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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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Aspects by John M. Ford

Aspects, John M. Ford (Tor 978-1250269034, hardcover, 496pp, $26.99) April 2022.

I discovered something unique in all my years of reading, upon encountering John M. Ford’s posthumously published novel: it is possible to be both elated and melancholy at the same time. I am elated because what we have here—in nearly five hundred pages of polished text—is a shining, brilliant example of fantasy writing, nothing but pure pleasure and ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd

The Cartographers, Peng Shepherd (William Morrow 978-0062910691, hardcover, 400pp, $27.99) March 2022.

I must confess that Peng Shepherd’s award-winning debut novel from 2018, The Book of M, slipped right under my radar, and so I come now to her sophomore production without any expectations. From that particular reviewer’s stance, let me say right from the get-go that I am captivated by her sharp eye, her smooth prose stylings, ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

How High We Go in the Dark, Sequoia Nagamatsu (William Morrow 978-0063072640, hardcover, 304pp, $27.99) January 2022.

Sequoia Nagamatsu’s debut novel, How High We Go In the Dark, is in the nature of a “fixup,” that time-honored and actually quite often innovative structure that is assembled from previously published pieces which were deemed at the time to be independent and self-sufficient tales. I’m not sure if these earlier segments ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Tom Beckerlegge’s The Carnival of Ash

The Carnival of Ash, Tom Beckerlegge (Solaris 978-1786185006, hardcover, 528pp, $24.99) March 2022.

Some modes of fiction can start to appear dead or at least quiescent, until a certain writer comes along, gives them a shake, and infuses new life into the somnolent corpus. Such has just happened with Tom Beckerlegge’s first novel for adults (as Tom Becker he has had a sterling career producing YA books), With The ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews John Scalzi’s The Kaiju Preservation Society

The Kaiju Preservation Society, John Scalzi (Tor 978-0765389121, hardcover, 272pp, $26.99) March 2022.

As you might suspect from the title alone, this novel is not one of John Scalzi’s more sober-sided, tragic, or grim-scenario’d offerings. In fact, it is an inventive, light-hearted, sprightly romp, replete with a low-key sensawunda vibe, that slyly makes, along the way, a few sharp points about ethics, friendship, capitalism, pure scientific research, and humanity’s ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Stolen Skies by Tim Powers

Stolen Skies, Tim Powers (Baen ‎ 978-1982125837, hardcover, 304pp, $26.00) January 2022.

I must assume that all my readers here today are hardcore fans of Tim Powers and are up-to-speed on his wonderful Vickery and Castine series, the third volume of which sequence is now before us. To assume otherwise is to contemplate the unthinkable: that there are benighted readers of fantastika who are woefully depriving themselves of such ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Paradox Hotel by Rob Hart

The Paradox Hotel, Rob Hart (Ballantine 978-1984820648, hardcover, 336pp, $28.00) February 2022.

A large building full of functionaries employed by a mysterious organization in charge of policing the timestream, and one rebellious individual, subject to ethical and emotional stresses, who threatens to either wreck or save or reform the whole shebang.

No, we’re not going to be talking today about the Disney+ series Loki. I just thought I ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Lord Quillifer by Walter Jon Williams

Lord Quillifer, Walter Jon Williams (Saga ‎ 978-1481490030, trade paperback, 528pp, $18.99) February 2022.

In 2009 my good friend Don D’Ammassa, noted critic, reviewer and fiction writer of long-standing prominence in our field, produced a volume which crystallized my perceptions of a heretofore overlooked or hidden genre. The book in question was the Encyclopedia of Adventure Fiction. In his perceptive introduction, D’Ammassa said in part: “Although there is ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The This by Adam Roberts

The This, Adam Roberts (Gollancz 978-1473230903, hardcover, 304pp, $26.99) May 2022 in US; February 2022 in UK.

One science fiction writer’s utopia is another science fiction writer’s dystopia. In several of Rudy Rucker’s recent books, neural prosthetics allow direct brain-to-brain communications, or telepathy, and the result is to boost humanity to a new era of understanding and grooviness—albeit not without some glitches along the way. In Adam Roberts’s newest, ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Beholden by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Beholden, Cassandra Rose Clarke (Erewhon 978-1645660255, trade paperback, 544pp, $19.95) January 2022.

Cassandra Rose Clarke’s fine new fantasy is a superior standalone (with mild climactic hints towards a possible sequel) that hybridizes three or four subgenres to create a uniquely tasty bit of fantastika. First, there’re flavorings of mannerpunk, insofar as the protagonists hail from a society of landed gentry on vast estates, whose members circulate among the ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Best of Lucius Shepard Volume Two

The Best of Lucius Shepard Volume Two, edited by Bill Sheehan (Subterranean Press 978-1645240358, hardcover, 844pp, $50.00) December 2021.

When Subterranean Press gifted us all with The Best of Lucius Shepard in 2008, the author still walked among us, with some six productive years left in his wide-ranging, extravagant, hectic, and literarily prolific life. (He died in 2014 at the too-young-but-still-amazing-for-his-profligate-ways age of seventy.) One can presume Shepard had ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Michael Bishop’s A Few Last Words for the Late Immortals

A Few Last Words for the Late Immortals, Michael Bishop (Fairwood Press 978-1933846125, trade paperback, 250pp, $17.99) November 2021.

