Marion chats with Jon Courtenay Grimwood


Jon Courtenay Grimwood was born in Malta and grew up in Southeast Asia, Norway and Britain. He won the British Science Fiction Association Award for best novel in 2003, for...

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Dying Inside: Inside the mind of a mind reader


Readers’ average rating: Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg is the painfully intimate portrait of David Selig, a man who has been blessed (or...

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How to Make Fictional People Do All the Work, Part 1


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

The Last Days of New Paris: Surrealism comes for us all

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The Last Days of New Paris by China Miéville

Putting it simply, China Miéville’s The Last Days of New Paris is a “China Miéville” story. For many readers, that’s sufficient information to begin reading.

But here are some additional details, just in case. The Last Days of New Paris is a novella length alternate history in which the Nazis and the resistance fight to control Paris. Something weird is going on in this timeline: surreal creatures called “manifs” wander the streets of Paris after an S-Blast took the surreal creatures out of the artworks and into the world. The “manifs” don’t like Nazis, and so the latter counter the former by m... Read More

All These Worlds Are Yours: The Scientific Search for Alien Life

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All These Worlds Are Yours: The Scientific Search for Alien Life by Jon Willis

All These Worlds Are Yours: The Scientific Search for Alien Life (2016), by Jon Willis, is structured around a simple proposition: if you had four billion dollars to spend (Willis explains why that number late in the book) to seek out non-terrestrial life, where would it make the most sense to spend it? Willis gives his readers a head start by narrowing their choices at the outset to five "plausible scenarios:"

Mars (of course)
Europa
Enceladus
Titan
An exoplanet

Willis begins by offering up a relatively quick but sufficiently detailed overview of the conditions that apparently were necessary for life on Earth (liquid water, magnetic field, atmosphere, plate tectonics, a basic shared biochemistry, and a few others),... Read More

SFM: Liu, Bisson, Kowal, Landis

Short Fiction Monday: There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. In honor of the just-ended MidAmeriCon II and the awarding of the 2016 Hugos, this week's reviews are all past Hugo award winners that are available to read free online.


“Mono No Aware” by Ken Liu (2012, originally published in The Future is Japanese anthology, reprinted 2013 and free online at Lightspeed, Read More

The Sunlight Pilgrims: Chills to the bone

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The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan

The premise of Jenni Fagan’s 2016 novel, The Sunlight Pilgrims, is entirely plausible: in the not-so-far-off future of November 2020, winter has descended upon the globe, the Gulf Stream is both slowing and cooling, a gigantic iceberg is making its way from Norway to Scotland, and the Thames is overflowing from the extra water created by melting polar ice caps. Rather than focus on climatologists or environmental and economic protestors, however, Fagan presents three average people and the ways their lives intertwine and change as they try to survive the worst winter on record.

Until recently, Dylan McRae lived in a Soho art-house movie theatre with his mother and grandmother, distilling homemade gin and sharing the joys of classic cinema with their dwindling patrons. Both women have died, unfortunately, and... Read More

In the Courts of the Sun: Promising techno-thriller/time travel hybrid can’t quite deliver

Readers’ average rating: Comment Reviews for this post are disabled. Please enable it first

In the Courts of the Sun by Brian D’Amato

In the Courts of the Sun is an interesting novel, built Frankenstein’s-monster-like from the elements of a Michael Crichton techno-thriller, Gary Jennings' Aztec series, and one of Stephen Baxter's unique spins on time travel. I enjoyed the book, but it's uneven. The book was written by artist Brian D'Amato and is the first in the JED DE LANDA two-book series.

The story is heavily character-driven, led by Jed DeLanda, a supremely intelligent, anti-social, hard-core gamer of Mayan descent. DeLanda is one of the few people in the world who can play an... Read More

Sunday Status Update: August 12, 2016

This week, Drizzt reflects on living in a Dungeons and Dragons universe.

Drizzt: This week, I set out on a quest again. Ah, I am reminded of the simple pleasures of the campaigning life! The many pleasant hours spent in travel with boon companions! The conversations with the stout-hearted but bluffly parochial villagers! The countless philosophical debates over the nature of a short rest versus a long one. The inevitable band of goblins that's lying in wait at the start of every new journey. The way the paladin keeps doing things that might seem manifestly stupid only to claim that he is only remaining true to his "alignment." The irritating way trained warriors occasionally fail a basic attack for absolutely no reason, and neither height nor weight seems to have any bearing on one's ability to wield an enormous two-handed sword. Ah, friends, is there anything better?

... Read More

The Mechanical Other

Matt Perkins



Matt Perkins is a Canadian author, software developer, musician, and all-around decent human being. His first novel, the alternate-Earth sci-fi thriller Winterwakers, is currently available on eBook and paperback. His writing has also appeared on  Read More

Sandman: Endless Nights by Neil Gaiman

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Sandman: Endless Nights by Neil Gaiman

Having just finished the 10-volume epic SANDMAN saga, it’s hard to imagine anything that can top this achievement. In aggregate, it is certainly the most ambitious comic of its time, and having depicted the character arc of Dream, also known as Morpheus and the Sandman, there is isn’t much to add to that. At the same time, since the Endless have lived for the lifetime of the current universe (and perhaps previous iterations), there are an infinite number of side-stories that Gaiman could conceive. So it was inevitable that he would choose to pen some stories that featured each of the Endless — this project itself could be endless, if there’s enough demand from Sandman fans.

Endless Nights has a story about each of the Endless, each penned by different artists whom Gaiman chose to best represent the ... Read More

Yorath the Wolf: A good follow-up to A Princess of the Chameln

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Yorath the Wolf by Cherry Wilder

Warning: May contain spoilers for A Princess of the Chameln

One of the mysteries laid out in Cherry Wilder’s A Princess of Chameln is the identity and whereabouts of Aidris’s cousin, the child of Elvedegran, her mother’s sister and the queen of Mel’Nir. The common understanding is that, because of a monstrous birth defect, the child and the mother both died. However, late in A Princess of Chameln, Aidris receives news that confirms her mother’s deathbed prophecy: Elvedegran’s child lives.

Yorath, the titular character of Yorath the Wolf (1984), the sec... Read More

The Vampire: South-of-the-border neck noshing

The Vampire directed by Fernando Mendez

The DVD company known as Casa Negra has managed to impress me yet again. Specializing in Mexican horror films of the classic era of 1956 - '65, this outfit had previously wowed me with great-looking, extras-packed DVDs of such wonderful films as The Brainiac, The Witch's Mirror, The Man and the Monster, and especially The Black Pit of Dr. M and The Curse of the Crying Woman (I personally deem that last one a horror masterpiece). And now, The Vampire, which was originally released in 1957 under the title El Vampiro ... and a good thing, I suppose, as there seems to have been a little-seen American film called The Vampire released that same year. El Vampiro was directed by Fernando Mendez, who had previously made a mark on Mexican audiences with his 1956 horror picture Body Thief, so much so that producer Abel Salazar hired him to helm... Read More