Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Juniper Wiles and the Ghost Girls

Juniper Wiles and the Ghost Girls, Charles de Lint (Triskell Press 978-1-98974-106-1, $15.99, 264pp, tp), November 2022.

I’m well aware that calling something a ‘‘beach read’’ holds negative connota­tions – but in the case of Charles de Lint’s second installment in his Juniper Wiles series, Juniper Wiles and the Ghost Girls, I mean to call it a beach read in a more literal, delicious way. This book, which ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Dreams for a Broken World by Julie C. Day & Ellen Meeropol, eds.

Dreams for a Broken World, Julie C. Day & Ellen Meeropol, eds. (Essential Dreams 978-1-95536-005-0, $20.00, 304pp, tp) No­vember 2022.

Wherever you stand, by nature, on the spec­trum between optimism and pessimism, it’s hard to argue that right now, the world is deeply troubled. Systems we’ve come to rely on are fractured. More and more often, politics and economics divide us. Things are, well, broken.

Now, none of these ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Karma of the Sun by Brandon Ying Kit Boey

Karma of the Sun, Brandon Ying Kit Boey (CamCat 978-0-7443-0760-3, $25.99, 352pp, hc) January 2023.

Brandon Ying Kit Boey’s debut novel, Karma of the Sun, is a much-needed and welcome shot in the arm to apocalypse fiction – a rich subgenre, to be sure, but one crowded with Western views and Western voic­es on the end of the world. Instead, Boey takes us to the future nestled in ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Lonely Castle in the Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura

Lonely Castle in the Mirror, Mizuki Tsujimura (Erewhon 978-1-64566-040-8, $27.95, 400pp, hc) October 2022.

Newly translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel, Mizuki Tsujimura’s 2018 bestselling and award-winning novel, Lonely Castle in the Mirror, is a gorgeous, wrenching fantasy that lays bare the anxieties and desperation – as well as small triumphs – of adolescence. Told using a deft amalgamation of Western fairy tales – invoked by the ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Tales from a Robotic World: How Intelligent Machines Will Shape Our Future by Dario Floreano & Nicola Nosengo

Tales from a Robotic World: How Intelligent Machines Will Shape Our Future, Dario Floreano & Nicola Nosengo (MIT Press 978-0-26204-744-9, $24.99, 280pp, hc) September 2022.

I love robots. From Roombas to Twiki, the Boston Dynamic dance crew to Awesom-O 4000, the Mars Rover to Marvin: I am a fan of both true technological wonders and kitschy speculation, a true believer in the infinite possibili­ties autonomous machines can bring to ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Unbreakable by Mira Grant

Unbreakable, Mira Grant (Subterranean, 978-1-64524-103-4, $45.00, 152pp, hc), De­cember 2022.

Have you ever had a book sneak up on you? I mean, had something about the title, maybe the cover art, the back description make you think, ‘‘Meh, this will be okay,’’ but then – then you read it – and it smacks you upside your head because it was so unexpectedly, so unbelievably good?

Yeah, Seanan McGuire’s (writing ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Ruin by Cara Hoffman

Ruin, Cara Hoffman (PM Press 978-1-62963-931-4, $25.95, 136pp, hc) April 2022.

I was halfway through the ten stories in Cara Hoff­man’s latest collection, Ruin, before I was able to start to understand how to read them – and then, nearly done with all of them when it became clear why the collection fit in Locus at all. Highly liter­ary, strikingly stylized, and mondo experimental, Ruin is a collection ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Glorious Fiends by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

Glorious Fiends, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (Un­derland Press 978-1-63023-066-1, $14.99, 142pp, tp), September 2022. Cover by Chris Panatier.

I’m a child of the ’80s, raised on camp, kitsch, and all that is lowbrow, and nothing can ever rinse clean what late-night broadcast televi­sion horror films (not to mention all the Anne Rice and VC Andrews I read in primary school) did to my soul (even if I wanted to). So, ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews A Restless Truth by Freya Marske

A Restless Truth, Freya Marske (Tordotcom 978-1-250-78891-7, $27.99, 400pp, hc) Novem­ber 2022.

Anne Perry is better known for setting her mys­teries in the Victorian era, while Agatha Christie understood the power of an isolated location (say, a train). For the second novel in her Last Binding series, A Restless Truth, Freya Marske pulls from the best of both these masters of the whodunit: we are still in the

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Leech by Hiron Ennes

Leech, Hiron Ennes (Tordotcom 978-1-25081-118-9, $27.99, 336pp, hc), September 2022. Cover by Sam Weber.

In Hiron Ennes’s debut novel, Leech, the far future has gotten really weird. Sure, there’s been extreme climate change – debilitating summers, isolating winters, and literal acid precipitation – no surprises there, given our current state of affairs. The wealthy few have grown wealthier, especially the Baron of the Château de Verdira, a northern

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Every Version of You by Grace Chan

Every Version of You, Grace Chan (Affirm Press 978-1-92280-601-7, $32.99, 288pp, hc), July 2022.

