Adrienne Martini Reviews Grave Reservations by Cherie Priest

Grave Reservations, Cherie Priest (Atria Books 978-1982-16889-6, $26.00, 304pp, hc) October 2021.

My first introduction to Cherie Priest was her amazing debut Four and Twenty Blackbirds, which is about ghosts and the South and is mesmerizing. I’ve drifted in and out of this Locus award-winning (and Nebula and Hugo nominated) writer’s work since then. Even though I loved Boneshaker and am convinced I Am Princess X deserved a ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Destroyer of Light by Jennifer Marie Brissett

Destroyer of Light, Jennifer Marie Brissett (Tor 978-1-250-26865-5, $25.99, 304pp, hc) October 2021.

Jennifer Marie Brissett’s Destroyer of Light is a book that sneaks up on you. If you can make it through the disorienting (somewhat intentionally because there is a lot of world building to do) first couple dozen pages, the reward is vast. Brissett has built a story that the 21st century needs, while never forgetting its ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Version Zero by David Yoon and The 22 Murders of Madison May by Max Barry

Version Zero, David Yoon (Putnam 9-780-59319035-7, $27.00, 368pp, hc) May 2021.

David Yoon – husband to the bestselling writer Nicola Yoon and bestseller himself for Frankly in Love – makes a compelling case for burning the entire internet down in Version Zero. #Jok­ingNotJoking

Yoon has created a here-and-now that is just slightly askew from our own here and now. Main character Max is working in Silicon Valley for ...Read More

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Liz Bourke and Adrienne Martini Review You Sexy Thing by Cat Rambo

You Sexy Thing, Cat Rambo (Tor 978-1-250-26930-0, $25.99, 304pp, hc) September 2021.

You Sexy Thing, Cat Rambo’s first space opera novel, is in fact a romp. If you’re the kind of person who likes Mass Effect, or enjoyed Valerie Valdes’s Chilling Effect and Prime Deceptions, or fell head-over-heels for Tim Pratt’s Axiom trilogy (The Wrong Stars and sequels), then this book is definitely for you. This is ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews How to Mars by David Ebenbach and Questland by Carrie Vaughn

How to Mars, David Ebenbach (Tachyon 978-1-61696-356-9, $16.95, 256pp, tsk) May 2021. Cover by Elizabeth Story.

David Ebenbach’s How to Mars is one of those books that could be easy to write-off as a delightful bit of fluff. Six humans from various backgrounds take a one-way trip to the red planet, sent there by a publicity-seeking corporation that monetizes their training and early days via a reality series. The ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe and Adrienne Martini Review The Album of Dr. Moreau by Daryl Gregory

The Album of Dr. Moreau, Daryl Gregory (Tor­dotcom 978-1250782106, $14.99, 176pp, tp) May 2021.

Already in the public domain for years, H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau has practi­cally spawned a microgenre all its own, with Brian Aldiss, Gwyneth Jones (as Ann Halam), Gene Wolfe, Theodora Goss, the Simpsons, and even Marlon Brando having a whack at the story or its characters and themes. I’m pretty sure, though, ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo and Adrienne Martini Review The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman

The Blacktongue Thief, Christopher Buehlman (Tor 978-1250621191, $25.99, 416pp, hc) May 2021.

Author of five previous novels, Christopher Buehlman had not previously fallen across my radar screen. But certainly my enjoyment of his newest, The Blacktongue Thief, will propel me to search out his earlier books. What he has delivered in this sixth of his tales is a glorious overstuffed “secondary world” fantasy that manages to balance the ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Paladin’s Strength by T. Kingfisher

Paladin’s Strength, T. Kingfisher (Argyll Pro­ductions, 978-1-61450-530-3, $34.95, 424pp, hc) February 2021. Red Wombat Studio 978-1614505303, $5.99, 478pp, eb) February 2021.

Those who deeply enjoyed T. Kingfisher’s Pala­din’s Grace, the first book in the Saint of Steel series, likely hit “buy” the instant they saw the listing for book two. These are the readers who know the drill: T. Kingfisher is the pen name Ur­sula Vernon uses when ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews The Galaxy, and the Ground Within and A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, Becky Chambers (Harper Voyager 978-0-06-293694-2, $27.99, 336pp, hc) April 2021.

Becky Chambers’s Wayfarers series, which is concluding with The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, is a nice warm cup of tea when the weather outside is terrible. Sure there are conflicts and sadness but all of that unpleasantness is always outweighed by decency and honesty. It would be tempting to also claim ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews The Only Living Girl on Earth by Charles Yu and Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

The Only Living Girl on Earth, Charles Yu (Scribd Originals, subscription required, 43pp, eb) January 2021.

I’m going to step out on a limb and make a bold pronouncement: the fourth section of Charles Yu’s novelette The Only Living Girl on Earth is the most beautiful and true summation of what it means to be mortal. The fact that it is also sur­rounded by a poignant and wry story ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini and Russell Letson Review A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine

A Desolation Called Peace, Arkady Martine (Tor 978-1250186461, $26.99, 496pp, hc) March 2021.

