The Expanded Universe: Romani Power in Sci-Fi and Fantasy, Part Two (giveaway!)


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....

Read More
Wilderness: A moving supernatural love story


Wilderness by Dennis Danvers Wilderness, originally published in 1991, has recently been rereleased. I presume it’s because tales of lycanthropy are all the rage at the moment....

Read More
Barbarian Lord by Matt Smith


Barbarian Lord by Matt Smith Barbarian Lord is an excellent story for both kids and adults, particularly fans of Icelandic Sagas and Nordic Mythology, which Matt Smith has clearly...

Read More
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...

Read More

Recent Posts

Thoughtful Thursday: Back to school! (giveaway)

It's that time of year again.

Children groan and parents cheer as another year of school begins!

In fact, at this very moment, as I'm writing this post, I'm trying to get the last of my kids off to school for the day before I leave for work.

Maybe if he went to Hogwarts, he'd be more enthusiastic about his education. They certainly had a better school lunch!

Did you ever fantasize about being a student at a fictional school? Which speculative fiction institution would you like to attend? Or is there a school you'd hope to be expelled from if you were a student there?

As always, one random commenter with a US address wins a book or audiobook from our stacks. Read More

Supersymmetry: A thriller with cool science and lots of heart

Supersymmetry by David Walton

Warning: May contain mild spoilers for Superposition

Supersymmetry is David Walton’s sequel to Superposition. While Superposition was a quantum physics murder mystery, Supersymmetry is a thriller. The action starts on page 8 and never really flags, and yes, the physics do matter.

In the first book, Jacob Kelley and his family battled an intelligent quantum entity they called the varcolac. They prevailed, but the struggle resulted in a quantum event that split the Kelley’s teenaged daughter Allesandra into two people (two points on a probability wave). Now fifteen years later, their wave has not resolved itself, and the twins, as they style themselves, have grown in... Read More

From a High Tower: Rapunzel as Annie Oakley

From a High Tower by Mercedes Lackey

The most recent addition to Mercedes Lackey’s ELEMENTAL MASTERS series of stand-alone retold fairy tales is a version of Rapunzel set in the Black Forest of Germany. Giselle (Rapunzel) is the natural daughter of a poor man who made a desperate deal that required him to give Giselle to a witch when she was born. The witch was an Earth Master who raises Giselle (who turns out to be an Air Master) as her own daughter. One day, when Giselle is locked in her tower bedroom while her mother is out of town, she lets a handsome man climb up her fast-growing golden hair. This turns out badly.

At this point the story loses its Rapunzelness as Giselle becomes a sharpshooter and decides to join Captain Cody’s traveling Wild West Show as an Annie Oakley type character. Since the show is touring Central Europe, Rosamund (the Red Riding Hood monster hunter from Read More

Konga: A somnolent stroll around Big Ben

Konga directed by John Lemont

Released in 1961, the U.S./U.K. co-production of Konga marked the first time that theater goers were shown a giant ape going bonkers in the heart of a major city since King Kong itself, 28 years earlier. Of course, fans had been given the 1933 sequel Son of Kong, but in that one, Kong, Jr. is more of a good-natured, oversized pet, and one who never makes it off Skull Island and into civilization, as had the old man. And in Mighty Joe Young (1949), although the titular big guy does engage in a mild temper tantrum, he is more fondly remembered today for his heroic efforts at a small-town, burning orphanage. In Konga, however, the ape is huge and the rampage is through the heart of London, and if Konga's fury is a bit on the somnolent side and his general appearance rendered somewhat tacky by dint of some truly subpar special FX, these two factors do not prevent the film f... Read More

WWWednesday; August 26, 2015

We'll just get right to it today.

Zeppelin (c) Ken Berman 2015

Awards:

The Hugo Awards were announced Saturday, August 22, in Spokane Washington at WorldCon. David Gerrold and Tananarive Due were the hosts. The event started late and ran very long, making it a normal awards event (I watched the Sasquan livestream, which should be available next week). The full list of awards can be found here:

Best NovelThe Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu (See our Read More

Touch: A nearly perfect thriller

Touch by Claire North

Touch, by Claire North, took me completely by surprise. I’d never heard of Claire North. (Yes, I know. More about that later.) I hadn’t seen much pre-release buzz about the book. I don’t think I’d ever read a book from (Hachette imprint) Redhook before. I frankly thought the blurb sounded a bit too standard-horror-ish, but I picked it up anyway to try a few pages and see if it could draw me in.

Am I ever glad I did. Touch is a gloriously dark and almost perfectly executed novel. (More about that “almost” later, too.) It’s so good that I set out to get the author’s first novel, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, even before I finished Touch, and then read it before I got around to wr... Read More

The Son of Neptune: The second instalment of a series steadily cranking into gear…

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

Warning: Contains some mild spoilers for The Lost Hero

First, a brief reminder of where this book stands among Rick Riordan's collection of YA novels: it is the second book in the HEROES OF OLYMPUS five-part series, which itself is the sequel series to the original PERCY JACKSON books. Suffice to say, if you're unfamiliar with the stories published before this one, you're likely to be hopelessly lost in understanding what's happening here. Head back to Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief and work your way up.

For those who are all up-to-date, you'll be pleased to know The Son of Neptune doesn't waste any time in throwing you back into the action. As realized by his friends at the... Read More

GIVEAWAY: Liar’s Island by Tim Pratt

Our friends at Tor and Paizo have provided a copy of Tim Pratt's Liar's Island (PATHFINDER TALES), which was released today, to give away to one of our readers in the U.S. or Canada. If you'd like a chance to win, simply submit the form below.

Here's what Tor says about Liar's Island:

In the tradition of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser (if one were a talking magical sword), Liar's Island follows the story of the charming Rodrick and his talking blade of magical ice named Hrym. They are accomplished con artists and occasional adventurers — as long as it means easy money. When they are called to the court of the exotic southern island, Jalmeray, they become pawns in a dangerous game of political intrigue. The... Read More

Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days: Two novellas by Alastair Reynolds

Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days by Alastair Reynolds

For years I’ve been planning to read Alastair Reynolds’ REVELATION SPACE series; I even own all the books in audio format. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. But when I got an audio copy of Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days, a collection of two stand-alone novellas set in Reynolds’ world, it seemed like the right time and place to jump in.

Diamond Dogs is an exciting horror adventure that was, honestly, just a touch too gruesome for me, even though I loved the plot and scenery. The story starts in Chasm City, a place I can’t wait to explore in Reynolds’ novel called Chasm City. A wealthy eccentric man has assembled a team of adventurers that he takes to the mysterious Blood Spire on the planet Golgotha. (Sounds ominous, doesn’t it?) This black metallic tower contains a serie... Read More

The Saturn Game: The slippery slope of fantasy role-playing

The Saturn Game by Poul Anderson

Poul Anderson’s The Saturn Game, published in 1981, is a pre-Internet era exploration of role-playing games and their effect on the human psyche, which won the 1981 Nebula and the 1982 Hugo awards for best novella.

On an eight-year long voyage to Saturn, one of the more popular ways for the crew and colonists to pass time is becoming involved in psychodramas, a verbal-type role-playing game. But when a team of four people from the spaceship lands their smaller craft on Saturn’s moon Iapetus to explore the terrain, the terrain reminds three of them so strongly of the Tolkien-esque fantasy that they have spent countless hours creating and imagining that it begins to affect their judgment and discernment. Bad decisions start to cascade as fantasy impinges on their exploratory mis... Read More