Tao-Yi and Navin are in love. Really in love. In the 2080s of Grace Chan’s Every Version of You, a supportive, genuine relationship like the one they have is just as pre­cious and rare as right now.

Things are not easy for the couple, however. Tao-Yi’s mother, Xin-Yi, lives with chronic clini­cal depression. Navin

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews The Extractionist by Kimberly Unger

The Extractionist, Kimberly Unger (Tachyon 978-1-61696-376-7, $17.95, 290pp, tp) July 2022.

When Eliza McKay is contracted by a shadowy government agency, all of her instincts scream this job will be like no other, and, in Kimberly Unger’s latest novel, The Extractionist, we quickly learn McKay is spot on. McKay is the titular extractionist, a freelance super-hacker who specializes in rescuing people stuck in the “Swim,” a fully immersive ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Where You Linger and Other Stories by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

Where You Linger and Other Stories, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (Vernacular 978-1-95228-322-2, $19.00, 284pp, tp) July 2022.

I have to admit, as I read Bonnie Jo Stuffle­beam’s new collection, Where You Linger and Other Stories, I had two reactions: one as a reader, the other as a writer. As a reader, I couldn’t put the collection down – a definite deviation from how I usually parse a short story ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Queering SF: Readings by Ritch Calvin

Queering SF: Readings, Ritch Calvin (Aqueduct 978-1-61976-220-6, $18, 218pp, tp) May 2022.

Science fiction, no matter where you sit on the political spectrum, has always been the literature of possibility. Not everyone has had a voice or a seat at the proverbial table, and the genre has weathered growing pains. But at its heart, science fiction is society’s mirror, where we couch (sometimes) painful truths of where we are ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Darling Girl by Liz Michalski

Darling Girl, Liz Michalski (Dutton 978-0-593-18563-6, $26, 352pp, hc) May 2022

I have a confession: I’ve always been a bit creeped out by Peter Pan. Some of this is contextual. I read the original Peter Pan as a child, and it is rife with a type of whimsey I, by nature and culture, found darkly suspicious (to wit, I also found Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland full of subtle ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews The Girl Who Outgrew the World by Zoje Stage

The Girl Who Outgrew the World, Zoje Stage (Lethe 978-1-59021-523-4, $15.00, 180pp, tp) May 2022.

Eleven-year-old Lilly is having a growth spurt. Only this is no ordinary, normal march towards adolescence. In Zoje Stage’s new novella, The Girl Who Outgrew the World, the title itself reveals the scale and pace of Lilly’s development, a mysterious, monstrous, and inexplicable surge that baffles and frightens her father, her friends, her ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Face by Joma West

Face, Joma West (Tordotcom 978-1-25081-029-8, $26.99, 272pp, hc) August 2022.

We already live in a world where, for many, looks are currency, identity is performative, and status is a game. There’s no shortage of opinion on the effects of social media on culture, research on how phones have – literally – changed our posture and vision, and speculation on how replacing online communication either enhances or erodes human connection. ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews January Fifteenth by Rachel Swirsky

January Fifteenth, Rachel Swirsky (Tordotcom 978-1-25019-894-5, $15.99, 240pp, tp) June 2022.

If you’ve ever read any of Rachel Swirsky’s short fiction, then you’re familiar with her signature elegant prose and her very literary deconstruction of traditional plot. Swirsky’s style is instantly recognizable and widely appreciated, earning her multiple Nebulas, and, at the very least, enthusiastic nods from nearly all the award committees in genre.

Swirsky’s latest novella, January Fifteenth ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Tell Me an Ending by Jo Harkin

Tell Me an Ending, Jo Harkin (Scribner 978-1-98216-432-4, $27.99, 448pp, hc) March 2022

Somewhere, I imagine Jo Harkin has a book­shelf groaning under the weight of Norton anthologies – at least 2 volumes. I believe this not just because her bio says she studied literature at uni, but because her debut novel, Tell Me an Ending, delicately honors classic narrative structures that are rare in contemporary science fiction.

In ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories by Yu Chen & Regina Kanyu Wang, eds

The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories, Yu Chen & Regina Kanyu Wang, eds. (Tordotcom 978-1-25076-891-9, $26.99, 400pp, hc) March 2022.

By now, many of us are already prepar­ing for the 81st World Science Fiction Convention next year in China. So it’s the perfect time for an anthology like The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories to hit shelves and tide us over until 2023.

Though Chinese publishers have ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Light Years from Home by Mike Chen

Light Years from Home, Mike Chen (MIRA 978-0-7783-1173-7, $28.00, 353 pp, hc) Janu­ary 2022.

The American painter, Conrad Marca-Relli, was known best for his abstract depictions of the body. He often relied on cut paper forms to build his work, famously stating, ‘‘You get a linear quality from collage that is more rapid than the swiftest drawn line.’’

