Creatures of Light and Darkness by Roger Zelazny
In the early part of his career, and in an indirect sense throughout it, Roger Zelazny combed Earth’s cultures, religions, and legends for story material. His brilliant Lord of Light and This Immortal riffing off Hindu/Buddhist and Greek mythology respectively, he established himself as a writer who combined the classic themes of myth and legend with more modern, imaginative tropes of science fiction and fantasy. His 1969 Creatures of Light and Darkness is no exception.
Egyptian myth and cosmology is the source material for Creatures of Light and Darkness, an epic tale of warring gods where space and time have little meaning — or all the meaning, if the story is viewed as a whole. Stakeholders in universal power, Osiris, Set, Anubis, Isis, and a variety of other deities from E... Read More
Occultation and Other Stories by Laird Barron According to Webster’s, “occultation” means “the state of being hidden from view or lost to notice” or “the shutting off of...Read More
The Stonekeeper & The Stonekeeper’s Curse by Kazu Kibuishi Kazu Kibuishi is the author of the AMULET series, a set of young adult graphic novels published by Scholastic. Book...Read More
Creatures of Light and Darkness by Roger Zelazny
It's time for our annual Fantasy Limerick contest!
Your task is to create a limerick that has something to do with speculative fiction. It could be about a character, a series, an author, or whatever fits the theme. Here are the rules for creating a good limerick (I have quoted from this source). A limerick:
is five lines long
is based on the rhythm "da-da-DAH" (anapest meter)
has two different rhymes
Lines 1, 2, and 5 have three of those da-da-DAH "feet," and rhyme with each other.
Lines 3 and 4 have two, and rhyme with each other.
You can break the meter rules if there's a good reason. You may
drop the first "da" in a line, changing that foot to da-DAH
add an extra "da" or two at the end of a line IF it's used for an extended rhyme, such as cannibal and Hannibal
The best limericks a... Read More
Thorn Jack by Katherine Harbour
For us readers of a certain age, “Tam Lin” and “college” in the same sentence are going to remind us of Pamela Dean’s quirky retelling. But other than profuse quoting of poetry, Dean’s Tam Lin and Katherine Harbour’s Thorn Jack are not much alike and don’t really invite comparisons. You might also think of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight a time or two, as a few of the story’s bones are similar, but I never once felt like I was reading a Twilight copy while reading Thorn Jack — which goes to show you tropes need not be poison if woven into a good tale. What Thorn Jack reminded me of, more than an... Read More
Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone by Ian McDonald
Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone is a fascinating short novel by Ian McDonald. At the beginning of the story we meet Ethan Ring, who’s feeling conspicuously tall and red-headed as he chants in a Buddhist temple. Ethan and his friend, a famous Japanese manga artist, are on a bicycle pilgrimage in Japan. Neither of them knows what kind of demons the other is struggling with, and neither does the reader at first, but as they journey on, their stories come out and even though each man’s tale is different, they realize that both of them are searching for redemption and peace.
Many stories deal with a hero’s search for redemption, but Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone is unique. The setting is a neo-feudal Japan where tech corporations are the fiefdoms and gangs of armed vigilantes threaten citizens’ peace and security. This is jarringly j... Read More
On this day in 2012, Sally Ride passed away from pancreatic cancer. She was the youngest American astronaut to travel to space, the third woman in space, and a total badass. Lift a glass to Sally Ride today.
The Red Queen questions Alice
Writing, Editing, and Publishing:
Kate Bernheimer writes this essay for NPR on the predicament of immigrant children in the US, and the timely value of fairy tales for today’s young readers. “These aren't escapist fantasies; they're stories of kids facing unimaginable terror,” she writes about Maria Tatar’s collection of Grimm fairy tales.
James A. Moore recalls his childhoo... Read More
The Spectral Link by Thomas Ligotti
Subterranean Press has issued two original stories by Thomas Ligotti in a special edition volume titled The Spectral Link. Ligotti is best known for a brooding, gothic style of psychological horror that avoids slashing, gore and disgusting body fluids for a deep, dark, almost spiritual sense of wrongness. He delivers that creepy sense of wrongness in both these tales.
Ligotti’s prose is masterful, as is his control of tone. Tone is not as easy to manage as people might think; very often an historical story or an epic fantasy founders for me when the author slips into modern-day diction, or a gloomy, gothic tale suddenly sprouts a sentence that reads like it came right off of Facebook. Ligotti does not make these errors. Each word, sentence and paragraph is crafted to draw you in, leading you along a downward spiral of otherness and disconnection. Read More
The Sorcerer: Metamorphosis by Jack Whyte
Merlyn does not want to return to Camulod. He has found happiness in Mediobogdum with his wife, Tressa, and his charge, Arthur Pendragon. However, war is coming. Merlyn’s enemy, Peter Ironhair, has hired mercenaries to attack the Pendragon lands in order to advance the claim of Carthac, a distant relative of Uther Pendragon and a monstrous — some say invincible — psychopath. Meanwhile, the Saxons continue to invade along the southeast coast and there are also rumors of an invasion from the northeast.
Clearly, the Britons need a savior king, but Merlyn still worries that Arthur’s metamorphosis into the Riothamus — the high king — is not yet complete. They return to Camulod, where Merlyn and his brother, Ambrose, prepare to ... Read More
The Fort At River’s Bend by Jack Whyte
The Fort At River’s Bend is the first half Jack Whyte’s The Sorcerer, which publishers decided to divide into two novels: The Fort At River’s Bend and Metamorphosis. Whyte apparently preferred that they would have been read as one entry.*
When The Fort At River’s Bend begins, our narrator, Caius Merlyn Brittanicus of Camulod, is reaching middle age. He is a warrior, a soldier, and a governor who has lost friends, family, and his wife to treachery and war. Now, he commits his life to raising Arthur Pendragon in safety.
Given that their enemies have already tried to assassinate Arthur, Merlyn has decided to remove the boy from danger and to raise him in secret. Merlyn sails to Read More
The Long Mars by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
The Long Mars by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter still features egregious prose, but it finally begins to tie in some of the unresolved plotlines from earlier books in the LONG EARTH series. We now understand why Roberta (from The Long War) seemed so different; we find out where Willis Linsay, Sally Linsay's dad and the inventor of the Stepper, has been hiding; and we see more of the Long Earth exploration as the Chinese and the Americans team up to go "where no man has gone before."
This book also provides the most stunning portrayals of different Earths so far — chilling and inspiring answers to the "What if?" question that haunts our life-lucky planet. Landscapes full of masses of bacteria, of monument-building crabs, of plant life that approaches sentience, all of... Read More
Sacrifice of Fools by Ian McDonald
Ian McDonald grew up in Belfast, a city known for the turmoil and unrest it has endured because of the conflict between Catholics and Protestants. Some of McDonald’s novels allegorically explore the causes and results of a divided city. In Sacrifice of Fools, McDonald presents a vivid and lively conflicted Belfast, and then he throws a third element into the mix: aliens.
The Shian are a peaceful alien species who, upon arrival on Earth, are allowed to settle in Belfast in exchange for sharing the secrets of their technological superiority. The Shian are humanoid in appearance, but have enough biological differences that they cannot successfully mate with humans. They also have very different languages, laws, culture, and customs. While their similarities make them attractive to many humans (and weird fetishes evolve), the differences cause misunderstandings and culture... Read More