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Sleeping With Monsters: Readings and Reactions in Science Fiction and Fantasy (Aqueduct Press, 2017), a collection of my reviews and nonfiction, is a finalist for the 2018 Hugo Award for Best Related Work.

It’s available in paperback from Blackwell’s, Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Barnes & Noble, and The Book Depository, as well as directly from Aqueduct Press. The ebook version is available directly from Aqueduct Press, as well as from  Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, and Amazon.co.uk.

Read a long sample here.

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THE FURNACE by Prentis Rollins

A new review over at Tor.com:

[M]y tolerance for stories of straight white men in prestigious careers and how their moral weakness is the defining trauma of their adulthood is at an all-time low. (I’m sure it could get lower yet: I’m only in my early thirties, after all.) And my tolerance for stories in which gay white men are tortured by their fathers for their soi-disant “deviance” and go on to die young of overindulgence in alcohol (“Bury Your Gays” strikes again) is also very low. Especially when that death comes after said gay man has (a) attempted to proposition the straight guy narrator, declaring his unrequited love and attraction, and (b) successfully convinced the straight guy narrator to smother his moral qualms at being part of a government project that’s essentially a giant human rights abuse.

Sleeps With Monsters: Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver

A new post over at Tor.com:

There’s a strange phenomenon whereby one truly enjoys a novel, admires it for its craft and emotional impact, and still finds one element painfully frustrating.

Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver is just such a novel, a glittering jewel of a novel influenced by fairytale and by—as far as I can tell—the history of medieval Hungary. Miryem is a moneylender’s daughter, who takes over her father’s business because he’s too soft-hearted to actually demand repayment. She’s so good at it that the Staryk—beings of winter who covet gold—come to believe she can turn silver into gold, and one of them sets her a challenge with her life as the stakes. Victory won’t bring her any joy, either: if she wins, the Staryk king will take her to be his queen, far from home.

DEEP ROOTS by Ruthanna Emrys

A new review over at Tor.com:

Winter Tide, Ruthanna Emrys’s accomplished and astonishing debut novel, was an intense and intimate subversion of the Lovecraftian mythos, told from the point of view of Aphra Marsh, the eldest of two survivors of the United States’ genocide of Innsmouth. In Winter Tide, Aphra made reluctant common cause with FBI agent Ron Spector (though not with his suspicious colleagues) and accidentally accreted a family around her. Winter Tide is a novel about the importance of kindness in the face of an indifferent universe, and I love it beyond reason.

I may love Deep Roots even more.

EUROPEAN TRAVELS FOR THE MONSTROUS GENTLEWOMAN by Theodora Goss

A new review over at Tor.com:

Though European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman is a long book, clocking in at some 700 pages, it’s well-paced and enormously readable. Goss is an accomplished writer, whose characters come across as distinct and engaging individuals…

…This is another fantastic book from an excellent writer. I enjoyed it greatly, and I’ll be looking forward to Goss’s next novel—not least because European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman ends with a cliffhanger.

 

Sleeps With Monsters: Melissa Scott’s THE GAME BEYOND

A new column over at Tor.com:

The Game Beyond shows the promise of Melissa Scott’s writing, and lays the foundation for her John W. Campbell Best New Writer Award in 1986 (after, I think, the first two books in her Silence Leigh trilogy had also been published, though correct me if I have the dates wrong). We can see here some of the elements that have continued to be important in Scott’s work: elaborate worldbuilding, especially in terms of background political complexity and rigid social codes; compelling, self-aware characters; atmospheric prose; and solid pacing.

A THOUSAND BEGINNINGS AND ENDINGS, edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman

A new review over at Tor.com:

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings is an anthology of stories influenced by South and East Asian folklore and mythology.  Its editors, Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, are both board members of We Need Diverse Books, an organisation dedicated to advocating for diversity in literature. (Oh is the organisation’s current president.) The list of contributors includes names like Aliette de Bodard, Alyssa Wong, Roshani Chokshi, and Renée Ahdieh, all people with strong track records in the fiction field.

Sleeps With Monsters: Melissa Scott’s Shadow Man

A new column over at Tor.com:

This is a compelling novel with fascinating worldbuilding. In some ways, it shows its age—the Concord doesn’t really seem to have a place for people whose gender identities don’t fit their bodies, even if it allows a wider range of bodies to be recognised as distinct in gender from each other—but in other ways, it remains fresh and new. Particularly in its approach to social revolution: Warreven fights for change on Hara, but ultimately fails to achieve tangible change in for himself. But he opens up a symbolic space, a naming—as it were—of things and of people, even though the authorities ultimately drive him off-planet. (The end of the novel leaves space open for him to return.)

