High Noon on Proxima B (Baen, February 7, 2023). Cover by Dominic Harman
Nobody out there is doing anthologies like David Boop.
He started in 2017 with the Weird Western Straight Outta Tombstone (2017), which proved popular enough that he followed up with two more, Straight Outta Deadwood (2019) and Straight Outta Dodge City (2020). Last year he packed up his six-shooters and headed into outer space with Gunfight on Europa Station, the first…. uh… Weird Science Fiction Western anthology? I dunno, but I like it.
It’s a new year, and I’m delighted to see a new Boop anthology headed our way. High Noon on Proxima B contains brand new stories by Walter Jon Williams, Susan R. Matthews, Brenda Cooper, Milton Davis, John E. Stith, and many others. It arrives in trade paperback from Baen next week.
My love of gaming is well known amongst my friends and friendly acquaintances, and has since before I could afford my first console. In news that would surprise absolutely no one, my preference has always been for narrative games; where the story plays as much a role in the gaming experience as any tests of skill or intellect. The best games for me strike a delicate balance between challenging gameplay — combat and puzzles — and narrative. In short, I game for the same reason I read. I game to find myself immersed in another world, diving into a story that will delight and move me.
If you saw this post, you know that I found a kinda cool group over on Reddit. And it wasn’t LotR_on_Prime – yeesh. R/bookshelf is a subreddit where people post their shelfies. With over 2,000 books on 90-ish shelves/cubes, that appealed to me!
I started with my Jack Higgins shelf, and then my Clive Cussler one. I’ve done a couple fantasy shelves, but mostly I’ve been sharing pics of my over-500 Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle books. And I’ve been adding a comment, talking about some of those pictured. Its’ been neat.
The Terraformers by Annalee Newitz (Tor Books, January 31, 2023)
On the one hand, The Terraformers is full of great characters, solid science, and socio-political conflict, with enough action to move things along and keep you turning pages to the end. On the other, it’s not actually about terraforming and it’s told in 3 novellas set hundreds of years apart with only a few characters able to provide links between them.
The Terraformers opens when Environmental Rescue Team Ranger Destry is out in the terraformed forest with her faithful steed, the uplifted moose named Whistle. Destry and Whistle come across a human doing all sorts of disgusting paleolithic things, burning wood, killing small game, defecating on the land, and generally upsetting the ecological balance of Sask-E. It’s taken 10,000 years for Sask-E to be made habitable, and it’s Destry’s job to make sure it stays that way.
The New Hugo Winners, Volume III and Volume IV (Baen, and May 1994 and November 1997). Covers by Bob Eggleton
The Hugo Winners, Volume I and Volume II, edited by Isaac Asimov and collected in one big omnibus by the Science Fiction Book Club in 1972, was one of the top-selling science fiction books of the 70s, and Volume III (1977) was gladly received by readers. But by the time Volume IV and V were released in the mid-80s, sales had fallen off so significantly that neither one was ever reprinted in paperback, and Doubleday ceased publishing them entirely after the fifth book.
It was Martin H. Greenberg who talked Asimov into picking up the tradition with The New Hugo Winners in 1989. The two of them brought the series to Baen, and produced two volumes before Asimov’s death in 1992. Although Asimov had openly championed having Greenberg pick up the baton after his death, that didn’t happen. Instead it was Connie Willis and Gregory Benford who edited (excuse me, “Presented”) The New Hugo Winners, Volume III and Volume IV, as paperback originals from Baen Books in 1994 and 1997.
A few of the (mostly new) Terry Carr anthologies I bought on eBay for $3 each
Terry Carr is widely respected today, nearly four decades after his death, for his legendary work as a science fiction editor. He assembled some 70 anthologies in a career spanning over twenty years, including the highly respected Universe series (17 volumes), Fantasy Annual (five volumes), and the career-defining Best Science Fiction of the Year (16 volumes), which may well be the finest Year’s Best anthology series ever printed.
But he also edited an impressive number of standalone anthologies, both original and reprint, most of which are long out of print and long-forgotten. I’ve gradually taken an interest in them, starting with Creatures From Beyond, which I read in junior high, and I recently started collecting them more seriously
Last month I stumbled on a bookseller offering a fabulous collection — and I do mean fabulous — at ridiculously low prices on eBay. After I purchased a few dozen, we struck up a conversation. Just where on Earth, I humbled asked, did he find such a vast collection of virtually brand new 50-year-old anthologies by Carr, Robert Silverberg, Damon Knight, Michael Bishop, Groff Conklin, and others? Simple enough, he said. They had all originally belonged to Terry Carr.
