Ian Mond Reviews The Harpy by Megan Hunter

The Harpy, Megan Hunter (Picador 978-1- 52901-021-3, £14.99, 256pp, hc) September 2020. (Grove 978-0-80214-816-2, $26.00, 256pp, hc) November 2020.

If you’re not familiar with Megan Hunter, you should be. Her 2017 debut, The End We Start From, is a fragmented story about a mother and her newborn child struggling to survive during a climate apocalypse. With prose that’s sparse but beautiful, and drawing on fables and myths, Hunter ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh

Blue Ticket, Sophie Mackintosh (Doubleday 978-0-38554-563-1, $26.95, 304pp, hc) June 2020.

Sophie Mackintosh’s much anticipated second novel, Blue Ticket, shares several qualities with her critically acclaimed and Man Booker longlisted debut The Water Cure. Both books feature dystopian settings. Both books are deeply concerned with a new wave of reactionary politics – fuelled by right-wing populists and conservative legislative bodies – that look to undermine women’s rights. ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews A Peculiar Peril by Jeff VanderMeer

A Peculiar Peril, Jeff VanderMeer (Macmillan/ Farrar, Straus, Giroux 978-0-374-30886-5, $19.99, 656pp, hc) July 2020.

Jeff VanderMeer’s relationship with the Lambhead family goes back to 2003 when he and Mark Roberts co-edited The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases, a compendium of weird and wonderful ailments, featuring well over 30 entries (and illustrations) from authors as diverse as Neil Gaiman, Jeffrey Ford, L. ...Read More

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Ian Mond and Paula Guran Review Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey 978-0-5256-207-85, $27.00, 320pp, hc) July 2020.

Noemí Taboada is a flighty but intelligent young socialite in 1950 Mexico City. Perhaps she’s growing out of her capriciousness, though. She seems focused on a career in anthropology and is determined to live up to family duty and her father’s trust. Her recently married cousin Catalina has written Noemí’s father a distressing letter stating her husband ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Pew by Catherine Lacey

Pew, Catherine Lacey (Farrah, Straus, Giroux 978-0374230920, $26.00, 224pp, hc) May 2020.

Catherine Lacey first came to my attention with her 2017 novel The Answers, a quirky thought experiment about pain management, the biology of love, and a bizarre project into human relationships funded by an eccentric movie star. Her latest book, Pew, is about a stranger, with no name, no memory, and no identity, who drops ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, Grady Hendrix (Quirk Books 978-1683691433, $22.99, 408pp, hc) April 2020.

The year is 1993, and Patricia Campbell, along with her career-driven husband Carter and their two malcontent teenagers Korey and Blue, live in the Old Village, the wealthy section of Mt. Pleasant SC and the backdrop to Grady Hendrix’s latest novel The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. Once ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews We All Hear Stories in the Dark by Robert Shearman

We All Hear Stories in the Dark, Robert Shearman (PS Publishing 978-1-786364-46-2, $£90.00, 1,759pp, three volumes, hc) April 2020.

Robert Shearman’s new collection, We All Hear Stories in the Dark, is a remarkable feat of storytelling. Nine years in the making, it comprises over 100 pieces of fiction, spans three volumes (with introductions from Angela Slatter, Michael Marshall Smith, and Lisa Tuttle, and a “peculiar” middleword by Steven ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Temporary by Hilary Leichter

Temporary, Hilary Leichter (Coffee House Press 978-1566895668, $16.95, 208pp, tp) March 2020.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve reviewed several novels that borrow from the genre toolkit to critique modern-day capitalism. Ling Ma’s 2018 novel Severance (a book that has seen a massive upsurge in popularity for reasons that will soon become obvious) uses an apocalyptic pandemic, born in the sweatshops of China, to echo Marx’s view that ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews By Force Alone by Lavie Tidhar

By Force Alone, Lavie Tidhar (Head of Zeus 978-1-838-93127-8, £18.99, 512pp, hc) March 2020. (Tor 978-1250753458, $27.99, 416pp, hc) June 2020.

Lavie Tidhar has built a career out of not playing it safe. Over the last decade he has written bold, pro­vocative novels that, with a flair for metafiction and inspired by the pulps (both hard-boiled and genre), reimagine Osama bin Laden as a pulp-fiction hero (Osama), ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh

Death in Her Hands, Ottessa Moshfegh (Penguin Press 978-1-984-87935-6, $18.99, 272pp, hc) April 2019.

Vesta Gul (pronounced “like the ocean bird”) is walking her dog, Charlie, through the woods when she finds a note on the ground. The note reads:

Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her dead body.

Except there is no body, “no bloodstain. No tangle of ...Read More

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Ian Mond & Gary K. Wolfe Review Ghost Species by James Bradley

Ghost Species, James Bradley (Hamish Hamilton 978-1-926-42866-6, AU$29.99, 320pp, tp), April 2020.

