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January 2018 in Review

31 Jan, 2018

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January

23 books read. 12 by women (52%), 8 by men (35%), 3 by persons whose gender is unknown (13%).

Works by POC: 8 (35%)

Year to Date

23 books read. 12 by women (52%), 8 by men (35%), 3 by persons whose gender is unknown (13%).

Works by POC: 8 (35%)

And now, the meaningless table.

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Books Received, Jan 20 — 26

27 Jan, 2018

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Shaggy herds of mammoths still roam the Great Plains — to the delight of President Thomas Jefferson — in this imaginative alternative history in which the beasts thunder over the grasslands as living symbols of the oncoming struggle between the Native peoples and the European invaders. This unforgettable saga soars from the Badlands of the Dakota Territory to the icy wastes of Siberia, from the Russian Revolution to the American Indian Movement protests of the 1960s and one woman’s attempt to harness DNA science to fulfill the ancient promises of her Lakota heritage. In addition, this volume includes the essay Writing During World War Three,” a politically incorrect take on multiculturalism from a science fiction point of view and an outspoken interview with the writer of some of today’s edgiest and most uncompromising speculative fiction.


Sardonic and merciless, this satire of the entire apocalyptic enterprise provides a humorous and timely interpretation of the bestselling Left Behind series — the adventures of those left behind” to battle the Anti-Christ after all Born-Again Christians have ascended into heaven. From predatory preachers and goth lingerie to Indian casinos and art cars” at Burning Man, this religious spoof deftly pairs the personal with the fictional. Featuring an extensive author interview and biography, this contemporary parody also includes the unique one-act drama, Special Relativity, which asks the question: When Paul Robeson, J. Edgar Hoover, and Albert Einstein are raised from the dead at an anti-Bush rally, which one wears the dress?
The classic science fiction trilogy in an omnibus edition. Back in print after two decades!
To the totalitarian state of Oerlikon, change is the most fearsome enemy. So a secret weapon was created to preserve the status quo-the Morphodite. A bioengineered and laboratory-raised super assassin, the Morphodite was designed to scent out and destroy subversive conspiracies. A unique being, it can change its sex, identity, and even its genetic code as a defense. But its creators did not foresee that this untraceable, powerful assassin would morph into a true revolutionary hero-that would turn against the police state that created it.


The title story, Fire.” written especially for this volume, is a harrowing postapocalyptic adventure in a world threated by global conflagration. Based on Hand’s real-life experience as a participant in a governmental climate change think tank, it follows a ragtag cadre of scientists and artists racing to save both civilization and themselves from fast-moving global fires. The Woman Men Couldn’t See” is an expansion of Hand’s acclaimed critical assessment of author Alice Sheldon, who wrote award-winning SF as James Tiptree, Jr.” in order to conceal identity from both the SF community and her CIA overlords. Another nonfiction piece, Beyond Belief” recounts her difficult passage from alienated teen to serious artist. Also included are Kronia,” a poignant time-travel romance, and The Saffron Gatherers,” two of Hand’s favorite and less familiar stories. Plus: a bibliography and our candid and illuminating Outspoken Interview with one of today’s most inventive authors.


Infused with feminist, Afro-Caribbean views of the science fiction and fantasy genres, this collection of offbeat and highly original works takes aim at race and racism in literature. In Report from Planet Midnight,” at the International Association of the Fantastic in the Arts, an alien addresses the crowd, evaluating Earth’s strange” customs, including the marginalization of works by nonwhite and female writers. Message in a Bottle” shows Greg, an American Indian artist, befriending a strange four-year-old who seems wise beyond her years. While preparing an exhibition, he discovers that the young girl is a traveler from the future sent to recover art from the distant past — which apparently includes his own work. Concluding the book with series editor Terry Bisson’s Outspoken Interview, Nalo Hopkinson shares laughs, loves, and top-secret Caribbean spells.
By turns teasing and terrifying, laconic and luminous, the stories in this anthology are drawn from sources as diverse as Borges, Nabokov, Garcia-Marquez, and traditional Japanese folklore, and yet they ultimately reside in a slyly subversive literary world that is all their own. Blending an uncompromising ethical vision with exuberant, free-wheeling imagery and bracing formal experimentation, the five short stories and three novellas included in We, the Children of Cats show the full range and force of Hoshino’s imagination. The stories include a man and woman who find their genders and sexualities brought radically into question when their bodies sprout new parts; a man who travels from Japan to Latin America in search of revolutionary purpose only to find much more than he bargained for; a journalist who investigates a poisoning at an elementary school and gets lost in an underworld of buried crimes, secret societies, and haunted forests; and two young killers, exiled from Japan, who find a new beginning as resistance fighters in Peru. An afterword by translator and editor Brian Bergstrom and a new preface by Hoshino himself is also included.
Move over Mad Max―here comes Nyx.
Ex-government assassin turned bounty-hunter, Nyx, is good at solving other people’s problems. Her favorite problem-solving solution is punching people in the face. Then maybe chopping off some heads. Hey―it’s a living.
Her disreputable reputation has been well earned. To Nyx’s mind, it’s also justified. After all, she’s trying to navigate an apocalyptic world full of giant bugs, contaminated deserts, scheming magicians, and a centuries-long war that’s consuming her future. Managing her ragtag squad of misfits has required a lot of morally-gray choices.
Every new job is another day alive. Every new mission is another step toward changing a hellish future―but only if she can survive.


