Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

Autonomous, Annalee Newitz (Tor 978-0-7653-9207-7, $25.99, 306pp, hc) September 2017.

With only a handful of stories published – sometimes in think-tankish venues such as Hieroglyph or Bruce Sterling’s Twelve Tomorrows – and with a distinguished career in science and SF non-fiction and journalism, Annalee Newitz might well be expected to produce the sort of programmatic first novel that we used to get from professional ‘‘futurists’’ like Robert Theobald ...Read More

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Rachel Swirsky Reviews An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King

An Excess Male, Maggie Shen King (Harper Voyager 9780062662552, $15.99, 416pp, tp) September 2017.

Wei-Guo is An Excess Male. One of a huge population of unmarried men in China, Wei-Guo has never slept with a woman apart from his weekly government-allotted sex worker. Finally, at 40, he and his fathers have saved enough money for a small dowry, just enough to attract the attention of May-Ling and her ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Paolo Bacigalupi

Tool of War, by Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown 978-0-316-22083-5, $17.99, 384pp, hardcover) October 2017

The famously hazy interzone between fiction for adults and fiction for youths totally inverts, evaporates, resubstantiates, and turns into a four-dimensional labyrinth when we consider a novel such as Paolo Bacigalupi’s Tool of War. Demarcations and prohibitions and expectations become meaningless or double-valued, and in the end all one can say is ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews Blood Enemies by Susan R. Matthews

Blood Enemies, Susan R. Matthews (Baen 976-1476782164, $16.00, 256pp, tp) April 2017. Cover by Kurt Miller.

Susan R. Matthews’ Blood Enemies is the long-awaited conclusion to her Under Jurisdiction series. The first book in that series, An Exchange of Hostages, was first published in 1997. Until Baen recently republished previous volumes in the series as Fleet Inquisitor and Fleet Renegade, it was entirely out of print and there ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Innkeeper Chronicles by Ilona Andrews

The Innkeeper Chronicles, Volume One, Ilona Andrews (Subterranean Press 978-1-59606-836-0, $75.00, 773pp, hc) May 2017. Cover by Doris Mantair.

An inn for otherworlders visiting Earth takes center stage in this thoroughly entertaining omnibus collecting Andrews’s first three novels in the Innkeeper Chronicles series: Clean Sweep, Sweep in Peace, and One Fell Sweep. (All three were originally published as serials on Andrews’s website, then self-published.) Despite this volume’s considerable heft, it’s ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Quillifer by Walter Jon Williams

Quillifer by Walter Jon Williams (Simon & Schuster/Saga Press 978-1-4814-8997-3, $27.99, 544pp, hardcover) October 2017

Walter Jon Williams is one of those genre writers whose talents and ambitions are too large to be contained by any single mode of fantastika. He’s done space opera and near-future thrillers, high fantasy and steampunk, dystopias and cyberpunk. One never knows exactly what mode he will next attempt and conquer. His latest ...Read More

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Faren Miller Reviews The Waking Land by Callie Bates

The Waking Land, Callie Bates (Del Rey 978-0-425-28402-5, $27.00, 392pp, hc) July 2017. Cover by Ben Perini.

The Waking Land is a fast-paced, mostly present-tense account that expertly immerses us in the early trauma, active mind, and mixed emotions (passion initially suppressed) of Elanna Valtai during the last year of her teens. She was forced from her parents’ side as a five-year-old, when a newly crowned king held ...Read More

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Adrienne Martini Reviews Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn

Bannerless, Carrie Vaughn (John Joseph Adams/Mariner 978-0-544-94730-6, $14.99, 288pp, tp) July 2017.

In Carrie Vaughn’s Bannerless, the world as we currently know it has fallen, thanks to environmental and economic calamities. Humanity nevertheless persists – thrives, really, given the circumstances. People along the Coast Road, a temperate zone subject to seasonal devastating storms, have learned to live in harmony with the world. They’ve agreed to live by a ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews After the Flare by Deji Bryce Olukotun

After the Flare, by Deji Bryce Olukotun (Unnamed Press 978-1-9447-0018-8, $16.00, 264pp, tp September 2017)

Despite its provocative title, Deji Bryce Olukotun’s first novel Nigerians in Space escaped my attention in 2014, but as it turns out, the Nigerians don’t actually get into space in that novel, which is mostly an international thriller centered around an effort to bring expatriate Nigerian brain power back to the home country ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Jeff Noon

A Man of Shadows, by Jeff Noon (Angry Robot 978-0-85766-670-3, $14.99, 352pp, trade paperback) August 2017

Even for a reader old enough to have lived through the year 1993 and its associated fantastika publications, that period now seems impossibly distant and alien, an era akin to the Enlightenment or the Renaissance–or maybe the Dark Ages, given one’s particular slant on the past. For younger readers, the events ...Read More

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Russell Letson reviews Charles Stross

