Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Roanhorse, Black Sun (2021)

Rebecca Roanhorse, Black Sun. Solaris Press (UK edition), 2021. Pp 436. ISBN 978-1-78108-947-7. £8.99.

Reviewed by Cait Coker

Rebecca Roanhorse’s novel Black Sun is an epic fantasy drawing on the pre-Columbian cultures of the Americas for its world-building, social structures, mythos, and terminology. Like other fantasies that draw on history at a slant, it makes the familiar strange and the strange familiar. It is a true masterpiece of suspense and storytelling, and is simply the best new novel I’ve read in ages. Roanhorse structures the story in shifting times, and across several characters, leading up to the Winter Solstice and a celestial convergence leading to a solar eclipse that creates the titular Black Sun. The story moves forwards, backwards, and forwards again to illuminate what various characters know and when they know it, and providing new readings for different characters. If this novel were a film we would think of it as an homage to Tarantino; in the context of this story, in which scenes are placed against quoted texts, it is more like if Frank Herbert’s Dune series had dialed the anti-imperialist message all the way up.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Eason, How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse (2019)

K. Eason, How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse: Book One of the Thorne Chronicles. DAW books, 2019. Pp. 408. ISBN 978-0-7564-1529-7. $26.00.

Reviewed by Lisa Timpf

For those who are tired of books and movies about hapless princesses who sit on their hands and wait for a prince to rescue them, K. Eason’s space opera How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse provides a welcome breath of fresh air. Released in 2019, the novel serves as book one of the Thorne Chronicles. Book two, titled How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge, appeared in 2020.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

McCoy, A Promise of Iron; Sullivan, Bound; Gilholy, Game of Mass Destruction (2020)

Self-Published e-Book Round-Up:
Brandon McCoy, A Promise of Iron (Echoes of Illyria #1). Self-published, 2020. Pp. 355. ASIN B08R6CHF4J. $7.99.
P.L. Sullivan, Bound. Self-published, 2020. Pp. 420. ISBN 979-8-57794-744-6. $2.99.
Chloe Gilholy, Game of Mass Destruction. Self-published, 2020. Pp. 227. ISBN 978-1-5272-3388-1. £5.99 pb/£0.99 e.

Reviewed by M.L. Clark

The aim of this column is to discuss recent SF&F self-published works, and to explore topics more relevant to books produced in this fashion. Self-publishing frees up authors from certain industry constraints, not least of which being beholden to the trend cycles established by larger presses. However, it also presents new challenges, including the author taking on the full costs of cover-art, editing, and marketing, with no guaranteed return on investment. Self-published works are rarely professionally reviewed, and many venues that do review are pay-to-play. This makes it especially difficult for texts to find an audience, and for authors to learn from the publishing experience. Today I’ll be reviewing three recent texts, Brandon McCoy’s A Promise of Iron: Echoes of Illyria: Book One (2020), P. L. Sullivan’s Bound (2020), and Chloe Gilholy’s Game of Mass Destruction (2020): in part, to offer constructive comment on the contents and their delivery; in equal part, to suggest a target audience for the works in question.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Helgadóttir ed., Eurasian Monsters (2020)

Margrét Helgadóttir (ed.), Eurasian Monsters. Fox Spirit Books, 2020. Pp. 182. ISBN 978-1-910462-31-7. £10.00.

Reviewed by Rachel Verkade

When I was thirteen, one of my favourite video games was Shadows of Darkness, the fourth entry in the Quest for Glory series. It was my introduction to Slavic folklore. Creatures like the rusalka, the leshy, the domovoi, and Baba Yaga featured prominently, and were a revelation to a Canadian girl who barely knew what Cyrillic looked like. An entire new mythology to explore, and one I was delighted to revisit in Eurasian Monsters.

This is the seventh and final book in Helgadottir’s “Monsters” series, consisting of European Monsters, African Monsters, Asian Monsters, Pacific Monsters, American Monsters I & II, and now Eurasian Monsters. I have previously reviewed (and enormously enjoyed) Asian Monsters, and have American Monsters I on my bookshelf. I’m sad that the series has come to a close, but I guess Antarctic Monsters was just too much to hope for. So, was Eurasian Monsters a fitting end?

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Luna Station Quarterly #41 (2020)

Luna Station Quarterly, ed. Jennifer Lyn Parsons. Issue 41 (March 2020). Online at lunastationquarterly.com.

Reviewed by Lisa Timpf

Luna Station Quarterly, which has been in operation for just over a decade, has as its mission “to display the vast and varied talents of women-identified speculative fiction writers.” Issue 41 of the Quarterly, published in March 2020, includes 15 stories, with a roughly even split between fantasy and science fiction.