Thursday, December 20, 2018
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
George Sandison (ed.), 2084. Unsung Stories, 2017. Pp. 344 . ISBN 978-1-907389-53-5. £9.99.Reviewed by Małgorzata Mika
This is not an Orwell novel. This is not a premonition. A century on from the unforgettable 1984 becomes the title of George Sandison’s anthology auguring the future of our world. That future, foretold by writers before science fiction even existed, is a never-ending tale, changing its tools, characters and moods with regard to the epoch in which it was born. Proto-science fiction, science fiction, speculative fiction, anti-utopia and dystopia: the terms open up to the family of the fantastic telling the stories of the present time and its discontents. 2084 is no exception, but in this case it is no accident. In the introduction Sandison emphasizes how dissimilar the collection is in stark comparison with Orwell’s classic. In one sense, it is possible to recognize the truth in his words, as he elaborates on the how the world has changed since the completion of Animal Farm’s gloomy successor. Orwell’s post-war narratives were transfixed by the description of totalitarianism in the advent of the communist era. 2084 is supposed to relate to the family of Orwell’s novels arguably through what it is not, rather than what it is, becoming an adopted offspring of the timeless classic. Penned by fifteen writers, the stories in this anthology attempt to convey several different outcomes of (not so) futuristic realities that have pushed totalitarianism into a more subtle mode.
Thursday, November 15, 2018
Lavie Tidhar, Unholy Land. Tachyon Publications, 2018. Pp. 288. ISBN 978-161696-304-0. $15.95.Reviewed by N.A. Jackson
The narrative of Lavie Tidhar’s novel ducks and dives like a prizefighter, leaving his reader reeling. The protagonist, Tirosh, slips between worlds: the war torn lands of the Middle East, contemporary Berlin and other imagined worlds brought to shimmering life by Tidhar’s close observation. These are the ‘could-have-been’ worlds with elements of historical fact but steeped in mythology and fraught with darker perils and hints of monstrous beings and magical apparitions.
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Ursula Pflug, Down From. Snuggly Books, 2018. Pp. 96. ISBN 978-1-943813-57-5. $10.14.Reviewed by Djibril al-Ayad
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Francesca G. Varela, The Seas of Distant Stars. Owl House Books, 2018. Pp. 232. ISBN 978-1-947003-92-7. $17.95.Reviewed by Don Riggs
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
David Thomas Moore (ed.), Not So Stories. Abbadon Books, 2018. Pp. 320. ISBN 978-1-7810-8612-4. $15.99.Reviewed by Samira Nadkarni
Meant to address the legacy of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories (1902), Not So Stories (2018) is a set of 14 postcolonial short stories that problematise or confront colonial nostalgia, and what Nikesh Shukla (in his foreword) terms the “feeling that the British Empire was a benign part of the lives of those oppressed.” The collection offers narratives that centre the point of view of those marginalised under British colonialism, responding not only to the racist narratives of Kipling’s original text, but also the persisting bedrock of colonial ideology its popularity once drew, and somehow continues to draw, upon. Shukla notes that these stories are for “children and adults” (his emphasis)—and I’d argue that the majority of the collection’s stories are in fact aimed at adults rather than children.
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Francesca Forrest, The Inconvenient God. Annorlunda Books, 2018. Pp. 70. ISBN 978-1-944354-41-1. $7.99 pb/$2.99 e.Reviewed by Djibril al-Ayad
The Inconvenient God is a novelette-length story, approximately 11-12,000 words at my estimate, published as a standalone volume in print and e-book by Annorlunda Books, specialists in bite-sized, diverse novellas and novelettes “that you can finish in an afternoon.” This story is set in a secondary world with approximately contemporary technology and infrastructure (trains, telecommunications, etc. are familiar to a modern reader) in which a multitude of gods literally and visibly walk the earth. Perhaps a flavour of fabulist realism rather than fantasy, the story features a highly bureaucratic and centralized Polity (perhaps loosely Central Asian in flavor?), who send a Decommissioner from the Ministry of Divinity to retire a minor, regional—and waning—god of mischief in the northwestern province.
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
Jo-Anne Blanco, Morgan Le Fay: Small Things and Great (Book One of the Fata Morgana Child of the Moon Trilogy). Self-published, 2017. Pp. 288. ISBN 978-1-3658-2824-9. $10.94.Reviewed by Regina de Búrca
This retelling of the Arthurian legend, the first in a trilogy, is told from the point of view of a five-year-old Morgan le Fay—a young girl coming to terms with her powers and the confines of the world she lives in. Traditionally seen as a villain of the story, it is refreshing to read a story from her perspective: that of a powerful female in a patriarchal world. Morgan’s childhood is interrupted as she experiences visions and shortly afterwards, is tasked with saving the souls of lost children. Compelled to travel to the secret and dangerous faerie realm, Morgan encounters magical creatures for the first time. The descriptions of these encounters are very enjoyable—the faeries are at once beautiful and creepy.
