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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Ian Mond Reviews Triangulum by Masande Ntshanga

Triangulum, Masande Ntshanga (Two Dollar Radio 978-1937512774, $17.99, 367pp, tp) May 2019.

I was predisposed to enjoy Masande Ntshanga’s Triangulum. Some of my favourite books are “found manuscript” novels, including James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, David Means’ Man Booker Prize longlisted Hystopia, and the granddaddy of them all, Mark Z. Danielewski’s breathtaking House of Leaves. Triangulum doesn’t feature the ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Red Birds by Mohammed Hanif

Red Birds, Mohammed Hanif (Bloomsbury 978-1408897188, £16.99, 304pp, hc) October 2018. (Grove/Black Cat 978-0802147288, $16.00, 304pp, tp) May 2019.

Mohammed Hanif draws on his own experience as an Air Force pilot for his fourth novel, Red Birds, a hit-and-miss satire on America’s attitude toward foreign policy, set in a refugee camp located in an unnamed Arabic country.

The narrative alternates between three charac­ters, the first of which is ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Lanny by Max Porter

Lanny, Max Porter (Faber & Faber 978-0571340286, £12.99, 224pp, hc) March 2019. (Graywolf 978-1555978402, $24.00, 160pp, hc) May 2019.

I picked up Max Porter’s debut, Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, when it was nominated for The Goldsmiths Prize back in 2015. It was unlike anything I’d ever read, a glorious, experimental fusion of poetry and prose, capturing the raw, jagged emotions of a father and his two ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Rus­sell

Orange World and Other Stories, Karen Rus­sell (Knopf 978-0525656135, $25.95, 288pp, hc) May 2019.

Given my taste for narratives that straddle the literary and the fantastic, it might come as a surprise to know that I’ve never read Karen Russell’s fiction. It’s not that I haven’t been aware of her work; it’s hard to ignore the Pulitzer she was a finalist for in 2012 for her debut novel Swamplandia! ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Four NewCon Press Novellas

Nomads, Dave Hutchinson (NewCon Press 978-1-912950-00-3, £15.99, 84pp, hc) February 2019. Cover by Peter Holinghurst. Morpho, Philip Palmer (NewCon Press 978-1-912950-01-0, £15.99, 117pp, hc) February 2019. Cover by Peter Holinghurst. The Man Who Would Be Kling, Adam Roberts (NewCon Press 978-1-912950-04-1, £15.99, 57pp, hc) March 2019. Cover by Peter Holinghurst. Macsen Against the Jugger, Simon Morden (NewCon Press 978-1-912950-07-2, £15.99, 63pp, hc) March 2019. Cover by ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews Dark Constellations by Pola Oloixarac

Dark Constellations, Pola Oloixarac (Soho Press 978-1-61695-923-4, $26.00, 216pp, hc) April 2019.

Pola Oloixarac’s second novel, Dark Constellation, translated by Roy Kesey, spans a one-hun­dred-forty-year period, beginning in 1882. Plant biologist Niklas Bruun is the youngest member of an expedition charting the archipelago of Juba and specifically the volcanic crater of Famara. There he discovers a plant, Crissia pallida, whose properties will, enigmatically, “remain all but unknown until ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Book of Flora by Meg Elison

The Book of Flora, Meg Elison (47North 978-1-54204-209-3, $14.95, 322pp, tp) April 2019.

Meg Elison’s The Book of Flora is the final novel of a trilogy that began with The Book of the Un­named Midwife, one of my favourite novels of 2014 and a deserved winner of the Philip K. Dick Award. A plague of post-apocalyptic proportions has wiped out most of humanity, but particularly mothers and newborns. ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull

The Lesson, Cadwell Turnbull (Blackstone Publishing 978-1538584644, $26.99, 290pp, hc) June 2019.

Cadwell Turnbull’s debut, The Lesson, has been billed as one of the first science fiction novels set in the Virgin Islands. While this is something to cheer about, what’s more important, especially in the context of the #ownvoices movement, is that Turnbull was raised in the Caribbean in a family that lived there for generations. This ...Read More

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Ian Mond and Adrienne Martini Review Golden State by Ben H. Winters

Golden State, Ben H. Winters (Mulholland Books 978-0-31650-541-3, $28.00, 336pp, hc) January 2019.

Ben H. Winters’s new novel the Golden State begins with a lovely bit of cognitive dissonance:

This is a novel. All the words of it are true.

Not only does this pronouncement wrong-foot the reader, echoing Orwell’s clocks striking 13 on a cold April day, but it also establishes a tension between fact and fiction that ...Read More

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Ian Mond Reviews We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

We Cast a Shadow, Maurice Carlos Ruffin (One World 978-0-52550-906-6, $27.00, 336pp, hc) January 2019.

The opening chapter of Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s debut novel, We Cast a Shadow, left me gobsmacked. Our narrator – he tells us his name doesn’t matter – is an associate at a high-priced law firm. At the annual party, he dresses as a Zulu Chief and dances for the man­aging shareholders, “flapping his ...Read More

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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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