Great Bookstores: Singularity in Brooklyn


A few  years ago, FanLit reviewer Terry Weyna eloquently sung the praises of The Strand, the pride and joy of all literate New Yorkers. I myself have spent countless hours there,...

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Stardust: Full of magic and whimsy


Readers’ average rating: Stardust by Neil Gaiman Go, And Catch a Falling Star… If you like fantasy stories filled with magic, adventure and romance, but are getting sick...

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How to Make Fictional People Do All the Work, Part 1


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

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

Readers’ average rating:

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

Readers’ average rating:

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

Readers’ average rating:

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

Readers’ average rating:

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

Readers’ average rating:

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

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster: Best MG book I’ve read in some time

Readers’ average rating:

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster (2018), by Jonathan Auxier, is a wonderfully, bittersweetly poignant MG/YA book that I highly recommend for its warmth and gentle eloquence.

Set in Victorian England, Auxier’s Dickensian story focuses on young chimneysweep Nan, who grew up mentored in the field by The Sweep. When he disappears one night though, all Nan has left from him are his hat, her skills, and on odd lump of charcoal. Nan spends the next few years in indentured employment to the cruel, abusive Wilkie Crudd, but a near-fatal flue fire changes her life forever as she finds herself free of Crudd and a mentor herself, albeit to a child-like golem named Charlie rather than another chimneysweep.

There’s so much to love about Sweep, beginning with the main cha... Read More

Sourdough: Celebrates the appreciation of excellent food

Readers’ average rating:

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

I really loved Robin Sloan’s Sourdough (2017), but not everyone will. You probably will if you’re a foodie (I am), an introvert (I am), and a bit geeky (I am). If you love sourdough bread (I do) and magical realism (I do), you’ve just got to read Sourdough. And you must try the audio version. It’s amazing.

Lois is new to San Francisco. She moved from Michigan, where she grew up, and she’s starting a job as a programmer of robotic arms at a tech company where everyone works so hard that they basically have no other life. Most of them just eat a nutritive slurry rather than bothering to plan, shop, and prepare meals.

Most nights Lois orders her dinner from a food delivery se... Read More

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing: It’s not about aliens, it’s about us

Readers’ average rating:

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

Disclaimer: As my students know, I’ve had a crush on Hank Green for years. I will try to not let this bias my review.

In the middle of the night when April May, a graphic designer, is on her way home from work in Manhattan, she’s the first person to notice a huge new statue on the sidewalk. It’s totally out of place, but she appreciates its artistry, so she calls her friend Andy and asks him to help her make a video about the statue (which she names Carl). When Andy uploads it to YouTube, it goes viral. When other Carls are discovered in other major world cities, April, the first person to report on the Carls, becomes famous and begins to relish her role as their spokesperson. Her fame opens many doors but also causes problems and, eventually, becomes dangerous. Read More