REVIEW BY IAN MOND

Back in February, Jeff Bezos earmarked ten bil­lion dollars for the establishment of the “Earth Fund.” He joins fellow billionaire philanthropists Michael Bloomberg and Bill and Melinda Gates in throwing large sums of money at the climate crisis. While it’s questionable whether these acts of rich-people tokenism will play any role in sav­ing ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Bubblegum by Adam Levin

Bubblegum, Adam Levin (Doubleday Books 978-0-385-54496-2, $29.95, 784pp, hc) April 2020.

Back in 2010, as part of McSweeney’s now lapsed “Book Release Club,” I was sent a copy of The Instructions by debut au­thor Adam Levin. Like everything published by McSweeney’s, the novel was a beautiful artefact, a bright red cover depicting multiple versions of a hooded boy reaching for a girl. It was also over 1,000 pages long, ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Providence by Max Barry and Hearts of Oak by Eddie Robson

Providence, Max Barry (Putnam 978-0593085172, $27.00, 320pp, hc) March 2020.

Max Barry and me, we go way back. The year was 1999, and I was undertaking a Graduate Diploma in Publishing and Editing at RMIT (because apparently a Master’s degree in Phi­losophy wasn’t attractive to prospective em­ployees). It’s there that I first met Max, though not in person. Instead, the class was given the task of editing the first ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews 88 Names by Matt Ruff

88 Names, Matt Ruff (Harper 978-0062854674, $27.99, 320pp, hc) March 2020.

The inspiration for Matt Ruff’s new novel, 88 Names, harks back more than 40 years to the day he was first introduced to a “newfangled ‘role-playing game’ called Dungeons & Dragons.” Ruff describes that moment as a life-changing event – “nothing has ever been the same since!” – implying that his successful career as a novelist, which ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews McSweeney’s 58: 2040 A.D., Edited by Claire Boyle

McSweeney’s 58: 2040 A.D., Claire Boyle, ed. (McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern 978- 1944211707, $26.00, 184p, hc) December 2019. Cover by Wesley Allsbrook.

When I received my subscriber copy of McSweeney’s 58: 2040 A.D., with its eye-catching cover (and interior illustrations) from Wesley Allsbrook, bushfires were raging up and down the Queensland and New South Wales coast. As I read the issue, featuring ten stories that imagine what a climate-affected ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Resisters by Gish Jen

The Resisters, Gish Jen (Knopf 978-0525657217, $26.95, 320pp, hc) February 2020.

As an Aussie, I do love my cricket, but I’m the first to admit that some of the most memorable fic­tion and non-fiction I’ve read features America’s favourite summer-sport, baseball. This includes Thomas Dyja’s stunning civil war novel Play for a Kingdom, where Union and Confederate com­panies play a series of baseball games between each battle; Stephen ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Bridge 108 by Anne Charnock

Bridge 108, Anne Charnock (47North 978-1542006071, $24.95, 204pp, hc) February 2020.

Anne Charnock’s Bridge 108 is set in the same universe as her terrific 2013 debut A Calculated Life (a deserved finalist for both the Philip K. Dick and Kitschies Golden Tentacle Award). When Charnock wrote A Calculated Life six years ago, Brexit, or more accurately the pos­sibility of a referendum to leave the EU, was the wishful thinking ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Freedom Artist by Ben Okri

The Freedom Artist, Ben Okri (Head of Zeus 978-1788549592, 14.99, 368pp, hc) February 2019. (Akashic Books 978-1617757914, $30.95, 336pp, hc) February 2020.

Sometimes it feels like all anyone is pub­lishing these days is dystopian fiction. I get why. As I write, Boris Johnson has just won a landslide election victory in the United Kingdom assuring a hard-Brexit and further cuts to the country’s social welfare system; in Austra­lia, the ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews …And Other Disasters by Malka Older

…And Other Disasters, Malka Older (Mason Jar Press 978-0996103787, $17.95, 201pp, tp) November 2019.

Although it’s a slim book, the nine stories and three poems that feature in Malka Older’s debut collection …And Other Disasters showcase an eclectic and vivid imagination. This includes a future history detailing the break-up of the United States of America (cleverly split into seven indi­vidual sections across the collection to mimic the dissolution of ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Heap by Sean Adams

The Heap, Sean Adams (Morrow 978-0-062-95773-3, $26.99, 320pp, hc) January 2020.

Sean Adams’s debut, The Heap, tells the story of the literal rise and fall of Los Verticalés (“the Vert”), an architecturally unsound high-rise, near­ly five hundred storeys tall, that “grew up rather than out… bustling with life and excitement,” until one day it came crashing down, covering the desert with acres and acres of “mountainous remains.” While ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Qualityland by Marc-Uwe Kling

Qualityland, Marc-Uwe Kling (Grand Central Publishing 978-1-538-73296-0, $27.00, 352pp, hc) January 2020.

