Ian Mond Reviews The Immortal King Rao by Vauhini Vara

The Immortal King Rao, Vauhini Vara (Nor­ton 978-0-393-54175-5, $27.95, 384pp, hc) May 2022.

Along with Adam Roberts’ The This and Jenni­fer Egan’s The Candy House, Vauhini Vara’s debut novel, The Immortal King Rao, is the third book I’ve read this year that imagines a future where people have direct neural access to social media and the internet. This growing literary trend, a mix of cyberpunk and transhu­manism, ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Poguemahone by Patrick McCabe

Poguemahone, Patrick McCabe (Unbound 978-1-80018-111-3, £20.00, 624pp, hc) April 2022. (Biblioasis 978-1-77196-473-9, $21.95, 600pp, tp) May 2022.

Weighing in at more than 600 pages and written entirely in free verse, I can understand that some readers will be a little intimidated by Patrick McCabe’s 13th novel, Poguemahone. I’m here to tell you that despite the comparisons to Ulysses and Ducks, Newburyport, despite the Gaelic salted through the ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews My Volcano by John Elizabeth Stintzi

My Volcano, John Elizabeth Stintzi (Two Dol­lar Radio 978-1-95338-716-5, $12.95, 330pp, tp) March 2022.

John Elizabeth Stintzi’s second novel, My Vol­cano, begins in the early hours of June 2, 2016, with a volcano ‘‘sprouting from the middle of the reservoir in Central Park.’’ On that first morn­ing, the volcano is only eight feet high; within a week it has swallowed up Central Park, and ‘‘by June 23, the ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Candy House by Jennifer Egan

The Candy House, Jennifer Egan (Scribner 978-1-47671-676-3, $28.00, 352pp, hc) April 2022.

As the publishing Gods would have it, Emily St. John Mandel’s Sea of Tranquility is published in the same month as Jennifer Egan’s The Candy House. Moreso than Margaret Atwood, I consider Mandel and Egan to be the mainstream authors who have done the most to blur the artificial lines between literary and speculative fiction, as ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Sea of Tranquility, Emily St. John Mandel (Knopf 978-0-59332-144-7, $25.00, 272pp, hc) April 2022.

There is this wink-to-the-audience moment about halfway through Sea of Tranquility where Olive Llewellyn, bestselling author of Marienbad, is asked what it’s like to have written such a successful book.

Oh. It’s surreal, actually. I wrote three books that no one noticed, no distribution beyond the moon colonies… when I published Marienbad, I ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Jawbone by Mónica Ojeda

Jawbone, Mónica Ojeda (Coffee House Press 978-1-56689-621-4, $16.95, 272pp, tp) Febru­ary 2022.

On occasion, I’ve been known to make bold pro­nouncements in this column. Back in January, I crowned John Darnielle’s Devil House as one of the best books of the year, having read less than a handful of novels published in 2022. Three months later and I stand by that proclamation. Having just finished Mónica Ojeda’s Jawbone, ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Dark Breakers by C.S.E. Cooney

Dark Breakers, C.S.E. Cooney (Mythic De­lirium 978-1-73264-406-9, $33.95, 292pp, hc) February 2022.

Dark Breakers is the first of two books to be released in 2022 by the wonderful C.S.E. Cooney, who swept me away a couple of years back with her terrific short novel “The Twice Drowned Saint”. (The second book is Saint Death’s Daughter, the first in a trilogy that, based on the cover blurb, looks like ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Agents by Grégoire Courtois

The Agents, Grégoire Courtois (Coach House 978-1-55245-432-9, $17.95, 224pp, tp) January 2022.

The Agents, initially published in France in 2019, is Grégoire Courtois’s second novel to be translated into English (by Rhonda Mullins). I reviewed Courtois’s first book, The Laws of the Skies, several years back: a nihilistic take on Lord of the Flies that sees a psychotic six-year-old slaughter his schoolmates and their chaperones on a ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Best of Lucius Shepard: Volume 2 by Lucius Shepard

The Best of Lucius Shepard: Volume 2, Lucius Shepard (Subterranean Press 978-1-64524-035-8, $50.00, 848pp, hc) January 2022. Cover by Armando Veve.

