Science Fiction/Fantasy, March 15 2012

Spring is just around the corner, and with it arrives a selection of titles that promise many good things to come in 2012. A pair of debut novels, Ted Kosmatka’s The Games and Chris F. Holm’s Dead Harvest, brings new authors to the forefront. Multivolume series, popular in both sf and fantasy, make a good showing with Mark Chadbourn’s Jack of Ravens, Ian Irvine’s Vengeance, N.K. Jemisin’s The Killing Moon, Jon Sprunk’s Shadow’s Master, and Janny Wurts’s Initiate’s Trial. Likewise, this month’s collection of mass-market paperbacks features additions to existing series, among them Amber Benson’s How To Be Death and Allison Pang’s A Sliver of Shadow.

Veteran sf author Kim Stanley Robinson presents us with a standout far-future novel about space colonization in 2312, while the prolific A. Lee Martinez’s Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain is the latest offering from his endless reserve of outrageously funny, incisive sf. Robert J. Sawyer’s Triggers serves up contemporary sf suspense and promises sequels set in a politically shaky America. A different sort of politics emerges in Yves Meynard’s Chrysanthe , a sublime mix of fairy tale, political thriller, and military fantasy. Finally, Caitlín R. Kiernan’s The Drowning Girl is an eerie masterpiece of literary horror and dark fantasy.

Spring is also awards season, with various genre fiction organizations recognizing the best in their field. All in all, the sf/fantasy forecast is bright: good reading ahead for the foreseeable future.

The following titles are reviewed in the March 15 print issue. Visit our Reviews Center (Beta) for the full reviews.

starred review star Irvine, Ian. Vengeance. Orbit: Hachette. (Tainted Realm, Bk. 1). Apr. 2012. c.640p. ISBN 9780316072847. pap. $14.99. FANTASY

When she was a child, Tali witnessed her mother’s murder at the hands of two strangers. Swearing vengeance, Tali, now a young woman, escapes from her life as a sub terranean slave of the brutal Cythonians and makes her way to the surface. An encounter with Rix, a young nobleman who suffers from nightmares in which he witnesses a horrific murder, opens the way for the two to uncover the dark secrets in their past. This launch of a new trilogy brings to life an island world in which two civilizations, one below ground, the other on the surface, exist in eternal enmity while the land slowly dies from their greed and ambition. VERDICT Irvine, the author of The View from the Mirror quartet (A Shadow on the Glass; The Tower on the Rift; Dark Is the Moon; The Way Between the Worlds), is a veteran storyteller who excels in sustaining complex plots with well-rounded characters. Here, he delivers a compelling tale of vengeance, loyalty, and the search for a place in the world.

starred review star Jemisin, N.K. The Killing Moon. May 2012. c.448p. ISBN 9780316187282. pap. $14.99. FANTASY

The desert city of Gujaareh is known as a peaceful society, free of violence and crime. To maintain the peace, Gatherers‚ priests of the goddess Hananja‚ police the city, siphoning the dreams of its residents and using them to heal, bring solace to the dying, and deliver death to the corrupt. When the city’s most famous Gatherer, Ehiru, receives a commission to collect the dreams of a diplomat from a neighboring land, he and his apprentice Nijiri stumble into a web of political intrigue that could destroy their city and undermine its holy purpose.The author of the award-winning Inheritance Trilogy (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms; The Broken Kingdoms; The Kingdom of Gods) launches a new series that explores the meaning of religion and the nature of faith. VERDICT This story, set in a world inspired by Africa and the Middle East, shines for its remarkable characters and graceful prose. Jemisin’s fans and readers who enjoy China Miéville, Daniel Abraham, and Mike Resnick will embrace her attention to detail and the love of storytelling that infuses this novel.

starred review star Kiernan, Caitlín R. The Drowning Girl. ROC: NAL. Mar. 2012. c.352p. ISBN 9780451464163. pap. $16. FANTASY

India (Imp) Morgan Phelps attempts to write a memoir as a way of exorcising the ghosts of her past: her mother and grandmother, both suicides; the lover who left her; and, most important, a young woman named Eva who might be a mermaid or a feral woman raised by wolves. Struggling with her perceptions of the world as filtered through the lenses of her acute schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder, Imp writes and rewrites her story, doubling back on herself, digressing to add a pair of her own short stories, and liberally quoting poets, philosophers, playwrights, and musicians. VERDICT This novel by dark fantasy’s most quixotically brilliant writer (The Red Tree; Daughter of Hounds) blends urban gothic with magical realism. The result is a haunting and eerie tale of ghosts and madness.

starred review starMeynard, Yves. Chrysanthe. Tor. Mar. 2012. c.496p. ISBN 9780765330260. pap. $15.99. FANTASY

Sent to live with her uncle when she was four, Christine, now an adult, has problems giving up her imaginary friend, a rabbit named Tap Fullmoon. Her psychiatrist convinces her she is suffering from the effects of an abusive childhood until she realizes , through a chance encounter with a young man named Quentin, that her life is an elaborate illusion. In reality, she is a princess of the kingdom of Chrysanthe, the only real world, and her uncle is actually her kidnapper. Quentin, who is a knight, talks Christine into returning with him to Chrysanthe. Her triumphant homecoming, however, is far from a happy ending, as the young, inexperienced princess faces the threat of a nobles’ rebellion. VERDICT The talented French Canadian author of The Book of Knights,which raised medieval fantasy to a higher level, now takes on the saga form with this luminous tale of multiple realities and the triumph of love over evil. His transformative storytelling should appeal to a mainstream fiction audience as well as to most fans of richly detailed epic fantasy.

The following titles are reviewed in the March 15 print issue. Visit our Reviews Center (Beta) for the full reviews.


Chadbourn, Mark. Jack of Ravens. Pyr: Prometheus. (Kingdom of the Serpent, Bk. 1). Mar. 2012. c.422p. ISBN 9781616146078. pap. $17.95. FANTASY

Constantine, David. The Pillars of Hercules. Night Shade. Mar. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9781597803977. pap. $14.99. FANTASY

Holm, Chris F. Dead Harvest. Angry Robot, dist. by Random. (Collector, Bk. 1). Mar. 2012. c.416p. ISBN 9780857662187. pap. $7.99. FANTASY

Johnson, Alaya. Wicked City. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. (Zephyr Hollis, Bk. 2). Apr. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9780312565480. $25.99. FANTASY

Martinez, A. Lee. Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain. Orbit: Hachette. Mar. 2012. c.306p. ISBN 9780316093521. $19.99. FANTASY

Robinson, Kim Stanley. 2312. Orbit: Hachette. May 2012. c.576p. ISBN 9780316098120. $25.99. SF

Sawyer, Robert J. Triggers. Ace: Berkley. Apr. 2012. c.352p. ISBN 9781937007164. $25.95. SF

Sprunk, Jon. Shadow’s Master. Pyr: Prometheus. (Shadow Saga, Bk. 3). Mar. 2012. c.313p. ISBN 9781616146054. pap. $17.95. FANTASY

Wurts, Janny. Initiate’s Trial. HarperCollins UK, dist. by Trafalgar Square. (Sword of the Canon, Bk. 1). Mar. 2012. c.544p. ISBN 9780007362127. $29.95; pap. ISBN 9780007217823. $22.95. FANTASY


Novik, Naomi. Crucible of Gold. Del Rey: Ballantine. Mar. 2012. c.336p. ISBN 9780345522863. $25. FANTASY



  1. Doug Brunell says:

    There’s a lot of good things here to look forward to, though I’m not sure the world needs more urban gothic magic realism.