Amy Goldschlager Reviews Gods & Lies: Season 1 by Elizabeth Vail

Gods & Lies: Season 1, Elizabeth Vail; Cary Hite & Sarah Mollo-Christensen, narrators (Serial Box, $9.99, 7 episodes, digital download, 5.5 hr., un­abridged) November-December 2019.

Serial Box continues to fuel my love for SF/F buddy-cop dramas with this slightly predictable yet incredibly adorable romantic mystery mini-series.

Set in a modern city in an alternate world where the gods take an active role among mortals, Justix Iris Tharro, priestess and ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews King of the Dogs, Queen of the Cats Audiobook by James Patrick Kelly

King of the Dogs, Queen of the Cats, James Patrick Kelly; Stefan Rudnicki, narrator (Skyboat Media 978-1-09413898-5, $12.22, digital download, 2.25 hr., unabridged) January 2020.

Veteran narrator Stefan Rudnicki’s deep, nasal, al­most lugubrious, voice (last appearing in this column in connection with Adam-Troy Castro’s short-story collection My Wife Hates Time Travel, and Other Stories) anchors the more absurd aspects of this no­vella, in which a circus serves as ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Audiobooks: An Orc on the Wild Side by Tom Holt and Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City by K.J. Parker

An Orc on the Wild Side, Tom Holt; Ray Sawyer, narrator (Hachette Audio 978-1-47898841-0, $24.98, digital download, 14 hr., unabridged) Sep­tember 2019.

Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City, K.J. Parker; Ray Sawyer, narrator (Ha­chette Audio 978-1-54915698-4, $24.98, digital download, 13.25 hr., unabridged) Decem­ber 2019.

In the late 1980s, I fell in love with Tom Holt’s first novel, Expecting Someone Taller, an amusing work that took the ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Border Keeper Audiobook by Kerstin Hall

The Border Keeper, Kerstin Hall; Mi­chael Braun, narrator (Recorded Books, $15.99, digital download, 5.25 hr., un­abridged) October 2019.

The mortal man Vasethe is an unwelcome guest to the reclusive Border Keeper, the many-lived, dual-souled powerful woman who guards the boundaries that separate the human lands of Ahri from realms of gods, demons, the incarnated dead, and other strange beings. He begs her to help him find his dead lover, ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Meat Cute Audiobook by Gail Carriger

Meat Cute, Gail Carriger; Emma Newman, narra­tor (self-published, $4.99, digital download, 1.25 hr., unabridged) January 2020.

The website TV Tropes has coined the lovely term “noodle incident” to refer to a peculiar-sounding event that characters mention in a story but never fully explain. A classic example is Watson’s brief reference to the Giant Rat of Sumatra in the Sher­lock Holmes mysteries.

Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series has the “hedgehog ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Regrets Audiobook by Amy Bonnaffons

The Regrets, Amy Bonnaffons; Jay Ben Markson, Christie Moreau & Gary Tiedemann, narrators (Hachette Audio 978-1-47899966-9, $25.98, digital download, 6.75 hr., unabridged) February 2020.

When Thomas was a boy, a mistaken encounter with an angel of death turned him into a thrill-seeker, flirt­ing with death out of a longing to see the angel again. When he finally gets his wish in a car accident, the afterlife bureaucracy determines that ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman and Amy Goldschlager Review Angel Mage by Garth Nix

Garth Nix, Angel Mage (Katherine Tegen Books 978-0-06-268322-9, $19.99, 534pp, hc) October 2019. Cover by Victo Ngai.

Nix pays homage to Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers in this young-adult fantasy novel, set in a world where magic is worked using icons that draw on the power of angels. A young woman named Liliath wakes 137 years after the Doom of Ystara, having spent the time entombed, yet is somehow still ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Book of Dust: The Secret Com­monwealth Audiobook by Philip Pullman

The Book of Dust: The Secret Com­monwealth, Philip Pullman; Michael Sheen, narrator (Listening Library 978-0-59310518-4, $60.00, CD, 19.75 hr., unabridged [also available as a digital download]) October 2019.

