A chat with Katie MacAlister


We are pleased to welcome with us today Katie MacAlister, author of many urban fantasy novels, including both the Silver Dragons and the Aisling Grey series, which are two of my...

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Fortress in the Eye of Time: Different slant on an old story


Fortress in the Eye of Time by C.J. Cherryh I loved Fortress in the Eye of Time. To be honest, the first half of the book doesn’t move very fast, but you come to appreciate...

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The Expanded Universe: Exploration Blues


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....

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Recent Posts

Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore

Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore

Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (1986) and Batman: Year One (1988) completely reinvented the caped crusader as a dark and conflicted figure. This time, it was Alan Moore’s turn to reinvent Batman’s greatest rival, that homicidal madman The Joker. Batman: The Killing Joke (1988) tells its compelling story in just 51 pages, but the writing and artwork are so phenomenal that it has retained a legendary status. Even now, you can find a deluxe hardcover edition being sold in bookstores, and how many single issues get that treatment?

Even those casually familiar with the Batman story know his flamboyant rival The Joker, with his powder-white face, shock of... Read More

Expanded Universe: Why I Write About Gay Dragons

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. My guest today is Annabelle Jay. If there’s one thing author Annabelle Jay believes with all her heart, it’s that there is no such thing as too many dragons in a book. As a fantasy writer with few other hobbies, she spends every day following her imagination wherever it leads her. A hippie born in the wrong decade, Annabelle has a peace sign tattoo and a penchant for hugging trees. She often gets confused for a student, though she is actually a young professor; when this stops happening, she will probably be very sad.

Annabelle Jay

I sit at my Outwrite Book F... Read More

All the Birds in the Sky: A likeable fable about magic and science

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders, is a likeable book. The writing is fluent, filled with grace notes, witty observations and jokes that poke fun, but gently, at certain subcultures and stereotypes — mostly, the ones we all enjoy mocking from time to time.

Furthermore, in her Afterword, Anders says that if you don’t understand the story, she will come to your house and “act the whole thing out for you. Maybe with origami finger puppets.” So there’s that.

All the Birds in the Sky is one of small, newish category of fiction, one I don’t have a label for. It includes Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore and The Word Exchange by Read More

Near Enemy: I kinda liked this

Near Enemy by Adam Sternbergh

Book came in the mail. White package. Black letters. Had my name on it, so yeah, I opened it. Not that I wasn’t careful. Near Enemy was the title. Name on the cover said Sternbergh. Rang a bell like I was sitting ringside at the big fight. Turns out I’d seen this guy before. Him and his character Spademan. Now they’re back. Can’t say I’m surprised.

Not that there weren’t any surprises waiting. Like that rich guy getting offed in the limn. The offings not the surprise though. Guys getting’ killed all days all ways in the limn. Dead in the virtual world, just wake up in the real world. Happens all the time. ‘Cept this guy never woke up. Someone figured out how to murder folks in the limn so they stay murdered. People, huh? We’ll f—k up everything, every place. Just give us time.
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Trouble with Lichen: Complications of eternal youth

Trouble with Lichen by John Wyndham

Published in 1960, John Wyndham’s Trouble with Lichen tells the story of Diana Brackley, a revolutionary, a feminist, and a scientist.

Diana is considered odd because although she is attractive, she does not want to marry. Instead, she is dedicated to her career in the lab, and it is there that she makes her amazing discovery: a type of lichen that slows the aging process. Diana decides to use the lichen to empower women, and she sets up a beauty clinic that caters to rich and influential women (more often, unfortunately, women who are married to rich and influential men). Her goal is to create a class of powerful women who will shield her project and her dreams against the public when it learns o... Read More

Court of Fives: The dangers of imperialism, racism, and ambition

Reposting to include Tadiana's new review:

Court of Fives by Kate Elliott

Kate Elliott has a well-deserved reputation for writing excellent science-fiction and fantasy for adults. Her characters, world-building, and societies are not only entertaining but well-crafted. It seems only natural that, at some point in her career, she would try her hand at Young Adult fiction. The result is Court of Fives, the first in a planned fantasy trilogy which is sure to appeal to younger readers as well as Elliott’s established fan base. While I’ve seen the novel described as “YA meets Game of Thrones,” Elliott herself has said, “I prefer Little Women meets American Ninja Warrior,” which is far more relevant to my personal interests (and a more unique combination). Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Favorite SFF romances

Valentine's Day is around the corner!

Love is in the air and everyone's thoughts turn to romance.

We all have our favorite fantasy and science fiction romances.

Who is your favorite SFF couple, and why?
And, are there any SFF couples that you really despise? If so, why?

As usual, one random commenter picks a book from the stacks. Read More

Our Lady of the Ice: Some fresh twists on old tropes

Our Lady of the Ice by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Cassandra Rose Clarke’s latest novel, Our Lady of the Ice, explores a unique setting: a domed city perpetually bathed in artificial light and whose inhabitants never see the sun, moon, or stars. Human dramas, both large and small, play out against a crumbling infrastructure and swells of rebellion and terrorism. While not as tightly focused or briskly plotted as I would like, it’s an entertaining and imaginative read, especially for mystery readers who bemoan the lack of female characters in traditional noir.

Hope City, Antarctica. Eliana Gomez is a private investigator who focuses mainly on domestic cases like missing children or unfaithful spouses, advertising that “Discretion is my specialty.” One day, a stunningly gorgeous blonde walks into Eliana’s office with a simple request — recover some missing documents, which Eliana is n... Read More

Attack of the Fiend: Getting a bit repetitive

Attack of the Fiend by Joseph Delaney

Attack of the Fiend is the fourth novel in Joseph Delaney’s THE LAST APPRENTICE / THE WARDSTONE CHRONICLES series for children. Interested readers will want to read the previous books before reading this one (and probably before even reading this review, since it may contain spoilers for previous books).

As I’ve noted in my previous reviews, this series is gruesome and scary and thus will be absolutely thrilling for some young readers. Children who are easily frightened should probably stay away unless they’re undergoing some sort of exposure therapy.

In this fourth inst... Read More

The Windup Girl: Mixed opinions

Reposting to include Stuart's new review:

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

My Body is Not My Own…

Having just finished Paolo Bacigalupi’s Hugo and Nebula award-winning novel, I’m left rather bereft at how to describe, let alone review, The Windup Girl. I am not a big reader of science-fiction or dystopian thrillers, which means that no obvious comparisons come to mind, and the setting and tone of the novel are so unique (to me at least) that they almost defy description.

Set in a future Thailand where genetically engineered “megodonts” (elephants) provide manual labor and “cheshires” (cats) prowl the streets, the world’s population struggles against a bevy of diseases brought on by all the genetic tampering that’s been going on. Oil has long since run out, Chinese refugees flood the cities, the... Read More