20 Heroes: Love & Winter, Yelena’s Story II


Nineteenth in our Heroes series, by Robert Rhodes, this is part 2 of “Love & Winter: Yelena’s Story” which was a finalist in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the...

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Sisters Red: Hits all my favorite notes


Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce Children, especially attractive, well bred young ladies, should never talk to strangers, for if they should do so, they may well provide dinner for a...

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Planetary: The Fourth Man, Volume 2


Planetary: The Fourth Man, Volume 2 by Warren Ellis & John Cassaday Having just written a review of Volume 1 of Planetary by Warren Ellis, I didn’t think I’d feel any need...

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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...

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Recent Posts

The Martian Chronicles: A melancholy meditation on failed American ambitions

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

I really didn’t like The Martian Chronicles when I first read it last year. Considering its legendary status in the genre and its very high ratings by other reviewers I respect, I was really looking forward to finally reading this classic SF tale. But what I discovered was a series of loosely-connected vignettes with some connecting material that seemed fairly superfluous. While I found the first few stories actually featuring Martians very well written and intriguing, once the Martians went offstage and were replaced by an endless series of annoying, hokey Midwesterners from 1950s America, my interest died more quickly than the Martians themselves.

However, I knew I must be missing something.  This is considered one of the greatest works of mid-20th century science fiction, and is highly regarded even by the literati outside the genre. So I decided to try the aud... Read More

Welcome to the Expanded Universe

Greetings, FanLit readers, friends, and potential contributors! We’re launching a new column, Expanded Universe, curated by me, for feature essays that discuss any aspect of speculative fiction.

How do we define the term “speculative fiction”? Well, that’s one thing that this column will end up addressing: given that all fiction exists in the realm of the imagination, what makes some fiction “speculative” and other fiction not? And where do we draw the boundaries within the term for genres like science fiction, fantasy, magical realism, New Weird, slipstream, horror... you get the drift.

The Expanded Universe

Expanded Universe will feature regular essays from authors and editors of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, as well as from established readers and reviewers, talking about anything ... Read More

Undercity: An underground society with real-world social concerns

Undercity by Catherine Asaro

I’m a sucker for stories that take place underground, so when I saw the cover and title of Catherine Asaro’s new book, Undercity, I knew I had to break my commitment to not start a new series until I’d finished all the other ones first. (For the last seven months I’ve read only books that continue or finish a series I’ve previously started.)

When she was an orphaned child, Major Bhaajan used to live in the dark dirty tunnels under the city of Cries. She was one of the dust rats — the kids who run in packs through the tunnels. They live in poverty, are malnourished, don’t go to school, and have few opportunities. Bhaajan was hard-working and motivated, though. She left the Undercity when she joined the military, and she hoped never to return to Cries. Now, retired from t... Read More

A Darkling Sea: Enjoyable and raises thoughtful questions

A Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias

A Darkling Sea is a fast-paced adventure set in a challenging environment. Part cat-and-mouse war-game, part first contact story, James L. Cambias’ first novel is an engrossing read.

The planet Ilmatar is sheathed in ice. Under the kilometer-thick ice crust is a cold ocean, and a group of Terran human scientists are studying it from within an undersea habitat. Ilmatar has at least one intelligent, sentient ocean-dwelling species, and the humans are under strict orders from another non-human race, the Sholen (who act as self-appointed den-mothers for everyone) not to engage with the locals. When two of the humans disregard this rule, one of them is killed by the locals. This prompts the Sholen to try to shut down the project, and the human scientists disagree. Soon things have spiraled out of control.

Cambias’ style and the structure of... Read More

Solaris: Can we communicate with an alien sentient ocean? If so, about what?

