Paul Di Filippo Reviews World Engines: Destroyer by Stephen Baxter

World Engines: Destroyer, Stephen Baxter (UK: Gollancz 978-1473223172, £20, 576pp, hardcover) September 2019

As nearly as I can suss out, Stephen Baxter currently has no publisher in the USA. His last three books in his classic Xeelee series—Xeelee Endurance (2015), Xeelee Vengeance (2017) and Xeelee Redemption (2018)—appeared from Gollancz in the UK, but not here. And this newest one has no American edition either.

Now, thanks to the ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews All Worlds Are Real by Susan Palwick

All Worlds Are Real Era, Susan Palwick (Fairwood 978-1933846842, $17.99, 322pp, hardcover) November 2019

With the publication of her new story collection, All Worlds Are Real, Susan Palwick charts her sixth book over the course of her 35 years of professional publication. Measured reductionistically by number of pages produced, she has not been extremely prolific. But when gauged by the quality of her prose and the allure and ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Supernova Era by Cixin Liu

Supernova Era, Cixin Liu (Tor 978-1250306036, $27.99, 352pp, hardcover) October 2019

The Anglophone market for foreign fantastika often seems to have one significant niche available per era. No matter how many non-English-speaking authors are producing interesting material, only a single name becomes widely translated and prominent. For the longest time during the earliest years of the genre, that berth was filled of course by Jules Verne. Then by Lem. ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Antediluvian by Wil McCarthy

Antediluvian, Wil McCarthy (Baen 978-1-4814-8431-2, $25, 320pp, hardcover) October 2019

Award-winning author Wil McCarthy has not brought forth a novel since—if I am reading his ISFDB entry aright—2005’s To Crush the Moon, and I suspect a whole new generation of readers is unfamiliar with his name and accomplishments: the ability to splendidly blend solid scientific outrageousness with slambang action and likable Everyman characters. That’s a shame, since, as ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Salvation Lost by Peter F. Hamilton

Salvation Lost, Peter F. Hamilton (Del Rey 978-0399178856, 512pp, $32.00, hardcover) October 2019

I’m always chuffed when a review of mine provides a sentence that is deemed blurb-worthy by a publisher. This just happened with my review of Peter Hamilton’s novel Salvation from 2018. I appear on the back cover of the brand-new sequel, Salvation Lost, saying, “It’s a bravura performance from start to finish… Hamilton is juggling ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Hollywood North by Michael Libling

Hollywood North, Michael Libling (ChiZine Publications 978-1-77148-490-9, $17.99, 360pp, trade paperback) September 2019

After winning a World Fantasy Award in 2015, ChiZine Publications has continued even more strongly than before as a powerhouse of offbeat fantastika, publishing dozens of titles from such visionary luminaries as Bracken MacLeod, Helen Marshall, and David Nickle. Their latest is the debut novel of Michael Libling, based on his award-nominated short with the same ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews First Cosmic Velocity by Zach Powers

First Cosmic Velocity, Zach Powers (Putnam 978-0525539278, $26, 352pp, hardcover) August 2019

Thirty years after the fall of the Soviet Union (counting from the initial revolts of the satellite nations in 1989, albeit not from the official dissolution date of 1991)—and ignoring all the present complicated realities that remnant Russia entails on the geopolitical scene—the era of the Communist empire (roughly starting in 1917) seems—at least to my perceptions, ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Silver Wind by Nina Allan

The Silver Wind, Nina Allan (Titan 978-1789091694, $14.95, 368pp, trade paperback) September 2019

There’s a certain kind of SF that no one does better than the British. Eerie, ambiguous, sly, multivalent, sensitive to the nuanced emotional weather of the protagonists, highly naturalistic despite the weirdness…. If I mention the names Christopher Priest, Brian Aldiss, D.G. Compton and, on the horror end of the spectrum, Robert Aickman, I think you’ll ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Sing Your Sadness Deep by Laura Mauro

Sing Your Sadness Deep, Laura Mauro (Undertow 978-1988964133, $27.99, 236pp, hardcover) August 2019

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the founding of Undertow Publications, under the aegis of Michael Kelly, who wears a second hat as an accomplished fiction writer himself, thus continuing the field’s grand tradition of editors who know how stories are put together from the inside out (Knight, Dozois, Campbell, et. al). During that span ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Girls with Kaleidoscope Eyes by Howard V. Hendrix

The Girls With Kaleidoscope Eyes: Analog Stories for a Digital Age, Howard V. Hendrix (Fairwood Press 978-1-933846-77-4, $17.99, 318pp, trade paperback) August 2019

I do believe I’ve read all six of Howard Hendrix’s ingenious, well-crafted and entertaining novels, all of which I’ve enjoyed immensely. When, retrospectively, his output of novels seemed to cease with Spears of God, in 2006, I was dismayed and sad. For one reason or ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Radicalized by Cory Doctorow

Radicalized, Cory Doctorow (Tor 978-1250228581, $26.99, 304pp, hc) March 2019.

