Ian Mond Reviews Other Worlds: Peasants, Pilgrims, Spirits, Saints by Teffi

Other Worlds: Peasants, Pilgrims, Spirits, Saints, Teffi (NYRB Classics 978-1-68137-539-7, $17.95, 256pp, tp) April 2021.

New York Review Books’ publication of Other Worlds: Peasants, Pilgrims, Spirits, Saints continues a rediscovery of Teffi’s short fiction that began with the Pushkin Press release of Subtly Worded back in 2014. I should note that before picking up a review copy of Other Worlds, my interest piqued by references to the occult ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: BCS, Tor.com, The Future Fire, Lightspeed, and Escape Artists

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 3/25/21, 4/8/21 Tor.com 4/20/21 The Future Fire 1/21 Lightspeed 4/21 Escape Artists 3/2/21, 3/5/21

Beneath Ceaseless Skies continues going strong this spring with stories such as Cat Rambo‘s “Every Breath a Question, Every Heartbeat an Answer“, set in her Tabat universe. Lady Callynahdra is a centaur who rejected her default fate as a noble and instead earned the rank of sergeant in the military. ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Apex, Nightmare, and Black Static

Apex #123 Nightmare 4/21 Black Static 78-79

Apex #123 presents six original stories. Technol­ogy allows the protagonist of “This Is the Mo­ment, Or One of Them” by Mari Ness to review and “shift,” if she desires, some of her memories of a relationship. That’s a far too simplistic de­scription of a story with both subtle nuance and profound consideration of life choices. Just read it. “Throw Rug ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews Broken Fevers by Tenea D. Johnson

Broken Fevers, Tenea D. Johnson (Rosarium 978-1732638853, $14.95, 272pp, tp) March 2021.

Tenea D. Johnson’s Broken Fevers is a wildly imaginative short story collection that tackles some important topics with style and delivers a healthy heaping of meaning in each narrative, regardless of length. A solid mix of genres, this collection pulls readers into short stories that do a lot more than just entertain.

Johnson sets the atmosphere in ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Strange Horizons and Clarkesworld

Strange Horizons 3/29/21, 4/21 Clarkesworld 4/21

At the end of March Strange Horizons published a special issue featuring Pales­tinian speculative fiction. It includes art, poetry, four stories, and an introductory essay, and features creators from across the Palestinian diaspora. “Wills” by Wadih Haddad is very short and very Weird, starting with a man in a sort of consumer hypnotic state coming awake with the statement “I want,” then ...Read More

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Maya C. James Reviews Prayer for the Living by Ben Okri

Prayer for the Living, Ben Okri (Head of Zeus 978-1789544596, £14.99, 240pp, hc) October 2019. (Akashic Books 978-1-61775-863-8, 216pp, hc) February 2021.

Ben Okri’s Prayer for the Living offers a simple suggestion at the beginning: read slowly. This is sage advice – if you pick through his words too quickly, you might miss a fateful turn within a story or a sentence that will steal your soul away. Reading ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF and Speculate

F&SF 5-6/21 Speculate, Dominique Hecq & Eugen Bacon (Meerkat) January 2021.

Sheree Renée Thomas’s second issue of F&SF is a strong one, and the longest sto­ries are particularly good.” In “Babylon SystemMaurice Broaddus tells of Lij Tafari, newly and unjustly sent to prison in an alternate America that is part of the Albion Empire. In some ways it’s a classic prison narrative, with the protagonist remaining ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Uncanny and The Dark

Uncanny 3-4/21 The Dark 3/21, 4/21

Uncanny #39 starts off well, and the issue continues in the same admirable vein. It is highly likely that whatever you be might be expecting from Catherynne M. Valente‘s marvelously descriptive “The Sin of America” is not what the story delivers. It is also likely that however dark you are expecting this tale of Ruby-Rose Martineau, who is eating the sins ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Pulp Literature, Fusion Fragment, Galaxy’s Edge, and The New Yorker