In his Guardian obituary of Lucius Shepard – who passed away on March 18, 2014 – Christopher Priest wrote that Shepard’s preferred format, the novella, “almost certainly held back the recognition he deserved,” and that “his writing was shielded from wider apprecia­tion because of its association with the ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The This by Adam Roberts

The This, Adam Roberts (Gollancz 978-1-47323-092-7, £16.99, 304pp, hc) February 2022.

In 2015, Adam Roberts wrote an extraordinary novel that deserved more attention and love than it received. The Thing Itself blended Fermi’s Paradox, Immanuel Kant’s The Critique of Pure Reason and John Carpenter’s The Thing (with a side-dish of wry humour and literary allusions) to deliver a madcap, centuries-spanning meditation on the ineffable nature of reality. Roberts’s latest ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century by Kim Fu

Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century, Kim Fu (Tin House Books 978-1-95114-299-5, $16.95, 220pp, tp) February 2022.

Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century, with its colourful mosaic cover, is the debut collection from Kim Fu, the author of two novels and a book of poetry. The 12 short stories that make up the collection showcase various influences, including science-fiction, magical realism, and horror. As someone encountering ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Present Tense Machine by Gunnhild Øyehaug

Present Tense Machine, Gunnhild Øyehaug (Farrar, Straus, Giroux 978-0-37423-717-2, $25.00, 176pp, hc) January 2022.

Parallel universes seem to be everywhere I look these days. I know it’s an effect inflated by the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but as I write this, my social media feeds are abuzz with the trailer of Everything, Everywhere All At Once – a multiverse adventure starring Michelle Yeoh. Of course, parallel realities have been a ...Read More

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Ian Mond reviews The High House by Jessie Greengrass

The High House, Jessie Greengrass (Scribner 978-1-98218-011-9, $27.00, 272pp, hc) January 2022.

While I have strong misgivings regarding the currency of killer-plague narratives (now that we’ve experienced a pandemic of our own), these qualms don’t extend to climate fiction. If anything, I feel there’s not enough contemporary climate-centric novels being published in genre spaces, aside from notable exceptions like Alexis Wright, James Bradley, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Jeff VanderMeer. ...Read More

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The Year in Review 2021 by Ian Mond

2021 saw my reading fall off a steep cliff. To be fair, it never really recovered from last year’s lockdowns. Even as Melbourne (my city) returned to a resemblance of normality late in 2020, I felt little urge to read, feelings only exacerbated when we entered our fifth and sixth lockdown (thank you, Delta) in 2021. (Fun fact: Melbourne broke the record, held by Buenos Aires, as the city that ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Devil House by John Darnielle

Devil House, John Darnielle (MCD 978-0-37471-767-4, $27.00, 416pp, hc) January 2022.

Over the last several years, John Darnielle, the founding (and oftentimes sole) member of the band The Mountain Goats, has been carving out a career as an acclaimed novelist. His 2014 debut, Wolf in White Van, was nominated for the National Book Award, while his sophomore effort, Universal Harvester, is a brilliant, unclassifiable story that exists ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Burntcoat by Sarah Hall

Burntcoat, Sarah Hall (Faber & Faber 978-0571329311, £10.49, 224pp, hc) October 2021; (Custom House 978-0-0626571-0-7, $27.99, 304pp, hc) November 2021.

Known chiefly as a literary author, Sarah Hall’s name may not be familiar to genre readers. Yet over the last decade, she has published several excellent speculative short stories collected in two slim books Madame Zero and Sudden Traveller (both of which I highly recommend). In 2007 she followed ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews How to Get to Apocalypse and Other Disasters by Erica L. Satifka

How to Get to Apocalypse and Other Disasters, Erica L. Satifka (Fairwood Press 978-1-933846-17-0, $17.99, 400pp, tp) November 2021.

