Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Order [book in series=yearoffirstbook.book# (eg 2014.01), stand-alone or one-author collection=3333.pubyear, multi-author anthology=5555.pubyear, SFM/MM=5000, interview=1111]: 2022


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Conan: Blood of the Serpent: Conan is back, Baby!!!

Conan: Blood of the Serpent by S.M. Stirling

To say I was thrilled to discover a new Conan novel is the understatement of my year or maybe even decade. Conan of Cimmeria, barbarian, thief, warrior, outlaw, mercenary, reaver, king, Robert E. Howard’s legendary hero, the one who made him the father of Sword and Sorcery has returned. Conan is back, Baby!

Conan, and REH, not to mention ERB’s Tarzan, are not only what made me into a bookworm, but transformed me into the total fantasy geek I am today.


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Battle of the Linguist Mages: Might make a fun video game

Battle of the Linguist Mages by Scotto Moore

My low rating of 2022’s Battle of the Linguist Mages comes from the distance between my anticipation of this book based on its excellent title, and the reality of reading it. I think people who like watching other people play video games will enjoy this book. I don’t, and so I didn’t. Your mileage, as we say, may vary.

Battle of the Linguist Mages is filled with awesome ideas. Here are a few:

  • a “battle language” that changes reality
  • extraterrestrials who live in human consciousness as punctuation marks
  • a powerful,

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Little Eve: Best gothic horror book I read in 2022

Little Eve by Catriona Ward

Little Eve is the best gothic horror book I read last year. Originally published in the United Kingdom in 2018, it won the Shirley Jackson award and the British Fantasy Award for Best Horror Novel. It’s a book saturated with atmosphere, filled with clues, puzzles, masks and secret identities. Ultimately, it’s about cults, serpents, sisters, lies, and love.

The book starts in the 1920s, when a local man in a remote Scottish village discovers the bodies of everyone who lives in the rotting castle on the bluff.


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Even Though I Knew the End: Powerful setting and period piece

Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk

Let me start with what I loved about C.L. Polk’s 2022 novella, Even Though I Knew the End. I loved the premise of the magical system at play here, and the story delivered a 1940s Chicago, Illinois, that was both familiar and convincingly strange. The Wink, a lesbian bar that has rolled through several incarnations in its lifetime, is a sheer delight of evocative description.

I liked the fast-moving plot and Polk’s spin on the hard-boiled detective story.


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City of Last Chances: An intellectual pleasure

City of Last Chances by Adrian Tchaikovsky

City of Last Chances (2022), by Adrian Tchaikovsky, is one of those novels that I completely admired all the way through but had a hard time connecting to many of the characters, so that while the reading experience was enjoyable, it was more an intellectual pleasure than an immersive, emotional one.

The novel is set in the titular city of Ilmar, suffering under the heavy boot of an occupation force left over from the city’s conquest three years earlier by the Palleseen,


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The Nightland Express: A solid YA fantasy

The Nightland Express by J.M. Lee 

The Nightland Express (2022) by J.M. Lee is a solid YA fantasy that has its moments but also doesn’t quite reach its full potential due to several issues. It also suffers a bit perhaps from trying to take on too much, where a more streamlined approach might have allowed for more full development of its issues as well as a more tense narrative. A minor spoiler follows, one revealed quite early in the book and one whose “reveal” doesn’t really impact the reading experience,


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The Daughter of Doctor Moreau: A lush SF melodrama

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

It’s 1877, and on a decaying rancho deep in the Yucatán peninsula, Carlota Moreau’s sheltered life — and world — is about to change. Carlota’s father, Doctor Moreau, conducts experiments on human-animal hybrids, with a stated goal of improving humanity. When his patrons, the Lizalde family, threaten to withdraw their support, catastrophic events are set in motion with Carlota at their center.

“Melodrama” has a bad reputation, but when it’s done intentionally and well, it is a high-quality entertainment form. In the hands of a prose stylist as good as Moreno-Garcia,


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The Nectar of Nightmares: Long may Gidney write!

The Nectar of Nightmares by Craig Laurance Gidney

It’s horror season for me, the time of year where I usually settle in with a cozy haunted house story, but sometimes branch out into the region of the genuinely horrifying or the truly weird. Craig Laurance Gidney’s short story collection The Nectar of Nightmares, published in 2022, fits that bill. As with most collections, I loved several, and a few were misses for me. This is even more likely to happen with a horror collection than,


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Stan Lee: A Life

Stan Lee: A Life (Centennial Edition) by Bob Batchelor

Bob Batchelor’s biography of Stan Lee, titled unsurprisingly Stan Lee, is a solid if somewhat stylistically flat look at the life of a man who has had a huge cultural impact. People who pay attention to this sort of thing won’t find a lot new here, and may even find the book’s gloss over things a bit frustrating, but for casual fans of Marvel movies who have a first-time interest in where this behemoth began, the book suffices.


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The Spear Cuts through Water: One of the best of 2022

The Spear Cuts through Water by Simon Jimenez

Simon Jiminez’s The Spear Cuts through Water (2022) is one of the most vibrantly original novels I’ve read in some time, an enthralling work of creativity that even as it makes use of some familiar tropes arrives absolutely as its own unique self: richly mythic and startlingly inventive. It will absolutely land on my Best of 2022 list, even it may not be for everyone (though everyone should attempt it).

At its core, The Spear Cuts through Water is a simple quest story told unsimply.


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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