Pulp Literature Winter ’21 Fusion Fragment 3/21 Galaxy’s Edge 3/21 The New Yorker 3/8/21

Pulp Literature remains a favorite small magazine for me. I don’t often mention their two ongoing “serials”: “Allaigna’s Song“, by JM Landels; and “The Extra” by Mel Anastasiou – both are enjoy­able. The first is secondary-world fantasy, the second is crime fiction set in Hollywood in the ’30s, so not SF. ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Tor.com, Strange Horizons, Giganotosaurus, Departure Mirror, and Flash Fiction Online

Tor.com 3/3/21, 3/24/21 Strange Horizons 3/1/21, 3/15/21 Giganotosaurus 2/21, 3/21 Departure Mirror Quarterly Winter ’21 Flash Fiction Online 3/21

Tor.com had two stories in March. A new Usman T. Malik story is always a treat. “#Spring Love, #Pichal Pairi” is his latest take on the pandemic, where the narrator is a reporter in Lahore who in­terviews a particularly woke, feminist pichal pairi. The pichal pairi of folklore is ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Man Who Never Was by R.A. Lafferty

The Man Who Never Was, R.A. Lafferty (Centipede Press 978-1-61347-266-8, $65.00, 384pp, hc) March 2021.

By literally eyeballing the list of Lafferty short stories at ISFDB, I get a rough count for his canon of some 200 to 250 short stories. This figure consorts with what his Wikipedia entry maintains. The current Centipede Press series collecting his less-than-novel-length oeuvre is featuring about 20 stories per volume. So now, with ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Robot Artists and Black Swans: The Italian Fantascienza Stories by Bruce Sterling

Robot Artists and Black Swans: The Italian Fantascienza Stories, Bruce Sterling (Tachyon Publications, 978-1616963293, $25.95, 250 pp, hc) March 2021. Cover by John Coulthart.

Few American SF writers are as good at evoking the vibe of parts of the world outside the US as novelist-futurist-journalist Bruce Sterling – it’s something he was working at as far back as Holy Fire (1996), and it became a notable feature of the ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Planetbreaker’s Son by Nick Mamatas

The Planetbreaker’s Son, Nick Mamatas (PM 978-1-62963-834-8, $14.00, 118pp, tp) Febru­ary 2021.

With all the venues featuring original short fiction these days, one that might be easily overlooked is PM Press’s Outspoken Authors series of chapbooks, each a potpourri of stories and essays, along with a quirky interview with series editor Terry Bisson. It has featured authors as diverse as Ursula K. Le Guin, Nalo Hopkinson, Karen Joy Fowler, ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, BCS, and Lightspeed

Clarkesworld 3/21 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 2/25/21, 3/11/21 Lightspeed 3/21

My two favorite stories in Clarkesworld in March are “Homecoming is Just An­other Word for the Sublimation of the Self” by Isabel J. Kim and “The Orbiting Guan Erye” by Wang Zhenzhen (translated by Carmen Yiling Yan). Kim’s story features an amazingly appropriate use of second-person perspective as “you” are a first-generation Korean immigrant to the US ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Uncanny and Weird Tales

Uncanny 3-4/21 Weird Tales #364

The March-April issue of Uncanny is pretty remarkable. All of the stories are strong. Catherynne M. Valente opens with “The Sin of America“, which expands on the “sin eater” concept in purposefully American fashion, with a bit of the vibe of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” to boot. American fashion here is repre­sented by a clichéd upper Midwest diner and way too much food ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews In the Empty Quarter Audiobook by G. Willow Wilson

In the Empty Quarter, G. Willow Wilson; Soneela Nankani, narrator (Brilliance Audio, $1.99, digital download, 1.5 hr., unabridged) January 2021.

In this short story, Great Neck NY housewife Jean accompanies her oil exec husband to a city in an unnamed Middle Eastern country in the 1950s, believing that her self-perceived openness to the culture and her association with a local prince makes her superior to the other ex-pat wives. ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Best of World SF: Volume 1, Edited by Lavie Tidhar

The Best of World SF: Volume 1, Lavie Tidhar, ed. (Head of Zeus 978-1838937645, $39.95, 624pp, hc) June 2021.

