Bill Chats with Kate Milford

Kate Milford’s recent novel The Broken Lands is set in the same universe as her earlier The Boneshaker, though it involves different characters and takes place some years...

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Breadcrumbs: For anyone who has ever been a geeky kid

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu Hazel and Jack have always been best friends, bonding over their shared love of science fiction and fantasy. They play make-believe “superhero baseball”...

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Grip: The Strange World of Men by Gilbert Hernandez

Grip: The Strange World of Men by Gilbert Hernandez Gilbert Hernandez is one of my favorite writers and one of my favorite artists, so I love getting a chance to read anything by...

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Our favorite books of 2014

Here are our favorite books published in 2014. Hover over the cover to see who recommends each book and what they say about it. Please keep in mind that we did not read every SFF...

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Recent Posts

WWWednesday: October 7, 2015

On this date in 1714, residents of the Netherlands city of Alkmaar took to the street in a full-blown riot. What caused their outrage? The city fathers had attempted to levy a tax on beer. Don’t mess with the beer, people.

Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John -- @ Palacco Vecchio, various attributions.


Sir Terry Pratchett’s estate announced a $1 million Australian endowment for the University of South Australia. The scholarship will be awarded every two years. It will pay two years’ worth of expenses for the student, and provides $100,000 to that student for an additional year of study at the UniSA or at ... Read More

Throne of Glass: Didn’t much care for it

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

There are two main storylines in Throne of Glass. In one, a deadly assassin is unleashed from prison to travel to the capital and take part in a royal tournament for hired killers where the competitors often meet mysterious and gruesome ends (because, you know, assassin tournament). In the other, an extremely flaky girl tries on lots of expensive dresses, goes to parties, gushes over how pretty she looks today, and flirts with attractive men who like to pamper her with expensive presents. In a brighter universe, the novel would end with the assassin murdering the Popular Girl before she had the chance to complete her dude-harem. Alas, the assassin and the girl are of course the same person, and consequently neither plotline feels fully realized. It’s as if author Sarah J. Maas really wanted to write a courtly romance/mystery book before someone put a gun to he... Read More

The Crystal World: Time and death are defeated as crystallization takes over

The Crystal World by J.G. Ballard

The Crystal World (1966) is J.G. Ballard’s third apocalyptic work in which he destroys civilization, the other two being The Burning World (1964) and The Drowned World (1962). It seems he likes the elements, having employed floods, draughts, and now crystallization. The process somewhat resembles Ice-9 in Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle (1963), but there is no ironic humor to be found in this book as far I could tell. In The Drowned World, the flooding of the world was used as a metaphor for diving deep into the collective racial memories of the Triassic-age, when dinosaurs ruled the Earth. This time, Ballard posits a ... Read More

The Sparrow: A deep space exploration of new worlds and the meaning of religion

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

Not one sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. ~Matthew 10:29

I thoroughly enjoyed this expansive story of space travel and first contact. The Sparrow (1996), a multiple award-winning novel from Mary Doria Russell and the first book in THE SPARROW duology, is wonderfully deep in its exploration of culture clash and how individual experiences, both spiritual and physical, shape those interactions. Russell is at her best in bringing her characters to life and deftly creating three dimensional imagery that are at once understandable, real, and relatable.

The story revolves around a Jesuit priest, Sandoz, who returns from a Mission to a far planet, alone, barely alive, and deeply changed from the man that left. Russell bounces back and forth between the 'current' Sandoz, and the back-story lea... Read More

João chats with Stephen Aryan (and gives away a few copies of Battlemage)

Now winding down his hectic promotion schedule, Stephen Aryan joins us at Fantasy Literature to talk about his debut fantasy novel, Battlemage, his literary influences, and to tease us about what may be in store for the sequel, Bloodmage.

Three random commenters, two with a US address and one with a UK address, will win a copy of Battlemage. Start your comment with (US) or (UK) according to where you live to enter the giveaway, and please welcome, Stephen Aryan!

João Eira: Hi Stephen, hope everything is going well. To start things off, could you say something about your path to publishing Battlemage, your debut, and how Battlemage came to be?

St... Read More

Raising Caine: Like a dish of Neapolitan ice cream

Raising Caine by Charles E. Gannon

Neapolitan ice cream with its three stripes of flavor, vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, was a favorite in my house when I was growing up. Charles E. Gannon’s latest novel Raising Caine reminds me of that. Do you like rollicking high-tech military SF? Get yourself a bowl. You want multi-planetary space opera with unusual environments and nonhuman exo-sapients? Dish up. You want a book that makes you think about the nexus of biological evolution and social evolution? Grab a spoon, because this one’s for you.

Raising Caine is the third book in Gannon’s TALES OF THE TERRAN REPUBLIC, and to get the maximum enjoyment out of it, you should first read Fire with Fire and Trial by Fire.... Read More

A Thousand Nights: An unusual take on the Scheherazade tale

A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston

When the dust rises over the desert, the villagers know that Lo-Melkhiin is coming with his guards to choose another wife. He always takes one wife from each village, or each district within a city. And she always dies.

E.K. Johnston’s A Thousand Nights is a young adult fantasy retelling of the Scheherazade framing story for One Thousand and One Nights, the famous collection of Persian, Arabic and Middle Eastern folk tales. Lo-Melkhiin is the ruler over a large area in the ancient Middle Eastern world. Those who know him know that he has changed from the caring person he used to be, though he is still a capable ruler. What they do not know is that when he rode out alone too far into the desert one day, his body was possessed by a ruthless creature — let’s call him a demon — who then proceeds to suck the power and life f... Read More

Empire Ascendant: A disappointingly muddy follow-up to The Mirror Empire

Empire Ascendant by Kameron Hurley

I thought Kameron Hurley’s first book in her WORLDBREAKER SAGA, The Mirror Empire, was a richly imagined, ambitious novel that landed on the positive side of the ledger even if its flaws gave the book’s strengths a run for their money. Unfortunately, the flaws do a bit more than that in the sequel, Empire Ascendant, leading to an overall weaker second effort.

The Worldbreaker setting is a multi-verse with parallel worlds that, over time, shift relative to the others and with “ascendant” and “descendant” satellites that serve as sources of magical power for select people (known as “jistas”) sensitive to a particular one. One of those worlds, facing its destruction, is in the midst of invading another, with the complicatio... Read More

SFM: Seth Dickinson, Aliette de Bodard, Ilona Andrews, Rose Lemberg, Elizabeth Bourne

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. 

“Please Undo This Hurt” by Seth Dickinson (2015, free at 

Not speculative fiction, but a very insightful and poignant story of Dominga, an EMT on the verge of burnout after the man she loves breaks up with her. Her friend Nico is in a tough spot as well, after breaking up with his girlfriend because he thought she deserved better, and losing his cat to a coyote attack. Dominga and Nico feel so overwhelmed with the uncaring universe around them that they just want a way out of it: not suicide, that would be selfish, just a way to erase every speck of their exist... Read More

The Rim of the Morning: Great old school cosmic horror

The Rim of the Morning: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror by William Sloane

New York Review Books Classics has just packaged two novels by renowned author, editor and teacher William Sloane into a single offering, The Rim of the Morning: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror. Sloane is not an author I’d previously known, probably due to the fact that these stories are two of only three novels that he ever published. Stephen King contributes a short but impeccable introduction, providing a tight analysis of the stories and windows into Sloane’s background and style. Sloane wrote and edited primarily supernatural mystery/scifi, but is known in literary worlds as a writing teacher.

The first of these novels, To Walk the Night, is a Lovecraftian tale of the investigation into an a... Read More