Paul Di Filippo Reviews Hopeland by Ian McDonald

Hopeland, Ian McDonald (Tor 978-0765375551, hardcover, 512pp, $30.99) February 2023

Try to imagine some improbable authorial workmate pairings. Tanith Lee and Andre Norton? Dan Brown and Christopher Priest? Robert Sheckley and M. John Harrison? It’s a given that such mismatches would come to naught. But a similar yoking of semi-antithetical writers—at least in spirit—is at play in Ian McDonald’s big new exciting and tender saga, Hopeland. It’s a ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews High Concepts by Bill Pronzini

High Concepts, Bill Pronzini (Stark House Press 979-8886010176, trade paperback, 234pp, $15.95) February 2023

I love Stark House books. They specialize in reprints of classic and overlooked crime, noir, and mystery books, as well as similarly situated fantastika items. But now and then they also issue something brand-new. In this case, it’s the first collection of SF/F/H from the famed Bill Pronzini, whose bibliography runs to several pages and ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Victory City by Salman Rushdie

Victory City, Salman Rushdie (Random House 978-0593243398, hardcover, 352pp, $30.00) February 2023

Salman Rushdie’s new novel is an un-put-down-able narrative feast, rich with character, incident, aphorisms, and meditations on morality, life, and death. It’s a saga so rich and authentic, narrated with so much fluency and ceaseless invention, that it ranks with the other Ur-romances that Rushdie alludes to, such as the Ramayana. Flavors of The Thousand and ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Thing in the Snow by Sean Adams

The Thing in the Snow, Sean Adams (Morrow 978-0063257757, hardcover, 288pp, $27.99) January 2023

An enormous, spooky, half-abandoned, cryptic building, whose inhabitants pursue ceremonies and rituals with unthinking adherence, while menaces hover both within (due to interpersonal conflicts) and also on the perimeters. We must be talking about Peake’s monumental and essential Gormenghast series, right? Not at all. Instead we are concerned with Sean Adams’s second novel, The Thing ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Scarab Mission by James L. Cambias

The Scarab Mission, James L. Cambias (Baen 978-1982192396, hardcover, 288pp, $18.00) January 2023

This rousing, unstoppable, non-stop adventure follows Cambias’s The Godel Operation (reviewed here), which introduced his cosmos of the Billion Worlds: a future where our Solar System is overstuffed with a zillion habitats, polities and species (human and other wise), some struggling for supremacy, others just following their mundane blisses. It’s a definite post-scarcity—if not even posthuman—environment, ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Knot of Shadows by Lois McMaster Bujold and After Many a Summer by Tim Powers

Knot of Shadows, Lois McMaster Bujold (Subterranean 978-1-64524-114-0, hardcover, 160pp, $45.00) January 2023.

It’s time for another nigh-aleatory pairing of two novellas, as we dip into the current state of this fascinating artform, which, it has been said, is almost ideal for works of fantastika: long enough for worldbuilding and deep speculations; short enough not to grow wearisome or bogged down.

Today’s offerings both come from the fabulous Subterranean ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Illuminations: Stories by Alan Moore

Illuminations: Stories, Alan Moore (Bloomsbury 978-1635578805, hardcover, 464pp, $30.00) October 2022.

Alan Moore is a sly old devil. Famed for his work in comics, his cultural commentary, and for two massive, sui generis novels (Voice of the Fire [1996] and Jerusalem [2016]), he has managed, all these years, to keep his production of short fiction on the downlow. I myself, reasonably conversant with his oeuvre, would have proclaimed, ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Desert Creatures by Kay Chronister

Desert Creatures, Kay Chronister (Erewhon 978-1645660521, hardcover, 352pp, $26.95) November 2022.

