Neal Stephenson on Swords


When Star Wars came out, I was terribly excited to see they were using swords, and I remember reading Dune and being hugely impressed by the fact that Frank Herbert had come up...

Read More
Breadcrumbs: For anyone who has ever been a geeky kid


Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu Hazel and Jack have always been best friends, bonding over their shared love of science fiction and fantasy. They play make-believe “superhero baseball”...

Read More
Hellblazer: All His Engines


John Constantine, Hellblazer: All His Engines by Mike Carey (writer) & Leonardo Manco (artist) There are so many options available to the reader who wants to meet John...

Read More
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...

Read More

Recent Posts

WWWebsday: July 30, 2014

On this day in 1932, Disney released Flowers and Trees, their first cartoon short to use Technicolor and the first animated short to win an Academy Award. It’s about dancing flowers and trees—pretty much what you’d expect. Also, today is author Cherie Priest’s birthday!

Art by Beatrix Potter

Writing, Editing, and Publishing:

On her blog, Terri Windling writes “In Praise of Re-Reading,” a fascinating piece on how, as we change, our perceptions of our favorite books change with us.

Maybe you guys knew about this already. I’m kinda slow. However, when I saw t... Read More

The Naked Sun: Entertaining murder mystery

The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov

The Naked Sun is the second of Isaac Asimov’s books about police detective Elijah Baley and the humanoid robot R. Daneel Olivaw. Asimov wrote the first book, Caves of Steel (reviewed by Steven), as the answer to John W. Campbell’s challenge to create a science fiction murder mystery. Asimov succeeded, of course, and chose to give us another installment. You don’t absolutely need to read Caves of Steel before reading The Naked Sun, but it’d probably be a little easier if you did. The Naked Sun takes place a couple of years after the events of Caves of Steel, in some far-future Earth after humans have created and evolved separate cultures by settling other planets.

Eli... Read More

The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A book about childhood and memory

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

“When they leave, they leave bemused, uncertain of why they came, of what they have seen, of whether they had a good time or not.”


The best way for me to describe Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane is in Gaiman’s own words. The quote is from a different book of his, American Gods, and he’s describing Rock City. I’ve been to Rock City, and the description fits, but it also fits my experience of The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

Our middle-aged protagonist has returned home for a funeral. We don’t know the man’s name, though there’s an outside possibility it’s George. We don’t know who died, though it almost has to be one of his parents. He gets sidetracked, driving down the lane where he once lived, and where his childhood friend Lettie Hempstock live... Read More

Fool’s Assassin: The perfect balance of ingredients

Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb

Robin Hobb's FARSEER series well earned its current classic status, and any serious reader of fantasy had to be thrilled to hear that Fitz, one of the genre's most beloved characters, would be returning in a new series. I certainly was. But I was also curious, and, I confess, a bit nervous, about how her evolution in storytelling, especially as displayed in her SOLDIER'S SON and RAIN WILDS series, might play out in a long-delayed return to an old favorite. After all, in those works, I had to admit that said evolution — which I described as Hobb seemingly "exploring just how much plot she needs in her novels to actually have a ‘story,' as if she’s feeling her way to as quiet and minimalist a style (in terms of action, not language) as possible" — had left me thinking she had carried the experiment (if such it was) a bit too far for my liking. So what would ... Read More

Jack in the Green: Disappointing

Jack in the Green by Charles de Lint

Maria Martinez works as a maid in an upscale gated community. One day while she’s cleaning an upstairs bedroom, she glances out the window and notices a gang burglarizing the house next door. One of the gang members is a girl who used to be her best friend and another is a cute red-headed green-hoodied boy who catches Maria’s eye. Maria doesn’t call the police. Why should she? It’s not her house, they’re not her neighbors, and therefore it’s not her business. Later, when she runs into the burglars at the skating rink, Maria meets them and gets seduced into their world. It turns out that the gang has an admirable agenda — they steal from the rich and give to the poor. And they’ve got some magical help.

I love the Robin Hood legends and I love what I’ve read by Charles de Lint, so I should have really loved the novella Jack in the Green, de Lin... Read More

The Humanoids: A great novel

The Humanoids by Jack Williamson

The late 1940s was a period of remarkable creativity for future sci-fi Grand Master Jack Williamson. July '47 saw the release of his much-acclaimed short story "With Folded Hands" in the pages of Astounding Science-Fiction, followed by the tale's two-part serialized sequel, And Searching Mind, in that influential magazine's March and April 1948 issues. Darker Than You Think, Williamson's great sci-fi/fantasy/horror hybrid, was released later in 1948, and 1949 saw the publication of And Searching Mind in hardcover form, and retitled The Humanoids. "With Folded Hands" had been a perfect(ly downbeat) short story that introduced us to the Humanoids, sleek black robots invented by a technician named Sledge on planet Wing IV. The ro... Read More

A Vision in Velvet: This series hasn’t let me down

A Vision in Velvet by Juliet Blackwell

Juliet Blackwell’s WITCHCRAFT MYSTERIES hasn’t let me down. This is a solid series with a fun setting and great characters. Tantor Audio’s versions read by Xe Sands are terrific and I’m certain that her narration adds a lot to my enjoyment. Honestly, I’ve got a bit of a voice crush on her. I wouldn’t think of reading these books any other way.

In A Vision in Velvet, the sixth installment, Lily’s vintage clothing store is thriving, she has made friends with her neighbors on Haight Street, and she’s got a steady romance going. Life is pretty good. But, of course, soon enough Lily manages to get wrapped up in another murder mystery. This one involves a trunk full of old clothes, a velvet cape, a dying tree in Golden Gate Park, some scientists, psychedelic frogs, The Crucible, and an ancient curse. The mystery ge... Read More

Neverwas: An addictive Gothic tale

Neverwas by Kelly Moore, Tucker & Larkin Reed

OK, first things first. What a beautiful cover!

The book graced by this lovely cover is Neverwas, the sequel to Amber House by mother-and-daughters team Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, and Larkin Reed. In the previous book, teenaged Sarah Parsons altered the past to save the lives of her younger brother and her aunt.

As Neverwas begins, it becomes clear that Sarah changed more than just that. The entire United States is different from the one we live in — in fact, there is no United States per se, but several loosely connected countries, and Amber House is situated in one where racial segregation still exists. Meanwhile, in Europe, Nazis reign. “WTF?” you might ask. What did Sarah do in the past that messed up the entire world this badly?

That’s the question Sarah ... Read More

Sunday Status Update: July 27, 2014

Chronically short on time this week, so unfortunately the character update is on break and will return next week.

BillI’ve been traveling, hiking and camping out west the past three weeks, so I’ve missed a few status reports and also haven’t actually done much reading in that time.  But I did squeeze in several books between campsites . . . 
Two excellent ones:


Red Rising by Pierce Brown:  A rich and sophisticated dystopia that will be battling for my top ten list at the end of the year
Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb: Also going to be in the race for the top ten, though for wholly different reasons—a wonderfully quiet novel

Three very good ones... Read More

Between the Gears by Natalie Nourigat

Between the Gears by Natalie Nourigat

I feel like I lucked out finding Between the Gears by Natalie Nourigat: I generally don't find myself looking for non-fiction sequential art, though I've certainly read enough to have favorites. What piqued my interest was a description of the book that let me know it's a year-long autobiographical comic of her senior year at the University of Oregon in 2010. Since I earned my PhD in English Literature from the U of O in 2000, I was extremely interested in seeing Eugene, Oregon through her eyes. However, if the book had been merely of personal interest, I wouldn't bother to write a review. I think it's a fascinating work that will be of interest to anyone who likes reflective coming-o... Read More