Friday, September 28, 2018
Petra Kuppers, Studying Disability Arts and Culture: An Introduction. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. Pp. 186. ISBN 978-1-137-41346-8. $37.99.Reviewed by Kathryn Allan
Friday, September 21, 2018
Edward Willett, Paths to the Stars. Self-published, 2018. Pp. 310. ISBN 978-1-9993827-0-4. US$15.95/CAN$19.95.Reviewed by Lisa Timpf
Friday, September 14, 2018
Petra Kuppers, Pearl Stitch. Spuyten Duyvil, 2016. Pp. 102. ISBN 978-1-944682-06-4. $15.00.Reviewed by Kathryn Allan
Friday, September 07, 2018
A.E. Warren, The Museum of Second Chances. Locutions Press, 2018. Pp. 319. ISBN 978-1-9999199-0-0. $11.99 pb/$3.99 e.Reviewed by Lisa Timpf
Friday, August 31, 2018
Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro (ed.) & Fábio Fernandes (trans.), Solarpunk: Ecological and Fantastical Stories in a Sustainable World. World Weaver Press, 2018. Pp. 271. ISBN 978-0-9987022-9-2. $14.95.Reviewed by Cat Coker
Friday, August 24, 2018
Kayla Bashe, The Gift of Your Love. Less Than Three Press, 2018. Pp. 69. ISBN 978-1-684313-00-6. $2.99.Reviewed by Psyche Z. Ready
Friday, August 17, 2018
William Meikle, The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror. Crystal Lake Publishing, 2017. Pp. 189. ISBN 978-1-642049-31-2. $14.99.Reviewed by Valeria Vitale
Tuesday, July 31, 2018
Tom Johnstone, How I Learned the Truth About Krampus. Eibonvale Press, 2017. Pp. 36. ISBN 978-1-908125-58-3. £6.00.Reviewed by Andy Sawyer
Sunday, July 15, 2018
Scott Gable & C. Dombrowski (edd.), Ride the Star Wind: Cthulhu, Space Opera, and the Cosmic Weird. Broken Eye Books, 2017. Pp. ix+445. ISBN 978-1-940372-25-9. $23.99.Reviewed by Djibril al-Ayad
Monday, April 30, 2018
E.J. Swift, Paris Adrift. Solaris Books, 2018. Pp. 320. ISBN 978-1-78108-593-6. $10.99.Reviewed by Lisa Timpf
Monday, April 23, 2018
Jonathan Broughton, Mark Cassell & Rayne Hall, Sussex Horrors: Stories of Coastal Terror and Other Seaside Haunts. Herbs House, 2018. Pp. 128. ISBN 978-0-99306-015-1. $12.99/£7.99.Reviewed by Rachel Verkade
Themed anothologies are a staple, not just of the horror genre, but just about every class of speculative fiction. And since moving to Britain, I've encountered an increasing number of collections based around particular areas, most notably the Terror Tales of… series, edited by Paul Finch (Terror Tales of the Cotswolds, Terror Tales of East Anglia, Terror Tales of Wales, etc.). When I picked up Sussex Horrors I was expecting a similar premise; a collection of stories from various authors about terrors somehow centered around or unique to Sussex county. In that respect, I was mistaken; Sussex Horrors, rather than being quilted together by a single editor out of many contributions by different writers, is the lovechild of a menage-a-trois made up of authors Jonathan Broughton, Mark Cassell, and Rayne Hall. These three authors wrote each of the twelve stories comprising the book (four per author), and presumably also served as mutual editors. I will admit to a pang of disappointment when I picked the book up; the variety of authors, writing styles, and themes in an anthology is one of the things I treasure most about them. But I have to concede the novelty of the idea. However, the value in novelty only lies in how successful it is. And was this book successful?
Monday, March 26, 2018
David Thomas Moore (ed.), Dracula: Rise of the Beast. Abaddon Books, 2018. Pp. 308. ISBN 978-1-78108-666-7. $15.99.Reviewed by Cait Coker
Monday, February 12, 2018
Rhonda Parrish (ed.), Equus. World Weaver Press, 2017. Pp. 318. ISBN 978-154-489-6809. $12.99.
Reviewed by Rachel Verkade
Tuesday, February 06, 2018
Nate Crowley, 100 Best Video Games (That Never Existed). Solaris Books, 2017. Pp. 260. ISBN 978-1-78108-614-8. $17.99/£12.99.
Reviewed by Valeria Vitale
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
K.N. Salustro, The Star Hunters: Unbroken Light. Self-published, 2015. Pp. 292. ISBN 978-1-51773-515-9. $10.95 pb/$3.99 e.Reviewed by Lisa Timpf
Wednesday, January 03, 2018
Margrét Helgadóttir (ed.), Pacific Monsters. Fox Spirit Books, 2017. Pp. 182. ISBN 978-1-91046-212-6. £10.00/$15.00.Reviewed by Cait Coker
Pacific Monsters is the fourth volume in Fox Spirit Books’ Books of Monsters series; previous volumes include African Monsters (2015) and Asian Monsters (2016), and projected volumes will include American Monsters and Eurasian Monsters. The goal of these books (all edited by the capable and prolific Margrét Helgadóttir, sometimes with Jo Thomas as co-editor) is to effectively decolonize the monstrous of the popular imagination and pop culture from the familiar parade of western-inspired demons, werewolves, vampires, and zombies. Instead, Helgadóttir’s anthologies showcase fiction across the spectrum of speculative fiction genres that feature creatures drawn from the localized myth and folklore of other cultures, almost all of which are written by writers and artists from, or with strong connections to, those countries. Each volume is a softcover coffee table book, oversized and illustrated in black and white; several of the entries include stories told through comics rather than prose. Ultimately this series is a needed intervention into Anglo-American-centric monster stories, and Pacific Monsters particularly stands out as it encompasses nations and populations that are too often neglected altogether.