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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Paul Di Filippo reviews K.J. Parker and James Morrow

Mightier Than the Sword by K. J. Parker (Subterranean 978-1-59606-817-9, $40, 136pp, hardcover) June 2017

The Asylum of Dr. Caligari by James Morrow (Tachyon Publications 978-1-61696-265-4, $14.95, 184pp, trade paperback) June 2017

It seems pretty nigh inarguable that novellas are hot right now. Long esteemed as the perfect mode for fantastika–since they allow for plentiful world-building, depth of characterization and density of plot, while still being ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Neal Stephenson & Nicole Galland

The Rise and Fall of D. O. D. O., by Neal Stephenson & Nicole Galland(HarperCollins/Morrow 978-0062409164, $35, 768pp, hardcover, June) 2017

Just after I had lamented, a few reviews ago, that authors were not inclined nowadays to indulge in old-school, one-on-one collaborations, along comes this giddy, engrossing romp of a novel authored by a team. It’s a seamless performance reminiscent of such ancestors as de Camp & ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Gregory Benford

The Berlin Project, by Gregory Benford (Simon & Schuster/Saga Press 978-1-4814-8764-1, $26.99, 480pp, hardcover) May 2017

From his wonted haunts in the intergalactic realms of space, Gregory Benford has come down to Earth–a venue he has not totally neglected in the past, given such seminal and well-received quasi-naturalistic works as Timescape–to produce a counterfactual novel in the manner of Harry Turtledove. Obviously a keen scholar of ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Robert Jackson Bennett

City of Miracles, by Robert Jackson Bennett (Penguin Random House/Broadway 978-0-553-41973-3, $16, 464pp, trade paperback) May 2017

When I reviewed Robert Jackson Bennett’s City of Stairs for Asimov’s a few years back, I said, in part:

City of Stairs is remarkably fresh and fun and well done, reminiscent of the work of Paul Park in The Starbridge Chronicles and Daniel Abraham in The Long Price Quartet ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Bud Sparhawk

Non-Parallel Universes, by Bud Sparhawk (Fantastic Books 978-1-5154-1020-1, $14.99, 268pp) May 2017

Publisher and editor Ian Randal Strock is a friendly and energetic indie-press presence at many conventions, hawking his suite of novels and collections under the imprint of Fantastic Books. You might very well have seen his table full of great books in one huckster room or another. If so, you should snatch up any titles ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Eric Flint & Mike Resnick

The Gods of Sagittarius, by Eric Flint & Mike Resnick (Baen 978-1-4767-8212-6, $25, 336pp, hardcover) May 2017

In my recent review of Gordon Dickson’s Best of, I commented that classic one-on-one author collaborations, once a very popular mode of writing in our genre, seemed on the decline. I should have specified that a last flourishing redoubt of such popular partnerships is Baen Books. Given that they ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Poul Anderson

Question and Answer: The Collected Short Works of Poul Anderson: Volume 7, by Poul Anderson (NESFA 978-1-61037-313-5, 550pp, hardcover, $32), February 2017

The meticulous, creative and hardworking editors at NESFA who assembled this seventh installment of Anderson’s stories, Rick Katze and Mike Kerpan, have selected tales that saw print from 1951 through 1967. Obviously, this series has not been merely reprinting Anderson’s work in chronological order, or ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Allen Steele

Avengers of the Moon, by Allen Steele (Tor 978-0-7653-8218-4, $26.99, 304pp, hardcover) April 2017)

Of the reviving of old franchises there is no end. No pulp hero is ever truly dead. I suppose that their unkillable nature is what made them true pulp heroes to begin with. And although some revivals seem crass and merely mercenary, we have no complaints of that nature when the result is ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Gordon R. Dickson

The Best of Gordon R. Dickson: Volume 1, by Gordon R. Dickson (Baen 978-1-4767-8217-1, 272pp, trade paperback), April 2017

It is generally acknowledged that SF/F/H publishing experienced a gigantic paradigm shift post-Star Wars, a transformation which has only accelerated, increased its magnitude, and further altered its unpredictable dimensions in the past decade or two of that tumultuous forty-year span. The old cozy world of a ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Caitlín R. Kiernan

Dear Sweet Filthy World, by Caitlín R. Kiernan (Subterranean 978-1-59606-819-3, $40, 296, hardcover) March 31, 2017

Although Kiernan has produced many fine novels, I think it’s safe to say that most of her fans think of her as one our finest and most productive writers of short stories. And so this new collection, her fourteenth, will certainly be received with much delight and acclaim. Containing nearly thirty ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Kim Stanley Robinson