Kay Chronister’s second book, this unforgiving, unforgettable debut novel titled Desert Creatures, follows a highly acclaimed short-story collection, Thin Places, which I reviewed for Asimov’s in 2020. At that time, I said:

Her language crisp and fresh and disturbing, blending the matter-of-fact surrealism of Leena Krohn with the cold deliriums of Shirley Jackson, Kay Chronister is ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Cold Water by Dave Hutchinson

Cold Water, Dave Hutchinson (Solaris 978-1786187222, trade paperback, 464pp, $16.99) November 2022.

Having completed his marvelous main sequence of Fractured Europe books with a fourth installment, Europe at Dawn, in 2018 (you can read my review of three-quarters of the series here), Hutchinson now offers a pendant volume, starring a new lead. But the tale is in no way overly reliant upon, inferior to, or less fully developed ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Eversion by Alastair Reynolds

Eversion, Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz 978-0575090767, hardcover, 320pp, £20.00) May 2022. (US edition Orbit 978-0316462822, 352pp,$17.99 August 2022.)

Alistair Reynolds is a grand writer with many arrows in his quiver. But I never suspected him of having any great fondness for the work of Philip K. Dick, nor of being prone to write an homage to that master of SF metaphysical surrealism. And yet that is just what he delivers, ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Citadel of Forgotten Myths by Michael Moorcock

The Citadel of Forgotten Myths, Michael Moorcock (Saga ‎ 978-1982199807, hardcover, 336pp, $28.99) December 2022.

The legendary quip asserting that “The Golden Age of science fiction is thirteen” needs to be modified in my case, and, I suspect, in the case of many other readers. My personal Golden Age of SF lasted a decade: from the moment in 1965 (I was ten) when I discovered Raymond F. Jones’s The ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Flight from the Ages & other stories by Derek Künsken

Flight from the Ages & other stories, Derek Künsken (Solaris 978-1786187284, trade paperback, 400pp, $16.99) December 2022.

It does one’s heart good to see newer writers working in some of the grand traditions of SF, reinvigorating the Old School lineage with up-to-the-minute attitudes, concepts, and styles. Such a writer is Derek Künsken. Although not a youngster (he was born in 1971), he possesses a fresh and breezy way with ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Telluria by Vladimir Sorokin

Telluria, Vladimir Sorokin (NYRB Classics 978-1681376332, trade paperback, 352pp, $18.95) August 2022.

Vladimir Sorokin is a postmodern, pissed-off Stanislaw Lem. In line with his belonging to a younger generation (Sorokin was born in 1955, Lem in 1921), Sorokin is less cerebral, more emotionally “hot.” But while not necessarily as deeply invested in philosophical/ontological/epistemological issues as Lem was, Sorokin shares Lem’s abilities to push old tropes and novums to the ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Carnival and Other Stories by Charles Beaumont

The Carnival and Other Stories, Charles Beaumont (Subterranean Press 978-1645240914, hardcover, 392pp, $45.00) October 2022.

The myths and legends surrounding creative geniuses who died too young are omnipresent and alluring. John Keats, Buddy Holly, Keith Haring, Marilyn Monroe, Janis Joplin— Such names form a pantheon of appreciation for what was accomplished and regrets for the might-have-beens.

Fantastika is not bereft of such a catalogue. Stanley Weinbaum, Cyril Kornbluth, Tom ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Expect Me Tomorrow by Christopher Priest

Expect Me Tomorrow, Christopher Priest (Gollancz 978-1473235137, hardcover, 336pp, £22.00) September 2022 (US edition December 2022).

In 2023, Christopher Priest turns eighty, a non-trivial milestone. His first short story sale dates to 1966, giving him a career, so far, of over 55 years. And, remarkably, as his new novel amply illustrates, he is still working at the top of his form. SFWA Grand Master nomination, anyone?

Expect Me Tomorrow ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Redspace Rising by Brian Trent

Redspace Rising, Brian Trent (Flame Tree Press 978-1787586581, hardcover, 432pp, $26.95) September 2022.

