but I was intrigued by Devos’s premise and completely won over by her charac­ters. I knew ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Bewilderment by Richard Powers

Bewilderment, Richard Powers (Norton 978-0-393-88114-1, $27.95, 288pp, hc) September 2021.

I first became aware of Richard Powers’s work when his novel, Generosity: An Enhance­ment, was nominated for a Clarke Award back in 2011. However, it wasn’t until the publication of The Overstory in 2019 that I read a book by Powers. If Goodreads is any indication, I’m not alone. Having written 11 novels over more than three decades ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Art of Space Travel and Other Stories by Nina Allan

The Art of Space Travel and Other Stories, Nina Allan (Titan 978-1-789091755, $15.95, 480pp, tp) September 2021.

Not very many lines of SF criticism get widely quoted, but Susan Wood’s long-ago observation that ‘‘Ursula K. Le Guin makes maps’’ is one of them, and it helped kick off a discussion of fantasy maps that isn’t over yet. It came to mind about halfway through Nina Allan’s major retrospective collection ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Strange Horizons, The Deadlands, khōréō, and The Economist

Strange Horizons 5/31 The Deadlands 6/21 khōréō 6/21 The Economist 6/25/21

At the end of May Strange Horizons put out a special issue dealing with transgender themes. Along with nine poems and three non-fiction ar­ticles are three original short stories. My favorite is ‘‘Women Want Me, Fish Fear Me’’ by Paris Green. In this future, genemods based on different animals are fairly common, and the narrator’s are ...Read More

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Alvaro Zinos-Amaro Reviews Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950 to 1985 by Andrew Nette & Iain McIntyre, eds

Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950 to 1985, Andrew Nette & Iain McIntyre, eds. (PM Press 978-1629639321, $59.95, 224pp, hc) October 2021.

The Melbourne-based duo of writers/editors Andrew Nette & Iain McIntyre follow up their two previous PM Press volumes, Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 to 1980 (2017) and Sticking It to the Man: Revolution and Counterculture ...Read More

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Maya C. James Reviews Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian

Half Sick of Shadows, Laura Sebastian (Ace 978-0-593-200513, $27.00, 448pp, hc) July 2021.

Elaine is surrounded by heroes, and she knows how each of them will fall: Morgana the sorcer­ess, Lancelot the knight, Gwen the queen, and Arthur the king; all powerful pieces on a chess board waiting to be toppled by their own doing. Despite her great power of Sight, there is nothing Elaine can do but gaze ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Analog, Asimov and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet

Analog 7-8/21 Asimov’s 7-8/21 Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet 6/21

The cover story in the July-August Analog is Marie Vibbert’s novella, ‘‘The Unlikely Heroines of Callisto Station’’. The hero­ines of the title are Lottie, whom we meet as she is reluctantly accepting treatment for bipolar epi­sodes from a nice psychologist named Saravit; and Xiao Fung, a maintenance worker (and Saravit’s girlfriend). Xiao doesn’t like Lottie and Lottie either ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Rock Eaters: Stories by Brenda Peynado

The Rock Eaters: Stories, Brenda Peynado (Penguin 978-0-143135623, $16.00, 288pp, tp) May 2021.

Brenda Peynado’s first collection, The Rock Eaters, places her in that growing cadre of talented short fic­tion writers who seem equally comfortable in venues as diverse as The Georgia Review and Tor.com, and whose voice is just as distinctive when writing about real-world poverty and student debt or about grim futures in which people take ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Switch by A.S. King

Switch, A.S. King (Dutton 978-0-525-55551-3, $17.99, 225pp, hc) May 2021.

Award-winning author A.S. King excels at surrealist explorations of society, and her latest novel, Switch, is no exception. For Tru Becker and everyone else on Earth, time stopped on June 23, 2020. Every day is like every day, and in this ‘‘fold in time and space’’ the planet keeps spinning but nothing changes. To stave the fear such ...Read More

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Alex Brown Reviews Short Fiction: Anathema, Baffling, Clarkesworld, Dark Matter, Fireside, Fiyah Spring, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com

Anathema 5/21 Baffling 7/21 Clarkesworld 4/21 Dark Matter 1-2/21 Fireside 7/21 Fiyah Spring ’21 Strange Horizons 7/19/21 Tor.com 3/3/21

One of the best parts about being a reviewer is that I get to read a lot of short speculative fiction every month from a lot of different publications. Happily for me and other lovers of short SFF/H, Locus is letting me put all that reading to even more good use ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Confession of Copeland Cane by Keenan Norris

The Confession of Copeland Cane, Keenan Norris (The Unnamed Press 978-1-951-21325-1, $28.00, 288pp, hc) June 2021.

