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  • 01/07/2024 16:30 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Red Scholar’s Wake cover

    The Red Scholar’s Wake by Aliette de Bodard

    (Gollancz, 2022)

    Reviewed by Dev Agarwal

    Aliette de Bodard is one of the biggest and most highly regarded names in the genre. She is almost hyperactive in producing work of any length, from short fiction to novellas and novels. Additionally, de Bodard consistently features on the short lists for major awards in the US and UK, often claiming the top spot.

    Not only busy, she is also a lyricist of noticeable power and range.

    Readers of The Red Scholar’s Wake will find that it combines space opera and future history. Like Heinlein and Haldeman before her, de Bodard has built a body of work around an imagined future. In her case this is based on a parallel universe where Chinese and Vietnamese cultures dominated world history from the fifteenth century onwards (the Xuya universe).

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    Review from BSFA Review 23 - Download your copy here.

  • 29/06/2024 09:18 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Strange Attractors cover

    Strange Attractors by Jaine Fenn

    (Newcon Press, 2023)

    Reviewed by Steven French

    This is a delightful collection of fifteen short stories, of which all but one has been published previously elsewhere. The last, ‘Sin of Omission’ is one of the best in the collection, depicting on one hand, a shriver who takes on the sins of the dying, thereby denying herself eternal communion with the Empress and, on the other, a golem on a mission. It is how the paths of these two characters come together in a revelation of the true culture in which they operate, that illustrates the care in which these tales have been crafted.

    Not that this should come as much of a surprise to the readers of this magazine. Fenn won the BSFA short fiction award a few years ago with her gay awakening story, ‘Liberty Bird’, set in a world of privileged clan scions racing space-yachts through the ion-streams of a gas giant.

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    Review from BSFA Review 23 - Download your copy here.

  • 26/06/2024 19:00 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Black Sci-Fi Short Stories cover

    Black Sci-Fi Short Stories: Anthology of New & Classic Tales (Gothic Fantasy)
    Forward by Temi Oh
    Co-editor Tia Ross
    Introduction by Dr. Sandra M. Grayson

    (Flame Tree Collections, 2021)

    Reviewed by Steven French

    This is a collection of twenty “black sci-fi short stories”, where the term ‘short’ is loosely interpreted. Four of the entries are described as novels, totalling almost 70% of the entire volume. The first, ‘Blake: or the Huts of America’ (Part 1) by Martin R. Delany, from 1859, features the travels and travails of Henry Blake, an escaped slave searching for his wife through the America’s deep south and then up to Canada, before heading to Cuba and organising an insurrection in Part 2 (not included here). Described by Samuel R. Delany (no relation!) as a work of ‘proto-science fiction’, this early slice of alt-history reproduces the colloquial speech of the time and offers a brutal window on the conditions of both freed and enslaved black people.

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    Review from BSFA Review 23 - Download your copy here.

  • 24/06/2024 16:44 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Languages of Water cover

    Languages of Water edited by Eugen Bacon

    (MyMedia, 2023)

    Reviewed by Harry Slater

    I’m writing this review in a small, converted barn, staring idly out of single-glazed windows at a deluge of mid-October, English rain. My feet are cold. A handful of days ago it was muggy, close, the back-dampening humidity of the bayou, the kind of weather where shadows are the best company. There are blossoms as well as soggy fruit on some of the apple trees. This past month, everything has felt wrong. It seems a fitting setting to be discussing Languages of Water, a book which confronts the wrongness of climate change not just head-on, but from a range of different and intriguing directions. The book has at its core a short story by its editor, Eugen Bacon. It’s called ‘When the Water Stops’ and it runs to only six pages. In it, a small community in a never-specified African country runs out of water and turns to the only other readily available liquid to sustain themselves—blood. Specifically, human blood. This is a tale of utterly believable vampirism, one so close to us in time that only a week may have elapsed between now and then.

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    Review from BSFA Review 23 - Download your copy here.

  • 21/06/2024 15:35 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Promise cover

    Promise by Christi Nogle

    (Flame Tree Press, 2023)

    Reviewed by Harry Slater

    There are two themes running through Christi Nogle’s collection of dark tales in Promise—time and unity. Time is bent, warped, broken, it curls back on itself, devouring pasts and futures, while people and creatures and robotic lifeforms create wholes from disparate parts, blending into new, often terrifying singularities. This is SF at the edge of the black mirror, delicate and intricate, layered and literary, shocking and confounding.

