From the August 1999 Locus
The Serpent and the Grail, A.A. Attanasio (HarperPrism 6/99) Attanasio's Arthurian cycle reaches audacious new heights as this fourth volume mixes the search for the grail with quantum physics. In a field over-stuffed with tired Arthurian retreads, Attanasio stands out as a true original.
The Oracle Lips, Storm Constantine (Stark House 6/99) One of the dark stars of gothic fantasy, Constantine shines in this collection of 23 stories, six previously unpublished, that include tales of Constantine's ''Grigori'', the ''Nephilim'', and the world of the ''Wraethu'', along with a heady mix of SF, fairy tales, and dark fantasy.
The Thorn Boy, Storm Constantine (Eidolon 6/99) A sensuous, opulent erotic fantasy set in the world of Constantine's new ''Sea Dragon'' trilogy. A king's favorite slave boy falls in love with his new rival, an enemy Khan's boy taken as a prize in battle.
Moon Shots, Peter Crowther, ed. (DAW 7/99) Return to the moon in these sixteen all-new stories written in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the first moon landing. Authors include Brian Aldiss, Gene Wolfe, Stephen Baxter and Paul Di Filippo.
End of Days, Dennis Danvers (Avon Eos 6/99) Danvers continues his exploration of virtual reality and human nature in this sequel to the critically acclaimed Circuit of Heaven, a tale of religious fanaticism and a love story that crosses the boundaries of time and death as the virtual inhabitants of the Bin ''play dead'' to avoid the zealots of the Army of the Lord.
The Sub: A Study in Witchcraft, Thomas M. Disch (Knopf 7/99) Black humor and wry satire on the American way of life suffuse this dark fantasy set in Disch's ''supernatural Minnesota.'' A substitute teacher recovers memories of sexual abuse at the same time she develops the ability to turn people into animals.
The Year's Best Science Fiction: Sixteenth Annual Collection, Gardner Dozois, ed. (St. Martin's Griffin 6/99) The biggest (and many say best) of the year's-best anthologies weighs in with a hefty 24 stories from 1998, selected by one of the field's most-respected (and awarded) editors.
The Shadow of Ararat, Thomas Harlan (Tor 6/99) This powerful first novel brings history and magic to life in a tale of an alternate Roman Empire where magic works, and Christianity may not exist in what would be our 600 A.D. – the first volume in the epic ''The Oath of Empire'' series. A would-be inventor seeks to unlock the secrets of the spell that keeps non-magical technology from working in Rome.
Shiva 3000, Jan Lars Jensen (Harcourt Brace 6/99) A young man obsessed with killing the famous, quasi-divine Baboon Warrior wanders the exotic world of far-future India in this rich, imaginative, and mordantly satiric first novel.
The Company of Glass, Valery Leith (Bantam Spectra 7/99) Mutable cities and the lost secrets of an ancient past provide a rich, sometimes surreal background for this fantasy of desperate quests to a magical city that reappears every nine years – a past quest that still haunts its sole survivor, and a new one that threatens to destroy a young woman determined to succeed where her father failed. First book in a new series.
The Cassini Division, Ken MacLeod (Tor 7/99) The Cassini Division defends the utopian Solar Union of the 24th century from the threat of the incomprehensible post-humans – but one leader who wants to remove the threat forever uncovers some surprising ideas about what it means to be human. The first book to appear in the US from a noted British newcomer – a two-time winner of the Prometheus Award.
Ancients of Days, Paul J. McAuley (Avon Eos 7/99) The epic ''Confluence'' SF series continues with this second volume, set on the artificial world of Confluence, millions of years in the future, inhabited by thousands of races. Yama continues to search for his origins, but his talents and the prophecies surrounding him attract various groups who want to use him for their own ends.
Maxfield Parrish 1870-1966, Maxfield Parrish, text by Sylvia Yount (Abrams/Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts 6/99) This exhibition catalog reproduces a wide range of Parrish's works, from b&w advertising art to his distinctive lacquered paintings of landscapes and fairy tales. A fascinating in-depth article by Mark F. Bockrath discusses Parrish's artistic techniques and the difficulties of conservation.
The Far Shore of Time, Frederik Pohl (Tor 7/99) Adventure and irony fill this third – and strongest – volume in the ''Eschaton Sequence''. Federal agent Dan Dannerman persuades the alien Horch to return with him to Earth help fight the evil Others – but finds his fellow humans less than appreciative.
Starfish, Peter Watts (Tor 7/99) Quirky characters carry this tense tale of deep-sea exploration as a team of bioengineered misfits seeks unusual life forms along a thermal vent, but finds all-too-human conspiracies instead. A potent first novel.
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