Bill chats with Matthew Kirby

Matthew Kirby is a highly acclaimed author of several Middle Grade /Young Adult novels, including Icefall (which won an Edgar Award) and The Clockwork Three. A former school...

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Heart’s Blood: I was deeply moved by this novel

Readers’ average rating: Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier Sometimes a book comes along just when you need it. Heart’s Blood was like that for me. Between Juliet...

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How to Make Fictional People Do All the Work, Part 2

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

Thoughtful Thursday: What’s your favorite scary book?

Coming up on Halloween, our thoughts turn to the scary, the creepy and the shivery. What’s your favorite scary book? I have about four, and for the most part they hit different notes.

One of the scariest books I’ve ever read was Stephen King’s The Shining. It was not only ghost-and-monster creepy, but the dissolution of a family was really terrifying. In a different way, because it unmoors us from reality one page at a time, Caitlin R. Keirnan’s book The Red Tree has got to be in my top five.

Then there are a couple of classics, courtesy of Shirley Jackson; We Have Always Lived in the Castle... Read More

Guns of the Dawn: Austen collides with muskets, warlocks and war-machines

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Guns of the Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Guns of the Dawn, originally published in 2015 in hardback and ebook, with a paperback version due on November 1, 2016, is my favorite fantasy that I’ve read this year ... and I read a lot of fantasy.

The story begins in media res, as gentlewoman Emily Marchwic fights her first battle in muggy, oppressive swamplands, as a new conscript in the Lascanne army. There’s a brief, inconclusive battle with their enemies, the Denlanders, who are almost impossible to see in the impenetrable murk until they are upon her and her friend Elise. Emily, shocked to the core by her up-close contact with death and killing, flounders away with her unit when they retreat, leaving dead on both sides behind in the swamp.

From here we flash back three years, to when the war between the countries of Lascanne and Denland ... Read More

The Singing Bones: Haunting fairy-tale sculptures

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The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan

I’m not quite sure how to review The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan. It’s not quite like anything else I’ve read, and I’m not sure I know how to review visual art in the first place. But I can certainly recommend it.

This unique book contains photographs of small sculptures by Tan, each illustrating one of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. Each sculpture encapsulates its respective tale in one haunting image, often enhanced by the lighting and arrangement of the photo, and accompanied by a short passage from the tale.

"Mother Trudy"

You will be familiar with some of the tales. Others, you might not be. ... Read More

Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism: Dor jam

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Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism directed by Harald Reinl

I have written elsewhere about my longtime love for redheaded Italian actress Lucianna Paluzzi, who captivated this viewer back in 1965 by dint of her portrayal of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. agent Fiona Volpe in the James Bond outing Thunderball. Two years later, another redheaded S.P.E.C.T.R.E. agent also caught my fancy: Helga Brandt, Agent No. 11, in the Bond blowout You Only Live Twice. Brought to indelible life by German actress Karin Dor, she remains, 45 years later, one of the sexiest of the Bond "bad girls," and her death in archvillain Blofeld's piranha pool is a 007 classic. Well, despite admiring Dor's performance in this film dozens of times over the years, I have been hard pressed to see her in anything else, other than Alfred Hitchcock's 1969 film Topaz, in which she plays Juanita de Cordoba, the widow of a Cuban revolutionary ... and a ... Read More

WWWednesday; October 26, 2016

This week’s word for Wednesday I lifted entirely from a Haggard Hawks tweet: SPREZZATURA is deliberate nonchalance, or the act of making something difficult look effortless.


The Israeli Society for Fantasy and Science Fiction has announced its 2016 Geffen winners.

The Baen Memorial Contest is open for fiction about near-future space exploration. The deadline for submissions is February, 2017.

(Thanks to Locus Magazine for both items.)

Books and Writing:

This is sad news. Locus Magazine is reporting that Sheri Tepper Read More

Lost Gods: Death is not the end

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Lost Gods by Brom

If you’ve seen any buzz about author/illustrator Brom’s newest novel, Lost Gods (2016), in which the words “Dante” or “Inferno” are heavily featured, I’d advise you to read that buzz with a pinch of salt; to rely on the similarities between Lost Gods and Inferno is to neglect the breadth and depth of Brom’s creativity and imagination, and I would sorely hate to see this level of world-building and inspiration reduced to the bare-bones concept of “guy goes to Hell” when there’s so much more presented here.

Lost Gods does feature a man who travels to the netherworld, it’s true: Chet Moran, aged twenty-four, is fresh out of county lockup and trying to set his life s... Read More

Blood Is the Color of Night: Filipino Sumisipsip Sa Leeg

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The Blood Drinkers (Blood Is the Color of Night) directed by Gerardo de Leon

Though he had started his career as a medical doctor, Gerardo de Leon went on to become not only a movie director, but the most awarded director in the history of the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (seven awards, in all). He helmed film projects in many different genres, but this viewer had, until recently, only been familiar with three of his pictures, all in the horror category. His 1959 effort Terror Is a Man, generally cited as being the first Filipino horror film, was an excellently done reworking of H.G. Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau, while the two films he directed with Eddie Romero in 1968, Read More

The Hammer of Thor: It’s Hammer Time in the Nine Worlds

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The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

The god Thor has lost his hammer again, but this time it’s even worse: the giant Thrym has gotten hold of it and has hidden it away where no one else can reach it. If the hammer isn’t returned to Thor quickly, enemies of Asgard will take advantage of their weakness and attack, triggering Ragnarok, the battle at the end of the world, and bringing massive death and destruction in the Nine Worlds.

Loki the trickster, who has been chained up by the other gods as punishment for his misdeeds, visits Magnus Chase in a dream (Loki gets around pretty well in dreamland). He tells Magnus that he’s worked out a deal to get Thor’s hammer back: all Magnus has to do is bring Thrym a certain bride for a wedding in five days, along with the bride-price, and Thrym will give back the hammer as his wedding gift.

There are just a few problems with thi... Read More

Labyrinths: Each selection takes the reader on a winding path of ideas

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Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges

An appropriate title for any Jorge Luis Borges collection, Labyrinths is that selected by Penguin for their ‘best of’ printing of the author. Containing short stories, essays, and parables, each selection takes the reader on a winding path of ideas that seems to branch off infinitely into the wonder of reflective thought. Surreal in concept rather than imagery, it’s no surprise many of the most intelligent writers of fantasy and science fiction cite Borges as one of their significant influences. Erudition is on full display, so the reader should come fully prepared to wade in over their head in abstract allusion and references — known and unknown.

With its limited accessibility, Labyrinths is the opposite of mainstream fantasy. ... Read More

Zinda Laash (The Living Corpse): Lahore horror

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Zinda Laash  (aka The Living Corpse aka Dracula in Pakistan) directed by Khwaja Sarfraz

For proof positive that the fearsome vampire scourge continues into modern times and is truly international in scope, one need look no further than the 1967 Pakistani film Zinda Laash, otherwise known as The Living Corpse (and, less imaginatively, Dracula in Pakistan). Infamous for having received the first "X" rating for a Lollywood film (and no, that is NOT a typo; apparently, that is the accepted name for the Lahore film industry), as well as for giving one poor woman a heart attack (!) during an early screening, the film is nevertheless little known today, a state of affairs that this great-looking DVD from Mondo Macabro will hopefully correct. Though based on Bram Stoker's Dracula, ... Read More