Ian Mond Reviews Famous Men Who Never Lived by K Chess

Famous Men Who Never Lived, K Chess (Tin House Books 978-1947793248, $24.95, 324pp, hc) March 2019.

Over the last couple of years, there’s been a wave of debut authors from outside the field putting a fresh twist on genre staples. In An Unkindness of Ghosts, Rivers Solomon explored slavery, race, and gender on a generation starship; Ling Ma’s Severance employed an apocalyptic killer-flu to critique and satirise late-stage ...Read More

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

The Rosewater Insurrection, Tade Thompson (Orbit 978-0-316-44908-3, $15.99, 378pp, tp) March 2019.

Tade Thompson’s wildly original first novel Rose­water, with its political savvy, its problematic main character, its inventive notion of alien contact, and its colorful setting of the improvised city of Rosewater – which grew up around an alien dome near Lagos, Nigeria – also seemed to challenge some readers with its shifting timelines and questions of ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Luna: Moon Rising by Ian McDonald

Luna: Moon Rising, Ian McDonald (Tor 978-0765391476, $29.99, 368pp, hc) March 2019.

I’ve long advocated to anyone who’ll listen (generally myself in the shower) that books in a trilogy or multi-volume series need to begin with a recap of the previous novel. The expectation that I’ll either remember the many plot threads and character arcs or reread the previous instalments is wishful thinking given my sketchy middle-aged memory and ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin

Mouthful of Birds, Samanta Schweblin (Riv­erhead 978-0399184628, $26.00, 240pp, hc) January 2019.

I distinctly remember reading Samanta Schweblin’s Fever Dream during my kid’s swimming lessons at the local public pool. I know, I know; I should have been applauding their achievements, but from the opening page, there’s an intensity to the prose that makes it impossible to look away. A woman lies dying in a hospital bed, a small ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews King of Joy by Richard Chiem

King of Joy, Richard Chiem (Soft Skull 978-1593763091, $15.95, 208pp, tp) March 2019.

I’m always on the lookout for authors who play on the fringes of the genre. When I saw the cover of Richard Chiem’s debut novel, King of Joy – the pixelated face of a woman, her face frozen in a dull sort of ecstasy – I thought I was onto something. The back cover copy excited ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Mars by Asja Bakic

Mars, Asja Bakic (The Feminist Press 978-1-936-93248-1, $16.95, 167pp, tp) March 2019.

I generally don’t draw up New Year’s resolu­tions (I know how lazy I am), but in 2019 I’m making a concerted effort to read and review more speculative fiction in translation. The first cab off the rank is Mars, a collection of stories by the Bosnian writer, poet, and translator Asja Bakic. Originally released by the ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Migration by Helen Marshall

The Migration, Helen Marshall (Random House Canada 978-0-735-27262-0, C$24.99, 304pp, tp) March 2019. (Titan 978-1789091342, £8.99, 288pp, tp) March 2019.

I became aware of Helen Marshall through her short fiction, particularly her stunning debut collection Hair Side, Flesh Side. The stories, laid out like the body of an angel (thanks to Kirstyn McDermott for pointing that out to me), pull off the difficult feat of com­bining the emotionally ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Infinite Detail by Tim Maughan

Infinite Detail, Tim Maughan (MCD x FSG Originals 978-0-374-17541-2, $16.00, 384pp, tp) March 2019.

Tim Maughan first came to my attention with his 2011 collection Paintwork. The slim book featured three stories involving bleeding-edge technologies like augmented real­ity told from an outsider’s perspective: a street artist in Bristol, gamers in Cuba, an out-of-work documentary film-maker. In 2016 Maughan wrote the short-film In the Robot Skies (directed by Liam ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

The Psychology of Time Travel, Kate Mascarenhas (Head of Zeus 978-1788540100, £14.99, 368pp, hc) August 2018. (Crooked Lane Books 978-1683319443, $26.99, 336pp, hc) February 2019.

I knew I was going to love Kate Mascarenhas’ debut novel, The Psychology of Time Travel, when, in the opening pages, a soon to be time-travelling bunny is given the name Patrick Troughton. The year is 1967 and four scientists, Barbara, Margaret, Grace, ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Friday Black, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (Mariner Books 978-1328911247, $14.99, 208pp, tp) October 2018.

In Lit Hub’s Ultimate Fall Books Preview, which aggregates recommendations made by “various online publications,” Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s debut collection, Friday Black, was listed alongside such heavyweights as Bar­bara Kingsolver’s Unsheltered, Kate Atkinson’s Transcription, and Michelle Obama’s Becoming as one of the season’s most anticipated books. The hype reminded me of another debut ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar

Unholy Land, Lavie Tidhar (Tachyon Publica­tions 978-1616963040, $15.95, 288pp, tp) October 2018.

