Gary K. Wolfe Reviews War of the Maps by Paul McAuley

War of the Maps, Paul McAuley (Gollancz 978-1473217348, £14.99, 432pp, hc) March 2020.

More than 20 years ago, Paul McAuley established his bona fides as a master of the ancient-far-future tradition of Vance and Wolfe with his Confluence series, set on an oddly shaped artificial world with a deep history that unfolded in fragments over the course of three volumes. With War of the Maps, he offers an ...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 ( 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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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Postutopian Adventures of Darger and Surplus by Michael Swanwick

The Postutopian Adventures of Darger and Surplus, Michael Swanwick (Subterranean 978- 1-59606-936-7, $40.00, 200pp, hc) April 2020.

When Michael Swanwick first introduced us to his redoubtable rogues Darger and Surplus in the Hugo Award winning “The Dog Said Bow-Wow” back in 2001, many readers immediately saw them as descendants of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, a duo whose DNA has shown up in the work of everyone ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

The City We Became, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit 978-0-316-50984-8, $28.00, 448pp, hc) March 2020.

I have no idea whether N.K. Jemisin has read H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Horror at Red Hook”, which is in part Lovecraft’s half-hearted attempt to write a detective story and in part a racist having a panic attack in print, but it was the story that provided the template for Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu

The Hidden Girl and Other Stories, Ken Liu (Saga 978-1-9821-3403-7, $26.00, 432pp, hc) February 2020.

In his introduction to The Hidden Girl and Oth­er Stories, Ken Liu’s much-anticipated second collection, Liu tells us that selecting the stories was easier, since he no longer felt “the pressure to ‘present,”‘ but rather decided to “stick with stories that most pleased myself.” In fact, more than half of the 18 stories ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Talk Like a Man by Nisi Shawl

Talk Like a Man, Nisi Shawl (PM Press 978-1-62963-711-2, $14.00, 114pp, tp) November 2019.

It’s been more than a decade since Nisi Shawl’s only previous collection, Filter House, and since much of her short fiction has appeared in small-press publications that often have to be sought out, her new chapbook from PM Press provides an enticing glimpse into the fiction of an author most widely known for the ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Water Dancer, Ta-Nehisi Coates (One World 978-0-399-59059-7, $28.00, 408pp, hc) September 2019.

I missed Ta-Nehisi Coates’s first novel The Water Dancer when it appeared last fall to generally glowing reviews, and it didn’t seem to garner much attention from fantasy readers in general, despite a key fantastic trope being central to its plot. Read­ing it now, after reviewing Rivers Solomon’s The Deep, it seems apparent that Coates’s ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer and Stray Bats by Margo Lanagan

Catfishing on CatNet, Naomi Kritzer (TorTeen 978-1-25016-508-4, $17.99, 304pp, hc) Novem­ber 2019.

Naomi Kritzer’s 2015 Hugo Award-winning story “Cat Pictures Please” may have been a bit thin on plot, but the appealing, ingenuous voice of its AI narrator left many readers hoping to hear more, while the very idea of a helpful, well-meaning AI (an idea which Kritzer credited to Bruce Sterling’s “Maneki Neko”) seemed like a welcome antidote ...Read More

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Ian Mond and Gary K. Wolfe Review Anyone by Charles Soule

Anyone, Charles Soule (Harper Perennial 978-0062890634, $21.99, 400pp, hc) December 2019.

I’ve been avidly reading Charle Soule’s work since I ended my decades-long comics book hiatus in 2011. I began with Soule’s run on DC’s Swamp Thing and then, when I migrated to Mar­vel comics, enjoyed his take on Thunderbolts, the Inhumans, and Daredevil. I was particularly fond of his creator-owned series, the wildly inventive and gonzo Letter 44 ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews All Worlds Are Real by Susan Palwick

All Worlds Are Real, Susan Palwick (Fairwood Press 978-1-933846-84-2, $17.99, 320pp, tp) November 2019.

In her introduction to All Worlds are Real, Jo Walton correctly notes that Susan Palwick is “definitely not as well known as a writer this good ought to be at this point in her career.” While one reason for this is that she’s not been especially prolific – four novels and one prior collection ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe and Ian Mond Review The Deep by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson & Jonathan Snipes

The Deep, Rivers Solomon, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson & Jonathan Snipes (Saga 978-1-534-43986-3, $19.99, 176pp) November 2019.

Rivers Solomon’s The Deep has a pretty colorful and convoluted history, but one that suggests how SF and Afrofuturist conceits are increasingly interacting with the broader culture. The idea of a utopian under­water society built by the water-breathing de­scendants of pregnant slaves thrown overboard from slave ships was first conceived by ...Read More

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Russell Letson and Gary K. Wolfe Review Agency by William Gibson

Agency, William Gibson (Berkley 978-1-101-98693-6, $28.99, 416pp, hc) January 2020.

In Agency, William Gibson has produced a sequel to The Peripheral – or as much of a sequel as can be expected of a story space built, not on one alternate history or timeline, but on branching sets of them. Of course, the “multiple alternate histories” enabling device has been around SF for decades, going back as far ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The House of Sundering Flames by Aliette de Bodard

The House of Sundering Flames, Aliette de Bodard (Gollancz 978-1-47322-340-0, £16.99, 560pp, tp) July 2019. (JABberwocky Literary Agency 978-1-625674-61-6, $16.00, 386pp, tp) September 2019.

I’m sure that someone, somewhere, has pointed out a possible relationship between fantasy trilo­gies and the structure of classical sonatas or symphonies, with the final movement recapitu­lating major themes while accelerating the pace and leading toward an aggressively dramatic climax, but Aliette de Bodard’s Dominion ...Read More

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Looking Backward, with Corrective Lenses by Gary K. Wolfe

I confess to once having been one of those annoying calendar geeks who would point out at parties that the new century actually began in 2001, not 2000, and that a year like 2010 or 2020 actually represents the end of the decade, not the beginning of a new one. It was about as useful, and about as welcome, as pointing out to someone turning 40 that it’s actually the ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews A Little Hatred by Joe Abercombie

A Little Hatred, Joe Abercombie (Orbit 978-0-316-18716-9, $27.00, 480pp, hc) September 2019.

Toward the end of Joe Abercombie’s A Little Hatred, the beginning of a new trilogy set in the world of his First Law novels and stories, one of the main characters, Rikke, comes across an imposing, temple-like building and asks “What is this?… A school for wizards?” The mage accompanying her explains, “Not quite…. It is ...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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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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