“Sleep Paralysis” by Dale Bailey is the opening story of the April 2014 issue of Nightmare, getting things off to a fine start. Bailey’s first person narrator, a skilled undertaker, has found comfort in his wife, beautiful and young, while he is plain and in the autumn of his years. The wife is extremely active in charity work, gone most days and many evenings, leaving her husband to work and spend nights at his club — a situation that has caused rumors that she married him solely for his money, and is engaged in rather more private charity than she admits to. The narrator refuses to give the rumors any credence, but they begin to weigh heavily upon him despite his resolve. Bailey writes in a formal style appropriate to the narrator’s profession and the time in which his story is set (which is never explicitly stated, but appears to be around the turn of the last century), setting the tone for a classic story with a fine twist at the... Read More
The Mapmaker’s War by Ronlyn Domingue
The Mapmaker’s Warmight be the ideological and literary opposite of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, bound and printed with lovely woodcut illustrations. While Martin’s scope covers multiple continents and more characters than I could ever truly care about (I’m down to Arya and Tyrion, and godhelpme Jaime), Domingue’s world exists only through the eyes of a single woman. Where Martin glories in the grunge of sex and violence, Domingue contemplates the damaging social constructions that surround both practices. While readers are dragged through every grimy inn, every grueling journey, and every unfortunate wedding in Westeros, The Mapmaker’s Warmoves at a dreamy, almost fable-like pace that contains a woman’s entire life. The fanta... Read More
Happy Easter! Have a rabbit.
El-ahrairah: What fuss the elil make today, the men! Stamping, bellowing, scratching on the earth for bright things they themselves hide! And whenever they see us, ah! Then their noise increases, and increases, and still increases more. It becomes immeasurable. Ah Frithrah!
Bill: No books this week. Graded a boatload of papers. And binge watched all 64 episodes of Veronica Mars in four days. Yeah I did. Anyone got a problem with that?
Brad: Right now I am reading two comic book series that are absolutely incredible! AND I can't imagine fans of SFF not loving both series. One is A Distant Soil by Colleen Doran. It's a series from the late 90s, but it's bec... Read More
Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
Zita the Spacegirl is one of those perfect YA science fiction stories that you wish had been written years ago so you could have read it as a kid — which means that you’re gonna want to get this book in the hands of a child in your life. Just make sure you get a chance to read it first.
The story begins when Zita and her friend find a strange object that has fallen from space — a square, hand-held device with a big, red button on it. Just imagine what you’d do: Would you press that button? Guess what the young child Zita does? That’s right — she presses the button. Instantly, a door of light opens before her and the arms — tentacles? — of a strange creature reach into our... Read More
Idoru by William Gibson
Idoru, William Gibson’s 1997 middle entry into the BRIDGE trilogy, takes the baton of Virtual Light’s conclusion and runs with it. Celebrity worship, pop culture, media influence, and the futuristic tangents advanced technology offers these take-it-or-leave-it facets of modern existence are the centerpiece. Less standard noir than Virtual Light, Idoru expands the themes into an imaginative, singular story that develops the series positively.
Like Virtual Light, Idoru features a young woman and man as main characters. Chia MacKenzie is a fourteen year old member of the Seattle chapter of the Lo/Rez fan club who has been asked to go to Tokyo to investigate wh... Read More
We've got Jaleigh Johnson with us today. I recently enjoyed her new Middle Grade novel, The Mark of the Dragonfly, which has a wonderful premise and setting. Johnson is best known for her contributions to the FORGOTTEN REALMS shared universe, so Middle Grade is a new realm for her. Curious about how she approached this challenge, I asked her what she does differently when she writes for kids. Her response is below and, at the end, she wants to know what YOU are looking for in a story for children. One commenter from the U.S. or Canada will win a copy of The Mark of the Dragonfly.
I’m asked this question fairly often, and I understand why. Now that Read More
Malvolio’s Revenge by Sophie Masson
I've read plenty of Sophie Masson's novels and enjoyed them all, but I'm fairly certain that Malvolio's Revenge may end up being my favourite. Though Masson usually writes straight-out fantasy stories, this is a more of a mystery with a few supernatural trappings thrown in.
The book's title is a bit misleading, for this book isn't a sequel to Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Instead it refers to the title of a play that the travelling troupe of actors who comprise our main characters are performing all around Louisiana. Set primarily in New Orleans in 1910, the story begins on a terribly stormy night when the Trentham Troupe of Players stumble upon an old estate that promises food and shelter.
... Read More
The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
Tim Powers' fourth novel, 1983's The Anubis Gates, is a book that I had been meaning to read for years. Chosen for inclusion in both David Pringle's Modern Fantasy: The Hundred Best Novels and Jones & Newman's Horror: 100 Best Books, as well as the recipient of the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award in 1984, the book came with plenty of good word of mouth, to say the least. And, as it turns out, all the ballyhoo back when was fully justified, as this really IS some kind of superb work. As J... Read More
Happy day after tax day! I hope your April 15 was relatively painless, and maybe even happy as you discovered a lovely refund coming your way. And what better to spend it on than books? Nothing, I say: nothing. Just pick something from the most recent awards, for instance, and you’ll have hours of joy in exchange for your bills and coins. What could be better than that?
The Aurealis Awards have been announced, celebrating the best in Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror fiction. Here’s hoping most of these books ultimately get outside the bounds of that splendid isle, so that we can all enjoy them! Some, like Max Barry’s Lexicon (best science fiction novel) and Joanne Ande... Read More
The Revolutions by Felix Gilman
At not quite the halfway point in Felix Gilman’s The Revolutions, the main character — Arthur Shaw — reacts to a particular text he is reading:
It was a hodge-podge of Masonry, Greek myth, Egyptian fantasy, debased Christianity, third-hand Hinduism, and modern and ancient astronomy, promiscuously and nonsensically mixed . . . The Book was riddled throughout with paradox and absurdity and contradiction . . . But after a week or two of study, Arthur began to enjoy it.
And it is at this point where a reader might stop and think, “Yes, yes I am,” even as he/she mentally expands that list of hodge-podge foundations: “And C.S. Lewis and Burroughs and Yeats and Poe and Stevenson and The Sun and maybe a bit of... Read More