Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Analog, Asimov’s, Pulp Literature, and Uncanny

Analog 3-4/20 Asimov’s 3-4/20 Pulp Literature Winter ’20 Uncanny 3-4/20

Analog offers several impressive stories in its March-April issue. Andy Dudak can be counted on for wild ideas, and “Midstrathe Exploding” delivers on that account. Ciaran is a pickpocket in Midstrathe City, which seems mainly known for the weirdly time-shifted explosion that engulfed it 200 years before and is still expanding with its victims frozen inside it. He ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Fiyah, BCS, Strange Horizons, and That We May Live

Fiyah Winter ’20 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 1/30/20, 2/13/20 Strange Horizons 2/3/20, 2/10/20 That We May Live: Speculative Chinese Fic­tion, Sarah Coolidge, ed. (Two Lines) March 2020.

The 13th issue of Fiyah is unthemed, letting the stories come unfettered and showcasing several very new authors. The lead is “All That the Storm Took” by Yah Yah Scholfield, a harrowing tale of surviving hurricane Katrina. The structure is ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Big Echo, and Tor.com

Clarkesworld 2/20 Lightspeed 2/20 Big Echo 1/20 Tor.com 1/29, 2/5, 2/11, 2/19/20

February’s Clarkesworld starts off strongly with “Outer” by Hollis John Henry. It’s a chilling story of mutants in the Caribbean, the result of some kind of scientific mishap. It hearkens back to Van Vogt’s Slans as we follow one particular mutant who can both feel emotions of those nearby and also snuff out their lifeforces, ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Shadows & Tall Trees, Vol. 8, Edited by Michael Kelly, and Out of Water by Sarah Read

Shadows & Tall Trees, Vol. 8, Michael Kelly, ed. (Undertow 978-1-988964-17-1, $27.99, 269pp, hc) March 2020.

Shadows & Tall Trees, Vol. 8 lives up to the high standard previously set by editor Mi­chael Kelly with this series. The anthology’s 18 original stories serve as a good entry drug to the best in modern short fiction as well as reliable reads for those already addicted. Many tend toward the ...Read More

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Tor.com, and Mithila Review

Clarkesworld 12/19 Tor.com 11/6/19, 11/13/19, 12/4/19, 12/11/19 Mithila Review 12/19

In this month’s column I finally bid adieu to 2019 for good. As always, I wish I could have read more, but there were plenty of strong stories to leave me feeling good about the year and optimistic for the one ahead.

My favorite story in December’s Clarkesworld was “Annotated Setlist of the Mikaela Cole Jazz Quintet” by ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu

The Hidden Girl and Other Stories, Ken Liu (Saga 978-1-9821-3403-7, $26.00, 432pp, hc) February 2020.

In his introduction to The Hidden Girl and Oth­er Stories, Ken Liu’s much-anticipated second collection, Liu tells us that selecting the stories was easier, since he no longer felt “the pressure to ‘present,”‘ but rather decided to “stick with stories that most pleased myself.” In fact, more than half of the 18 stories ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Sirenia, Black Static, The Dark, Uncanny, Nightmare, and BCS

Sirenia Digest #164, #165, #166 Black Static 11-12/19 The Dark 11/19, 12/19 Uncanny 11-12/19 Nightmare 12/19 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 12/5/19

I mention Sirenia Digest here from time-to-time in case readers are unaware of it. Author Caitlín R. Kiernan started offering it monthly to subscribers long before Patreon became a way to help support a writer. What does it contain? Here’s a recent sampling. Despite the fact Kier­nan had vowed never ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Asimov’s, Analog, LCRW, and On Spec

Asimov’s 1-2/20 Analog 1-2/20 Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet 11/19 On Spec #112

The first 2020 issue of Asimov’s is anchored by two novellas – the latest episode of Allen M. Steele‘s series about a human colony on a planet of Tau Ceti and the colonists’ interaction with the doglike intelligent species that controls the planet, “The Palace of Danc­ing Dogs” – these are enjoyable somewhat old-fashioned adventures ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Talk Like a Man by Nisi Shawl

Talk Like a Man, Nisi Shawl (PM Press 978-1-62963-711-2, $14.00, 114pp, tp) November 2019.

It’s been more than a decade since Nisi Shawl’s only previous collection, Filter House, and since much of her short fiction has appeared in small-press publications that often have to be sought out, her new chapbook from PM Press provides an enticing glimpse into the fiction of an author most widely known for the ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Suicide Woods by Benjamin Percy

Suicide Woods, Benjamin Percy (Graywolf 978-1-644-45006-2 $16.99. 216pp. tp) October 2019.

Benjamin Percy’s writing is immaculate. Each word seems so carefully chosen the reader cannot imagine a synonym that would better suit. This slender volume is not a fast read. With such craft, a reader must slowly savor the nine stories and the single novella in Percy’s third collection. All are relentlessly dark, but the darkness springs from a ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: BCS, Strange Horizons, and Mysterion

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 10/24/19, 11/21/19 Strange Horizons 10/19, 11/19 Mysterion 11-12/19

Beneath Ceaseless Skies opens issue #289 with Norse fiction from Rich Larson in “The Star Plague“. Larson ratchets up the tension master­fully as we learn of Bragi, a Viking rescued from some traumatic event by British monks. Bragi is entirely disaffected, which isn’t helped by a lan­guage barrier, as some force starts stealing corpses and he is ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews …And Other Disasters by Malka Older

…And Other Disasters, Malka Older (Mason Jar Press 978-0996103787, $17.95, 201pp, tp) November 2019.

