Liz Bourke Reviews Space Unicorn Blues by T.J. Berry

Space Unicorn Blues, T.J. Berry (Angry Robot 978-0857667816 $12.99), 384pp, tp) July 2018. Cover by Lee Gibbons.

I finished reading T.J. Berry’s debut novel, Space Unicorn Blues, and said to myself (and several other people): “Maybe Angry Robot Books is becoming the publisher of queer, feminist, sometimes-angry, sometimes-funny, anti-imperialist novels that we didn’t know we deserved.” Because Berry’s Space Unicorn Blues can join a list that includes (in ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Redemption’s Blade by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Redemption’s Blade, Adrian Tchaikovsky (Solaris 978-1781085790, $11.99, 520pp, tp) July 2018.

Redemption’s Blade, like Adrian Tchai­kovsky’s unrelated 2016 novella Spi­derlight, is heavily influenced by the Tolkien tradition in epic fantasy. Unlike Tolkien, though, Tchaikovsky’s work is interested in – for want of a better word – the humanity of people on both sides of a war between “light” and “darkness”: the flaws and the good points on ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews War Cry by Brian McClellan

War Cry, Brian McClellan ( Publishing 978-1250170163, $11.88, 112pp, tp) August 2018.

Brian McClellan is best known for his military fantasy, and War Cry doesn’t represent a change of pace. Teado is a Changer, a shapeshifter. He’s part of a military team stationed in the Bavares high plains, a remote and largely unpopulated area between the borders of two warring nations. Although he’s still young, he’s been there for ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark

The Black God’s Drums, P. Djèlí Clark ( Publishing 978-1250294715, $11.99, 112pp, tp) August 2018.

The Black God’s Drums does leave me feeling very enthusiastic. This delight­ful novella is a breath of fresh air, and promises good things for P. Djèlí Clark’s career – though I should note that he already has no mean track record in shorter fiction.

The Black God’s Drums sets itself in a steampunk-esque alternate ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Adrift by Rob Boffard

Adrift, Rob Boffard (Orbit 978-0356510439, £8.99, 400pp, pb) June 2018.

Adrift is Rob Boffard’s fourth novel and the first piece of his that I’ve read, and it makes me think I’ve been missing out by not noticing his work earlier. This is a strong, well-written effort with an ensemble cast and a solid science fictional setting.

Sigma Station used to be a mining station, but with the end of ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Furyborn by Claire Legrand

Furyborn, Claire Legrand (Sourcebooks Fire 978-1492656623, $18.99, 512pp, hc) May 2018.

Claire Legrand is the author of several novels for children and young adults. Her most recent novel is Furyborn, aimed at the YA market but with plenty that would appeal to adult readers of SFF.

Furyborn follows two young women, Rielle Dardenne and Eliana Ferracora, whose worlds are separated by a full millennium, but whose lives and ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Expert System’s Brother by Adrian Tchai­kovsky

The Expert System’s Brother, Adrian Tchai­kovsky ( Publishing 978-1-250-19756-6, $14.99, 174pp, tp) July 2018. Cover by Raphael Lacoste.

The Expert System’s Brother is a new novella by Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning author Adrian Tchaikovsky (Children of Time, Ironclads) from Publishing’s well-regarded novella line. Tchaikovsky is developing quite a range when it comes to science fiction, from the near-future grim military story of Ironclads to the ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Point of Sighs by Melissa Scott

Point of Sighs, Melissa Scott (Lethe Press 978-1-59021-645-3, $18.00, 276pp, tp) May 2018. Cover by Ben Baldwin.

Melissa Scott’s Astreiant is a city to conjure with. It shares some commonalities with Ellen Kush­ner’s Riverside, though the first book, Point of Hopes (co-written with the late Lisa A. Barnett) was initially published in 1995 to Kushner’s Swordspoint‘s 1987. (And it involves a little less duelling.) Astreiant is a rich, ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Fire Dance by Ilana C. Myer

Fire Dance, Ilana C. Myer (Tor 978-0-7653- 7832-3, $27.99, 368pp, hc) April 2018. Cover by Stephan Martinière.

