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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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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