A clone, a con artist and a girl touched by death grace this month's sci-fi & fantasy column.
★ Remote Control
A beautiful, sad, enthralling novella set in a futuristic Africa, Remote Control is a refreshing oasis of creativity. One day, an object fell from the sky and Fatima forgot her name. The encounter imbued her with terrible, destructive powers, and she gave herself a new name: Sankofa. With a fox companion and a reputation for bringing death to everyone she meets, she searches endlessly for the object in the hope of finding answers to the innumerable questions in her mind. Hugo Award winner Nnedi Okorafor is no stranger to the novella; her Binti trilogy is a laudable (and much lauded) example of how freeing the form can be. Remote Control never includes any detail that isn’t needed, and Okorafor’s word choices have a simple beauty. They’re elegiac, like a translation from a text recently restored to us from the sands of time. I implore you to discover this lovely, captivating story for yourself.
The Mask of Mirrors
Lush, engrossing and full of mystery and dark magic, The Mask of Mirrors by M.A. Carrick is sure to please fantasy readers looking to dial up the intrigue. In this first installment of a new trilogy, Renata Viraudax, a thief and con artist, travels to the city of Nadezra to infiltrate House Traementis, planning to take advantage of their weak position within the aristocracy. But she slowly discovers a sinister magical threat and an underbelly of corruption that threaten the stability of the city. Can she find the right allies in a place where everyone’s running a con of their own? The richness of Nadezra—the class systems, the detail with which things like clothing are rendered—is a joy, but the story itself also brims with intrigue, wonder and real pain. Jump in and get swept away.
The Echo Wife
When I read Sarah Gailey’s Magic for Liars, I was drawn in by their wit and nimble control over their prose. Their new novel, The Echo Wife, delivers a tight, thrilling and funny ride. Evelyn Caldwell, a brilliant pioneer in human cloning technology, isn’t happy. She’s haunted by her divorce from her cheating husband, with whom she shared her research. Martine is a clone of Evelyn, designed to be everything Evelyn is not: gentle, submissive and calm. When Martine calls Evelyn in the dead of night asking for help, the two women are forced to find a way to survive together. Gailey’s writing is controlled, visceral and especially dazzling when Martine and Evelyn are in a room together. Fans of “Big Little Lies,” The Island, Frankenstein and “Killing Eve” will love this gripping, skillfully told firecracker of a book.