Chapter 6 of Hang Fire by Devon Monk


Today we’re featuring Chapter 6 of Devon Monk’s story Hang Fire, which is an internet-only steampunk short story set in late 1800’s America. It takes place between...

Read More
To Live Forever: Vance writes about things that fascinate me


To Live Forever (aka Clarges) by Jack Vance In Clarges, a city in the far future, humans have conquered death. Unfortunately, there’s just not enough room for billions of...

Read More
AMULET: The Stonekeeper & The Stonekeeper’s Curse by Kazu Kibuishi


The Stonekeeper & The Stonekeeper’s Curse by Kazu Kibuishi Kazu Kibuishi is the author of the AMULET series, a set of young adult graphic novels published by Scholastic. Book...

Read More
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...

Read More

Recent Posts

Aurora: Overly long but powerful

Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

Aurora, by Kim Stanley Robinson, has major issues with pacing, characterization, and to some extent, plotting. Which would seem to make this review a no-brainer “not recommended.” But if one can overlook issues of plot, character, and pace (and granted, that’s a Grand Canyon-level overlook), there’s a lot here to often admire and sometimes enjoy, and a reader who perseveres will, I think, not only be happy they did so, but will also find Aurora lingering in their mind for some time. (Note: While I don’t think anything revealed ahead will mar the reading experience, it’s pretty nigh impossible to discuss this book substantively without some plot spoilers. So fair warning.)

Generations ago, a starship left Earth with plans to set up a colony ... Read More

Superposition: A quantum-physics courtroom thriller

Superposition by David Walton

David Walton’s new book Superposition is billed by the publisher as a “quantum physics murder mystery.” Clearly, Walton loves quantum physics and can explain its concepts in an understandable way. Choosing alternating first-person narrators was a stroke of brilliance, upping the suspense, at least in the beginning as the story unfolds.

Jacob Kelly is a physicist who resigned from the New Jersey Super-Collider (Yes! New Jersey has the biggest super-collider in the world in this book!). Now he teaches at Swarthmore College. A former colleague of his, Brian Vanderhall, comes to Kelly’s house, claiming he has made an extraordinary breakthrough, which he has. Things don’t go well in the meeting. A day later Vanderhall is dead, and Jacob is the obvious suspect. Jacob must work to get acquitted, and also contain the result of Brian’s experiment. Jacob... Read More

Earth Abides: Not with a bang, but a whimper…

Earth Abides by George R. Stewart

George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides (1949) won the International Fantasy Award and was selected as one of David Pringle’s Best 100 SF Novels, but I’m guessing many SFF readers have never heard of it. You may have heard of pastoral SF (ala Clifford Simak), and this book may be best classified as post-holocaust pastoral SF, perhaps even "bucolic SF" (similar books include Leigh Bracket's Long Tomorrow and Pat Frank's Alas, Babylon). In Earth Abides, civilization is wiped out by a mysterious and never-explained virus, but our intrepid protagonist Isherwood Williams ("Ish" to his buddies) makes the best of a primitive existence, first surviving alone by scavenging from the bountiful remains of grocery stores, hardware shops, and gas stations, and eventually gathering together a few stragglers t... Read More

The Adventure of the Ring of Stones: A Langdon St. Ives novella

The Adventure of the Ring of Stones by James P. Blaylock

The Adventure of the Ring of Stones is one of several novellas written by James P. Blaylock that Subterranean Press has published. Each of these is a stand-alone steampunk adventure featuring Langdon St. Ives, the gentleman scientist/adventurer who stars in Blaylock’s LANDGDON ST. IVES novels. It would be helpful, but not at all necessary, to have read the novels Homunculus, Lord Kelvin’s Machine, and The Aylesford Skull before reading this novella. Not so much for the history of the character, but really more so you’ll be in tune with Blaylock’s very particular sense of humor. It may not seem like it at first, but these books are comedies and I’m not sure how well that comes across in Blaylock’s shorter works if you’re not already familiar with his style. Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Identify Last Month’s Covers

Today’s covers all come from books we reviewed in February 2015. 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 bug Marion.

And, as always, we've got Read More

Discount Armageddon: Displays fancy footwork

Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire

I’m not an expert on paranormal romance versus urban fantasy, especially when the book seems to land right on the border of those two sub-genres. Based on the sexiness of the female hero,  the hotness quotient of the boyfriend/adversary, the quality of the sex (steamy!) and the speed at which, after that first passionate connection, they are arguing again (mere minutes!) I’m categorizing Discount Armageddon as paranormal romance (PR). I’m also categorizing it as fun.

Seanan McGuire is one of the busiest writers in the field; she writes urban fantasy (the OCTOBER DAYE series), SF-horror under the name of Mira Grant, and paranormal romance, as well as novellas and shorter fiction. Read More

Darwinia: Europe, suddenly terraformed

Darwinia by Robert Charles Wilson

In 1912, continental Europe suddenly changed into a foreign wilderness. Where there once were European nations arming for war, there are now new ecosystems and alien creatures. There is even a baffling, new evolutionary history. Christians declare “Darwinia” a miracle — what else could explain what’s happened but Biblical precedent? America, meanwhile, declares the continent open for exploration and settlement.

Guilford Law, originally from Boston, is an ambitious photographer who travels to England with his wife and daughter. He leaves them there before traveling alone with the Finch expedition. The expedition hopes to penetrate the European wilderness, and Guilford hopes to make a name for himself.

Elias Vale, meanwhile, is an American con man who suddenly realizes that he has been inhabited by a demon that grants him strange powers. Vale begins making a name for himself ... Read More

The Black Wheel: A must for all Merritt completists

The Black Wheel by Abraham Merritt & Hannes Bok

When Abraham Merritt died of a heart attack on August 21, 1943, at the age of 59, the world lost one of the greatest writers of adventure fantasy of all time. He left behind a number of novels in various stages of completion, including the first quarter of The Black Wheel. Hannes Bok, an artist and illustrator who did almost 150 covers for assorted pulp magazines, starting with the December 1939 issue of Weird Tales, took on the formidable task of completing Merritt's story. Bok was the first artist, by the way, to win a Hugo award, and went on to pen several other novels of his own. I must say that he does a rather good job at pastiching Merritt's style;... Read More

The Octagonal Raven: Be patient with it

The Octagonal Raven by L.E. Modesitt Jr

His fantasy, in particular the RECLUCE saga, is a lot more popular but L.E. Modesitt Jr. has also written quite a few science fiction novels. I've read a number of these now and they are usually an all or nothing read for me. Some I enjoyed tremendously (Flash, Adiamante, The Forever Hero), others I will never read again (The Ethos Effect, Archfrom: Beauty). The Octagonal Raven has the unusual distinction of combining these two feelings in one book. I have never come across a book that is so much in need of some serious editing in the first part of the story, yet managing such a thrilling climax that I read the second part of the novel in one sitting.

The main character in The Octagonal Raven is ... Read More

WWWebsday: March 24, 2015

Last week, I didn't post a web-roundup because I was abducted by Martians and they wiped my brain. Sorry, everyone.

Library of the Ancients, by Te Hu

Writing, Editing, and Publishing:

Margaret Atwood has a new book coming out in September, set in the near-future world of her Positron short stories.

Cat Valente talks boy heroes vs. girl heroes as she discusses her upcoming book, The Bo... Read More