Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: The National Pastime 2021 Edition, Alternate Plains, and The Adventure of the Golden Woman

The National Pastime 2021 Edition

Alternate Plains, Darren Ridgley & Adam Pe­trash, eds. (Great Plains Publications) October 2021.

The Adventure of the Golden Woman, Cynthia Ward (Aqueduct Press) September 2021.

Here’s an unexpected source of some SF: the 2021 issue of The National Pastime, published by the Society for American Baseball Research. This issue is about “the future according to baseball,” and it’s edited by Cecilia M. Tan ...Read More

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

Tor.com 8/4/21, 8/18/21, 8/25/21 Fiyah Summer ’21 Clarkesworld 8/21

To start off this month, I’d like to highlight two stories that use abstract mathematics in interesting ways. The August Clarkesworld features “The Serpentine Band” by Congyun ‘Mu Ming’ Gu (translated by Tian Huang) which tips over into novella territory at 18,500 words. It is a beautiful story of a bureaucrat in historical China. We learn about the life ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Complete Short Fiction of Peter Straub by Peter Straub

The Complete Short Fiction of Peter Straub: Volume 1: Stories, Peter Straub (Borderlands Press, $120.00, 477pp, hc) October 2021.

The Complete Short Fiction of Peter Straub: Volume 2: Novellas, Peter Straub (Borderlands Press, $120.00, 477pp, hc) October 2021.

Whenever Peter Straub’s name shows up on social media or in critical discussions of horror, it’s increasingly accompanied by encomiums like “icon” or “living legend” (he even has an award ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Lightspeed, and Strange Horizons

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 7/15/21, 7/29/21, 8/12/21, 8/26/21 Lightspeed 8/21, 9/21 Strange Horizons 7/21

I had fallen behind on Beneath Ceaseless Skies since reading two issues a month is not quite enough to keep up with a once-every-two weeks publishing schedule. It’s always a pleasure to catch up with this particular magazine, since you never know quite where it will take you. Issue #334 has two stories of people displaced from ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Analog, Interzone, Galaxy’s Edge, and Fusion Fragment

Analog 9-10/21 Interzone #290-291 Galaxy’s Edge 7/21 Fusion Fragment 7/21

Analog’s latest issue features ‘‘The Silence Before I Sleep’’, a novella in Adam-Troy Castro’s AISource future that introduces Rage Larkin, a contract killer by profession, though she emphasizes that she avoids (or voids) contracts that violate her principles and also tries to come up with alternate solutions. Rage’s latest assignment is on an artificial planet created by ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The First Law of Thermodynamics by James Patrick Kelly

The First Law of Thermodynamics, James Pat­rick Kelly (PM Press 978-1629638850, $14.00, 128pp, tp) August 2021.

As I’ve mentioned in this space before, PM Press’s Outspoken Authors series, which began in 2009 with titles by Kim Stanley Robinson and series editor Terry Bisson, has become a reliable literary loot box, now up to its 27th volume with James Patrick Kelly’s The First Law of Ther­modynamics. My immediate thought ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Uncanny, The Burning Day and Other Strange Stories and Fantastic Americana

Uncanny 7-8/21

The Burning Day and Other Strange Stories, Charles Payseur (Lethe Press) August 2021.

Fantastic Americana, Josh Rountree (Fairwood Press) August 2021.

Uncanny’s general excellence is never surpris­ing. I was really intrigued by Shaoni C. White’s ‘‘Diamond Cuts’’, set in a world whose magic reenacting the way that magic was brought to the world – by an alchemist’s partner stealing a star and sacrificing ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe reviews Even Greater Mistakes by Charlie Jane Anders

Even Greater Mistakes, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor 978-1250766502, $27.99, 352pp, hc) No­vember 2021.

It’s probably a peculiarity of my own, but I’ve always found the acknowledgements in books fascinating – not the simple copyright listings, but the part that pays tribute to mentors, colleagues, friends, students, partners, pets, agents, editors, and various other literary and nonliterary influ­ences. They offer a context reminding us that each book represents a unique confluence ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Tor.com, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Lightspeed, and Future Science Fiction Digest

Clarkesworld 7/21 Tor.com 7/7, 7/21/21 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 6/17, 7/1/21 Lightspeed 7/21 Future Science Fiction Digest 6/21

July’s Clarkesworld has seven stories that range far and wide across the genre spaces. We begin with “Promises We Made Under A Brick-Dark Sky” by Karen Osborne, which uses the permeability of “evaporating genres” (as fellow Locus columnist Gary Wolfe has termed it) to set up and subvert our expectations ...Read More

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Gabino Iglesias Reviews Body Shocks by Ellen Datlow

Body Shocks, Ellen Datlow, ed. (Tachyon Pub­lications 978-1-61696-360-6, $17.95, 384pp, tp) October 2021. Cover by John Coulthart.

Once in a while, an anthology comes along that demands we alter the standard review format. Body Shocks, edited by Ellen Datlow, is one of those rare books. Yes, there are stories that will get individual attention later, but this book accomplishes two things that deserve to be mentioned first. The ...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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Paula Guran Reviews Big, Dark Hole by Jeffrey Ford

Big, Dark Hole, Jeffrey Ford (Small Beer Press 978-1-618-73184-5, $17, 320pp, tp) July 2021.

No matter how bizarre a situation is or may rapidly become in a Jeffrey Ford story, the reader feels instantly at home, open and accepting of everything that one should never be open and accepting of. In “The Match”, from new collection Big, Dark Hole, an adjunct professor gets a letter in the mail ...Read More

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

Clarkesworld 5/21 Lightspeed 5/21 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 4/22/21, 5/6/21

In May Clarkesworld starts off with a new David D. Levine story, always a treat. “Best Laid Plans” is a charming story about a mod­est space station run by a small university. Dr. Chelle Yan is studying how genetically modified mice (not allowed on Earth) transmit knowledge, but all that’s interrupted when the station starts leaking air, no one ...Read More

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Maya C. James Reviews The Tangleroot Palace by Marjorie Liu

The Tangleroot Palace, Marjorie Liu (Tachyon 978-161696-352-1, $16.95, 256 pp, tp) June 2021. Cover by Sana Takeda.

Dangerous women and magic lurk in Marjorie Liu’s The Tangleroot Palace, a collection of short fiction that spans a variety of subgenres. In these imagined worlds, the bones of the innocent bring liberation to fledg­ling witches, crystal skulls power war machines, and the Amish lead post-apocalyptic villages through nights of terror ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Everything in All the Wrong Order by Chaz Brenchley

Everything in All the Wrong Order: The Best of Chaz Brenchley, Chaz Brenchley (Subterranean ‎ ‎978-1645240112, 568pp, $45.00) August 2021.

Starting in 1974 with The Best of Stanley G. Weinbaum, Ballantine Books began issuing a series of best-of volumes that became a definitive record of canonical authors and stories, providing a reading map and sense of history for a generation or two of readers. (To a lesser extent, ...Read More

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