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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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Quillifer the Knight by Walter Jon Williams

Quillifer the Knight, Walter Jon Williams (Saga 978-1-4814-9001-6, $16.99, 544pp, tp) November 2019.

When Walter Jon Williams introduced us to his amorous and sometimes hapless hero Quillifer a couple of years ago, he was clearly and joy­ously celebrating the kind of essentially comic, faux-historical swashbucklers that date back as far as Rafael Sabatini and Anthony Hope and as recently as K.J. Parker. Like Hope and Parker, he sets his ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man by Dave Hutchinson

The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man, Dave Hutchinson (Solaris 978-1-78108-584-4, $9.99, 300pp, tp) September 2019.

There are two things that should be noted up front about Dave Hutchinson’s The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man: first, as the title might suggest, it’s quite different in tone and scope from his acclaimed Fractured Europe sequence of novels; and second, despite what the title suggests, it’s not a sequel ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews King of the Dogs, Queen of the Cats by James Patrick Kelly

King of the Dogs, Queen of the Cats, James Patrick Kelly (Subterranean 978-1-59606-934-3, $40.00, 128pp, hc) January 2020

One of the most enduring and useful conventions of traditional SF, dating back at least to the pulp era, is the notion of a broad confederation of planetary civilizations, whether it’s Le Guin’s League of All Worlds (later the Ekumen), Poul Anderson’s Pyrotechnic League, or James Patrick Kelly’s The Thousand Worlds ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews And Go Like This by John Crowley

And Go Like This, John Crowley (Small Beer 978-1-6187-3163-0, $25.00, 332pp, hc) Novem­ber 2019.

One of John Crowley’s most beautiful novellas, “The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines”, origi­nally appeared in the now-famous, Peter Straub-edited issue of the literary journal Conjunctions in 2002, the first issue to prominently feature SF, fantasy, and horror writers. Crowley’s novella was the lead story, and now it’s quite properly the lead in And Go Like ...Read More

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Ian Mond and Gary K. Wolfe Review The Rosewater Redemption by Tade Thompson

The Rosewater Redemption, Tade Thompson (Orbit 978-0316449090, $16.99, 416pp, tp) October 2019.

I wasn’t expecting the third book in Tade Thomp­son’s Wormwood Trilogy to be released so soon after the second, The Rosewater Insurrection. Not that I’m complaining. I’ve been eager to find out how Thompson would resolve the numerous threads he left dangling at the conclusion of The Rosewater Insurrection. The relatively short lead time between ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Curious Toys by Elizabeth Hand

Curious Toys, Elizabeth Hand (Mulholland 978-0-316-48588-3, $27.00, 384pp, hc) October 2019.

Like her darkly wonderful Cass Neary crime novels, Elizabeth Hand’s Curious Toys is what we here at Locus Genre Control refer to as “associational,” meaning it’s not materially SF or fantasy, but con­tains much of interest to genre readers – and not solely because of Hand’s distinguished career in these parts. Curious Toys is being marketed largely as ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe and Rich Horton Review The Mythic Dream, Edited by Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe

The Mythic Dream, Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe, eds. (Saga 978-1-5344-4228-3, $24.99, 368pp, hc) September 2019.

With two well-received anthologies already to their credit (The Starlit Wood and Robots vs Fairies) Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe can’t possibly believe that their idea for the third one – retellings and reshap­ings of world myths – is going to strike anyone as wildly innovative. Not only are there many ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Broken Places & Outer Spaces by Nnedi Okorafor

Broken Places & Outer Spaces: Finding Creativity in the Unexpected, Nnedi Okorafor (Simon & Schuster 978-1-5011-9547-2, $16.99, 96pp, hc) June 2019.

Nnedi Okorafor’s surprisingly and sometimes achingly personal account of her battle with sco­liosis and post-surgical paralysis, Broken Places & Outer Spaces, isn’t exactly a literary memoir, but one anecdote strikes me as ironically emblematic of her unique relationship with SF: when she was hospitalized, she was ...Read More

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Rich Horton and Gary K. Wolfe Review Anthologies Edited by Jonathan Strahan

Mission Critical, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (So­laris 978-1781085806) July 2019.

Jonathan Strahan’s new anthology is Mission Critical. The theme is characters responding to desperate situations, when something goes pear-shaped. Oddly, many of the stories, all well executed, seem a bit too much the same in adher­ing to the theme. The best are “Hanging Gar­dens” by Gregory Feeley, and “Cyclopterus” by Peter Watts. Feeley’s ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Ivory Apples by Lisa Goldstein

Ivory Apples, Lisa Goldstein (Tachyon 978-1-61696-298-2, $15.95, 276pp, tp) September 2019.