Like Joanna Kavenna’s Zed, Marc-Uwe Kling’s Qualityland (translated by Jamie Searle Ro­manelli) portrays a society, decades from now, totally in thrall to the predictive power of algo­rithms. The world of Qualityland, though, is not one that’s immediately recognisable. Aside from a handful of references to “Zuckerberg Park” and “Michael Bay Boulevard,” the titular setting and ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Zed by Joanna Kavenna

Zed, Joanna Kavenna (Faber & Faber 978-0-571-24515-4, £16.99, 400pp, hc) July 2019. (Doubleday 978-0-385-54547-1, $27.95, 352pp, hc) January 2020.

Outside of climate change and Donald Trump starting World War III (and, if we survive that, World War IV), algorithms pose the greatest existential threat to humanity. Tim Maughan astutely illustrates this in his bril­liant debut, Infinite Detail, which depicts a near-future Manhattan where surveillance, driven by predictive algorithms, ...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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Year in Review 2019 by Ian Mond

This was my first full year reviewing books for Locus. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, even the yawning, anxiety-inducing depth of the white screen as I des­perately cobbled together something coherent to say about the books I was discussing. On that note (not the yawning depth of the white screen, but the books), I’ve read some terrific genre fiction this year. As has been the case for a decade ...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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Ian Mond Reviews Jakarta by Rodrigo Márquez Tizano

Jakarta, Rodrigo Márquez Tizano (Coffee House Press 978-1566895637, $16.95, 160pp, tp) No­vember 2019.

The fact that Rodrigo Márquez Tizano’s debut, Jakarta, (originally published in 2016 and trans­lated by the always brilliant Thomas Bunstead) does not take place in Indonesia is one of the least puzzling aspects of this hallucinogenic novel. The setting is the city of Atlantika, a crumbling dys­topia, struggling to recover from the Z-Bug, the latest ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Factory by Hiroko Oyamada

The Factory, Hiroko Oyamada (New Directions 978-0811228855, $13.95, 116pp, tp) October 2019.

The Factory is Hiroko Oyamada’s fiction debut both in English, where it’s been translated by David Boyd, and in Japanese, where it was origi­nally published in 2013. The short novel (really a novella) follows three people recently employed at an industrial factory located somewhere in Japan. Yoshiko Ushiyama, who works in Print Services, where she spends her ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Sabbath by Nick Mamatas

Sabbath, Nick Mamatas (Tor 978-1250170118, $27.99, 304pp, hc) November 2019.

Sabbath is a book I would generally avoid. One: it’s an adaptation, a literary sub-genre I under­stand is very popular (see all the books based on console games) but which I find to be surplus to requirement given the thousands of original works I’ve yet to read. Two: the source material, Matthew Tomao & Josh Medor’s Sabbath: All Your ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer

Dead Astronauts, Jeff VanderMeer (MCD 978-0374-27680-5, $27.00, 352pp, hc) December 2019.

Whatever success the British and Ameri­can New Wave had in broadening our definition of science fiction and fantasy, the Modernist techniques the movement embodied never caught on. There are strong, market-driven reasons why this is the case, why, if you want to a read a genre novel that deliberately eschews a linear, conventional structure you need to look ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Pursuit of William Abbey by Claire North

The Pursuit of William Abbey, Claire North (Orbit 978-0316316842, $16.99, 464pp, tp) No­vember 2019.

The Pursuit of William Abbey is Claire North’s sixth novel in six years, a period during which she also published three no­vellas (The Gamehouse trilogy). It’s a remarkable feat when you consider that (a) these are stand-alone books in an age of multi-volume series and (b) they’ve consistently received critical praise and won awards, including ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Odsburg by Matt Tompkins

Odsburg, Matt Tompkins (Ooligan 978-1947845084, $16.00, 202pp, tp) October 2019.

I hadn’t intended to review Odsburg by Matt Tompkins. The book I had lined up was False Bingo, a new short-story collection by Jac Jemc (who wrote a terrific haunted house novel, The Grip of It, back in 2014). Unfortunately, while False Bingo is an excellent book, it has zero genre content and therefore is not really ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Homesick: Stories by Nino Cipri

Homesick: Stories, Nino Cipri (Dzanc 978-1945814952, $16.95, 216pp, tp) October 2019.

Nino Cipri’s debut collection, Homesick, is a selection of nine stories (of the more than 20 they have written) that appeared in a variety of venues including Nightmare, Liminal Magazine, Crossed Genres, and Tor.com. It also happens to be one of the best collections I’ve read this year, up there with outstanding books like Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s Someone ...Read More

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