Rating: 4


The Whispering Gorilla & Return of the Whispering Gorilla: Attack of the 400-pound plumbutter

The Whispering Gorilla by Don Wilcox & Return of the Whispering Gorilla by David V. Reed

By my rough count, the publisher known as Armchair Fiction currently has, in its constantly expanding catalog, something on the order of 317 “double-novel” volumes for sale, not to mention its “single-novel” and short-story volumes. But of all those many two-novel volumes, which usually incorporate an unrelated pair of shortish but full-length pieces under one cover, the potential buyer would have to look long and hard to find a wackier pairing than is to be found in the publisher’s D-119: The Whispering Gorilla and Return of the Whispering Gorilla.

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Mars Is My Destination: Hey, Ralphie Boy!

Mars Is My Destination by Frank Belknap Long

Five years back, I shared some thoughts here regarding Frank Belknap Long’s famed horror anthology The Hounds of Tindalos (1946), which in later years was broken into two volumes, The Hounds of Tindalos and The Black Druid. It was a perfect introduction to this wonderful writer for me, and I’ve been, uh, longing to read some more Long ever since.

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Dead Country: A perfect place to enter this universe

Dead Country by Max Gladstone

Dead Country (2023) is Max Gladstone’s seventh title in his highly recommended CRAFT series (OK, technically, it’s the start of a new trilogy entitled CRAFT WARS), which might make some readers who sadly have yet to wade into the series hesitant to pick it up. But in some ways, Dead Country is oddly a perfect place to enter this universe. Let me explain.

No, there is too much.

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Crownbreaker: God-killing is never easy

Crownbreaker by Sebastien de Castell

In 2019’s Crownbreaker, the final book of the SPELLSLINGER series, Kellen Argos, once Ke’Helios of the House of Ke, is expected to kill a god.

This isn’t the weirdest thing the protagonist of Sebastien De Castell’s fantasy saga has been asked to do, but it’s probably in the top two. Strangely, nearly everyone Kellen knows—his father, his Argosi mentor Ferius, even the queen he is pledged to protect, all want him to do it. I don’t think those folks have ever agreed on anything before.

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The Super Barbarians: Jonesing for java

The Super Barbarians by John Brunner

Ever since the mid-15th century, and continuing on for some 600 years now and counting, coffee has been one of planet Earth’s favorite beverages. Today, I believe, it holds the No. 3 spot, with only water itself and tea being consumed more frequently. But whether taken black or light, as an espresso or cappuccino, with sugar or not, the fact remains that the men and women of our 21st century drink something on the order of 2.25 billion cups a day, or over 800 billion cups a year.

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Clytemnestra: A worthy entry

Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati

Clytemnestra (2023), as the style makes clear, is another entry in the ever-growing genre of Greek myth retellings. Casati does a nice job here of creating tension even within a well-known tale, and has several quite moving scenes, though the book’s somewhat flat style and — for me at least — odd choice of where to end, places it more in the middle tier of similar works.

After some a welcome family tree and large cast of characters that also serves to refresh a few details (who raped whom,

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The Crane Husband: A movingly dark and vividly written fable for contemporary times

The Crane Husband by Kelly Barnhill

Kelly Barnhill’s novella The Crane Husband is a darkly grim reimagining of and response to the Crane Wife folktale. A tough read thanks to its bleak near-future setting and dark focus on abuse and family dysfunction, and at times quite blunt in fable fashion, it’s also a rewarding read thanks to its lovely sparse language and strongly voiced narrator.

The story is set in the run-down and nearly abandoned rural Midwest, a few steps into the future where farmland is owned by a single far-away large conglomerate that raises monocultured,

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Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse (Volume 1): Birds, Bees, Blood and Beer: Beautifully illustrated slapstick horror

Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse (Volume 1): Birds, Bees, Blood and Beer by Ben Templesmith

Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse (Volume 1): Birds, Bees, Blood and Beer is first notable because of the identifiable art of Ben Templesmith, who both wrote and drew this first of three volumes. Ben Templesmith is known for his work on 30 Days of Night. The art in Wormwood is haunting, with shifting lights marking the seedy backdrop of a creepy cityscape and “The Dark Alley,” a stripper bar that the Gentleman Corpse seems to like to hang out in with Mr.

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The Darkness Manifesto: On Light Pollution, Night Ecology, and the Ancient Rhythms that Sustain Life

The Darkness Manifesto: On Light Pollution, Night Ecology, and the Ancient Rhythms that Sustain Life by Johan Eklöf (translated by Elizabeth DeNoma)

The Darkness Manifesto: On Light Pollution, Night Ecology, and the Ancient Rhythms that Sustain Life by Johan Eklöf (translated by Elizabeth DeNoma) is a solidly informative book that raises some serious questions and challenges us to think differently about how we might live our lives, though it suffers somewhat from its structure.

Eklöf is an ecologist who specializes in bats, so one can see where he might get his fondness for the darkness of night.

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The Necessity of Stars: A lyrical first contact story with teeth

The Necessity of Stars by E. Catherine Tobler

I continued my Neon Hemlock novella-reading binge with E. Catherine Tobler’s The Necessity of Stars, published in 2021. I always approach a Tobler story preparing to be bowled over by strange and stunning language, and this story did not disappoint. I was surprised to be reading a story that slots more comfortably into the “science fiction” category than “fantasy,” because this is about first contact.

Bréone Hemmerli is a highly placed United Nations official, in a world increasingly submerged by rising oceans or devoured by desertification,

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We have reviewed 8119 fantasy, science fiction, and horror books, audiobooks, magazines, comics, and films.

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June 2023