In a career now well into its fourth decade, Lisa Goldstein has made something of a habit of confounding expectations: she made a stun­ning debut with her Holocaust fantasy The Red Magician, veered off into student revolutions and Surrealism in The Dream Years, dabbled with dystopia in A Mask for the General and her own brand ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker

A Song for a New Day, Sarah Pinsker (Berkley 978-1984802583, $16.00, 336pp, tp) September 2019

Readers of Sarah Pinsker’s Nebula Award-winning novelette “Our Lady of the Open Road” (included in her collection Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea, reviewed here in March) might be as curious as I was to learn more about the gritty near-future America of that story, and in particular of the plight ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harrow (Redhook 978-0-316-42199-7, $27.00, 384pp, hc) September 2019.

The idea of locking out historical change in order to preserve a particular version of male hegemony is an important theme in Alix E. Harrow’s remarkable first novel, The Ten Thousand Doors of January, but for me to explain further might compromise some of the readerly pleasures of unfolding Harrow’s multilayered, origami-like ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz

The Future of Another Timeline, Annalee Newitz (Tor 978-0-7653-9210-7, $26.99, 352pp, hc) September 2019.

Stories about time wars, or temporal wars, or change wars (in Fritz Leiber’s classic formulation), along with related tales about time police, time guards, time patrols, time ref­erees, or even just time nudniks, have gotten so ubiquitous that even Sarah Connor must be getting bored. Collectively, they constitute a kind of sub-subgenre somewhere in the ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Dollmaker by Nina Allan

The Dollmaker, Nina Allan (riverrun 978-1-787-47255-6, £14.99, 416pp, tp) April 2019. (Other Press 978-1590519936, $16.99, 416pp, tp) October 2019.

One of the questions Nina Allan’s fiction consis­tently raises is whether the idea of genre is even useful anymore. Her stories tend to burrow in and out of each other like enthusiastic metafictional badgers, borrowing and repurposing themes and even characters in an ongoing celebration of the fluidity of story; ...Read More

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Ian Mond and Gary K. Wolfe Review Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Gods of Jade and Shadow, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey 978-0-525-62075-4, $26.00, 350pp, hc) August 2019.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s fourth novel, Gods of Jade and Shadow, is a rip-roaring adventure set in 1920s Mexico, featuring duelling Mayan Death Gods, a secondary cast of ghosts, spirits, and warlocks and, caught in the middle of it all, an 18-year-old who peers long­ingly at the stars and constellations she’s named after. When we ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Meet Me in the Future by Kameron Hurley

Meet Me in the Future, Kameron Hurley (Tachyon 978-1-61696-296-8, $15.99, 332pp, tp) August 2019.

Chances are that most of the futures in Kameron Hurley’s Meet Me in the Future aren’t ones you’d want to meet anyone in: plagues, endless wars, drowned cities, alien invasions, decaying spaceships, and endlessly inventive ways of disrupting the human body. Bodies, in fact, as Hurley notes in her engagingly personal intro­duction, seem to be ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday by Saad Z. Hossain

The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday, Saad Z. Hossain (Tor.com 978-1-250-20911-5, $14.99, 176pp, tp) August 2019.

Saad Z. Hossein’s pissed-off djinn, awakened after thousands of years by melting ice in the Hima­layas (a nice, subtle reference to global warming), initially seems more concerned with his resumé than with vengeance: when he stumbles down the mountain and meets the crusty old Gurkha Bhan Gurung, he announces himself as “Melek ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews My Beautiful Life by K.J. Parker

My Beautiful Life, K.J. Parker (Subterranean 978-1-59606-930-5, $40.00, 112pp, hc) November 2019.

Unlike the long tradition of disruptive but fundamentally decent rogues, K.J. Parker’s invidious protagonists, who are often his narrators, can almost seem ingratiating in their forthrightness and cynicism – until we catch on to what sort of ruthlessness they are really capable of. It’s not giving anything away to point out that Parker’s new novella My Beautiful ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Trapped in the R.A.W., A Journal of My Experiences during the Great Invasion by Kaylee Bearovna by Kate Boyes

Trapped in the R.A.W., A Journal of My Experiences during the Great Invasion by Kaylee Bearovna, Kate Boyes (Aqueduct 978-1-61976-159-9, $20.00, 312pp, tp) July 2019.

Every once in a while, a novel seems to drop in from out of nowhere, with little to go on but a promo let­ter and – in the case at hand – the reputation of the publisher. Aqueduct Press has earned a reputation not ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews A City Made of Words by Paul Park

A City Made of Words, Paul Park (PM Press 978-1-629-63642-9, $14.00, 128pp, tp) June 2019.

Paul Park has always had a rather sidewise relationship with science fiction and fantasy. His early novels demonstrated a sophisticated awareness of the literary possibilities of the far-future, dying-Earth theme, and his vastly underappreciated A Princess of Roumania series was as carefully worked-out an alternate history as you could ask for – except that ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Gameshouse by Claire North

The Gameshouse, Claire North (Orbit 978-0-316-49156-3, $15.99, 448pp, tp) May 2019.

