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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Ian Mond Reviews I Hold a Wolf by the Ears by Laura van den Berg

I Hold a Wolf by the Ears, Laura van den Berg (Farrar, Straus, Giroux 978-0374102098, $26.00, 224pp, hc) July 2020.

The 11 stories that make up Laura van den Berg’s new collection, I Hold a Wolf by the Ears, may have been written over the last sev­eral years, but they feel very much of the now. Just as the rude shock that is 2020 has forced many of ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Velocities: Stories by Kathe Koja

Velocities: Stories, Kathe Koja (Meerkat Press 978-1-946-15423-1, $15.95, 200pp, tp) May 2020.

Since Kathe Koja’s Velocities came out in the spring, I am playing catch-up a bit with this, but it deserves a spotlight. Although Koja has been a notable weird writer for over 30 years, this is only her second collection (the first, Extremities, was published in 1997). The 13 stories here – two original to the ...Read More

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

Clarkesworld 8/20 Fiyah Spring ’20 Tor.com 7/29/20, 8/12/20, 8/19/20 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 7/30/20, 8/13/20

My favorite story in August’s Clarkes­world is “The Immolation of Kev Magee” by L.X. Beckett. Set in a near future of eco-collapse, it centers on Breeze, a very attractive but somehow naive refugee from Detroit. Breeze is trying to get ahead via the equivalent of vlogging in a commune set up near the ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: The Dark, Nightmare, Uncanny, and Shoreline of Infinity

The Dark 7/20, 8/20 Nightmare 8/20, 9/20 Uncanny 7-8/20 Shoreline of Infinity #18

Although I’m writing this in the heat of summer, by the time you read it autumn will be beckoning with fictional chills as well as cooler weather. If you haven’t caught up to these stories by then, they will still be worthy of the season.

The Dark #62 offers two originals. “Agog” by Stephen Volk ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Episodes: A Collection by Christopher Priest

Episodes: A Collection, Christopher Priest (Gollancz 978-1473200630, £8.99, 368pp, tp), May 2019. (Gollancz 978-1-473-22600-5, $24.99, 368pp, hc) August 2020.

Last month I had the opportunity to review an important 50-year retrospective of M. John Har­rison stories, and so it seems appropriate to take a look at Episodes, a similar long-term retrospective from Christopher Priest, originally published in the UK last year and now available to the likes of ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Asimov’s, Analog, Uncanny, Curiosities, and Flyaway

Asimov’s 9-10/20 Analog 9-10/20 Uncanny 7-8/20 Curiosities #7 Flyaway, Kathleen Jennings (Tor.com Publish­ing) July 2020.

Asimov’s September-October issue is, as usual, “slightly spooky.” Among the “spooky” stories I particularly liked were Michael Libling‘s “Robyn in Her Shiny Blue Coffin” and Gregory Frost‘s “Traveling On“. In both cases the protagonists are missing some­one important to them and hoping for a message from “beyond.” In ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Strange Horizons, Future Tense, Apparition, Kasma, and Luna Station Quarterly

Strange Horizons 7/13/20 Slate Future Tense 7/20 Apparition 7/20 Kasma 8/20 Luna Station Quarterly 6/20

I appreciated “The LEAP Test” by Alex Jennings in July’s Strange Horizons. A young boy comes into a school counselor’s office, apparently because he has behavioral issues and needs to take a standardized assessment. It quickly becomes clear that he has lived an entirely different life in a fantasy realm, á la Narnia, ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews A Sinister Quartet by Mike Allen, C.S.E. Cooney, Amanda J. McGee & Jessica P. Wick

A Sinister Quartet, Mike Allen, C.S.E. Cooney, Amanda J. McGee & Jessica P. Wick (Mythic Delirium Books 978-1732644038, $19.99, 380pp, tp) June 2020.

With fiction from C.S.E Cooney, Jessica P. Wick, Amanda J. McGee, and Mike Allen, Mythic Delirium’s excellent new anthology, A Sinister Quartet (edited by Mike Allen), provides fur­ther evidence that long-form genre fiction is not just alive and well but thriving. The book opens with Cooney’s ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Midnight Circus by Jane Yolen

The Midnight Circus, Jane Yolen (Tachyon 978-1-61696-340-8, 242pp, $16.95, tp) October 2020.

