What makes a great female protagonist?


Today I will be handing over the Thoughtful Thursday reins to Nancy Holzner, author of the DEADTOWN series. Nancy is one of my favorite authors, and her razor sharp writing raises...

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Railhead: Imaginative and entertaining from beginning to end


Readers’ average rating: Reposting to include Bill’s new review. Railhead by Philip Reeve If the idea of a heist aboard a sentient train traveling at faster-than-light...

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Why I Write About Gay Dragons


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; January 17, 2018

Not the comfy chair!



This week’s word for Wednesday comes, as it does nearly always, from word explorer Haggard Hawks. The verb “to lollock” means to loll about or lounge. The even cooler word is the noun, “lollockin” which means a really comfy chair. (Yes, I know, “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!”)

Awards: 

Stephen King will receive the PEN Literary Service award in May, 2018. The award is presented to authors whose work “embodies America’s mission to oppose repression in any form and champion the best of humanity.” I hope they included King’s twitter account in his body of work!

File 770 posted the short lists Read More

Markswoman: A mostly-solid debut

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Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra

Markswoman, the 2018 debut from Rati Mehrotra, is mostly a YA fantasy novel with a post-apocalyptic Earth background and sci-fi elements sprinkled in for flair. It’s an ambitious undertaking, and though it doesn’t always succeed, the characters and their world are interesting and Mehrotra’s prose is compelling.

Kyra, an orphan newly initiated as a Markswoman in the Order of Kali, has spent the majority of her life training as an elite warrior and learning to wield her kalishium blade — a short sword which has telepathic abilities. The Order took her in after her entire family was slaughtered, and has trained her in various deadly arts under the tutelage of their leader, Shirin Mam. But dissent swells in the ranks, led by the ambitious Mistress of Mental... Read More

The Star Scroll: A mild epic fantasy

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The Star Scroll by Melanie Rawn

The Star Scroll (1989), the second novel in Melanie Rawn’s DRAGON PRINCE trilogy, picks up fourteen years after the end of the first novel, Dragon Prince. You’ll want to read Dragon Prince before starting The Star Scroll. This review will contain spoilers for Dragon Prince.

Life has been pretty easy for Prince Rohan, his wife Sioned, and their son Pol since Rohan beat Roelstra, the evil High Prince, and claimed his throne for Pol fourteen years ago. Rohan and Sioned have become rich, thanks to a secret never-ending supply of wealth that is related to... Read More

Superwomen: Gender, Power, and Representation

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Superwomen: Gender, Power, and Representation by Carolyn Cocca

In Superwomen: Gender, Power, and Representation, Carolyn Cocca turns a sharp eye on gender (along with race and class) in the world of superheroes, looking through the lens of several female heroes in particular. These are, in order:

Wonder Woman
Batgirl
The women of Star Wars: Padem Amidala, Leia Organa, Jaina Solo
The X-Women (especially Jean Grey and Storm)
Buffy
Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel

The structure allows a sort of best of both worlds exploration. Since Cocca moves chronologically, we get a sense of the grand sweep of change (or sadly, either the lack thereof or its glacial pace). But we also get to bore in on details thanks to the chapter-by-chapter focus on a single character, an aspect often lost in ... Read More

A Taste of Honey: An unusual and fascinating world

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Reposting to include Marion's new review.

A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson

Another 2016 Nebula nominee today, this time for best Novella. A Taste of Honey (2016) is set in the same world as a previous work by Kai Ashante Wilson, The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, which I confess I have not read (it’s not necessary for the understanding of this story, though it may provide some useful background to the setting and its institutions).

At its heart, A Taste of Honey is a love story between two men from different lands — wealthy nobleman, Aqib,... Read More

SFM: Rambo, Rustad, Jones, Jemisin, Wrigley

Short Fiction Monday: Our weekly exploration of free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. As the jumping-off point for this week’s SFM column, we're reviewing several of the stories mentioned in BookRiot’s January 4, 2018 column listing good places to read online short science fiction, which Marion Deeds noted in her January 10, 2018 WWWednesday column.  

“Red in Tooth and Cog” by Cat Rambo (2016, audio and text free at EscapePod, originally published in Fantasy & Science Fiction)

Renee is eating lunch in the park one day when her smartphone is stolen by a small, swiftly moving robot. Since her phone c... Read More

Dragon Prince: Now on audio!

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Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn

Melanie Rawn’s DRAGON PRINCE trilogy is finally being produced in audio format by Tantor Audio. The series begins with Dragon Prince (1985) and follows the inhabitants of a continent divided into several princedoms and ruled by a nasty and ruthless High Prince who has 17 bratty daughters but no male heir.

At the beginning of Dragon Prince, the prince of the desert region of the continent is killed while dragon-hunting and is succeeded by his son Rohan. Rohan’s youth and bookish nature do not inspire much confidence from his subjects and the High Prince and other princes assume they can take advantage of him. (There are some women in the family, including Rohan’s strong and competent older sister... Read More

Sunday Status Update: January 14, 2018

Lots of reading for FanLit this week!

Jana: This week had a much slower reading pace than last week, but still felt pretty productive. I read Rati Mehrotra's Markswoman and Adrianne Finlay's Your One and Only, two post-apocalyptic YA novels with drastically different protagonists and plotlines. I finished Alex Marshall's A War in Crimson Embers and should have a review put together in the next couple of days. I haven't quite decided what I'm going to read next, though odds are good that it'll be Melissa Albert's fair... Read More

Hermes by George O’Connor

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Hermes by George O’Connor

Hermes (2018) is the tenth book in George O’Connor’s stellar illustrated Greek gods series, and really, at this point there’s little to say that every household, especially but not exclusively, those with children, should have these books on the shelf and just automatically add them as O’Connor comes up with them. They’re just that good.

This one opens with a former slave and his dog traveling the countryside until they stop at a cottage where a many-eyed figure is the watchman over a very fine cow tethered outside. In exchange for some food and wine, the traveler offers to tell the watchman some stories, all of which, as one might imagine from the title, deal with Hermes. Logically enough, they begin with his birth and then his first act as an in... Read More

No Time to Spare: More LeGuin is always a pleasure

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No Time to Spare by Ursula K. LeGuin

I’ve said for, well, what seems like forever now, that Ursula K. LeGuin is a national treasure. And so when she comes out with a collection drawn from her blog, I’m all in, even though normally I’d run like crazy from any such compendium. In fact, I’ve used the “sounds like a blog” line as criticism (the negative sort) of other collections of essays. And yes, there are several pieces about cats in No Time to Spare (2017), seemingly a required subject for anyone posting online. But I’ll accept the occasional cat essay if it comes stringing a bunch of other LeGuin essays along behind it.

LeGuin was inspired to begin her blog by reading Jose Saramago’s own, written when he was 85/86 and published as The Noteboo... Read More