Brian Trent’s fourth novel is a plasma-propelled, gore-violence-war-and-politics fueled waking dream of a military-conspiracy-techno novel, as sleek and fast as an alien spaceship. It calls to mind a delightfully lunatic but irresistible fusion of such writers as John Barnes, A.E. van Vogt, and Neal Asher—along with one other seminal figure whose role I shall discuss below ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Neon Yang’s The Genesis of Misery

The Genesis of Misery, Neon Yang (Tor 978-1250788979, hardcover, 432pp, $27.99) September 2022.

I have been lamentably unhip to Neon Yang’s previous books and short fiction, but was delighted to make their acquaintance with their latest, a rousing postmodern space opera that has flavors of Frank Herbert, Cordwainer Smith, and Orson Scott Card, all blended into a uniquely tasty dish. As the book’s early promoters have observed, the core ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Jack Dann: Masters of Science Fiction by Jack Dann

Jack Dann: Masters of Science Fiction, Jack Dann (Centipede Press 978-1-61347-304-7, hardcover, 752pp, $65) July 2022.

I think I am going to have to set up a new creditor in my bank’s automatic withdrawal system. That would be Centipede Press, who insists on issuing a steady stream of must-have volumes, all crafted to the heights of bibliophile perfection. They can just take my money automatically every month without quibble. ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Spear Cuts Through Water by Simon Jimenez

The Spear Cuts Through Water, Simon Jimenez (Del Rey 978-0593156599, hardcover, 544pp, $28.99) August 2022.

There are some works of SF which are so unique that they don’t really inspire any scions, homages or imitations. The Stars My Destination is one such. Tau Zero is another. And Lord of Light is a third. It’s not that another author could not take the work of Bester, Anderson, or Zelazny and ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Michael Bishop’s No Enemy but Time: Revised Fortieth Anniversary Edition

No Enemy but Time: Revised Fortieth Anniversary Edition, Michael Bishop (Fairwood Press 978-1933846194, trade paperback, 326pp, $19.99) August 2022.

Somehow, forty years have slipped by since I first read Michael Bishop’s Nebula-Award-winning novel, scarfing it up eagerly (in its quite appropriately named Timescape edition) as part of my quest to read everything by this intriguing author whom I had first encountered in the pages of Galaxy magazine in 1970. ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Venomous Lumpsucker by Ned Beauman

Venomous Lumpsucker, Ned Beauman (Soho Press 978-1641294126, hardcover, 336pp, $27.95) July 2022.

I have been a fan of Ned Beauman’s work since his first book (Boxer, Beetle) and on through The Teleportation Accident; Glow; and Madness Is Better Than Defeat, reviewing them all at our happy Locus home here. If you click through to my review for Madness, you can follow the chain ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Hokuloa Road by Elizabeth Hand

Hokuloa Road, Elizabeth Hand (Mulholland 978-0316542043, hardcover, 368pp, $28.00) July 2022.

In days of yore, when the actual internet was merely science fiction, curious fans found out scarce biographical tidbits about their favorite authors in whatever manner they could: from fanzines, or dustjacket flaps, or occasional media articles and even the rare autobiographical essay. Heinlein lived on a walled estate in Colorado Springs. Poul Anderson, Frank Herbert and Jack ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Moonday Letters by Emmi Itäranta

The Moonday Letters, Emmi Itäranta (Titan 978-1803360447, trade paperback, 368pp, $15.95) July 2022.

One of John Campbell’s prescriptions for the kind of science fiction he wanted to see was to say, paraphrased, “Give me a story which could legitimately be presented as contemporary fiction in a magazine of the year 2100.” In other words, a story narrated out of a deep and implicit and shared set of assumptions about ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Ymir by Rich Larson

Ymir, Rich Larson (Orbit 978-0316416580, trade paperback, 416pp, $17.99) July 2022.