The Confessions of Copeland Cane poses the question: when is a dystopia not a dystopia? The answer: when there’s no notable difference to a per­son’s lived experience. The America Cope describes is clearly one sliding at break-neck speed toward a fascist police state with a pervasive, all-seeing propa­ganda machine masquerading as a media conglomer­ate. ...Read More

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Maya C. James Reviews The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri

The Jasmine Throne, Tasha Suri (Orbit 978-0-316-53851-0, $16.99, 576 pp, tp) June 2021.

If you’ve heard The Jasmine Throne de­scribed as ‘‘morally grey lesbians setting an empire ablaze,’’ then you already understand the first reason to pick up the first book of the Burning Kingdoms trilogy. Told through sev­eral characters, The Jasmine Throne is an epic Indian-inspired fantasy centering love, thorny relationships, and an empire’s stranglehold on generations.

There ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews On the Origin of Species and Other Stories by Bo-Young Kim

On the Origin of Species and Other Stories, Bo-Young Kim (Kaya Press 978-1-885030-71-9, $19.95, 224pp, tp) May 2021.

When I reviewed Kim Bo-Young’s I’m Wait­ing for You and Other Stories last April, the first collection from an author widely regarded as among the most prominent voices in Korean science fiction and fantasy, I found it impressive, but also tantalizing: it consisted only of two pairs of linked stories, leaving ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Bewilderment by Richard Powers

Bewilderment , Richard Powers (Norton 978-0393881141, 288pp, $27.95) September 2021.

Since his first book in 1985, Richard Powers has published a dozen novels, with this newest one being his lucky thirteenth. In one way or another, to one degree or another, they have all manifested deep concern with matters of technology and culture, the core remit of SF. Some, such as Galatea 2.2, have been flat-out undeniable science fiction. ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews Near the Bone by Christina Henry

Near the Bone, Christina Henry (Berkley 978-0-59319-976-6, $17.00, 336pp, tp) April 2021. Cover by Spencer Fuller.

Christina Henry’s Near the Bone is a horror novel that brings together real life horrors and monsters that walk a fine line between the supernatural and the what-if world of cryptozoology. At once a narrative about abuse and survival and a tale of creatures stalking people up on a snow-covered mountain, Near the ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Escapement by Lavie Tidhar

The Escapement, Lavie Tidhar (Tachyon 978-1-61696-327-9, $16.95, 256pp, tp) September 2021.

In the most exuberant sense of the word, Lavie Tidhar is something of a literary magpie, borrow­ing from – and celebrating – a dizzying variety of narrative traditions. His previous novel, By Force Alone, enlisted everything from Macbeth to Roadside Picnic in the service of radically reinventing Arthurian legends. The Escapement is if anything even more radical. ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Grave Reservations by Cherie Priest

Grave Reservations, Cherie Priest (Atria Books 978-1982-16889-6, $26.00, 304pp, hc) October 2021.

My first introduction to Cherie Priest was her amazing debut Four and Twenty Blackbirds, which is about ghosts and the South and is mesmerizing. I’ve drifted in and out of this Locus award-winning (and Nebula and Hugo nominated) writer’s work since then. Even though I loved Boneshaker and am convinced I Am Princess X deserved a ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M. Valente

Comfort Me With Apples, Catherynne M. Valente (Tordotcom 978-1-250-81621-4, $17.99, 112pp, hc) October 2021.

Catherynne M. Valente’s love affair with language is well known, so it’s not surprising that the Song of Solomon, with its sensuous lyricism, should not only provide the title of her new novella Comfort Me With Apples, but also be echoed in her own prose (not to mention chapter titles that are all varieties ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Glassy, Burning Floor of Hell by Brian Even­son

The Glassy, Burning Floor of Hell, Brian Even­son (Coffee House Press 978-1-56689-611-5, $16.95, 248pp, tp) August 2021.

I first came across Brian Evenson’s work more than a decade ago when I read his unconventional, hard-boiled detective novel Last Days. With its noir-inflect­ed prose and its deeply weird story about a religious cult devoted to the holy act of amputation, the book left an indelible impression. And yet, despite ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow

A Spindle Splintered, Alix E. Harrow (Tordotcom 978-1-250-76335-2, $17.99, 128pp, hc) October 2021.

There are two reasons why fairytale retellings and adaptations have remained consistently popular for centuries: one is that these old tales are deeply beloved, and the other is that they aren’t – or that they could use some serious fixing. Alix E. Harrow, or at least the narrator of her novella A Spindle Splintered, evidently ...Read More

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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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