Best weapons in fantasy


Today’s topic of discussion is rather simple. What is the coolest weapon you have ever seen grace the page of a fantasy story? I have a couple in mind I’d like to...

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Who Fears Death: A book I will never forget


Readers’ average rating: Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor To be something abnormal meant that you were to serve the normal. And if you refused, they hated you… and often...

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Casual Othering and Literature of the Fantastic


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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Great SFF Deals!


We’re always looking for money-saving deals on books, comics, and audiobooks and we bet you are, too. Let’s use this page to alert each other about great deals. Just leave a...

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Recent Posts

Twilight Zone: Shadow and Substance by Mark Rahner, Tom Peyer, and John Layman

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Twilight Zone: Shadow and Substance by Mark Rahner, Tom Peyer, and John Layman Illustrated by Edu Menna, Randy Valiente, Rod Rodolfo, Jose Malaga, and Colton Worley.

Twilight Zone: Shadow and Substance is a large (250 pages) collection of, well, new Twilight Zone stories in graphic form. Or maybe “newish” might be better, as several have deliberate (I’m assuming) echoes of classic Twilight Zone tale, and most have, at least in my mind, a bit of a retro feel to them. I’m not sure this element however is as intentional, leaving many of the stories feeling more than a little predictable and stale. I suppose, for those who don’t read often in the genre o... Read More

The Function of the Blade

A.J. Smith



A. J. Smith has been devising the worlds, histories and characters of THE LONG WAR CHRONICLES for more than a decade. He was born in Birmingham, UK, and works in secondary education. He is the author of The Black Guard (October 1, 2016) and The Dark Blood (December 1, 2016) from Head of Zeus, distributed by Trafalgar Square Publishing.

Swords are big chunks of toughened, often sharpened, metal. They have one practical application - to cut or pierce flesh. Some are better at cleaving or crushing armour, some are designed to be light and others designed to be duelling weapons - the clash of steel upon steel needing a particular kind of blade. In our modern world, where the sword is less of a life and death object, it has become a beautiful artefact to be studied and admired. There is now a romanticism attached to the blade, as if its status has become more... Read More

Death’s End: Truly epic finale to the THREE-BODY trilogy

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Death’s End by Cixin Liu

Listening to Cixin Liu’s THREE-BODY trilogy reminds me of those graphics on cosmology that illustrate our relative scale in the universe. It starts with the microscopic world of individual atoms and molecules (or even subatomic particles like quarks and neutrinos), expands outward to individual cells, organisms, and larger creatures, then jumps out further to continents and the planet Earth, zooming back to encompass our solar system, the Milky Way galaxy, and then pulling out further to an endless sea of galaxies that make up our universe. But Liu doesn’t stop there. He’s just gotten started, really. After all, there are more universes out there, and we’ve only mentioned three dimensions so far.

This review will contain some mild spoilers for the pr... Read More

The Time Traveler’s Wife: A haunting and bittersweet love story

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The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

I'm certainly late to the party when it comes to reading Audrey Niffenegger's first novel — I remember it making a huge splash when it was first published, and was astonished to flip open my copy and realise it was released back in 2003. Time certainly flies, which is an apt idiom to recall when reading The Time Traveler's Wife.

Clare meets Henry for the first time when she's six and he's thirty-six. Henry meets Clare for the first time when he's twenty-eight and she's twenty. This is made possible by the fact Henry is born with a rare genetic disease that sporadically pulls him into his past or future, often depositing him in strange locations where he's left stranded and alone.

What makes matters worse... Read More

The Saliva Tree: A tribute to H.G. Wells

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The Saliva Tree by Brian W. Aldiss

In 1966, with the 100th anniversary of H.G. Wells’ birthday approaching, Brian W. Aldiss wrote a story in tribute of one of, if not, the genre’s grandfather. The resulting novella, The Saliva Tree, distills elements of The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds into a suspenseful horror story that has just the socio-political agenda ‘grandpa’ would have approved of.

Set in the late 19th century, The Saliva Tree opens with two “scientifically enlightened” young men standing in the countryside of rural England, watch... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Rename This Horrible Cover

It's been nearly a year since we played "Rename This Horrible Cover." Far too long!

Please help us rename this atrocious-looking science fiction novel by Catherine Asaro. Wow. It's really bad... Well, at least the cover is... We haven't worked up the nerve to actually read the book yet.

The creator of the title we like best wins a book from our stacks. (Sorry, we don't have Diamond Star.)

Got a suggestion for a horrible cover that needs renaming? Please send it to Kat.

We love this game!

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Between Light and Shadow: A prodigious study of SFF’s most elusive writer

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Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe, 1951 to 1986 by Marc Aramini

Last year I tried twice (unsuccessfully) to finish The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Retrospective of His Finest Fiction, giving up in defeat. Gene Wolfe is frequently described as one of the most brilliant SFF writers in the genre by critics, authors, and readers alike. Some fans prize his books above all others, and there is a WolfeWiki page dedicated to discussing his work. But there are also many SFF readers that are baffled and frustrated by his stories because they are packed with metaphors, literary references, and hidden themes, and require extremely close reading to understand and appreciate. So I didn’t expect to make any more attempts in the near future.

However, when the 2016 Hugo Awards... Read More

The Lazarus Effect: Readable but not memorable

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The Lazarus Effect by Frank Herbert & Bill Ransom

The Lazarus Effect (1983) is part of the PANDORA SEQUENCE that Frank Herbert wrote with Bill Ransom. The series has its origin in Herbert's 1966 novel Destination: Void, of which he published a revised edition in 1978, prior to the release of The Jesus Incident (1979), his first collaboration with Ransom. The Jesus Incident was rough around the edges, mostly because a copyright issue came up that required lots of last-minute rewriting. The Lazarus Effect was written in a less frantic fashion but, interesting enough, The Jesus Incident Read More

A report from HawaiiCon! (WWWednesday: September 21, 2016)

Sunset on the Kohala Coast



Words for Wednesday; aloha means “hello,” “hi,” and “goodbye.” Mahalo means “thank you,” and slippah is a noun for a soft-soled foot-covering that might be worn indoors except nobody wears shoes indoors. E Komo Mai means “welcome.”

Books and Writing:

Over at Tor, Sarah Gailey discusses the function of Hermione Granger in the HARRY POTTER books. She’s not exactly a sidekick, because she has her own motives and her own story. (Thanks to File 770.)

Kelly Lassiter sent us this link to a discussion about book reviewing and the difficulties of using a rating system. In their case it’s letter grades. I think ... Read More

A Shadow Bright and Burning: Lovecraftian monsters invade Victorian England

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A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess 

In this Victorian-era fantasy, sixteen year old Henrietta Howel, who is now a teacher at the Brimthorn orphanage in Yorkshire where she has spent the last eleven years, has developed an ability to magically set things on fire. She believes this marks her as a witch or magician, who are imprisoned or put to death in England since a horrific event eleven years earlier, when a magician’s spell misfired and opened a portal in our world from another dimension. Through this portal entered the Seven Ancients, magical demons who have been terrorizing England ever since, killing hundreds of people with the help of their Familiars, humans who have been turned into their evil servants.

While magicians are vilified in British society as a result, sorcerers, on the other hand, are revered ― despite the fact that a sorcerer participa... Read More