In his incisive introduction to The Best of World SF: Volume 1, a kind of follow-up to the Apex Book of World SF volumes, which appeared over nearly a decade until 2018, Lavie Tidhar takes ironic note of the various meanings of “world science fiction” over the years. Originally ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Tor.com, BCS, Strange Horizons, Aurealis, and Fantasy

Tor.com 1/27/21, 2/3/21, 2/10/21, 2/24/21 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 1/28/21, 2/11/21 Strange Horizons 2/8/21, 2/15/21 Aurealis #137 Fantasy Magazine 2/21

The stories in Tor.com I read this month leaned heavily toward horror, with three edited by El­len Datlow and the fourth a vampire story edited by Jonathan Strahan. “Shards” by Ian Rogers is a cabin-in-the-woods story in which four friends violently murder the fifth friend, due to a demonic ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews I’m Waiting for You and Other Stories by Kim Bo-Young

I’m Waiting for You and Other Stories, Kim Bo-Young (Harper Voyager 978-0-06-295146-5, 336pp, $26.99, hc) April 2021.

Between the films of Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Snowpiercer, Parasite) and Yeon Sang-ho (Train to Busan, Peninsula) and its various series on Netflix (Kingdom, Sweet Home, Uncanny Counter, etc.), South Korea has lately become a significant player in SF/F media, but ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Alien Stars and Other Novellas by Tim Pratt

The Alien Stars and Other Novellas, Tim Pratt (Angry Robot Books 978-0857669285, $12.99, 200pp, tp) April 2021. Cover by grandfailure.

Tim Pratt’s Axiom trilogy (The Wrong Stars, The Dreaming Stars, and The Forbidden Stars) is a trio of excellent, modern, space-opera pulp adventures, with a compelling cast and a satisfying amount of solv­ing problems by blowing them up. I’m gutted that there don’t seem to ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews The Tallow-Wife and Other Tales by Angela Slat­ter

The Tallow-Wife and Other Tales, Angela Slat­ter (Tarturus 978-1-912586-24-0, £40.00, 452pp, hc) March 2021. Cover by Kathleen Jennings.

We are barely into 2021 and Angela Slatter is already having quite a year. A novel (All the Murmuring Bones as A.G. Slatter) and a collection of microfiction (Red New Day and Other Microfictions) were both reviewed here last month. Add The Tallow-Wife and Other Tales to the ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Curiosities, Cossmass Infinities, On Spec, Analog, and Asimov’s

Curiosities Winter ’20 Cossmass Infinities 9/20 On Spec #115 Analog 3-4/21 Asimov’s 3-4/21

It is always a surprise – unfairly so – to find a small new magazine and realize that it’s re­ally quite good! I had that experience with the previous issue of Curiosities, and now I see the Winter issue, and it does not disappoint.

Konstantine Paradias offers “And the Faces Screamed in the Galleries” – ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Best of Harry Turtledove by Harry Turtledove

The Best of Harry Turtledove, Harry Turtledove (Subterranean 978-1645240228, 584pp, $45.00) April 2021.

There was once a filksong dedicated to Gordon Dickson’s reputation for partying. I seem to recall the refrain went like this:

Gordy Dickson, Gordy Dickson, Gordy Dickson, he’s the one. Science fiction is his hobby, but his main job’s having fun!

I’d like to repurpose that tune for Harry Turtledove. I am not aware of any ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Rabbit Island by Elvira Navarro

Rabbit Island, Elvira Navarro (Two Lines 978-1-949641-09-7, $19.95, 184pp, tp) February 2021.

Rabbit Island is Spanish writer Elvira Navarro’s first collection to be translated into English by the always terrific Christina MacSweeney. While this is my first encounter with her work, two of Navarro’s novels – A Working Woman and Happy City, both of which have won numerous awards – have also been published in English.

