A chat with Karen Chance


We have with us today, Karen Chance, author of two extremely enjoyable fantasy series that I count among my personal favorites: the CASSANDRA PALMER and DORINA BASARAB...

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The Claw of the Conciliator: Enjoy the journey on audio


Readers’ average rating: The Claw of the Conciliator by Gene Wolfe The Claw of the Conciliator is the second book in Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun quartet. If you read...

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How reviewing for FanLit helped my writing career (Giveaway!)


Today we welcome back Dr. Kate Lechler who retired from FanLit so she could focus on her writing career. I’m a writer and a teacher. By day, I teach English literature at the...

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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

Sunday Status Update: June 17, 2018

As ever, we're reading plenty of new books, and preparing our reviews!

Jana: This week I was, in fact, able to read through both Hugh Howey's Machine Learning, a fascinating collection of short stories, and Todd McAulty's The Robots of Gotham, which moved quickly despite its nearly-700 pages. (Reviews of each are in the works.) Weather and time permitting, in the coming week I'll be starting Claire Legrand's Furyborn and Ausma Zehanat Khan's The Bloodprint, which are described as two very different ... Read More

Akata Warrior: Scores goal after goal as it enhances the series world

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Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor

From its stunning cover to the triumphant final word (“Gooooooooal!”), Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Warrior (2017) continues to deliver on the promise of Book One, Akata Witch. Sunny, an American-Nigerian girl currently living in Nigeria with her family, has embraced her heritage as a Leopard Person, one of a magical lineage, but things to do not get easier for her or for her magical friends, the oha coven. Ekwensu, the evil force that Sunny faced and vanquished in the first book, is back, and she’s brought friends. In the mundane, everyday world, Sunny’s older brother Chukwu, the favored child, gets into serious trouble when he goes away to university, and Sunny’s attempt to help him puts her squarely at odds with the teachings of the Leopard Peop... Read More

Origin Story: A Big History of Everything

Readers’ average rating:

Origin Story: A Big History of Everything by David Christian

In Origin Story: A Big History of Everything (2018), David Christian ably does what I would have guessed was nigh on impossible — cover 13+ billion years of history from the Big Bang to current times (and actually further since he takes a quick look in the future as well). It’s a smoothly told, incredibly efficient history that mostly lives up to its subtitle.

At the core of Christian’s “Big History” is an ever-increasing complexity: “in special and unusual environments such as our planet ... in these Goldilocks environments, increasing complex things have appeared over many billions” (he is quick to note that “more complex” is not synonymous with “better”). Often, he says, complexity took big leaps forward at various transition points, which he labels “thresholds” and around w... Read More

In Shining Armor: Great hero, loose plot

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In Shining Armor by Elliott James

The fourth book in Elliott JamesPAX ARCANA series is In Shining Armor (2016). In this installment, someone has kidnapped baby Constance, the god-daughter of John Charming. She was being guarded by a team consisting of both Knights and werewolves, so now the Knights are blaming the werewolves and vice versa. This threatens to upset their recently established, but tentative, truce, and the results could be disastrous, especially for John Charming. It’s up to him and his strange group of allies to figure out what happened to Constance and, hopefully, get her back safely. Otherwise, a deadly supernatural war is likely to break out.

As John and his team investigate the kidnapping, they run into all sorts of mythical crea... Read More

Angelmaker: Zany mashup of thriller, doomsday device, and whimsy

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Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

Angelmaker (2012) is Nick Harkaway’s second book, after his exuberant, clever, digressive and exhausting debut The Gone-Away World. It shares the same qualities with that wild and free-wheeling tale, with relentlessly clever dialogue, quirky and in-depth characters, an intricate but playful doomsday plot, more flashbacks than most readers can handle, and chock-a-block with clever and ironic observations of the weirdly-unique world he has created, and by extension our own less colorful one.

The story skips back and forth in time just like its predecessor, to a degree some readers will get irritated by, as we learn a great deal about the back s... Read More

Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr: Weird, elegiac, lovely

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Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr by John Crowley

Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr (2017) is a brilliant novel. It is lovely, eerie, and heartachingly elegiac. It is also deeply weird.

I want the reader to understand me perfectly here. When I say "weird," I do not mean it's experimental, or iconoclastic, or that you'll feel awkward explaining to your friends why you wanted to read a book about a magic bird. All of those things might be true (to greater or lesser degrees), but they feel trivial when applied to Ka. This book is weird, in both the new definitions and also the older sense that implies something like "uncanny." The experience of reading this novel is like dreaming. There's the sense of progression, of ordinary storylines going about their business, bu... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: The 2018 Locus Awards: Novels

The 2018 Locus Awards Weekend will be held in Seattle, Washington next weekend (June 22-24). The Locus Award finalists are chosen by a poll of readers. A couple of weeks ago we discussed the finalists for the Short Fiction categories, so this week let's look at the novels.



Click the title links below to read our reviews and on the author links to visit our page for the author. I’ve included the cover art for our favorites. We loved many of these novels. The Locus Award list is always fascinating, almost always very different from the Nebula and Hugo lists.

How many of these finalists have you read? Who do you think will win the Locus Award in these categories? Answer below for a chance to win a book from our sta... Read More

An Unkindness of Ghosts: Impressive debut novel

Readers’ average rating:

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

An Unkindness of Ghosts (2017), by Rivers Solomon, is a book that a lot of people will absolutely love unconditionally, a lot of people will love even as they hate reading large parts of it, and that will leave some people (cough cough this reviewer) a bit cold, which they will softly note while they keep their eyes down and move quietly for the exit. Despite falling into that last category, I’d still recommend Solomon’s debut novel for its stark depiction of a slave society that has too many echoes of our own world despite the sci-fi setting and for its diverse set of characters.

The novel is a generation ship story, with the premise that the society sent out into space on the ship Matilda was a slave-based one (or regressed to one, it’s not wholly explicit, though I believe it’s the former), with the u... Read More

The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart: A delicious blend of adventure and chocolate

Readers’ average rating: 

The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis

A young, golden-eyed dragon named Aventurine is chafing at the restrictions her family has placed on her: dragons aren't allowed outside of the caverns until they're 40 or 50 years old, when their wings are strong enough for flight and their scales have hardened enough to protect them against arrows and swords. Aventurine's mother encourages her to "find her passion" in studying history, math or philosophy, but Aventurine just wants to go explore and be free. How can she not, with a name like Aventurine?

So one day she sneaks out of their caverns. When she finds a stray human on their mountain she thinks she's in luck: bringing a delicious human back to the cavern will surely impress her family! The human is suitably terrified of her and Aventurine is about to pounce when … wait ... what's that delicious-smelling food he’s cooking... Read More

WWWednesday; June 13, 2018

California Long-tailed weasel. (c) Marion Deeds 2018



Conventions:

The antics at ConCarolinas have now spilled over to DragonCon, resulting in the firing and resignation, respectively, of two different staffers. Richard Fife is one of them and he put a statement regarding his resignation on his blog. (Thanks to File 770.)

Books and Writing:

Junot Diaz has been asked to relinquish his position as chair of the Pulitzer Prize Committee after numerous allegations of sexual misconduct were made. Read More