Ruth has tea with Gail Carriger


Fantasy evokes a lot of emotions from me.  Giggling usually isn’t one of them.  But I giggled through much of Soulless, the first book in The Parasol Protectorate by the...

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In the Night Garden: A challenging but intoxicating read


The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne Valente How do you even begin to describe this book? I was familiar with Catherynne Valente through reading her charming The...

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Reading Comics, Part 9


Brad Hawley continues his series on How to Read Comics. If you missed the previous columns, be sure to start with Part 1: Why Read Comics? (Or find the entire series here.) Reading...

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Our favorite books of 2014


Here are our favorite books published in 2014. Hover over the cover to see who recommends each book and what they say about it. Please keep in mind that we did not read every SFF...

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Recent Posts

WWWebsday: April 1, 2015

On this day in 1957, the BBC screened a film purporting to show Swiss farmers harvesting spaghetti from spaghetti plants.

Remedios Varo

Writing, Editing, and Publishing:

Horror Writers Association have announced some of the 2014 award recipients, including both Tanith Lee and Jack Ketchum for Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Part of a series on the psychology of inspirational female characters, this week Janina Scarlet talks about Katniss.

Are you an academic, writing a non-fiction project about speculative fiction? Check out this grant to help fund writers complete a project on popular ... Read More

California: Mid-apocalyptic social commentary

California by Edan Lepucki

In Edan Lepucki’s debut novel California, published in 2014, Cal and Frida are a young couple trying to eke out a living in a post-apocalyptic Californian wilderness. Their relationship has fared relatively well during their two years of near-isolation, but the intrusion of strangers — first a small family, then Frida's unexpected pregnancy, and later a commune with its own deep problems and secrets — reveals severe cracks in their seemingly perfect marriage.

Perhaps post-apocalyptic isn't the right descriptor for the time setting. "Mid-apocalyptic" might be better, as the downfall of global society is due to neither nuclear winter, nor global pandemic, nor any of the currently fashionable world-killers. What Lepucki has created is a logical and refreshing extension of present-day problems into the year 2050, resulting in an America where heating oil, el... Read More

Beyond Thirty: A must-read for all ERB completists

Beyond Thirty by Edgar Rice Burroughs

By 1916, Edgar Rice Burroughs was already a popular and regular contributor to the pulp periodicals of the day. Though a late starter — his first work, the John Carter story "Under the Moons of Mars," was serialized in All-Story Magazine in 1912, when Burroughs was 36 — his output increased rapidly, to the point that by 1916, he had already seen the first three Carter works, the first two Tarzan titles, the first Pellucidar entry (At the Earth's Core), plus such various works as The Eternal Savage, The Monster Men and The Cave Girl, all printed in that same magazine. But despite his reputation at All-Story, he still managed to get his manuscript for ... Read More

The Never War: Subtle teaching moments and a real emotional impact

The Never War by D.J. MacHale

Note: Contains spoilers for previous PENDRAGON novels.

In The Never War, the third book in D.J. MacHale’s PENDRAGON series, Bobby is now 15 years old and is gaining experience as a Traveler. His job is to protect Earth and other territories of Halla (which includes all peoples, places, and times that have ever existed) from Saint Dane, the super duper evil villain whose goal is to increase chaos everywhere. Somehow, the chaos gives him power.

By the end of book two, The Lost City of Faar, Bobby has successfully foiled Saint Dane’s attempts to throw the territories of Denduron and Cloral into chaos. Now he and Spader, the Traveler from Cloral, are following Saint Dane to the next territory: First Earth. When th... Read More

Macaque Attack: I fell off the teeter-totter with this one

Macaque Attack by Gareth L. Powell

For the first two books in Gareth L. Powell’s MACAQUE series, I felt like I was standing in the center of a seesaw or teeter-totter, trying to hold the plank level and balanced. With the third book, Macaque Attack, the totter tipped and threw me off. I can no longer maintain the suspension of disbelief needed to enjoy these adventures.

This review may contain spoilers of all three books, so be warned.