In his introduction to Erica L. Satifka’s debut short-story collection, How to Get to Apocalypse and Other Disasters, Nick Mamatas recalls coming across Satifka’s work as co-editor of Clarkesworld while trawling through the slush pile. Coincidentally, it was while scrolling through the social media slush pile that I came ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Cabinet by Un-Su Kim

The Cabinet, Un-Su Kim (Angry Robot 978-0-85766-917-9, $14.99/£9.99, 400pp, tp) October 2021.

The publication of The Cabinet is a second (not a first) for both the author, Un-Su Kim, and publisher Angry Robot. While The Cabinet is Kim’s debut novel (winning South Korea’s Munhakdongne Novel Award back in 2006), it’s his second book to be translated into English. Somewhat confusingly, but typical for works in translation, English audiences were ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Build Your House Around My Body by Violet Kupersmith

Build Your House Around My Body, Violet Kupersmith (Random House 978-0-81299-332-5, $27.00, 400pp, hc) July 2021.

Violet Kupersmith’s debut novel, Build Your House Around My Body, is a beautifully wrought, non-linear tale of ghosts, missing girls, and revenge set against the backdrop of colonial and post-colonial Vietnam. It’s not a spoiler to say that one of those disappearing girls is Ngoan Nguyen (though she prefers to go by ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Undiscovered Territories by Robert Freeman Wexler

Undiscovered Territories, Robert Freeman Wexler (PS Publishing 978-1-786365-89-7, £25.00, 326pp, tp) October 2021.

Although Undiscovered Territories is not Robert Freeman Wexler’s first collection – that would be 2008’s Psychological Methods to Sell Should Be Destroyed – it is his most complete, featuring most of the short fiction he’s published over the last two decades in magazines like Electric Velocipede, Polyphony, and The Journal of Experimental Fiction. The fourteen stories ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Second Shooter by Nick Mamatas

The Second Shooter, Nick Mamatas (Solaris 978-1-78108-926-2, $14.00, 400pp, tp) Novem­ber 2021.

Having skewered everything from late-stage capitalism to America’s political and cultural malaise in his last novel, Sabbath, Nick Mama­tas boldly turns his attention to the intractable issue of gun violence and mass shootings with his highly entertaining follow-up, The Second Shooter.

The story centres on journalist and hack-for-hire Mike Karras as he travels across America ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews This Weightless World by Adam Soto

This Weightless World, Adam Soto (Astra House 978-1-66260-063-0, $27.00, 320pp, hc) November 2021.

Recently, on The Writer and the Critic podcast, Kirstyn McDermott and I spoke glowingly about Olga Ravn’s The Employees: A Workplace Novel of the 22nd Century (longlisted for this year’s International Booker Prize). During the discussion, I pas­sionately argued (some might say ranted) that mainstream genre publishers no longer seemed interested in publishing radical science-fiction; that ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Peculiarities by David Liss

The Peculiarities, David Liss (Tachyon 978-1-61696-358-0, $17.95, 336pp, tp) September 2021.

David Liss is mainly known for his historical crime novels featuring 18th-century private in­vestigator (or “thief-taker”) Benjamin Weaver. Lately, he’s turned his attention to genre fiction, with a trilogy of middle-grade space adventures (Randoms / Rebels / Renegades) and comics ranging from Black Panther to The Shadow. His 13th and latest novel, The Peculiarities, blends ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews People from My Neighbourhood by Hiromi Kawakami

People from My Neighbourhood, Hiromi Kawakami (Granta Books 978-1-84627-699-6, £7.99, 121pp, tp) August 2020; as People from My Neighborhood (Soft Skull 978-1-59376-711-2, $15.95, 176pp, tp) November 2021.

