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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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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