Why You Should Be Reading Monthly Comics: OR New Comics, Part One (Or How to Read Comics, Part Ten)


Readers’ average rating: Why You Should Be Reading Monthly Comics: New Titles for Those New to Comics! (And What is a “Pull List”?) OR New Comics, Part One (Or How...

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Wolfbreed: The worst and the best that humanity can do


Readers’ average rating: Wolfbreed by S.A. Swann Lilly is one of a litter of werewolf children being raised by the Knights of the Teutonic Order in 13th century Prusa (later...

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Coming Up with Fantasy Names: A Somewhat Vague and Impractical Guide


Sam Bowring began writing at a young age, and had his first book published when he was nineteen. Since then he has written various other books and stage plays, as well as for...

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Recent Posts

Thoughtful Thursday: Please pass the yams!

Happy Thanksgiving, fellow Americans!

OK, we all know the traditional Thanksgiving main course is turkey, but we also know that what really makes a great Thanksgiving repast/buffet are the sides: acorn squash, roasted Brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, pumpkin soup, curried, well, you get the picture.

Just like we know the protagonists of our favorite books and films do the heavy lifting, but the side characters add the rich flavor.

So let’s make a meal out of them (so to speak, this isn’t the Donner Party in Space): what three or four side characters would you put on the table? Who’s the yam to your main dish?

One random commenter will choose a book from our stacks. Read More

Middle-Earth: From Script to Screen: Building the World of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit

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Middle-Earth: From Script to Screen by Daniel Falconer

Getting a glimpse behind the scenes of a favorite film is always exciting — it’s rather like pulling the curtain back and, rather than seeing a humdrum old snake oil salesman, actually discovering a great and powerful wizard. David Falconer’s Middle-Earth: From Script to Screen gives credit to the several hundred wizards hard at work re-creating and re-inventing J.R.R. Tolkien’s LORD OF THE RINGS novels and The Hobbit into two sets of visual feasts.

Everything from aerial photography, to miniaturized or life-size sets and props, to CGI artistry went into those six films, and each page of this guide pays ... Read More

WWWednesday: November 22, 2017

Fall leaves (c) Marion Deeds



Thanksgiving:

For all our USA readers, I wish you a happy, fun and loving Thanksgiving with plenty of American football; for all readers outside the US, have a good Thursday tomorrow, and everybody have a good week.

Thanksgiving is beginning to get tarnished between the relentless drive to transmute it from a day with loved ones and friends to a shopping extravaganza and the historical ties to colonialism and genocide. For me, still, it is a holiday for seeing friends and loved ones, taking stock, and spending a moment to be consciously grateful for what I have in my life.

About six weeks ago, where I live, devastating wildland fires destroyed nearly 6,000 buildings, most of them homes. People died in the fires because they could not leave their homes quickly enough. I want to thank all the first responders, those from within the county, like the sher... Read More

The Emerald Circus: An imaginative three-ring show

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The Emerald Circus by Jane Yolen

Under the big top of The Emerald Circus (2017) is a fantastical assemblage of sixteen short stories and novelettes by Jane Yolen. Historical figures like Emily Dickinson, Benjamin Disraeli, Hans Christian Andersen and Edgar Allen Poe enter the three rings and shed their normal identities, dancing across the high wires and peering into tigers’ mouths. In this circus’ House of Mirrors we also see unexpectedly twisted reflections of fictional characters like Alice in Wonderland (who makes an appearance here in two very different Yolen tales), Merlin, and Read More

Magpie’s Song: Vivid, well-written prose

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Magpie’s Song by Allison Pang

Magpie’s Song (2017) is the beginning of a new series by Allison Pang, and it’s an interesting blend of genres. There’s a dash of steampunk, a dollop of dystopia, and even a pinch of faerie lore. When I started reading, I was skeptical that all of this would work well together, but Pang pulls it off, and creates an interesting world that I want to know more about.

BrightStone is a steampunky, gritty city whose inhabitants are ruled from above — literally — by the Meridians, a technologically advanced society living on an island that floats above BrightStone. The citizens of BrightStone, for the most part, eke out an impoverished existence, and no one is as downtrodden as the Moon Children. The Moon Children, half-breed offspring o... Read More

Vallista: Vlad gets trapped in a mysterious mansion

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Vallista by Steven Brust

Everyone’s favorite Jhereg assassin is back in Vallista, Steven Brust’s fifteenth VLAD TALTOS novel. If you’re not familiar with this series, don’t start here. Get a copy of Jhereg and read the books in publication order (which is not, by the way, the same as the internal chronological order, but that’s okay). Let me recommend the audio versions produced by Audible Studios and read by Bernard Setaro Clark. He does such a great job capturing Vlad’s sarcastic personality and the amusing dialogue between Vlad and Loiosh, the reptilian familiar who rides around on Vlad’s shoulder.

If you’re reading this, I’ll assume you’re a fan... Read More

Fisher of Bones: Half-baked prophetess for half-mutinous followers

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Fisher of Bones by Sarah Gailey

Sarah Gailey’s novella Fisher of Bones (2017) is a bewildering revision of the Talmud/Old Testament Exodus story with the “Moses” role cast as a prophetess dubbed Fisher (formerly Ducky).

Fisher assumes the prophetess mantle only on her father’s deathbed when the patriarch prophet lays his hands upon her in a would-be ordination and declares her an outcast, “forever banished from [her] people.” And in the next breath commands her to lead the same. I never could get over this contradiction. This kind of launching and halting, lurching and jolting is characteristic of the entire story’s progression and it is not a device that works.

The story’s principle tension involves threats to Fisher’s authority as the pro... Read More

Provenance: A coming-of-age tale blended with a murder semi-mystery

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Reposting to include Marion's new review.

Provenance by Ann Leckie

Whether you’ve read Ann Leckie’s IMPERIAL RADCH trilogy or not (though I highly recommend you do, as it’s excellent), there’s plenty to enjoy about Provenance (2017), a new and stand-alone novel set within the reaches of Radchaai space. The Empire-shifting events of Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword, and Ancillary Mercy have an effect on the political schemes in progress within Read More

SFM: Kayembe, Johnson, Baker, Swirsky, Walker

Short Fiction Monday: Our weekly exploration of free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. Here are a few stories we've read that we wanted you to know about. 

“The Faerie Tree” by Kathleen Kayembe (Nov. 2017, free at Lightspeed, $3.99 Kindle magazine issue)

Marianne’s family is in turmoil. Her sister, who always had such plans for her life, has come back from boarding school pregnant, moving back home with her husband. The real problem is that Marianne can see there’s something hugely amiss: Sister, who was so lively, now spends most of the time sitting like a china doll, st... Read More

The Crystal Heart: An interesting retelling of a familiar tale

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The Crystal Heart by Sophie Masson

I've always enjoyed Sophie Masson's books, and it would seem she's written something of an unofficial trilogy based on the stories of Rapunzel (The Crystal Heart), Cinderella (Moonlight & Ashes) and Beauty and the Beast (Scarlet in the Snow). All of them are based on old familiar fairy tales, but take the opportunity to flesh out the characters and expand the tales into fully-fledged adventures, till they bear very little resemblance to their original sources.

In this case, it's easy to forget that The Crystal Heart is based on Rapunzel, as after establishing the existence of a youn... Read More