Marion reports on FOGCon 2016


A few things make FOGCon different from other SFF conventions. One is its size; it’s a small convention, with probably not many more than 200 participants. FOGCon is very...

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Under Heaven: Beautiful, epic, vintage GGK


Readers’ average rating: Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay  Under Heaven is the long-awaited new novel by master fantasist Guy Gavriel Kay — and let’s get the most...

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Romani (Gypsy) Power in Sci-Fi and Fantasy


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: Anders, Nagata, Howard, McGuire, Clarke

Short Fiction Monday: After a few weeks' vacation, SFM returns to continue exploring free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. Here are a few stories we've read recently that we wanted you to know about. 


“As Good as New” by Charlie Jane Anders (2014, free at Tor.com, 99c Kindle version)

Marisol Guzmán, a pre-med student who decided that being a doctor was a better career choice than a playwright, is saved from the end of the world only because she’s housecleaning a mansion when massive earthquakes b... Read More

The Man Who Used the Universe: Unlikable protagonist makes it hard to enjoy

Readers’ average rating: 

The Man Who Used the Universe by Alan Dean Foster

I picked up Alan Dean Foster’s The Man Who Used the Universe because it was just released in audio format. It’s a stand-alone science fiction novel, set in the far future, about a man named Kees vaan Loo-Macklin. Kees is a brilliant tactician who is building a career and an empire for himself. When we first meet him, he’s the lackey of a local crime boss, but we watch for years as he works his way up, gaining riches and power as he rises. He even forms a trading alliance with a hated alien species called the Nuel.

But there are two strange things about Kees vaan Loo-Macklin. One is that he seems to form no real bonds with any individual human or alien. He doesn’t seem to care about anyone. The other, perhaps mos... Read More

The Reluctant Queen: Retraces some steps while starting new paths

Readers’ average rating:

Reposting to include Tadiana's new review:

The Reluctant Queen by Sarah Beth Durst

The Reluctant Queen (2017), the second in Sarah Beth Durst’s QUEENS OF RENTHIA trilogy, follows quite closely on the heels of The Queen of Blood and reveals the consequences of Daleina’s unexpected rise to power as the Queen of Aratay. This series is meant to be read in sequence, so there will be some mild inevitable spoilers for The Queen of Blood.

Just six months after her bloody coronation, Daleina has a large problem on her hands: she is dying, which means that her control over Aratay’s spirits is weakening, which... Read More

Sunday Status Update: July 23, 2017

This week, Peter Pan goes to Oz.

Peter: This week, I flew to a place called Kansas, and there was a lot of wind in a sort of funnel shape. Never saw one of those in England (or Neverland), but it looked like fun, so I flew into it. It wasn't a very good idea, as it turns out, and I ended up somewhere called Oz. I apparently killed a witch on the way in, but she was wicked, so that was all right. Her sister got mad at me about it, but she was another wicked witch, so I killed her too, and crowed. Then some good witch got annoyed with me and said I oughtn't to just fly around stabbing people like that and I'd better follow the yellow brick road and stop being naughty. So asked her why she didn't want me killing wicked witches, and she got all huffy and said of course I could kill wicked witches, but only after I'd learned a lesson or seen a wizard or something. This Oz place is pre... Read More

Echo by Terry Moore

Readers’ average rating: 

Echo by Terry Moore

Echo by Terry Moore is a page-turner and tells the story of how good technology gets turned into a weapon. The overall comic book series is suspenseful and reads fast even though the book is a long volume that comes in an omnibus edition. However, the story takes second place to engaging characterization, both in terms of Moore’s writing and his art. As a result, Moore creates a pleasant tension in pacing: The suspense makes you want to turn the pages quickly, but the many close-up views of women and the subtle depiction of their emotions makes you want to stop panel by panel, taking the time to study the expressions conveyed through Moore’s art.... Read More

The Backstagers Act: 1: A fantastical space for the weird kid in all of us

Readers’ average rating:

The Backstagers Act: 1 by James Tynion IV (author) & Rian Sygh (artist)

Behind the scenes of the drama club, there is a labyrinth of rooms and hallways filled with creepy critters and questionable sofas alike – that is the world of The Backstagers Act: 1 (2107). The inhabitants design and build the sets and props for the actors of the drama club and are all but forgotten in their backstage rooms. The Backstagers not only cater to the needs of the drama club but have their own adventures out of sight and out of mind of the rest of the school. It’s the perfect place for the group of misfits to gather and find belonging.

The art in The Backstagers Act: 1 is perfectly whimsical. It’s bright and cheery, full of decidedly uplifting (and wonderfully ludicrous) colours and eye-twinkles (not a weird metaphor – there are literal stars ... Read More

Expanded Universe: Demonic Muscle Cars and Undead Motorcycle Gangs

Laurence MacNaughton entered the urban fantasy universe with his DRU JASPER series, It Happened One Doomsday and A Kiss Before Doomsday. The adventures of crystal witch Dru Jasper and her magical friends as they race to stop Doomsday has a neat twist; demons and heroes who drive muscle machines, particularly a demonic car named Hellbringer.

We asked Laurence to tell us how the unholy 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona came to be, and he wrote us this guest column explaining the car’s origins. He also shares a scene from the newest book, A Kiss Before Doomsday.


Three random commenters will receive a copy of A Kiss Before Doomsday.
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The Witch Who Came in from the Cold: Spy vs. Spy in the city of a hundred spires

Readers’ average rating:

The Witch Who Came in from the Cold by Lindsay Smith, Max Gladstone, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Ian Tregillis & Michael Swanwick

The Witch Who Came in from the Cold (2017) is a study in contradictions. It’s a collaborative novel that feels seamless despite the five contributing authors: Lindsay Smith, Max Gladstone, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Ian Tregillis, and Michael Swanwick. It was originally published in serialized form by Read More

The Waking Land: Too many issues

Readers’ average rating:

The Waking Land
by Callie Bates

I’m sure there’s an audience for Callie Bates’ debut novel The Waking Land, but after reaching the halfway point (53% to be precise), I also became sure that I was not it, leading to a DNF review.

The story, which has some clear (at times perhaps too clear) historical referents, is set in a world where hundreds of years ago the nation of Caeris conquered the neighboring nation of Eren, while much more powerful than either of them is the empire of Paladis. More recently, about a decade ago, Elanna Valtai’s noble father tried to lead a rebellion to free Eren and bring back the “king in exile,” but his plans were discovered and while he was clever enough so that Caeris had no rock-hard proof, he was exiled to his estate while then five-year-old Elanna was taken hostage by Caeris’ King Antoine. Fast forwa... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Identify last month’s book covers

Today’s covers all come from books we reviewed in June 2017. 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 b... Read More