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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993
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Single author collections

Space Pioneers, ed. Hank Davis & Christopher Ruocchio

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Space Pioneers

 

edited by

 

Hank Davis and Christopher Ruocchio

 

 

(Baen Books, November 2018, pb, 512 pp.)

 

"Third Stage" by Poul Anderson
"Becalmed in Hell" by Larry Niven
"Delilah and the Space-Rigger" by Robert A. Heinlein
"Expedition" by Fredric Brown
"Not Yet the End" by Fredric Brown
"Superweapon" by David Drake
"In From the Commons" by Tony Daniel
"Home Front" by Sarah A. Hoyt and Jeff Greason
"Incident on Calypso" by Murray Leinster
"All the Traps of Earth" by Clifford D. Simak
"The Cave of Night" by James E. Gunn
"He Fell into a Dark Hole" by Jerry E. Pournelle
"What's It Like Out There?" by Edmond Hamilton
"The Man Who Lost the Sea" by Theodore Sturgeon
"The Parliament of Owls" by Christopher Ruocchio
"Quietus" by Ross Rocklynne
"Men Against the Stars" by Manly Wade Wellman
"Over the Top" by Lester del Rey
"Kyrie" by Poul Anderson
Read more...
 

Rogues of Merth by Robert Zoltan

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Rogues of Merth:

 

The Adventures of Dareon and Blue

 

(Book 1)

 

by

 

Robert Zoltan

 

(Dream Tower Media, November 2018, pb, 328 pp.)

 

One Night in Merth”

The Hanged Man”
Delta of the Damned”
Sails on the Scarlet Sand”
Voyage to the End of Time”
The Black Beach”
The Blue Lamp”
Citadel of the Seven Doors”
The Farmer’s Daughter”
Stronger than Blood”

Reviewed by Tara Grímravn

Rogues of Merth is a single-author collection of ten sword-and-sorcery stories, nine of which are original to this volume, written in the style of Fritz Leiber’s classic and much beloved Fafhrd and Gray Mouser tales. Following the derring-do of two adventurers, the sword-wielding poet Dareon Vin and the Indari warrior Blue, the book weaves tales that range from their first meeting through many of the mishaps and circumstances that led the two of them to become fast friends. Taken as a whole, the set of tales is really a continuous telling, each adventure flowing directly into the next. Make no mistake, however; every story in this collection stands alone as a complete adventure. In terms of style, Zoltan’s writing was witty and easy to read. The stories are varied enough in content and fast-paced, holding the reader’s interest throughout. I should also like to note that the small pieces of Dareon’s poetry and diary entries lend a very nice touch, helping to bring the world of Plemora alive.

In “One Night in Merth” Dareon Vin is given an ultimatum by his lady-love—obtain wealth to win my heart or be forsaken. Elsewhere in the city of Merth, an Indari warrior meets a woman who claims to be a priestess seeking the return of a precious artifact. As the two meet for the first time, each in their own attempt to steal the mutually sought-after prize, a creature blacker than shadow appears and takes it for its own. Dareon and the warrior he calls Blue take off after it, intent on recovering the stolen item together.

In the “The Hanged Man” Blue and Dareon come across a corpse hanging from a tree at a fork in the road. The dead man tells them to “take the right path,” and their interpretation of that direction leads them to a strange town filled with unnatural-looking dogs—a town they must escape before sunset or suffer the same curse.

Delta of the Damned” sees the two friends as hired bodyguards aboard a cargo ship deep-sailing along jungle rivers. After the crew finds an ancient skeleton, they see a black pyramid rising from the thick vegetation. As often happens, the captain’s greed gets the better of him and he orders the crew ashore, Dareon and Blue included, to explore the pyramid in hopes of finding riches. Unfortunately, it’s not treasure that they find.

On to their next adventure in “Sails on the Scarlet Sand” Blue and Dareon have their fortunes told by an old man rumored to be a mystic. He tells them of a strange ship captained by a golden princess and warns them of danger to come. The pair leave, following an old, dry riverbed known as the Dhal as they continue their journey home to the city of Merth. All too soon, however, they encounter the strange ship, having found themselves caught, at least momentarily, in another time.

Dareon and Blue are found still trying to make their way back to Merth in “Voyage to the End of Time.” Once again, the heroes find themselves caught in another place and time; or perhaps a place beyond time. The story opens with the pair treading sea water as what was left of their ship, destroyed by pirates, floats around them. They’re soon rescued by a passing vessel with no captain, only a mystical blind woman known as “the pilot” (whose singing steers the boat) and few other passengers. One such passenger, a strange golden man named Morion, tells them they have met before (in another time, of course) and tells them that the ship itself is on a course to reach a city at the end of time. Despite this seemingly mundane objective, however, they soon discover that there are multiple otherworldly parties who would stop them.

