Stephen dines with Jaye Wells


I recently had the great pleasure of dining and talking with urban fantasy author Jaye Wells, whose Mage In Black hits shelves today. In fact, in our two-book giveaway, one lucky...

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The Princess Bride: Five star family entertainment


The Princess Bride by William Goldman William Goldman is better known for his screenplays than his novels. The two-time Oscar award winning author wrote the screenplays for The...

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Mandala by Stuart Moore and Bruce Zick


Mandala by Stuart Moore (script) and Bruce Zick (art) Mandala is the story of Michael Patrick Murphy who has the potential to be a mythic hero, Morningstar, savior of all mankind,...

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Great SFF Deals!


We’re always looking for money-saving deals on books, comics, and audiobooks and we bet you are, too. Let’s use this page to alert each other about great deals. Just leave a...

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Recent Posts

Thoughtful Thursday: Identify last month’s book covers

Today’s covers all come from books we reviewed in December 2014. Once you identify a book cover, in the comment section list:

1. The number of the cover (1-16)
2. The author
3. The book title



Please identify just one cover that has not yet been identified correctly so that others will have a chance to play. If they're not all identified by next Thursday, you can come back and identify more.

Each of your correct entries enters you into a drawing to win a book of your choice from our stacks. Winners are notified in the comments, so make sure to check the notification box or remember to check back in about 10 days. If we don't choose a winner within 2 weeks, please bug Marion.

And, as always, we've got Read More

The Rhesus Chart: Bob takes on a clan of vampire bankers

The Rhesus Chart by Charles Stross

The Rhesus Chart is the fifth and most recent novel in Charles Stross’ LAUNDRY FILES. Bob Howard has been moving up the ranks in the Laundry — not due to any particular motivation or ambition on his part, but just because he has managed, so far, to stay alive as he and his fellow agents battle the eldritch horrors who are trying to find their way into our universe so they can eat us.

While doing some data mining in his office one day, Bob happens to notice a small but statistically significant outbreak of an illness that looks like Mad Cow disease in an area of London. Curious, he begins to investigate by consulting a neurologist, looking at cadavers, and tracing the habits of the people who’ve died of the disease. Eventually this leads him to a small group of data analysts who work for a London bank. One of them accidentally progr... Read More

Recalled to Life: Ungrateful dead

Recalled to Life by Robert Silverberg

True to his word, after announcing his retirement from the science fiction field in 1959, future Grand Master Robert Silverberg’s formerly prodigious output fell off precipitously. Although he’d released some 16 sci-fi novels from the period 1954 – ’59, not to mention almost 250 (!) sci-fi short stories, AFTER 1959 and until his major return in 1967, his sci-fi production was sporadic at best. In 1960, Silverberg only released one sci-fi book, Lost Race of Mars (a so-called “juvenile”), and in 1961, not a single full-length affair; only two short stories. In 1962, however, in a slight return to form, Silverberg released Recalled to Life and The Seed of Earth. The year 1962 was hardly an idle one for Silverberg, however; besides those two novels, he also released one sci-fi shor... Read More

The Cadwal Chronicles: The first two books are some of Vance’s best

THE CADWAL CHRONICLES by Jack Vance

The 1980s found Jack Vance moving into his sixth decade of life. Imagination still sharp, he produced such works as the LYONESSE trilogy, the second half of the DYING EARTH saga, as well as began THE CADWAL CHRONICLES with Araminta Station published in 1989. The novel is on par with the best of Vance’s oeuvre. The second novel in the series, Ecce and Old Earth, sees only a slight decline in quality, the story furthered in fine fashion. However, Throy, the third and concluding volume, is like a different writer took hold of the script. It is dry and bland and does not come close to the bar set by the first two, but it is fortunately not bad enough to destroy the integrity of the series. THE CADWAL CHRONICLES contain all of the tropes that make Vance, Vance, and likewise mak... Read More

WWWebsday: January 28, 2015

On this day in 1754, Horace Walpole coined the word "serendipity," writing in a letter to his friend Horace Mann. The etymology of the word is from a Persian fairytale, The Three Princes of Serendip, in which the princes are always benefitting from lucky chance.