The Midnight Circus is the third collection of Jane Yolen stories from Tachyon in the last three years, following The Emerald Circus (which won a World Fantasy Award in 2018) and How to Fracture a Fairy Tale. Collectively these rather modest volumes are giving us a pretty good sense of what a Selected Stories volume might ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews The Best of Michael Marshall Smith by Michael Marshall Smith

The Best of Michael Marshall Smith, Michael Marshall Smith (Subterranean Press 978-1-596-06950-3, $45.00, 568pp, hc) December 2020.

Michael Marshall Smith is that rare author whose first published story “The Man Who Drew Cats” won a respected award – the British Fantasy Award for Short Fiction – and put him immediately on the genre map. He followed it with a second win the following year with “The Dark Land” and ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews To Hold Up the Sky by Cixin Liu

To Hold Up the Sky, Cixin Liu (Tor 978-1250306081, 336pp, $27.99, hardcover) October 2020.

Cixin Liu’s first story collection in English continues to provide the same pleasures found in his award-winning novels: the simultaneous honoring and detournement of classic SF tropes, as filtered through a distinctly non-Western worldview and a quirky set of personal sensibilities. He is at once a radical and a conservative, an optimist and a pessimist, ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Settling the World: Selected Stories 1970-2020 by M. John Harrison

Settling the World: Selected Stories 1970-2020, M. John Harrison (Comma Press 978-1912697281, £9.99, 288pp, tp) August 2020.

Harrison’s acute and sometimes merciless fasci­nation with couples who don’t quite know what they’re doing also shows up in two of the most memorable stories in Settling the World: Selected Stories 1969-2019, his first real retrospective collection since Things That Never Happen back in 2003. “The Gift” describes the parallel stories ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews My Favorites by Ben Bova

My Favorites, Ben Bova (Blackstone 978-1094000923, 352pp, $24.99, hardcover) October 2020

Ben Bova turns 88 in November of 2020. He also just published a new novel, Uranus, a few months ago. Two statements of this general import are not usually compatible. Writers who continue to maintain their productivity—and personal standards of quality—so late in life form a small elite. In our field, we note such towering figures as ...Read More

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

Clarkesworld 7/20 Lightspeed 8/20 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 7/2/20, 7/16/20

July’s Clarkesworld starts with a straightfor­wardly science fictional Michael Swanwick story. In “Artificial People” Raphael is an android turned on and off repeatedly as an entrepreneurial roboticist struggles to come up with a commercially successful product. Raphael loves, loses, goes to war, gets rich, and has to make some interesting decisions with the power that his later days have ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Asimov’s, Analog, LCRW, and Galaxy’s Edge

F&SF 9-10/20 Asimov’s 7-8/20 Analog 7-8/20 Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet 6/20 Galaxy’s Edge 7/20

Leah Cypess returns with another strong fairy tale-derived story in the latest F&SF. Like her previous F&SF story, “Stepsister”, “Of Them All” is sharply focused on the moral effects of fairy magic – or, rather, on human choices that may or may not be at­tributable to fairy gifts. The protagonist’s gift is that she ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Final Cuts, Edited by Ellen Datlow

Final Cuts: New Tales of Hollywood Horror and Other Spectacles, Ellen Datlow, ed. (Blum­house Books/Anchor Books 978-0-525565-75-8, $16.95, 480pp, tp) June 2020.

Ellen Datlow anthologized cinema-related horror in 2014 tapping reprints in The Cutting Room: Dark Reflections of the Silver Screen. This time she compiles original stories written for Final Cuts. Up-to-date stories allow for the use of new media, and a few of the authors do ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Tor.com, Strange Horizons, Abyss & Apex, and Deep Magic

Tor.com 6/24, 7/1, 7/8, 7/15, 7/22/20 Strange Horizons 6/29/20 Abyss & Apex 2nd Quarter ’20 Deep Magic Spring ’20

As usual, Tor.com‘s stories range far and wide, across and over and through genres as it suits them and their team of editors. “The Night Soil Sal­vagers” by Gregory Norman Bossert describes the creatures who help maintain a city by hauling away its waste; we get a taste of ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Edited By, Edited by Ellen Datlow

Edited By, Ellen Datlow, ed. (Subterranean 978-1596069671, 632pp, $45, hardcover) September 2020.

When does one properly offer a career retrospective for a creative person? Certainly it’s safe to issue one when the creator is dead. Then the career is etched in stone, with no further additions possible, and also with no dissents or quibbles from the creator! And if enough time goes by between the creator’s passing and the ...Read More

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