Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Author: Charles Tan (GUEST)


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White Time: Unique YA story collection

White Time by Margo Lanagan

In the collection White Time, Margo Lanagan writes with a clear, distinctive style that doesn’t spoon-feed, but rather challenges the reader in a good way. Her text is multi-layered and works on multiple levels to create interesting speculative fiction stories, some using the tropes of science fiction and some those of fantasy.

White Time features ten stories, and each is unique and different. The eponymous story, “White Time,” is the opener for this publication.


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Lords of Rainbow: Epic fantasy with no baggage

Lords of Rainbow by Vera Nararian

A decade ago, I was a big fan of secondary-world fantasies: big sprawling epic plots, an entirely different but familiar setting, and larger than life characters. Had I read Lords of Rainbow back then, I would have immediately fallen in love with it. As I am now, however, there’s a lot less unabashed praise for that particular sub-genre and I’ve become more critical.

What’s obviously commendable with Vera Nazarian is that her cosmology isn’t a random hodgepodge of ideas but rather a cohesion of a single,


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Spicy Slipstream Stories: If you love pulps…

Spicy Slipstream Stories edited by Nick Namatas & Jay Lake

Slipstream, for me, is a type of fiction that is bizarre and confusing and defies expectations. That’s not a bad thing, mind you, but to quote a passage from the introduction of the book, “You don’t write slipstream, you read it.” And so it was a big surprise when I started reading the stories in this anthology. They’re actually — gasp — readable, or at least accessible to lay people without needing literary degrees or geeky credentials. In fact, the selections impressed me because they all stood out,


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Vault of Deeds: Fantasy satire

Vault of Deeds by James Barclay

Vault of Deeds proved to be a funny read as James Barclay plays on heroic fantasy conventions, not unlike Jim C. Hines or A. Lee Martinez. In this novella, it’s up to a scribe — in this case someone who records the deeds of heroes — to save the day.

Barclay’s writing is easy to get into but goes beyond simply being functional or serviceable. Dialogue and action are frequently utilized to draw the readers in, and comedy is provided by the verbose and exaggerated prose spoken by the protagonists.


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Strange Wisdoms of the Dead: Tricky and fanciful poems

Strange Wisdoms of the Dead by Mike Allen

I thought Strange Wisdoms of the Dead would be yet another attempt to convert me into a fan of speculative poetry, but leafing through the pages of this book I found something more massive. This is a comprehensive Mike Allen anthology covering ten years of work, compiling not just his poems but his fiction and collaborations as well.

Allen‘s poetry does dominate this book. Whether he’s talking about time sharks, spiders, or decapitated heads,


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The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm

The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

The Faery Reel is an indispensable tome for anyone who has a mania for faeries. Aside from the short stories in this anthology, the comprehensive introduction of Terri Windling on the fey and the illustrations by Charles Vess are worth the price of admission in themselves. Moreover, the last few pages feature a Further Reading section on the topic of faeries. The typography of the book is appropriate to the faery theme and makes the text quite readable.


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Template: Piques the readers curiosity and sense of wonder

Template by Matthew Hughes

Template opens with an exciting scene as the protagonist, Conn, a skilled swordsman, successfully defends himself from three opponents. You’d think this would turn into another action/adventure SF novel but Template instead drifts into mystery and philosophy as our protagonist suddenly finds himself with various choices when he previously had none.

Conn is likable enough at the start although later on we discover that his paradigms are alien. This becomes a recurring theme as Matthew Hughes presents planets and races with varying ethics,


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Fast Ships, Black Sails: Pirates and adventure!

Fast Ships, Black Sails edited by Jeff and Ann Vandermeer

I was never a big fan of pirates (ninjas, on the other hand…) but nonetheless, the very word evokes adventure and the high seas. Fast Ships, Black Sails doesn’t really stray far from that expectation and delivers eighteen stories marked with action, treachery, and a sense of wonder.

A good chunk of the stories revolve around traditional concepts of a pirate, with only a few exceptions, such as “Boojum” by Elizabeth Bear & 


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The Good Fairies of New York

The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar

Martin Millar’s writing is consistently funny and entertaining. And while The Good Fairies of New York is upbeat and comedic, it also has a layer of tragedy that the author manages to juggle and incorporate seamlessly. The pace is quick and precise so that by the time you’re laughing or crying over a particular scene, you’re already on to the next one.

Millar manages to thrown in a lot of disparate elements in this novel (rock music,


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Pretty Monsters: A pretty good collection

Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link

Pretty Monsters is Kelly Link’s latest short story collection aimed at young adults. My young adult phase passed a long time ago but I found this book to be as deep and packed as Link’s Magic for Beginners and Stranger Things Happen.

The first thing that caught my eye is the overall aesthetic of the book. The jacket, designed by Will Staeble, is upbeat and eye-catching, whether it’s simply the presentation of the blurbs or the text on the cover flap.


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

We have reviewed 8298 fantasy, science fiction, and horror books, audiobooks, magazines, comics, and films.

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