Despite how many readers raved about it, I didn’t manage to read Arkady Martine’s multi-award winning A Memory Called Empire when it first came out. There is never enough time, you know? But when the follow-up – A Desolation Called Peace – hit my in-box, I read the first few pages and was so hooked that ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews What Abigail Did That Summer by Ben Aarono­vitch

What Abigail Did That Summer, Ben Aarono­vitch (Subterranean Press 978-1-64524-029-7, $40.00, 232pp, hc) March 2021.

Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London uni­verse keeps sending new rivulets in unex­pected directions. The series, which started with a relatively straightforward novel about Peter Grant, a London police officer who finds himself confronted with magic, has branched into a comic book series, an audiobook, a handful of short sto­ries, and seven more novels. The ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Red Noise by John P. Murphy and The Preserve by Ariel S. Winter

Red Noise, John P. Murphy (Angry Robot 978-0-85766-847-9, $14.99, 448pp, tp) July 2020. Cover by Kieryn Tyler.

It’s easy to find the Western that lurks beneath the surface of Red Noise, the novel-length debut of Nebula Award finalist John P. Murphy. A drifter wanders into a nearly deserted town and finds two sides in a long-term stand-off. Only in this version, the town is a converted asteroid named ...Read More

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Liz Bourke and Adrienne Martini Review Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells

Fugitive Telemetry, Martha Wells (Tordotcom 978-1-250-76537-6, $19.99, 176pp, hc) April 2021. Cover by Jaime Jones.

At this point, everyone knows about Murderbot. If you don’t know about Murderbot, what rock have you been hiding under? (Is it a comfy rock? I could use a nice rock-based holiday, away from all the news. And the pandemic.) Martha Wells’s Fugi­tive Telemetry is the sixth outing in the award-winning Murderbot Diaries. It ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe and Adrienne Martini Review The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey

The Echo Wife, Sarah Gailey (Tor 978-1-250-17466-6, $24.99, 256pp, hc) February 2021.

Clones don’t seem quite as popular these days as they were back in the 1970s and ’80s, when we were treated on a fairly regular basis to stories about celebrity clones, spare-parts clones, hazardous-duty clones, doppelganger clones, identity-crisis clones, cheap-labor clones, ominous replacement clones, survivalist clones, posthu­man clones, tabula-rasa clones, and, inevitably, murder-mystery clones. Sarah Gailey touches ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

The Space Between Worlds, Micaiah Johnson (Del Rey 978-0593135051, $28.00, 336pp, hc) August 2020.

Micaiah Johnson’s The Space Between Worlds is built on a solid SFnal idea: a shadowy genius has figured out how to travel between parallel Earths and is raiding them for information and resources. There’s a catch, of course. The only humans who can make the jump between the worlds are those who don’t have a ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Goldilocks by Laura Lam

Goldilocks, Laura Lam (Orbit 978-0-316-46286-0, $27.00, 244pp, hc) May 2020.

Laura Lam’s Goldilocks opens with five women stealing a small space shuttle, one that will get them to a space station in Earth’s orbit. From there, they’ll hijack the Atalanta, a much larger ship able to travel faster than the speed of light (or so they think), which they’ll pilot to Cavendish, a “Goldilocks” planet that should support human ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Anthropocene Rag by Alex Irvine

Anthropocene Rag, Alex Irvine (Tor.com Pub­lishing 978-1-250-26927-0, $14.99, 256pp, tp) March 2020.

I’m still not certain what actually happened in Alex Irvine’s Anthropocene Rag – but I do know that this journey into the heart of a transformed-by-nanotech America is a fascinating ride to take. In the end, that may be all that matters.

Irvine’s America is one where the Boom – essentially, programmable bits of tech that are ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik and The House of Styx by Derek Künsken

A Deadly Education, Naomi Novik (Del Rey 978-0593128480, $28.00, 336pp, hc) September 2020.

There are so many things that the multi-award winning Naomi Novik’s new book is that it might be best to start with the one thing it is not. A Deadly Education is not a Harry Potter-esque feel-good story about a school for witchcraft and wizardry. Mind, you will feel good afterwards, because it is so very ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Random Sh*t Flying Through the Air by Jackson Ford and A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher

Random Sh*t Flying Through the Air, Jackson Ford (Orbit 978-0-316-51922-9, $16.99, 544pp, pb) June 2020. Cover by Steve Panton.

Jackson Ford’s The Girl Who Could Move Sh*t With Her Mind was a propulsive, compulsively fun scamper through a Los Angeles in a world similar to ours with one exception: thanks to a family of rogue scientists, there exists a woman named Teagan who can, as the title says, move ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Architects of Memory by Karen Osborne

Architects of Memory, Karen Osborne (Tor 978-1-250-21547-5, $17.99, 336pp, tp) August 2020.