New York 2140, by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit 978-0-316-26234-7, $28, 624pp, hardcover, March 2017

Although I have read almost everything written by Kim Stanley Robinson, I regret to say that one major gap in my coverage of his work exists: the Science in the Capital “cli-fi” series, which consists of Forty Signs of Rain, Fifty Degrees Below and Sixty Days and Counting (recently updated and abridged into ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Paul La Farge

The Night Ocean, by Paul La Farge (Penguin 978-1-101-98108-5, $27, 400pp, hardcover March 2017

I initially became aware of the work of Paul La Farge with the publication of his first novel, An Artist of the Missing, which I reviewed for the much-missed Realms of Fantasy magazine in the year 2000. I followed that up with a discussion of his second book, Haussmann, or the Distinction, ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Elan Mastai

All Our Wrong Todays, by Elan Mastai (Dutton 978-1-101-98513-7, $26, 384pp, hardcover February 7, 2017

When a writer from outside the genre decides to write SF (and it gets marketed as mainstream), they usually favor a subset of stefnal tropes, usually the softer ones: time travel, dystopia, or counterfactual. You seldom see, say, a writer like Martin Amis attempting an alien invasion story, or an Alice Hoffman dealing ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Richard Kadrey

The Wrong Dead Guy, by Richard Kadrey (Harper Voyager 978-0062389572, $24.99, 432pp, hardcover February 28, 2017

Richard Kadrey’s newest novel is a fast-arriving—and fast-paced, fast-talking, fast-flummoxing—sequel to 2016’s The Everything Box. In reviewing that series debut for the Barnes & Noble Review, I said in part: “The novel is gonzo, ribald, hilarious, zippy and innovative with its magical apparatus and tricks. If Donald Westlake had been a ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Norman Spinrad

The People’s Police, by Norman Spinrad (Tor 978-0765384270, $27.99, 288pp, hardcover) February 2017

Closing in fast and vigorously on his fifty-fifth year of fiction writing (that anniversary will occur in 2018, dating from his first sale in 1963), Norman Spinrad remains an irreplaceable voice in the SF field. Critic, provocateur, daring dreamer, he deserves a prominence even higher than what the field has already accorded him. Visitors ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews David Brin & Stephen W. Potts

Chasing Shadows: Visions of Our Coming Transparent World, edited by David Brin & Stephen W. Potts (Tor 978-0-7653-8258-0, $29.99, 336pp, hardcover) January 2017

The twin and inextricably intertwined notions of privacy and surveillance have been an important element of the core issues of science fiction since the birth of the genre. And the broader literature’s concern with these themes actually extends back even further than SF’s genre ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Gordon Eklund

Cosmic Fusion, by Gordon Eklund (Wildside Press 978-1479423859, $19.99, 526pp, trade paperback) October 2016

Few occasions give more pleasure to a reader than witnessing the unexpected return to print of a long-silent author who once had a rewarding, admirable career. This time around, the satisfaction derives from the appearance of Cosmic Fusion, by Gordon Eklund. Eklund had a solid run once, starting with his first story ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Henry Kuttner

The Watcher at the Door: The Early Kuttner: Volume Two, by Henry Kuttner (Haffner Press 978-1893887824, $45.00, 712pp, hardcover) October 2016

This exciting ongoing project, helmed by the indefatigable, knowledgeable and inestimable Stephen Haffner, will culminate someday with a third volume, Designs for Dreaming. But right now, Volume Two of the monument a-building delivers an even greater and more enjoyable reading experience than its predecessor. Nearly ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Three Lost World Novels

The Yellow God, by H. Rider Haggard (Armchair Fiction 978-1536920727, $12.95, 232pp, trade paperback) August 2016

Under the Andes, by Rex Stout (Armchair Fiction 978-1536920802, $12.95, 248pp, trade paperback) August 2016

The Land of the Changing Sun, by Will N. Harben (Armchair Fiction 978-1537196312, $12.95, 184pp, trade paperback) August 2016

Does any genre of fiction ever actually become extinct? And if ...Read More

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Paul Di Filippo reviews Robert Charles Wilson

Last Year, by Robert Charles Wilson (Tor 978-0-7653-3263-9, $27.99, 352pp, hardcover) 6 December 2016)

Somehow, thanks to the depth of his literary talents, fecund inventiveness, and empathetic soul, Robert Charles Wilson has crafted a novel that is at once shiny and futuristic and yet rousingly old-fashioned, considering its ambiance and character development, done up in the manner of a classic pre-modern adventure. This hybrid becomes an organic ...Read More

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