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THE BEST OF UNCANNY

A deliciously diverse sampler of speculative-fiction bonbons, created by some of the most talented literary confectioners on...

This shelf-bending collection of 44 stories and poems from Uncanny Magazine’s first five years highlights not only the publication’s consistent quality, but also the impressive diversity of voices and thematic profundity it showcases.

Many of the selections are powered by brass-knuckle social commentary. Sam J. Miller’s paranormal-nuanced “The Heat of Us: Notes Toward an Oral History” is set in an alternate New York City on June 28, 1969, the night of the Stonewall Riots, when a police raid of a gay night club sparked an uprising and became the catalyst for the gay rights movement, and which also happened to be "the first public demonstration of the supernatural phenomenon that would later be called by names as diverse as collective pyrokinesis, group magic, communal energy...liberation flame, and hellfire." Constructed from oral interviews with witnesses to the bloody conflict, the story explores the tensions of the time and brilliantly conveys a complexity of emotions, from unbridled rage to despair to love. The last few words will stay with you: "I believe joy is the only thing stronger than sadness.” Delilah S. Dawson’s “Catcall” is another story with impressive impact, about a young woman named Maria who experiences misogyny on a daily basis. After facing countless assaults—from a predatory father at a babysitting gig to a sexist jock in high school—Maria finally decides that she has had enough and becomes a vehicle for karmic retribution. Hao Jingfang’s Folding Beijing (translated by Ken Liu), which won the Hugo Award for Best Novelette, is a conceptually breathtaking science fiction tale that follows Lao Dao, a worker at a waste processing center, as he explores the mysteries of a megacity with three separate Spaces that fold in upon themselves and share the same geographic area in every 48-hour cycle. Featuring standout stories by N.K. Jemisin, Seanan McGuire, and Catherynne M. Valente, among others, there are no weak links in this transcendent anthology.

A deliciously diverse sampler of speculative-fiction bonbons, created by some of the most talented literary confectioners on the planet.

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59606-918-3

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Subterranean Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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DEVOLUTION

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z(2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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DARK MATTER

Suspenseful, frightening, and sometimes poignant—provided the reader has a generously willing suspension of disbelief.

A man walks out of a bar and his life becomes a kaleidoscope of altered states in this science-fiction thriller.

Crouch opens on a family in a warm, resonant domestic moment with three well-developed characters. At home in Chicago’s Logan Square, Jason Dessen dices an onion while his wife, Daniela, sips wine and chats on the phone. Their son, Charlie, an appealing 15-year-old, sketches on a pad. Still, an undertone of regret hovers over the couple, a preoccupation with roads not taken, a theme the book will literally explore, in multifarious ways. To start, both Jason and Daniela abandoned careers that might have soared, Jason as a physicist, Daniela as an artist. When Charlie was born, he suffered a major illness. Jason was forced to abandon promising research to teach undergraduates at a small college. Daniela turned from having gallery shows to teaching private art lessons to middle school students. On this bracing October evening, Jason visits a local bar to pay homage to Ryan Holder, a former college roommate who just received a major award for his work in neuroscience, an honor that rankles Jason, who, Ryan says, gave up on his career. Smarting from the comment, Jason suffers “a sucker punch” as he heads home that leaves him “standing on the precipice.” From behind Jason, a man with a “ghost white” face, “red, pursed lips," and "horrifying eyes” points a gun at Jason and forces him to drive an SUV, following preset navigational directions. At their destination, the abductor forces Jason to strip naked, beats him, then leads him into a vast, abandoned power plant. Here, Jason meets men and women who insist they want to help him. Attempting to escape, Jason opens a door that leads him into a series of dark, strange, yet eerily familiar encounters that sometimes strain credibility, especially in the tale's final moments.

Suspenseful, frightening, and sometimes poignant—provided the reader has a generously willing suspension of disbelief.

Pub Date: July 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-90422-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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