There’s a glib and half-serious theory that the career of every SF writer is contained in embryonic form in their first short-story sale. For Cory Doctorow, this critical trick holds partially true. His first major work – “Craphound” from 1998 – displayed his affinity for droll humor laced with melancholy; his hipness and intimacy with trends, fads, and bubbling-under ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Stealing Worlds by Karl Schroeder

Stealing Worlds, Karl Schroeder (Tor 978-0-7653-9998-4, $29.99, 320pp, hardcover) June 2019

There are a handful of SF writers whose novels are both vastly entertaining and which also serve as engineer-level blueprints for refashioning the world. In this category I would put Kim Stanley Robinson, Vernor Vinge, Cory Doctorow, William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, and Charles Stross. Now, with a shift in his focus from far futures ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Ghost Clause by Howard Norman

The Ghost Clause, Howard Norman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 978-0544987296, $27, 256pp, hardcover) July 2019

Never having read any of Howard Norman’s previous dozen widely acclaimed books, I was eager to have cause to trek through his newest, due to its falling within my fantastika remit. I discovered a charming, meticulously crafted, laid-back ghost story, a kind of inversion of Thorne Smith’s Topper, not quite so absurdist. Whereas, in that ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Intimations of Death by Felix Timmermans

Intimations of Death, Felix Timmermans (Valancourt Books 978-1948405409, $15.99, 152pp, trade paperback) July 2019

The past is a seemingly inexhaustible trove of forgotten wonders. At least so the current literary rediscovery and reprint bonanza would tell us. (With concurrence from the music world, where lost tapes of fabulous concerts resurface regularly.) Formerly rare and unobtainable and legendary volumes such as The Ship That Sailed to Mars and The Temple ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull

The Lesson, Cadwell Turnbull (Blackstone 978-1538584644, $26.99, 290pp, hardcover) June 2019

The nations of the Caribbean are so close to the USA, and share such a rich, tangled, fraught history with the States, that one would imagine many writers would have capitalized on the consanguinity to set their fantasies or futures there. And yet the bibliography at the handy website Caribbean SF lists titles for only thirty-some relevant novels. ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Grand Dark by Richard Kadrey

The Grand Dark, Richard Kadrey (Harper Voyager 978-0-06-267249-0, $26.99, 432pp, hardcover) June 2019

The history, culture, folklore, politics and superstitions of Middle Europe — otherwise Central Europe or, more exotically, Mitteleuropa, countries including Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Switzerland, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, the Republic of Macedonia, and Albania — offer a rich mine of narrative and thematic possibilities. The same goes for the lands ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Recursion by Blake Crouch

Recursion, Blake Crouch (Crown 978-1-5247-5978-0, $27, 336pp, hardcover) June 2019

It’s easy to recognize a certain kind of technothriller bestseller, even one that’s skillfully done. The characters are not necessarily flat, but, for easy readerly absorption, they spring from readily identifiable societal niches: cop, businessman, housewife, general, terrorist. The language is pared down and highly cinematic, with lots of scenes plainly intended for the big screen. Not much introspection ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Million Mile Road Trip by Rudy Rucker

Million Mile Road Trip, Rudy Rucker (Night Shade Books 978-1-59780-992-4, $24.99, 504pp, hardcover) May 2019.

It’s been a highly productive year or so for Rudy Rucker. In August of 2018 he self-published the excellent Return to the Hollow Earth (review here). Now, only nine months later, from his new publisher Night Shade, comes Million Mile Road Trip, along with reissues of nine of his classics. Who says life ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Children of Ruin, Adrian Tchaikovsky (Orbit 978-0316452533, $15.99, 608pp, trade paperback) May 2019.

Adrian Tchaikovsky’s opener in this series, Children of Time, snapped up the Clarke Award for its year of publication, and it’s easy to see why. The book combines Stapledonian vistas with intimate human dramas, along with top-notch conceptualizations of an alien civilization. Toss in an Armageddon-extinction scenario, a generation starship, and a half-bonkers AI-posthuman godling, ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Novellas by Spinrad, Gloss, McCleary, and Powers

General Strike, Norman Spinrad (Self-published 978-1091528574, $7.00, 61pp, trade paperback) March 2019.

Outside the Gates, Molly Gloss (Saga Press 978-1534414983, $24.99, 128pp, trade paperback) January 2019.

Too Fat to Go to the Moon, Rob McCleary (Zero Books 978-1785352317, $13.95, 160pp, trade paperback) April 2019.

More Walls Broken, Tim Powers (Subterranean 978-1596068865, $25.00, 136pp, trade paperback) February 2019.

The widespread interest in—and production of—novellas continues apace. Large ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Science Fiction Fanzine Reader: Focal Points 1930-1960, Edited by Luis Ortiz

The Science Fiction Fanzine Reader: Focal Points 1930-1960, Luis Ortiz, ed. (Nonstop Press 978-1933065670, $30.00, 406pp, tp) February 2019.

