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March 2008
Locus Magazine
New and Notable Books

Brian W. Aldiss, ed., A Science Fiction Omnibus (Penguin Modern Classics Nov 2007)

Noted author and scholar Aldiss updates his classic omnibus of three Penguin Science Fiction anthologies from the 1960s, dropping 15 stories and adding 10 by authors including Ted Chiang, Greg Bear, Kim Stanley Robinson, and John Crowley, with new commentary.

Stephen Baxter, Navigator (Ace Jan 2008)

The third book in the Time’s Tapestry quartet brings more outright SF to this alternate history series. Originally published in the UK by Gollancz (7/07). ‘‘One of the more interesting and adventurous experiments in the by now badly overpopulated alternate history subgenre, both in the manner of execution and in its central conceit.’’ [Gary K. Wolfe]

Michael Bishop, ed., A Cross of Centuries: Twenty-five Imaginative Tales About the Christ (Thunder's Mouth May 2007)

This intriguing anthology gathers stories about Jesus and other Christ-like figures by an impressive range of authors, from genre notables such as Ray Bradbury, Gene Wolfe, and Michael Moorcock to literary figures such as Isaac Babel, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Jorge Luis Borges, and Oscar Wilde; 18 authors offer commentary on their own stories, with commentary on the rest by Bishop, who admits he ‘‘chose the stories… to entertain and illuminate, but also to stimulate and provoke.’’

Philip José Farmer, Venus on the Half Shell and Others (Subterranean Press Feb 2008)

Farmer’s notorious novel Venus on the Half-Shell, written as by Kilgore Trout (Kurt Vonnegut’s fictional writer) is the centerpiece of this collection of 11 pieces from Farmer’s ‘‘fictional-author period.’’ This includes an essay by Farmer, ‘‘Why and How I Became Kilgore Trout’’, in which he details how the project started and Vonnegut’s reactions. Other works include the Sherlock Holmes novella, ‘‘The Adventure of the Peerless Peer’’ by John H. Watson M.D., and a Tarzan story as written by William S. Burroughs.

Stephen King, Duma Key (Scribner Jan 2008)

The master of horror returns with this novel of a man recovering from a serious accident that left him with a missing arm, a broken marriage, and scrambled memories. He moves to an isolated Florida key to try to build a new life and turns to painting, only to find his work somehow predicts – or causes – deadly future events on this strangely sinister isle.

Paul Melko, Singularity's Ring (Tor Feb 2008)

This posthuman thriller follows the ‘‘pod’’ Apollo – a gestalt of five teens training to be a space pilot, only to be targeted by unknown assassins on an Earth where most of humanity has ‘‘transcended’’ (or maybe died). A strong first novel – ‘‘Melko’s skill both in story and setting is undeniable.… There’s more than enough invention and imaginative courage here to suggest that Melko may be at the beginning of an auspicious career.’’ [Gary K. Wolfe]

Chris Roberson, The Dragon's Nine Sons (Solaris Feb 2008)

Roberson brings his own brand of alternate-historical future to this novel, the first set in his Chinese-dominated Celestial Empire, a space opera/thriller of condemned men sent on a suicide mission, revealing their own pasts along the way. ‘‘Character relationships and cultural background are at least as compelling as the melodramatic action in the foreground. In fact, those are the qualities that would have me return to this charming and oddly-retro-feeling alternate future.’’ [Russell Letson] ‘‘A sobering piece of military SF, skillfully handled and morally acute. It is easily Chris Roberson’s best book so far.’’ [Nick Gevers]

Lucius Shepard, Dagger Key (PS Publishing Sep 2007)

A big collection of nine recent stories (one new, all but one novella-length) from one of the field’s most noted writers of short fiction: ‘‘when he’s at his strongest, as he is in most of the stories here, he’s an unequalled master.’’ [Gary K. Wolfe]

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