Fairwood Press has become the classy home to many of Michael Bishop’s fine books from his large and exciting backlist. They have now issued a dozen of his titles, all extensively revised by the author. But this latest compilation is something very different, a brand-new assemblage of poetry and flash ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Mike Ashley’s Nature’s Warnings: Classic Stories of Eco-Science Fiction

Nature’s Warnings: Classic Stories of Eco-Science Fiction, edited by Mike Ashley (British Library Publishing ‎ ‎ 978-0712353571, trade paperback, 320pp, $16.95) November 2021.

Being an anthologist is much like being a party host. If you have excellent taste in people (or stories) and know a lot of interesting people (or stories) and can instinctively or cleverly create harmonious or synergistic or even antagonistic assemblages of people (or stories), you ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Shoggoths in Traffic and Other Stories by Tobias S. Buckell

Shoggoths in Traffic and Other Stories, Tobias S. Buckell (Fairwood Press ‎ 978-1933846187, trade paperback, 328pp, $17.99) November 2021.

The twentieth anniversary of Tobias Buckell’s first story appearance, “The Fish Merchant,” in Science Fiction Age for March 2000 (making him one of editor Scott Edelman’s many insightful launches), has come and gone without much ado, although by rights it should have been celebrated widely. For Buckell has become a ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Fall of Babel by Josiah Bancroft

The Fall of Babel, Josiah Bancroft (Orbit 978-0316518192, trade paperback, 672pp, $17.99) November 2021.

As everyone from gymnasts to songwriters knows, “sticking the landing” is essential for creating an artistic triumph. You might be doing great for nine-tenths of your balance-beam ballet or your three-minute pop tune, but unless you go out elegantly, with a bang, and in fulfillment of all that you have set up earlier, after prepping ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Galaxias by Stephen Baxter

Galaxias, Stephen Baxter (Gollancz 978-1473228863, trade paperback, 544pp, $22.84) October 2021.

Stephen Baxter’s latest novel is a mind-expanding trip into an unpredictable but scientifically rigorous future—in other words, one of his patented Hard SF wonderworks. But much as I enjoyed it, my reading pleasures only bloomed after I had dashed some of my perhaps not-unwarranted expectations. I was ready to read Wylie and Balmer’s When Worlds Collide, and ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Shadows of Eternity by Gregory Benford

Shadows of Eternity, Gregory Benford (Saga 978-1534443624, 496pp, $27.99) October 2021.

It’s hard to label any book the “capstone” to a career when the author in question is still lively, vibrant, intellectually bold, ambitious, au courant, and masterfully proficient. Who knows what new heights such a person might reach beyond the current title? And yet one is tempted to attach this label to Greg Benford’s newest, Shadows of Eternity, ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Juicy Ghosts by Rudy Rucker

Juicy Ghosts, Rudy Rucker (Transreal Books 978-1940948485, 332pp, $24.95) September 2021.

If any currently working SF author can be held up as an instance of the main thesis in that valuable but sadly underutilized volume by the Panshins—The World Beyond the Hill: Science Fiction and the Quest for Transcendence—then Rudy Rucker is that writer. All his work involves humanity’s desire to reach or at least to observe ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Stanisław Lem’s The Truth and Other Stories

The Truth and Other Stories , Stanisław Lem (The MIT Press ‎ 978-0262046084, 344pp, $39.95) September 2021.

“Of these twelve short stories by science fiction master Stanisław Lem, only three have previously appeared in English, making this the first ‘new’ book of fiction by Lem since the late 1980s.” Thus reads the press release accompanying this hot-off-the-presses volume (from a somewhat unlikely source, MIT Press), a plain and sober statement ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Bewilderment by Richard Powers

Bewilderment , Richard Powers (Norton 978-0393881141, 288pp, $27.95) September 2021.

Since his first book in 1985, Richard Powers has published a dozen novels, with this newest one being his lucky thirteenth. In one way or another, to one degree or another, they have all manifested deep concern with matters of technology and culture, the core remit of SF. Some, such as Galatea 2.2, have been flat-out undeniable science fiction. ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Scholars of Night by John M. Ford

The Scholars of Night, John M. Ford (Tor 978-1250269171, 256pp, $18.99) September 2021.

While we all eagerly await the heretofore-unseen last novel by John M. Ford, Aspects, due in April of next year, we will have to quench our desires for all things Fordian with the various reprints that are tilling the soil for that harvest. We earlier got The Dragon Waiting (my review here) which had gone ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews In the Watchful City by S. Qiouyi Lu

In the Watchful City , S. Qiouyi Lu (Tor.com 978-1250792983, 192pp, $14.99) August 2021.

Close as I can discern, S. Qiouyi Lu began their career circa 2016, with a story in Strange Horizons titled “Her Sacred Spirit Soars.” (Although their CV does list a poem from one year earlier, “Particularities.”) In either case, the succeeding short span of years have been filled with a respectable number of tales from their ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Appleseed by Matt Bell

Appleseed, Matt Bell (Custom House ‎ 978-0063040144, 480pp, $27.99) July 2021.

Matt Bell is a writer whose whole oeuvre (a couple of previous novels and several story collections) is plainly steeped in the elements of fantastika; a writer who is manifestly cognizant of all the hardcore tropes of the genre, able to deploy them deftly. But he is published outside the genre fences, and hailed as non-denominational Literature with ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Everything in All the Wrong Order by Chaz Brenchley

Everything in All the Wrong Order: The Best of Chaz Brenchley, Chaz Brenchley (Subterranean ‎ ‎978-1645240112, 568pp, $45.00) August 2021.

Starting in 1974 with The Best of Stanley G. Weinbaum, Ballantine Books began issuing a series of best-of volumes that became a definitive record of canonical authors and stories, providing a reading map and sense of history for a generation or two of readers. (To a lesser extent, ...Read More

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