Luis Ortiz is editor and publisher at NonStop Press, which had its origins many years ago as NonStop magazine. He has compiled several valuable studies of various artists of the fantastic — Lee Brown Coye, Ed Emshwiller. Jack Gaughan — and brought us such goodies as the two-volume assemblage of ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Finder by Suzanne Palmer

Finder, Suzanne Palmer (DAW 978-0-7564-1510-5, $26, 400pp, hardcover) April 2019.

The tropes and tools and furnishings of hardcore classical science fiction, as established and refined over the past hundred years or so, have proven remarkably durable, productive and adaptable. Humans colonizing the galaxy via FTL ships; robots and AIs; aliens; heroes and villains of operatic dimensions; new sciences and technologies; cosmic vistas. The apparatus and favored narrative strategies of ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Man Who Walked Through Cracks: The Collected Short Fiction, Volume Five by R.A. Lafferty

The Man Who Walked Through Cracks: The Collected Short Fiction, Volume Five, R.A. Lafferty (Centipede Press 978-1613472026, $75, 360pp, hardcover) March 2019.

I last checked in with this essential series upon the release of Volume Three, reviewed at this very locale. All my praise, issued then, for sheer production values — and all my quibbles about the limited availability of such a fine series — still obtain, as does ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Hod King by Josiah Bancroft

The Hod King, Josiah Bancroft (Orbit 978-0316517980, $15.99, 624pp, tp) January 2019.

To the familiar litany of author names that illustrate self-publishing successes – Hugh Howey, Andy Weir, E.L. James – you can add that of Josiah Bancroft. Convinced of the quality of his first novel, Senlin Ascends, he issued it himself in 2013, with the goal of “selling five hundred copies.” Five years later, new editions of ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Zero Bomb by M.T. Hill

Zero Bomb, M.T. Hill (Titan 978-1-78909-001-7, $14.95, 304pp, trade paperback) March 2019.

The byline M.T. Hill is a not-too-opaque screen for the writer Matt Hill, whose two previous books under that name have been The Folded Man (2013) and Graft (2016). I mention this fact only because his third novel, Zero Bomb, is so good that you will want to snatch up copies of the first two, as ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Today I Am Carey by Martin L. Shoemaker

Today I Am Carey, Martin L. Shoemaker (Baen 978-1-4814-8384-1, $16, 336pp, trade paperback) March 2019.

Martin Shoemaker’s debut novel (he had his first story publication in 2011), is based on his tale “Today I Am Paul“. That quietly emotional story about “Medical Care Android BRKCX-01932-217JH-98662” garnered Shoemaker a Nebula nomination, and consequently a fair number of readers will certainly be quite interested to see how Shoemaker expands what was ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea by Sarah Pinsker

Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea, Sarah Pinsker (Small Beer Press 978-1-61873-155-5, $17, 286pp, trade paperback) March 2019

Having published her first story as recently as 2012 — that date surely seems barely in the rearview mirror to me, although your personal chrono-mileage may vary — Sarah Pinsker has accomplished a lot. With nearly fifty stories to her credit, and a couple of major awards, she has ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones by Micah Dean Hicks

Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones, Micah Dean Hicks ((John Joseph Adams 978-1-328-56645-4, $24, 304pp, hardcover, February 2019)

Arguably, we live in a golden age for ghost stories, of an excellence and profusion on a par with the Victorian era classics. Writers such as Mike Carey, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Tim Powers, and Paul Tremblay are working in this mode at the top of their game. As an article in ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders

The City in the Middle of the Night, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor 978-0-7653-7996-2, $26.99, 368pp, hardcover, February 2019)

Charlie Jane Anders’s debut novel from 2016, All the Birds in the Sky, marked the emergence of a truly distinctive voice. In her tale of battling magicians and scientists, she managed to gainfully conflate a touching love story with a scary apocalypse, yoking the quotidian with the cosmic, the comic ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews The Plotters by Un-su Kim

The Plotters, Un-su Kim ((Doubleday 978-0385544382, $25.95, 304pp, hardcover, January 2019)

The theme of secret conspiracies running our mundane world has sunk deep roots into the genre of fantastika. Although quite often such books exhibit no supernatural or SFnal apparatus, they still manage to evoke speculative or weird effects that resonate with the genre, since they demand a kind of cognitive estrangement: everything you know is wrong. John Crowley ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Shadow Captain by Alastair Reynolds

Shadow Captain, Alastair Reynolds (Orbit 978-0316555708, $15.99, 448pp, trade paperback, January 2019)

A person huddles alone in the wreckage of a spaceship, body glowing with strange patterns of light. And all that the person can think of is revenge on those responsible for the situation.

Sounds familiar, right? Good old Gully Foyle in The Stars My Destination. Well, surprisingly, that’s not the book under discussion today. Instead, we ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo Reviews Arkad’s World by James Cambias

Arkad’s World, James Cambias (Baen 978-1-4814-8370-4, $24, 304pp, hardcover, January 2019)

One of my all-time favorite SF novels is Earthblood, by Keith Laumer and Rosel George Brown. It’s a space operatic quest following the life of a man called Roan, from youth to maturity. He’s the only human, and despised, in a galaxy of oddball aliens, and he’s determined to find the rest of his species on the ...Read More

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