The Djinn Falls in LoveEd. by Mahvesh Murad & Jared Shurin
PositiveThe Washington PostThe authors weave the magical beings into their own cultures, some taking heavy hints from The Arabian Nights, others using djinn as an abstract, heavy longing to belong or as a haunting presence on Mars. The djinn is used to explore topics such as women’s sexuality and the disconnect between modern warfare and human lives. Neil Gaiman fans will recognize his contribution, an excerpt from American Gods, but the true standouts include Saad Z. Hossain’s 'Bring Your Own Spoon,' a tale that depicts a dystopian- and disease-ridden future where a man and his djinn friend decide to start a restaurant ... Together, these fantasy stories offer a rich and illuminating cultural experience.
The Epiphany MachineDavid Burr Gerrard
RaveThe Washington PostThe Epiphany Machine is hilarious. It’s a razor-sharp alternate history ... Venter’s circular arguments about himself and society are funny even when they’re depressing. Gerrard’s novel emphasizes just how desperately people want confirmation of their place in the world.
New York 2140Kim Stanley Robinson
PositiveThe Washington PostThe book is a strange hybrid. It has the tenacious, encyclopedic detail that Robinson is known for, the big ideas of a modern CliFi novel and the twists and turns of a heist movie. The characters are memorable, particularly the two little orphan boys and the Internet video star, Amelia. It all comes together (perhaps a little too) beautifully in the end. Anyone familiar with Robinson’s work knows that he can be tedious and heavy handed, and this novel is no exception. But like the others, the thought-provoking ideas and vivid details make the book worth reading.
The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland
PositiveThe Washington PostClocking in at over 700 pages, the book is entirely composed of correspondence: letters, chat logs and redacted government documents. This unusual format allows the authors to create distinct voices for endearing characters, defining them without getting bogged down in backstory, and making more room to explore relationships and describe, in painstaking detail, the 'science' of magic and time travel. Better yet, Melisande trades one bureaucracy for another to prescient and hilarious effect. There’s a lot going on here — stylistic flourishes, comedic pratfalls, romance and science — but it’s handled deftly. Those familiar with Stephenson will recognize his humor and ideas, while Galland brings a fresh and irresistible voice to this ambitious novel.
The Stone SkyN. K. Jemisin
RaveThe Washington Post...Jemisin uses her fictional Earth to more clearly define the repercussions of slavery and genocide on not only humans, but the Earth itself. Her books have abstracted real-life race issues in a way that serves to magnify the truth. At the heart of this tale is Essun and Nassun, at opposite ends of the world and ideologies, as they work tirelessly to resolve the legacy of slavery in their world.