Marjorie M. Liu on Writing Romance


I just really get into the characters, and try to imagine what would make them afraid, what would turn them on, all the little gestures that carry that love and tension between...

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Why You Should Read… Bruce Coville


Beth Johnson Sonderby brings us this week’s Why You Should Read… On the face of it, Beth has written a love letter to Bruce Coville but, honestly, this is really an...

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Great Bookstores: Treehorn Books in Santa Rosa, California


One of my favorite bookstores is small but mighty. Treehorn Books, specializing in used, out of print, and antiquarian volumes, occupies a simple storefront at 625 4th Street, Santa...

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Rob chats with Guy Gavriel Kay about River of Stars


I’m happy to temporarily come out of FanLit retirement to spend some time with my favorite author, Guy Gavriel Kay. Kay’s newest novel, River of Stars, was released today and...

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Recent Posts

World Wide Websday: April 16, 2014

Happy day after tax day! I hope your April 15 was relatively painless, and maybe even happy as you discovered a lovely refund coming your way. And what better to spend it on than books? Nothing, I say: nothing. Just pick something from the most recent awards, for instance, and you’ll have hours of joy in exchange for your bills and coins. What could be better than that?

Awards News

The Aurealis Awards have been announced, celebrating the best in Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror fiction. Here’s hoping most of these books ultimately get outside the bounds of that splendid isle, so that we can all enjoy them! Some, like Max Barry’s Lexicon (best science fiction novel) and Joanne Ande... Read More

The Revolutions: A hodgepodge that works

The Revolutions by Felix Gilman

At not quite the halfway point in Felix Gilman’s The Revolutions, the main character — Arthur Shaw — reacts to a particular text he is reading:

It was a hodge-podge of Masonry, Greek myth, Egyptian fantasy, debased Christianity, third-hand Hinduism, and modern and ancient astronomy, promiscuously and nonsensically mixed . . . The Book was riddled throughout with paradox and absurdity and contradiction . . . But after a week or two of study, Arthur began to enjoy it.

And it is at this point where a reader might stop and think, “Yes, yes I am,” even as he/she mentally expands that list of hodge-podge foundations: “And C.S. Lewis and Burroughs and Yeats and Poe and Stevenson and The Sun and maybe a bit of... Read More

Shattered Pillars: Still fantastic

Shattered Pillars by Elizabeth Bear

Elizabeth Bear’s entire ETERNAL SKY trilogy is now sitting in a neat row on my bookshelf. I adored the first book and consumed the second one so quickly it went by in a blur of semi-divine horses and cool but unpronounceable names. Before I read Steles of the Sky(released on April 10th), it’s worth pausing to reconsider the middle book in what might be one of my favorite fantasy series in recent years.

In Shattered Pillars, Temur and his band of loyal and enigmatic followers continue their quest. But the quest is stranger and less certain than it used to be. Temur wants to save Edene, his horse-riding lady-love, but also reclaim his grandfather’s throne and oust his rival Qori Buqa. In a vast and fractured political landscape dominated by independent city-states, this turns out to be ... Read More

Night Watch: You can’t repeat the past (Of course you can)

Night Watch by Terry Pratchett

Sam Vimes of Ankh-Morpork’s City Watch has all but arrested Carcer, a serial killer who specifically targets members of the Watch, when they are thrown back in time.

Time travel is always inconvenient, but it is particularly trying for Sam Vimes, who is about to become a father. Worse, Vimes soon realizes this time in Ankh-Morpork’s history is especially awful because the city is about to revolt against the Patrician, Lord Winder. The people will revolt, Vimes remembers, and cavalrymen will put them down.

Vimes had only just joined the Watch when he first lived through the revolution, but he remembers many of the details, especially his old mentor, Sergeant John Keel. Keel taught Sam how to be a copper, a... Read More

Time Enough For Love: For masochists only

Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein

You’d think I’d learn, but no, I just keep torturing myself with Heinlein’s adult novels. That’s because when I was a kid, Heinlein was one of my favorite authors, so I still think of him that way. I know it’s not that my tastes have changed because I still love those books I read as a kid. The problem is that many of the books he wrote for his adult audiences, especially those he wrote in his later years, are just horrid. And Time Enough for Love (1973), even though it’s a classic, is one of these. It’s everything I hate about Heinlein’s later novels. In fact, if I had to sum it up in one word, I’d say “YUCK!”