Although it’s a slim book, the nine stories and three poems that feature in Malka Older’s debut collection …And Other Disasters showcase an eclectic and vivid imagination. This includes a future history detailing the break-up of the United States of America (cleverly split into seven indi­vidual sections across the collection to mimic the dissolution of ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Uncanny, Interzone, Neo-Opsis, Bourbon Penn, and Galaxy’s Edge

F&SF 1-2/20 Uncanny 11-12/19 Interzone 11-12/19 Neo-Opsis #30 Bourbon Penn 11/19 Galaxy’s Edge 11/19

Michael Cassutt‘s rare short fiction is always welcome, and “Banshee”, from the first 2020 issue of F&SF, is a good example. Nik Salida is a NASA administrator. His latest project, Skin Walker, is an exotic shapeshift­ing spaceship, led by the brilliant and troublesome Togo Blaine. But the latest flight test has just failed, and Salida ...Read More

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

Clarkesworld 11/19 Fiyah Autumn ’19 Omenana 10/19

Welcome to the winter of 2020, in which I’ll spend January and February trying desperately to review all the things that I don’t want to miss from 2019 before finally letting go and allowing myself to embrace 2020 wholeheartedly. Months from now I’ll still be kicking myself for missing so much great stuff, but for now 2019 continues to deliver short fic­tional gems ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: The New Yorker, Hexarchate Stories, And Go Like This

The New Yorker 9/30/19 Hexarchate Stories, Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris) June 2019. And Go Like This, John Crowley (Small Beer Press) November 2019.

I’m catching up slightly late with one of the New Yorker‘s occasional fantastical stories, this one quite lightly fantastical, though, I am told, set in Cross River, a city in which the author (Rion Amilcar Scott) has written other stories, all with somewhat ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Capricious SF, Strange Horizons, and Current Futures

Capricious SF 7/19 Strange Horizons 9/30/19 Current Futures: A Sci-Fi Ocean Anthology, Ann VanderMeer, ed. (XPRIZE) June 2019.

I wanted to make sure to catch up with Capri­cious as, according to editor A.C. Buchanan, the magazine will be taking a hiatus through at least the summer of 2020. I feel that Capricious has been putting out some wonderfully innovative short fiction recently, and I’m happy to say that issue ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Fighters of Fear, Edited by Mike Ashley

Fighters of Fear: Occult Detective Stories, edited by Mike Ashley (Talos 978-1945863523, $29.99, 624pp, hardcover) January 2020

It is a simple and undeniable fact that the past will in many ways always overpower and outweigh the present. It’s a matter involving sheer numbers and mass. The present is a tiny moving window of some quantum of time in which our consciousness lives. To be generous, let’s denominate “the present” ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews All Worlds Are Real by Susan Palwick

All Worlds Are Real, Susan Palwick (Fairwood Press 978-1-933846-84-2, $17.99, 320pp, tp) November 2019.

In her introduction to All Worlds are Real, Jo Walton correctly notes that Susan Palwick is “definitely not as well known as a writer this good ought to be at this point in her career.” While one reason for this is that she’s not been especially prolific – four novels and one prior collection ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Full Throttle: Stories by Joe Hill

Full Throttle: Stories, Joe Hill (Morrow 978-0-06220-067-9, $27.99, 484pp, hc) October 2019.

Joe Hill’s first collection 20th Century Ghosts – which this reviewer read, reviewed, and then interviewed the author while having no idea he was the son of Stephen King – was full of fresh, genre-bending work. It was a thrill to discover an unknown author with such talent and promise. Of course, Hill went on from there ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu

The Hidden Girl and Other Stories, by Ken Liu (Saga 978-1982134037, $26, 432pp, hardcover) February 2020

Ken Liu is the kind of prodigious talent who makes mere mortals melt in despair at ever matching his accomplishments. He could have been content to remain a software engineer and lawyer, but instead he added to his CV the vocations of editor, translator, and fiction writer. If he had done any of ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Lightspeed, New Myths, Factor Four, and Transcendent 4

Lightspeed 11/19 New Myths 9/19 Factor Four 7/19 Transcendent 4, Bogi Takács, ed. (Lethe Press) October 2019.

Dominica Phetteplace returns to Robot Coun­try, an area near the US/Mexico border that robots have claimed and essentially shut off to outsiders and surveillance, in “Her Appetite, His Heart” in November’s Lightspeed. Javi is on a romantic quest to find his ex-girlfriend Isla, whom we met in the previous story ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Asimov’s, Analog, On Spec, and Stray Bats

Asimov’s 11-12/19 Analog 11-12/19 On Spec #110 Popshot Quarterly Summer ’19 Stray Bats, Margo Lanagan (Small Beer Press) November 2019.

I found that I enjoyed several stories in the last issue of Asimov’s for 2019 by, well, men of roughly my age, let’s just say. “Escape from Sanctuary” is Allen M. Steele‘s latest tale of the human settlement on the planet Tawcety and its fraught relationship ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Tor.com, and Clarkesworld

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 9/26/19, 10/10/19 Tor.com 9/25/19, 10/23/19 Clarkesworld 10/19

Beneath Ceaseless Skies reached its 11th anniversary with issue #287, which editor Scott Andrews released as a double-length special. The lead story is “Portrait of the Artist” by K.J. Parker, an amazing story of a woman who has learned to paint well enough and precisely enough to capture some people’s souls for resale. She is incredibly smart ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Ghosts of the Shadow Market, Edited by Cassandra Clare

Ghosts of the Shadow Market, Cassandra Clare, ed. (McElderry Books 978-1-5344-3362-5, $24.99, 607pp, hc) June 2019.

Ghosts of the Shadow Market is a mammoth anthology of stories written to accompany Cassandra Clare’s immersive Shadow Market world. Clare has brought an impressive group of co-writers along with her – Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, Kelly Link, and Robin Wasser­man – and indulges all manner of fan obsessions and questions in ...Read More

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