Winner of a Prometheus and Sidewise Award, this science fiction novella is a comedic and biting commentary on capitalism and an exploration of technological singularity in a posthuman civilization. As a world war rages on without an emerging victor, the story follows John Matheson, an idealistic teenage Scottish guerilla warrior who must change his tactics and alliances with the arrival of an alien species. This alternate history and poignant political satire flips hero types and expectations, delivering a lively tale of adventure — as dramatic and thought provoking as it is funny. Also included is an interview with the author and two essays that relate his poignant views on social philosophies.


Meet Maxim Arturovitch Pyatnitski, also known as Pyat. Tsarist rebel, Nazi thug, continental conman and reactionary counterspy: the dark and dangerous antihero of Michael Moorcock’s most controversial work. Published in 1981 to great critical acclaim — then condemned to the shadows and unavailable in the United States for 30 years—Byzantium Endures, the first of the Pyat quartet, is not a book for the faint-hearted. It is the story of a cocaine addict, sexual adventurer, and obsessive anti-Semite whose epic journey from Leningrad to London connects him with scoundrels and heroes from Trotsky to Makhno and whose career echoes that of the 20th century’s descent into fascism and total war. This is Moorcock at his audacious, iconoclastic best: a grand sweeping overview of the events of the last century, as revealed in the secret journals of modern literature’s most proudly unredeemable outlaw. This authoritative edition presents the author’s final cut, restoring previously forbidden passages and deleted scenes.
Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.
Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.
If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself — but first she has to make it there, alive.
When Isabella died, her parents were determined to ensure her education wouldn’t suffer.
But Isabella’s parents had not informed her new governess of Isabella’s… condition, and when Ms Valdez arrives at the estate, having forced herself through a surreal nightmare maze of twisted human-like statues, she discovers that there is no girl to tutor.
Or is there…?
With seven books for seven sins, Taste of Wrath is the adrenaline-fuelled finalé to Matt Wallace’s Sin du Jour series, which Chuck Wendig calls a raucous, riotous tale of culinary madness”!Bronko and his team of crack chefs and kitchen staff have been serving the New York supernatural community for decades. But all that could be about to change.The entity formerly known as Allensworth has been manipulating Bronko and his team from Day One, and the gang at Sin du Jour have had enough.Old debts are called in, and an alliance is formed with the unlikeliest of comrades.Some will die. Some will descend. And some will rise

.