Kay Neilson

Writing, Editing, and Publishing

We have a lot of writing-centric posts this week. First, Locus Magazine recently interviewed Robert Jackson Bennett. Read some excerpts of the interview here, where he discusses how he crafts his plots.

Also in Locus Mag, an intervie... Read More

Vergil in Averno: Read Avram Davidson, but don’t start here

Vergil in Averno by Avram Davidson

Vergil in Averno is the second book in Avram Davidson’s trilogy about Vergil Magus. It was published in 1986, 20 years after its predecessor The Phoenix and the Mirror which told how Vergil (yes, that Vergil) created a magic mirror for Queen Cornelia. I enjoyed that book for its interesting period details and the appealing humor. You don’t need to read The Phoenix and the Mirror to understand Vergil in Averno. This story can stand alone.

In Vergil in Averno, Vergil travels to (surprise!) Averno, a region in Italy where volcanic activity has created a toxic lake and boiling water travels just below the surface of the earth. (Early Romans thought Averno was a gate to Hell and ... Read More

Sailing to Sarantium: An epic collision of fantasy and a history textbook

Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay

Sailing to Sarantium is the first in Guy Gavriel Kay’s THE SARANTINE MOSAIC duology. In true Kay fashion, Sailing to Sarantium introduces the reader to an expansively realized world, complex characters, and life-changing events. THE SARANTINE MOSAIC is not strictly historical fiction, but it reads like it. Sarantium, the glorious empire ruled by the thrice exalted emperor, would feel right at home next to histories of ancient Greece or Rome. It was that feeling of reality, however ancient, that kept me eagerly reading.

Sailing to Sarantium follows Crispin, a master mosaicist who makes a journey to the golden city of Sarantium upon the summons of the Emperor himself. It is also the story of the Emperor and Empress and their plans to change the world. It is also ab... Read More

Whipping Star: One of Herbert’s more interesting novels

Whipping Star by Frank Herbert

Whipping Star is one of Frank Herbert’s non-Dune books that Tor has been reprinting in recent years. This 1970 novel is the first full novel in the ConSentiency universe, which up to this point consisted of only two short stories. Both of them are contained in the collection Eye and may very well be included in other short fiction collections. Like these short stories, Whipping Star features the unusually observant BuSab agent Jorj X. McKie as a main character. This universe is also the setting of what I consider to be Herbert’s best non-Dune book: Read More

GIVEAWAY! Unbreakable by W.C. Bauers

Our friends at Tor want you to know about Unbreakable by W.C. Bauers, so they're giving away a hardback copy to one of our readers who has a mailing address in the US or Canada. To enter, simply fill out the form below the book blurb. Please submit only one request. We'll randomly pick a winner within the next 2 weeks and email you to let you know the book is on its way.

Here's the info about Unbreakable. We hope it's going to be awesome!

Promise Paen is a female marine caught between two empires on the brink of war in this stunning character-driven debut….



UNBREAKABLE by W.C. Bauers

“A little bit Starship Troopers and a little bit Esmay Suiza, with a dash of Firefly for flavor. W. C. Bauers gives us everythi...

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Half a Crown: The most optimistic, but weakest, book of the trilogy

Half a Crown by Jo Walton

(Warning: may contain spoilers of the two previous books.)

In the foreword to Half a Crown, Jo Walton says that she is by nature an optimistic person and that’s why she wrote the SMALL CHANGE series (which she refers to as Still Life with Fascists). Half a Crown, the final book in the trilogy, is admittedly more optimistic that the first two. Sadly, in several ways it’s the weakest of the three, although still worth reading.

The final book is set in 1960, more than ten years into the repressive fascist regime of Prime Minister Mark Normanby. Peter Carmichael is now the head of the Watch, Britain’s Gestapo. Within the Watch, Carmichael and his lieutenant Jacobson, the agency’s “model Jew,” run the clandestine Inner Watch, an underground railroad that sends Jews and other people deemed ... Read More