Ian Mond Reviews The Ghost Variations: One Hundred Stories by Kevin Brockmeier

The Ghost Variations: One Hundred Stories, Kevin Brockmeier (Pantheon Books 978-1-524-74883-8, $27.00, 288pp) March 2021.

I became aware of Kevin Brockmeier’s work back in 2008 when Robert Shearman, in an in­terview with Eric Forbes, included Brockmeier in a list of writers “who play with the short story, squeeze as much out of it as they can.” Sadly, I’ve only now gotten around to reading Brock­meier’s short fiction, picking up ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Relics, Wrecks, & Ruins, Edited by Aiki Flinthart

Relics, Wrecks, & Ruins, Aiki Flinthart, ed. (Cat Press 978-0-648-99173-1, $29.99, 460pp) January 2021.

On her website, novelist and editor Aiki Flinthart tells us that “after being diag­nosed with terminal cancer in late 2019, [she] reached out to as many of the best sci-fi/fantasy/horror authors as would answer.” The end product of this clarion call is Relics, Wrecks, & Ruins, an anthology that, despite the tragic circumstances surrounding ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Weak Spot by Lucie Elven

The Weak Spot, Lucie Elven (Soft Skull 978-1-593-76630-6, $15.95, 176pp, tp) February 2021.

Lucie Elven’s novella, The Weak Spot, is set in a village somewhere in Europe; “an unrushed place” situated at the top of a mountain, which can only be reached by a funicular. Into this secluded environment comes our unnamed narrator, a young pharmacist who scores a gig at the local chemist, under the tutelage of ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Live; live; live by Jonathan Buckley

Live; live; live, Jonathan Buckley (Sort of Books 978-1-908-74587-3, £11.99, 288pp, tp) July 2020. (New York Review Books 978-1-681-37547-2, $16.95, 272pp, tp) February 2021.

I first heard Jonathan Buckley’s name mentioned on the Locklisted podcast (a Patreon-only spin-off of Backlisted, the best literary podcast on the planet) where the co-host John Mitchinson spoke glowingly of Buckley’s 11th and latest novel, Live; live; live. What caught my ear was ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Of One Blood: Or, the Hidden Self by Pauline Hopkins

Of One Blood: Or, the Hidden Self, Pauline Hopkins (Poisoned Pen Press 978-1-464-21506-3, £11.05, 208pp, tp) February 2021.

Recently I asked my friends list on Face­book (many of them genre fans) if they recognised the name Pauline Hopkins. The vast majority said no. To be fair, I had no idea who she was either. If not for Poisoned Press and the Horror Writers Association reprinting Hopkins’s Of One Blood, ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Analog/Virtual: And Other Simulations of Your Future by Lavanya Lakshminarayan

Analog/Virtual: And Other Simulations of Your Future, Lavanya Lakshminarayan (Ha­chette India 978-9-389-25308-5, Rs399, 310pp, tp) February 2020.

Having thoroughly enjoyed Lavanya Lakshminarayan’s Analog/Virtual: And Other Simula­tions of Your Future, I’ve decided that all far-future dystopias should be structured as a series of linked short stories. That’s not to say George Orwell missed a trick by neglecting the perspec­tives of Julia, Mr. Charrington, or O’Brien; 1984 famously generates its ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Only Living Girl on Earth by Charles Yu

The Only Living Girl on Earth, Charles Yu (Scribd Originals, subscription required, 43pp) January 2021.

Last year Charles Yu wrote one of my favourite novels of 2020, Interior Chinatown, the de­served winner of the National Book Award. It’s a comic, surreal and emotional story about the struggles of being an immigrant, and the child of immigrants, in America. Yu is not so prolific as to have written another ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reveiws Dissipatio H.G.: The Vanishing by Guido Mor­selli

Dissipatio H.G.: The Vanishing, Guido Mor­selli (New York Review Books 978-1681374765, $15.95, 120pp, tp) December 2020.