The Delirium Brief, Charles Stross (Tor.com Publishing 978-0-7653-9466-8, $24.99, 381pp, hc) July 2017. Cover by Peter Lutjen

The harried operatives of the demon-wrangling covert service called the Laundry can’t catch a break in Charles Stross’s The Delirium Brief, which picks up in the aftermath of the disastrous cross-universe invasion of last year’s The Nightmare Stacks. The pitched battles with hordes of elven warriors riding unicorns ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews C. Robert Cargill

Sea of Rust, by C. Robert Cargill (Harper Voyager 978-0-06-240583-8, $27.99, 384pp, hardcover) September 2017

Robots are obviously an SF “power chord,” an essential, irreplaceable, infinitely mutable trope. And so long as there have been robots, there have been tales of robot rebellions or uprisings. Obviously, Karel Čapek’s R.U.R from 1920 is a primary starting point. But today we are concerned only with a subset of the ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews James Bradley

Clade, by James Bradley (Titan 978-1785654145, $14.95, 320pp, trade paperback September 2017; Penguin Australia, January 2015)

Clade is an irresistible title for a hardcore SF novel. I thought so in 2003 when a promising cyberpunk author named Mark Budz used it for his debut novel. (I ended up reviewing the subsequent well-done trilogy for Scott Edelman at SF Weekly. Alas, Budz has fallen silent since 2007.) I would ...Read More

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Liz Bourke Reviews The Witch Who Came in from the Cold

The Witch Who Came in from the Cold, Lindsay Smith, Max Gladstone, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Ian Tregillis & Michael Swanwick (Saga 978-1-4814-8560-9, $21.99, 624pp, hc) June 2017.

The Witch Who Came in from the Cold is one of a number of serial narratives that originated with Serial Box in electronic format and are now be­ing published in paper by Saga Press. (The others include Bookburners, which ...Read More

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Russell Letson Reviews Linda Nagata

The Last Good Man, Linda Nagata (Mythic Island Press, 978-1-937197-23-0, $18.00, 464 pp, tp) June 2017. Cover by Philippe McNally.

Linda Nagata’s The Last Good Man runs a compelling set of variations on motifs and themes introduced in her Red trilogy (2013-15). Once again we have detailed accounts of technologically enhanced near-future warfare, but this time the emphasis is less on uncertain and shifting loyalties and more on the ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe reviews Nina Allan

The Rift, Nina Allan (Titan 9781785650376, $14.95, 423pp, tp) July 2017.

Writers get labeled subversive for all sorts of reasons. You can subvert a traditional tale by autopsying its in­nards, as Angela Carter and others did with fairy tales; you can subvert a traditionally masculinist form by leaving the men out entirely, as Kameron Hurley recently did in The Stars Are Legion with space opera; you can ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Stephen Baxter

The Massacre of Mankind, by Stephen Baxter (Crown 978-1-5247-6012-0, $27, 496pp, hardcover August 2017 (UK: Orion/Gollancz 978-1473205093, £18.99, 464pp, hardcover) January 2017

In 1995, Stephen Baxter crafted an authorized sequel to H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine, titled The Time Ships. I recall enjoying it immensely, and thinking that Baxter was a fine choice for such a project, and should do more such, in ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Nat Segaloff

A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison, by Nat Segaloff (NESFA Press 978-1610373234, $35.00, 448pp, hardcover) July 2017

Here is a sorta-kinda Harlan Ellison story you have never heard before, because it is known only to me, until now.

In 1968 I was a freshman at Lincoln High School (Rhode Island) and one morning during home-room period–the free time before classes began–I, a dyed-in-the-wool dorky SF ...Read More

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Liz Bourke reviews Jack Campbell

Vanguard, Jack Campbell (Ace 978-1101988343, $27.00, 327pp, hc) May 2017.

Jack Campbell’s long-running The Lost Fleet series (11 novels, soon to be continued in comic form) has already spawned a spin-off in the form of the quartet of books that form The Lost Stars (Tarnished Knight, Perilous Shield, Imperfect Sword, and Shattered Spear). Now he begins a fresh spin-off series, The Genesis ...Read More

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Russell Letson reviews Kit Reed

Mormama, Kit Reed (Tor 978-0-7653-9044-8. $25.99, 285pp, hc) May 2017.

Kit Reed’s previous novel, Where (2015) gave us an inexplicable and uncanny situation that finally (perhaps reluctantly) almost-but-not-quite collapses into a science-fictional genre-space. Her new book, Mormama, isn’t coy at all: it’s a straight-up ghost story, and everybody inside the story knows it, and in any case the ghost for whom the novel is named is ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews James Patrick Kelly

Mother Go, by James Patrick Kelly (Audible Studios B071LJTF1V, $29.95, audiobook) July 11, 2017

There are two exciting, out-of-the-ordinary aspects to the newest publication from James Patrick Kelly.

