Half in Love, by Alex Hughes


Today we welcome Alex Hughes, author of the MINDSPACE INVESTIGATIONS series. The second novel, Sharp, was one of my favorite reads last year. I’ve just finished the excellent...

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Dust of Dreams: The best LRMMVSTLB fantasy epic


Readers’ average rating: Dust of Dreams by Steven Erikson So, a long-running, massive multi-volume fantasy epic is winding to a close, a close so big that the last book...

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Romani Power in Sci-Fi and Fantasy, Part 2


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

SFM: Hodge, Chiang, Vaughn, Ryman, Simmons

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. 


“More Full of Weeping Than You Can Understand” by Rosamund Hodge (2010, free at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, 99c Kindle magazine issue)

Violet always knew she was different: she's unable to feel deep concern or love for others, whether it was her kitten that died or her Grandmama. So she isn’t too surprised when a tall pale woman with huge butterfly wings appears to her and tel... Read More

The Witch-Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom: A strange yet oddly forgettable film…

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The White-Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom directed by Jacob Cheung

I'm always in the mood for a good wuxia-fantasy, and The White-Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom has everything you'd expect from the genre: a noble hero, a sprawling plot, a number of gravity-defying action scenes, and an enigmatic woman at its heart.

Based on the novel Baifa Monü Zhuan by Liang Yusheng, the story is set in the last days of the Ming Dynasty, a time in which China is threatened by both foreign invaders and internal corruption. Famine spreads across the land, but a woman known only as Jade Raksha helps the starving people by attacking soldiers and stealing supplies.

From the Wudang Mountains journeys a man called Zhuo Yihang, chosen by his people to deliver the Emperor's medicine to the palace. On the way he gets caught up in the political machinations of his country when he cro... Read More

Sunday Status Update: September 25, 2016

Something of a slow week, which means... it's time for the characters to take over again.

Ayesha: Week 148,394. Still no Kallikrates. I did have a rather bizarre visit, though. Some pale little man showed up from nowhere in particular with a lot of pamphlets and started telling me about how I should accept Jesus Christ as my personal lord and savior. Jesus is either on his way to me, or has already been here and left, or maybe he's just spying on me from somewhere? Honestly, I was getting very little of it, because the interpreter was dreadful. In the end, I promised that if I saw Jesus, I would welcome him. That seemed to satisfy the funny little man, and off he went. I don't know why he thought it was such a momentous decision. It's not like I charge admission to this place. If a dancing elephant came by wanting to visit, I'd probably let him in too. I lead a boring life.
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Twilight Zone: Shadow and Substance by Mark Rahner, Tom Peyer, and John Layman

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Twilight Zone: Shadow and Substance by Mark Rahner, Tom Peyer, and John Layman Illustrated by Edu Menna, Randy Valiente, Rod Rodolfo, Jose Malaga, and Colton Worley.

Twilight Zone: Shadow and Substance is a large (250 pages) collection of, well, new Twilight Zone stories in graphic form. Or maybe “newish” might be better, as several have deliberate (I’m assuming) echoes of classic Twilight Zone tale, and most have, at least in my mind, a bit of a retro feel to them. I’m not sure this element however is as intentional, leaving many of the stories feeling more than a little predictable and stale. I suppose, for those who don’t read often in the genre o... Read More

The Function of the Blade

A.J. Smith



A. J. Smith has been devising the worlds, histories and characters of THE LONG WAR CHRONICLES for more than a decade. He was born in Birmingham, UK, and works in secondary education. He is the author of The Black Guard (October 1, 2016) and The Dark Blood (December 1, 2016) from Head of Zeus, distributed by Trafalgar Square Publishing.

Swords are big chunks of toughened, often sharpened, metal. They have one practical application - to cut or pierce flesh. Some are better at cleaving or crushing armour, some are designed to be light and others designed to be duelling weapons - the clash of steel upon steel needing a particular kind of blade. In our modern world, where the sword is less of a life and death object, it has become a beautiful artefact to be studied and admired. There is now a romanticism attached to the blade, as if its status has become more... Read More

Death’s End: Truly epic finale to the THREE-BODY trilogy

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Death’s End by Cixin Liu

Listening to Cixin Liu’s THREE-BODY trilogy reminds me of those graphics on cosmology that illustrate our relative scale in the universe. It starts with the microscopic world of individual atoms and molecules (or even subatomic particles like quarks and neutrinos), expands outward to individual cells, organisms, and larger creatures, then jumps out further to continents and the planet Earth, zooming back to encompass our solar system, the Milky Way galaxy, and then pulling out further to an endless sea of galaxies that make up our universe. But Liu doesn’t stop there. He’s just gotten started, really. After all, there are more universes out there, and we’ve only mentioned three dimensions so far.

This review will contain some mild spoilers for the pr... Read More

The Time Traveler’s Wife: A haunting and bittersweet love story

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The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

I'm certainly late to the party when it comes to reading Audrey Niffenegger's first novel — I remember it making a huge splash when it was first published, and was astonished to flip open my copy and realise it was released back in 2003. Time certainly flies, which is an apt idiom to recall when reading The Time Traveler's Wife.

Clare meets Henry for the first time when she's six and he's thirty-six. Henry meets Clare for the first time when he's twenty-eight and she's twenty. This is made possible by the fact Henry is born with a rare genetic disease that sporadically pulls him into his past or future, often depositing him in strange locations where he's left stranded and alone.

What makes matters worse... Read More

The Saliva Tree: A tribute to H.G. Wells

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The Saliva Tree by Brian W. Aldiss

In 1966, with the 100th anniversary of H.G. Wells’ birthday approaching, Brian W. Aldiss wrote a story in tribute of one of, if not, the genre’s grandfather. The resulting novella, The Saliva Tree, distills elements of The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds into a suspenseful horror story that has just the socio-political agenda ‘grandpa’ would have approved of.

Set in the late 19th century, The Saliva Tree opens with two “scientifically enlightened” young men standing in the countryside of rural England, watch... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Rename This Horrible Cover

It's been nearly a year since we played "Rename This Horrible Cover." Far too long!

Please help us rename this atrocious-looking science fiction novel by Catherine Asaro. Wow. It's really bad... Well, at least the cover is... We haven't worked up the nerve to actually read the book yet.

The creator of the title we like best wins a book from our stacks. (Sorry, we don't have Diamond Star.)

Got a suggestion for a horrible cover that needs renaming? Please send it to Kat.

We love this game!

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Between Light and Shadow: A prodigious study of SFF’s most elusive writer

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Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe, 1951 to 1986 by Marc Aramini

Last year I tried twice (unsuccessfully) to finish The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Retrospective of His Finest Fiction, giving up in defeat. Gene Wolfe is frequently described as one of the most brilliant SFF writers in the genre by critics, authors, and readers alike. Some fans prize his books above all others, and there is a WolfeWiki page dedicated to discussing his work. But there are also many SFF readers that are baffled and frustrated by his stories because they are packed with metaphors, literary references, and hidden themes, and require extremely close reading to understand and appreciate. So I didn’t expect to make any more attempts in the near future.

However, when the 2016 Hugo Awards... Read More