    The first two stories are the most complete of the collection, rising and falling in eerie rhythms designed to unsettle. ‘Cocooning’ is a pandemic tale twisted back into itself. It sees a couple and their dogs quarantined, but we slowly begin to question exactly who is being protected from who, or what. The ending is a gloriously bizarre celebration of freedom and togetherness that upends traditional plague tropes for something altogether stranger.

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    Review from BSFA Review 23 - Download your copy here.

  • 19/06/2024 16:37 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Night Field cover

    The Night Field by Donna Glee Williams

    (Jo Fletcher Books, 2023)

    Reviewed by Harry Slater

    The climate fable is becoming a staple of modern SF. It avoids the rigour of hard cli-fi, throwing a catastrophe into the heart of some prelapsarian innocence, the sludge of reality coating a purer, more natural existence. The Night Field by Donna Glee Williams follows that template, and while it is a moving, often heartbreaking novel, there’s a simplicity to its message that undermines its good intentions. The book tells the story of Pyn-Poi, a young woman who has spent all her time in a forest she knows as The Real. Every year, when the rain comes, Pyn-Poi and her family head up onto shelves in a massive cliff, known as the Wall, to wait out the deluge, before returning to once again connect with the flora and fauna below. But a change happens, a putrid stench that comes with the rain and begins to make the inhabitants of the forest, and the plants themselves, sick.

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    Review from BSFA Review 23 - Download your copy here.

  • 17/06/2024 17:04 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Prophet cover

    Prophet by Helen MacDonald and Sin Blaché

    (Penguin Random House, 2023)

    Reviewed by Anne F. Wilson

    “I don’t care if it’s elves, I just need to know why and how it’s elves.”

    To those who (like me) only knew Helen MacDonald from their beautiful and deeply felt nature writing, Prophet will come as a surprise. Once you know that they write fanfic, it all suddenly makes sense. Prophet is a science fiction thriller that came out of a lockdown project between the two authors, who had not met in person before they started to play with the ideas that led to the book. It was originally intended to be a novella, but one thing led to another, and here we are.

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    Review from BSFA Review 23 - Download your copy here.

  • 15/06/2024 20:34 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Napoleon of Notting Hill cover

    The Napoleon of Notting Hill by G.K. Chesterton

    (The MIT Press, 2023)

    Reviewed by Duncan Lawie

    This fresh publication as part of the Radium Age series posits The Napoleon of Notting Hill as worthy of fresh examination. It is a fun read, but a strange avatar of science fiction. Madeline Ashby’s new introduction shows where ideas in the book are reflected in subsequent history, as well as situating the novel in a literary context. Insightfully, she tells us that this tale “suggests that the best outcome is something that must be strived for, and that succumbing to the seemingly harmless aesthetic whims of a tyrant is still [none the less] succumbing to a tyrant.”

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    Review from BSFA Review 23 - Download your copy here.

  • 12/06/2024 19:05 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Mindbreaker cover

    Mindbreaker by Kate Dylan

    (Hodderscape, 2023)

    Reviewed by John Dodd

    When you have technology suitably advanced enough that it’s indistinguishable from magic, how would the world change?

    Would it change?

    Well, it would for those with the money and the power, and let’s be honest, that doesn’t come as a surprise. But what would they do with limitless power? Anything they want? Everything they want, and what if a part of that was using the poor to do things that even they couldn’t do?

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    Review from BSFA Review 23 - Download your copy here.

  • 08/06/2024 13:47 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Creation Node cover

    Creation Node by Stephen Baxter

    (Gollancz, 2023)

    Reviewed by Stuart Carter

    Is Stephen Baxter the undisputed master of “cosmic horror”? He certainly doesn’t do classic movie jump scares—quite the very absolute opposite, in fact! First, he’ll terrify you with your insignificance measured against the size of the universe, and then he’ll make you weep at these pathetic scales when compared with the mind-boggling timespans that lie ahead of us.

    If that isn’t cosmic horror, I don’t know what is.

    Then there’s the slow, inevitable creep of Flood in which we’re all doomed, and no can-do science types are coming to save us. That kept me awake a few nights after reading.

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    Review from BSFA Review 23 - Download your copy here.


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