Rabbit Island ...Read More

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

Uncanny 1-2/21 Apex #122 The Dark 1/21, 2/21 Nightmare 1/21, 2/21 Fantasy 2/21, 3/21 Baffling 1/21

Uncanny #38 is a strong issue. Sam J. Miller‘s “Tyrannosaurus Hex” posits a future in which alternative realities can be all too real. The story is particularly chilling (and resonates as true) with children as the “early adaptors.” “A House Full of Voices Is Never Empty” by Miyuki Jane ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Witch in the Almond Tree and other stories Audiobook by C.S.E. Cooney

The Witch in the Almond Tree and other stories, C.S.E. Cooney; narrated by the author (Self-published, $4.99, digital download, 4.25 hr., unabridged) December 2020.

Many people have tried to embark on some kind of creative or crafty project during the pandemic; author/narrator Cooney chose to self-produce a recording of three charmingly erotic works. The result is a sweet and steamy distraction. The titular story concerns a brilliant, assertive, and ...Read More

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Alvaro Zinos-Amaro Reviews Michael Bishop and the Persistence of Wonder by Joe Sanders

Michael Bishop and the Persistence of Wonder: A Critical Study of the Writings, Joe Sanders (McFarland 978-1476671512, $39.95, 202pp, pb) January 2021.

Paul Di Filippo concluded his thoughtful re­view of Michael Bishop’s The Sacerdotal Owl and Three Other Long Tales (2018) by recommending that Bishop be considered for a Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award, and I’d like to echo that sentiment here. Besides Bishop’s rich body of work, ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and Fiyah

Clarkesworld 2/21 Lightspeed 2/21 Fiyah Winter ’21

February’s Clarkesworld leads with a great cloning story, “The Failed Dianas” by Monique Laban. A young woman return­ing from a space-based financial internship goes to a high-end restaurant and meets a different version of herself, quite a bit older. It turns out that this is the original Diana who disappointed her parents deeply by refusing to go into finance; by ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Driftwood by Marie Brennan

Driftwood, Marie Brennan (Tachyon 978-1616963460, $15.95, 224pp, tp) August 2020.

Way back in 2008 and 2009 I saw a couple of stories by a writer fairly new to me, Marie Bren­nan, set in an extremely original setting called Driftwood. I liked those stories (“A Heretic by Degrees” and “Drift­wood”) quite a bit. Over time, Brennan added three more stories in this setting, and by-the-by established a reputation as a ...Read More

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Maya C. James Reviews Honeycomb by Joanne M. Harris

Honeycomb, Joanne M. Harris (Saga 978-1-534-43305-8, 28.00, 432pp, hc) May 2021. Cover by Charles Vess.

Like most remarkable stories, Honeycomb begins with a dream.

But in this universe of sadistic kings, wounded creatures, and wise honeybees, even a dream is more elusive than one might think. In “Nectar”, the origin story of Honeycomb, the Dream is a river that runs through the Nine Worlds, reflecting the hearts and ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Never Have I Ever: Stories by Isabel Yap

Never Have I Ever: Stories, Isabel Yap (Small Beer 978-1-61873-182-1, $17.00, 248pp, tp) March 2021.

Isabel Yap’s debut collection Never Have I Ever offers a wide variety of stories. They range from the definitely horrific “Good Girls” (The Retreat is a place intended to reform bad girls; whether it works on its young inmates is, in general, an open question, but it definitely doesn’t work for the monstrous Kaye) ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Galaxy’s Edge, Fusion Fragment, and The OK End of Funny Town

Galaxy’s Edge 1/21 Fusion Fragment 1/21 The OK End of Funny Town, Mark Polanzak (BOA Editions) May 2020.

Galaxy’s Edge for January has a nice story from Elise Stephens, “Drowned Prison“. A lumanar named Hallis comes to Kardag Prison, where the dangerous “Banner Lords” are held. These are experts in a sort of painting called lumastration, in which the painter magically infuses their art with emotions, ...Read More

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