Liz Bourke Reviews Embers of War by Gareth L. Powell

Embers of War, Gareth L. Powell (Titan 978-1785655180, $14.95, 412pp, pb) February 2018.

While there are novels that unapologetically defy categorisation to a single subgenre, Em­bers of War is very definitely space opera – one might even say defiantly so. Gareth L. Powell’s previously best-known novel (Ack-Ack Ma­caque, joint winner of the 2013 BSFA Best Novel Award) isn’t the kind of work that would appear to lead ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews A Study in Honor by Claire O’Dell

A Study in Honor, Claire O’Dell (Harper Voy­ager 978-0-06-269930-5, $15.99, 304pp, tp). July 2018.

Speaking of good, let’s talk about Claire O’Dell’s A Study in Honor. O’Dell is an open pseudonym for Beth Bernobich (The Queen’s Hunt, The Time Roads) and this marks the author’s first novel-length foray into science fiction. And damn, what a novel it is. A Study in Honor is a near-future ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Empress of Timbra by Karen Healey & Robyn Fleming

The Empress of Timbra, Karen Healey & Robyn Fleming (self-published 978-0-473-42716-0, $4.99, ebook). February 2018. Cover art by Damonza.

The Empress of Timbra, co-authored by Robyn Fleming & Karen Healey (Guardian of the Dead, While We Run), turns out to be an unexpected de­light. Its publication was funded through Fleming and Healey’s Kickstarter campaign, but it’s now widely available as an ebook. While Healey’s solo ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Wonder Engine by T. Kingfisher

The Wonder Engine, T. Kingfisher (Red Wombat Tea Company 978-1-386-528876, $3.99, ebook). February 2018. Cover art by Ursula Vernon.

Have you read The Wonder Engine yet? It’s the second book in T. Kingfisher’s (the pen­name for Ursula Vernon) Clocktaur War duol­ogy, following on from last year’s Clockwork Boys. While Vernon has the weird, wild, and occasionally dark Digger to her name, as well as her short fiction and ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Gunpowder Moon by David Pedreira

Gunpowder Moon, David Pedreira (Harper Voyager 978-0-06-2676085, $14.9, 304pp, tp). February 2018.

I began reading David Pedreira’s Gunpowder Moon, the debut novel of a former Florida journalist, with a fair degree of optimism. Its big idea – helium-3 mining on the moon – is fairly well discredited junk science (see Charles Stross, “Science-fictional shibboleths,” 4th De­cember 2015) but this is science fiction. Junk science is practically traditional, and ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Artificial Condition and Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells

Artificial Condition, Martha Wells ( Publishing 979-1–250-18692-8, $16.99, 160pp, hc). May 2018. Cover by Jaime Jones.

Rogue Protocol, Martha Wells ( Pub­lishing 978-1-250-19178-6, $16.99, 160pp, hc). August 2018. Cover by Jaime Jones.

It’s always a treat to read a Martha Wells story, and it turns out that her Murderbot Diaries are an especial delight. Last year’s All Systems Red introduced readers to the self-described “murderbot,” a sentient construct ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, Kelly Robson ( Publishing 978-1-250-16384-4, $3.99, 232pp, eb). March 2018. Cover by Jon Foster.

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson is cunningly structured, a sly sleight of hand that sees two parallel stories told simultaneously. One of these stories is entirely linear, as befits a time-travel narrative. The other story… is not.

In Mesopotamia, in or around 2024 BCE, the ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Void Black Shadow by Corey J. White

Void Black Shadow, Corey J. White ( Publishing 978-0–7653-9692-1, $3.99, 218pp, eb). March 2018. Cover by Tommy Arnold.

Void Black Shadow, the sequel to Corey J. White’s explosive Killing Gravity and the sec­ond volume in the Voidwitch Saga, isn’t what you might call measured, not by a long chalk. Hectic is one word for it. Breakneck another.

