Bill catches up with David Walton


David Walton is the author of Quintessence (which I gave a 4.5 last year) and its recent sequel Quintessence Sky (3.5), along with Terminal Mind, which won the 2008 Philip K. Dick...

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The Goblin Emperor: A beautiful world and even more beautiful protagonist


The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison A few weeks ago I finally finished with revisions to my dissertation and rewarded myself with a read of The Goblin Emperor, the first book...

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The Expanded Universe: Exploration Blues


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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Recent Posts

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 store, so meeting him there was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.... 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

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