Why You Should Read… Rich Burlew


I am really pleased to welcome to FanLit today Black Library author extraordinaire Graham McNeill. I love his books — seriously! Hmm, maybe he should be my own subject for...

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The Gathering of the Lost: Immensely satisfying sequel


The Gathering of the Lost by Helen Lowe Every Avalanche Begins with One Stone Falling… The Gathering of the Lost is the second installment in Helen Lowe’s THE WALL OF...

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New Monthly Comic Titles: ASTRO CITY and THE WAKE


New Montly Comic Titles: ASTRO CITY by Kurt Busiek and THE WAKE by Scott Snyder In last week’s column, I explained pull lists and the benefits of buying monthly comics instead...

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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

WWWednesday: May 6, 2015

On this date in 1840, Britain introduced the first adhesive postage stamp approved for a public postal service. The Penny Black was 3/4X7/8 of an inch, had a black background and a profile of Queen Victoria taken from a time when she had still been Princess. The words “One Penny” and “Postage” appeared on the stamp.

Daughter of No Nation (c)Cynthia Shepherd and Tor, 2015

Writing, Editing and Publishing:

The Locus Award shortlist is out. Here are the names I expected to see on other lists this year; William Gibson, Jeff VenderMeer and Robert Jackson Bennett among others.

The International Association of the Fantastic in the Arts (IAFA) offers a cash prize for ... Read More

The War of the Worlds: Martians come to England and they’re not here for tea

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

This classic alien invasion story from 1897 hardly needs any introduction. We all know the image of Martians descending from space, moving on giant metal tripods and using deadly heat rays to ruthlessly destroy everything in their wake. Most infamous was the 1938 Orson Welles radio broadcast that had average Americans convinced they were being invaded by Martians. Then George Pal had a crack at The War of the Worlds with a film version in 1953.

The funniest film inspired by this book is definitely Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks, which is gloriously silly and spares no civilians. And last but not least, Steven Spielberg gave The War of the Worlds the full-budget Hollywood treatment in 2005 with perennial SF leading man Tom Cruise. So this tale is part of our culture, which is a credit to Read More

The Kraken Wakes: Baked Alaska

The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham

At this point, only the most obstinate of naysayers would ever deny the alarming evidence regarding global warming, the shrinking of the ozone layer, the melting of the polar ice caps, and the rising of the Earth’s ocean levels. Indeed, just recently, the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 satellite revealed that Greenland and Antarctica are, together, losing their millennia-old ice caps at the rate of some 500 cubic kilometers per year! But over 60 years ago, British sci-fi author John Wyndham presented to his readers an even scarier proposition than Man’s unwitting destruction of his environment, in his 1953 offering The Kraken Wakes (released in the U.S. under the title Out of the Deeps); namely, the deliberate destruction of the polar ice caps, with its concomitan... Read More

Blood of Tyrants: A world tour with plenty of dragons

Blood of Tyrants by Naomi Novik

I was concerned when Blood of Tyrants, the eighth volume of Naomi Novik’s TEMERAIRE series, began with three unlikely events, but I needn't have worried. It soon improved.

The three unlikely things were:

1. A man wearing a heavy wool coat is swept into the sea and not drowned, but washed up on shore alive. This despite the fact that the reef where he started was far enough out to sea that it apparently couldn't be seen from shore, and despite the fact that:

2. He suffered a head injury, was knocked out, and lost eight years' worth of memory, exactly corresponding to the length of the book series.

3. He was then found by probably the one person in Japan who wouldn't immediately hand him over to the authorities: a man who'd... Read More

Straits of Hell: Like WOT on water

Straits of Hell by Taylor Anderson

My reviews for Taylor Anderson’s DESTROYERMEN series are getting shorter and shorter. That’s because, with each book, I have less to say.