In Macaque Attack, Merovech, King of Great Britain and France, is back. Merovech was refreshingly absent from Hive Monkey. Now he’s back but his girlfriend Julie has been written out, which is too bad, because she was the more interesting character. Merovech’s villainous mother, Celeste, blew ... Read More

The Well’s End: Solid action with familiar YA tropes

The Well’s End by Seth Fishman

Thanks to a good sense of pace and a driving sense of urgency, Seth Fishman manages in The Well’s End to, for the most part,  overcome some overly-familiar YA tropes and weak characterization. The positives in the end outweigh the negatives, making for a solidly exciting story, if not a particularly deep or moving one.

Mia Kish is a sixteen-year-old top class swimmer at one of the country’s more prestigious prep schools, though her real claim to fame was as “Baby Mia,” a reference to when as a small child she fell down a well, prompting a multi-day, well-covered rescue effort. Her fifteen minutes of fame that continues, superior swimming skills (beating both the girls and then the boys), and the fact that she is a townie all work against her such that she is disliked by mos... Read More

2010: Odyssey Two: A good novel, but a frustrating sequel

2010: Odyssey Two by Arthur C. Clarke

Please note that this review will include spoilers of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

In 2001: A Space Odyssey, we learn that mysterious forces have guided humanity’s evolution. We don’t meet these forces, but we do see their monoliths. The first monolith appears before a group of struggling chimpanzees. When they touch the monolith, they are inspired to use tools. The novel shifts to the twenty-first century, when another monolith is found on the moon. A third and final monolith is found near Jupiter (Saturn in Arthur C. Clarke’s first novel, but the location is ret-conned here). Humanity sends several people — two conscious humans, three humans in suspended animation, and one computer known as HAL — aboard Discovery to inspect the fina... Read More

The Lost City of Faar: An underwater adventure for Bobby Pendragon

The Lost City of Faar by D.J. MacHale

Note: The first paragraph of this review contains minor spoilers for The Merchant of Death.

The Lost City of Faar is the second novel in D.J. MacHale’s popular 10-book PENDRAGON series for teens. In the first book, The Merchant of Death, 14-year old Bobby Pendragon discovered that he is a Traveler — a person who represents a planet and is able to travel through space and time to visit other worlds. The Travelers are trying to stop an evil shapeshifter named Saint Dane from creating chaos in Halla, which consists of everything that exists in all times and places. In that first book, Bobby saved a world called Denduron. When he arrived back on Earth, he found that his family had ceased to exist. His Uncle Press, who is also a ... Read More

Magazine Monday: Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issues 169-170

Carrie Vaughn opens Issue 169 of Beneath Ceaseless Skies with “Sun, Stone, Spear,” a story about as different from her KITTY NORVILLE series as it seems possible to get. Two young women, Elu and the narrator, Mahra, have decided to leave their home village; Mahra seeks adventure, while Elu wishes to be the chief astronomer of any village in which she lands — not a position she is likely to get in her home village, where there are four apprentice astronomers ahead of her. Their travel to a new village is one frought with danger, from bandits, from demons, even from gods. Though they seem reasonably well-prepared and sufficiently cognizant of the dangers about them to fight them, it is a difficult journey. And always the question hovers over them: have they done the right thing by leaving their home village? The story made me think of dozens of stories starring youn... Read More

New Amsterdam: Forensic sorcery

New Amsterdam by Elizabeth Bear

New Amsterdam is billed as “the hardcover debut” from Elizabeth Bear, who had been winning awards for her short stories and novels before this work was published in 2007. Though not exactly described as such, New Amsterdam is a compilation of six short stories, each connected to and increasingly dependent upon the others as the overarching plot progresses. While each story is ostensibly a mystery which requires investigation and the use of forensic sorcery in order to arrive at each solution, characters and world-building are the primary focus of Bear’s writing. For the most part, this works well, though there are some pieces which could have benefitted from closer authorial scrutiny, and I wish the concept of “forensic sorcery” had been brought to the fore. Read More