On the eve of his 40th birthday, a man decides to end his life. He tells us that 40 is “a point of passage… when maturity begins to decline toward old age. I wanted to be off while I was still thirty-nine, if only technically.” He chooses to drown himself up in the ...Read More

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The Year in Review 2020 by Ian Mond

Several things kept me sane over the last 12 months. My family, the privilege of having a job while in lockdown, the Backlisted and Coode Street podcasts (particularly Coode Street‘s “10 minutes with” series), and the books I read. Yes, there were times in 2020 where I struggled to read more than a handful of pages, but the novels, novel­las, and collections I did complete (47 of which I ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Crosshairs by Catherine Hernandez

Crosshairs, Catherine Hernandez (Atria 978-1-982-14602-3, $27.00, 272pp, hc) December 2020.

Catherine Hernandez’s vivid, angry, outspoken dystopian novel, Crosshairs, begins in a base­ment somewhere in Toronto. There we meet Kay, a self-identified “Queer Femme Jamaican Filipino man” hiding behind a furnace, sleeping on a bed made from cardboard, and spending his days narrating a “Whisper Letter” to his “beauti­ful Evan.” He recounts the sheer joy of dancing to Liberace’s ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Last Good Man by Thomas McMullan

The Last Good Man, Thomas McMullan (Bloomsbury 978-1-526-60924-3, £12.99, 313pp, hc) November 2020.

Did you know there’s a Wikipedia entry on On­line Shaming with more than 140 references and what feels like an endless (though I’m sure not complete) list of examples? I didn’t; though, given the way Twitter and social media more broadly have made the act of “dog-piling” so much easier, it doesn’t come as much of ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick by David Wong

Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick, David Wong (St. Martin’s 978-1-250-19579-1, $27.99, 368pp, hc) October 2020.

David Wong enjoys an eye-catching title. His 2007 debut went with the striking John Dies at the End, followed by the equally intriguing and impressive This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It (2012) and What the Hell Did I Just Read (2017). The title to Wong’s latest ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Eartheater by Dolores Reyes

Eartheater, Dolores Reyes (HarperVia 978-0062987730, $24.99, 224pp, hc) November 2020.

Eartheater (translated by Julia Sanches) is a strong debut from Dolores Reyes, the second Argentine author I’m reviewing this month. The novel is set in an impoverished barrio in present-day Argentina, told from the perspective of a young woman (she’s never named) burdened with visions of the lost and murdered. On the day her mother is laid to rest, ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Clerk by Guillermo Saccomanno

The Clerk, Guillermo Saccomanno (Open Letter 978-1-948-83025-6, $15.95, 138pp, tp) September 2020.

Going back to the country’s independence in 1816, Argentina has been a rich source of genre and genre-adjacent fic­tion. Most will be aware of Jorge Luis Borges – the father of magical realism – but there’s also Silvina Ocampo, Carlos Gardini, and An­gélica Gorodischer, whose 1979 mosaic novel Trafalgar was finally translated into English in 2013 thanks ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Rest and Be Thankful by Emma Glass

Rest and Be Thankful, Emma Glass (Blooms­bury 978-1-526-60107-0, £12.99, 144pp, hc) March 2020.

While I know it’s odd to say anything remotely positive about 2020, I found this to be an incredible year for fiction and especially sophomore novels from some of the UK’s brightest authors, including Daisy Johnson, Sophie Mackintosh, Megan Hunter, and now Emma Glass. Peach, Glass’s debut novel published in 2018, was an ambitious, if ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Road to Woop Woop and Other Stories by Eugen Bacon

The Road to Woop Woop and Other Stories, Eugen Bacon (Meerkat Press 978-1-94615-431-6, $16.95, 192 pages) December 2020.