Margaret Atwood could take lessons from Pullman; this is how you write a sequel that builds on and raises the stakes of an already well-established story. His Dark Materials actually ended fairly definitively; a multi-world saga that explored the nature of ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Starless Sea Audiobook by Erin Morgenstern

The Starless Sea, Erin Morgenstern; Dominic Hoffman, Dion Graham, Bahni Turpin, Fiona Hardingham, Allan Corduner, and Jorjeana Marie, narrators (Random House Audio, $50.00, CD, 18.5 hr., unabridged) November 2019.

When Zachary Ezra Rollins (you get to know his full name really well, since those three words open most of the sections from his perspective, which seems either mythic or repetitive when it’s continually spoken) was a boy, he came ...Read More

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2019 in Listening by Amy Goldschlager

Happy 2020!

I often take this opportunity to discuss great podcasts of the past year. I’ll be honest, I didn’t get the chance to pick up too many new SF-related podcasts in 2019, but continue to enjoy new episodes of the familiar ones. Welcome to Night Vale is proceeding delightfully, with wars in time, space, and alternate realities, including a frightening conflict involving Night Vale citizen brains placed in future ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Emergency Skin Audiobook by N.K. Jemisin

Emergency Skin, N.K. Jemisin; Jason Isaacs, narrator (Brilliance Audio, $1.99, digital download, 1 hr., unabridged) September 2019.

SF thriller author Blake Crouch solicited and edited six stories about possible futures for his Forward anthology, all of which are available separately, both as ebooks and audio productions narrated by an array of actors.

My favorite story in the bunch, as well as the greatest text/audio matchup in the series, was ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe and Amy Goldschlager Review The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

The Testaments, Margaret Atwood (Doubleday 978-0-385-54378-1, $28.95, 422pp, hc) Septem­ber 2019.

When Margaret Atwood published The Hand­maid’s Tale in 1985, the year after the real-life 1984 and at the height of the Thatcher/Reagan era, figures like Phyllis Schlafly and Jerry Fal­well were still ascendant, and the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment in the US was still a raw memory. It made sense to ask, as Atwood did, just ...Read More

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Stefan Dziemianowicz and Amy Goldschlager Review The Institute by Stephen King

The Institute, Stephen King (Scribner 978-1-9821-1056-7, $30.00, 576pp, hc) September 2019.

It wouldn’t be accurate to say that Stephen King’s new novel, The Institute, is a blueprint for his career as a novelist, but in it King re­prises themes that he has explored regularly over the past 45 years, notably: children endowed with wild paranormal talents (think Carrie, The Shin­ing, and even End of Watch, ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Fall; or, Dodge in Hell Audiobook by Neal Stephenson

Fall; or, Dodge in Hell, Neal Stephenson; Malcolm Hillgartner, narrator (Brilliance Audio 978-1-5113-2841-8, $44.99, 25 CDs, 31.75 hr., unabridged [also available on MP3-CD and as a digital download]) June 2019.

After about an hour’s worth of really heavy fore­shadowing about how hard it is to make convinc­ing virtual replicas of real-world phenomena and the potential danger of accidentally eating before a minor medical procedure that requires fasting, tech guru ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Teeth in the Mist Audiobook by Dawn Kurtagich

Teeth in the Mist, Dawn Kurtagich; Al­lan Corduner, Gemma Dawson, Marisa Calin, Polly Lee & Steve West, narrators (Hachette Audio 978-1-54917591-6, $24.98, digi­tal download, 12.75 hr., unabridged) June 2019.

A medieval Welsh monk bargains with demonic forces to extend his life, a deal which taints the lives of three young women in different historical periods at Mill House, a sinister manor on a Welsh mountain. In the late 16th ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Magic for Liars Audiobook by Sarah Gailey

Magic for Liars, Sarah Gailey; Xe Sands, narrator (Macmillan Audio 978-1-25022786-7, $19.99, digital download, 9 hr., unabridged) June 2019.