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Books Received, Jan 13 — 19

20 Jan, 2018

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Out of print since 1985, these three classic novels form a trilogy that chronicles the history of an alternate human race, the Ler, from their origins as a bioengineered superhuman” race on Earth to their complex civilizations in space. Together, the books form a challenging examination of what it means to be human.
A brilliantly imaginative talent makes her exciting debut with this epic historical military fantasy, inspired by the bloody history of China’s twentieth century and filled with treachery and magic, in the tradition of Ken Liu’s Grace of Kings and N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy.When Rin aced the Keju — the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies — it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard — the most elite military school in Nikan — was even more surprising.But surprises aren’t always good.Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power — an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive — and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away …Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity … and that it may already be too late.
The most stimulating challenge that has come to science fiction writers recently has been the question of whether it is time for a change. The advocates of what is called the New Wave say yes. They insist that the old” science fiction belongs to the past, is stereotyped, and no longer represents the whirl of modern times, the revolution of new thinking and the mind-tingling innovations that seem to be prevalent in all the arts these days.
The New Wave in SF – they prefer to call it Speculative Fiction – has its roots among the imaginative writers of England, most specifically around the magazine New Worlds, and a great deal has been coming from that source that is indeed different and surprising. Judith Merril, an acknowledged authority on science fiction, has made herself the foremost American defender of the New Wave, and in this book ENGLAND SWINGS SF she has produced an anthology and a running, sparkling dialogue between its contributors and its editor on what they are doing to SF in England and why they are doing it.
Are the New Wave advocates correct? Is it indeed time for new forms and new approaches to imaginative speculative fiction? Has science fiction as we have known it really become moribund?
Here is the book which may be the turning point of that New Wave. Ace Books presents it because it is a work, a manifesto perhaps in the form of a group of most unusual SF stories, which everyone interested in science fiction ought to read. It will be a stimulating experience, whether you agree with Miss Merril or not.
Ace Books, long the foremost publisher of science fiction in America, does not take any stand on this controversy. We have published and will continue to publish the best obtainable in all types of writing, from space-action adventures to the award-winning Specials, from the old classics” to the best of the new collections of short stories. We reprint ENGLAND SWINGS SF not because we are in agreement or in disagreement with it, but because we think it is part of Ace’s traditional service to science fiction.
Two quotes may be apropos. Josephine Saxton says, inside the book, British writers are in the vanguard – one thing they do is make much American S.F. look old-fashioned.”
Isaac Asimov said, outside the book, I hope that when the New Wave has deposited its froth and receded, the vast and solid shore of science fiction will appear once more.”
Decide for yourself.

Luminescent Threads celebrates Octavia E. Butler, a pioneer of the Science Fiction genre who paved the way for future African American writers and other writers of colour. 
Original essays and letters sourced and curated for this collection explore Butler’s depiction of power relationships, her complex treatment of race and identity, and her impact on feminism and women in Science Fiction. 
Follow the luminescent threads that connect Octavia E. Butler and her body of work to the many readers and writers who have found inspiration in her words, and the complex universes she created. 

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Books Received, Jan 6 — Jan 12

13 Jan, 2018

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Young up-and-coming author Liz McKinnen has no idea that her life is about to change forever when she comes home from her first book tour. When she’s kidnapped and told by her captors that she has to kill her fantasy book’s antagonist, she thinks that she’s fallen into the hands of crazy, dangerous fans… until her antagonist sends a real, fire-breathing dragon after her.
Liz is quickly initiated into the Immortal Writers, a group of authors from throughout time whose words have given them eternal life, and whose prose is so powerful that it’s brought stories over from the Imagination Field into the Reality Field. As Liz meets authors such as William Shakespeare, JRR Tolkien, Edgar Allan Poe, and Jane Austen, she has to learn how to control magic, fight dragons, and face her own troubled past before her power-hungry villain takes over the world. Will she survive the ultimate battle against the dragon lord whom she created?
Young up-and-coming author Liz McKinnen has no idea that her life is about to change forever when she comes home from her first book tour. When she’s kidnapped and told by her captors that she has to kill her fantasy book’s antagonist, she thinks that she’s fallen into the hands of crazy, dangerous fans… until her antagonist sends a real, fire-breathing dragon after her.
Liz is quickly initiated into the Immortal Writers, a group of authors from throughout time whose words have given them eternal life, and whose prose is so powerful that it’s brought stories over from the Imagination Field into the Reality Field. As Liz meets authors such as William Shakespeare, JRR Tolkien, Edgar Allan Poe, and Jane Austen, she has to learn how to control magic, fight dragons, and face her own troubled past before her power-hungry villain takes over the world. Will she survive the ultimate battle against the dragon lord whom she created?

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Books Received, Dec 30 — Jan 5

6 Jan, 2018

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Now a nascent demon-hunting crew on the lam, Danielle and her friends arrive in a small town that contains a secret occult library run by anarchists and residents who claim to have come back from the dead. When Danielle and her crew investigate, they are put directly in the crosshairs of a necromancer’s wrath — whose actions threaten to trigger the apocalypse itself.


The Godfather meets Guardians of the Galaxy in this crazy-ass adventure set on Viridian, a prison planet full of aliens who want to eat you. Tig, the only human, is thrust into a lose/lose/lose situation when the mob boss he works for asks him to pick up and deliver a package that the Fed — the governing body of the known universe — also wants. To make matters worse, the package has curves for days, an attitude to match, and her own agenda for how this is all going down.

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December 2017 and 2017 in Review

31 Dec, 2017

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December

21 books read. 11 by women (52%), 8 by men (38%), 1 by a non-binary author (5%) and one (NA 5%). 