The 24 stories that make up Eugen Bacon’s new collection The Road to Woop Woop and Other Stories run the gamut in terms of tone, genre, and structure. There are experimental, modern­ist pieces reminiscent of the New Wave, namely “A Good Ball”, “The Enduring”, or “A Man Full of Shadows”; playful, ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe and Ian Mond Review The Arrest by Jonathan Lethem

The Arrest, Jonathan Lethem (Ecco 978-0-06-293878-7, $27.99, 320pp, hc) November 2020.

A little more than halfway into Jonathan Lethem’s The Arrest comes a chapter titled “Postapocalyptic and Dystopian Stories”, in which the screenwriter protagonist and his movie-producer friend debate the appeal of such tales while name-checking a panoply of authors and titles – Vonnegut, King, Atwood, Walter Tevis, Philip K. Dick, George R. Stewart, Walter M. Miller, Emily St. ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Hole by Hiroko Oyamada

The Hole, Hiroko Oyamada (New Directions 978-0811228879, $12.95, 112pp, tp) October 2020.

I reviewed Japanese author Hiroko Oyamada’s English language debut, The Factory, back in December 2019. That novel, set in the almost infinite environs of the eponymous Factory, marked Oyamada out as a writer with an eye for political satire and a taste for the absurd. Unlike its predecessor, which immediately drops the reader into its Kafka-esque ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews I Hold a Wolf by the Ears by Laura van den Berg

I Hold a Wolf by the Ears, Laura van den Berg (Farrar, Straus, Giroux 978-0374102098, $26.00, 224pp, hc) July 2020.

The 11 stories that make up Laura van den Berg’s new collection, I Hold a Wolf by the Ears, may have been written over the last sev­eral years, but they feel very much of the now. Just as the rude shock that is 2020 has forced many of ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Earthlings by Sayaka Murata

Earthlings, Sayaka Murata (Grove Press 978-0-8021-5700-3, $26.00, 256pp, hc) October 2020.

Earthlings, Sayaka Murata’s second novel to be skillfully translated into English by Ginny Tapley Takemori, is the evil twin to her much loved and critically acclaimed first book, Convenience Store Woman. That novel was a beautiful, poignant story about a woman in her mid-30s, Keiko, who has never fit in but who finds comfort in the ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Fauna by Christiane Vadnais

Fauna, Christiane Vadnais (Coach House Books 978-1-55245-416-9, $15.99, 144 pages) September 2020.

Originally published in French back in 2018, the award-winning Fauna by Quebec author Christiane Vadnais imagines an Earth radically transformed by climate change. The short novel comprises ten linked stories set mostly around Shivering Heights where “life is an enigma of water and sky” and where some days the rain “falls in perfectly formed pearls… [and] on ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Afterland by Lauren Beukes

Afterland, Lauren Beukes (Mulholland Books 978-0-31626-783-0, $28.00, 411pp, hc) July 2020.

Released in April, the popularity of Law­rence Wright’s plague novel, The End of October, may have persuaded some to believe there was still an appetite for fictional pandemics. Six months later, and with a second wave of COVID-19 erupting across the globe (as I write this my hometown, Melbourne, is in the fifth week of Lockdown 2.0) ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews A Sinister Quartet by Mike Allen, C.S.E. Cooney, Amanda J. McGee & Jessica P. Wick

A Sinister Quartet, Mike Allen, C.S.E. Cooney, Amanda J. McGee & Jessica P. Wick (Mythic Delirium Books 978-1732644038, $19.99, 380pp, tp) June 2020.

With fiction from C.S.E Cooney, Jessica P. Wick, Amanda J. McGee, and Mike Allen, Mythic Delirium’s excellent new anthology, A Sinister Quartet (edited by Mike Allen), provides fur­ther evidence that long-form genre fiction is not just alive and well but thriving. The book opens with Cooney’s ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Invention of Sound by Chuck Palahniuk

The Invention of Sound, Chuck Palahniuk (Grand Central Publishing 978-1-538-71800-1, $27.00, 240pp, hc) September 2020.