Solaris by Stanislaw Lem

Solaris is an amazing little novel with a colorful history. First written in 1961 by Stanislaw Lem in Polish, it was then made into a two-part Russian TV series in 1968, before being made into a feature film by famous Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky in 1972. It only reached English publication in 1970 in a Polish-to-French-to-English translation. And just when you thought it had faded from attention, both James Cameron and Steven Soderbergh expressed interest in doing a remake, with Soderbergh getting the nod in 2002 because Cameron was busy with other movies. Finally, a direct Polish-to-English translation by Bill Johnston was made available as an ebook and audiobook in 2011. In my case, I saw the Tarkovsky film back in 1995, watched the Soderbergh film in 2002, finally read the 1970 translation in 2013, and listened to the audiobook version in 2015.

Are the book and films wort... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Rename this horrible cover!

It's time again for one of our favorite games!

Please help us rename the horrible cover of this book by Grande Dame Andre Norton.

The author of the new title we like best wins a book from the FanLit Stacks.

Got a suggestion for a horrible cover that needs renaming? Please send it to Kat.

We love this game!

NEXT WEEK's Thoughtful Thursday column: We'll be giving away all of the Nebula and Hugo nominated novels to one lucky winner! Read More

Uprooted: Utterly satisfying and enthralling

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Agniezska is the brave, stubborn, sensitive heroine of Naomi Novik’s recent release, Uprooted — and she’s about to steal your heart. She comes from Dvernik, a remote village on the edges of the enchanted Wood, the dark forest that creeps like a blight over interior Polnya. The only thing holding the Wood back from engulfing the land is the Dragon, a feared sorcerer who lives nearby. For his work keeping the danger at bay, every ten years the Dragon demands one young woman from the village. As the time for “the taking” approaches, everyone in the village expects the Dragon to choose Kasia, Dvernik’s golden girl and Agniezska’s best friend. However, something about Agniezska catches the Dragon’s eye and she is the one chosen to leave her family and friends for ten years to serve him in his tower.
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James and the Giant Peach: Not for kiddies only

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Perhaps I should confess right up front that this review of what is popularly regarded solely as a children's book is being written by a 50+-year-old male "adult" who hadn't read a kids' book in many years. For me, Welsh author Roald Dahl had long been the guy who scripted one of my favorite James Bond movies, 1967's You Only Live Twice, and who was married for 30 years to the great actress Patricia Neal. Recently, though, in need of some "mental palate cleansing" after a bunch of serious adult lit, I picked up Dahl's first kiddy novel, James and the Giant Peach, and now know what several generations have been aware of since the book's release in 1961: that this is an absolutely charming story for young and old alike, with marvelous characters, a remarkably imaginative story line and some quirky humor scattered throughout.

As most baby boom... Read More

Swords Against Wizardry: Two lovable rogues and their adventures

Swords Against Wizardry by Fritz Leiber

This is the fourth collection of stories in Fritz Leiber’s FAFHRD AND THE GRAY MOUSER series, and is better than the previous volume, Swords in the Mist. It features four stories: "In the Witch's Tent" (1968), "Stardock" (1965), "The Two Best Thieves in Lankhmar" (1968), and "The Lords of Quarmall" (1964). My personal favorites are “Stardock” and "The Two Best Thieves in Lankhmar." The first story is just a short framing piece, so I’ll focus on the main three stories.

“Stardock” is a fast-paced and amazingly-written adventure in which Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser climb Stardock, an imposing ice-covered mountain that is the Newhon equivalent of Everest, in a quest to retrieve a pouch of gems that legend holds were made by the gods as test-models for ... Read More

WWWednesday; May 20, 2015

Giveaway News: As part of our Thoughtful Thursday column for May 28, we will give one lucky commenter a  complete set of the novels nominated for the Hugos and the Nebulas.That's eight books!

The Blue Closet Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Books and Publishing:

Damien Walters’s essay in the Guardian discusses the multi-volume fantasy novel, which he terms a “mega-novel.” He questions whether every gifted writer can write one, and whether they should even try.

Here is an enjoyable six-minute Ted Talk by Alex Gendler Read More