Bringing You the Daily Dispatch

The best recent science fiction, fantasy and horror – reviews roundup

The best recent science fiction, fantasy and horror – reviews roundup

The Other Valley Scott Alexander HowardView image in fullscreen

The Other Valley by Scott Alexander Howard (Atlantic, £16.99)
This debut novel is set in an isolated valley caught between its own past and future. To the east is a valley 20 years ahead; to the west, the same place is 20 years in the past. To protect against catastrophic changes to the timeline, the borders are fenced and patrolled by armed guards. The governing Conseil grants a few brief supervised crossings every year, to elderly mourners desperate for a glimpse of their loved ones when they were still alive. Odile is a shy, studious girl training for a place on the Conseil when she glimpses two visiting mourners lurking outside the school. Recognising them as older versions of the parents of a funny, talented boy she likes, she faces an impossible choice. He is doomed to die, but if she tries to save him, she will destroy her own future. The experience changes her life and never stops haunting her until, years later, she must confront other ethical dilemmas. This is an unusual approach to time travel, a philosophical thought experiment and a deeply moving, ultimately thrilling story about memory, love and regret.

A View from the Stars by Cixin Liu Head of Zeus, £20)

A View from the Stars by Cixin Liu (various translators; Head of Zeus, £20)
Essays and short stories from the past three decades by the author of The Three-Body Problem. His stories are filled with a sense of wonder as they push ideas about the future of humanity to their extremes, and the personal essays offer a rare glimpse into attitudes towards science fiction in China and how the genre has changed. A fascinating collection.

Flowers from the Void Gianni WashingtonView image in fullscreen

Flowers from the Void by Gianni Washington (Serpent’s Tail, £14.99)
The stories in this wide-ranging collection of horror and fantasy run from the gothic grotesque to even more disturbing tales about weird obsessions and fatal misunderstandings. Some border on science fiction, with alien creatures and lifesize living dolls, while a fantasy about an African witch trying to join an all-white coven in colonial Massachusetts is so richly imagined it feels like a novel in miniature. An impressive debut from a very talented new writer.

The Dark Side of the Sky by Francesco Dimitri (Titan, £9.99)View image in fullscreen

The Dark Side of the Sky by Francesco Dimitri (Titan, £9.99)
The tale of a cult told from the inside, through the voices of its members, collectively known as the Bastion. To outsiders, founders Becca and Ric are dangerous con artists, but those in the community believe they have found a better, more spiritual way to live, and that the Bastion is truly the last defence against our world’s destruction. They have seen the stars change when they gather in the pine forest, and are aware of being watched by hungry eyes on the other side of the sky. An absorbing, fascinating novel, cleverly devised so that the reader is never quite sure where reality ends and fantasy begins.

The Hungry Dark by Jen Williams (HarperVoyager, £16.99)View image in fullscreen

The Hungry Dark by Jen Williams (HarperVoyager, £16.99)
After seven fantasy novels, Williams changed direction to crime thrillers. Her latest involves the hunt for a serial killer, but sits firmly in the British folk horror tradition. As a child, Ashley was haunted by the sight of silent grey figures gathering around her, and had a premonition of a tragedy she was unable to prevent. As an adult, she makes a living as a psychic – but it’s all faked, until those strange figures appear again and lead her to the body of a missing child. Atmospheric and suspenseful, a well-plotted blend of supernatural and crime.

To the Stars and Back: Stories in Honour of Eric Brown, edited by Ian Whates (NewCon Press, £13.99)
All new stories from some of Britain’s top SF writers, including Alastair Reynolds, Justina Robson, Ian Watson, Philip Palmer and other friends and admirers of the author Eric Brown, who died last year.

Source: theguardian.com