Paula Guran Reviews Deuces Down, Edited by George R.R. Martin & Melinda Snodgrass

Deuces Down, George R.R. Martin & Melinda Snodgrass, eds. (Tor 978-1-250-22720-1, $28.99, 352pp, hc) January 2021.

Deuces Down is both the 16th and 30th book in the Wild Cards series. The anthology was first published in 2002; this new version is refreshed with added stories by Carrie Vaughn, Mary Anne Mohanraj, and Caroline Spector. Although re­ferred to on the title page as a mosaic novel, it remains – despite ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Society of Time by John Brunner

The Society of Time, John Brunner (edited by Mike Ashley) (The British Library 978-0712353823, 288pp, hardcover) November 2020

Was John Brunner’s life a tragedy? In some undeniable senses, yes. Possessed of enormous talents, but also an array of character faults, he became his own worst enemy and his later-era career suffered immensely—in large part due to one poor decision to stake too much effort and hopes on a mainstream ...Read More

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

Lightspeed 11/20, 12/20 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 10/8/20, 10/22/20 Strange Horizons 10/5/20, 10/12/20

Lightspeed’s November issue breaks from the usual format to offer a single science fiction nov­elette instead of the usual pair of shorter pieces. “Schrödinger’s Catastrophe” by Gene Doucette is worth it, as special agent Alice is sent to rescue/recover a research vessel that was exploring a to­tally empty quadrant of space. It went silent after sending ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews In That Endlessness, Our End by Gemma Files

In That Endlessness, Our End, Gemma Files (Grimscribe 978-0-578-75976-0, $20, 342pp, tp) January 2021.

Fifteen recent (the earliest appears to have been published in 2017) stories by Canadian writer Gemma Files combine to make a terrifically ter­rifying collection, In That Endlessness, Our End. Files doesn’t exactly expose the horror found in the mundane because, once the thin veneer of normalcy is scratched, very little is mundane about her ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Bourbon Penn, and Conjunctions

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet 11/20 Bourbon Penn 11/20 Conjunctions Spring ’20

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet has been one of my favorite magazines for a long time, always publishing work unlike anything you’ll read else­where. The November issue is largely given over to a novella from Sarah Langan, “You Have the Prettiest Mask“. It’s either a timely story or a weirdly untimely story! It’s told by Cathy Lerner, ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Best of Walter Jon Williams by Walter Jon Williams

The Best of Walter Jon Williams, Walter Jon Williams (Subterranean 978-1-64524-002-0, $45, 616pp, hardcover) February 2021

A writer always feels an instinctive camaraderie with other writers who debuted more or less simultaneously with one’s own beginnings. This does not mean that all writers in a given generation love and admire each other unconditionally, but only that a person recognizes and bonds more readily with other members of their own ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Lockdown Tales by Neal Asher

Lockdown Tales, Neal Asher (NewCon 978-1-912950-75-1, £12.95, 381pp, tp) December 2020. Cover by Vincent Sammy.

We live in monstrous times. Nevertheless, I sometimes find myself wanting not to escape but to symbolically confront the plagues of cruelty, craziness, and consequences (unintended or otherwise) that the last century (or the last week) has visited upon us. Neal Asher’s confrontations tend to distance and displace the monstrous, to locate it in ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Africanfuturism: An Anthology, Edited by Wole Talabi

Africanfuturism: An Anthology, Wole Talabi, ed. (Brittle Paper, free, 113pp, eb) October 2020.

It’s a little surprising to realize that it’s been more than a quarter century since the term “Afrofutur­ism” was coined by Mark Dery, and at least a couple of years since Nnedi Okorafor coined “Af­ricanfuturism” to describe more Africa-centered SF (the jury is still out on whether her parallel term for fantasy, “Africanjujuism,” is going to ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Asimov’s, Analog, and Interzone

Asimov’s 11-12/20 Analog 11-12/20 Interzone 11-12/20

I’ll start with a story from the November-December Asimov’s that doesn’t really qualify as SF or fantasy, but that will appeal to many of our readers. This is Connie Willis‘s latest Christmas story, “Take a Look at the Five and Ten“. Ori is telling about her Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners with her ex-stepfather, who has a habit of inviting almost everyone ...Read More

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Arley Sorg Reviews The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: Vol­ume One, Edited by Paula Guran

The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: Vol­ume One, Paula Guran, ed. (Pyr 978-1645060253, $19.95, 440pp, tp) October 2020.

Paula Guran started her The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror series in 2010 with Prime Books. After working as a senior editor for Prime for seven years, Guran parted ways with the company and published the final installment in that series in 2019. Guran returns in 2020 with no ...Read More

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

Clarkesworld 10/20, 11/20 Breathe Fiyah 10/19/20 Tor.com 10/21, 10/28, 11/11, 11/18/20

While many of Locus‘s reviewers are deeply entrenched in 2021, I’ll be spending this month and the next wrap­ping up everything I can from 2020. The joy of online publication is the ease of getting content quickly, but it means I rarely get to see issues in advance. So please enjoy these last hurrahs of an otherwise insane year, ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Creative Surgery by Clelia Farris

Creative Surgery, Clelia Farris (Rosarium Pub­lishing) September 2020.