In “The Black Beach” Blue and Dareon find themselves washed up on an uninhabited island of black sand and jungle. Upon exploring, they find longships belonging to the pirates who’d destroyed their boat in the previous tale. Unfortunately for them, they also find an ancient temple that is home to something not very happy to see them.

The Blue Lamp” finds our poet swordsman Dareon and Indari warrior Blue finally having reached Merth. Drawn into a curious shop filled with tiny statues, Blue suddenly finds himself in a type of limbo, surrounded by people who had surely served as models for the statues. Meanwhile, Dareon searches for his Indari friend, missing for three days. Finally tracking his last known whereabouts to an odd little shop on Curiosity Lane, he finds that his friend’s fate is somehow tangled up with a suspicious shopkeeper and his strange blue lamp.

Revenge is the name of the game in “Citadel of the Seven Doors.” Dareon is called upon by the Duke of Sarros, father of his late patron Kell Movantian, to capture his son’s murderer alive. Thus, Blue sets off with Dareon to fulfill the request, finally arriving at a citadel where their quarry supposedly hides. But the entrance exasperatingly leads to room after room of illusions with seemingly no escape.

In “The Farmer’s Daughter,” Dareon and Blue, once again on the road, decide to beg a night’s rest at a farm they happen to pass. Although their hosts insist there’s only two of them, Dareon meets a lovely young woman who claims to be the farmer’s daughter, Gleondra. After spending a night of passion in her cold embrace, he and Blue learn the following morning that Gleondra had been dead for a year. They soon discover that her revenant shade has placed on Dareon a powerful curse and they have only hours till midnight to undo it.

The final story, “Stronger than Blood,” opens with Blue and Dareon having wandered into Varga territory, enemies to the Indari, with Dareon severely injured. With the poet caught between life and death and the pair hunted by Vagash warriors, much-needed help comes from an unexpected source.

With all said and done, Zoltan’s Rogues of Merth reminds me of everything in my youth that caused me to fall in love with fantasy in the first place. Lovers of the genre, especially of the classic sword-and-sorcery sub-genre, are sure to enjoy this lively collection.

 

Little Black Spots by John F. D. Taff

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Little Black Spots

 

by

John F. D. Taff

 

(Gray Matter Press, September 2018, pb, 301 pp.)

 

"The Bunny Suit"
"A Winter's Tale"
"Their Hands"
"Everything Must Go"
"Purple Soda Hand"
"A Kiss from the Sun for Pardon"
"Gethsemane, in Rain"
"The Coriolis Effect (or, Chiromancy for Beginners)"
The Immolation Scene” (reprint, not reviewed)
The Depravity of Inanimate Things” (reprint, not reviewed)
Just a Phone Call Away” (reprint, not reviewed)
The Dark Level” (reprint, not reviewed)
The Bitches of Madison County” (reprint, not reviewed)
The Night Moves” (reprint, not reviewed)
Lincoln and Booth at the Orpheum” (reprint, not reviewed)
Read more...
 

Solarpunk: Ecological and Fantastical Stories in a Sustainable World, ed. by Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro

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Special Double Review

by

Jason McGregor & Chuck Rothman

 

 

Solarpunk: Ecological and Fantastical Stories

in a Sustainable World

 

edited by

 

Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro

 

(WorldWeaver Press, May 2018, tpb, 284 pp.)

 

"Soylent Green Is People!" by Carlos Orsi
"When Kingdoms Collide" by Telmo Marcal
"Breaking News!" by Romeu Martins
"Once upon a Time in a World" by Antonio Luiz M. C. Costa
"Escape" by Gabriel Cantareira
"Gary Johnson" by Daniel I. Dutra
"Xibalba Dreams of the West" by Andre S. Silva
"Sun in the Heart" by Roberta Spindler
"Cobalt Blue and the Enigma" by Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro
Read more...
 

Zion's Fiction: A Treasury of Israeli Speculative Literature

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Zion's Fiction: A Treasury of Israeli

Speculative Literature

 

Edited by

Sheldon Teitelbaum and Emanuel Lottem

 

(Mandel Vilar Press, September 25, 2018, pb, 320 pp.)

 

"The Smell of Orange Groves" by Lavie Tidhar
"The Slows" by Gail Hareven
"Burn Alexandria" by Keren Landsman
"The Perfect Girl" by Guy Hasson
"Hunter of Stars" by Nava Semel
"The Believers" by Nir Yaniv
"Possibilities" by Eyal Teler
"In the Mirror" by Rotem Baruchin
"The Stern-Gerlach Mice" by Mordechai Sasson
"A Good Place for the Night" by Savyon Liebrecht
"Death in Jerusalem" by Elana Gomel
"White Curtain" by Pesakh (Pavel) Amnuel
"A Man's Dream" by Yael Furman
"Two Minutes Too Early" by Gur Shomron
"My Crappy Autumn" by Nitay Peretz
"They Had to Move" by Shimon Adaf
Read more...
 

