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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Ian Mond Reviews Salt Slow by Julia Armfield

Salt Slow, Julia Armfield (Picador 978-1529012569, £12.99, 208pp, hc) May 2019. (Flatiron 978-1250224774, $24.99, 208pp, hc) October 2019.

As chaotic as things are at the moment, the last couple of years have been an excellent time for the publication of debut collections, written by women, that explore feminist and intersectional issues through a speculative lens. This includes (and these are just the ones I’ve read, so it’s nowhere near ...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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Ian Mond Reviews Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson

Frankissstein: A Love Story, Jeanette Winterson (Jonathan Cape 978-1787331402, £16.99, 352pp, hc) May 2019. (Grove Press 978-0-8021-2-9499, $27.00, 352pp, hc) October 2019.

We’re all familiar with the story. In 1816, on a miserable summer’s day in Lake Geneva, Lord Byron challenges Doctor John Polidori, Percy Shelley, and Percy’s soon to be wife Mary Godwin, to invent their own tales of the supernatural. This, the most famous rainy-day activity in ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Masterworks and Other Stories by Simon Jacobs

Masterworks and Other Stories, Simon Jacobs (Instar Books 978-1682199053, $20.00, 208pp, hc) August 2019.

Until recently, Simon Jacobs has enjoyed the coveted honour of being on the list of authors whose books I own but whom I’ve never read. I purchased his first novel, Palaces, more than a year ago because it looked right up my alley and, since then, it’s been collecting virtual dust on my Kindle ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

The Memory Police, Yoko Ogawa (Pantheon 978-1-101-87060-0, $25.95, 288pp, hc) August 2019.

The Memory Police is, by my count, the fifth book by Yoko Ogawa to be translated into English (all by Stephen Snyder). These include The Div­ing Pool: Three Novellas, which was shortlisted for a Shirley Jackson Award back in 2008. While it’s only a small slice of a career that spans three decades and the publication ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-Goff

Last Ones Left Alive, Sarah Davis-Goff (Tinder Press 978-1-472-25520-4, £12.99, 288pp, hc) March 2019. (Flatiron Books 978-1-250-23522-0, $26.99, 288pp, hc) August 2019.

If you were to ask me what was the one horror trope I found tiresome and repetitive, where a millennia-long moratorium on any future work wouldn’t go astray, it would be the zombie apoca­lypse. As far as I’m concerned what needed to be said about zombies was ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Old Lie by Claire G. Coleman

The Old Lie, Claire G. Coleman (Hachette Australia 978-0-733-64084-1, A$32.99, 368pp, tp) August 2019.

You’d be forgiven for initially mistak­ing the setting of Claire G. Coleman’s sophomore novel, The Old Lie, as the battlefields of the First World War. The opening chapter begins with a stanza from “Dulce Et Decorum Est” by poet and WWI soldier Wil­fred Owen, and features a death march through a devastated terrain redolent ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Outside the Gates by Molly Gloss

Outside the Gates, Molly Gloss (Atheneum 0-689-31275-X, $11.95, 120pp, hc) September 1986. (Saga Press 978-1-534-41498-3, $24.99, 128pp, hc) January 2019.

As far as I can tell (from a quick skim of the Internet Science Fiction Database), Molly Gloss’s debut, Outside the Gates, was never reviewed by Locus when it came out in 1986. This might be because the novella, initially published by Atheneum, was pitched at a younger ...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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Ian Mond Reviews Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Dam­aged Glory by Raphael Bob-Waksberg

Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Dam­aged Glory: Stories, Raphael Bob-Waksberg (Knopf 978-1524732011, $25.95, 256pp, hc) June 2019.

Back in June IndieWire published an article list­ing the best TV shows of the last decade. BoJack Horseman was ranked number four behind three deserving and ground-breaking productions: Breaking Bad, Fleabag, and The Leftovers. BoJack Horseman, though, could easily have finished in the top spot. ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Midnight at the Organporium by Tara Campbell

Midnight at the Organporium, Tara Campbell (Aqueduct Press 978-1-61976-163-6, $12.00, 112pp, tp) March 2019.

Tara Campbell’s Midnight at the Organporium (Conversation Pieces: Volume 67) is a more eclectic collection, showcasing an array of moods and story-telling techniques. In the opening piece, “Death Sure Changes a Person”, Harlan is visited by his dead wife, Lucille, who orders him to start dating again. This surprises Harlan, not because the advice is ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Everything is Made of Letters by Sofía Rhei

Everything is Made of Letters, Sofía Rhei (Aqueduct 978-1-61976-149-0, $12.00, 152pp, tp) February 2019.

Since 2004, Aqueduct Press has published a small paperback series, called Conversation Pieces, that aims to “document and facilitate the grand conversation” of feminist science fiction. The more than 60 volumes issued so far collect essays, poetry, novellas, and short fiction authored by an impressive range of writers, a veritable who’s who of the field ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Radio Dark by Shane Hinton

Radio Dark, Shane Hinton (Burrow Press 978-1941681602, $16.99, 130pp, tp) August 2019.

Shane Hinton’s debut novel (really a debut novella) Radio Dark is a mostly run-of-the-mill post-apocalyptic story, but with an arresting image at is centre. From the long menu of end-of-the-world scenarios, Hinton chooses a condition – possibly a virus – that leaves people catatonic. Memphis, who works as a janitor at a local radio station, first comes ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Big Giant Floating Head by Christopher Boucher

Big Giant Floating Head, Christopher Boucher (Melville House 978-1612197579, $16.99, 224pp, tp) June 2019.

In his new novel, Big Giant Floating Head, Christoper Boucher takes us to the fictional town of Coolidge MA where his alter-ego, also named Christopher Boucher, is struggling to cope with his wife’s decision to leave him. As Boucher informs us, the news came unexpectedly via Twitter. “You can go back on her timeline ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Last Day by Domenica Ruta

Last Day, Domenica Ruta (Spiegel & Grau 978-0525510819, $27.00, 272pp, hc) May 2019.

Domenica Ruta’s fiction debut, Last Day is a novel about the apocalypse, but one where there’s no sign that the world is about to end, no plagues no zombies, no fallout from a nuclear blast. Instead, Ruta invents an ancient holiday, named “Last Day”, where every year people celebrate the possible and sudden cessation of all ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Laws of the Skies by Grégoire Courtois

The Laws of the Skies, Grégoire Courtois (Coach House 978-1552453872, $16.95, 160pp, tp) May 2019.

In March this year, my eight-year-old son Joshua went camping for the first time. A month later I read The Laws of the Skies by French author Grégoire Courtois (translated by Rhonda Mullins), which involves a group of six-year-olds embarking on their first-ever camp trip. If the order of these two events had been ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Archive of Alternate Endings by Lindsey Drager

The Archive of Alternate Endings, Lindsey Drager (Dzanc 978-1945814822, $16.95, 168pp, tp) May 2019.

Above the ten chapter headings that make up Lindsey Drager’s remarkable short novel The Archive of Alternate Endings are a range of years beginning with 1378 and ending with 2365. Those mathematically inclined will note a 75- to 79-year gap between each year, and those who know their celestial bodies will figure out that this ...Read More

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