Thoughtful Thursday: Thank you, Jack Vance


Jack Vance passed away on May 26, 2013. He has been a major influence on science fiction and fantasy since he published The Dying Earth in 1950. We’d like to thank author...

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Snow Crash: Required reading for cyberpunk and speculative fiction fans


Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson Readers considering whether they should read Neal Stephenson’s breakthrough novel, Snow Crash, would do well to read the novel’s opening chapters...

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Bayou Vol 1. by Jeremy Love


Bayou Vol 1.  by Jeremy Love I read Bayou Vol. 1 while it was still available online via Zuda comics and was blown away. This is the story of Lee Wagstaff, a little...

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Our favorite books of 2014


Here are our favorite books published in 2014. Hover over the cover to see who recommends each book and what they say about it. Please keep in mind that we did not read every SFF...

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Recent Posts

The Sirens of Titan: An early Vonnegut classic about the randomness of life

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

The Sirens of Titan is a tough book to review. And it’s not really SF at all though it adopts the trappings of the genre. The thing about Kurt Vonnegut’s books is that they are so deceptively simple. The prose is spare, humorous, ironic, and to the point. And yet the story is very ambitious, as it seeks to provide answers to some very basic questions. Why do we exist? What is the universe for? Do we have any free will to determine our lives? Should we have chicken or fish for dinner?

The story focuses on Malachi Constant, the richest man in America; Winston Niles Rumfoord, an older wealthy man who travels throughout the solar system with his dog Kazak, manifesting in various locations in space and time; Unk and Boaz, two buddies in the Martian Army preparing to invade the ... Read More

Magazine Monday: Forever Magazine, Issues 1-3

Forever Magazine is a new venture by Neil Clarke, editor of the esteemed Clarkesworld. He explains in the introduction to the first issue of the magazine that it is a monthly publication focused on previously published works, mostly from this (still new) century. Clarke is the entire staff of the magazine. It is not only an online magazine, but also available for purchase in hard copy.

The first issue opens extremely well, with a novelette by Ken Liu, “The Regular,” about a serial killer who targets high-end prostitutes. Ruth is a freelance detective who is hired by the mother of one of the killer’s victims. The story is alternatively told from her viewpoint and that of the killer, which allows us to understand the killer’s motive and keeps us one step ahead of Ruth in figuring out how to catch this vicious man... Read More

A Mirror for Observers: Aliens struggle over the soul of one young man

A Mirror for Observers by Edgar Pangborn

It's somewhat surprising that this 1954 International Fantasy Award winner has never found a very large audience in the SF genre. The writing style is reminiscent of Theodore Sturgeon or Ray Bradbury, very much focused on the characters and their inner thoughts and struggles, a big contrast with the more pulpy science and space-adventure tales featured in pulp magazines like Galaxy and Astounding.

I knew about A Mirror for Observers only because it was included in David Pringle's Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels. Although it is ostensibly the story of two undercover Martian Observers who battle over the heart and soul of a promising young boy, it basically breaks down to 65% characte... Read More

The Lost Continent: Possibly the finest novel of Atlantis ever written

The Lost Continent by C.J. Cutcliffe Hyne

The Lost Continent first appeared serially in the English publication Pearson's Magazine in 1899, and in book form the following year. The author, C.J. Cutcliffe Hyne, is not exactly a household name today, but, way back when, was an extremely popular and prolific writer. His serialized tales of Captain Kettle, also in Pearson's, were supposedly only second in popularity to the Strand Magazine's Sherlock Holmes stories, as submitted by Arthur Conan Doyle. But today, Hyne's reputation seems to rest solely on this wonderful novel of the last years of the continent of Atlantis.

The history of these final years is told by the soldier-priest Deucalion, who, at the book's opening, has just been recalled from his 20-year viceroyalty of the Atlantean province of Yucatan. On his return to his homeland, after that two-dec... Read More

Sunday Status Update: April 19, 2015

This week, Lady Jessica.

Jessica: I feel as though I'm having some sort of midlife crisis. It occurred to me today -- with sudden, terrible violence -- that great events are occurring all about me, are indeed bearing me up like a spar on a turbulent sea of Caladan, but I have no part in them. I seem to spend all day, every day, standing around providing internal commentary on whatever my son happens to be doing at the time. Sometimes I feel like a Bene Gesserit sports broadcaster, endlessly pronouncing judgment on this gambit or that. Oh well. Maybe I need some recreation to find my balance. I'll go glare sternly at Chani for no reason. That's always fun.

Jana: I had to grab my book-reading notebooks and date-check the notes I scribbled down because I couldn't remember what I read this week. (Yep, I take copious hand... Read More

SAGA Volume Two, Issues 7-12

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

Well, this series is still going strong… lots of fun and highly recommended!

This time around we get a glimpse into what filled young Marko with such hatred for the Landfallians (hint: mom and dad might have had something to do with it), Alana gets to meet the in-laws (umm, gulp), and we get to see the first meeting between our two love-birds (hey, Marko only lost one tooth by the looks of it!)… oh yeah and Marko’s former fiancée arrives on the scene to team up with one of the Freelancers sent to kill him and his wife.

This story is just full of awkward moments, isn’t it?

I have to say I think one of this series’ strengths is the way that Vaughan manages to make all of the characters interesting. None of the stories are ones I want to skip over, whether it’s The Will and Gwendolyn attempting the rescue of ... Read More

The Nexus: A very fine novel by a new sci-fi talent

The Nexus by Richard Fazio

On those occasions when I have read sci-fi, I've tended to stick to the familiar brand-name authors; tried-and-true old favorites such as Asimov, Bester, Bradbury, Clarke, Dick, Heinlein, Norton, Silverberg, Williamson and the like. But a recent peru... Read More

Bring the Jubilee: A brilliant alternative history where the South prevailed

Bring the Jubilee by Ward Moore

Ward Moore’s Bring the Jubilee is a fairly obscure alternate-history story published in 1953 in which the South won the "War for Southron Independence." In this world, Robert E. Lee succeeds Jefferson Davis as the second president of the Confederacy in 1865. The Confederacy steadily expands its empire through Mexico and South America. Its chief rival is the German Union, which splits control of Europe with the Spanish Empire. In response, the Confederacy has allied with Great Britain, creating two opposing empires that straddle the Atlantic.

Strangely enough, slavery was abolished but minorities continue to face persecution, and poverty is rampant in the United States, the former Union states of the North. Other than a rich landowner minority, most people are indentured to their owners, effectively a form of slavery. In addition, the combustible engine, l... Read More

Raven Rise: Sloppy plot, but I read on

Raven Rise by D.J. MacHale

Raven Rise is the penultimate novel in D.J. MacHale’s PENDRAGON series. (Expect spoilers for previous PENDRAGON books in this review.) At the end of the last book, The Pilgrims of Rayne, Bobby destroyed the flume on Ibara, trapping himself and Saint Dane on that territory. Now Bobby can never go home, but at least Saint Dane will not be able to destroy the rest of Halla. Or so Bobby thinks. Saint Dane is trying, as we knew he would, to find a way off of Ibara.

Meanwhile, the “Convergence” that Saint Dane keeps monologuing about has finally begun. Every territory is in turmoil. The territories have regressed so much that it’s as if all the work that Bobby and the Travelers did in the previous books has been wiped out. The Tr... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Identify Last Month’s Covers

Today’s covers all come from books we reviewed in March 2015. 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 bug Marion.

And, as always, we've got Read More