Creative Surgery is Italian author Clelia Far­ris‘s debut collection (with translations by Rachel Cordasco and Jennifer Delare), and it’s a great start. The first story, “A Day to Remember” is an extended meditation on living in a world that feels much smaller when circumscribed by cli­mate change. We follow an artist in a post-flood Italy as she tours ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews The Best Horror of the Year Volume Twelve, Edited by Ellen Datlow

The Best Horror of the Year Volume Twelve, Ellen Datlow, ed. (Night Shade Books 978-1-59780-973-3, $15.99, 480pp, tp) October 2020.

Ellen Datlow’s career as the doyen of “year’s best” editors began with The Year’s Best Fantasy: First Annual Col­lection in 1988 (with co-editor Terri Windling), and the series was renamed The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror with the third annual col­lection. After 21 volumes, the series ended, but Datlow ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews The Best of Walter Jon Williams by Walter Jon Williams

The Best of Walter Jon Williams, Walter Jon Williams (Subterranean 978-1645240020, $45.00, 610pp, hc). Cover by Lee Moyer. Feb­ruary 2020.

Exactly 30 years ago, this column’s lede was “Walter Jon Williams is an interest­ingly various writer….” The intervening decades have given me no reason to alter that opinion, variations on which I have been re­peating just about every time I write about a Williams title. So why should I ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Best of Elizabeth Hand by Elizabeth Hand

The Best of Elizabeth Hand, Elizabeth Hand (Subterranean 978-1-64524-005-1, $45.00, 560pp, hc) February 2021.

I’ve always distrusted the notion of “comfort reading,” especially as it applies to our little corner of the swamp. After all, the very idea of horror fiction involves discomfort, and SF characteristically challenges our sense of the stability of everything from nations to our bod­ies to the planet itself. I suppose fantasy does leave room ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Samovar, Tor.com, and Strange Horizons

Samovar 7/20 Tor.com 8/26, 9/16, 9/23, 10/14/20 Strange Horizons 9/20

In July Strange Horizon‘s sister publication dedi­cated to translations, Samovar, published a duet of stories. “The Curtain Falls, The Show Must End” by Julie Nováková (translated from Czech by the author) is a historical drama set at the eve of WWII. Two backstage workers in a theater in Prague conjure up ghosts, which proceed to haunt and torment ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2020, Edited by Diana Gabaldon & John Joseph Adams

The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2020, Diana Gabaldon & John Joseph Adams, eds. (Mariner 978-1328613103, $16.99, 432pp, tp) November 2020.

It’s always seemed to me that John Joseph Ad­ams’s Best American Science Fiction and Fan­tasy series, now in its sixth volume, has served a somewhat different if equally important purpose than the more traditional year’s best volumes which have been a staple of SF publishing for more ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: London Centric, Uncanny, On Spec, Pulp Literature, and The New Yorker

London Centric, Ian Whates, ed. (NewCon Press) March 2020. Uncanny 11-12/20 On Spec #114 Pulp Literature Summer ’20 The New Yorker 11/9/20

Here’s an intriguing new anthology from Eng­land’s NewCon Press, London Centric: Tales of Future London, edited by Ian Whates. The anthology is mostly exactly what it says, a collec­tion of looks at a future London, but one of the very best stories is mostly set in ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Uncanny, Black Static, The Dark, Nightmare, and Tor.com

Uncanny 9-10/20 Black Static 9-10/20 The Dark 9/20, 10/20 Nightmare 10/20, 11/20 Tor.com 9/2/20

Uncanny #36 offers five rewarding originals. T. Kingfisher‘s terrific science fictional retelling of Hansel and Gretel, “Metal Like Blood in the Dark“, is a grim but triumphant tale.

The engaging “Anchorage” by Samantha Mills involves a spacefaring crew beset with guilt, a librarian of sorts who also serves as a confessor ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Reconstruction by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Reconstruction, Alaya Dawn Johnson (Small Beer 978-1-618731777, $17.00, 278pp, tp) No­vember 2020.

Like a number of writers who have arrived with a splash in the last decade or two, Alaya Dawn Johnson seems to have written nearly as many novels as short stories. That’s not actually the case, of course – her website lists seven novels, and her first collection, Reconstruction, contains ten stories – but it’s probably ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Baffling, Weird Horror, and Fantasy

Baffling 10/20 Weird Horror Fall ’20 Fantasy 11/20

Fall 2020 brought a new online magazine, a new print periodical, and the return of a digital magazine.

Baffling launched October 1, 2020 with four “unapologetically queer and unashamedly weird” stories of under 1,200 words. (Going forward they will publish one flash story a month on Patreon, compile the offerings quarterly, then publish that for free online.) Baffling #1 offers a welcome ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: BCS and Omenana

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 9/24/20 Omenana 8/20

Beneath Ceaseless Skies has so many ex­cuses to celebrate! There are the big round number celebrations, like issue number 300 back in March, as well as September’s cal­endar anniversary. All the more opportunity to appreciate a venue that has steadfastly brought us excellent fiction from a broad range of writers, always expanding the remit of “literary adventure fantasy” in secondary world settings. September brings ...Read More

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Maya C. James and Rich Horton Review Entanglements, Edited by Sheila Williams

Entanglements: Tomorrow’s Lovers, Fami­lies, and Friends, Sheila Williams, ed. (MIT Press 978-0-26253-925-8, 240pp, $19.95, tp) September 2020.

