Bill chats with Dr. Liam Burke about comic book film adaptations


Dr. Liam Burke is the author of The Comic Book Film Adaptation: Exploring Modern Hollywood’s Leading Genre, a thoroughly excellent examination of that topic and one I highly...

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The Secret of Platform 13: Delightful, fantastical fun


The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson Eva Ibbotson is a well-loved children’s author, and it is books like The Secret of Platform 13 that make me glad that I have no qualms...

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Brains vs. Beauty: The Women of Harry Potter


Welcome to another Expanded Universe column where I feature essays from authors and editors of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, as well as from established readers and reviewers....

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Our rating system


We realize that we’re not professional literature critics — we’re just a group of readers who love to read and write about speculative fiction — but we...

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Recent Posts

Thoughtful Thursday: Identify last month’s covers

Today’s covers all come from books or films we reviewed in December 2020. Once you identify a cover, in the comment section list:

1. The number of the cover (1-16)
2. The author/director
3. The book/film title



Please identify just one cover that has not yet been identified correctly so that others will have a chance to play. If they're not all identified by next Thursday at noon EST, you can come back and identify more.

Each of your correct entries enters you into a drawing to win a book of your choice from our stacks. Winners are notified in the comments, so make sure to check the notification box and/or remember to check back in about 10 days. If we don't choose a winner within 2 weeks, Read More

The Doors of Eden: An intelligent, mind-bending epic

The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Girlfriends Mal and Lee are cryptid hunters. They don’t believe in any of the monsters they hunt, of course, but it’s fun to follow the clues and debunk the myths for their blog. But on their last adventure, they saw some weird stuff and Mal disappeared.

That was four years ago. Now, suddenly, Lee runs into Mal on the street in London and she’s with a man who looks like a Neanderthal. Where has she been and why is she with that guy? And why is a world-renowned physicist and an evil villain suddenly so interested in Lee and Mal?

Other humans are also having strange experiences. These include Julian, an MI5 agent stuck in a deteriorating marriage, his colleague Alison who’s really good with data, a retired soldier named Lucas who works for the evil guy, and Dr. Khan, the eccentric but brilliant transgender physicist mentioned above.

As the story proceeds, ... Read More

WWWednesday: January 13, 2021

Distance, from the Urban Crow Oracle Deck



Awards:

The Endeavor Committee is suspending the 2021 Endeavor award for various reasons, many associated with Covid 19.

The Washington DC Science Fiction Committee is accepting submissions for its small press award.

The Critics Choice awards were announced on January 10.

The Speculative Literature Foundation announces its $1000 grant to a South Asian or South Asian diaspora writer.

Writers, Writing, Reading, Books:

From the Washington Post, Read More

The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn: A fun heist story

The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn by Tyler Whitesides

Ardor Benn and his friend and partner Raekon Dorrel are con artists. They live in a world where a substance called grit (extracted from dragon poo) has magical properties.

There are different types of grit, depending on what the dragon ate, and they can be used to create various magical effects. Drift grit, for example, lets the user float in the air like a helium balloon, and barrier grit creates a temporary invisible wall.

Ard and Raek are clever and resourceful, pulling elaborate cons using grit. Ard calls himself a “ruse artist extraordinaire” but deep down he knows that his lifestyle is unhealthy. His mother and the woman he loves think he’s dead and he’s too ashamed to let them know the truth.

When Ard and Raek get a dangerous job offer that would pay enough to let them retire from their lives of crime, they decide to take it. It will... Read More

Marion chats with M.A. Carrick (giveaway!)

Marie Brennan is the author of the LADY TRENT series and before that the ONXY COURT secret history fantasy series. Alyc Helms is best known for the MISSY MASTERS superhero urban fantasy trilogy set largely in San Francisco. These two accomplished writers are long time friends who collaborated on this year’s second world fantasy The Mask of Mirrors. Both writers live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area, and they agreed to give us an interview about their new series, worldbuilding, conventions and fashion.

A personal note, I’ve met Brennan and Helms at a California convention, and as you know, I Read More

Remote Control: A gently moving and thoughtful novella

Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

Remote Control (2021) is the newest novella from Nnedi Okorafor, a quiet, interior-focused and episodic work that is at times a haunting, tragic coming of age tale of magic and mystery, at other times a concisely and sharply effective observer of modern trends, and, depending on the reader, at other times a frustratingly vague story full of unanswered questions. Overall, I enjoyed it quite a bit, finding it to be the sort of story that lingers in the head.

Six-year-old Fatima lives a happy family life in a near-future Ghana despite her frequent bouts with malaria. But when a meteor shower filled with “beautiful green streaks decorating the sky” drops at the base of her favorite tree a “seed [that] glowed a bright green [with] light seeping from it like oil,” it changes her life and those of everyon... Read More

The Women of Weird Tales: Some of the Weird Tales ladies bet their due

The Women of Weird Tales by Greye La Spina, Everil Worrell, Mary Elizabeth Counselman and Eli Colter

If I were to ask you to name some of the famous writers who had work published in the pages of the legendary pulp magazine Weird Tales, odds are that you might reply with some of the following: H. P. Lovecraft, whose Cthulhu stories sprung up in Weird Tales; Robert E. Howard, who placed his Conan stories therein; Robert Bloch, Henry Kuttner, perhaps Clark Ashton Smith. Readers who are ... Read More

The Artificial Kid: Early cyberpunk

The Artificial Kid by Bruce Sterling

Bruce Sterling’s 1980 novel The Artificial Kid wasn’t on my TBR list until Brilliance Audio published an audiobook edition a couple of months ago. I’m so happy to see these older science fiction novels being revived and made even more accessible to a new generation of speculative fiction readers. Last month I reviewed the new audio edition of Sterling’s first novel, Involution Ocean, also by Brilliance Audio. I hope we’ll be seeing more of his novels coming out in audio soon.

The Artificial Kid is Sterling’s second novel and, like Involution Ocean, it’s set on an imaginative world with fabulous scenery, has an unusual plot, contains ecological and evolutionary themes, and features bizarre c... Read More

Across the Green Grass Fields: A weaker entry in a highly praised series

Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire

I’ve been hit and miss on Seanan McGuire’s WAYWARD CHILDREN portal series, finding some of the novellas lyrical and emotional and others frustratingly slapdash. Her newest, Across the Green Grass Fields (2021), unfortunately falls closer to the latter end of the spectrum.

As one expects by now, we have a young girl who steps through a doorway into another world. We meet Regan first at seven, part of a best friends trio with Heather Nelson and Laurel Anderson. Quickly, though, she gets drawn into one of those cruel moments of childhood where demarcations are drawn. When queen bee Laurel arbitrarily shuns Heather, deciding she isn’t “girly” enough, Regan, learning quickly “this is what it costs to be different,” goes along with it. Years... Read More

Sunday Status Update: January 10, 2021

Kat: I re-read the first two books in Brandon Mull’s FIVE KINGDOMS series for kids (Sky Raiders and The Rogue Knight). I read them years ago but I’m ready to read and review the final three books (which have been sitting on my phone for a long time), so I needed to give them a re-read in preparation. I’m now on book three, Crystal Keepers. I got some reviews done this week, too, so look for those... Read More