In 1938 (or possibly 1939) there was a plan to settle European Jews facing rising anti-semitism in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. It never eventuated. More than a century prior, and a good 80 years before the establishment of modern-day Zionism, Mordechai Manuel Noah attempted to establish a Jewish State, called Ararat, in Grand Island NY. ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews I Am the River by T.E. Grau

I Am the River, T.E. Grau (Lethe Press 978-1590214459, $15.00, 220pp, tp) October 2018.

The decision of the Man Booker judges to award Anna Burns’s stream of conscious­ness novel Milkman with the top prize for 2018 triggered a fresh bout of navel-gazing amongst reviewers and critics about the accessibil­ity of literary fiction. In a fantastic, erudite article for The Guardian (“Pretentious, impenetrable, hard work… better? Why we need difficult ...Read More

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Competing Against Trump by Ian Mond

Nothing in 2018 can possibly compare to the breadth of imagination, range of tone, and unconventional spelling present in Donald Trump’s tweets. His early morning tantrums proved to be the most riveting, most extraordinary, most majestic fiction I read this year. It says something about authors around the world that when faced with Trump’s prodigious talent they never dropped their heads; they continued to write and publish the most astonishing ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Best of the Best Horror of the Year, Edited by Ellen Datlow

The Best of the Best Horror of the Year: 10 Years of Essential Short Horror Fiction, Ellen Datlow, ed. (Night Shade Books 978-1597809832, $17.99, 432pp, tp) October 2018.

When arguably the finest editor of horror fiction decides to do a ten-year retrospective of the genre you feel obligated as a critic to make pronounce­ments about the health of the field and how it’s changed (for the better or worse) ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Occupy Me by Tricia Sullivan

Occupy Me, Tricia Sullivan (Gollancz 978-1473212978, £8.99, 288pp, tp) November 2016. (Titan 978-1473212978, $13.99) September 2018.

I had planned to pick up Tricia Sullivan’s Oc­cupy Me two years back when it was first published in the UK. I never got around to it. When the novel was shortlisted for the 2017 Arthur C. Clarke award, I made serious plans to read it with the rest of the nominees. I ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Third Hotel by Laura van den Berg

The Third Hotel, Laura van den Berg (Farrar, Straus, Giroux 978-0374168353, $26.00, 212pp, hc) August 2018.

Laura van den Berg’s second novel, The Third Hotel, takes place in Havana, Cuba where Clare is attending the annual Festival of New Latin American Cinema. She’s there on behalf of her husband, Richard, who intended to be at the festival until he was unexpectedly killed in a hit and run incident. ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Severance by Ling Ma

Severance, Ling Ma (Farrar, Straus, Giroux 978-0374261597, $26.00, 304pp, hc) August 2018.

I’ve lost count of how many books I’ve read that involve the flu wiping out most of humanity. The granddaddy of these is undoubtedly Stephen King’s The Stand, but recently we’ve had nov­els from Emily Mandel (Station Eleven), Meg Elison (The Book of the Unnamed Midwife and its sequels), and Margaret Atwood (The ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews By the Pricking of Her Thumb by Adam Roberts

By the Pricking of Her Thumb, Adam Roberts (Gollancz 978-1473221499, £16.99, 400pp, hc) August 2018.

Like last year’s The Real-Town Murders, the sequel to Adam Robert’s near-future crime series, By the Pricking of Her Thumb, begins with an impossible murder. Where the previous novel featured a devilish and high-tech spin on the locked room mystery, this time the bewildering homicide involves a dead woman with a needle ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix

We Sold Our Souls, Grady Hendrix (Quirk Books 978-1683690122, $24.99, 336pp, hc) September 2018.

I first fell in love with Grady Hendrix’s critical work with his laugh-till-you-cry-recaps of each godawful episode of Under the Dome for Tor.com. Those summaries were the only reason I persevered with the show (and I still couldn’t make it to the bitter end). I was on-board for his ambitious Stephen King reread (also for ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Mosh­fegh

My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Ottessa Mosh­fegh (Penguin Press 978-0525522119, $26.00, 304pp, hc) July 2018.

I’m sure if it was feasible a number of us would jump at the idea of hibernating for an entire year. Anything to avoid the ongoing horror show currently masquerading as politics. It’s certainly the plan of the unnamed protagonist in Ottessa Moshfegh’s new novel My Year of Rest and Relaxation. Except ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Suspended in Dusk II, Edited by Simon Dewar

Suspended in Dusk II, Simon Dewar, ed. (Grey Matter Press 978-1940658971, $13.95, 257pp, tp) July 2018.

It’s shocking that I can’t remember the last time I read a horror anthology. Back in the day – in my late teens and early twenties – horror anthologies were my bread and butter. Whether it was Dark Forces, Prime Evil, Splat­terpunks: Extreme Horror (volume 1 and 2), Midnight Graffiti, ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Chercher La Femme by L. Timmel Duchamp

Chercher La Femme, L. Timmel Duchamp (Aq­ueduct Press 978-1619761476, $19.00, 320pp, tp) August 2018.

