Growing into fantasy


I will assume that most of you who frequent this site have been readers for quite sometime. More than likely for most of your life. I began reading a little later than most. I...

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Alcestis: Some moments will break your heart


Readers’ average rating: Alcestis by Katharine Beutner The ancient Greeks held up Alcestis as a model of wifely devotion. Her husband, Admetus, was spared from death on the...

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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

SFM: Larson, Barnhill, Jones, Levine, Marzioli, Lee

Short Fiction Monday: Our weekly sampling of free short fiction available on the internet. Here are a few stories that caught our attention this week. 



“Masked” by Rich Larson (July 2016, free at Apex, $2.99 Kindle magazine issue. Originally published in Asimov’s Science Fiction)
It’s been a whole month since anyone’s seen Vera, and the circumstances of us finally seeing her this weekend are going to be ultra grody-odd, so I deliberate forever doing my Face. In the end I decide to go subtle: an airbrushed conglom o... Read More

Forbidden Area: As chilling now as when it was first published

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Forbidden Area by Pat Frank

Foreign espionage and sabotage undermining the credibility of American armed forces. A counter-intelligence group mocked and silenced for its theories. Shadowy plans, decades in the making. The fate of the world caught in the balance between devastation and salvation. Pat Frank describes all of these in Forbidden Area, which was first published in 1956 and is still terrifying sixty-one years later.

Harper Perennial’s 2016 re-issue of Forbidden Area only clocks in at just over 200 pages and contains four interlocking plotlines, each of which is essential to the overarching story. First there’s the introductory tale of Henry and Nina, two teenagers who happen to be necking in the Florida surf on what, in hindsight, will be an extremely momentous night. They see something that should be impos... Read More

Shards of Honor: Fall in love with the Vorkosigans

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Reposting to include Tadiana's new review.

Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold

Editor's note: This is Marion's review of Shards of HonorBarrayar, and The Warrior’s Apprentice. Kat's comments about Shards of Honor and Tadiana's review are below.

Do you like fancy military uniforms? Shiny spaceships that blow things up? Brooding aristocrats with hulking stone castles and dark secrets? Snappy comebacks and one-liners? Voluptuous women warriors? Swords and secret passages? Surprising twists on standard military tactics of engagement?

If you answered “Yes” to three or more, check out the Vorkosigan Saga. Lois McMaster Bujold started this series in the mid-80s. The Vorkosigan books start out as space opera, even having maps of the various planets a... Read More

Sunday Status Update: February 26, 2017

This week, the bat signal fails.

Batman: Field report for November: Grew angry with Commissioner Gordon earlier this week. Was sitting in cave going over notes (and trying to ignore video game noises -- never should have let Robin take a Playstation 4 into the cave) when Alfred entered and drew my attention to an ongoing firefight between Joker's men and the GCPD. He had heard about the matter on the radio. The radio! Was deeply concerned, fearing that my systems had failed to note the bat signal. Instead learned that there in fact was no bat signal. Set out at once, defeated henchmen, saved officers in peril. Confronted Gordon later that night, demanded to know reason for lack of contact.

"Uh," he said, "it's... a clear night, Batman."

"What?"

"It's clear tonight. No clouds. Doesn't happen often, I'll grant you, but when it does... well... you ... Read More

Smash written by Sara Latta and illustrated by Jeff Weigel

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Smash written by Sara Latta and illustrated by Jeff Weigel

Smash, written by Sara Latta and illustrated by Jeff Weigel, is a clear and concise explanation for young people of the standard model of physics (including the newly discovered Higgs Boson) and in particular of how the giant CERN supercollider contributes to furthering the model’s accuracy/completeness. Saying the book is aimed at the young, however, does it a bit of a disservice, as it works just as well for adults looking for that same clarity and concision.


In tried and true format, Latta has much of the explanation take the form of a dialogue between one knowledgeable person (Sophie, whose parents work at CERN) explaining a difficult concept to one struggling to understand it (her cousin Nick, visiting CERN in hope of finding inspiration for a superhero comic he’s drawing for a contest).... Read More

A Day in the Life of Researching Irish Mythology and Celts (Giveaway!)

