20 Heroes: The Lady


Last in our Heroes series, by Robert Rhodes. Art is courtesy of Electra Wilson. In the White Garden are many mirrors and many pools. She wanders among them in the unfailing...

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Fevre Dream: Vampires on the Mississippi River


Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin For some time I’ve been a fan of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. In the last few years, though, when my mind turns to that...

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Terra Formars by Yu Sasuga


Terra Formars by Yu Sasuga  Terra Formars is a science fiction manga that takes place on Mars, and if you aren’t totally creeped out by roaches, then you might be able to...

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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

Magazine Monday: Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issues 169-170

Carrie Vaughn opens Issue 169 of Beneath Ceaseless Skies with “Sun, Stone, Spear,” a story about as different from her KITTY NORVILLE series as it seems possible to get. Two young women, Elu and the narrator, Mahra, have decided to leave their home village; Mahra seeks adventure, while Elu wishes to be the chief astronomer of any village in which she lands — not a position she is likely to get in her home village, where there are four apprentice astronomers ahead of her. Their travel to a new village is one frought with danger, from bandits, from demons, even from gods. Though they seem reasonably well-prepared and sufficiently cognizant of the dangers about them to fight them, it is a difficult journey. And always the question hovers over them: have they done the right thing by leaving their home village? The story made me think of dozens of stories starring youn... Read More

New Amsterdam: Forensic sorcery

New Amsterdam by Elizabeth Bear

New Amsterdam is billed as “the hardcover debut” from Elizabeth Bear, who had been winning awards for her short stories and novels before this work was published in 2007. Though not exactly described as such, New Amsterdam is a compilation of six short stories, each connected to and increasingly dependent upon the others as the overarching plot progresses. While each story is ostensibly a mystery which requires investigation and the use of forensic sorcery in order to arrive at each solution, characters and world-building are the primary focus of Bear’s writing. For the most part, this works well, though there are some pieces which could have benefitted from closer authorial scrutiny, and I wish the concept of “forensic sorcery” had been brought to the fore. Read More

Timeless: A little goes a long way

Timeless by Gail Carriger

Timeless is the fifth and final book in Gail Carriger’s popular PARASOL PROTECTORATE series which takes place in a Victorian London where vampires and werewolves and other immortal paranormal creatures are integrated into society. Alexia Tarabotti, our spunky heroine, is a “preternatural” — she has the rare ability to cancel out the powers of other supernatural creatures when she touches them.

Over the course of the previous books, Alexia met, fell in love with, and married Lord Conal Maccon, an alpha werewolf. Their relationship is sometimes sexy and sometimes rocky. For example, he banished Alexia during her pregnancy because he thought he was sterile. Now the couple is back together and baby Prudence has entered their lives. Prudence is an enigma — she has some unique powers that nobody understands yet. Will she be some sort of abomination? Quite pos... Read More

The High Lord: Too much action crammed into too few pages

The High Lord by Trudi Canavan

Published in 2003, The High Lord is the action-packed third and final book of Trudi Canavan’s THE BLACK MAGICIAN trilogy. In The High Lord, Canavan brings us back to Sonea’s troubles and her “capture” by Akkarin, the High Lord of the Magician’s Guild. It’s hinted throughout book two, The Novice, that Akkarin might not be as evil and corrupted as his practice of black magic seems to suggest, but it’s in book three that we finally discover some of Akkarin’s motives and end goals. After hearing Akkarin’s life story, Sonea is convinced that her newfound mentor’s actions are justified and begs to assist him in his endeavors, even going as far as to learn black magic herself. Meanwhile, Canavan introduces several subplots into the series that make things vastly more interesting. While I enjoyed the multiple... Read More

Sunday Status Update: March 29, 2015

This week, Red Sonja addresses the hallowed seasoned warrior/brash youngster pairing.

Red Sonja: I'm not an adventurer anymore. I'm some kind of social worker. Seriously! I can't use the privy without stumbling over three vulnerable teenagers, and all of them seem to be hinting that I should play the old wolf, teach them about being women, and all that sort of thing. Gods damn it, I'm a thirty-year-old mercenary who runs around in her underwear killing monsters! You think I've got a handle on things? I don't want to be your cool aunt. Leave me alone! Look, new rule: when I'm not actively killing something, I just want to unwind without someone pestering me.

