In C.L. Polk’s Witchmark, an Edwardian world-next-door fantasy universe is the setting for the story of an on-the-run doctor scion from a noble family, hiding his magical gifts, and getting wrapped firmly in the coils of intrigue, politics and romance.
A fascinating tale of magic, beings of immense power and their unique governing system, and even Atlantis, The Last Sun is K.D. Edwards’ debut novel with Prometheus Books, which promises an engrossing trilogy to follow a solid beginning. With a court system based on tarot and the Major Arcana, powerful magics, and mythical dangers around every corner, Edwards brings a new Atlantis to life just off the coast of Massachusetts, and pulls readers into a twisted missing-person investigation that is covering up much more sinister plots.
Rune Saint John is hired by Lord Tower to find Addam Saint Nicholas, the missing son of Lady Judgement, who is hidden somewhere in New Atlantis, a city raised after Atlantis fell in the war with humans. His search for Addam leads him and his Companion, Brand, to dangerous sites across the city and against violent enemies, revealing a deeper plot against Rune himself that Addam is only tangentially a part of. And when a strange, impossible creature finds Rune, there is little time left to track down the culprits and save the city from ruin. [Read more…]
Scientist and MacArthur Award Fellow Francine (Frankie) arrives in the near future at a facility dedicated to the study and protection of the non-human Hominidae, the great apes. Wooed there by the Foundation that runs the facility, Frankie is eager to use its resources and her ‘Genius Grant’ to study a group of bonobos as a means of testing and extending her theories on reproduction, and their influence on the mechanisms of biological evolution. Frankie begins this new chapter in her life while facing familiar personal challenges and physical complications arising from life-long endometriosis. Her intense focus on her work and the benefits provided her through the latest technology of ‘bodyware’ augmentations help Frankie persist through any disability caused by her condition. Meanwhile, another researcher there named Stotts facilitates her education on, and introduction to, the bonobos. The gentle, reserved Stotts focuses his research on the development of tool use in primates, but he looks to the relatively simple tools of communication utilized by the bonobos with a romanticized envy when compared to human technology.
Frankie’s progress with her bonobo subjects and her developing professional relationship and personal friendship with Stotts comes to a sudden halt when a giant dust storm sweeps out of the dry, abandoned corners of America to threaten the facility and its residents. Refusing to heed a mandatory human evacuation of the affected area, Frankie insists upon staying behind with Stotts to continue her research and help him care for the bonobos through the storm’s passing. However, the storm takes out their bodyware implants, all connections to communication systems, and compromises the bonobo’s habitat. As resources dwindle in the days following and people fail to return with help it becomes clear that the storm and damaged technology is a mere part to a catastrophe far larger. [Read more…]
My favorite story last month was “In the End, It Always Turns Out the Same” by A.C. Wise, which appears in The Dark Issue 37. It’s a smart, dark take on the Scooby Doo formula that pauses and asks, “Aren’t they too young for this?” Like poetry and space opera? Go read “I Sing Against the Silent Sun” by A. Merc Rustad and Ada Hoffmann, which appears in Lightspeed Magazine Issue 97. In this harrowing yet hopeful story, a poet-revolutionary is hunted by a god of silence. (Also, this story makes me happy because of its genderfluid and nonbinary representation.) I also enjoyed “The Sweetness of Honey and Rot” by A. Merc Rustad, which appears in Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue 254 (21 June 2018). It’s a story about the costs of resistance, and it features original, inventive worldbuilding and gorgeous, detailed prose.
Keen fans of the Hugo Awards will be aware that 2018 marks the inaugural presentation of the World Science Fiction Society Award for Best Young Adult Book. The shortlist for this Hugo-adjacent award (which will, barring shenanigans at the AGM, henceforth be known as the Lodestar Award) includes Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor.
This is the second book in Okorafor’s series, Akata Witch. It tells the story of Sunny Nwazue, a teenage girl born in New York City whose Nigerian parents have brought her across the Atlantic to live in their hometown. Sunny is a Leopard Person, someone with an affinity for juju and thus able to work magic. In Akata Warrior, she develops these abilities under the strict guidance of her mentor Sugar Cream and the tried and true method of getting into mischief with her friends. However, it’s not all fun and games. Ekwensu, the masquerade responsible for murdering Sunny’s grandmother (and also the only other Leopard Person in Sunny’s family) is still on the loose. Sunny and her friends must track down the masquerade before Ekwensu brings about the apocalypse. [Read more…]
Welcome to the latest installment of my comics review column here at Skiffy & Fanty! Every month, I use this space to shine a spotlight on SF&F comics (print comics, graphic novels, and webcomics) that I believe deserve more attention from SF&F readers.
This month, I’m turning my – and hopefully your – gaze back to the latest collection of a series I reviewed last year, one of my favourite SFFnal comics currently in production, Zander Cannon’s epic giant monsters prison drama, Kaijumax. (This review contains spoilers!) [Read more…]
In Aurora, Kim Stanley Robinson writes what aspires to be the definitive colonization-by-generation-starship novel, with an emphasis and focus on the implausibility and folly of such a scheme.
Kill the Farm Boy is the literary love child of Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne, who partnered up to create a fantastical, trope-skewering romp of a Pratchett-esque novel. That was a lot of words, but I promise they’re all accurate. Within the pages of Kill the Farm Boy, readers will find plenty of laughter and an abundance of interesting fairy tale problems, ranging from botched adventures to a nice-guy troll to a sand witch whose wand is the prettiest thing on the beach. Even when you think you’ve finally grasped their mischievous style, Dawson and Hearne surprise you again and again with unique villains and intense violence. A tale of the hero’s journey it may be, but the journey itself is not typical in the slightest. This book almost feels like a D&D campaign with a ridiculously imaginative DM and a fantastic group of players, and that’s the opposite of a bad thing. [Read more…]
This month, I have two stories that will give you heavy, negative feels (but in a good way, I promise!), and one story that can probably cheer you up afterward. In “One Day, My Dear, I’ll Shower You with Rubies” by Langley Hyde, which appears in Podcastle Episode 520 (May 1, 2018), a genocidal wizard is put on trial years after the war, and his daughter is called to testify against him. She won’t forgive him, and he won’t apologize. This story is challenging, unique, surprisingly real. Want a story about a succubus in the age of social media? Check out “Sucks (to Be You)” by Katharine Duckett, which appears in Uncanny Magazine Issue 22 (May/June 2018). It’s thoughtful and deeply unsettling in the very best way. Finally, I loved “Our Side of the Door” by Kodiak Julian, which appears in Lightspeed Magazine Issue 96 (May 2018). It’s a warm, beautiful portal fantasy that left me thinking about ethics and gender.
I don’t recall exactly what drew me to picking Blood Orbit out of the many options for potential reviewing here. Likely it was a combination of good experience/trust in the publisher and the description of a crime noir/science fiction blend, a combo of two of my beloved genres. I certainly didn’t recognize the name of the author, and upon finally beginning the novel I had no memory of what that blurb said it was even about. I started reading the electronic copy Pyr had provided expecting a typical slow start. Without the ease of a physical copy I find getting into a novel really challenging while trying to ‘turn’ back to firmly get characters or the seeds of plot to stick in mind. Instead I found little need for that, and my finger tapped through pages in a focused rush to read more. Blood Orbit is exceptionally crafted from its opening, and at no point through its last page did I ever end up feeling like it faltered. Happening to be at Barnes & Noble at the time, I soon decided to get up and just get the actual book, because I already had a feeling this “Gattis File” debut would be one series I’d want to keep up with. [Read more…]