L. Timmel Duchamp’s eighth novel, Cher­cher La Femme, might have been more than 20 years in the making, involving numerous re-writes and multiple critiques, but I can report that the final product justifies the effort.

The book’s premise is simple enough. A rescue mission is sent from Earth to the far-off world of La ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Emissary by Yoko Tawada

The Emissary, Yoko Tawada (New Directions 978-0811227629, $14.95, 138pp, tp) April 2018. As The Last Children of Tokyo, Yoko Tawada (Portobello Books 978-1846276705, £9.99 144pp, tp) June 2018.

The unsettling premise of Yoko Tawada’s short novel The Last Children of Tokyo (published as The Em­issary in the US), translated by Margaret Mitsutani, is that the adults of Japan are living longer while the children are dying before they ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

Freshwater, Akwaeke Emezi (Grove Press 978-0802127358, $24.00, 229pp, hc) February 2018.

Akwaeke Emezi’s debut novel Freshwater is a book that refuses to be pigeon-holed into a literary or genre category. The back-cover copy, with its talk of alternate selves and splintered personalities, suggests the story of a young woman struggling with a dissociative identity disorder. However, the opening chapter’s account of spirits possessing the body of an infant bears ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Condomnauts by Yoss

Condomnauts, Yoss; translated by David Frye (Restless Books 978-1632061867, $16.99, 208pp, tp) July 2018.

The instant I saw the cover of Yoss’s Condom­nauts on Twitter I knew I was going to read it. Cherry red lips caught in a moment of ecstasy; the teeth and tongue replaced by a starfield. It’s a cover, matched with a lurid title, that promises alien sex, not a subgenre I generally gravitate toward ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Dragon’s Child by Janeen Webb

The Dragon’s Child, Janeen Webb (PS Pub­lishing 978-1-786363-19-0, £15.00, 208pp, hc) May 2018.

Janeen Webb’s novella The Dragon’s Child opens with Lady Feng, a wealthy Hong Kong businesswoman, deciding to “stretch her claws” on the first day of Chinese New Year (The Year of the Dragon). Assuming her true dragon form, Lady Feng circles a remote village where she spies a tasty morsel of meat. It’s only after she ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Buried Ark by James Bradley

The Buried Ark, James Bradley (Pan Macmil­lan Australia 9781743549902, A$14.99, 272pp, tp) May 2018.

James Bradley’s The Buried Ark begins where the first book of The Change, The Silent Invasion, ends: Callie is lost in the Zone, confused and frightened until she hears the impossible voice of her father say her name. For those of you who haven’t read The Silent Invasion (you really should because it’s terrific), ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Theory of Bastards by Audrey Schulman

Theory of Bastards, Audrey Schulman (Europa Editions 978-1609454371, $18.00, 416pp, tp) April 2018.

There’s quite a bit to chew on in Audrey Schul­man’s magnificently titled Theory of Bastards. It’s a novel that tackles chronic pain, our reliance on technology, climate change, and the mating rituals of humans and bonobos. The thread that ties these issues together is the field of Evolution­ary Psychology, the attempt to understand human nature ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Outsider by Stephen King

The Outsider, Stephen King (Scribner 978-1501180989 $30.00, 576pp, hc) May 2018.

According to Grady Hendrix, who spent a couple of years re-reading Stephen King’s published work for Tor.com (it’s a magnificent undertaking, and you should absolutely check it out) King has written 10 novels where the death of a child is central to the plot. With the release of The Out­sider, that number can be increased by one. ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Gone Away Place by Christopher Barzak

The Gone Away Place, Christopher Bar­zak (Knopf Books for Young Readers 978-0399556098, $17.99, 304pp, hc) May 2018.

On May 31, 1985, a series of devastat­ing tornadoes swept through Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Ontario, Canada. To this day it is the largest outbreak to hit the region, leaving 90 people dead, thousands injured, and amassing up to a billion dollars’ worth of damage. Christopher Barzak was ten years old ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews I Still Dream by James Smythe

I Still Dream, James Smythe (The Borough Press 978-0007541942, £12.99, 400pp, hc) April 2018.

James Smythe’s gripping, decades-spanning new novel I Still Dream begins with 17-year-old Laura Bow hiding a recent phone bill from her parents. She knows it’s a delaying tactic: her stepfather will eventually discover the charges she’s racked up, but access to the phone is a must-have. The year is 1997, the Internet has entered the ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Trem­blay

The Cabin at the End of the World, Paul Trem­blay (William Morrow, 978-0062679109, $26.99, 288pp, hc) June 2018.

I’m not a fan of secluded countryside chalets where the 4G is patchy, there’s no wifi, and the closest neighbor is 20 minutes away. These places fill me with existential dread; every creak and whisper a possible axe-murderer out for an easy kill. Paul Tremblay’s The Cabin at the End of ...Read More

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