Conquerors, Betrayers, and Lovers: Not One of Us: Stories of Aliens on Earth, edited by Neil Clarke

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Not One of Us Neil Clarke-small Not One of Us Neil Clarke-back-small

I ran into Neil Clarke at the World Fantasy Convention two weeks ago and had the chance to catch up, however briefly, as we chatted in the Dealer’s Room. Since retiring from his day job Neil has become something of an editing dynamo. In addition to editing and publishing Clarkesworld every month, one of the most acclaimed magazines in the field, he’s also produced some of my favorite anthologies of the past two years, including Galactic Empires, The Final Frontier, and of course his annual Best Science Fiction of the Year books, the most recent of which was Volume Three.

I was delighted to have the opportunity to pick up his latest, the generously-sized reprint anthology Not One of Us: Stories of Aliens on Earth, which contains work by Nancy Kress, Steve Rasnic Tem, Robert Reed, Liu Cixin, Rich Larson, Kelly Robson, James Patrick Kelly, Molly Tanzer, Caroline M. Yoachim, Judith Berman, Ian McDonald, Paul McAuley, Ken Liu, Ted Chiang, and others. Publishers Weekly gave it a rave review; have a look.

Collecting 21 stories from the last two decades, this hefty and fascinating theme anthology focuses on one of SF’s major issues: If aliens aren’t just bug-eyed monsters with no more than rape and plunder on their minds, what else — who else — could they be?… The short stories frequently make good use of their length to shift perspectives abruptly, putting readers not just in the presence but inside the skins of aliens who might be conquerors, teachers, betrayers, or lovers — or some all-too-human combination. They also aren’t afraid to tackle contemporary political hot topics such as immigration, citizenship, and belonging. Outstanding works by Nancy Kress (“Laws of Survival”), Judith Berman (“The Fear Gun”), and Ted Chiang (“Story of Your Life”) are highlights, but there are no inferior pieces here. This is a fine, thoughtful book.

Read the complete review here. Here’s the complete Table of Contents.

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Unbound Worlds is Shutting Down

Friday, November 16th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill


Penguin Random House’s genre site Unbound Worlds, now in its tenth year, has been one of the most consistently entertaining and informative resources for fans of SF, fantasy and horror. Today the publisher announced that the site will be essentially shutting down at the end of the month.

Today we’re announcing that the conversation with our readers is ready to evolve in new and exciting ways. In the new year, the articles, interviews, and lists you have enjoyed on Unbound Worlds will have a new home within That means we’ll no longer be publishing new content on Unbound Worlds after this month, but we’re excited to be able to deliver even more of the very best in science fiction, fantasy, and horror books, curated collections, and offers through our email programs.

We’ll have more details to share in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, we hope that you’ll visit There, you can sign up to receive personalized recommendations and discover even more about our books and authors as you join us on this journey through the stars and beyond.

Read the complete announcement here.

This is a major loss, not just to the field but to me personally. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the site’s content, and drawn heavily from Matt Staggs’ monthly Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books columns (and others) to help stay informed. Over the years I’ve pointed BG readers towards plenty of their articles, from “Where to Start with Gothic Space Opera” to “A Century of Sword and Planet” and “Unbound Worlds on 7 Great Occult Detectives.” In honor of all they’ve done for us over the years, here’s a look back at some of Unbound Worlds greatest hits.

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Pyr Sold to Start Publishing

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

A Guile of Dragons-small Blood Orbit-small The Hanged Man K.D. Edwards-small

Publishers Weekly is reporting that Pyr, the science fiction and fantasy imprint of Prometheus Books, has been sold to digital publisher Start Publishing.

Under Editorial Director Lou Anders, who founded the line in March 2005, Pyr was one of the most dynamic and exciting independent publishers in the industry, acquiring books from Michael Moorcock, Ian McDonald, Kay Kenyon, Sean Williams, Alan Dean Foster, Adam Roberts, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Tim Lebbon, Paul McAuley, Brenda Cooper, Jack Dann, Ken MacLeod, Robert Silverberg, and many others. Pyr launched numerous talented new writers as well, including Black Gate authors James Enge, Chris Willrich, Jon Sprunk, and others. Lou left Pyr in 2014 to pursue his own writing career, but under new editor Rene Sears Pyr has continued to be a force in the industry, with a backlist of over 170 titles. Recent releases include K. R. Richardson’s Blood Orbit, Tracy Townsend’s Thieves of Fate series, and the excellent Nebula Awards Showcase anthologies; its forthcoming titles include K.D. Edwards The Hanged Man.

I’m not sure what this means for Pyr, and especially their print editions. But PW claims Start Publishing will continue the print versions, and retain at least two editors from Pyr and their sister crime fiction imprint Seventh Street Books.

Start Publishing began has an exclusively digital publisher but, through a series of acquisitions, now releases print editions as well. Start will publish both print and digital editions of the newly acquired titles. Jarred Weisfeld, president of Start, told PW two editors from Prometheus will stay on to continue to release frontlist titles under both imprints. Start will also hire a new public relations/marketing person to promote the two imprints.

Read the complete announcement here.

