Favorite SFF romances


Valentine’s Day is around the corner! Love is in the air and everyone’s thoughts turn to romance. We all have our favorite fantasy and science fiction romances. Who is...

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The Curse of Chalion: Beautifully written, excellent audiobook


Readers’ average rating: The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold Lois McMaster Bujold has long been esteemed in the science fiction genre, so I expected great things from...

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Brains vs. Beauty: The Women of Harry Potter


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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WWWednesday: July 27, 2016

This week is pretty much the San Diego Comic Con edition. However, once again Haggard Hawks shares a priceless gem: Helluo librorum is a noun meaning “book glutton.”

2016 Logo



San Diego Comic-Con:

Comic-Con attendees were the first to see the first trailer of the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

From Kat, SFGate put together a Comic-Con cosplay photo album. (Be aware, there are ... Read More

Some Remarks: The glory of infodumps separated from narrative

Readers’ average rating: 

Some Remarks by Neal Stephenson

Some Remarks compiles eighteen short texts by Neal Stephenson. Aside from a couple short stories, this is a book of essays, interviews, and speeches. These short texts should please most Stephenson fans because they combine humor, insight, and exposition — in other words, these are infodumps gloriously freed from narrative.

Hesitant readers would do well to test this book by reading its opening essay, “Arsebestos.” Stephenson points out that although sitting all day is unhealthy, much of corporate America requires its office drones to sit in cubicles. People would be better off doing their work while ambling along on a treadmill, as Stephenson does, but managers are too cowardly to risk changing the status quo. After all, what if w... Read More

The Knight of the Swords: Begins as a tale of revenge, but becomes much more

Readers’ average rating: 

The Knight of the Swords by Michael Moorcock

I started reading Michael Moorcock only a few years ago, and already he is one of my favorite authors. And the six-book CORUM series, for me, is second only to the ELRIC saga. In some ways I like better that Corum’s story is complete within these six volumes, unlike Elric’s, which never ends as Moorcock continues to add new stories (though he has, at least, written the story that tells of Elric’s end as a character). The basic story is that Corum, a being of an older race in its decline, is confronted by the upstart creatures Man, who attack Corum’s people, systematically destroying them all, leaving Corum the last of his race. Corum’s story is, at first, his simply seeking revenge, but what makes the story great is th... Read More

Dark Matter: The yellow wood contains more than just those two roads

Readers’ average rating: 

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Dark Matter (2016) is a tense science fiction thriller that was nearly unputdownable. It sucked me in almost immediately and didn't spit me out again until I was on the other side of about a four hour reading marathon.

Jason Dessen is a brilliant physicist who in some respects has "settled." Fifteen years ago, on the cusp of a scientific breakthrough in quantum mechanics, his girlfriend Daniela, a gifted artist, unexpectedly told him that she was pregnant. After an internal struggle, Jason proposed to her. Their son Charlie was born prematurely, weighing less than two pounds, and required expensive medical treatment. Between that and Daniela’s crippling postpartum depression, Jason was unable to spend enough time on his research, lost his funding and career momentum, and dropped off the fast track to scientific recognition. He now ... Read More

A Fire Upon the Deep: Big-canvas space opera with uninspired plot

Readers’ average rating: 

A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge

A Fire Upon the Deep (1992) was the big breakout novel from Vernor Vinge, winner of the 1993 Hugo Award and nominated for the Nebula. It features a unique premise I haven’t encountered before: the universe has been separated into four separate Zones of Thought: the Unthinking Depths, Slow Zone, Beyond, and Transcend. Starting from the galactic core, the Zones demarcate differing levels of technological and biological advancement — but this doesn’t simply mean different stages of development. Instead, more advanced technologies cease to function when taken into slower zones, since the laws of physics themselves are different.

This include faster-than-light travel, so FTL ships that travel into slower zones need to also have ramjet drives to avoi... Read More

SFM: Rosenblum, Dickinson, Johnson, Smith, Schwitzgebel

Short Fiction Monday: This week's crop of short speculative fiction stories includes a couple of highly recommended stories from prior years, as well as some very recent stories, all available on the internet for free.

Lion Walk by Mary Rosenblum (2009, originally in Asimov’s, reprinted and free online in July 2016 Clarkesworld, paperback magazine issue)


Tahira Ghani is a manager and park ranger for a Pleistocene-era wild animal park in the U.S. prairie lands, near the Rockies. Using genetic manipulation and interbreeding programs with existing animal species, gene engineers are in the process of recreating many long-extinct anima... Read More

Red Right Hand: Bedtime reading for eldritch horrors

Readers’ average rating: 

Red Right Hand by Levi Black

I’m enjoying the current upswing in H.P. Lovecraft-influenced horror. Modern writers are expanding upon the best elements of his authorial legacy, like the Elder Gods, inter-dimensional travel, and Things Which Should Not Be, while setting aside (or, with regards to authors like Ruthanna Emrys and Victor Lavalle, directly subverting and confronting) the racism, classism, and sexism. Similarly-minded readers will want to make note of Red Right Hand (2016), Levi Black’s debut novel and a fine addition to the weird fiction genre.

Charlie Moore is a young woman with an impressive array of martial-arts skills and more emotional baggage than any one person should be a... Read More

The Long Utopia: Intriguing mysteries, disappointing characters

Readers’ average rating: 

The Long Utopia: by Terry Pratchett & Steven Baxter

I read this book thinking it was, finally, the end of Terry Pratchett and Steven Baxter’s LONG EARTH series. Unfortunately, I have since read that one more is going to come out. In some ways, this is fine. The Long Utopia (2015) in no way provides a conclusion to many of the plotlines that Pratchett and Baxter have set in motion in previous installments and about which I am still, despite my better instincts, curious. In other ways, though, it is tedious, since my experience of these books cannot really be described as “enjoyment.”

In The Long Utopia, life on the Long Earth continues as it did when we left it. The Next, the evolved super-smart humans we met in The Long Mars, have found a home up in... Read More

Sunday Status Update: July 24, 2016

This week, Kvothe, with minor spoilers from The Wise Man's Fear.

Kvothe: This week, I brought all that money from the bandits back to Maer Alveron. Quite a triumphant return, except for the part where I was clapped in irons and jailed. It turns out that when I basically fled the country for a month with the tax revenue for a large part of Vintas, the Maer assumed the worst. Which is... uh... yeah, okay, even I have to admit that in retrospect that's not an unreasonable reaction. I tried to explain how I had to go off and learn martial arts, but nobody seemed particularly impressed for some reason.

Brad: This week I've enjoyed some great books recently recommended to me by Sandy, Marion, and Bill. I'm halfway through Witch World by Read More

I.D. by Emma Rios

Readers’ average rating: 

I.D. by Emma Rios

Emma Rios’ I.D. is a graphic story with a good premise, and some flashes of excellent artwork, but overall the illustration style didn’t work for me, while the characters and plot weren’t developed enough for my liking.

It begins with a trio of seemingly mismatched people conversing in a coffeeshop, and one of those aforementioned flashes of brilliance come via the page after we see a pull-back view of the three at their table. The next page is a series of fifteen close up of eyes, fingers, hands, and coffee cups conveying in wonderfully expressive and economic fashion the discomfort these three feel.

... Read More