Mary Sue/Gary Stu – Valid Critique or Cynic’s Bandwagon?


Today we give the platform to one of my favorite authors, Janny Wurts. She wonders if you think the Mary Sue / Gary Stu critique is being overly applied by cynical critics these...

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Warbreaker: Sequel, please!


Readers’ average rating: Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson I just finished Warbreaker, and the words that keep coming to mind are “That was so good!” This is the...

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Ten reviewers … Ten novels … One great bundle of books!


Blair MacGregor writes fantasy—adventurous, epic, and dark. She is a graduate of Viable Paradise, chairs SFWA’s Self-Publishing Committee, and runs a Patreon for...

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Our rating system


We realize that we’re not professional literature critics — we’re just a group of readers who love to read and write about speculative fiction — but we...

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Recent Posts

Good Morning, Midnight: Your book club might enjoy this

Readers’ average rating:

Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton

Lily Brooks-Dalton’s general fiction novel, Good Morning, Midnight (2017), is literary in nature but uses speculative elements to contemplate isolation, hope, despair and human connection. The book has beautiful prose, especially in some of the descriptions of the arctic, and interesting insights into human nature, but it was not a completely satisfying book for me. In a few places, the hand of the author can be seen forcing events in order to make the story work, and some of these tropes, particularly the literary ones, felt too familiar. Still, it’s worth checking out for the writing alone.

Good Morning, Midnight follows two characters who are about as far apart spacially as one can imagine. Augustine is an astronomer who has remained behind at an arctic observatory site... Read More

Mirror Dance: A fine metaphor

Readers’ average rating:

Reposting to include Stuart's new review.

Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold

This is Marion's review of The Vor Game, Brothers in Arms, and Mirror Dance. Kat's comments about Mirror Dance are at the bottom.

Miles Vorkosigan is nearly a dwarf, with bones as brittle as fine porcelain, and he is a Vor, one of the elite, the son of the Imperial Regent. The Vor, and everyone on Barrayar for that matter, are terrified of mutation because of their history, and Miles looks like a mutation even though he isn’t one. During the middle books of this series, Miles finds a way to serve his planet while succeeding in space, where for the most part people judge achievement more than physical appearance.

Miles cannot escape his Barrayaran heritage, however. In The Vor Game Read More

Sunday Status Update: April 22, 2018

Another week has passed already, and we did plenty of reading.

Jana: This week I finished both Bryan Camp's The City of Lost Fortunes (review to come) and Kim Stanley Robinson's Aurora (a bit slow-going, but still good), along with Adrie... Read More

Jupiter’s Circle by Mark Millar

Readers’ average rating: 

Jupiter’s Circle (Volumes 1 & 2) by Mark Millar, a prequel to Jupiter’s Legacy, is an excellent retelling and critique of the golden age of superheroes. There’s plenty of action, but it is sidelined for the primary purpose of telling the private lives of the heroes. Their trials and tribulations behind the scenes are what make this comic so good. We see what the public in the comic does not, and what we see is often not a pretty sight. And by making certain characters similar to Superman and Batman, Millar gives us insight into our own famous comic book superheroes.

In Volume 1, the six-issue story arc is broken up into three smaller stories of two issues each. The first deals with a closeted superhero in Hollywood. He juggles three different lives: His secret identity as a famous and re... Read More

How The Universe Works: An Illustrated Guide to the Cosmos and All We Know About It

Readers’ average rating:

How the Universe Works by Chartwell Books

Though not without some issues, How the Universe Works is generally an excellent reference work for a decently wide range of readers young to old (I’d guess it’s targeted at older teens and adults). Elementary school children will feel a little overwhelmed by some of the text, but the wonderful graphics: cut-away diagrams, timelines, etc., will provide them some clear and manageable info. Older young readers will follow the textual information better and the illustrations will serve as enhancement and clarification, while older readers who know some of this information will find the illustrations allow for better visualization while the text will serve as concise reminders.

Chapter One deals with cosmography, opening with a good visual “zoom out” to give a sense of our place in the universe, moving from the solar ... Read More

Scythe: Killing with (or without) kindness

Readers’ average rating:

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

I’m unfamiliar with Neal Shusterman’s other novels and his work on television shows like Animorphs and Goosebumps, but simply based on what I enjoyed about Scythe (2016) and considering that it was nominated for the Printz Award in 2017, I feel confident in saying that he knows how to write for his audience while throwing in some interesting curveballs that keep this novel, the first in a dystopian YA trilogy, from feeling like a rubber-stamp duplication of every mediocre example of that genre.

Scythe sets up a future world in which humanity no longer fears aging, disease, famine, or war — we have eliminated our worst foes and national boundaries, and now, basic needs are met by a powerful global A.I. known as Thunderhead. (Modern cloud storage turned up to 11, basically.... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Identify last month’s covers

Today’s covers all come from books we reviewed in March 2018. Once you identify a book cover, in the comment section list:

1. The number of the cover (1-16)
2. The author
3. The book title



Please identify just one cover that has not yet been identified correctly so that others will have a chance to play. If they're not all identified by next Thursday, you can come back and identify more.

Each of your correct entries enters you into a drawing to win a book of your choice from our stacks. Winners are notified in the comments, so make sure to check the notification box or remember to check back in about 10 days. If we don't choose a winner within 2 weeks, please ... Read More

Magic of Wind and Mist: Enchanting and entertaining

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Magic of Wind and Mist by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Cassandra Rose Clarke originally published two novels, The Assassin’s Curse and The Pirate’s Wish, which were later collected in the omnibus Magic of Blood and Sea. The omnibus Magic of Wind and Mist (2017) collects two more novels, The Wizard’s Promise and its previously-unpublished sequel, The Nobleman’s Revenge. Magic of Wind and Mist is directly affected by the events within Magic of Blood and Sea, and certain events and characters will ma... Read More

The Gone-Away World: Relentlessly ironic, digressive, and clever

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The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway

The Gone-Away World (2008) is a post-apocalyptic comedy/tragedy about our world before and after the Gone-Away Bombs have wiped up out much of humanity and the world we know. It is about Gonzo Lubitsch and his nameless best friend, who work for a special crew that is assigned to put of a fire along the Jorgmond pipeline, which produced the special material “Fox” that can eliminate the Stuff, the matter that is left over after gone-away bombs have removed the information from matter so that it no longer can form coherent form and structure. Stuff takes on the shape of the thoughts of people near it — nightmarish monsters, ill-formed creatures, and “new people.” Nightmares become real, and the world itself is a nightmare of sorts.

And very soon after the story begins, we are wrenched back into Gonzo and his friend’s ... Read More

WWWednesday; April 18, 2018

Awards:

 

This year’s Man Booker Prize finalist list includes two works of genre interest.

Books and Writing:

Cameron Cuffe as Seg-El and Georgina Campbell as Lyta Zog, star-crossed lovers in Krypton. Photo from SyFy.com



At Tor.com, Seanan Maguire writes about fanfic as the best writing school there is.

For all you writers out there, some of these markets are open through the end of the month, so send them your stuff!

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