Sentient Starships, Cyborgs, and Eerie Horror: The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018 edited by N.K. Jemisin and John Joseph Adams

Monday, November 12th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018-small The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018-back-small

The Year’s Best season came to a close last month. It was a pretty spectacular year, with no less than 10 volumes from editors Rich Horton, Gardner Dozois, Neil Clarke, Jonathan Strahan, Paula Guran, Jane Yolen, Michael Kelly, David Afsharirad, and others. We’ve covered them all, and we close out 2018 with The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018. This is the fourth volume; the series is edited by John Joseph Adams with a different co-editor every year. His partner this year is N.K. Jemisin, who may be the most honored SF writer in the field at the moment, with three back-to-back-to-back Hugo wins under her belt.

This year’s volume received a rave review from Publishers Weekly. Here’s an excerpt.

An almost unheard-of diversity of tales absolutely sing in this superlative anthology of short speculative stories. Encompassing a wide range of styles and perspectives, the book swings gracefully from thoughtful superhero SF (“Destroy the City with Me Tonight” by Kate Alice Marshall) to nuanced horror based on Congolese mythology (“You will Always Have Family: A Triptych” by Kathleen Kayembe) to musings on the justice and the multiverse (“Justice Systems in Quantum Parallel Probabilities” by Lettie Prell) without a single sour note. A. Merc Rustad contributes “Brightened Star, Ascending Dawn,” a heartfelt piece about sentient spacecraft and found family, and Caroline M. Yoachim delves further into ideas of family and obligation with the windup characters of “Carnival Nine.” From the Chinese afterlife (“The Last Cheng Beng Gift” by Jaymee Goh) to a future of cyborgs run amok (“The Greatest One-Star Restaurant” by Rachael K. Jones), this anthology delivers.

As always, this volume contains 10 fantasy and 10 SF tales. This year’s contributors include Samuel R. Delany, Charlie Jane Anders, Carmen Maria Machado, Maureen F. McHugh, Caroline M. Yoachim, Peter Watts, Tobias S. Buckell, and two stories from Maria Dahvana Headley. Here’s the complete TOC.

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The 2018 World Fantasy Award Winners

Sunday, November 4th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Changeling Victor LaValle-small Jade City Fonda Lee-small The New Voices of Fantasy-small

The World Fantasy Convention is always the highlight of my year, and the highlight of the convention is always the presentation of the World Fantasy Awards, among the most prestigious awards our field has to offer.

So it was a little frustrating that I had to leave the awards ceremony so early today to catch my flight. Fortunately, our on-the-spot correspondent Patty Templeton kept me up to date with minute-by-minute texts from the ceremony during my race to the airport. While there was plenty of excitement, the biggest news Patty had to share was that the big award for the evening, BEST NOVEL, was in fact a tie (“Hot dang!” texted Templeton), which hasn’t happened since 2009 when Jeff Ford and Margo Lanagan split the prize.

So without any further ado, here are the winners of the 2018 World Fantasy Awards.

Best Novel (tie)

WINNER: The Changeling, Victor LaValle (Spiegel & Grau)
WINNER: Jade City, Fonda Lee (Orbit)
The City of Brass, S.A. Chakraborty (Harper Voyager)
Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr, John Crowley (Saga)
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, Theodora Goss (Saga)
Spoonbenders, Daryl Gregory (Knopf)

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November 2018 Locus Magazine Now on Sale

Sunday, November 4th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Locus November 2018-smallI made the mistake of flying to Baltimore for the World Fantasy Convention this weekend without packing the current issue of Locus. There’s no better way to get caught up on all the latest industry news, publishing changes, and genre gossip than in the relative peace and quiet of a pressurized cabin at 30,000 feet.

So I landed in Baltimore woefully behind on all the news. Even worse, I hadn’t read this month’s reviews by Rich Horton, Liz Bourke, Gary Wolfe, Russell Letson, John Langan and many others. How was I supposed to talk intelligently about all those exciting new writers? I had to stand there glumly and nod at the midnight Beneath Ceaseless Skies party.

I won’t make that mistake again. Whatever you do, don’t be like me. Make sure you have your copy of Locus safely tucked under your arm when you travel (especially to a con.) It will make you wiser, happier, and a better person.

The November issue is packed full of good stuff, and available at most well stocked bookstores. Here’s the description from the website.

The November issue features an interview with Andy Duncan; MacArthur Genius Grant news; British Fantasy, Aurora, Sunburst, Copper Cylinder, Geffen, and Elgin awards winners; a column by Cory Doctorow; photo stories on Galactic Philadelphia, the Neukom Awards ceremony, George R.R. Martin, and Genrepalooza; international reports on Israel and Estonia; obituaries for Pat Lupoff, Anthea Bell, and David J. Willoughby, and reviews of short fiction and books by Paul Di Filippo, Natasha Ngan, Brian Hodge, Tomi Adeyemi, and many others.

Locus magazine is published by twelve times per year by the Locus Foundation. This issue is 68 pages in full color, priced at $7.50 or $5.50 for the digital edition. The cover was designed by Francesca Myman. One year (12 issue) subscriptions are $63 for print (US) or $48 (digital). Subscribe here.