Works by POC: 6 (29%)

Year to Date

255 works reviewed. 138.5 by women (54%). 109.5 by men (43%). 5 by non-binary authors (2%). 2 by N/A (1%)

Works by POC: 75.5 (30%)

Well, not quite as productive a year as I had hoped but not without its bright points. For example, I review books at a rate about 45 times that of the median reviewer in the Strange Horizons’ count, books by WNB authors at a rate 90 times that of the median reviewer in the Strange Horizons’ count and books by POC at a rate 160 times that of the median reviewer in the Strange Horizons’ count. While I didn’t increase the number of books by NB authors as much as I hoped, I did increase it. Incremental efforts over time can accomplish great goals. 

All I have to do is keep on incrementing.…

I have some interesting goals for 2018.


And now, the meaningless table.

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Books Received, Dec 23 — 29

30 Dec, 2017

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The Citadel of Weeping Pearls was a great wonder; a perfect meld between cutting edge technology and esoteric sciences — its inhabitants capable of teleporting themselves anywhere, its weapons small and undetectable and deadly.Thirty years ago, threatened by an invading fleet from the Dai Viet Empire, the Citadel disappeared and was never seen again.
But now the Dai Viet Empire itself is under siege, on the verge of a war against an enemy that turns their own mindships against them; and the Empress, who once gave the order to raze the Citadel, is in desperate needs of its weapons. Meanwhile, on a small isolated space station, an engineer obsessed with the past works on a machine that will send her thirty years back, to the height of the Citadel’s power.
But the Citadel’s disappearance still extends chains of grief and regrets all the way into the fraught atmosphere of the Imperial Court; and this casual summoning of the past might have world-shattering consequences…A new book set in the award-winning, critically acclaimed Xuya universe.
There is a lake of marvels. A lake of water lilies that glow with the color of dawn. For generations Kai’s people have harvested these lilies, dependent upon them for the precious medicines they provide.
But now a flock of enchanted cranes has come to steal and poison the harvest. The lilies are dying. Kai’s people are in peril. A mysterious young man from the city thinks he might have a solution. Kai must work with him to solve the mystery of the cranes, and it will take all her courage, love, strength, and wisdom to do what she must to save both the lilies and her people.
The Lilies of Dawn is a lushly written, lyrical fairy tale of love, duty, family, and one young woman’s coming of age.
Alone in a Spartan black cockpit, test pilot Mike Melvill rocketed toward space. He had eighty seconds to exceed the speed of sound and begin the climb to a target no civilian pilot had ever reached. He might not make it back alive. If he did, he would make history as the world’s first commercial astronaut. The spectacle defied reason, the result of a competition dreamed up by entrepreneur Peter Diamandis, whose vision for a new race to space required small teams to do what only the world’s largest governments had done before. Peter Diamandis was the son of hardworking immigrants who wanted their science prodigy to make the family proud and become a doctor. But from the age of eight, when he watched Apollo 11 land on the Moon, his singular goal was to get to space. When he realized NASA was winding down manned space flight, Diamandis set out on one of the great entrepreneurial adventure stories of our time. If the government wouldn’t send him to space, he would create a private space flight industry himself. 
In the 1990s, this idea was the stuff of science fiction. Undaunted, Diamandis found inspiration in an unlikely place: the golden age of aviation. He discovered that Charles Lindbergh made his transatlantic flight to win a $25,000 prize. The flight made Lindbergh the most famous man on earth and galvanized the airline industry. Why, Diamandis thought, couldn’t the same be done for space flight? 
The story of the bullet-shaped SpaceShipOne, and the other teams in the hunt, is an extraordinary tale of making the impossible possible. It is driven by outsized characters — Burt Rutan, Richard Branson, John Carmack, Paul Allen — and obsessive pursuits. In the end, as Diamandis dreamed, the result wasn’t just a victory for one team; it was the foundation for a new industry and a new age.
Distant lights illuminating the darkness pique Chito’s and Yuuri’s curiosity, so the two hop aboard their beloved Kettenkrad and head for the horizon. What they find may not be what they were looking for, but the surviving fragments of civilization are enough to keep them going. There’s no telling what other strange surprises lie in store as their journey continues…

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Happy Holidays!

25 Dec, 2017

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Whatever your holiday of choice may be.

Thanks to my editor Karen Lofstrom and my web person Adrienne L. Travis. Thank you all of my readers for sticking around for three and a bit years! Especially everyone who has commissioned a review or been part of my Patreon. And a big thanks to all of you authors, without whom book reviewers would be very challenging.

Review One Thousand in just a few weeks!

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