Stephen chats with Anton Strout

We are pleased today to welcome Anton Strout, author of the Simon Canderous urban fantasy series.  His latest novel, Dead Matter, goes on sale today. Mr. Strout has graciously...

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The Habitation of the Blessed: Perfect source material for Valente

The Habitation of the Blessed by Catherynne M. Valente [Note: I listened to Brilliance Audio’s version of The Habitation of the Blessed read by Ralph Lister. It took me a while to...

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The Expanded Universe: Elite Groups in SFF

Welcome to another Expanded Universe column where I’ll be featuring essays from authors and editors of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, as well as from established readers and...

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Recent Posts

THE WALKING DEAD (Vol. 1): Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore

THE WALKING DEAD (Volume 1): Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore

Before THE WALKING DEAD became a hugely popular television show, it was a hugely popular black-and-white comic book series. I have Volume 1: Days Gone Bye which includes the first story arc – one that appeared in the first six issues of the original comic. Days Gone Bye is scary, gross, and downright horrific. It grapples with close-to-home themes like family and how far you’d go for the ones yo love. It’s also a gory and sometimes dismal take on the zombie infection story. I’ve seen the first season of the television show of the same name and for me the comics are a far... Read More

The Hunt for Vulcan: Wonderful exploration of the search of the hidden planet

The Hunt for Vulcan: How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe by Thomas Levenson

With recently-demoted-from-the-planetary-ranks Pluto in the news lately thanks to the New Horizons probe, it’s a good time to recall when the solar system, rather than shrinking, used to be larger by one planet. That would be the planet Vulcan, which for decades was listed as lying just inside the orbit of Mercury. Why did people think Vulcan existed? More interestingly perhaps, why did so many people think they actually saw it? And what eventually convinced the scientific community that it wasn’t there? That’s the story of The Hunt for Vulcan by Thomas Levenson, and the answer to that third question lies in the book’s subtitle: How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe. Read More

The Philosopher Kings: Surprises and philosophy, with a touch of Greek mythology

The Philosopher Kings by Jo Walton

My jaw remained open whilst I read the last pages of Jo Walton’s The Just City, and for a little while afterwards. Released earlier this year, Walton’s first novel in a new trilogy saw the start of a story whose foundational ideas are so wild, so daring, that only an author with the fullest grasp of her talent could even think of trying to wrestle with them, let alone to actually subdue and then use them to write an engaging story.

In that novel, scholars and philosophers from different times and places are selected by the goddess Athene to build the ideal society depicted in Plato’s famous dialogue, The Republic. To accomplish that, she gifts them multiple robots from the future whom we later learn are able to develop self-awareness. Those same schola... Read More

The People of the Mist: An exciting lost-race novel… with no Quatermain

The People of the Mist by H. Rider Haggard

Sir Henry Rider Haggard, the so-called "Father of the Lost Race Novel," didn't write such stories featuring only Allan Quatermain and Ayesha, She Who Must Be Obeyed. For example, his 17th novel, The People of the Mist (1894), is a smashing, wonderfully exciting, stand-alone lost-race tale featuring all-new characters. But the first third of the novel is hardly a lost-race story at all, but rather one of hard-bitten African adventure.

In it, we meet Leonard Outram, a penniless British adventurer who is seeking wealth in the wilds of the "Dark Continent" after losing his family lands and estates (through no fault of his own, it should be added). He becomes involved in the rescue of a young Portuguese woman from the largest slaving camp in Africa, and this thrilling and quit... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Happy Thanksgiving!

To all our American readers: Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it invites us to take stock, to reflect, and to be grateful. As a big fan of SFF, I've had a great deal to be thankful this year, including new novels by Robert Charles Wilson, China Miéville, and Neal Stephenson. However, perhaps this year will be remembered as a great year for SFF films, including Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, and soon -- though not soon enough as far as I'm concerned -- another Star Wars film.

What are you grateful for?

One random commenter will choose a ... Read More

WWWednesday: November 25, 2015

Breatrix Potter; Peter Rabbit and Family

On this date in 1915, Albert Einstein presented the field equations of general relativity to the Prussian Academy of Sciences. On this date in 1952, Agatha Christie’s play The Mousetrap opened at the Ambassadors Theater in London, beginning what would be the longest continuous run of a play in history. 


The Kunkel Awards are new! The inaugural award will be given next year, recognizing excellence in video game journalism. Nominations must have been published in 2015, and they can be from any source, even a personal blog, as long as they are “ethical and excellent.” (Apparently for some it is about ethics in gaming journalism.) Categories include news reporting, feature writing, feature streaming and photography/illustrati... Read More

Grudging: Siege and sacrifice in a Spanish realm

Grudging by Michelle Hauck

Grudging, a newly published young adult fantasy and the first in a new series called BIRTH OF SAINTS from Michelle Hauck, is set in a country reminiscent of medieval Spain, where noble warhorses are a soldier's right arm and religious faith is a significant part of most people's lives, giving this fantasy an somewhat unusual cultural flavor.

Seventeen year old Ramiro wants nothing more than to be a respected soldier in his pelotón like his older brother Salvador: to fight in hand-to-hand combat with his sword and earn the right to grow a beard, the ultimate sign of manhood in his society. Ramiro’s people avoid the legendary witches who live in the swamps and kill strangers with the magic in their voices. But when barbaric Northern invaders besiege Ramiro's walled city of Colina Hermosa and threaten to murder all who live there, his f... Read More

Made to Kill: Should have kept it as a long short story

Made to Kill by Adam Christopher

In his afterword to his new novel Made to Kill, Adam Christopher explains how the idea first saw life as a long short story/novelette entitled “Brisk Money.” While this more extensive take on the story is still relatively slim for a novel, coming in at just over 200 pages, I have to admit that it seemed to me that Christopher would have been better off simply writing another “episode” of his narrative via another short story rather than trying to expand the original into something larger.

That original story germinated out of a question from a Tor roundtable: “If you could find one previously undiscovered book by a nonliving author, who would it be?” Christopher, a huge Raymond Chandler fan, thought he’d like to read Chandler’s “lost science-fiction epic” (Ch... Read More

Michael Livingston talks about THE SHARDS OF HEAVEN (and gives away a book!)

Jason talks with Michael Livingston, historian, author, and Professor of Medieval Literature at The Citadel in South Carolina. Michael's fiction debut was recently released: The Shards of Heaven, a historical fantasy mashup set in the ancient Roman Empire. Jason and Michael talk about the worries of a historian moving into the world to fiction and his passion for the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Plus, we're giving away a copy of his book to one U.S. and one Canadian commenter. See below for details.

Jason Golomb: You've written a lot of in-depth and detailed history like ... Read More

Retribution Falls: Everything I wanted from a tale about sky pirates

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

Confession: I love pirates. Stories with pirates in them have captivated me for as long as I can remember (and I’ll blame my family for sitting me in front of such movies as Muppets Treasure Island and The Princess Bride) and continue to bring me great joy. With this in mind, you can imagine how excited I was when I found a pirate story by one of my favourite authors, Chris Wooding. Retribution Falls is everything I could have asked for from a swashbuckling tale: there are old foes, daring escapes, dirty jobs, betrayal, heartbreak, and breathtaking battles. Also, in a fashion I have grown to love, Wooding delivers a myriad of things that I didn’t ask for but absolutely wanted. If it wasn’t already apparent, I loved this story about flying pirates.

Darian F... Read More