Imagined futures where corporations have remade societies so that they always provide a profit are a common backdrop for speculative fiction. That isn’t a value judgement, mind. There are only so many backdrops to go around, and this future feels increasingly likely with each passing day.

In Karen Osborne’s version, Architects of Memory, Ash is a ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It by K.J. Parker

How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It, K.J. Parker (Orbit 978-0-316-49867-8, $16.99, 400pp, tp) August 2020.

Many years on, the walled city in K.J. Parker’s Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City is still under siege. The city still needs to be defended from Ogus, the leader of a rival empire who is keen on wiping out every last person in the Robur empire, most of ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Ballistic by Marko Kloos

Ballistic, Marko Kloos (47North 978-1542090070, $14.95, 360pp, tp) May 2020.

Marko Kloos’s Aftershocks is the place to start the Palladium Wars series – and it’s a series you should start if you are a fan of grounded space opera with a military lean. In this first book, Kloos sets up a universe ten years after the planet Gretia decided to take on all of the other settled planets and ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

Chosen Ones, Veronica Roth (John Joseph Ad­ams Books 978-0-358-16408-1, $26.99, 432pp, hc) April 2020.

Veronica Roth is best known for the Divergent trilogy. With Chosen Ones, her first book for adult readers, she looks at what happens to the chosen ones when their quest is done and a decade has passed. Sloane, Matt, and the other three youngsters who took on the Dark One in Chicago ten years ...Read More

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Liz Bourke & Adrienne Martini Review Network Effect by Martha Wells

Network Effect, Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing 978-1-25022-986-1, $26.99, 352pp, hc) May 2020. Cover by Jaime Jones.

Martha Wells has been writing excellent books since 1993, when Tor Books published her The Element of Fire. The Element of Fire, in its revised 2006 version and Wells’s The Wheel of the Infinite (2000) would feature in a list of my 100 favourite books of all time, so it may ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews The Last Emperox by John Scalzi

The Last Emperox, John Scalzi (Tor 978-0-7653-8916-9 $26.99, 320pp, hc) April 2020.

The Last Emperox is dedicated ”to the women who are done with other people’s shit.” That alone is a great summation of what drives the plot of the third book of John Scalzi’s Interdependency trilogy, which includes The Collapsing Empire and The Consuming Fire.

While the dedication may be aimed at the reader, it also ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Providence by Max Barry

Providence, Max Barry (Putnam 978-0-593- 08517-2, $27, 320pp, hc) March 2020.

Providence by Max Barry opens with a description of a video clip, a fictional one that calls to mind the real world one of the towers coming down on September 11: everyone remembers exactly where they were when they first saw it. In this clip, humanity meets the salamanders, an alien species that can spit tiny black holes ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Relentless Moon, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor 978-1-250-23695-1, $28.99, 544pp, hc) July 2020.

Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Relentless Moon is exactly the book I needed at the end of March 2020.

For the record, I’m writing this in April 2020. The state I live in has been essentially locked down since St. Patrick’s Day because of the novel coronavirus. This review will run in June, most likely, which means ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Paladin’s Grace by T. Kingfisher

Paladin’s Grace, T. Kingfisher (Red Wombat Studio, $5.99, 400pp, eb) February 2020.

T. Kingfisher (the pseudonym that Hugo Award winning Ursula Vernon uses when writing for adults) works in a similar setting as K.J. Parker. Her world, like his, is full of commoners and princes and courtiers and tradespeople in an imagined pre-industrial past. Where Parker goes heavy on the engineering (with a little bit of hu­mor), Vernon goes ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Interference by Sue Burke

Interference, Sue Burke (Tor 978-1-250-3784-1, $27.99, 324pp, hc) October 2019.

Sue Burke’s Interference picks up where her meditative Semiosis left off. After a brief opening chapter on Earth, she brings us back to the far-flung Pax Colony, which has come to a negotiated peace between its human colonists, its other alien species (the Glassmakers), and its sentient plant. Things are going about as well as can be expected on ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Aftershocks: The Palladium Wars by Marko Kloos

Aftershocks: The Palladium Wars, Marko Kloos (47North 978-1-5420-4355-7, $24.95, 282pp, hc) July 2019.

In Aftershocks: The Palladium Wars, Marko Kloos is setting up a series that will look at what happens once a war is over. It’s a nice change from the smash and bang of what happens during the fighting; instead, here he puts the focus on the aftermath of occupation.

Kloos opens on Aden Robertson, a ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe and Adrienne Martini Review Prosper’s Demon by K.J. Parker

Prosper’s Demon, K.J. Parker (Tor.com Publishing 978-1250260512, $11.99, 104pp, tp) January 2020. Cover by Sam Weber.

One of the things you can count on from a K.J. Parker story, along with the dry wit of the prose, the morally dubious narrator, and the richness of his faux-historical Europe, is a fascination with the actual issues of economics, production, and manufacture that most fantasy writers blithely ignore: how, exactly, do ...Read More

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