A chat with Katie MacAlister


We are pleased to welcome with us today Katie MacAlister, author of many urban fantasy novels, including both the Silver Dragons and the Aisling Grey series, which are two of my...

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The Son of Summer Stars: Unicorns get back their dignity


The Son of Summer Stars by Meredith Ann Pierce In the last book in the Firebringer trilogy, we finally come to the event that the two previous books have been steadily building...

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How to Make Fictional People Do All the Work, Part 3


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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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

Fridays with the Wizards: Wizard-hunting in the castle

Fridays with the Wizards by Jessica Day George

Fridays with the Wizards is the fourth and most recent book in Jessica Day George’s CASTLE GLOWER series about twelve year old Princess Celie and the magical, semi-sentient castle where she lives. Celie and her brother and sister and friends have just returned from an unexpected adventure in another land, as related in the previous two books in the series, Wednesdays in the Tower and Thursdays with the Crown, where they tangled with the local wizards, befriended the king and queen of the griffins, and searched for the missing piece of a magical device called the Eye of the Castle. As they finally relax in Celie’s beloved castle, along with the couple of dozen griffins they brought back with them, the only t... Read More

Gwenda Bond talks LOIS LANE: DOUBLE DOWN and gives away a book!

Today Fantasy Literature is glad to host Gwenda Bond for another chat with Jana — this time, in celebration of Ms. Bond’s second novel in the DC Comics universe, Lois Lane: Double Down. She and Jana discuss authorial freedom, the most amazing detective trio in the history of head-canons, and bubbly drinks. One commenter with a U.S. mailing address will win a copy of Lois Lane: Double Down!

Jana Nyman: Writing within an established universe, with established characters, can’t be easy. How much leeway does DC Comics allow you with the Lois Lane novels? Do you have guidelines that you know you’ll have to work within, other than expected characterizations of Lois and Clark? Does someone at DC have to approve your manuscripts before they go to print, or are you relativ... Read More

Echopraxia: Nowhere near as good as Blindsight

Echopraxia by Peter Watts

I was extremely impressed by Peter WattsBlindsight (2006), a diamond-hard sci-fi novel about first contact, AIs, evolutionary biology, genetically-engineered vampires, sentience vs intelligence, and virtual reality. It is an intense experience, relentless in its demands on the reader, but makes you think very hard about whether humanity’s sentience (as we understand it) is really as great as we generally think it is.

The short answer, according to Watts, is no. It’s an evolutionary fluke, was never necessary for survival, and will actually be a hindrance when we encounter more advanced alien species, most of which may have developed high levels of intelligence without wasting any precious brain capacity on sentience, self-awareness, or “navel-gazing.” It’s a very depressing id... Read More

The Songs of Distant Earth: A slightly fantastic SF tale

The Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke

The Songs of Distant Earth is one of Clarke's later novels, based on a shorter piece of the same name that he wrote in the 1950s. In the foreword Clarke states it is something of a response to the rise of what he calls "space opera" on television and the silver screen (he specifically mentions Star Trek, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas), which according to him are fantasy. I suppose one could see them as such if you stick to the narrow interpretation of science fiction. Personally I never saw the point of trying to define genres and sub-genres, it's pretty obvious it is almost impossible to come up with a definition that would satisfy everyone. To Clarke apparently it matters. He sets himself the task of writing a science fiction novel that portrays interstellar travel realistically. So get rid of your Heisenberg compensators, Warp drives and Hyperspace, time to ... Read More

SFM: Lemberg, Brockmeier, Das, Bishop, Bolander

Short Fiction Monday: There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few of the stories we read this week. 

“The Desert Glassmaker and the Jeweler of Berevyar” by Rose Lemberg (March 2016, free at Uncanny Magazine, Kindle magazine issue)

In this lush story, Lemberg shows us a long-distance romance developing between two makers-of-things. Maru lives in the desert and sings sand into glass; Vadrai lives in the Northern woods and uses deepnames to inscribe images into jewels. Each is enchanted with the work of the other, and through letters — over a four-year span, because lette... Read More

Lois Lane: Double Down: A worthy successor to Fallout

Lois Lane: Double Down by Gwenda Bond

Building on the successes of 2015’s Lois Lane: Fallout, Gwenda Bond takes everything that fans loved about that book and throws even more entertainment into its sequel, Lois Lane: Double Down. Excellent friendships? Check. An online romance between two people who respect one another and view each other as friends above all else? Check. Hard-nosed investigation of nefarious dealings, sprinkled with a dash of shadowy criminals? Check. Mysterious and possibly crackpot sightings of a flying man? Check. You don’t need to have read Fallout to enjoy Double Down — Bond does a great job of making sure there are allusions to the first book while letting the second stand on its own feet — but reading the books in sequen... Read More

Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang: Send in the clones

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm

Sometimes, a book just has to be given a second chance. Case in point for this reader: Kate Wilhelm’s Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang. When I first started this book around 35 years ago, I could not get past page 20 or so, for some strange reason, and placed it back on my bookshelf unread, where it has remained all this time. Flash forward to last week, when I decided to give the book another chance (what with my supposed adult sophistication and matured patience), and guess what? The novel immediately sucked me right in, and I wound up zipping through the darn thing in record time, reveling in its lovely prose and completely engrossed in its multigenerational narrative. Go figure! Though it was not the author’s first book on the subject of cloning (that would be her debut sci-fi novel f... Read More

Thriller: One of the scariest TV shows of all time

Thriller

Viewers who tuned into the new Thriller program on NBC, on the night of September 13, 1960, a Tuesday, could have had little idea that the mildly suspenseful program that they saw that evening — one that concerned a male ad exec being stalked by a female admirer — would soon morph into the show that author Stephen King would later call "the best horror series ever put on TV." The first eight episodes of Thriller came off as hour-long homages to Alfred Hitchcock Presents, which it immediately followed in the 9:00 slot; solid enough episodes of murder, intrigue and suspense, to be sure, with a touch of film noir at their heart. In the face of scathing reviews and poor viewership, however, the program brought in a new production team and drastically rebooted its image, gearing itself now more toward supernatural horror and crime melodramas; indeed, epis... Read More

Sunday Status Update: May 1, 2016

This week, Red Sonja addresses the subject of dragon-slaying.

Red Sonja: Why is it that you never run into a little dragon? I mean, they used to be fairly common, didn't they? Little terrier-sized and horse-sized dragons? Seems like it would be sensible to kill them at that age, before they can grow into monstrous barn-sized death machines that can carry off a cow in each claw and devastate the local economy just by being around. But no one ever seems to figure this out. They never go on dragon hunts to keep the population in check. No, they wait until it's so big its wings can shadow an entire castle, and it's got the royal riches for its horde and devoured or torched most of the villagers except for those omnipresent hollow-eyed minstrels plunking out gloomy dirges about claws like spears and wings of terror. Then, then, you come to me. You butter me up and you tell me what great thing... Read More

Sin City (Vol. 7): Hell and Back by Frank Miller

Sin City (Vol. 7): Hell and Back by Frank Miller

Hell and Back is the seventh and final volume in Frank Miller’s SIN CITY series. The artwork is still dramatic, and the story and characters are hard-boiled, dark, and intense. The bad guys are nasty, and the femme fatales have curves that kill (literally, almost). Of course we have the loner anti-hero tough guy, a lethal weapon who isn’t looking for trouble, but trouble seeks him out. We’ve got all the familiar elements of a Frank Miller Sin City story. And that’s either great if you like this formula, or a bit tiresome if you were looking for something new.

Having read all seven vo... Read More