Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Author: João Eira


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Sunset Mantle: Two takes on this short epic fantasy

Sunset Mantle by Alter S. Reiss

One of the discoveries I made this year about my reading preferences was that I really enjoy shorter reads. It may have been because the behemoth volumes typical of fantasy series made me sceptical that you could, gasp, actually tell a good story that would leave me satisfied in fewer pages, but I am glad now that I am actively looking for stories that I would have otherwise neglected to take into consideration. Alter S. ReissSunset Mantle is one of those stories which I would have missed were I to only read doorstoppers,


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SHORTS: Vernon, Sloan, Parker, Poe, Wood, Bear

There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about.

“Jackalope Wives” by Ursula Vernon (2014, free at Apex Magazine, podcast available)

Ursula Vernon’s “Jackalope Wives” is the winner of this year’s Nebula Award and World Fantasy Award for short story and deservedly so. It certainly has my vote. It isn’t clear where the story is set. All we know is that on the outskirts of town lies a desert,


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Wolves: A remarkable novel in spite of, and because of, its flaws

Wolves by Simon Ings

“When we fall in love with someone, we fall in love first with their world. Sometimes love for the person follows. Sometimes not.”

Four pages into Simon Ings‘s newest novel, Wolves, and I am already underlining things with a pencil for their insight into the human psyche, something which, if I am to be honest, I find lacking in many genre novels and am most likely to find in the so called literary novels. Wolves has been hailed as a triumphal return to science fiction by UK-based author Ings,


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SHORTS: Jingfang, Emrys, Plait, Norton

There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about. 

“Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang (translated by Ken Liu) (2015, free at Uncanny Magazine)

Hao Jingfang’s novella “Folding Beijing” stayed with me long after I finished reading it. It wasn’t just the images of her fantastic city, where buildings fold down into cubes and once a day the entire city revolves like a tossed coin.


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The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps: A strong and original debut

The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson

In The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, the double debut of celebrated short story writer Kai Ashante Wilson and novella publisher Tor.com, the sons of gods and angels walk the Earth and big caravans of merchants roam dangerous roads in search of riches untold. Demane is one of such demigods, and decades after his godly progenitors have chosen to ascend and abandon the world, he is working as a guard to a merchant caravan where his brothers,


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Savages: A solid new novel by K.J. Parker

Savages by K.J. Parker

A pacifist who inherits his father’s failing arms business, a general who wins all of his battles and sets in motion the fate of empires because of decisions he makes in the last second before a battle commences, a tribesman who loses his family and survives an attempt at his life to become, well, every single thing he chooses to be. Those and many other memorable characters populate K.J. Parker‘s newest standalone novel, Savages, a solid offering that is sure to please readers of the author’s previous works.


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The Darkness That Comes Before: Intelligent fantasy

The Darkness That Comes Before by R. Scott Bakker

I believe it warrants mentioning in the beginning of this review that I find myself in a position where my own review might not be, well, very critical. I have been holding off having to review R. Scott Bakker‘s The Darkness That Comes Before because, to put it bluntly, I love it so much that I don’t think any review I could write would serve its purpose qua review. However, after some insistence from the powers that be — that would be the inimitable Kat Hooper,


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Chimpanzee: A haunting imagination plagued with off-putting style

Chimpanzee by Darin Bradley

In the midst of a severe depression, where government officials are obsessed with micromanaging everything they can lay their hands on in the name of efficiency and the public good, Benjamin Cade loses his teaching job and finds himself, along with the majority of the population, unemployed. Unable to pay back his student loans, Ben must face the logical conclusion, and Darin Bradley’s haunting extrapolation, of viewing education as a product to be bundled and sold: His degrees in literature and literary theory will have to be repossessed.


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Noise: A Lord of the Flies for our modern times

Noise by Darin Bradley

Tell me if this doesn’t sound like a dream come true for those who regularly visit survivalist forums: In the near-future, the United States experiences a collapse of its economic institutions, which leads to the collapse of every social institution mankind has built to function as a society. All order has been destroyed, and from now on your survival against the challenges of nature, both human and not, depends on nothing but yourself. The classical dog-eat-dog world is in session.

Hiram, the protagonist in Darin Bradley’s debut novel Noise,


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Firefight: A fun, exciting superpower romp

Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

Firefight, second book in the superhero-dystopian RECKONERS series, is a good young adult novel. It’s fun, it’s lively, and the pacing never drags. I do have a handful of quibbles, but none of them are vastly troubling. If all you really want to know is whether Firefight is worth reading or a worthy successor to Steelheart, then you have your answer: a solid affirmative on both counts.

Anyway, our story starts off a few months after the previous novel left off (and shortly after the intervening novella) with the Reckoners struggling to hold Newcago in the aftermath of Steelheart’s demise.


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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