Marion chats with Laini Taylor


Laini Taylor, who wrote the YA fantasy Daughter of Smoke & Bone, and was shortlisted for the National Book Award for Lips Touch: Three Times, has a great smile, a winning way...

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The Legends of King Arthur: One of the best retellings


THE LEGENDS OF KING ARTHUR TRILOGY by Rosemary Sutcliff There are countless retellings and adaptations concerning the life and times of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round...

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ZITA THE SPACEGIRL by Ben Hatke


ZITA THE SPACEGIRL by Ben Hatke If I were forced to choose one word to sum up Ben Hatke’s ZITA THE SPACEGIRL trilogy, it would be “delightful.” I could toss a lot more words...

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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

Magazine Monday: Clarkesworld, February 2015

The February 2015 issue of Clarkesworld Magazine opens with “The Last Surviving Gondola Widow” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. The first person narrator of the story is a woman living in Chicago who works as a Pinkerton (that is, a detective employed by the Pinkerton Agency, established in 1850 as one of the first such agencies) who was on Michigan Avenue the day the Gondolas came in from the South to rain hell down on the city. Now it appears that the widow of one of the Gondolas — for that’s how the engineers who piloted them were named, as the Gondolas would respond to the voice and touch of their own engineer like living beings — is not only still living in Illinois, but holds a position of prominence. The story is a steampunk adventure that includes a sort of engineering magic combined with a feminist sensibility. I found the story diff... Read More

Horrible Monday: The Keeper by Sarah Langan

The Keeper by Sarah Langan

Bedford, Maine, is a town with one industry: the paper mill. It’s been poisoning the water and air for generations, and workers have all sorts of physical complaints from breathing sulfur and other toxic fumes, but if anyone thought about it, they’d know that the recent closing of the mill probably dooms their town.

But no one’s thinking about the mill and the town’s economy. Instead, they’re all focused on Susan Marley. She’s a silent, beautiful woman in her mid-20’s who lives in squalor, turning a trick now and then to stay supplied with Campbell’s tomato soup, which she eats straight out of the can. She appears nightly in just about everyone’s nightmares, making her a sort of literary ghost of Dickens’s Jacob Marley.

One of the people most haunted by Susan is her sister, Liz. Liz is in high school, and is planning to put Bedford behind her as soon as possible and nev... Read More

Edge of Dark: Humanity vs. the natural and the unnatural

Edge of Dark by Brenda Cooper

In Edge of Dark, Brenda Cooper comes back to the world she created in her RUBY'S SONG duology. In it, humanity has driven AI robots to the edge of the galaxy — to the titular “Edge of Dark” — and maintained their own perimeter of ships and space stations, called The Glittering, around habitable planets, keeping warmth and life to themselves. However, the robots (called, ominously, The Next) have come back, invading a lone scientific space station, killing most of the crew, and uploading the consciousnesses of a chosen few into “soulbot” bodies. As a result of this, human and robot denizens of the three worlds — the planets, the Glittering, and the Edge — are thrown together in a tense political, environmental, and metaphysical drama that spans the galaxy.

If this s... Read More

Murder on the Orient Elite: A short GRIMNOIR CHRONICLES story

Murder on the Orient Elite by Larry Correia

For fans who just can’t wait for the next installment in Larry Correia’s GRIMNOIR CHRONICLES, you can get a quick fix by reading Murder on the Orient Elite. In this short story (only 1 hour and 15 minutes on audio) which is set in an alternate 1937, not too long after the events of Warbound, Jake Sullivan is contacted by Dr. Wells to do an undercover job on Wells’ dirigible, The Orient Elite. Wells, the psychopathic (and maybe also paranoid) psychologist, suspects that one of his passengers is planning to blow up the luxury airship on its maiden voyage and he wants Jake to figure out who the saboteur is. When Jake comes aboard, he realizes the ship is full of his usual enemies — Russian, German, and Japanese agents. Jake must uncover the plot ... Read More

Annabel Scheme: A short, clever high-tech thriller

Annabel Scheme by Robin Sloan

Set in an alternate world in which Google's place is filled by a company called Grail (a brilliant name for a search engine, by the way), and Wikipedia's by "Open Britannica," Robin Sloan’s Annabel Scheme is difficult to categorize. Is it a detective novel? An urban fantasy? A technothriller with a touch of cyberpunk? It's all of those at once. It reminds me a little of Charles Stross's LAUNDRY FILES novels with the mix of high technology and demons.