HellSans by Ever Dundas (Angry Robot, October 11, 2022). Covers by Kate Cromwell
One thing I’ll say about science fiction and fantasy: there’s always room for an audacious idea. And that pretty much describes HellSans, the science fiction debut by Scottish writer Ever Dundas, about a font that triggers euphoria — or agony.
Publishers Weeklycalls it “Wildly imaginative… [a] stand out,” and Library Journal proclaims it “A smart and unique dystopian thriller.” And Lisa Tuttle at The Guardian selected it as one of The Best Recent Science Fiction and Fantasy novels, calling it “a violent and compelling thriller, with far more psychological and moral complexity than the general run of dystopian fiction.”
I don’t know about all that. But I do know that when I picked up a copy at the bookstore last week, I was taken immediately by the originality of the idea — and the premise of a scientist on the run as she tries to find a cure for a ubiquitous font. I brought it home with me, and I’m looking forward to reading it.
January/February 2023 issues of Asimov’s Science Fiction, Analog Science Fiction & Fact, and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Cover art by Shutterstock, Tomislav Tikulin, and Kent Bash
The big news for print SF mags over the past few months has been price increases. Asimov’s SF and Analog, both published by Dell Magazines, increased prices by a buck in July of last year, from $7.99 to $8.99 per issue. Subscriptions increased from $35.97 to $47.94 for six issues/one year. The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction increased from $9.99 per issue to $10.99 with the January/February issue, and subs jumped to $65.94 for one-year. Considering how much fiction and overall content you get per issue, all of the magazines remain a bargain.
Consider the January/February issues, for example. They contain brand new fiction from some of the biggest names in the biz, including Norman Spinrad, Alec Nevala-Lee, Robert Reed, James Van Pelt, David D. Levine, Maurice Broaddus, Mary Soon Lee, Bruce McAllister, Shane Tourtellotte, Dominica Phetteplace, Rudy Rucker, Tochi Onyebuchi, Genevieve Williams, Karen Heuler, and many others.
Dance of Thieves and Vow of Thieves (Square Fish, 2019 and 2022). Covers by Rich Deas and Mike Burroughs
I don’t pay as much attention to Young Adult fantasy as I should. It’s not experiencing the explosion of bestsellers and media attention it was just a few years ago, but it’s still one of the bright spots in genre publishing, and where a lot of talented writers are doing some excellent work.
Fortunately Barnes & Noble makes it easy for me to stumble on some of the most exciting titles, and that’s exactly what happened on Sunday when I stopped in front of their YA display tables. There in the center was Dance of Thieves, the first of a two-volume series featuring an outlaw family, a legendary street thief, a dark secret, the young women of the Queen’s guard, a son thrust suddenly into power, and a life-and-death cat and mouse game between them all. It shares a setting with the author’s bestselling Remnant Chronicles, which helped pique my interest, and that (and the enticing description) was enough to convince me to take it home.
The Year’s Best Horror Stories Series XI (DAW, November 1983). Cover by Michael Whelan
The Year’s Best Horror Stories: Series XI was the fourth volume in this series edited by horror author and editor Karl Edward Wagner (1945–1994). It was copyrighted and printed in 1983 and was the eleventh volume in DAW’s Year’s Best Horror Stories. (We’re half way through the 22-year series!)
Michael Whelan’s (1950–) artwork appears for a ninth time in a row. Whelan’s horror art is always creepy, and quite varied. This, however, was one of my least favorite Whelan covers. It seems more like a throwback to a 1970s-era paperback. But it’s probably right up your alley though if you’re a Paperbacks from Helltype of fan. It was re-used as the cover of the Underwood Miller hardcover omnibus Horrorstory: Volume Four, which collected Series X, XI, and XII of The Year’s Best Horror Stories.
Of the seventeen different authors that make up The Year’s Best Horror Stories: Series XI, all were male but two. Ten were American authors, six were British, and there was one Canadian, Donald Tyson. Seven stories came from fanzines, six from professional magazines, and four from books. Though Wagner continues to show that he is a widely read man, more than a few of these stories came from the pages of the T. E. D. Klein-edited Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine and Stuart David Schiff’s famous Whispers fanzine.