If one tried to engineer a young writer who would embody all the core values, tactics, and ambiance of Classic SF while still conveying ultra-contemporary attitudes, ambiance, and affect, one could hardly produce a better candidate than Rich Larson. Just turned thirty years old, he’s already delivered over a hundred fine stories and now brings us his third ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Among Strangers by Robert Silverberg

Among Strangers, Robert Silverberg (Subterranean Press 978-1645240693, hardcover, 760pp, $50.00) June 2022.

This generous new compilation containing a choice selection from Robert Silverberg’s vast output from his mid- to late-career apex allows us to do several things simultaneously. First, and primarily, we get to enjoy some excellent fiction which might be otherwise hard to come by. (I note on ISFDB that recent editions for the three novels herein are ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Next Time I Die by Jason Starr

The Next Time I Die, Jason Starr (Hard Case Crime 978-1789099515, trade paperback, 256pp, $14.95) June 2022.

I have been an aficionado of the Hard Case Crime line of mysteries ever since its debut in 2004. What great books they issue! But I confess that I tend to read only their reprint volumes, the classic, forgotten, vintage stuff. It’s just my quirk that I prefer the older goods. So ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews City of Orange by David Yoon

City of Orange, David Yoon (Putnam’s 978-0593422168, hardcover, 352pp, $27.00) May 2022.

For those readers intent on firmly categorizing books—and I admit to having my own moments of fussy classifying obsessiveness—David Yoon’s excellent and engrossing debut novel presents some issues. And even speaking of those issues with specific examples is tricky, because this reviewer hesitates to spoil the twists and turns of the book. I shall confine myself to ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Forkpoints by Sheila Finch

Forkpoints, Sheila Finch (Aqueduct Press 978-1-61976-218-3, trade paperback, 336pp, $19.00) June 2022.

Before we turn our attention to the sterling new collection from Sheila Finch, I beg the reader’s indulgence. Please visit the page at Isfdb for Finch’s publisher, Aqueduct Press, which was founded in 2004. There you will see the titles of over 150 books, each of them assembled with care and craft and curatorial canniness, under the ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Mercury Rising by R.W.W. Greene

Mercury Rising, R.W.W. Greene (Angry Robot 978-0857669728, trade paperback, 400pp, $15.99) May 2022.

Greene’s third novel is, overarchingly, a counterfactual tale of what happens in the several decades after the year 1961, when Earth is threatened by invaders from Mercury. But that over-simplified description ignores a host of other themes and virtues and plot contrivances which render the book a jam-packed action-adventure tale centered around a lovable anti-hero. The ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Glitterati by Oliver K. Langmead

Glitterati, Oliver K. Langmead (Titan 978-1789097962, trade paperback, 288pp, $15.95) May 2022.

If Jack Vance had scripted the Zoolander movies, the result might look very much like Oliver Langmead’s sophomore novel, Glitterati. It’s an SF version of one of those frothy comedies perfected by Wodehouse and Firbank, Benson and Thirkell, which nonetheless conceals sharp social commentary and a steely lesson in how to learn to live in the only ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Masters of Science Fiction: Robert Sheckley by Robert Sheckley

Masters of Science Fiction: Robert Sheckley, Robert Sheckley (Centipede Press 978-1-61347-311-5, hardcover, 728pp, $65 February 2022.

There have been four previous volumes in Centipede Press’s gorgeous series Masters of Science Fiction. (Lordy, how splendidly assembled and adorned these books are!) The dedicatees are: James Patrick Kelly, Fritz Leiber, Richard Wilson, and Kate Wilhelm. I endorse these selections wholeheartedly. (I even did the introduction to the Wilson volume.) True ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Flint and Mirror by John Crowley

Flint and Mirror, John Crowley (Tor 978-1250817525, hardcover, 256pp, $26.99) April 2022.

Shortly after the 2017 publication of John Crowley’s masterful novel, Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr, Crowley was heard to opine that the book might be his last piece of long fiction, some fifty years of hard work and exquisite dreaming having taken their natural toll and led to a point of closure and ...Read More

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