Artificial intelligence, genome tampering (eugenics), sex bots, and other forms of technology descend upon the middle class in Entanglements, an anthology from Sheila Williams, editor of Asimov’s. Originally launched in 2011 by MIT Technology Review, Twelve Tomorrows is an annual anthology se­ries that explores the role of technology in near and ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews The Midnight Circus by Jane Yolen

The Midnight Circus, Jane Yolen (Tachyon Publications 978-1-616-96340-8, $16.95, 256pp, tp) November 2020.

The prolific, multi-award-winning Jane Yolen is a bona fide legend and, at least to those of us on the darker side of genre, has long been noted for what Theodora Goss calls – in her excellent foreword – the darkness “in much of her work, both fiction and poetry, because her writing is grounded in history ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Road to Woop Woop and Other Stories by Eugen Bacon

The Road to Woop Woop and Other Stories, Eugen Bacon (Meerkat Press 978-1-94615-431-6, $16.95, 192 pages) December 2020.

The 24 stories that make up Eugen Bacon’s new collection The Road to Woop Woop and Other Stories run the gamut in terms of tone, genre, and structure. There are experimental, modern­ist pieces reminiscent of the New Wave, namely “A Good Ball”, “The Enduring”, or “A Man Full of Shadows”; playful, ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Monster Movies by David J. Schow

Monster Movies, David J. Schow (Cimarron Street Books, 979-8-651-97809-0 $14.95, 280pp, tp) September 2020.

David J. Schow culled 30 years of his stories (1983-2013) for 13 to fit the titular theme of new collection Monster Movies. Or, more precisely, as the author states: “What happens to the monsters after the movie is over? That’s the backbeat, the true north for much of this book.” Except it is also ...Read More

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

Strange Horizons 8/20 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 8/27/20 Clarkesworld 9/20 Lightspeed 10/20

At the end of August Strange Horizons celebrated its 20th anniversary. It con­tinues to be a stand-out in the online fiction world, having survived many evolutions over time. Be sure to check out the editor’s choice stories featured on August 31, showcasing 20 years of history with just a few selections. Elsewhere in August it features “My Love, ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Uncanny and F&SF

Uncanny 9-10/20 F&SF 11-12/20

The final issue of Uncanny’s sixth year is a particularly strong and SF-oriented one. In Samantha Mills‘s “Anchorage” a medical spaceship stops at an “anchorage” – an isolated pod where a woman lives a hermit-like existence. The story is told by Geneva, the AI running the medical ship, which allows us to slowly learn the backstory of the crewmembers, of dead Earth, and ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Children of the Fang and Other Genealogies by John Langan

Children of the Fang and Other Genealogies, John Langan (Word Horde 978-1-939-90560-4 $19.99, 388pp, tp) August 2020.

Stephen Graham Jones, in his introduction to Chil­dren of the Fang and Other Genealogies, briefly sums John Langan’s work up, as well as anyone can, as “both delivering us some compelling horror but at the same time interrogating the basic form of horror.” In his appealing story notes, Langan acknowledges the ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Volume 1, Edited by Jonathan Strahan

The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Volume 1, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Saga 978-1-5344-4959-6, $17.99, 570pp, tp) September 2020.

The first thing I noticed about the inaugural volume of Jonathan Strahan’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction for Saga Press (af­ter 13 years of SF and fantasy annuals for other publishers) is that it’s dedicated to the memory of Gardner Dozois, whose dozens of year’s best anthologies remain the baseline for all ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Interzone, Galaxy’s Edge, Cynthia Ward, Emily C. Skaftun, and James Van Pelt

Interzone 9-10/20 Galaxy’s Edge 9/20 The Adventure of the Naked Guide, Cynthia Ward (Aqueduct Press) March 2020. Living Forever & Other Terrible Ideas, Emily C. Skaftun (Fairwood Press) November 2020. The Best of James Van Pelt, James Van Pelt (Fairwood Press) November 2020.

I was very excited to see Alexander Glass‘s return to Interzone in the September-October is­sue. He appeared there (and in Interzone‘s sister magazine ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Future SF, Diabolical Plots, Cosmic Roots, Daily SF, and Bunkerpunk

Future SF Digest 6/20 Diabolical Plots 9/20 Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores 8/20 Daily SF 9/20 Bunkerpunk, Thea Boodhoo, ed. (Sudowrit­ers) July 2020

Future SF Digest continues to provide great fiction from all over the world. “Cousin En­tropy” by Michele Laframboise (translated by N.R.M. Roshak) has a wonderfully Stapledonian scope. There are the Unattached (extremely post-human) and the Attached (still vaguely biological), and stars, galaxies, and black ...Read More

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