That goes for you too, Conan. There's only so long anyone can buy your "serendipitous coincidence" line on why we keep ending up hired for the exact same jobs. Getting a little obvious, buddy.

... Read More

The Story of the Amulet: A charming classic

The Story of the Amulet by Edith Nesbit

The Story of the Amulet is a sequel to Edith Nesbit’s famous story collection, Five Children and It, in which five siblings discover a wish-granting sand fairy named The Psammead. Each story in Five Children and It tells of a single day when the children ask the Psammead for something they think they want. Their wishes always backfire and give Nesbit the opportunity to humorously illustrate the adage “be careful what you wish for.” At the end of Five Children and It, the siblings have learned their lesson and promise to never ask the sand fairy for another wish, but they mention that they hope to meet the Psammead again someday. And indeed they do in The Story of the Amulet. The children wander in... Read More

Aurora: Overly long but powerful

Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

Aurora, by Kim Stanley Robinson, has major issues with pacing, characterization, and to some extent, plotting. Which would seem to make this review a no-brainer “not recommended.” But if one can overlook issues of plot, character, and pace (and granted, that’s a Grand Canyon-level overlook), there’s a lot here to often admire and sometimes enjoy, and a reader who perseveres will, I think, not only be happy they did so, but will also find Aurora lingering in their mind for some time. (Note: While I don’t think anything revealed ahead will mar the reading experience, it’s pretty nigh impossible to discuss this book substantively without some plot spoilers. So fair warning.)

Generations ago, a starship left Earth with plans to set up a colony ... Read More

Superposition: A quantum-physics courtroom thriller

Superposition by David Walton

David Walton’s new book Superposition is billed by the publisher as a “quantum physics murder mystery.” Clearly, Walton loves quantum physics and can explain its concepts in an understandable way. Choosing alternating first-person narrators was a stroke of brilliance, upping the suspense, at least in the beginning as the story unfolds.

Jacob Kelly is a physicist who resigned from the New Jersey Super-Collider (Yes! New Jersey has the biggest super-collider in the world in this book!). Now he teaches at Swarthmore College. A former colleague of his, Brian Vanderhall, comes to Kelly’s house, claiming he has made an extraordinary breakthrough, which he has. Things don’t go well in the meeting. A day later Vanderhall is dead, and Jacob is the obvious suspect. Jacob must work to get acquitted, and also contain the result of Brian’s experiment. Jacob... Read More

Earth Abides: Not with a bang, but a whimper…

Earth Abides by George R. Stewart

George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides (1949) won the International Fantasy Award and was selected as one of David Pringle’s Best 100 SF Novels, but I’m guessing many SFF readers have never heard of it. You may have heard of pastoral SF (ala Clifford Simak), and this book may be best classified as post-holocaust pastoral SF, perhaps even "bucolic SF" (similar books include Leigh Bracket's Long Tomorrow and Pat Frank's Alas, Babylon). In Earth Abides, civilization is wiped out by a mysterious and never-explained virus, but our intrepid protagonist Isherwood Williams ("Ish" to his buddies) makes the best of a primitive existence, first surviving alone by scavenging from the bountiful remains of grocery stores, hardware shops, and gas stations, and eventually gathering together a few stragglers t... Read More

The Adventure of the Ring of Stones: A Langdon St. Ives novella

The Adventure of the Ring of Stones by James P. Blaylock

The Adventure of the Ring of Stones is one of several novellas written by James P. Blaylock that Subterranean Press has published. Each of these is a stand-alone steampunk adventure featuring Langdon St. Ives, the gentleman scientist/adventurer who stars in Blaylock’s LANDGDON ST. IVES novels. It would be helpful, but not at all necessary, to have read the novels Homunculus, Lord Kelvin’s Machine, and The Aylesford Skull before reading this novella. Not so much for the history of the character, but really more so you’ll be in tune with Blaylock’s very particular sense of humor. It may not seem like it at first, but these books are comedies and I’m not sure how well that comes across in Blaylock’s shorter works if you’re not already familiar with his style. Read More