While Mike Chen’s newest novel, Light Years from Home, is ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Under Fortunate Stars by Ren Hutchings

Under Fortunate Stars, Ren Hutchings (Rebel­lion/Solaris 978-1-78618-592-1, $24.99, 480pp, hc) May 2022

It takes less than ten pages to understand the deep love Ren Hutchings has for space operas. Classic ones, modern ones. Movies, series, adaptations. From Firefly to The Forever War, the homages run deep in Under Fortunate Stars. But this is no cookie-cutter hack or half-baked collage. Under Fortunate Stars manages to tease out the ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Freaks by Brett Riley

Freaks, Brett Riley (Imbrifex 9781945501531, $18.99, 283pp, hc) March 2022.

Hey, speculative fiction reader, indulge me on a hunch. Here it is: high school was not… great. Probably not a time you look back on with much fondness. Not one you’d willingly return to for all the money in the world. The awkwardness. The delicately balanced social rules – trying to balance being an individual with fitting in, wanting ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller

The Bone Orchard, Sara A. Mueller (Tor 978-1-250-77694-5, $27.00, 432pp, hc) March 2022.

Sara A. Mueller’s debut novel, The Bone Or­chard, is a brilliant, cautionary tale about the dangers of repressing trauma, disguised as a sweeping fantasy about political machinations and magic. Charm, proprietor of Orchard House – the high-class pleasure club of Boren – is also the mistress of the Emperor. It’s a relationship built less on ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews The Beholden by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Beholden, Cassandra Rose Clarke (Erewhon 978-1-64566-025-5, $18.95, 523pp, tp) January 2022.

The De Malena sisters are desperate. Or­phaned and destitute, they’ll do anything to save their estate and their titles – even bargain with the Lady of the Serpentine, the un­predictable Airiana goddess of the river.

In The Beholden, the latest novel by Cassandra Rose Clarke, the Lady grants the sisters their wish. Celestia, beautiful and delicate, ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Longing and Other Stories by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki

Longing and Other Stories, Jun’ichirō Tanizaki (Columbia University Press, 978-0-231-20215-2, $20.00, 160pp, tp) January 2022.

One of Japan’s most celebrated and prolific authors of the last century, Jun’ichirō Tanizaki has remained relatively unknown in the West – a great loss for us, one that will be, hopefully, remedied by this new translation of Longing and Other Stories by Anthony H. Chambers & Paul McCarthy

It’s difficult to know how ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Can’t Find My Way Home by Gwynne Garfinkle

Can’t Find My Way Home, Gwynne Garfinkle (Aqueduct Press 978-1-61976-212-1, $20.00, 342pp, tp) January 2022.

Two days shape young Joanna Bergman’s life: when she both got the lead role in her high school’s production of ‘‘Saint Joan’’ and began her friendship with the beautiful, popular Cynthia ‘‘Cyn’’ Foster, and when, three years later, Cyn dies in a botched protest bombing of a storefront Vietnam War draft board office. And, ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews House of Glass Hearts by Leila Siddiqui

House of Glass Hearts, Leila Siddiqui (Yali Books 978-1-94952-877-0, $13.99, 278pp, tp) September 2021.

It has been a decade since Meara’s older brother, Asad, disappeared from their maternal grand­father’s house in Karachi during the family’s summer-long visit. And the years since have been difficult for Meara and her mother, Ammi. They’ve simultaneously buried their pain of losing Asad, but, by never discussing him or the incident, never healed the ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews The King of Infinite Space by Lyndsay Faye

The King of Infinite Space, Lyndsay Faye (Putnam 978-0-52553-589-8, $27.00, 384pp, hc) August 2021.

Of all the Shakespearean dramas, has there ever been one more discussed, more widely adapted, one that has become more of a Western cultural artifact than Hamlet? It seems unlikely anyone, even a writer like Lyndsay Faye – with previous successes turning Sherlock Holmes and Jane Eyre on their ears – could find a fresh ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews The Perishing by Natashia Deón

The Perishing, Natashia Deón (Counterpoint 978-1-64009-302-7, $26.00, 320pp, hc) November 2021.

There’s no way to overstate our obsession with immortality. From the Epic of Gilgamesh to Marvel’s Eternals, humans have always dreamt of living forever, and speculated on what it would be like to do so. And with so many examples in existence, it’s difficult to present readers with a fresh take on the sempiternal trope, but Natashia ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

Light from Uncommon Stars, Ryka Aoki (Tor 978-1-250-78906-8, 384pp, $25.99, hc) September 2021.

Good speculative fiction has long been a shell game. We think we’re escaping into a cool story about first contact, intergalactic wars, reluctant fulfillers of life-or-death prophesy… you know, stuff not about here. Or now. Until, of course, we realize, it’s all a gorgeous deceit: we’ve swallowed a heap of nutri­tious vegetables believing it to be ...Read More

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Caren Gussoff Sumption Reviews A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske

A Marvellous Light, Freya Marske (Tor 978-1-250-78887-0, $27.99, 384pp, hc) November 2021.

In Freya Marske’s debut, A Marvellous Light, Edwardian London is mostly familiar: those with titles, like young baronet Robert “Robin” Blyth, are awarded positions based less on qualifications than on family connections, and Robin knows his career in His Majesty’s civil service – middling as it is – is the result of, simply, inheriting a minor ...Read More

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