John Chats With Janny Wurts


John interviewed Janny Wurts, author of the epic The Wars of Light and Shadow. Please find synopses, cover art, and our reviews of Ms Wurts’ novels here. Where do you find...

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A Wizard of Earthsea: An artistic, intimate drama


Readers’ average rating: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin With the recent Sci- Fi Channel miniseries, there is bound to be renewed interest in Ursula Le Guin’s...

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Writing for Kids


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

Sunday Status Update: July 15, 2018

Jana: This week I was ridiculously busy, but I did manage to read Emily Skrutskie's Hullmetal Girls, a YA milSF novel chock-full of strong female characters, and I started reading RJ Barker's Blood of Assassins, the first sequel to Age of Assassins (and since the t... Read More

Fatale (Vol. 4): Pray for Rain: You will want to pick up Book Five

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Pray for Rain by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips

Pray for Rain is Book Four in the Fatale series by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. And the noir-Lovecraftian story continues in unexpected ways. First, we find out what’s going on with Nicolas. And then, we get the story of Jo and a grunge band in Seattle in the 1990s. But of course, there are other characters in play: A strange man named Wulf is seeking her out, and Bishop, the cult leader, is still tracing her scent.

When we last saw Nicolas Lash, he was in jail for the suspected murder of a woman with whom he had a one-night stand. He was on her trail because after sleeping with him, she ran off with his godfather’s manuscript of an unpublished first novel. He is now an innocent main imprisoned and confused about his inability to find this document. However, while he is in jail, t... Read More

Season of Storms: A WITCHER prequel

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Season of Storms by Andrzej Sapkowski

“The story goes on. The tale never ends.”

For those of us who can’t get enough of Geralt of Rivia (better known as The Witcher), Andrzej Sapkowski offers Season of Storms (2013 in Polish, 2018 in English), a stand-alone prequel novel. This would be a fine place to start for WITCHER newbies, though its story is not one of the better ones. I recommend starting with The Last Wish and coming back to Season of Storms once you’ve become a fan. I have a feeling that many WITCHER readers appreciate this novel more for its feelings of nostalgia than for the actual story... Read More

Metamorphica: The myths of Ovid’s Metamorphoses reimagined

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Metamorphica by Zachary Mason

Zachary Mason, who retold Homer’s story of the wanderings of Odysseus in his well-received 2007 debut novel, The Lost Books of the Odyssey, takes on Ovid's epic narrative poem Metamorphoses in his latest work, Metamorphica (2018). Mason distills Metamorphoses’ over 250 Greek myths into 53 brief stories, including the tales of Arachne, Daedalus a... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Hugo Awards: Novelettes and Short Stories

The 2018 Hugo Awards will be presented at Worldcon 76 in San Jose, California, on August 19. The Hugo Award finalists are chosen by readers who are voting members of Worldcon. This week we'll talk about the shortest works, novelettes and short stories. We'll discuss other categories in future columns.



Click the title links below to read our reviews and on the author links to visit our page for the author. We liked all of these stories and loved most of them. It's not surprising that we saw many of these in the Locus and Nebula finalist lists.

BEST NOVELETTE

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Summon the Keeper: Entertaining urban fantasy

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Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff

Tanya Huff’s KEEPER’S CHRONICLES is about a family of Keepers, descendants of Lilith who have the power to close up holes in the fabric of the universe that appear when evil things happen. Keepers get supernaturally summoned toward these holes, so they’re often on the go, traveling from place to place as they feel the pull of their summons.

Claire, a Canadian Keeper in her late 20s who travels with Austin, an elderly talking cat, has been summoned to a bed & breakfast called the Elysian Fields Guesthouse. When she arrives, the owner turns his establishment over to Claire and quickly bolts.

That’s because there’s an unconscious evil Keeper in room six, the place is haunted b... Read More

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter: Monsters, men, and monstrous men

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Reposting to include Marion's new review.

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

In The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter (2017), Theodora Goss has created something really exciting and rewarding: a novel that pays homage to the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century works of speculative fiction which inform every standard the modern incarnation of the genre is judged by, and yet stands on its own as a twenty-first century creation.

The epigraph — “Here be monsters” — and a subsequent recorded exchange between Mary and Catherine set the scene: The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter is a collaborative effort, though by whom and for what purpose is not immediately plain. First we... Read More

WWWednesday: July 11, 2018

Awards:

The short list for the British Fantasy Awards has been published. Best fantasy novel finalists include: The Age of Assassins by RJ Baker; The Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith Spark and The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams. Best horror novel finalists are: The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey; The Changeling by Victor LaValle; Relics by Tim Lebbon; The Crow Garden Read More

Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto

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Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto by Alan Stern & David Grinspoon

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect of Chasing New Horizons (2018). Sure, a trip to Pluto is exciting and intriguing, and the results that have already come back are thrilling. But I wasn’t sure that a book about devising the actual mission would be — the planning, the meetings, the engineering, the pushing of buttons and waiting while radio signals traveled for hours after which one could push more buttons. But Alan Stern, leader of the NASA mission, and David Grinspoon, an astrobiologist who had some minor involvement, managed to pull it off. I don’t know if I’d call it “thrilling,” but inspiring? Fascinating? Exciting? Tense? All that and more.

The story opens with a phone to Ste... Read More

Arrow’s Fall: The end of Talia’s story

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Arrow’s Fall by Mercedes Lackey

Arrow’s Fall (1988) is the third and final novel in the first trilogy of Mercedes Lackey’s VALDEMAR saga (THE HERALDS OF VALDEMAR). This trilogy features Talia, a girl who lived in a close-knit conservative rural area who was unexpectedly chosen as the Queen’s Own Herald. In Arrows of the Queen and Arrow’s Flight we watched Talia come to the heralds’ collegium, learn to be a herald, and go out on her first circuit of the kingdom. She has grown and matured in many ways since the beginning of her adventure.
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