Annabel Scheme is narrated by an AI in the Watson role, observing events through detective Annabel Scheme's high-tech earrings. That's clever, because the point of view follows Scheme and yet isn't her POV. It also means, though, that t... Read More

Sunday Status Update: March 1, 2015

Supergirl again. Clearly, I just want to write for the comic book at this point. Call me, DC.

Supergirl: You know, I used to admire Green Arrow. Sort of. The guy gave up his entire fortune because he protests unjust distribution of wealth. That takes some courage. You don't see a certain prominent, pointy-eared superhero giving up his seemingly inexhaustible gazillions (I mean, seriously, he crashes the car like every other week and then he just leaves it there -- I'm pretty sure half the citizens of Gotham are driving refurbished batmobiles at this point). Anyway, point is that Green Arrow seemed like a pretty cool guy. But then I found some old press clippings, and I'm starting to think he's maybe just less cool and more... crazy.

I mean, uhhh....
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Lone Wolf and Cub: Lanterns for the Dead by Kazuo Koike

Lone Wolf and Cub (Vol. 6): Lanterns for the Dead by Kazuo Koike

The Lone Wolf and Cub series is well-known for the amount of research that went into allowing a lifelike picture of the historical era to be faithfully presented. This definitely adds to my enjoyment of the series, but added to this is the fact that while each individual story is generally self-contained there is a wider story arc that informs each of them both within and across volumes. Best of all is when specific details from previous tales make their way into later installments and not only add to the full picture we see, but show how Ogami Itto and Daigoro are growing and changing as they follow their bloody quest.

“Lanterns for the Dead”: One of the things I really like about the Lone Wolf and Cub series is the inside view it gives to the many facets of Tokugawa-era Japan. In this story we see a little bit... Read More

The Emerald City of Oz: Just another sight-seeing tour of Oz

The Emerald City of Oz by L. Frank Baum

The Emerald City of Oz is L. Frank Baum’s sixth OZ book. Here we find Dorothy Gale back at home in Kansas. Uncle Henry and Aunt Em are about to lose their farm and they despair of what will happen to their niece Dorothy since they can no longer support her. The three decide that Dorothy should go live in Oz with her friend Princess Ozma who has often tried to get Dorothy to move there. But sweet little Dorothy can’t leave Uncle Henry and Aunt Em living lives of hard labor back in Kansas, so she gets permission to bring them to Oz, too.

Thus, Dorothy gets to give her aunt and uncle a tour of Oz (oh no!) and introduce them to all her friends — Cowardly Lion, Hungry Tiger, Billina, Sawhorse, Wizard, Pumpkinhead, Scarecrow, Woggle Bug, etc, etc, etc. On her tour she also run... Read More

Book Chat: The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Hi all. We thought we’d try something a little different around here. When Jana said she was planning on reading The Martian Chronicles, I mentioned I’d been thinking lately about rereading some Ray Bradbury and wondered about maybe having a little conversation about the shared experience. Nothing formal, no particular goals or constraints, not a shared review as we’ve done in the past — just a pair of readers bouncing some reactions off each other. So here it is. Let us know what you think about this idea/format going forward (sometimes it might be two readers, sometimes it might be a half-dozen of us chatting) — is this something you’d like to see more of? 

Bill Capossere: I can’t recall which Bradbury title it was I... Read More

Chimes at Midnight: Knocked my socks off

Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire

I have enjoyed Seanan McGuire’s OCTOBER DAYE urban fantasies, but a few of her more recent novels in the series seemed to introduce too many characters and bring too many different magic systems into play. However, the latest two novels, Chimes at Midnight and The Winter Long (which I’ll review soon), have knocked my socks off with tight plotting and memorable characters. Now I once again find myself impatient for the next one to arrive, and annoyed that the September 1 publication date is so far away.

In Chimes at Midnight, Toby is working with her team — her lover, Tybalt, the local King of Cats; May, Toby’s Fetch; Jasmine, May’s shapeshifting lover; Quentin, Toby’s squire; and Raj, Tybalt’s heir — to hunt for goblin fruit. Goblin fruit is no problem for pure-blooded... Read More