Elizabeth Bear is a literary philanderer


Please join me in welcoming to Elizabeth Bear, who’s on a blog tour to promote her newest book, Karen Memory, a unique blend of steampunk and Wild West excitement which I...

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The Knight of the Swords: Begins as a tale of revenge, but becomes much more


Readers’ average rating:  The Knight of the Swords by Michael Moorcock I started reading Michael Moorcock only a few years ago, and already he is one of my favorite authors. And...

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Fantastic Romantics, Byron Edition


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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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

WWednesday; February 22, 2017

Word for Wednesday. In The Accidental Dictionary, Paul Anthony Jones informs us that “naughty” used to mean “nothing.” It was a contraction of ne and aught, meaning “not anything.” In the 1400s the word began to take on an interpretation of “morally nothing,” and the word was used to mean bad or evil. By the Tudor era it specifically meant licentious or sexually inappropriate before gradually declining to have the  “misbehaving” meaning it generally has today.

Awards:

Robert J Sawyer won the Robert Heinlein Award for his novel Quantum Night. http://www.bsfs.org/bsfsheinlein.htm

This year’s Skylark Award, given to a person who “has contributed signifi... Read More

Crossroads of Canopy: This new fantasy series is one to watch

Readers’ average rating:

Crossroads of Canopy
by Thoraiya Dyer

The thing I loved most about Crossroads of Canopy, by Thoraiya Dyer, was the elaborate and coherent world she’s created in this new fantasy, Book One in the TITAN’S FOREST trilogy. Published in 2017, Crossroads of Canopy introduces us to a society that lives in a forest, at all elevations, from the Floorians to the Canopians, who are called “Warmed Ones” because they are the only ones to feel the sun directly on their skin. With a complex theology filled with gods who incarnate as humans, a political structure that has secular rulers as well as gods, and a detailed hierarchy that is literal as well as a metaphor, Dyer brings us right into the forest and sets up a convincing adventure for our main character, Unar.

The book is not marketed as Young Adult, but t... Read More

The Heart of What Was Lost: Tad Williams returns to Osten Ard

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The Heart of What Was Lost by Tad Williams

Note: This review will contain mild spoilers for Tad Williams’ MEMORY, SORROW & THORN trilogy, but please note that it is not necessary to have read MST and, in fact, this novel can stand alone.

There was great rejoicing heard around the world when Tad Williams announced he was returning to Osten Ard. His original OSTEN ARD trilogy, MEMORY, SORROW & THORN, has been popular with epic fantasy fans since the late 1980s. I’m one of those totally devoted fans who read it way back then when I was a young adult. Since then, I’ve been recommending the trilogy to every new fantasy reader I meet (along with ... Read More

John Langan talks Literary Horror, THE FISHERMAN and gives away a book!

John Langan has been shortlisted for numerous horror awards and received critical acclaim for both his shorter work, like his story collection Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters (Terry reviewed it here), and his two novels, House of Windows and The Fisherman (you can read our review here). In addition to writing, he edited the Creatures; Thirty Years of Monsters anthology with Paul Tremblay. Marion Interviewed him about The Fisherman, “literary” stories versus “horror” stories, and the power of landscape in fiction.

One random commenter with a USA mailing address will win a copy of The Fisherman Read More

The Tiger and the Wolf: Compelling fusion of shapeshifter lore in a Bronze Age world

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The Tiger and the Wolf by Adrian Tchaikovsky

The Tiger and the Wolf (2016), just issued in trade paperback format, immerses you a Bronze Age/early Iron Age world, where every human is a shapeshifter. People divide into clans according to the animal they change into, which happens instantly and, for the most part, at will. Their shapeshifting animal informs their clan’s physical appearance as well as the nature of their society. It's a brutal life, with the stronger tribes like Tigers and Wolves fighting for supremacy. Groups like these dominate the weaker clans like the Deer and Boars, using them as subject people, servants and thralls, and even human/animal sacrifices.

In this harsh world, Maniye, a girl of the Winter Runner Wolf tribe in the northern area known as the Crown of the World, grows up isolated and friendless. Though her father is chieftain of the... Read More

Lost Souls: A novella for CAINSVILLE completists

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Lost Souls by Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong’s Lost Souls is that quintessential three-star book. There’s nothing wrong with it, but at the same time, it didn’t blow me away.

It’s a CAINSVILLE novella that falls between book three, Deceptions, and book four, Betrayals. If you haven’t gotten that far, you’re in for a slew of spoilers, so I would recommend waiting and reading it in sequence. At the end of Deceptions, Gabriel said something cruel to Liv, and now their friendship is on shaky ground.

That’s when Gabriel encounters a new, weird case. In an echo of an old urban legend, a spectral woman in white hitches a ride with a businessman. He i... Read More

SFM: Shepard, de Bodard, Bear, Jemisin, Parker, Holland

Short Fiction Monday: Our weekly exploration of free short fiction available on the internet. This week's theme, just for fun, is stories dealing with dragons. 

The Man Who Painted The Dragon Griaule by Lucius Shepard (1984, free online at Baen.com (sample from the Bestiary anthology), originally published in Fantasy & Science Fiction, also collected in The Dragon Griaule). 1985 Hugo and 1984 Nebula nominee (novelette), 1985 World Fantasy Award nominee (novella)

In ... Read More

Game of Shadows: An action-packed YA adventure

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Game of Shadows by Erika Lewis

High school is hard enough on its own — there’s homework, bullies, unrequited crushes, and overprotective parents, just to name a few hurdles on the way to freedom and adulthood. But that’s nothing compared to the challenges presented in Erika Lewis’ Game of Shadows (2017); our intrepid hero must also learn sword fighting, diplomacy, and an entirely new language and culture if he is to save his mother from an evil sorcerer’s machinations. By comparison, Advanced Geometry seems a lot more appealing!

Ethan Makkai, newly fourteen, wants only one thing for his birthday: to walk to school without his overbearing mother, Caitríona, at his side. Sure, Los Angeles isn’t the safest city in the world, but what’s the worst that could happen? Unfortunately, after Ethan sneaks out of their apartment and gets into a fight with a bu... Read More

The Guild Conspiracy: A good YA steampunk adventure

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The Guild Conspiracy by Brooke JohnsonPublished in 2016, The Guild Conspiracy, by Brooke Johnson, is the second book in the CHRONIKER CITY STORIES series. It begins about six months after the events of Book One, The Brass Giant. Petra Wade, a young woman fighting to be accepted as an equal in the Engineers Guild, continues her struggle while also waging an asymmetrical battle against Julian Goss, an engineer who has a terrifying view of a mechanistic future world and is willing to orchestrate a war to get it.

I liked The Guild Conspiracy much better than I liked The Brass Giant, mainly because any romance is in the backgr... Read More

Sunday Status Update: February 19, 2017

This week, Frodo encounters an orc sympathizer.

Frodo: This week, some young hobbit turned up at my door wanting to talk about my book. I mean, it hasn't been published yet, but Sam talks. So I let him in and we started chatting, but over time it became obvious that what he really wanted to talk about was orcs. "Only, Mr. Baggins," he said, "I've been thinking and all. Innit the truth that orcs are really just elves?" So then I had to correct him and point out that no, in fact, orcs are elves who were taken and tortured and ruined by the Dark Lord. "Well, yes," he said, "but that just means they're still elves underneath it all, right?" I said I supposed so, though I must say the conversation was making me uncomfortable by then. "So Mr. Baggins," he went on, "I just mean to say... if all them orcs were just tortured elves 'n all... don't you feel bad that you and your lot killed... Read More