Mariam “Mars” Xi is a living weapon, a “voidwitch.” A genetically ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Armored Saint by Myke Cole

The Armored Saint, Myke Cole ( Pub­lishing 978-0-7653-9595-5, $17.99, 208pp, hc) February 2018. Cover by Tommy Arnold.

Staying with our theme of “dark, with military overtones,” we have Myke Cole’s The Armored Saint, out of Publishing’s novella line. Like Ironclads, it’s a slender volume – it tops out at 206 pages in paperback – but unlike either Ironclads or Clockwork Boys, it doesn’t feature any ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Creatures of Will and Temper by Molly Tanzer

Creatures of Will and Temper, Molly Tanzer (John Joseph Adams 978-1-328-71026-0, $16.99, 358pp, pb) November 2017. Cover by Eduardo Recife.

Molly Tanzer’s Creatures of Will and Temper, though set in late 19th-century England, is about as far from patriarchal and homophobic as it is possible for a novel set in this period to be. It draws some inspiration from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, according ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Clockwork Boys by T. Kingfisher

Clockwork Boys, T. Kingfisher (Argyll Produc­tions 978-1-61450-406-1, $24.95, 230pp, hc) November 2017. Cover by Ursula Vernon.

“Darkly funny” is a phrase that also describes Ursula Vernon’s (writing as T. Kingfisher) Clock­work Boys, the first volume in the Clocktaur War duology, which will be completed in spring with the release of The Wonder Engine. Clockwork Boys is a little darker than most of Vernon/Kingfisher’s oeuvre. It starts by ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Ironclads by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Ironclads, Adrian Tchaikovsky (Solaris 978-1-78108-568-4, $30.00, 160pp, hc) November 2017. Cover art by Maz Smith.

Of late I find it difficult to know how to begin to discuss new books. It feels as though I have read so many of them this year that my head is practically bloated with connections and similarities, novelties and clichés, unexpected successes and shocking disappointments. Espe­cially difficult are novellas, whose comparative brevity tends ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Paris Adrift by E.J. Swift

Paris Adrift, E.J. Swift (Solaris 978-1-7810-8593-6, $15.99, 320pp, tp). February 2018.

E.J. Swift’s previous series, The Osiris Project (Osiris in 2012, Cataveiro in 2014, and Tamaruq in 2015), seems to have fallen foul of the dissolu­tion of then-independent publisher Night Shade Books, as Osiris came out from Night Shade in the US and Del Rey in the UK – but in the US, its sequels came as electronic ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Mandelbrot the Magnificent by Liz Ziemska

Mandelbrot the Magnificent, Liz Ziemska ( Publishing, 978-0-7653-9805-5, $10.99, 124pp, tp). November 2017. Cover by Will Staehle.

Mandelbrot the Magnificent is a striking and peculiar novella about real-life Jewish math­ematician Benoît Mandelbrot, who was born in Poland in 1924, emigrated to France in 1936, and survived the Nazi occupation there. Later he would have the Mandelbrot set (a geometric fractal) named after him. Ziemska’s novella is told from Mandelbrot’s ...Read More

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2017 in Review by Liz Bourke

[Editor’s note: part of our 2017 year-in-review essay series from the February 2018 issue of Locus]

How do you sum up a year like 2017? It feels like it was a longer year than usual – and as I write this, it isn’t even over yet.

I don’t like writing about my favourite books, even my favourite books in any given year. At the time of writing, I’ve read 209 ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines

Terminal Alliance, Jim C. Hines (DAW 978-0-7564-1274-6, $26.00, 368pp, hc). November 2017. Cover by Daniel Dos Santos.

One thing links the books I read for Locus this month. With one exception – Jim Hines’s Terminal Alliance – none of them were quite as entertaining as I’d hoped. Still, that’s life, right? It’s not as though they weren’t entertaining at all….

Terminal Alliance is the latest novel from Jim C. ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Vallista by Steven Brust

Vallista, Steven Brust (Tor 978-0-7653-2445-0, $25.99, 334pp, hc). October 2017. Cover by Stephen Hickman.