Time Enough for Love is the last of Heinlein’s novels about Lazarus Long. In fact, the full title is Time Enough for Love: The Lives of Lazarus Long. Lazarus is 2000 years old. He feels like he’s done it all and he’s refusin... Read More

Magazine Monday: Clarkesworld, April 2014

Issue 91 of Clarkesworld opens with “Passage of Earth” by Michael Swanwick. Swanwick is one of my favorite authors when he’s not writing about talking dogs, and this is not a Darger and Surplus story, so I was already inclined to like it. Hank, the protagonist, is the county coroner in a small rural community. One morning, in the wee small hours, an ambulance brings a Worm to his morgue, and Evelyn, a member of the (unidentified) Agency who also happens to be his ex-wife, instructs him to perform an autopsy. The anatomy of the creature, a member of the only other intelligent species in the universe that humans have yet encountered, is so completely different from that of humans that humans don’t know how to combat them — assuming combat is necessary, and the humans appear to be spoiling for war. It’s a tale of interspecies conflict writ small, but with such imagination that the Wor... Read More

Notes from the Internet Apocalypse: Amusing and thoughtful

Notes from the Internet Apocalypse by Wayne Gladstone

Humorist Wayne Gladstone takes on the American obsession with the internet in Notes from the Internet Apocalypse, an amusing but thoughtful look at what might happen to our culture if the world wide web went down for good.

Gladstone himself is the protagonist of his story. Since both his job and his free time activities depend on the internet, he has no idea what to do now that it’s gone. So he begins keeping a journal about how the world is handling the crisis. Accompanied by a guy he’d previously met online and an Australian girl who earns her living selling online access to her in-shower webcam, Gladstone sets out on the streets of New York City to try to find out what happened to the internet. Is it a government conspiracy? Right-wingers? Muslim terrorists?

Many of the people Gladstone meets are trying to find low-tech ways to replace what they loved ab... Read More

Three by Kieron Gillen and Ryan Kelly

Three by Kieron Gillen and Ryan Kelly

Gillen is one of my favorite comic book writers for Marvel, so I was extremely eager to pick up Three, a new series written by him for Image. Otherwise, I wouldn’t normally find myself picking up a book on Ancient Sparta. I suppose I’ve always been partial to Athens. So, I had mixed feelings going into the book . . . and I have mixed feeling coming out of it as well.

Being the academic that I am, it pleases me to see that Gillen worked with Professor Stephen Hodkinson as an historical consultant, and I like the extensive notes in the back of this trade collection. Both Gillen and professor Hodkinson write these notes, and it’s enjoyable to see how clearly they enjoy discussing the historical material they had to work with and how that often questionable information had to be u... Read More

Sunday Status Update: April 13, 2014

And we fall back on a known character this week.

Supergirl: So, uh... this week I was at the Fortress of Solitude again, because the Fortress apparently functions as my naughty stool these days. I maintain that if soccer stadiums didn't want people watching from the Extreme Noseblood seating, they should have closed off the tops. ANYway, since Kal's afraid Batman or Luthor or someone is going to hack his computer, there's no internet and an extremely finite collection of films to watch, so I went exploring. Found this in a stack of old Jimmy Olsen photos: I have no words. Although the pope hat would explain a lot about the holier-than-thou thing he's rocking lately...

Kat: I’m nearing the end of my semester, so I didn’t get much r... Read More

The King’s Dragon by Scott Chantler

The King’s Dragon by Scott Chantler

Though The King’s Dragon is the fourth book Scott Chantler’s THREE THIEVES series, and I have not read the first three, I had no problem picking up the story already in progress. In fact, if I hadn’t been given that information, I would have guessed it was the first volume of a great new series of comic book adventure stories for young readers. 

The basic story in this book focuses on Captain Drake, a member of The King’s Dragons. Due to some previous misfortune, a deep scar runs across his face and is long ... Read More