Justin chats with artist Emily Fiegenschuh


Recently I enjoyed chatting with Emily Fiegenschuh about her new book The Explorer’s Guide to Drawing Fantasy Creatures which provides step-by-step instructions and diagrams...

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Permutation City: A staple of transhumanistic fiction for a reason


Permutation City by Greg Egan What would you give in exchange for immortality? Greg Egan‘s unabashed answer to that question in Permutation City is simple: Your humanity. Its...

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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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T-shirts and bookmarks!


Get a T-shirt and bookmarks when you donate to FanLit. This soft white t-shirt features our dragon logo which was painted by author Janny Wurts. Underneath are the words...

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Recent Posts

Cinder: A robotic twist on a classic fairy tale

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Once upon a time, a cyborg in New Beijing was trying to reattach her mechanical foot. It’s not quite the way the conventional fairytale begins, but that’s the best thing about Marissa Meyer’s Cinder: it’s a completely new take on the Cinderella theme and a breath of fresh air in the YA genre.

Cinder is a mechanic working in New Beijing, though she is not just any old mechanic. She is the best in the city. One morning she is trying to attach a new foot with the help of her android Iko, when a young man in a hooded jumper approaches her stall. Cinder realises it’s Prince Kai, son of the Emperor of New Beijing and general heartthrob of the city. But don’t let me lose you there — it doesn’t all descend into romantic pulp. On the contrary, Cinder does everything she can to get rid of Kai; being a cyborg, she’s considered an inferior citizen and she tri... Read More

The Mephisto Waltz: An underrated doozy of a horror film

The Mephisto Waltz directed by Paul Wendkos

Featuring a compelling story line that conflates both transmigration and Satanic elements, a truly winning cast of attractive pros, expert direction and handsome production values, The Mephisto Waltz would be expected to have a greater popular renown; a horror film that should be more highly regarded than seems to be the case. I have seen it four times since its release in April 1971, and each time am impressed anew at what a literate and gripping horror gem it is. Hardly just a retread cousin of 1968's Rosemary's Baby, although surely in debt to that Polanski masterpiece, the film, I feel, can proudly stand as one of the finest horror outings of the early ‘70s.

In the film, we meet a very attractive and likable couple, the Clarksons. Myles (played by Alan Alda, here just 18 months away from his 11-year run on TV's M*A*S*H) is a former pianist who now works as a musical journ... Read More

SFM: T. Kingfisher, Rachael K. Jones, K.M. Ferebee, Rachel Swirsky, James Lecky

Short Fiction Monday: There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about.



“The Dryad’s Shoe” by T. Kingfisher (2014, free at Fantasy magazine, $2.99 at Amazon for magazine issue)

“The Dryad’s Shoe” is a charming Cinderella retelling that features Hannah, a young woman who is far more interested in gardens and bees than fancy gowns and dukes’ sons. When the local duke holds a masquerade ball for his son, an enchanted titmouse informs Hannah th... Read More

Games Wizards Play: A lesser novel in the series but moves things along

Games Wizards Play by Diane Duane

Games Wizards Play is the tenth book in Diane Duane’s YOUNG WIZARDS series, and while a reader could struggle through it as a standalone, I’d say it’s definitely best read in the series, as there are many references to past events, a host of characters big and small and lots of terminology that will resonate more fully to fans of the series. As far as where it stands in that series (which I highly recommend, BTW), I’d say it’s one of the weaker books, though it does advance our main characters’ lives — both their wizardly ones and their personal ones — and set us up for future adventures.

