Kate chats with Lev Grossman


Last month, I had the privilege of meeting a hero of mine, Lev Grossman, at Dragon*Con and the Decatur Book Festival. He was kind enough to put up with my incessant questions. I...

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Downfall of the Gods: As good a novella as his award-winning ones


Downfall of the Gods by K.J. Parker Who do you fear when you’re an immortal god? Your father seems worthy of your fear. He is older, more powerful, perhaps wiser. His wrath...

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Where Music and Fantasy Intersect


Welcome to my first Expanded Universe column where I’ll be featuring essays from authors and editors of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, as well as from established readers...

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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

Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds: Three novellas tell a compelling story

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Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds by Brandon Sanderson

If you’ve ever wondered what might happen if Batman’s rogues gallery was made up entirely from creations of his own mind (and only visible to himself) rather than individuals who are, more often than not, created as a result of his actions, then I recommend that you read Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds (2018). Compiled herein are two of Brandon Sanderson’s previously-published novellas, “Legion” (2012) and “Legion: Skin Deep” (2014), along with the concluding and never-before-seen third novella, “Lies of the Beholder.” I hadn’t read any of these works before opening Legion, nor had I read Kat and Tadiana’s reviews of the first two novellas, so everything within was co... Read More

Meddling Kids: The Scooby-Doo gang faces the Elder Gods

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Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero 

“And I’d have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids.” –attributed to nearly every villain on Hanna-Barbera’s Scooby-Doo animated series, 1969-1971.

In the early 1970s, cartoon quintet Daphne, Velma, Fred, Shaggy and Great Dane Scooby-Doo drove around in a painted van, solving supernatural mysteries — which always turned out to be staged by all-too-human villains. Edgar Cantero latched onto these cultural icons and flipped the script, asking the story what would happen if one of those ghostly, creepy, eerie creatures had not been human, after all.

Meddling Kids (2018) is set in 1990. In 1977, the Blyton Summer Detective Club, consisting of four young teens and a dog, solved the mystery of the Sleepy Lake Monster. The four youths were inseparable ... Read More

SAGA Volume Two: A comic book that lives up to its name

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Reposting to include Rebecca's new review.

SAGA Volume Two, Issues 7-12 by Brian K. Vaughan (author) & Fiona Staples (illustrator)

I’m so late to the party that the weekend is over and everyone is back to work on Monday. I like to write SF reviews to introduce new books to people who might not have read them yet, but SAGA is already so popular and well known that the only advantage to discovering this series so late is that I can read the first 5 volumes straight through without having to wait!

The story moves so propulsively you have to force yourself to slow down. The characters are so likeable that even the contract killers and military robot royalty are sympathetic. And the dialogue written by Brian K. Vaughan is so infectiously fun, snarky and charming that I kept laughing out loud. It’s a space opera, yes, and a story of star-crossed... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Identify last month’s covers

Today’s covers all come from books we reviewed in August 2018. Once you identify a book cover, in the comment section list:

1. The number of the cover (1-16)
2. The author
3. The book 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, 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 or remember to check back in about 10 days. If we don't choose a winner within 2 weeks, please... Read More

The Fated Sky: The “Lady Astronaut” completes her mission

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The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Fated Sky (2018) wraps up Mary Robinette Kowal’s LADY ASTRONAUT duology, covering the ground from the first peopled space flight ever to a peopled mission to Mars. Kowal has created an intriguing and exciting alternate history and there is nothing to stop her from writing more stories and books in it (more will be coming), but The Fated Sky completes Dr. Elma York’s pursuit of her dream.

When the book opens, Elma has not been chosen for the first peopled flight to Mars. Two teams are already in t... Read More

The Black Druid: Part 2 of a classic collection

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The Black Druid by Frank Belknap Long

In my recent review of Frank Belknap Long’s short-story collection The Hounds of Tindalos, I mentioned that when this hardcover volume was initially released by Arkham House in 1946, it contained 21 tales, encompassing the genres of science fiction, fantasy and horror. I also mentioned that most later reprintings of this now classic collection contained only half of those 21 stories, including the 1975 edition that I recently wrote about; the one from the British publishing firm Panther. But later that same year, Panther released the other half of the 1946 classic in a collection entitled The Black Druid, a paperback that I eagerly sought ou... Read More

WWWednesday: September 19, 2018

Greg Van Eekhout



Conventions:

Hector Gonzalez was one of the recipients of the MexicanX Initiative this year at WorldCon. The Artist Guest of Honor created MexicanX to empower more Mexicanx people to attend the convention. Now, those, participants are writing about their experiences and what the stipend meant to them. Hector is the first to do so.

Mercedes Lackey was briefly hospitalized while attending GenCon in Indiana, apparently in reaction to exposure to fumes and outgassing from new hotel carpets and furniture. Lackey was soon released and is doing well.

Giveaway and Author Event:

This item has few links.... Read More

Vengeful: Good execution using a mix of familiar elements

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Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

I had mostly the same reactions to V.E. Schwab’s Vengeful (2018) as I did to its predecessor Vicious: the various elements are all a bit too familiar and the two main adversaries are a little flat, but Schwab does a mostly good job of overcoming those issues thanks to a stimulatingly non-linear structure and some marvelous side-characters. Warning: there’ll be some unavoidable spoilers for book one ahead.

As with Vicious, Schwab eschews the typical linear narrative, with Vengeful ping-ponging amongst multiple POVs and time periods. As we follow a single POV, the timeline moves back and forth from an ear... Read More

Beyond the Stars: Unimagined Realms: And some pretty well detailed space realms, too

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Beyond the Stars: Unimagined Realms edited by Ellen Campbell & Patrice Fitzgerald

Beyond the Stars: Unimagined Realms (2018) is a space opera anthology released by Astral Books. I don’t know whether the realms in question are really unimagined. In some places they are pretty dimly lit.

A Lunar colony’s aroma of baking bread did enter into the narrative in “The Art of Baking Bread on the Moon” by David Bruns. Ah, fresh bread! But again, that’s more nostalgic.

My favorite story by some distance was “Adagio for Tiamat Station,” by Marion Deeds, who happens to be a colleague reviewer and author in her own right. Her writing is spare and mercifully unsentimental in relating a tale of poignance and significance. Its gentle urgency echoes through time, and in fa... Read More

SAGA Volume One: A brilliant series by Vaughan & Staples

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Reposting to include Rebecca's new review.

SAGA Volume One, Issues 1-6 by Brian K. Vaughan (author) & Fiona Staples (illustrator)

Brian K. Vaughan's brilliant new series SAGA is a mixture of fantasy and science fiction, with wonderfully humorous and realistic dialogue between a newlywed couple. But the subject being addressed (and critiqued) is war. It's also incredibly sexually explicit, so I must give my warning to those who either prefer not to have in their heads images of people with television heads having sex or want to keep such images from their kids. (Personally, I find it funny to watch one of the television head characters, a powerful and vicious military official and member of the royalty, struggle with impotence when out of his official attire.)

The premise of the story is that a couple and their new-born child, Hazel, are on the... Read More