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SFF Author: Cadwell Turnbull

Cadwell Turnbull is a graduate from the North Carolina State University’s Creative Writing MFA in Fiction and English MA in Linguistics. He was the winner of the 2014 NCSU Prize for Short Fiction and attended Clarion West 2016. His short fiction has appeared in The Verge, Lightspeed, Nightmare, and Asimov’s Science Fiction. His Asimov’s short story “When the Rains Come Back” made Barnes and Noble’s Sci-Fi & Fantasy’s Short Fiction Roundup in April 2018. His Nightmare story “Loneliness Is in Your Blood” was selected for The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018. His Asimov’s novelette Other Worlds and This One was also selected by the anthology as a notable story. The Lesson is his debut novel.


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The Lesson: A thoughtful look at race relations, power, and violence

The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull

The Lesson (2019), by Cadwell Turnbull, is a solid first-contact sort of novel that feels fresh due to its unique setting in the Virgin Islands and has some serious depth to it in the way it uses the encounter between aliens and the islanders as a vehicle for exploring colonialism/race relations, though it left me wanting a little bit more in terms of character and craft.

The novel opens pre-landing with an introduction to the various major characters, including:

  • Derrick: a young sci-fi/fantasy fan who will eventually become assistant to the alien ambassador
  • Patrice: his neighbor and best friend
  • Jackson: Patrice’s father,

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No Gods, No Monsters: Thoughtful and well-crafted

No Gods, No Monsters by Cadwell Turnbull

No Gods, No Monsters (2021) is one of the books that had me admiring it more than enjoying it. Strongly crafted on a sentence level, built on a structure both complex and deftly handled, and dealing with some seriously weighty themes, the book still left me, despite all that, a bit cold, a bit resistant to its charms. Still, as you’ll see, I’m mostly strongly recommending it, even if it didn’t wholly win me over.

We begin with a scene that seems all too familiar.


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We Are the Crisis: Impressive but not immersive

We Are the Crisis by Cadwell Turnbull

As I was thinking how to start this review of Cadwell Turnbull’s We Are the Crisis, planning on noting how it slots into the category of “one of those books I admired but didn’t fully fall into,” I thought I’d refresh my memory of my thoughts on its predecessor, No Gods, No Monsters. And darn if I didn’t open that review with “the book had me admiring it more than enjoying it.” So I guess we’re both pretty consistent,


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Next SFF Author: Joan Frances Turner
Previous SFF Author: Danielle Trussoni

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