A Metal Box Floating Between the Stars, and Other Stories by Jamie Lackey

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A Metal Box

 

Floating Between the Stars

 

and Other Stories


 

by

 

Jamie Lackey


 

(Air and Nothingness Press, March 2018, pb, 166 pp.)


 


A Metal Box Floating Between Stars”

What Comes After” (reprint)
Losing Home” (reprint)
Broken Promises” (reprint)
What Waits Out There” (reprint)
Painting the Sky with Shooting Stars” (reprint)
For Your Time” (reprint)
Abram’s Choice” (reprint)
Day by Day”
Larva Mother” (reprint)
Remembering Jacob” (reprint)
Rainbow Spores” (reprint)
Real Life”
Our Pills Help”
The Ambivalence of Memory” (reprint)
The Dedication of the Ama Pillay Monument”
The Retired Angel of Death” (reprint)
Songs of Rotting Petals, Dances of Wilting Leaves” (reprint)
The Beautiful Purple Sky”
Read more...
 

The Clingerman Files, edited by Mark Bradley

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The Clingerman Files

 

Collected Works

 

by Mildred Clingerman

 

Edited by Mark Bradley

Foreword by Richard J. Chwedyk

 

(Size 5 ½ B Publishing, Nov. 2017, pb, 306 pp.)

 

"First Lesson"
"Stickney and the Critic"
"Stair Trick"
"Minister Without Portfolio"
"Birds Can’t Count"
"The Word"
"The Day of the Green Velvet Cloak"
"Winning Recipe"
"Letters from Laura"
"The Last Prophet"
"Mr. Sakrison’s Halt"
"The Wild Wood"
"The Little Witch of Elm Street"
"A Day for Waving"
"The Gay Deceiver"
"Red Heart and Blue Roses"
"Little Girl"
"Tutti Fruitti Delight"
"The Stray"
"The Man who Stole Tomorrow"
"Grandma’s Refuge"
"Sorrow for the Need"
"You Remember Charles?"
"Size 5 1/2 B"
"Apologia"
"The Tea Party"
"The Vine"
"Tribal Customs"
"A Window for Mr. Stevens"
"The Man Eater"
"The List"
"The Telling Day"
"Threading a Closed Loop"
"Top Hand"
"A Time to be Bold"
"The Birthday Party"
"A Stranger and a Pilgrim"
"On the Nicer Side"
"The Fathers of Daughters"
"Watermelon Weather"
"A Note from Eleanor"
Read more...
 

Walls and Wonders by S. R. Algernon

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Walls and Wonders

 

 

by

S. R. Algernon

 

 

(ReAnimus Press, January 2018, pb, 323 pp.)

 
 
"Witness"
"The Meme Hunter"
"Election Day"
"Symbiosis"
"Sculptors"
"Achievement"
"Severance"
"Thicker than Water"
Read more...
 

Jim Baen Memorial Award: The First Decade, ed. William Ledbetter

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Jim Baen Memorial Award:

The First Decade

 

 

Edited by

William Ledbetter

 

 

(Baen, November 2017, tpb, 339 pp.)

 

A Better Sense of Direction” by Mjke Wood

Letting Go” by David Walton
Cathedral” by Michael Barretta
Space Hero” by Patrick Lundrigan
That Undiscovered Country” by Nancy Fulda
Taking the High Road” by R.P.L. Johnson
The Lamplighter Legacy” by Patrick O’Sullivan
Low Arc” by Sean Monaghan
We Fly” by K.B. Rylander
Dear Ammi” by Aimee Ogden
Citizen-Astronaut” by David D. Levine
Gemini XVII” by Brad R. Torgersen
Scramble” by Martin L. Shoemaker
Balance” by Marina J. Lostetter
To Lose the Stars” by Jennifer Brozek
Cylinders” by Ronald D. Ferguson
Read more...
 

Down and Out in Purgatory: The Collected Stories of Tim Powers

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Down and Out in Purgatory:

The Collected Stories of Tim Powers

 

by Tim Powers

 

With a Foreword by David Drake

and

Introduction by Tony Daniel

 

(Baen, November 2017, 487 pp., hc)

 

Salvage and Demolition”

The Bible Repairman”

Appointment on Sunset”

The Better Boy” by Tim Powers and James P. Blaylock

Pat Moore”

The Way Down the Hill”

Itinerary”

A Journey of Only Two Paces”

The Hour of Babel”

Where They Are Hid”

We Traverse Far” by Tim Powers and James P. Blaylock

Through and Through”

Night Moves”

Dispensation”

A Soul in a Bottle”

Parallel Lines”

Fifty Cents” by Tim Powers and James P. Blaylock

Nobody’s Home”

A Time to Cast Away Stones”

Down and Out in Purgatory”

Sufficient Unto the Day”

Read more...
 
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