Marissa Lingen, in her review of Steven Brust’s Vallista, noted that “[E]veryone has tol­erance limits on the First Person Asshole voice.” One is accustomed to a certain degree of cocky assholishness from Vlad Taltos, but in Vallista, fifteenth and latest novel in the Vlad Taltos series, the first person asshole voice seems rather ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard

The Tea Master and the Detective, Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean 978-1-59606-864- 3, $40.00, 96pp, hc). March 2018. Cover by Maurizio Manzieri.

Aliette de Bodard’s The Tea Master and the Detective is a new story set in her Xuya universe. It’s the third standalone novella to be published in this continuity, after The Citadel of Weeping Pearls (first published in Asimov’s, Oct/Nov 2015, and republished in 2017) and On A ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okora­for

Binti: The Night Masquerade, Nnedi Okora­for ( Publishing 978-0-7653-9312-8 $14.99, 160pp, tp). January 2018. Cover by Da­vid Palumbo.

Well worth a look is Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti: The Night Masquerade, third and concluding volume in her trilogy of novellas starring a young Himba woman who defies cultural expectations to go to an off-planet university. Binti is a har­moniser, with a natural talent for mathematics and a predisposition towards bringing ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Sisters of the Crescent Empress by Leena Likitalo

The Sisters of the Crescent Empress, Leena Likitalo ( Publishing 978-0-7653-9545-0, $17.99, 322pp, tp). November 2017. Cover by Anna & Elena Balbusso.

The Sisters of the Crescent Empress is the second volume in Leena Likitalo’s Waning Moon duology, after this summer’s The Five Daughters of the Moon. The first book was full of promise, told in the five individual voic­es of five different sisters, daughters of the em­press ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson

The Murders of Molly Southbourne, Tade Thompson ( Publishing 978-0765397133, $11.99, 120pp, tp). October 2017. Cover by Rekha Garton/Arcangel.

Tade Thompson’s first two novels, Making Wolf and Rosewater, were both very well re­ceived – the first winning the Kitschies Golden Tentacle Award, and the second shortlisted for the John W. Campbell Award. The Murders of Molly Southbourne, part of Publish­ing’s novella line, has already been optioned ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera

The Tiger’s Daughter, K. Arsenault Rivera (Tor 978-0-7653-9253-4, $15.99, 512pp, tp) October 2017. Cover art by Jaime Jones.

I read The Tiger’s Daughter, K. Arsenault Rivera’s debut novel, with very few expec­tations. I’d heard it was Mongol-inspired epic fantasy. That was about it – and the cover copy doesn’t exactly give one much more than that to go on.

This is, indeed, Mongol-inspired epic fan­tasy. It’s a coming-of-age ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Wrong Stars by Tim Pratt

The Wrong Stars, Tim Pratt (Angry Robot 978-0857667090, $7.99, 400pp, pb) November 2017. Cover by Paul Scott Canavan.

Bloody hell, but The Wrong Stars is an amazingly good, extremely fun, very satisfying novel. It’s not like Tim Pratt doesn’t have form for fun: as T.A. Pratt, his (sadly underrated) Marla Mason novels packed an ass-kicking amount of fun, and punch, into a short and weird urban fantasy space. But ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Breach of Containment by Elizabeth Bonesteel

Breach of Containment, Elizabeth Bonesteel (Harper Voyager 978-0-06-241368-0, $16.99, 576pp, tp) October 2017.

Breach of Containment is Elizabeth Bonesteel’s third novel, the latest in her Central Corps series after The Cold Between and Remnants of Trust. Like the rest of Bonesteel’s novels, this is a book I wanted to like more than I did, but a book I enjoyed nonetheless, despite some flaws.

At the end of Remnants ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear

The Stone in the Skull, Elizabeth Bear (Tor 978-0-7653-8013-5, $27.99, 368pp, hc) Sep­tember 2017. Cover art by Richard Anderson.