Harry Potter is the person you want to be, but Ivy Gamble is the person you probably are. Ivy lives in a Potter-like version of Oakland, in the sense that magic, a magical bureaucracy, and a magical system of education all exist, largely un­known to those ungifted with magical ability. ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Three Audiobooks by P. Djèlí Clark

A Dead Djinn in Cairo, P. Djèlí Clark; Sue­hyla El-Attar, narrator (Macmillan Audio 978-1-25062446-8, $1.99, digital download, 1.75 hr., unabridged) August 2019. The Haunting of Tram 015, P. Djèlí Clark; Julian Thomas, narrator (Recorded Books 978-1-9800-3186-4, $13.99, digital download, 3.25 hr., unabridged) February 2019. The Black God’s Drums, P. Djèlí Clark; Chan­nie Waites, narrator (Recorded Books 978-1-9800-3186-4, $13.99, digital download, 3 hr., unabridged) March 2019.

I first encountered ...Read More

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Rich Horton, Liz Bourke, and Amy Goldschlager Review Desdemona and the Deep by C.S.E. Cooney

Desdemona and the Deep, C.S.E. Cooney ( Publishing 978-1-250-22983-0, $14.99, 222pp, tp) July 2019. Cover by Kathleen Jen­nings.

I’ve been looking forward to C.S.E. Cooney‘s Desdemona and the Deep for quite a while, and having arrived, it doesn’t disappoint. This is the third of her Breakers novellas (though it stands completely alone), centered around a set of houses called Breakers in three different worlds: the hu­man world, the ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Spellswept and Snowspelled Audiobooks by Stephanie Burgis

Spellswept and Snowspelled, Stephanie Burgis; Emma Newman, narrator (Tantor Audio 978-1-40012121-2, $19.99, digital download, 7.25 hr., unabridged) May 2019.

I have a great fondness for those stories where the romance and the fantasy genres kiss and com­mingle. Snowspelled, book one of the Harwood Spellbook, and its prequel novella, Spellswept, definitely hit that sweet spot for me.

This previously self-published series is set in an alternate world ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Four Audiobooks

As Good as New, Charlie Jane Anders; Frankie Corzo, narrator (Macmillan Audio 978-1-25062443-7, $1.99, digital download, 0.75 hr., unabridged) August 2019. The President’s Brain Is Missing, John Scalzi; P.J. Ochlan, narrator (Macmillan Audio 978-1-25062438-3, $1.99, digital download, 0.75 hr., unabridged) August 2019. This World Is Full of Monsters, Jeff Vander­Meer; Vikas Adam, narrator (Macmillan Audio 978-1-25062445-1, $1.99, digital download, 1.5 hr., unabridged) August 2019. Warm Up, ...Read More

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Liz Bourke and Amy Goldschlager Review This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

This Is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone (Saga 978-1-5344-3100-3, $19.99, 200pp, hc) July 2019.

A novel – or rather a novella – that does find me part of its enthusiastic readership is Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone’s first tra­ditionally published collaboration, This Is How You Lose the Time War. Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit. This is the time-travelling queer epistolary romance ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Unauthorized Bread Audiobook by Cory Doctorow

Unauthorized Bread, Cory Doctorow; Lameece Issaq, narrator (Macmillan Audio 978-1-25022316-6, $10.99, digital download, 3 hr., unabridged) April 2019.

Selima, a Libyan immigrant, is grateful to leave the refugee shelter in Arizona for a subsidized, fully furnished studio apartment in Boston’s Dorchester Towers, even if she is only allowed to use the elevator when the building’s market-value tenants don’t require it. Then the company supplying her internet-equipped ap­pliances – which ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Girls with Sharp Sticks Audiobook by Suzanne Young

Girls with Sharp Sticks, Suzanne Young; Caitlin Davies, narrator (Simon & Schuster Audio/Black­stone Audio 978-1-50828140-5, $39.99, 9 CDs, 10.5 hr., unabridged [also available as a digital download]) March 2019.

I hesitate to mention just which classic early 1970s book, adapted into a well-known film and a bad remake, and now an indelible part of our popular culture, that this new YA novel reminds me of, because it’ll spoil the ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Echo in Onyx, Echo in Emerald, and Echo in Amethyst Audiobooks by Sharon Shinn

Echo in Onyx, Sharon Shinn; Emily Bauer, nar­rator (Audible Studios, $34.96, digital download, 15 hr., unabridged) March 2019.

Echo in Emerald, Sharon Shinn; read by Emily Bauer (Audible Studios, $30.58, digital down­load, 13.25 hr., unabridged) March 2019.

Echo in Amethyst, Sharon Shinn; read by Emily Bauer (Audible Studios, $30.58, digital down­load, 15 hr., unabridged) March 2019.