Chuck Palahniuk’s outlandish new novel, The Invention of Sound, toggles between two very different individuals. Mitzi Ives is a foley artist who, following in her father’s footsteps, special­ises in screams so devastating and true-to-life they almost sound real. Gates Foster is an investigator who spends his days hunting through child-pornography sites for a ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Red Pill by Hari Kunzru

Red Pill, Hari Kunzru (Knopf 978-0-451-49371-2, $27.95, 304pp, hc) September 2020.

The narrator of Hari Kunzru’s provocatively titled new novel, Red Pill, is an unnamed academic and freelance writer suffering from a mid-career crisis. When the prestigious Deuter Centre selects him for a three-month residency at their villa in Berlin, he accepts the invitation. It’s not only an opportunity for him to work on his latest project (“I ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Tender Is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica

Tender Is the Flesh, Agustina Bazterrica (Scribner 978-1-982-15092-1, $16.00, 224pp, tp) August 2020.

Tender Is the Flesh, by Argentinian author Agustina Bazterrica (and wonderfully translated from the Spanish by Sarah Moses), is not for the faint of heart. The novel is set sometime in the future, when animals across the world have been infected by a virus that’s made them poisonous to eat. In response, governments cull their ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare

Clown in a Cornfield, Adam Cesare (HarperTeen 978-0062854599, $17.99, 352pp, hc) August 2020.

I’ve not previously read the work of Adam Cesare, but I was drawn to his new teen horror novel, Clown in a Cornfield, because of its strik­ing red and black cover, of a cornfield fashioned in the image (you guessed it) of a grinning clown. It’s a cover that gave me pleasing flashbacks to the ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Red Dust by Yoss

Red Dust, Yoss (Restless Books 978-1632062468, $16.99, 208pp, tp) July 2020.

Red Dust, Yoss’s latest novel to be translated into English, is an entertaining yarn narrated by a positronic robot (or “pozzie”) named Ray­mond in honour of its favourite author. Alongside its fellow automatons, Raymond guards the corridors and docking bays of space-station, the William S. Burroughs, under the eagle-eye of the Galactic Trade Confederation, and its mem­ber ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell

Utopia Avenue, David Mitchell (Random House 978-0812997439, $30.00, 592pp, hc) July 2020.

Five years in the writing, David Mitchell’s Utopia Avenue is set during the height of the British Invasion, which famously began when the Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. This opened the door to acts like the Dave Clark Five, the Animals, the Kinks, and the Rolling Stones, who became household names in America. ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Chosen Spirits by Samit Basu

Chosen Spirits, Samit Basu (Simon & Schuster India 978-9386797810, ₹499.00, 243pp, hc) April 2020. (Self-published, $3.99, eb) April 2020.

Samit Basu’s Chosen Spirits presents us with a near-future India where drones saturate the sky, where every room has a listening device, and where those who speak out tend to disappear. It wasn’t meant to be like this. When she was young, our protagonist Bijoyini “Joey” Roy, re­calls attending demonstrations ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Sisters by Daisy Johnson

Sisters, Daisy Johnson (Riverhead Books 978-0-593-18895-8, $26.00, 224pp, hc) August 2020.

In my review of Sophie Mackintosh’s second novel Blue Ticket, I noted that her first book, The Water Cure, was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2018. The other debut novelist who snagged a Booker nomination that year, getting as far as the shortlist, was Daisy Johnson with Everything Under, a gender-fluid retelling of ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Mordew by Alex Pheby

Mordew, Alex Pheby (Galley Beggar Press 978-1-913-11102-1, £14.99, 604pp, tp) August 2020.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting Alex Pheby’s Mordew – the first volume in a new epic fantasy trilogy – since publisher Galley Beggar Press announced it more than a year ago. (If you have the spare cash, I highly recommend subscribing to Galley Beggar Press, one of the best small press publishers who produce gorgeous, award-winning books.) I ...Read More

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