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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Ian Mond Reviews A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet

A Children’s Bible, Lydia Millet (Norton 978-1-324-00503-2, $25.95, 224pp, hc) May 2020.

Lydia Millet’s 12th novel, A Children’s Bible, may feature some of the worst parents ever committed to prose. We’re not talking a single mother or father (like Queen Gertrude from Hamlet or Jack Torrance from The Shining) or even a couple (like Ma and Pa Wormwood from Matilda) but rather a gaggle of horrible ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin

Little Eyes, Samanta Schweblin (Oneworld 978-1-786-07792-9, £14.99, 256pp, hc) March 2020. (Riverhead Books 978-0-525-54136-3, $26.00, 256pp, hc) May 2020.

In 2017 Argentinian author Samanta Schweblin caught the attention of English-language readers, critics, and the judges of the International Man Booker Prize with Fever Dream, a nightmarish novella that, amongst other things, critiqued the environmental effect of pesticides. She followed this up in 2019 with a collection of ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982, Cho Nam-Joo (Liveright 978-1-63149-670-7, $20.00, 176pp, hc) April 2020.

Since its publication in 2016, Cho Nam-Joo’s Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 has sold over a million copies in South Korea, been touted as one of the country’s most important feminist novels, and sparked vicious attacks from anti-feminists, which were reignited when the book was adapted into a film in 2019. Given its popularity and the ...Read More

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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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