It is always a pleasure to review books that, at the ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Fever King Audiobook by Victoria Lee

The Fever King, Victoria Lee; Michael Crouch, narrator (Brilliance Audio 978-1-7213-3626-5, 11 CDs, $26.99, 14 hr., unabridged [also available on MP3-CD and as a digital download]) March 2019.

The early 21st century of an alternate Earth becomes infected by magic, a plague which kills most but leaves the survivors with powers. The dangerous disease and violent prejudice against the surviving “witchings” splinters the US. The most powerful witching, Calix ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Sal and Gabi Break the Universe Audiobook by Carlos Hernandez

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe, Carlos Hernandez; Anthony Rey Perez, narrator (Listening Library 978-1-98484579-5, $27.50, digital download, 9.5 hr., unabridged) March 2019.

Once again, I’m bending the general rules for this column to review a middle-grade book; suffice it to say that adults will not regret spending time engaging with it, whether or not they have tweens in their lives.

Twelve-year-old Sal, a clever aspiring stage magician, has ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Miranda in Milan Audiobook by Katharine Duckett

Miranda in Milan, Katharine Duckett; Saskia Maaleveld, narrator (Audible Studios, $12.99, digi­tal download, 4.5 hr., unabridged). March 2019.

Fantasy writers never want to accept Miranda’s happy ending with Ferdinand at the end of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. And who can blame them? Ferdinand is the only young man (or perhaps the second young man, depending on how you depict Caliban) that Miranda ever meets; can this really be a ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Phantom Tollbooth Audiobook by Norton Juster

The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster; Rainn Wilson, narrator (Listening Li­brary 978-1-98488701-6, $25.00, 4 CDs, 4.75 hr., unabridged [also available as a digital download]) March 2019.

There’s plenty of humor and wisdom for the adult listener to discover in this new recording of the classic Phantom Tollbooth, one of the most beloved books from my childhood. Young Milo finds most things that adults want to teach him dull, silly, ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Ninth Step Station

Ninth Step Station, Season 1, Episodes 1-8 (of 11), Malka Older, Fran Wilde, Jacqueline Koyanagi & Curtis C. Chen; Emily Woo Zeller, narrator (Serial Box, 1.99 per episode/$13.99 per season, digital download, aprox. 1.5 hr. per episode, unabridged) January–March 2019.

A devastating earthquake, followed by war with both North Korea and China, have left Japan in general, and Tokyo in particular, partially controlled by the Chinese as well as partially ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Kingdom of Copper Audiobook by S.A. Chakraborty

The Kingdom of Copper, S.A. Chakraborty; Soneela Nankani, narra­tor (HarperAudio 978-1-98260844-6, $65.99, MP3 CD, 23.25 hr., unabridged [also available as a digital download]) January 2019.

This second in a series picks up five years after The City of Brass, in which Nahri, an orphan from Napoleonic-era Cairo with a magical gift for healing, discovered her true heritage as a Daeva (a tribe of djinn who refuse that name) ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews And Other Stories Audiobook by Adam-Troy Castro

And Other Stories, Adam-Troy Castro; Stefan Rudnicki, Gabrielle de Cuir, Justine Eyre, Kathe Mazur & Adam-Troy Castro, narrators (Skyboat Media 978-1-98262931-1, $29.95, MP3 CD, 13.3 hr., un­abridged [also available as a digital download]) January 2019.

Oh, how I love audio-only (and audio-first) books! It gives my life meaning as an audiobook reviewer. Produced by the excellent Skyboat Media, who were also respon­sible for Jennifer Marie Brissett’s Elysium a few ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Vita Nostra Audiobook by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko

Vita Nostra, Marina & Sergey Dyachenko; Jessica Ball, narrator (HarperAudio/Blackstone Audio 978-1-98255504-7, $39.99, MP3 CD, 18.25 hr., unabridged [also available as a digital download]). November 2018.

Lev Grossman’s The Magicians meets Max Barry’s Lexicon in this spooky Russian con­temporary fantasy about a mysterious university in a remote town. High-school student Sasha is enjoying a beach vacation with her mother when a sinister-seeming man convinces her that if she doesn’t ...Read More

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