Here’s the bottom line: Taylor Anderson has created a wonderful world full of loveable characters. It’s fun just to hang out with them. However, at this point, it feels like that’s all what we’re doing: just hanging out. Sure, there are battles and a bit of personal drama, but it’s all stuff we’ve seen before. In Straits of Hell, book 10, Matthew Reddy and his crew and their allies are once again fighting Don Hernan’s Dominion on one side while they fight the second battle for Grik City on the other. Meanwhile, enemies — including the Japanese — continue to plot and shift alliances. Also, a mysterious new power enters the field. We got a glimpse of them at the end of the last book. Will t... Read More

Trial by Fire: A high-stakes game of war

Trial by Fire by Charles E. Gannon

There’s no sophomore slump with Trial by Fire, the second book in Charles E. Gannon’s TALES OF THE TERRAN REPUBLIC series. Trial by Fire is a white-knuckle adventure, with revelations that lay the groundwork for conflicts in future books.

In Fire with Fire, Caine Riordan and the team from Earth met exo-sapients (we used to call them space aliens) and attended a Convocation. Sabotage, both technical and political, caused the Convocation to fail. Along the way, several attempts were made on Caine’s life, mostly authored by a mysterious man who likes to eat olives.

Trial by Fire opens with another attempt on Caine’s life at the base orbiting Barnard’s Star. Caine survives, but as he and Trevor Corcoran are preparing to head back to Earth, ... Read More

The Dragon in the Sea: Submarine treachery

The Dragon in the Sea by Frank Herbert

The East and the West rule the world, but the West is running out of oil. The West has been sending subtugs (specialized submarines) to smuggle oil from the East, but the last twenty missions have failed. It’s treachery! Security knows that the East has a lot of sleeper agents among their ranks, so they assign John Ramsey, who specializes in psychology and electronics, aboard the next mission in order to uncover the sleeper agent.

There are four men aboard the subtug, and since one of them is Ramsey, his search seems pretty simple. He even has fancy new technology that monitors the crew’s hormone levels. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned. The crew discovers a dead man aboard the subtug — was he a sleeper agent or the victim of one? They also find gadgets designed to give away their location. And there’s sabotage, too. (How many sleeper agents does the East ... Read More

Anathem: This book could be anathema to some readers… DNF

Anathem by Neal Stephenson

At one point do you admit defeat and give up on a book? Especially one that you really WANT to like, by an author whose work you respect, and has been lauded by critics and readers alike. I’ve put off tacking Anathem for many years because: 1) it’s a massive door-stopper about an order of monks millennia in the future devoted to philosophy, science, and mathematic theorems; 2) it’s got an entirely new lexicon of neologisms invented to describe this alternate world; 3) most of the readers I respect have found it challenging but rewarding; 4) will I lose all my SF street cred if I admit to not liking this?

I decided that the audiobook format might be the best way for me to take on this behemoth. It features four different narrators (Oliver Wyman, Tavia Gilbert, William Dufris, and Neal Stephenson d... Read More

The Diamond Age: Nanotech, Neo-Victorians, Princess Nell’s Primer, and the Fists of Righteous Harmony – all we need now is the kitchen sink

The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

I am a big Neal Stephenson fan based on his novels Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon. He is frequently a brilliant writer, unafraid to explore new ideas in the most unexpected and entertaining ways. His sense of humor is more subtle and clever than most, and his world-building abilities are top-notch. However, he has a serious problem with endings, particularly in The Diamond Age.

This also happened in Snow Crash, where an amazing opening led to a fairly fascinating middle portion and then a dissolved into a flurry of confusing action and events that brought things to a less-than-perfect close. It makes it very hard on fans, who really WANT to like everything he writes.

I listened to this on audiobook narrat... Read More

Swallow: Action, romance, and some mystical elements, too

Swallow: A Tale of the Great Trek by H. Rider Haggard

No, this is not the Linda Lovelace biography. (Oops, sorry ... bad joke.) Rather, Swallow is yet another fine piece of adventure fantasy from the so-called "father of lost-race fiction," H. Rider Haggard. In addition to some 14 novels depicting the adventures of hunter Allan Quatermain, Haggard penned some dozen or so other books that were set in the wilds of Africa. Swallow, his 22nd novel, was written in 1896, but did not see publication until January 1899. It is a somewhat unique book in the Haggard canon, being narrated, as it is, by an old Boer woman, the Vrouw Botmar, who is anything but sympathetic to the cause of British imperialism. She tells her story of the Great Trek of 1836, and all the many incidents surrounding it. And what a tale thi... Read More