Bill Chats with Alma Alexander


Recently I had a chance to chat with Alma Alexander, author of the young adult epic WORLDWEAVERS. Please find synopses, cover art, and my reviews of Alma Alexander’s...

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Mutant: Kuttner & Moore’s final novel


Readers’ average rating: Mutant by Henry Kuttner & C.L. Moore By the early 1950s, the great husband-and-wife writing team of Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore had moved to the...

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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...

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Recent Posts

Thoughtful Thursday: FanLit’s 2016 SFF Limerick Contest

It's time for our annual Fantasy Limerick contest!

Your task is to create a limerick that has something to do with speculative fiction. It could be about a character, a series, an author, or whatever fits the theme. Here are the rules for creating a good limerick (quoting from this source). A limerick:

is five lines long
is based on the rhythm "da-da-DAH" (anapest meter)
has two different rhymes
Lines 1, 2, and 5 have three of those da-da-DAH "feet," and rhyme with each other.
Lines 3 and 4 have two, and rhyme with each other.
You can break the meter rules if there's a good reason. You may

drop the first "da" in a line, changing that foot to da-DAH
add an extra "da" or two at the end of a line IF it's used for an extended rhyme, such as cannibal and Hannibal


The best limerick... Read More

Urban Allies: Will please many fans of urban and paranormal fantasy

Readers’ average rating: 

Urban Allies edited by Joseph Nassise

I’m always impressed when authors work together, and in Urban Allies, editor Joseph Nassise has managed to pair up twenty authors who not only collaborate, but merge their own characters into ten brand-new and original adventures. Each story shares a similar theme: popular characters from existing series or novels meet up and must join forces in order to defeat a common threat. Since these are urban fantasy authors, every story has a supernatural or paranormal aspect, though the situations and resolutions are completely unique to each tale, ranging the gamut from a haunted house, ghosts, magic of all stripes, plenty of demons, and much more.

As a genre, urban fantasy tends to feature protagonists who embody a certain type of wish-... Read More

The Queen of the Swords: Delightful prose and a page-turning plot

Readers’ average rating: 

The Queen of the Swords by Michael Moorcock

This review contains spoilers for The Knight of the Swords, the first book in the CORUM series.

The Queen of the Swords, the second book in Moorcock's CORUM series, takes place after Corum, The Prince in the Scarlet Robe, has had a needed respite from defeating Arioch, The Knight of the Swords. Aricoch, along with the Queen and King of Swords, are the three Lords of Chaos responsible for upsetting the Balance in the fifteen planes of Corum’s universe. At the end of Book 1, with Arkyn of Law restored to power on Arioch’s plane, Corum is told that Chaos still has too much power within his universe, which encompasses these fifteen planes of existence. S... Read More

Non-Stop: A classic that is vivid, brisk, entertaining

Readers’ average rating: 

Non-Stop by Brian W. Aldiss

Number 33 of the Science Fiction Masterworks series, Brian Aldiss’ 1958 Non-Stop is indeed a classic of the genre (variant title: Starship). Standing well the test of time, the story is vivid, brisk, and entertaining — facets complemented nicely by intelligent commentary and worthwhile purpose. With Aldiss examining human nature in unusual circumstances to say the least, the underlying assumptions nevertheless exist closer to reality than the majority of sci-fi. Readily enjoyable on the surface, there remain several thought-provoking undercurrents waiting for the reader to explore.

Non-Stop is the story of Roy Complain, a disgruntled hunter of the Greene Tribe in Quarters. His brother was lost to the tangles years before and, in the first few pages, his wife is ab... Read More

WWWednesday: July 27, 2016

This week is pretty much the San Diego Comic Con edition. However, once again Haggard Hawks shares a priceless gem: Helluo librorum is a noun meaning “book glutton.”

2016 Logo



San Diego Comic-Con:

Comic-Con attendees were the first to see the first trailer of the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

From Kat, SFGate put together a Comic-Con cosplay photo album. (Be aware, there are ... Read More

Some Remarks: The glory of infodumps separated from narrative

Readers’ average rating: 

Some Remarks by Neal Stephenson

Some Remarks compiles eighteen short texts by Neal Stephenson. Aside from a couple short stories, this is a book of essays, interviews, and speeches. These short texts should please most Stephenson fans because they combine humor, insight, and exposition — in other words, these are infodumps gloriously freed from narrative.

Hesitant readers would do well to test this book by reading its opening essay, “Arsebestos.” Stephenson points out that although sitting all day is unhealthy, much of corporate America requires its office drones to sit in cubicles. People would be better off doing their work while ambling along on a treadmill, as Stephenson does, but managers are too cowardly to risk changing the status quo. After all, what if w... Read More

The Knight of the Swords: Begins as a tale of revenge, but becomes much more

Readers’ average rating: 

The Knight of the Swords by Michael Moorcock

I started reading Michael Moorcock only a few years ago, and already he is one of my favorite authors. And the six-book CORUM series, for me, is second only to the ELRIC saga. In some ways I like better that Corum’s story is complete within these six volumes, unlike Elric’s, which never ends as Moorcock continues to add new stories (though he has, at least, written the story that tells of Elric’s end as a character). The basic story is that Corum, a being of an older race in its decline, is confronted by the upstart creatures Man, who attack Corum’s people, systematically destroying them all, leaving Corum the last of his race. Corum’s story is, at first, his simply seeking revenge, but what makes the story great is th... Read More

Dark Matter: The yellow wood contains more than just those two roads

Readers’ average rating: 

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Dark Matter (2016) is a tense science fiction thriller that was nearly unputdownable. It sucked me in almost immediately and didn't spit me out again until I was on the other side of about a four hour reading marathon.

Jason Dessen is a brilliant physicist who in some respects has "settled." Fifteen years ago, on the cusp of a scientific breakthrough in quantum mechanics, his girlfriend Daniela, a gifted artist, unexpectedly told him that she was pregnant. After an internal struggle, Jason proposed to her. Their son Charlie was born prematurely, weighing less than two pounds, and required expensive medical treatment. Between that and Daniela’s crippling postpartum depression, Jason was unable to spend enough time on his research, lost his funding and career momentum, and dropped off the fast track to scientific recognition. He now ... Read More

A Fire Upon the Deep: Big-canvas space opera with uninspired plot

Readers’ average rating: 

A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge

A Fire Upon the Deep (1992) was the big breakout novel from Vernor Vinge, winner of the 1993 Hugo Award and nominated for the Nebula. It features a unique premise I haven’t encountered before: the universe has been separated into four separate Zones of Thought: the Unthinking Depths, Slow Zone, Beyond, and Transcend. Starting from the galactic core, the Zones demarcate differing levels of technological and biological advancement — but this doesn’t simply mean different stages of development. Instead, more advanced technologies cease to function when taken into slower zones, since the laws of physics themselves are different.

This include faster-than-light travel, so FTL ships that travel into slower zones need to also have ramjet drives to avoi... Read More

SFM: Rosenblum, Dickinson, Johnson, Smith, Schwitzgebel

Short Fiction Monday: This week's crop of short speculative fiction stories includes a couple of highly recommended stories from prior years, as well as some very recent stories, all available on the internet for free.

Lion Walk by Mary Rosenblum (2009, originally in Asimov’s, reprinted and free online in July 2016 Clarkesworld, paperback magazine issue)


Tahira Ghani is a manager and park ranger for a Pleistocene-era wild animal park in the U.S. prairie lands, near the Rockies. Using genetic manipulation and interbreeding programs with existing animal species, gene engineers are in the process of recreating many long-extinct anima... Read More