Sleeps With Monsters: Storybundle Pride Month Reading

A new column over at Tor.com:

Melissa Scott’s Mighty Good Road (first published in 1990) employs a world-building conceit that other authors have used since: a railway among the stars, stations linked by permanent wormhole gates. From these stations, less reliable FTL ships head off to planets outside the “Loop,” but in the stations of the Loop, interstellar corporations have their offices, and people live and work and transship cargo.

STARLESS by Jacqueline Carey

A new review over at Tor.com:

Khai’s complicated negotiation of his self-image and his feelings about Zariya also make Starless feel fresh. It’s not often that you come across an epic fantasy where the main character can be described as nonbinary—even if Khai keeps using masculine pronouns. Even less often does one read a novel where a main character—Zariya, in this case—must deal with physical disability and concomitant issues with both self-image and other people’s prejudices. The hope of a magical cure is held out to Zariya several times in the course of the novel, but while some of her symptoms are alleviated, she never stops needing crutches to walk.

Carey’s characters feel real and alive, and her world is lush and well-realised. This is an excellent novel. I recommend it.

A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE VAMPIRE UPRISING by Raymond A. Villareal

A new review over at Tor.com:

A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising is a novel about which I would like to be engaged enough to be scathing. But it’s hard to be properly scathing about something so deeply mediocre. I’m sure that it will speak to some people: for me, it fails to even be interestingly bad. It comes across as slapdash but self-important, and that’s a mode of art that’s absolutely not my scene.

Sleeps With Monsters: Fun in Imaginary Countries

A new column over at Tor.com:

Stories about imaginary countries are, I feel, sufficiently science fictional (or fantastical) to count as SFF. And Anthony Hope’s 1894 adventure novel The Prisoner of Zenda with its imaginary country of Ruritania has inspired a number of science fiction and fantasy writers, not to mention writers of romance. Now K.J. Charles, whose works frequently combine fantasy and queer romance, has written a response to The Prisoner of Zenda: The Henchman of Zenda.

 

Sleeps With Monsters: The Intriguing World of Ilana C. Myer’s Fire Dance

A new column over at Tor.com:

Ilana C. Myer’s first novel, Last Song Before Night, was a well-written variation on a traditional quest narrative: the problem of restoring magic to a realm without it. Its sequel, Fire Dance, takes a much more innovative approach. It deals with the consequences, political and personal, of that restoration—along with who benefits, and who suffers, from the change.

Except more twisty and intriguing even than that sounds.

THE THOUSAND DEATHS OF ARDOR BENN by Tyler Whitesides

A new review over at Tor.com:

The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn is a little disappointing. This is a very straight novel, to all appearances, and if you are supposed to read any of the characters as people of colour, I’m hard-pressed to tell. Also, while there are a number of female characters in the book, the two most-developed are romantically linked to Ardor Benn, and no friendships or independent relationships between women are depicted or even mentioned in passing.

And I have the niggling feeling that Benn is a little bit of a Mary Sue.

Sleeps With Monsters: The Atmospheric Fantasy of Melissa Scott’s Astreiant Novels

A new column over at Tor.com:

If you’re a fan, especially of the Astreiant novels (and as you may have guessed, I am), I have good news for you. There’s a new one out, and I’m utterly delighted, because it’s—as usual—fantastic.

This newest novel, Point of Sighs, is the fifth book in the Astreiant setting, and Scott’s third as sole author. (The first two, which are also excellent, were co-written with the late Lisa A. Barnett.) Astreiant’s a rich and atmospheric setting, a city of merchants where women predominate in high-status roles, and where astrology has real-world significance.

ARMED IN HER FASHION by Kate Heartfield

A new review over at Tor.com:

Armed in Her Fashion is Kate Heartfield’s debut novel, and what a strange, compelling, genre-bending debut it is. Part horror, part fantasy, part history, and part epic, it combines all of its elements into a commentary on gender, power, and patriarchy. It centres around several women (and one man) who want in their own ways to have their due.

That makes it sound deeply serious. Actually, it’s enormously fun.

ARMISTICE by Lara Elena Donnelly

A new review over at Tor.com:

Where Amberlough spiralled down into tight, claustrophobic tragedy, Armistice opens up with the promise of change. It teases with the idea that personal happiness is possible for its protagonists, and the idea that a fascist regime may be opposed—may not, after all, last forever. That makes Armistice a rather easier book to read than Amberlough: less harrowing and less tragic in the Shakespearean sense. It doesn’t hurt than Donnelly paces her twists and revelations very well, creating a remarkably smooth narrative experience.