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When the People Fell When the People Fell by Cordwainer Smith
reviewed by Paul Kincaid
The story is well known by now. In 1950 an obscure, short-lived magazine called Fantasy Book published a story, "Scanners Live In Vain," under the transparent pseudonym Cordwainer Smith. The story caught the attention of those people who did encounter the magazine because it was so accomplished, and it was quickly republished in an anthology edited by Frederik Pohl. Since the author's name was so clearly a pseudonym, there was some debate about who it might really be. In his introduction to this collection, Pohl says that speculation included Henry Kuttner, Robert A. Heinlein, Theodore Sturgeon and A.E. Van Vogt. All denied it, of course.

The Theatre of Shadows The Theatre of Shadows by B.E. Maxwell
reviewed by Nathan Brazil
Almost four years on from The Faerie Door, the author returns with a sequel. The premise is that the dark fey queen Ulricke, operating incognito as Mrs. Dreadlake, has found her way into Victorian England. The queen's malign influence is resulting in all manner of ill fortune, including workhouses staffed by enslaved children and hobgoblins marauding across the British countryside.

In Springdale Town In Springdale Town by Robert Freeman Wexler
reviewed by Trent Walters
Some SF readers lust for estranging strangeness, others for a strange familiarity, bordering on wish fulfillment, i.e.: "I am a hulking barbarian and/or space cowboy with babes and/or hunks falling at my feet." Robert Freeman Wexler manages a fetching if quirky combination of the two modes in In Springdale Town.

Under the Moons of Mars Under the Moons of Mars edited by John Joseph Adams
reviewed by David Maddox
John Carter, the former Civil War soldier turned Warlord of Barsoom, has been around for almost 100 years. His adventures have spanned multiple worlds, hordes of enemies, and countless adventures. His exploits have inspired numerous visionaries, from Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel to modern day filmmakers George Lucas and James Cameron. And he continues to spark imagination in all those who seek to journey beyond the mundane.

Memories of the Flying Ball Bike Shop Memories of the Flying Ball Bike Shop by Garry Kilworth
reviewed by Stephen M. Davis
Sean can't understand why his boss, John Chang, has an unreasoning hatred for him, a red-headed gweilo who has come to work for a Hong Kong newspaper as part of what appears to be a gentle descent into mediocrity and self-recrimination over a disintegrated relationship with a woman he now loves and hates in equal measure.

Thieftaker Thieftaker by D.B. Jackson
reviewed by Katherine Petersen
The action takes place in 1765 Boston shortly after the Stamp Act riots and as tension is revving up between the colonists and the royalists. Ethan Kaille, the hero of our tale, is a conjurer, who uses organic matter -- usually his own blood, but leaves and grass will do -- to create magic. He uses his magic to eke out a living as a thieftaker, and as long as he sticks to middle-class clients, Sephira Pryce, Boston's ruling thieftaker doesn't bother him.

Novels of the Nightside Novels of the Nightside by Simon R. Green
reviewed by Nathan Brazil
One lead character adventuring through an even dozen titles, aided by a solid cast of reoccurring major characters, handfuls of minor characters and one shots, half a dozen running themes, plus individual side quests that can cover a quarter of a book. So far, it sounds good though not so very different from any other fantasy series. But this is the Nightside, where nothing is ever quite the way it seems. The Nightside is a small city, located somewhere beneath London, and accessed via the London tube network. People can arrive there accidentally, but most of those who enter know exactly where they are going. In the Nightside the darkest needs of the human condition are catered for in all their compelling, addictive and grotesque forms. All books in the series are first and foremost the story of John Taylor, the supernatural son of a creature from Biblical legend. Not that you'd know from looking at him.

Embassytown SF Site's Best Read of the Year: 2012
compiled by Neil Walsh
This is Year 16 of our annual SF Site's Best Read of the Year: 2012, the SF Site official Best Reading and Top Ten recommendations from everything we read in the previous year. This time you may find it interesting to see the variance in what SF Site Contributors and Readers have been enjoying by comparing the present list with our Readers' Choice Top Ten as chosen by the SF Site readership. I was surprised to see how little overlap there was between the two lists this year. In any case, between both lists, I'm sure you'll find plenty of worthwhile suggestions for further science fiction and fantasy reading.

Oz Reimagined Oz Reimagined edited by John Joseph Adams & Douglas Cohen
reviewed by Nathan Brazil
This anthology presents fifteen short stories by well known authors, delivering varied approaches and inconsistent quality. Some, are true to the original themes of L. Frank Baum, others go completely off the deep end and really have very little to do with what people think of when they hear the name Oz. One should note that this collection is not suitable for younger children, containing as it does several examples of very dark and very adult writing.

New Arrivals New Arrivals
compiled by Neil Walsh
This time we're looking at the latest from Stella Gemmell, John Scalzi, Warren Fahy, Eric Brown, Tim Lebbon, Vera Nazarian, Sergei Lukyanenko, new anthologies from Ellen Datlow & Terry Windling, Gardner Dozois, a new magazine from Mike Resnick, classic reprints of Robert Silverberg, Robert McCammon, Harry Turtledove, and plenty more.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Rick Klaw looks at a batch of new titles including How to Fake a Moon Landing: Exposing the Myths of Science Denial, Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness and Fruit Ninja #1.

Second Looks

The Dragon Griaule The Dragon Griaule by Lucius Shepard
reviewed by Greg L. Johnson
The dragon is dead, yet the dragon lives. From the very first lines of the very first story about the dragon, "The Man Who Painted The Dragon Griaule," that paradox winds its way through the narrative and ensnares the lives of the characters. The dragon is huge, its body sculpts the ridge that forms the Carbonates Valley, and for generations of inhabitants, the will of a dead dragon has been the most pervasive influence in their lives.

The Armageddon Rag The Armageddon Rag by George R.R. Martin
reviewed by Sherwood Smith
Youth, anger, and rock and roll -- three things with the power of magic, especially for those of us who were young in the sixties. In this combination murder mystery and road trip novel, George R.R. Martin evokes that vividly, and then ponders where it all went. The opening swiftly sets the scene: as the hippie generation swelled into student protests in the late sixties, the rock band called Nazgûl became the voice of a generation. Their rise to fame peaked on September 20th, 1971, at an enormous outdoor concert in West Mesa, New Mexico, then abruptly fell with the shooting.

Railsea Railsea by China Miéville
reviewed by Christopher DeFilippis
It's a rollicking adventure book for boys that liberally plies the classic tropes of swashbuckling romances like Treasure Island and Kidnapped, with a dash of The Odyssey thrown in for good measure. But at its core, the novel is a retelling of Moby Dick. Only instead of taking place on a whaling ship, it takes place on a train traversing the railsea -- a jumbled landscape of rails extending in every direction as far as the eye can see.

The Sword & Sorcery Anthology The Sword & Sorcery Anthology edited by David G. Hartwell and Jacob Weisman
reviewed by Seamus Sweeney
Hero tales are the oldest tales, and yet like Roddy McDowell contemporary writers in the heroic mode can't get no respect. While it is still sometimes used as a term of lit crit abuse, "science fiction" has largely completed the gentrification process of achieving literary respectability. The dystopian fictions of Margaret Atwood and Cormac McCarthy, the genre bending of David Foster Wallace and Johnathan Lethem, the elevation of J.G. Ballard into something of a patron saint of British literature, Philip K. Dick achieving the canonical landmark that is inclusion in the Modern Library edition; all have combined to render SF-nal elements acceptable in quarters formerly forbidden.


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