DMR Books is Open to Submissions

Thursday, November 1st, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

DMR Books

I had lunch with the hard-working Dave Ritzlin yesterday, the mastermind behind DMR Books, and he casually mentioned that they are now open to submissions. This is great news for any aspiring writers out there who produce fantasy, horror, and adventure fiction in the tradition of Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, and other classic writers of the pulp era. Instead of trying to summarize exactly what Dave’s looking for, here he is in his own words.

Heroic fantasy adventure fiction of the sword-and-sorcery subgenre. Rather than give a detailed explanation of what that means, I’ll just say that if you’re familiar with the books we’ve published, as well as the titles on the following list, you’ll have a good idea of what we want.

What are you waiting for? Start your writing adventure here.

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Unbound Worlds on the Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books of October 2018

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Astounding John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction-small The Dream Gatherer-small The Monster Baru Cormorant-small

Happy Halloween everyone!

Later tonight, as you’re curled up in your favorite chair munching Halloween candy, you’ll remember that today is also the last day of the month, and you’ll wonder what exciting new releases you overlooked. (Trust me. It’ll happen.) I mean, I get it. There are so many great new books being published these days that it’s impossible to keep track.

Impossible without very special resources, that is. Resources like Matt Staggs at Unbound Worlds, who’s curated an impressive list of 45 (yes, 45) new novels, collections, photobooks, anthologies, and nonfiction books representing the very best in science fiction, fantasy, horror and the unclassifiable. Here’s some of his best selections.

Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction by Alec Nevala-Lee (Dey Street Books, 544 pages, $28.99 hardcover/$15.99 digital, October 23, 2018)

Astounding is the landmark account of the extraordinary partnership between four controversial writers — John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, and L. Ron Hubbard — who set off a revolution in science fiction and forever changed our world.

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Mark Morris on the New Fears Anthologies

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

New Fears cover-small New Fears 2-small

I was pretty excited by Mark Morris’ New Fears last year. It was a terrific horror anthology, with brand new stories by Alison Littlewood, Angela Slatter, Nina Allan, Chaz Brenchley, Ramsey Campbell, Adam Nevill, Muriel Gray, Kathryn Ptacek, Christopher Golden, and many others.

I kept an eye out for the second one in the series, and it arrived right on schedule from Titan Books last month. New Fears 2 looks even better, with 21 stories by the most acclaimed writers in the genre, including Priya Sharma, Robert Shearman, Gemma Files, Tim Lebbon, Brian Hodge, V. H. Leslie, Brian Evenson, Steve Rasnic Tem, Aliya Whiteley, John Langan, Paul Tremblay, and many others.

But anthology series are a tough sell in today’s market, as we’ve talked about here a few times (see “Is the Original SF and Fantasy Paperback Anthology Series Dead?” for some extensive discussion on the topic) So I was dismayed, but not too surprised, to see a public plea from Morris last week for support for his new series.

On Sunday New Fears picked up the British Fantasy Award for Best Anthology. The reviews for the book have been overwhelmingly positive, with a couple of reviewers even saying that it’s the best horror anthology they’ve read for years… And as with New Fears, the reviews for New Fears 2 have been phenomenally good.


Despite all these accolades, New Fears simply hasn’t sold enough copies for Titan, at this time, to recommission the series… However if sales pick up, and the first two volumes earn out their advances, then there’s a possibility they make pick the series up again at a later date.

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A Treasure Trove of Classic British Horror: Darkness Mist & Shadow: The Collected Macabre Tales of Basil Copper

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill


I first saw the three volumes of Darkness Mist & Shadow: The Collected Macabre Tales of Basic Copper at Greg Ketter’s booth at Windy City seven years ago. It was a gorgeous set of hardcovers, with magnificent wraparound Stephen Fabian artwork, and it drew my eye immediately.

It was prohibitively expensive, however — nearly $200 for the set, if I remember correctly. Two hundred bucks buys a lot of vintage paperbacks. I put them back on the shelf with a sigh, and headed for the back of the room, where the cheap paperbacks were piled high on countless tables.

Darkness Mist & Shadow was published by Drugstore Indian Press, a division of PS Publishing in the UK, which means it wasn’t widely distributed here in the US. I’ve always been curious about Basil Copper’s fiction… not curious enough to part with $200 on an impulse purchase, but still. Bob Byrne is a fan of his Solar Pons tales (also available from PS Publishing), and Bob has good taste, so that heightened my curiosity.

I’m not always in the mood for classic British horror, but when October rolls around, with its long evenings, hot chocolate, and a cat that insists on climbing into my lap at seven o’clock and staying there, immobile, until midnight, I’m much more receptive. The promise of a virtual library of short stories and novellas — painstakingly gathered from such hard-to-find sources as the Dark Terrors anthology series, the Pan Book of Horror Stories, New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, and long out-of-print Arkham House volumes — gets a lot more appealing. So when PS reissued the books in beautiful trade paperback editions, priced at just £9.99 each ($17 from most US sellers), it was simply too hard to resist. I paid $45 for the complete set, and I’m very happy I did.

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