I can’t be objective about Elizabeth Bear’s The Stone in the Skull. I can’t even pretend to even-handed objectivity, that necessary sleight-of-hand performed by every subjective reviewer: I love it just a bit too hard and too much. This is a problem I have encountered before, not least with ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews A Taste of Marrow by Sarah Gailey

A Taste of Marrow, Sarah Gailey ( Publishing 978-0-7653-9525-2, $14.99, 190pp, tp) September 2017. Cover by Richard Ander­son.

A Taste of Marrow is the sequel to Sarah Gai­ley’s alternate-history-with-American-hippos River of Teeth. While River of Teeth was an entertaining caper, if a flawed book – Gailey’s transitions cut brutally across time and space, jolting the reader to a new location or across a span of time with never ...Read More

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Liz Bourke reviews Horizon by Fran Wilde

Horizon, Fran Wilde (Tor Books 978-0765377876, $27.99, 416pp, hc). September 2017. Cover by Tommy Arnold.

Fran Wilde’s Horizon marks the end of her Bone Universe books – at least for now. Hori­zon follows last year’s Cloudbound and 2015’s award-winning Updraft for a strong conclusion to this powerful trilogy about bone towers, social upheaval, and building the kind of society you want to live in.

Updraft was a novel about ...Read More

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Liz Bourke reviews two Tensorate novellas by JY Yang

The Black Tides of Heaven, JY Yang ( Publishing 978-0-7653-9541-2, $3.99, 240pp, tp). September 2017. Cover by Yuko Shimizu. The Red Threads of Fortune, JY Yang ( Publishing 978-0-7653-9539-9 $3.99, 216pp, tp). September 2017. Cover by Yuko Shimizu.

JY Yang’s first two Tensorate novellas, The Black Tides of Heaven and The Red Threads of Fortune, provide an interesting contrast to In Evil Times. Although the world ...Read More

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Liz Bourke reviews In Evil Times by Melinda Snodgrass

In Evil Times, Melinda Snodgrass (Titan 978-1-7832-9584-5, $14.95, 400pp, pb). July 2017. Cover by Alex Ronald.

I wanted to have good things to say about In Evil Times, sequel to Melinda Snodgrass’s The High Ground (2016). Instead, I found reading it to be a very alienating experience. This is not, I hasten to add, because of any insufficiency in Snodgrass’s prose or skill as a novelist. Rather, it’s ...Read More

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Liz Bourke reviews An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard

An Unkindness of Magicians, Kat Howard (Saga Press 978-1-4814-5119-2, $25.99, 368pp, hc) September 2017.

Kat Howard’s first novel, Roses and Rot had strong folkloric influences. It was a version of Tam Lin set in an art­ists’ retreat, and its main characters were two sisters – although only one was our viewpoint character – who had survived childhood parental abuse to find relative success in their respective careers as a ...Read More

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Liz Bourke reviews The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion by Margaret Killjoy

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion, Margaret Killjoy ( Publishing 978–0-7563-9736-2, $14.99, 128pp, tp) July 2017. Cover by Mark Smith.

Margaret Killjoy’s The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion is a peculiar, compelling, and atmo­spheric novella. I’d never heard of Killjoy before this novella, though I understand she’s written plenty of fiction and nonfiction, largely from an anarchist point of view.

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion is set in ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Blood Enemies by Susan R. Matthews

Blood Enemies, Susan R. Matthews (Baen 976-1476782164, $16.00, 256pp, tp) April 2017. Cover by Kurt Miller.

Susan R. Matthews’ Blood Enemies is the long-awaited conclusion to her Under Jurisdiction series. The first book in that series, An Exchange of Hostages, was first published in 1997. Until Baen recently republished previous volumes in the series as Fleet Inquisitor and Fleet Renegade, it was entirely out of print and there seemed ...Read More

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