Claire North has made something of a career of taking weatherbeaten tropes (reincarnation in The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, invisibility in The Sudden Appearance of Hope, Death personified in The End of the Day) and reimagining them in a stylish contemporary voice, usually with a witty twist on the original conceit. In The ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Million Mile Road Trip by Rudy Rucker

Million Mile Road Trip, Rudy Rucker (Night Shade 978-1-94094838-6, $24.99, 504pp, hc) May 2019.

There’s little doubt that Rudy Rucker deserves his reputation as one of the founders of cyberpunk – his Software predated Neuromancer by a couple of years – but his own literary origins seem to reach as far back as Lewis Carroll and Edwin A. Abbott, to whose Flatland Rucker paid a kind of parodic tribute ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Song for the Unraveling of the World by Brian Evenson

Song for the Unraveling of the World, Brian Evenson (Coffee House Press 978-156689-548-4, $16.99, 212pp, tp) June 2019.

In his story “Leaking Out”, which could be read as Brian Evenson’s characteristically oblique take on the haunted house tale, a “malformed man” (another characteristic Evenson figure) starts tell­ing a story with the warning that “this is not that kind of story, the kind meant to explain things. It simply tells ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Unraveling by Karen Lord

Unraveling, Karen Lord (DAW 978-0-7544-1520-4, $26.00, 258pp, hc) June 2019.

I don’t think it’s giving anything away to note that the final section of Karen Lord’s Unraveling is titled “Metanoia”, since that term has at least a couple of meanings that are relevant not only to the new novel (her fourth), but to the whole body of her work to date. The more-or-less theological meaning, which has to do ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe and Adrienne Martini Review Fall; or, Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson

Fall; or, Dodge in Hell, Neal Stephenson (Morrow 978-0-06-245871-1, $35.00, 896pp, hc) June 2019.

Neal Stephenson’s idea of a novel isn’t quite the same as anyone else’s, and for the most part this has served him remarkably well. His Baroque Cycle trilogy was really no more a trilogy than was Asimov’s Foundation series, except that while Asimov’s narrative units were stories and novellas, Ste­phenson’s were entire novels – and ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Iron Dragon’s Mother by Michael Swanwick

The Iron Dragon’s Mother, Michael Swanwick (Tor 978-1-250-19825-9, $26.99, 366pp, hc) June 2019.

There are hints of the afterlife in Michael Swanwick’s The Iron Dragon’s Mother, but it’s hard to accuse a fantasy world of pretentiousness when it cheerfully includes living metal dragon jet fighters along with Hello Kitty backpacks, or in which the streets of a magical underwater city are lined with Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction, Edited by Tarun K. Saint

The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction, Tarun K. Saint, ed. (Hachette India 978-93-88322-05-8, RS599, 382pp, hc) March 2019.

Over the past several months, we’ve looked at anthologies of Chinese, Korean, and Israeli SF, all largely geared towards familiarizing ”outsiders” – namely, English language readers – with these vari­ous national voices. The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction, edited by Tarun K. Saint, is a little different. ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Little Animals by Sarah Tolmie

The Little Animals, Sarah Tolmie (Aqueduct 978-1-61976-161-2, $20.00, 378pp, tp) May 2019.

Sarah Tolmie’s approach to the intersection between the historical and the marvelous is comparatively minimalist. The Little Animals is, for the most part, a straightforward account of the early career of the 17th-century Delft scientist Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, as he discovers and records various “animalcules” through his homemade single-lens microscopes and tries to get his findings recognized ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Lent by Jo Walton

Lent, Jo Walton (Tor 978-0-7653-7906-1, $26.99, 384pp, hc) May 2019.

Jo Walton goes full multiverse in Lent, her fascinating examination of the life, or possible lives, of the Florentine cleric and prophet Girolamo Savonarola. Except for serious history buffs, Savonarola is mostly remembered for his famous Bonfire of the Vanities – which Walton, in an afterword, insists was “more like Burning Man” than a traditional repressive book burning ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay

A Brightness Long Ago, Guy Gavriel Kay (Berkley 978-0-451-47298-4, $27.00, 448pp, hc) May 2019.

At the risk of oversimplification – well, no, to be honest, with the intent of oversimplification – the fantastic genres have a long and complex relation­ship with historical fiction, but they often tend to use it to provide templates for their own preoc­cupations. Horror seems to love the Middle Ages, with its demons and tortures ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Exhalation by Ted Chiang

Exhalation, Ted Chiang (Knopf 978-1-101-94788-3, $25.95, 358pp, hc) May 2019.

It’s not exactly as though Ted Chiang’s prolificacy is getting out of hand, but it might be worth noting that his long-awaited new collection Exhalation contains nine stories, while his previous collection Stories of Your Life contained only eight. On the other hand, that earlier collection covered the first 11 years of his career, while the new one covers ...Read More

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