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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Gabino Iglesias Reviews Fishing for Dinosaurs and Other Stories by Joe R. Lansdale

Fishing for Dinosaurs and Other Stories, Joe R. Lansdale (Subterranean Press 978-15960-6993-0, $40.00, 384pp, tp) November 2020. Cover by Timothy Truman.

“It’s no secret that I like to write stories in a variety of genres, and my favorite of those is the Lansdale genre.” That’s the opening line of the introduction Joe Lansdale penned for his own Fishing for Dinosaurs and Other Stories, and it gets to the ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Tor.com, and Mysterion

Clarkesworld 1/21 Lightspeed 1/21 Strange Horizons 1/21 Tor.com 1/6/21, 1/19/21 Mysterion 1-2/21

January’s Clarkesworld kicks off with “Inten­tionalities” by Aimee Ogden, where in the near future Sorrel gets trapped in an all-too-plausible system of debt peonage and ends up “confer­ring” a child to Braxos Corp. She bears the child, Abigail, and is able to raise her to the age of five with resources from the corporation, then ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Ghost Variations: One Hundred Stories by Kevin Brockmeier

The Ghost Variations: One Hundred Stories, Kevin Brockmeier (Pantheon Books 978-1-524-74883-8, $27.00, 288pp) March 2021.

I became aware of Kevin Brockmeier’s work back in 2008 when Robert Shearman, in an in­terview with Eric Forbes, included Brockmeier in a list of writers “who play with the short story, squeeze as much out of it as they can.” Sadly, I’ve only now gotten around to reading Brock­meier’s short fiction, picking up ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews All the Murmuring Bones and Red New Day by An­gela Slatter

All the Murmuring Bones, A.G. Slatter (Titan 978-1-78909-434-3, $15.95, 368pp, tp) March 2021.

All the Murmuring Bones is A.G. Slatter’s (a semi-pseudonym of Australian author Angela Slatter) first novel-length work set in the Irish-flavored world of her acclaimed Sourdough and Other Stories and The Bitter­wood Bible. For fans of Slatter, that’s probably all that needs to be said to compel immediate acquisition. The rest of you, even ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF and Analog

F&SF 3-4/21 Analog 1-2/21

The March-April issue of F&SF is a sig­nificant one, the first put together by new editor Sheree Renée Thomas. Based on the evidence in front of me, she’s got off to an outstanding start, though we need to wait a few issues before we begin to understand Thomas’s editorial vision.

The issue features a strong Madeleine Robins story, “Mannikin“, about a boy who is ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Constelación, Metaphorosis, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Constelación 1/21 Metaphorosis 1/21, 2/21 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 1/1/21, 1/14/21

Welcome to 2021! Sure, it might be March or later as you’re reading this, but really my reading “year” runs from the March issue to the February “Year in Review” issue of the following year. I think we’re all look­ing for a better year to come, and the fiction I’ve been reading so far gives me hope.

A genuine newcomer ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe and Paula Guran Review Burning Girls and Other Stories by Veronica Schanoes

Burning Girls and Other Stories, Veronica Schanoes (Tordotcom 978-1-250781505, $25.99, 336pp, hc) March 2021.

“History is a fairy tale”, a subtitle in Veronica Schanoes’s story “Emma Goldman Takes Tea with the Baba Yaga”, could almost serve as an epigram for the whole of her first collection, Burning Girls and Other Stories. Schanoes, who is a scholar of fairy tales, feminism, and Jewish literature and history, brings all of ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Relics, Wrecks, & Ruins, Edited by Aiki Flinthart

Relics, Wrecks, & Ruins, Aiki Flinthart, ed. (Cat Press 978-0-648-99173-1, $29.99, 460pp) January 2021.

On her website, novelist and editor Aiki Flinthart tells us that “after being diag­nosed with terminal cancer in late 2019, [she] reached out to as many of the best sci-fi/fantasy/horror authors as would answer.” The end product of this clarion call is Relics, Wrecks, & Ruins, an anthology that, despite the tragic circumstances surrounding ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Complete Ivy Frost by Donald Wandrei

The Complete Ivy Frost, Donald Wandrei (Haffner Press 978-1893887619, 720pp, $49.99, hardcover) December 2020

Haffner Press has been gifting the world of bibliophiles and literature-lovers with enormously attractive and highly readable books since 1998, when they published Jack Williamson’s The Queen of the Legion. (For a complete record of their offerings, visit their ISFDB page.) Any publication from Haffner exemplifies craftsmanship, graphic design ingenuity, and attention to textual ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Uncanny, and The Book of Dragons

F&SF 1-2/21 Uncanny 1-2/21 The Book of Dragons, Jonathan Strahan ed. (Harper Voyager) July 2020.

