Marion chats with Robert Jackson Bennett (again)


American Elsewhere is Robert Jackson Bennett’s fourth novel. Every book by Bennett is a little bit different; American Elsewhere (which I’ve reviewed) is a meditation on the...

Read More
A Wizard of Earthsea: An artistic, intimate drama


Readers’ average rating: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin With the recent Sci- Fi Channel miniseries, there is bound to be renewed interest in Ursula Le Guin’s...

Read More
How to Make Fictional People Do All the Work, Part 2


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
SUBSCRIBE!


Sign up to receive our notifications by email. We promise not to spam you or give your email address to anybody else. (That would be mean!!) You can easily unsubscribe at any...

Read More

Recent Posts

SFM: Gladstone, Chiang, Bolander, Johnston, Swanwick, Vaughn

Short Fiction Monday: Our weekly sampling of free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. Here are some great stories that caught our eyes this week:



“A Kiss With Teeth” by Max Gladstone (2014, free at Tor.com, 99c Kindle Version)

Within the first two paragraphs “A Kiss With Teeth” has outlined an unusual premise: a vampire masquerades as human in order to be an ordinary husband and father. He isn’t blending in to feast on blood or evade capture, but simply to give his wife... Read More

The Gates of Evangeline: A compelling outsider main character

Readers’ average rating:

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

The Gates of Evangeline (2015) by Hester Young is a domestic thriller set in Louisiana. I’m reviewing it here because it has a supernatural element: Charlotte, the main character, who goes by Charlie, starts having dreams or visitations from children. At least one of the children is dead; others are, or were, in danger. These visitations lead Charlie, whose young son died suddenly, to the plantation house called Evangeline, and the thirty-year-old mystery of the disappearance of two-year-old Gabriel Deveau.

The Gates of Evangeline is Young’s first novel. I made a mistake when I started it; some pages clung together and I started with Chapter One instead of the Prologue. The opening paragraphs of Chapter One are gripping and heart-rending, as the bereaved Charlie struggles to fi... Read More

The Tempestuous Voyage of Hopewell Shakespeare: A fun, diverting read from a solid author

Readers’ average rating:

The Tempestuous Voyage of Hopewell Shakespeare by Sophie Masson

I've always enjoyed Sophie Masson's books; to put it simply, her stories are imaginative and her prose is elegant. The Tempestuous Voyage of Hopewell Shakespeare is no exception, (though it's not one of my favourites of hers) inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest and Twelfth Night, and containing all that those titles imply: adventure, romance, mystery, magic, mistaken identity, and of course — a voyage that ends in a shipwreck upon the shores of an exotic island.

According to her author's note, the name of the protagonist derives from her sister-in-law's anecdote about teaching Shakespeare with texts published under the imprint Hopewell Shakespeare. Naturally one of her students assumed t... Read More

Sunday Status Update: January 22, 2017

This week, Ayesha.

Ayesha: Week 148,893. As my prophesied love Kallikrates still apparently hasn't seen fit to get reincarnated and return to me, I once again had to come up with my own amusements this week. So I decided to fake my death. I gathered my people together, climbed up the side of the mountain, made a great big speech about existential despair and the human condition (totally wasted on my audience), and jumped. Four hundred feet onto solid stone. Well, it took them a while, but eventually they decided I was really dead and they ought to decide on a new leader. Some of them wanted democracy, and some wanted a monarchy, and it was all very fascinating, really. Of course, eventually some big lout decided to make himself king on the spot and started punching, so I had to get up and blast him. Then, of course, it was back to the usual awe and horror and religious fan... Read More

The Time Museum by Matthew Loux

Readers’ average rating: 

The Time Museum, by Matthew Loux, is a graphic story with a nice premise, but neither the text nor the graphics fully exploited that premise, leaving me more than a little cold toward the final result.

The premise is relatively simple. Sometime in the far future, the Earth Time Museum was founded as “the most complete collection of the planet Earth’s geology, biology, art, culture, and history all under one big roof . . . To chronicle and preserve all the important things about this great planet.” That’s in the words of the museum’s founder and creator Lyndon Beckenbauer, “Uncle Lyndon” to the story’s main character, a bright, inquisitive young girl named Delia Bean.
Read More

Vulcan’s Hammer: Minor Dick, but still very entertaining

Readers’ average rating:

Vulcan’s Hammer by Philip K. Dick

According to Philip K. Dick authority Lawrence Sutin, in his well-researched biography Divine Invasions, by 1959, although Dick had already had some 85 short stories as well as half a dozen novels published, his interest in creating more sci-fi had reached a low point. The future Hugo winner was at this point hoping to become more of a mainstream author, having by this time already written nine such novels, none of which had been published … yet. Still, with bills to pay, a wife (his third of an eventual five) to support, and his first child on the way, economic necessities did, it seem, perforce drive him back, unenthusiastically, to the sci-fi realm. Tw... Read More

New Amsterdam: Forensic sorcery

Readers’ average rating:

Reposting to include Rebecca's new review.

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 fro... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: 2017 Books We Can’t Wait For! (giveaway)

Is it too late to wish you a Happy New Year?

If you're anything like me your new year resolutions may have already fallen by the wayside. In fact, is it just me, or is there an end of January slump in the air?

But chin up! All the signs suggests they'll be plenty of excellent fantasy literature in the year ahead. Here are the books we can't wait for in 2017.

Hover over the covers to see what our reviewers said about each book.



No cover yet: Saladin Ahmed's The Thousand And One. Kevin says: Saladin Ahmed’s Hugo-nominated Throne of the Crescent Moon had some great worldbuilding and political intrigue, so I’m dying to see what comes in this sequel.

Which books are you looking forward to in 2017... Read More

Citadel: A satisfying novel for those familiar with Mosse’s style

Readers’ average rating: Comment Reviews for this post are disabled. Please enable it first

Citadel
by Kate MosseI have a strange relationship with books by Kate Mosse. On the one hand, I love the atmosphere and descriptive qualities of her work — it transports you to the south of France in vivid prose; filled with the sights, sounds and smells of another time and place. She clearly loves the history and ambience of the Languedoc, and every page is filled with sensory detail.

On the other hand, Mosse's plots are slow and rambling, packed full of extraneous details and unnecessary subplots. Often chapters can go by where nothing particularly interesting or important happens, and with a little ruthless editing I'm sure each book's length could be halved.

So is the way her story told worth the story itself? Well, ever... Read More

This Year’s Class Picture: A scene from a zombie apocalypse

Readers’ average rating:

This Year’s Class Picture by Dan Simmons

Sci-fi and horror master Dan Simmons has only one real character in this short story: Ms. Geiss, dedicated fourth-grade teacher extraordinaire. She seems to be one of the very few remaining humans following the frequently mentioned, but never-explained, “Tribulations” that had some role in creating an environment where zombies roam the planet.

This Year’s Class Picture opens rather bluntly:
Ms. Geiss watched her new student coming across the first-graders’ playground from her vantage point on the balcony of the school’s belfry. She lowered the barrel of the Remington .30-06 until the child was centered in the crosshairs of the telescopic sight.
But don’t get Ms. Geiss wrong. All of her students are zombies... Read More