Why You Should Read… David Gemmell


This is the first in a new weekly feature entitled ‘Why You Should Read…’ It will be a series of articles by bloggers, publicists, editors and authors focusing on...

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A Storm of Swords: Might be the best in the series


Readers’ average rating: A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin When George R.R. Martin’s A Storm of Swords begins, the War of the Five Kings has just ended, and it looks...

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The Fairy-Tale Archetype of the Sexy Witch


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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Great SFF Deals!


We’re always looking for money-saving deals on books, comics, and audiobooks and we bet you are, too. Let’s use this page to alert each other about great deals. Just leave a...

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Recent Posts

So You Want to Write a Time-Travel Story (Giveaway!)

Today we welcome Kari Maaren, a Toronto-area writer, academic, and award-winning musician and cartoonist. She created the webcomics West of Bathurst and It Never Rains, and is also known as a musician for her popular song “Beowulf Pulled Off My Arm.” Weave a Circle Round is her first novel. Learn more about her at www.karimaaren.com.

One random commenter in the US or Canada wins a trade paperbac... Read More

The Ends of the Earth: Luminous, powerful stories of war, exotic locales, and supernatural horror

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The Ends of the Earth by Lucius Shepard

Lucius Shepard had already created one of the best short story collections in the genre, The Jaguar Hunter, which won the 1988 World Fantasy Award and Locus Award for Best Collection, with “Salvador” winning the Locus Award in 1985 and “R&R” winning the Nebula Award in 1987. His work is steeped in magical realism, supernatural horror, Central America and other exotic locales, and hallucinatory depictions of futuristic warfare. In my opinion, Shepard is one of the best stylists to ever work in the genre. That’s why I can’t help including a writing sample from some stories in The Ends of the Earth — they’re just so good.

It’s always tough to come up with a sophomore effor... Read More

The Word for World is Forest: A powerful, somewhat allegorical tale

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Reposting to include Tadiana's new review.

The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin

Tor recently re-released the Hugo winner The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin in a lovely paperback edition, so I thought it finally was time to check out this famous short novel, originally published in the seventies.

The novel is part of Le Guin’s famous HAINISH CYCLE (see also, among others, The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed) but can be read completely separately, although being familiar with the larger story will give you a better understanding of the broader context and some of the technologies, such as NAFAL and the famous ansible. Earth-based humans have established a logging colony on the world of New Tahiti and... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Please pass the yams!

Happy Thanksgiving, fellow Americans!

OK, we all know the traditional Thanksgiving main course is turkey, but we also know that what really makes a great Thanksgiving repast/buffet are the sides: acorn squash, roasted Brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, pumpkin soup, curried, well, you get the picture.

Just like we know the protagonists of our favorite books and films do the heavy lifting, but the side characters add the rich flavor.

So let’s make a meal out of them (so to speak, this isn’t the Donner Party in Space): what three or four side characters would you put on the table? Who’s the yam to your main dish?

One random commenter will choose a book from our stacks. Read More

Middle-Earth: From Script to Screen: Building the World of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit

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Middle-Earth: From Script to Screen by Daniel Falconer

Getting a glimpse behind the scenes of a favorite film is always exciting — it’s rather like pulling the curtain back and, rather than seeing a humdrum old snake oil salesman, actually discovering a great and powerful wizard. David Falconer’s Middle-Earth: From Script to Screen gives credit to the several hundred wizards hard at work re-creating and re-inventing J.R.R. Tolkien’s LORD OF THE RINGS novels and The Hobbit into two sets of visual feasts.

Everything from aerial photography, to miniaturized or life-size sets and props, to CGI artistry went into those six films, and each page of this guide pays ... Read More

WWWednesday: November 22, 2017

Fall leaves (c) Marion Deeds



Thanksgiving:

For all our USA readers, I wish you a happy, fun and loving Thanksgiving with plenty of American football; for all readers outside the US, have a good Thursday tomorrow, and everybody have a good week.

Thanksgiving is beginning to get tarnished between the relentless drive to transmute it from a day with loved ones and friends to a shopping extravaganza and the historical ties to colonialism and genocide. For me, still, it is a holiday for seeing friends and loved ones, taking stock, and spending a moment to be consciously grateful for what I have in my life.

About six weeks ago, where I live, devastating wildland fires destroyed nearly 6,000 buildings, most of them homes. People died in the fires because they could not leave their homes quickly enough. I want to thank all the first responders, those from within the county, like the sher... Read More

The Emerald Circus: An imaginative three-ring show

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The Emerald Circus by Jane Yolen

Under the big top of The Emerald Circus (2017) is a fantastical assemblage of sixteen short stories and novelettes by Jane Yolen. Historical figures like Emily Dickinson, Benjamin Disraeli, Hans Christian Andersen and Edgar Allen Poe enter the three rings and shed their normal identities, dancing across the high wires and peering into tigers’ mouths. In this circus’ House of Mirrors we also see unexpectedly twisted reflections of fictional characters like Alice in Wonderland (who makes an appearance here in two very different Yolen tales), Merlin, and Read More

Magpie’s Song: Vivid, well-written prose

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Magpie’s Song by Allison Pang

Magpie’s Song (2017) is the beginning of a new series by Allison Pang, and it’s an interesting blend of genres. There’s a dash of steampunk, a dollop of dystopia, and even a pinch of faerie lore. When I started reading, I was skeptical that all of this would work well together, but Pang pulls it off, and creates an interesting world that I want to know more about.

BrightStone is a steampunky, gritty city whose inhabitants are ruled from above — literally — by the Meridians, a technologically advanced society living on an island that floats above BrightStone. The citizens of BrightStone, for the most part, eke out an impoverished existence, and no one is as downtrodden as the Moon Children. The Moon Children, half-breed offspring o... Read More

Vallista: Vlad gets trapped in a mysterious mansion

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Vallista by Steven Brust

Everyone’s favorite Jhereg assassin is back in Vallista, Steven Brust’s fifteenth VLAD TALTOS novel. If you’re not familiar with this series, don’t start here. Get a copy of Jhereg and read the books in publication order (which is not, by the way, the same as the internal chronological order, but that’s okay). Let me recommend the audio versions produced by Audible Studios and read by Bernard Setaro Clark. He does such a great job capturing Vlad’s sarcastic personality and the amusing dialogue between Vlad and Loiosh, the reptilian familiar who rides around on Vlad’s shoulder.

If you’re reading this, I’ll assume you’re a fan... Read More

Fisher of Bones: Half-baked prophetess for half-mutinous followers

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Fisher of Bones by Sarah Gailey

Sarah Gailey’s novella Fisher of Bones (2017) is a bewildering revision of the Talmud/Old Testament Exodus story with the “Moses” role cast as a prophetess dubbed Fisher (formerly Ducky).

Fisher assumes the prophetess mantle only on her father’s deathbed when the patriarch prophet lays his hands upon her in a would-be ordination and declares her an outcast, “forever banished from [her] people.” And in the next breath commands her to lead the same. I never could get over this contradiction. This kind of launching and halting, lurching and jolting is characteristic of the entire story’s progression and it is not a device that works.

The story’s principle tension involves threats to Fisher’s authority as the pro... Read More