F&SF opens the year with a remarkable no­vella from John Kessel. “The Dark Side” concerns Leon Czolgosz, the murderer of President McKinley. The story runs on two tracks, one detailing Czolgosz’s actions leading up to his crime, plus some backstory, and also the aftermath as he is tried and executed. The ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Omenana, Strange Horizons, and Samovar

Omenana 12/20 Strange Horizons 11/16/20, 12/1/20 Samovar 10/20

Speaking of speculative fiction from Africa, Omenana‘s 16th issue dropped in December. This one is full of tales of hauntings and other spooky happenings. A very confused ghost nar­rates “A Magician” by Rešoketšwe Manenzhe. In “Drummer Boy in a World of Wise Men” by Tobi Ogundirun, a young boy abandoned by his drummer father knows something ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Alias Space and Other Stories by Kelly Robson

Alias Space and Other Stories, Kelly Robson (Subterranean 978-1645240259, $40.00, 420pp, hc) April 2021.

I’ve sometimes been skeptical of authors who as­semble a story collection almost as soon as they’ve totted up enough publications to make a book – after all, is almost everything you’ve published that worthy of preservation? – and I’ve sometimes been wrong about it, as with writers like Ted Chi­ang or Eileen Gunn. The latest ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Future SF Digest and Africanfuturism

Future Science Fiction Digest 12/20 Africanfuturism: An Anthology, Wole Talabi, ed. (Brittle Paper) October 2020.

It’s at least February for those of you reading this column, but just the very end of 2020 as I’m writing it. As usual, I skid into the end of the year having read only a fraction of what’s available in the universe of “short fiction online” – maybe a third if I’m being ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Black Static, The Dark, Nightmare, and Fantasy

Black Static 11-12/20 The Dark 11/20, 12/20 Nightmare 12/20, 1/21 Fantasy 12/20, 1/21

I can’t really point out the best in Black Static #77. All six stories are the sort that stay with you and deserve at least brief mention (although Steve Rasnic Tem’s may be my favorite.) A vacation in a tropical paradise turns horrific in novelette “The Guardian” by Philip Fracassi. As tired as I ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Robot Artists & Black Swans: The Italian Fantascienza Stories by Bruce Sterling

Robot Artists & Black Swans: The Italian Fantascienza Stories, Bruce Sterling (Tachyon 978-1616963293, 256pp, $25.95, hardcover) April 2021

Certain superficial things change over time, while other essential phenomena remain fixed and permanent. Cyberpunk was born a bit over 35 years ago, and the world is a much different place now than it was in 1985. So it’s foolish to imagine that cyberpunk writing would persist unchanged, adhering to the ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction from Asimov’s

Asimov’s 1-2/21

The January-February Asimov’s includes the longest story Ray Nayler has yet published, “A Rocket for Dimitrios“. This is another Sylvia Aldstatt story, set in an alternate history where the course of WWII was radically changed by the US discovery of an alien spacecraft and their adoption of its technology. One of the strangest pieces of alien tech allows Sylvia to experience the memories of a recently ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Neil Gaiman Reader by Neil Gaiman

The Neil Gaiman Reader, Neil Gaiman (Wil­liam Morrow 978-0-06-303185-2, $40.00, 736pp) October 2020.

The selections in The Neil Gaiman Reader were chosen neither by an outside editor nor by Gaiman himself, as he did with his earlier collections. Instead, apparently, the book was edited by the internet. In 2019, Gaiman invited his readers to name their three favorite Gaiman sto­ries, and the result – from nearly 6,000 responses, we ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: LCRW, Uncanny, and Apex

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet 9/20 Uncanny 11-12/20 Apex 1/21

I write this as annus horribilis 2020 ends. Al­though I have no intention of continuing the new year in this manner, I simply have too many stories and not enough inches in which to cover them. Apologies to writers whom I may be slighting, but his time out I’ll be concentrating on the more outstanding stories in each featured periodical. (Or ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Within the Wires: Season 5: Voicemail by Jeffrey Cranor & Janina Matthewson

Within the Wires: Season 5: Voicemail, Jeffrey Cranor & Janina Matthewson; Amiera Darwish, narrator (Night Vale Presents, ten episodes, 3.5 hrs.) <www.nightvalepresents.com/within­thewires> August-December 2020.

The events of 2020 made it difficult for me to establish and hold the focus I needed to listen to audiobooks and write about them. (The super-long column in the January 2021 Locus sug­gests that I’ve maybe started to get my mojo back.) When I ...Read More

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