Today Erika Lewis stops by Fantasy Literature to discuss the research process for her Celtic mythology-inspired debut YA novel, Game of Shadows, which, in my review, I called “action-packed” and “perfect for YA readers ... who enjoy high fantasy.” And we’ve got one copy of Game of Shadows to give away to a randomly chosen commenter!

I didn’t set out on writing a book steeped in Irish Celtic mythology. Game of Shadows was about Ethan Makkai, a Los Angeles high school kid cursed (his word, not mine) with the unfortunate power to see ghosts. With an overprotective mother who borders on insanity when it comes to him never going anywhere alone, Ethan just wants a little freedom. He longs for a chance ... Read More

Wolverine: Old Man Logan by Mark Millar & Steve McNiven

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Wolverine: Old Man Logan by Mark Millar (writer) & Steve McNiven (illustrator)

Logan, a grizzled west coast farmer whose only joy is his wife and two children, knows that the rent is due. He doesn’t have the dough, and when the cannibalistic Hulk Gang arrives, he will suffer a beating – if he’s lucky.

What if… all of the villains teamed up to defeat the heroes and then took over the country? Written in 2009, Mark Millar’s Old Man Logan was not released as a “What If…?” adventure, but it might as well have been. The heroes were wiped out long ago, and Logan, who has sworn to never do violence again, takes his beating to protect his family.

Hawkeye, now equal parts blind samurai and archer, hopes there might still be a bit of Wolverine left in the old farmer. He offers to pay Logan to drive with him in the Spider-... Read More

Dracula vs. Hitler: Lively war story pits the undead vs. the inhumane

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Dracula vs. Hitler by Patrick Sheane Duncan

Dracula vs. Hitler?! Yes, yes, I know — the title is beyond hokey and there’s no way that this could be a good book. A graphic novel? Maybe. But not a full-sized, 500-page novel. I love horror and I love Dracula, the Dracula as he was originally … gothically evil, not gothically high school. And World War II lit is cool. But the combination? It sounds like a comic book, or maybe the next generation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s classic-lit/horror mash-ups.

Do you want the honest truth? Dracula vs. Hitler is a very fun book. The title was a warning, but the evil v. evil angle drew me in and Dracula’s placement on the side of the allies in the middl... Read More

Ninefox Gambit: Geeky, hard sci-fi for Stephenson fans

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Reposting to include Stuart's new review.

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

In an advanced, multi-planetary empire replete with advanced technology and magical mysticism, Captain Kel Cheris finds herself forced to use heretical tactics to save her troops when she puts down a sacrilegious rebellion. Unfortunately, her superiors in Ninefox Gambit (2016) aren’t quite sympathetic to her gambit, choosing to use her as a tool to revive and serve as a bodily host to the immortal spirit form of General Shuos Jedao to save the Fortress of Scattered Needles, a religious stronghold that’s critical to the civilization’s magics. It would be a difficult enough task for Cheris since the rebels have taken and are now defending what was supposed to be an impregnable fortress — but did I mention that J... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: SFF Oscar Winners

With Oscars Night nearly upon us, we thought it might be fun to imagine not only a few of the categories/nominees that didn’t make the cut this year, but some of the possible speeches the winners might give as well.

We’ve started it off with the winner of Best Supporting Role by a Piece of Clothing — The Cloak of Levitation (Doctor Strange). We’d like to hear some of your potential categories and/or winning speeches from 2016’s best (or worst) science fiction/fantasy films.

As always, we’ll select a random commentator to receive a giveaway book from our stacks.

Cloak’s speech:
I have so many people to thank. The writers, as it truly felt like this role was tailor-made for me. The director, Scott Derrikson, for taking a chance on a relative unknown seen (or not seen) in just a handful of minor period dramas. My wiser-than-her-years agent, I. Singer. Ye... Read More