Science Fiction/Fantasy Reviews, January 2012

As we ring in a New Year, we note the thriving state of the sf/fantasy genre with this month’s selection of titles. No fewer than six first novels appear here, and both sf and fantasy make strong showings. Veteran sf authors Ben Bova (Power Play ), Orson Scott Card (Shadows in Flight), and Timothy Zahn (Cobra Gamble) present traditional sf novels, while Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Boneyards) offers a tale of cutting-edge space exploration.

Carol Berg’s latest Collegia Magica title (The Daemon Prism) serves up period fantasy, and Maria V. Snyder’s latest series opener (Touch of Power) begins a new cycle of romantic fantasy.

Epic fantasy is represented by a pair of first novels by John R. Fultz (Seven Princes) and Mazarkis Williams (The Emperor’s Knife). In David Tallerman’s debut (Giant Thief), a new fantasy folk hero arises.

Occupying refreshingly original niches in the fantasy genre are two notable debuts. Sergey and Marina Dyachenko’s The Scar blends the simplicity of a parable with the complexity and richness of a Russian novel, while Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon introduces an intriguing senior citizen protagonist living in a quasi-Islamic culture that combines passionate devotion to the spiritual life with compassion for God’s creatures.

On the short story front, a new edition of the Grantville Gazette features tales set in Eric Flint’s shared world begun in 1632. In New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird, contemporary writers reinterpret H.P. Lovecraft’s classic horror fiction, and Lightspeed: Year One introduces print readers to the best of current online short speculative fiction from a new digital magazine.

Mass-market series fiction offers urban fantasy to suit almost every taste, with titles by Myke Cole (Shadow Ops: Control Point), Mark Del Franco (Undone Deeds), Richelle Mead (Shadow Heir), Diana Rowland (Sins of the Demon ), and Jaye Wells (Silver-Tongued Devil).

As we greet a new year and new authors, we bid farewell to one of the genre’s most dearly loved sf icons. Rest in peace, Anne McCaffrey.

starred review star Fultz, John R. Seven Princes. Orbit: Hachette. (Books of the Shaper, Bk. 1).Jan. 2012. c.600p. ISBN 9780316187862. pap. $15.99. FANTASY

When Elhathym, the necromancer, murders the royal house of Yaskatha and seizes power, Prince D’zan, the sole survivor of the massacre, vows to avenge his family and liberate his homeland. Traveling thoughout the world, D’zan seeks aid from the Kingdoms of Udurum, land of Giants and men; the Uurz Empire, known for its lush, exotic Royal Gardens; Mumbaza, ruled by its Boy-King; and the Kingdom of Shar Dni, a country already under attack from pirates. Thus, seven princes become caught up in a great conflict. Fultz’s first novel launches an epic series set in a world in which a race of Giants nears extinction and an aging king delivers himself to the Mer-Queen’s justice for a crime committed in his youth. VERDICT A richly detailed background history filled with the legends of many cultures lends depth to a stand-out fantasy series from an author with an exceptional talent for characterization and world building.

starred review starNew Cthulhu: The Recent Weird. Prime. Jan. 2012. 528p. ed. by Paula Guran. ISBN 9781607012894. pap. $15.95. HORROR

Horror writer H.P. Lovecraft has long inspired a wide range of authors. This latest anthology (see also 2011’s The Book of Cthulu, edited by Ross E. Lockhart) features 27 Lovecraftian tales published between 2000 and 2010. A father’s death and a tape recording force a young man to confront a horrible family secret in John Langan’s subtly revelatory tale, Mr. Gaunt. In a twist on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Neil Gaiman’s A Study in Emerald features a famous consulting detective who investigates a royal murder in a Victorian England ruled by beings from beyond the stars. The contributors’ list consists of a who’s who in contemporary sf and dark fantasy, including China Miéville, Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette, Charles Stross, Caitlín R. Kiernan, and John Shirley. VERDICT For fans of Lovecraftian fiction and well-wrought horror.

The following titles are reviewed in the January print issue. Visit our Reviews Center (Beta) for the full reviews.


Berg, Carol. The Daemon Prism: A Novel of the Collegia Magica. ROC: NAL. Jan. 2012. c.496p. ISBN 9780451464347. pap. $16. FANTASY

Bova, Ben. Power Play. Tor. Jan. 2012. c.352p. ISBN 9780765317865. $24.99. SF

Card, Orson Scott. Shadows in Flight. Tor. Jan. 2012. c.240p. ISBN 9780765332004. $21.99. SF

Dyachenko, Sergey & Marina. The Scar. Tor. Feb. 2012. c.336p. tr. from Russian by Elinor Huntington. ISBN 9780765329936. $24.99. FANTASY

starred review starFultz, John R. Seven Princes. Orbit: Hachette. (Books of the Shaper, Bk. 1).Jan. 2012. c.600p. ISBN 9780316187862. pap. $15.99. FANTASY

Rusch, Kristine Kathryn. Boneyards. Pyr: Prometheus. Jan. 2012. c.302p. ISBN 9781616145439. pap. $16. SF

Snyder, Maria V. Touch of Power. Mira: Harlequin. (Healer, Bk. 1). Jan. 2012. c.400p. ISBN 9780778313076. pap. $14.95. FANTASY

Tallerman, David. Giant Thief: From the Tales of Easie Damasco. Angry Robot. Jan. 2012. c.416p. ISBN 9780857662118. pap. $7.99. FANTASY

Williams, Mazarkis. The Emperor’s Knife. Night Shade. (Tower & Knife Trilogy, Bk. 1). Jan. 2012. c.360p. ISBN 9781597803847. $24.99. FANTASY

Zahn, Timothy. Cobra Gamble. Baen, dist. by S. & S. (Cobra War, Bk. 3). Jan. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9781451637694. $25. SF


Grantville Gazette VI: Sequels to 1632. Baen, dist. by S. & S. Jan. 2012. c.400p. ed. by Eric Flint. ISBN 9781451637687. $25. SF

Lightspeed: Year One. Prime. Feb. 2012. c.576p. ed. by John Joseph Adams.ISBN 9781607013044. pap. $16.95. SF

starred review starNew Cthulhu: The Recent Weird. Prime. Jan. 2012. 528p. ed. by Paula Guran. ISBN 9781607012894. pap. $15.95. HORROR


Mignola, Mike & Christopher Golden. Joe Golem and the Drowning City: An Illustrated Novel. St. Martin’s. Apr. 2012. c.288p. illus. ISBN 9780312644734. $25.99. FANTASY