Of primary interest and importance is this: Mother Go constitutes his first novel since the appearance of Wildlife in 1994. To belabor the obvious math, that’s a gap of twenty-three years. Science fiction and the world at large have ...Read More

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John Langan reviews Benjamin Percy

Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction, Benjamin Percy (Graywolf Press 9781555977597 $16.00, 160pp, tp) October 2016.

The essays collected in Benjamin Percy’s Thrill Me address different aspects of the same topic, the writing of fiction. It’s a subject about which no shortage of titles exists. What distinguishes Percy’s contribution is the clarity of his prose and his suggestions for the aspiring and apprentice writer. A self-described outliner, Percy ...Read More

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Stefan Dziemianowicz reviews Best New Horror #27

Best New Horror #27, Stephen Jones, ed. (Drug­store Indian Press, 978-1-78636-066-3, £12.99, 546pp, tp) January 2017

Steve Jones’s Best New Horror #27 features a grisly cover image reproduced from Chamber of Chills, a short-lived comic from the early 1950s that was a casualty of Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent and his notorious crusade against violent comic books. It’s a reminder of the days when horror was ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe reviews Daryl Gregory

Spoonbenders, Daryl Gregory (Knopf 978-1-5247-3182-3, $26.95, 402pp, hc) June 2017.

Happy families may be all alike, but Daryl Gregory’s families, as a rule, need work. The father in The Devil’s Alphabet turns into a morbidly obese drug factory, the adopted baby brother in Raising Stony Mayhall is a zombie, the mom in Harrison Squared is abducted by Lovecraftian nameless ones, even the victims of various bizarre horrors ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews William Browning Spencer

The Unorthodox Dr. Draper and Other Stories, by William Browning Spencer (Subterranean 978-1596068315, $40, 288pp, hardcover) July 31, 2017

The career of William Browning Spencer stretches back at least as far as 1990, when his first novel, Maybe I’ll Call Anna, appeared. A wild-eyed talent not easily categorizable–think David Bunch, Neal Barrett, Barrington Bayley, or Howard Waldrop–Spencer has had a notoriously hard time producing fiction and ...Read More

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Paula Guran reviews Short Fiction: May 2017

Fiyah Winter 2017
Gamut 2/17, 3/17
Apex Magazine 2/17
The Dark 4/17
Tor.com 3/8/17, 3/9/17
Uncanny 3-4/17

 

Fiyah is a new literary magazine dedicated to Black speculative fiction, a spiritual successor to the experimental FIRE!!, an African-American magazine of the Harlem Renaissance that managed only one issue in 1926. (The magazine’s offices burned to the ground shortly after it was published.) The theme of the first issue is, appropriately ...Read More

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Liz Bourke reviews Seanan McGuire

Down Among the Sticks and Bones, Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing 978-0765392039, $17.99, 192pp, hc). June 2017.

I had mixed feelings about Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart A Doorway, the first work of McGuire’s Wayward Children series. It made me feel uncomfortably as though I were being asked to agree with a protagonist who, subject to conditioning and what seems like child abuse from multiple directions, chooses to ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Susan Casper

Up the Rainbow: The Complete Short Fiction of Susan Casper, edited by Gardner Dozois (Fantastic Books 978-1-5154-1028-7, $19.99, 452pp, trade paperback) July 18, 2017

Nowadays we feel, with lots of justification and pride in modern medical achievements, that seventy years old is too young to die. Yet that Biblical three-score-and-ten still looms as a numinous, even semi-uncanny milestone in anyone’s existence, a respectable span in which much ...Read More

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Russell Letson reviews C.J. Cherryh

Convergence, C.J. Cherryh (DAW 978-0756409111, $26.00, 324 pp, hc) April 2017. Cover by Todd Lockwood.

By happy accident, as I was working on this column I was also paging through Jo Walton’s excellent collection of retrospec­tive review essays, What Makes This Book So Great, and noted her chapter on ‘‘Re-reading long series,’’ in which she points out not only the pleasures of taking extended rambles through ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Christopher Brown

Tropic of Kansas, by Christopher Brown (Harper Voyager 978-0-06-256381-1, $15.99, 480pp, trade paperback) July 2017

This debut novel from Chris Brown–many of whose earlier short stories appeared under the byline “Chris Nakashima-Brown”–has been long awaited by those who have keenly enjoyed his short fiction and essays since roughly 2004. (“The Launch Pad” appeared in the beautiful but short-lived reboot of Argosy in that year.) The wait proves ...Read More

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Liz Bourke reviews Cassandra Khaw

Food of the Gods, Cassandra Khaw (Abaddon 978-1781085196, $15.00, 320pp, tp) May 2017.

Food of the Gods is a mosaic novel, of sorts. It collects three linked novellas by Cassandra Khaw that, together, form a whole arc. At least two of these novellas have already been published as standalone e-books. The first of these is called ‘‘Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef’’, and if I tell you it really ...Read More

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