I’m still not sure how I feel about Ilana C. Myer’s Fire Dance. Myer’s first novel, Last Song Before Night, left me feeling a little distant and disengaged from its action and characters. Fire Dance is its sequel, set a handful of months later. It has a few changes among ...Read More

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Liz Bourke reviews The Descent of Monsters by JY Yang

The Descent of Monsters, JY Yang ( Publishing 9 78-1-250-16585-5, $14.99, 168pp, tp). July 2018. Cover by Yuko Shimizo.

JY Yang has garnered several award nominations for The Black Tides of Heaven. Along with The Red Threads of Fortune, to which it is closely linked, The Black Tides of Heaven – a Hugo finalist in the Best Novella category, as well as a Nebula nominee – was ...Read More

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Liz Bourke reviews Black Chamber by S.M. Stirling

Black Chamber, S.M. Stirling (Ace 978-0399586231, $16.00, 400pp, tp). July 2018.

I’ll confess I wasn’t expecting as many good things from S.M. Stirling’s Black Chamber as I actually found. I have a peculiar relationship with Stirling’s novels. I’ve read quite a few of them, starting with Island in the Sea of Time, and I liked them quite a bit more before I encountered the author on the internet, ...Read More

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Liz Bourke reviews Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee

Revenant Gun, Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris 978-1781086070, $9.99, 400pp, pb). June 2018. Cover by Chris Moore.

Revenant Gun is the third volume in Yoon Ha Lee’s (excellent) Machineries of Empire trilogy. It’s an untraditional sort of trilogy: while all of the volumes continue the same story, they do so with different approaches and different major characters. Where Ninefox Gambit, the first book, focused on Kel Cheris, a mathematically ...Read More

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Liz Bourke reviews Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

Trail of Lightning, Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga Press 978-1534413498, $27.99, 304pp, hc). June 2018.

Like many of this year’s debuts, Rebecca Roanhorse’s Trail of Lightning has a great deal of anticipatory hype to live up to. A fantasy published by a major press that features Native American mythology, written by a Native author, Trail of Lightning carries a weight of expectations for representation that most works by (non-queer, at least) ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe by Alex White

A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe, Alex White (Orbit 978-0-316-41206-3, $15.99, 470pp, tp). June 2018.

I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting from Alex White’s A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe, but as it transpires, what I experienced is a lot weirder than I really anticipated. Good, but weird. White (Every Mountain Made Low, Alien: The Cold Forge) ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Latchkey by Nicole Kornher-Stace

Latchkey, Nicole Kornher-Stace (Mythic De­lirium 978-0-9889124-8- 9, $17.95, 336pp, tp) July 2018. Cover by Jacquelin de Leon.

Latchkey is the sequel to Nicole Kornher-Stace’s poorly known (and sorely under­rated) Archivist Wasp. Archivist Wasp, published in 2015 by Big Mouth House, was a genre-straddling story: part post-apocalyptic coming-of-age tale and part fantasy quest, it structured itself as a literal katabasis – a descent to the underworld – in ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Though Hell Should Bar the Way by David Drake

Though Hell Should Bar the Way, David Drake (Baen 978-1481483131, $25.00, 416pp, hc). April 2018.

Though Hell Should Bar the Way is the twelfth and latest novel in David Drake’s Republic of Cinnabar Navy (RCN) series, published in the UK by Titan Books and in the USA by Baen. Drake is well known for his command of military science fiction – his record of success stretches back to the ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews A Call to Vengeance by David Weber, Timothy Zahn & Thomas Pope

A Call to Vengeance, David Weber, Timothy Zahn & Thomas Pope (Baen 978-1476782102, $26.00, 480pp, hc) March 2018.

A Call to Vengeance by David Weber, Timothy Zahn & Thomas Pope is the third and latest novel in the Manticore Ascendant series, which began with A Call to Duty and continued in A Call to Arms. Set several hundred years prior to the events of Weber’s Honor Harrington novels, the ...Read More

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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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