Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Rating: 4

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The Hand of Kornelius Voyt: Unclassifiable but most impressive

The Hand of Kornelius Voyt by Oliver Onions

It was English author Mike Ashley, writing in Newman & Jones’ excellent overview volume Horror: 100 Best Books, who first introduced me to the remarkable collection Widdershins, from 1911. While enthusing about the eight splendidly spooky stories therein, and in particular “The Beckoning Fair One,” one of the greatest ghost stories in the English language, Ashley told his audience that in them “we find a portrayal of madness that leaves the reader uncomfortably unsure about the state of reality and sanity.” Indeed,


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Widdershins: An outstanding collection of spooky stories

Widdershins by Oliver Onions

I originally picked up this hard-to-find book after reading of it in Newman & Jones’ excellent overview volume, Horror: The 100 Best Books. Widdershins is a collection of Oliver Onions‘ short stories, and was first published in 1911. Onions was supposedly a meticulous writer, writing and rewriting and rerewriting, changing words repeatedly until he felt that things were just right. And his attention to detail does indeed show. All the stories in this volume are impeccably written,


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Unwind: A gripping story if you can get past the premise

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

In the near future, after a long bloody war between pro-life and pro-choice armies, the United States amended the constitution to ban abortion but allow parents to “retroactively abort” a child between 13 and 18 years old as long as the child was “unwound” in a process that allows the child’s parts to be given to others, like organ donations. In this way, the child isn’t actually killed, but lives on, a technicality that appeases both sides.

You’d think that few parents would opt to unwind their child,


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Jewel Box: Delightful startling points and beautifully honed sentences

Jewel Box by E. Lily Yu

The pleasure for me in reading E. Lily Yu’s collection of short stories, Jewel Box, was sourced in two of the book’s elements: its what-if premises and its, well, jewel-like language, which glittered precise and edged as any gemstone in a Tiffany’s case. The plots and characters, meanwhile, were more hit and miss for me, which is why I’m not giving it a five.

As is typical for collections, the individual stories varied in their impact,


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Rai: The rise and fall of a futuristic New Japan

Rai: Deluxe Edition, Volume 1 (issues 1-12) by Matt Kindt (writer), Clayton Crain (art), and Dave Lanphear (letters)

Matt Kindt is one of my favorite writers, and Valiant is an exciting publishing company with great stories that are quick-moving, with story arcs told in four-issue increments. So, this twelve-issue collection contains three story arcs telling a larger story about Rai, the protector of New Japan, an enormous, floating structure containing countless cities and neighborhoods. New Japan is in the control of Father, an “omnipotent, omniscient, and unseen ruler” who is not really alive.


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The Running Grave: An addictive return to the detective series

The Running Grave by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)

An insidious cult, a spiritual leader who converses with the dead and a ghost that manifests at will – the dynamic detective duo have well and truly returned in what might be their most riveting mystery yet.

When a desperate father approaches the agency asking the detectives to help remove his son from the grip of a pernicious cult posturing as a benign church, Strike is hesitant to let Robin go in under cover: there have been stories of torture, sexual assault and starvation.


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Fingers of Fear: In Ormes’ way

Fingers of Fear by J.U. Nicolson

This will hardly be the first time that I have mentioned editor/author Karl Edward Wagner, and his so-called KEW 39 list, in one of my reviews here. But ever since 1983, when the list first appeared in the pages of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine, it has been used as a guide of sorts by horror readers in search of something different. Those 39 novels were divided amongst three categories: The 13 Best Supernatural Horror Novels, The 13 Best Science-Fiction Horror Novels,


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Mooncakes: A magical YA love story

Reposting to include Brad’s new review.

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker (writer), Wendy Xu (illustrator), & Joamette Gil (letterer)

Mooncakes (2019) is the story of Nova and Tam, two young people who are exploring their connections to magic. They are both, in their own way, deeply connected to the magical world and must decide what that means to them. Their relationships — with the people around them and each other — fuel the emotional core of this whimsical, down-to-earth, LGBTQ+ narrative.

I was delighted by Mooncakes.


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Hysteria: An American amnesiac In London

Hysteria directed by Freddie Francis

As I believe I have mentioned here before, during the 1960s, Hammer Film Productions in England did not only excel at the horror, science fiction and period action movies for which it is best remembered today, but at the psychological thriller, as well. Previously, this viewer had watched and hugely enjoyed such Hammer thrillers as The Snorkel (1958), Maniac (1962) and Nightmare (1964), and so it was with great anticipation that I sat down the other day,


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Blue Book: The story of a famous alien abduction

Blue Book (Volume One) by James Tynion IV (script), Michael Avon Oeming (art), Aditya Bidikar (letters)

Blue Book is the true-life story of Betty and Barney Hill, a couple who claimed to have had an UFO encounter in the summer of 1961. While driving late at night, the young couple encounters a space ship, and then aliens abduct them, do experiments, and return them to their car within about two hours. All of this is narrated by Tynion in his script and shown through excellent black, white, and blue art by Oeming.


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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