Bill Chats with Ken Liu


Today Ken Liu stops by to answer a few questions about his newest work The Grace of Kings, the first in a series of “Silkpunk” and an ambitiously structured novel that won me...

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Sharps: It’s written by K.J. Parker


Sharps by K.J. Parker Sharp swords, dirty books and pickled cabbage. Why has everything on this trip got to be horrible? The neighboring kingdoms of Permia and Scheria have always...

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The Expanded Universe: Romani (Gypsy) Power in Sci-Fi and Fantasy


Welcome to another Expanded Universe column where I feature essays from authors and editors of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, as well as from established readers and reviewers....

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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

WWWednesday; February 10, 2016

Update: On Day One, the kickstarter for the Ursula K LeGuin documentary exceeded its goal. I think this means we’ll be getting the movie!

This week’s word for Wednesday will be familiar to many. It’s legerdemain, a noun, meaning sleight of hand, trickery or any artful trick. The word is from Middle English, and meant, originally, “light of hand.” The earliest use can be traced to 1400-1450.

Vintage Vampire Valentine.

Awards

The International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts announced its 2016 winners. The Crawford award for outstanding work in a first novel went to The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashanti Wilson. Wilson h... Read More

Radiance: A human life is as mysterious as an ecosystem

Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente

Radiance, by Catherynne M. Valente, tells the story of documentary filmmaker Severin Unck and her ill-fated film project on Venus in the 1920’s. In this alternate history, humans conquered the solar system around the end of the 19th century, and human colonies have sprung up from Mercury to Pluto and everywhere in between. These are not the planets as we know them, though — inhospitable balls of gas, icy rocks, or boiling oceans. Valente is writing in the tradition of Burroughs and Weinbaum; these are the planets of sci-fi’s pulp age, teeming with exotic life, seemingly just waiting for human visitors to make sense of them, to build cities of chrome and glass. In such a solar system the golden age of Hollywood, with its glimmering silent film stars, occurs not on Earth but on the Moo... Read More

The Ringworld Engineers: Boring sequel

The Ringworld Engineers by Larry Niven

In 1970 Larry Niven published Ringworld, a high-concept novel that won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards. What mostly captured readers’ imaginations was not RIngworld’s characters or plot, but its setting. The Ringworld is a huge (and I mean HUGE) artificial ring-shaped structure that orbits a star outside of Known Space. Nobody knows who built it or for what reason it was built. The protagonist of the story, Louis Wu, a bored 200 year old human from Earth, is invited on a quest to visit and study the Ringworld. As I mentioned in my review, I thought the novel was talky and a bit dull, but I absolutely loved the Ringworld itself.

Larry Niven didn’t plan to write ... Read More

The Gold Coast: More interesting than exciting

The Gold Coast by Kim Stanley Robinson

Jim McPherson is unsatisfied with the future. Unable to find steady, well-paid work, Jim mostly spends his time partying and casually hooking up with random women. Jim’s family is of small comfort to him since he spends most family dinners enduring his father’s many complaints about how Jim does nothing useful. Jim does not know it, but his father, a defense contractor, is also deeply frustrated in his career, even if it does provide what appears to be a successful lifestyle to outsiders. Jim only begins to feel as though he is doing something of value when he starts protesting against militarism.

Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Gold Coast explores a dystopian future in which the American Dream has been reduced to consumerism and militarism. The Gold Coast Read More

Kevin Hearne talks about IRON DRUID CHRONICLES and gives away four books!

Thanks to retired reviewer Justin Blazier who recently caught up with Kevin Hearne at his local bookstore. Kevin is celebrating the release of Staked, the next installment in his popular IRON DRUID CHRONICLES. Leave a comment for a chance to win one of three paperback copies of Hounded, the first book of the series, or one hardcover copy of Staked. This giveaway is open to readers in the U.S. and Canada... And here's Justin:Last week, Kevin Hearne, author of THE IRON DRUID CHRONICLES, was scheduled for a book signing in Crescent Springs, KY, which just happens to be about a mile from my house. I had just recently discovered Kevin’s work at that very book ... Read More

Jokers Wild: Another WILD CARDS romp

Jokers Wild edited by George R.R. Martin

Jokers Wild (1987) is the third in George R.R. Martin’s WILD CARDS series. The WILD CARDS books are anthologies and mosaic novels set in a shared world and containing a large cast of regular characters. Authors contributing to Jokers Wild are Edward Bryant, Leanne C. Harper, George R.R. Martin, John J. Miller, Lewis Shiner, Walter Simons, and Melinda M. Snodgrass. Each author handles the perspective of a particular character and, under George R.R. Martin’s amazing editorship, the different perspectives and plotlines magically come together to form a cohesive and pract... Read More

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