The focus of the 600-plus page book is “The Invitational,” a sort of science fair for young wizards who get mentored as they create, then present, original spel... Read More

Science Fiction: The 101 Best Novels, 1985-2010: Interesting choices

Science Fiction: The 101 Best Novels, 1985-2010 by Damien Broderick & Paul de Felippo

Ever since high school, I’ve used David Pringle’s Science Fiction: 100 Best Novels, 1949-1984 (1985), Modern Fantasy: 100 Best Novels, 1946-1987 (1988), and The Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction (1991) as excellent guides to some of the highest-quality, distinctive, and intelligent books in the SF and fantasy genres. By introducing me to many obscure and underappreciated titles and authors, including a number of UK writers unfamiliar to American fans, Pringle served to broaden my SF and fantasy horizons so much that I will always owe him a debt of gratitude. The only drawback was that he never followed up these volumes with a newer selection of titles, and after high school I... Read More

The Sleeper and the Spindle: Another treat from a favourite storyteller

Reposting to include Tadiana's new review:

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman's latest offering defies the conventions of your typical fairy tale not just in content but format as well. You won't be able to sit down and read this to your child in one sitting as despite the multiple illustrations, for the story is lengthy and the font small.

Perhaps then it's better described as a fairy tale for adults, though I've always shied away from putting age restrictions on these types of stories. Let's go with calling it an illustrated short story that will be highly enjoyed by people of all ages with an interest in dark and twisted fairy tales.

The Queen of a faraway land is about to be married, at least until the arrival of three dwarfs bringing her news of events in the neighbouring kingdom. A sleeping curse has been laid upon a fair princess, but rather than th... Read More

Sunday Status Update: February 7, 2016

This week, Drizzt fends off insult.

Drizzt: This week, whilst I was wandering in the wild with my most noble panther Guenhwyvar, I fell in with a traveling merchant of the dwarven race. Perceiving that he knew not with whom he traveled, I related some trifling history of my exploits. He said (and I quote, friends!) "oh, right, you're that cut-rate Aragorn guy." I couldn't fathom what might drive folk of the goodly races to so castigate one who has often been their succor in time of direst threat, and I told him so. He replied that I definitely looked like a succor, which mollified me until this evening, when I found the "kick me in my pompous ass" sign pinned to the back of my cloak. And I offered him naught but courtesy! Why do these things keep happening to me?

Still, at least I know now why all those people kept kicking me in the ass.

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Batman: Year One by Frank Miller

Batman: Year One by Frank Miller

Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (1986) completely reinvented Batman as an angry and bitter older man coming out of retirement to stem a rising tide of crime in Gotham City alongside Police Commissioner Jim Gordon. This was a dark vision of a complex and troubled soul driven to fight crime to avenge his parent’s senseless death, and it resonated with a new generation of readers and gained comics greater credibility among mainstream readers. Just one year later Miller produced a four-part story arc called Batman: Year One (1987). Th... Read More

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen: Exploring unorthodox biology and relationships

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold

Note: This review discusses a major revelation for readers of this series, disclosed in the first chapter of this book.

Three years after the sudden death of her husband Aral, Cordelia Vorkosigan is still the Vicereine (governor) of the colony planet Sergyar, and is still recovering from the grief of losing Aral. Cordelia is now seventy-six, but still young both at heart and physically, since she enjoys the much longer-than-usual lifespan of a native of Beta Colony. Barrayaran Admiral Oliver Jole, who is nearly fifty, greets Cordelia as she returns to Sergyar, and as they share a lunch and some reminiscing a few days later, it soon becomes clear that Cordelia and Oliver share a deeper history: an extramarital affair by Aral with Oliver, who was his young, stunningly handsome aide many years ago, morphed into what was essentially (though not legally) a three-way marr... Read More

Kindred: A complex exploration of the slave/slaver relationship

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Kindred
(1979) is Octavia Butler’s earliest stand-alone novel, and though it features time travel, it’s not really science fiction or fantasy. It’s an exploration of American slavery and its painful legacy from the eyes of a contemporary (well, circa 1976) young black woman named Dana. So don’t expect to learn why she keeps being pulled back in time to a pre-Civil War slave plantation in Maryland every time her ancestor, a white slave owner named Rufus Weylin, finds his life in danger. It’s a plot device that allows the reader to experience all the horrors of being a powerless black female slave in 1815 while retaining a modern perspective. So this book is firmly in the tradition of Alex Haley’s Roots (1976), Alice Walker’s The Color Purple Read More