RaveThe Seattle Times[Watkins's] story toys with supernatural explanations for the survival of outcasts living in the super-dune’s shadow, but ultimately rejects them. Rather than the wild imaginings that members of SF’s community of writers have trained themselves to give voice to, and have nourished by reading the work of fellow imaginers, Watkins’s depictions are grounded in an almost fatalistic view of our current situation ... All the strength and utility of Gold Fame Citrus come from the unrelentingness of its author’s well-schooled gaze. But that gaze encompasses more than tragedy, more than the chaos of civilization’s gradual collapse. It also shares with us the feverish glow of a world lit only by fugitives’ fires, the hallucinatory shimmer surrounding each individual grain of pulverized stone, each tiny tributary to an overwhelming flood of uncontrollable forces: heat, wind, dreams.
The Paper MenagerieKen Liu
RaveThe Seattle TimesLike childhood, these stories are simple — but far from simplistic. Besides making compelling points about subjects such as domination and empowerment, responsibility and freedom, they leave lingering impressions of smooth-gaited water buffalo; sky-filling solar sails; proto-sapient, lemurlike aliens; and camera implants disguised as prostitutes’ eyes. Long after the book has been read, these telling details continue to lend their subtle heft to stories that pierce to the core of what’s right.
Lovecraft CountryMatt Ruff
PositiveThe Seattle TimesThough white, Ruff writes plausibly from the viewpoints of his black characters. Their concerns — whether they confront faceless mobs or respond to surprise invitations from scions of America’s unacknowledged aristocracy — seem genuinely driven by their own agendas, not the author’s. Ruff also avoids the common error of homogenizing the thoughts and feelings of these black 'others.'
RaveThe Seattle TimesEver alert to change’s human impact, Willis explores the always humorous and sometimes frightening consequences of heroine Briddey Flannigan’s awareness of exactly what those around her think. Willis also provides convincing explanations of telepathy’s advantages and the likelihood of its survival as a genetic trait. But the novel’s screwball elements, and especially the klutzy-cute interactions between Briddey and maverick nerd C.B. Schwartz, are what charmed me. Rapier wit and sparkling ripostes form the heart of the romantic comedies Willis praises at public appearances, sharing her love for the art form. They’re very much in evidence here.
The Last Days of New ParisChina Miéville
PositiveThe Seattle Times[Mieville] dices up and disposes of narrative continuity with the flair of a collage artist. The resulting portrait of a city outside of time entices and rewards readers, even as it rebuffs traditional ideas about how stories should be told ... At once old-fashioned and unconventional, Miéville’s novel transcends expectations of modernism raised by its recent publication.
RaveThe Washington PostVanderMeer’s undeniable skill as a writer keeps what could be an unwieldy blur of a plot from devolving into grim melodrama or atmospheric nihilism ... Rachel, a brown-skinned, kinky-haired refugee woman, will also satisfy readers eager to see marginalized figures move to the center of an adventure novel. And there’s enough allusiveness in this story to satisfy a whole conference of literary critics. Ultimately, though, these heady delights only add to the engrossing richness of Borne. The main attraction is a tale of mothers and monsters — and of how we make each other with our love.