Rename this horrible cover!


It’s time again for one of our favorite games! Please help us rename the horrible cover of this book by Grande Dame Andre Norton. The author of the new title we like best...

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The Vampire Lestat: The seminal work of vampire fiction since Stoker


The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice Anne Rice’s second vampire novel is both a prequel and a sequel to her original story Interview with the Vampire. A sequel because it is framed...

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Crossing Genres, or Dear Robot as Literary Science Fiction


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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Recent Posts

Where the Veil Is Thin: A mixed bag of fairies

Where the Veil Is Thin edited by Cerece Rennie Murphy & Alana Joli Abbott

Where the Veil Is Thin (2020), an anthology of stories about fairies and spirits, began as a Kickstarter. The project was successful, and the book is now widely available. Editors Cerece Rennie Murphy and Alana Joli Abbott have brought together a diverse group of authors with a wide variety of writing styles and approaches to the fae. While the tag line on the back cover says “These are not your daughter’s faerie tales,” some of the stories do read as if they might be intended for a youthful audience, while others are definitely not for kids. The stunning cover art is by Anna Dittmann.

The collection begins with a brief introduction by Jim C. Hines. In it, he... Read More

Sunday Status Update: August 2, 2020

Jana: This week I read Nancy Kress’ recent novella, Sea Change, which packs a lot of story, social commentary, and very-near-future environmental concerns in an economical package. I also began reading Tamsyn Muir’s Harrow the Ninth, realized that I wanted to read the last few chapters of Gideon the Ninth in order to be sure that I remembered who was locked i... Read More

The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking): Informative and engaging if not all that uplifting

The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking) by Katie Mack

In case these times weren’t providing enough anxiety, astrophysicist Katie Mack has arrived on the scene with something else for you to worry about — the end of the universe. More precisely, in The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking) (2020), Mack explores five ways the universe might die: The Big Crunch, Heat Death, The Big Rip, Vacuum Decay, and a Bounce. Luckily, most won’t be coming along for some billions of years, so you can probably still get in everything you’ve been planning on — cleaning out the garage, binging that TV show, learning to make cocktails, etc. (Those of us with TBR shelves, though, are out of luck — billions of years just won’t cut it.)

Mack opens with a tour of our current understanding of the universe’s lifetime, from the Big Bang almost 14 billion years ago up to now. Then eac... Read More

Winter Lord: Old-school faeries with teeth

Winter Lord by Jean Brooks-Janowiak

Winter Lord (1983) was an impulse Alibris buy for me. Under a different name, Jean Brooks-Janowiak wrote a Tudor romance that’s been one of my comfort reads since I first read it in high school. That book had an eerie little vein of the supernatural running through it, so when I learned that Brooks-Janowiak had also written a fantasy novel, I decided to check it out. What with it being an earlier book, in a different genre, and sporting a rather uninformative cover, I went in with no idea of what to expect. As it turns out, I enjoyed it quite a bit, though with some caveats.

Jane O’Neill travels to the remote town of Winterburn, with her brother Brian and their friend Audrey, to attend the funeral of her ex-husband, Rob, who has drowned there under mysterious circumstances. Found with him were his ruined camera and a note with a cryptic quote from Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Speculations about a post-COVID world

The COVID pandemic is a shocking new experience for all of us. Epidemics aren’t new, but a global pandemic we watch on our devices as it plays out in real time is. We are all experiencing changes in behavior; staying at home, social distancing, using hand sanitizer, wearing facial coverings. We miss our social get-togethers and dining out in a pleasant restaurant or coffee house, and we’re getting expert at video-conferencing.

The changes associated with COVID are sweeping, and no one can predict what “normal” will be on the other side (I’m going to be optimistic and say, “When we have a vaccine”). We can’t predict, but we’re speculative fiction readers, so let’s predict anyway. Instead of the huge, scary and gloomy changes, let’s talk about day-to-day social changes.

Will the handshake go the way of the courtly bow and the curtsy? Will the bow and curtsy make a comeback? Will “share your toys” be bad advice? Will food trucks and ... Read More

Red Mantle: Finishes an excellent trilogy on a high note

Red Mantle by Maria Turtschaninoff

Maria Turtschaninoff’s Maresi told the story of the Red Abbey — a feminist, goddess-worshipping sanctuary for women — and the young novice whose special powers helped her save it from invaders. The sequel, Naondel, was really a prequel, going back to the founders of the Abbey and explaining how they came together to form it. Red Mantle (2018), the conclusion of the RED ABBEY CHRONICLES series, returns to Maresi, the heroine of the first book, as she enters young womanhood and ventures into the world beyond the isle of Menos.

Red Mantle is an epistolary novel, told through Maresi’s letters home to the Abbey. This structure works well, giving the ... Read More

Desdemona and the Deep: “The bright-winged, the beautiful, the bizarre”

Reposting to include Tadiana's new review.

Desdemona and the Deep by C.S.E. Cooney

Desdemona and the Deep (2019) is C.S.E. Cooney’s third novella in the DARK BREAKERS series, but is a self-contained story that can stand alone. A finalist for the Locus Award for Best Novella, Desdemona and the Deep is a dreamy, sensual trip through the otherworlds. I’ll let Cooney set the scene:
Four stories above the Grand Foyer of the Seafall City Opera House, each painted panel in the barrel-vaulted ceiling depicted a scene from one of the three worlds. Which world it happened to be depended on the tint and tone of the panel: daylight was for Athe, the world of mortals; twilight represented the Valwode, where the gentry dwelled; and midnight belonged to Bana the Bone Kingdom, home to all the koboldkin. Through these wheeling coffers of world... Read More

WWWednesday: Lucifer, the Series

Today's column is a single-issue deal, a review.

Giveaway:  One commenter with a USA mailing address will get a copy of The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher.

Tom Ellis as Lucifer



Lucifer the series currently runs on Netflix, with the 5th season starting up in August. The show began its life on Fox in 2016, with a dark-haired Welsh actor named Tom Ellis in the title role. (“Dark-haired? But that’s not canon!” say the comic book readers. Trust me. Go with it.)

Readers of  Neil Gaiman’s Sandman met Lucifer when Dream journeyed to Hell to retrieve one... Read More

Bone Silence: An unsatisfying ending

Bone Silence by Alastair Reynolds

Alastair ReynoldsREVENGER series started off well enough with Revenger, which was entertaining, though, in my opinion, not deserving of its Locus Award for Best Young Adult novel. The sequel, Shadow Captain, a Locus Award finalist (but not winner) was a significant step down for the series. I was hoping for at least a return to form in the third and final novel, Bone Silence (2020), but was disappointed.

Sisters Adrana and Fura Ness are full-fledged space pirates now, having taken on, at least in the public’s eye, the persona of the sadistic pirate queen, Bosa. They are... Read More

The Angel of the Crows: Too faithful to the originals

Reposting to include Jana's new review.

The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison

For about the first third or perhaps half of Katherine Addison’s newest, The Angel of the Crows (2020), I was thinking I was finally off the schneid, as it had been about two weeks since I’d really thoroughly enjoyed a novel I was reading. And I was definitely enjoying the pastiche of several Sherlock Holmes stories which basically boils down to “It’s Holmes but with angels and vampires!” Which sounds like a lot of fun, and as noted, it was, at least for that first third or so. But then, well, it never really went anywhere beyond “It’s Holmes but with angels and vampires!” and after about the halfway point my enjoyment began to falter, the story began to sag, and by the end I was left feeling that a nea... Read More