Hiro Kawakami’s new collection, People from My Neighborhood, isn’t my first exposure to her work. Several years back, I read Kawakami’s Akutagawa Prize-winning collection Record of a Night Too Brief. The three novelettes that comprise that book introduced me to ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews This Thing Between Us by Gus Moreno

This Thing Between Us, Gus Moreno (MCD x FSG Originals 978-0-37453-923-8, $17.00, 272pp, tp) October 2021.


I’ve never owned an Amazon Alexa. I do have a Google Nest sitting beside the TV, but other than my daughter asking the device to play songs from The Greatest Showman soundtrack, the family rarely engages with it. I am, however, aware that both the Alexa and the Nest are always listening, ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction 1950 to 1985 by Andrew Nette & Iain McIntyre

Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction 1950 to 1985, Andrew Nette & Iain McIntyre, eds. (PM Press 978-1-62963-883-6, $59.95, 224pp, hc) October 2021.

I’m a child of the cyberpunk generation. One of the first genre novels that left an impression on me was William Gibson’s Neuromancer (even if I didn’t entirely understand it). It wasn’t until my late twenties, when I started attending the monthly meetings of ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Far from the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson

Far from the Light of Heaven, Tade Thompson (Orbit 978-0-75955-791-8, $17.99, 384pp, tp) October 2021.

If you’ve been reading my column for the last three years (has it really been that long?), you’ll know that, along with Lavie Tidhar, Tade Thomp­son is one of my favourite contemporary writers. It was a pleasure, back in 2019, to review books two and three of the Rosewater trilogy for Locus.It’s an incredibly ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Escapement by Lavie Tidhar

The Escapement, Lavie Tidhar (Tachyon 978-1-61696-327-9, $16.95, 256pp, tp) September 2021.

It’s been a busy year for Lavie Tidhar. Due to the vagaries of publishing, made all the more uncertain by COVID, 2021 has seen Tidhar author two novels (The Escapement and The Hood), a collection (The Lunacy Commission), and short stories (including ‘‘Judge Dee and the Three Deaths of Count Werdenfels’’), and edit an ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki

The Book of Form and Emptiness, Ruth Ozeki (Viking 978-0-399-56364-5, $30.00, 560pp, hc) September 2021.

Ruth Ozeki’s new novel The Book of Form and Emptiness tells the story of Benny Oh, a troubled teenager who hears voices, and his mother An­nabelle, still recovering from the death of her husband while fighting to keep her small family together. It’s a story narrated to us by a Book. I don’t mean ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Actual Star by Monica Byrne

The Actual Star, Monica Byrne (Harper Voy­ager 978-0-063-00291-3, $27.99, 624pp, hc) September 2021.

Monica Byrne’s The Actual Star is told across two millennia with alternating chapters straddling three different time periods. The story begins in the Ancient Maya city of Tzonya in the last month of 1012 AD, where twin brother and sister Ajul and Ixul are preparing for their ascension to the throne, following the death of their ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Bewilderment by Richard Powers

Bewilderment, Richard Powers (Norton 978-0-393-88114-1, $27.95, 288pp, hc) September 2021.

I first became aware of Richard Powers’s work when his novel, Generosity: An Enhance­ment, was nominated for a Clarke Award back in 2011. However, it wasn’t until the publication of The Overstory in 2019 that I read a book by Powers. If Goodreads is any indication, I’m not alone. Having written 11 novels over more than three decades ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Glassy, Burning Floor of Hell by Brian Even­son

The Glassy, Burning Floor of Hell, Brian Even­son (Coffee House Press 978-1-56689-611-5, $16.95, 248pp, tp) August 2021.

I first came across Brian Evenson’s work more than a decade ago when I read his unconventional, hard-boiled detective novel Last Days. With its noir-inflect­ed prose and its deeply weird story about a religious cult devoted to the holy act of amputation, the book left an indelible impression. And yet, despite ...Read More

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