Fantasy tavern names


They’ve been questing for weeks. They are sore, hungry and in desperate need of rest. As darkness begins to close about them, they spot some lights emanating from a small...

Read More
The Castle in the Attic: A cozy, heartwarming medieval tale


Readers’ average rating: The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop The Castle in the Attic is a warm story about a boy, an old toy castle, and a much-loved housekeeper....

Read More
Romani (Gypsy) Power in Sci-Fi and Fantasy


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....

Read More
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...

Read More

Recent Posts

Sunday Status Update: June 25, 2017

This week Supergirl goes to Themyscira, home of Wonder Woman, and I go on way too long making fun of poor old silver age comic books.

Supergirl: This week I went to Themyscira, island of the Amazon warriors. It was fun and all, but the Amazon leading me around (she was called Artemis or something) seemed a little hazy on the actual details. She was eager to show me the training rounds where the Amazons learned to be the greatest warriors in the world, but then she started telling me about how they're pacifists and they sent Wonder Woman as an emissary to end the animal struggles of mere human beings. That didn't make sense to me.

"Wait," I said, "so... you were separated from humans for thousands of years."

"Uh huh."

"And you live in a pacifist utopia."

"That's right."

"And you're the best warriors in the world."

"We cer... Read More

Monstress by Marjorie Liu

Readers’ average rating: 

Monstress by Marjorie Liu (author) and Sana Takeda (artist)

Every now and then, a story will tip you into a strange new world without any attempt at exposition or context, leaving you to catch up on events in the most exhilarating way possible. You either sink or swim, and Monstress is one such graphic novel, demanding complete attention, careful consideration, and at least two re-reads in order to grasp all of its detail.

We first meet Maiko Halfwolf as she's put up for auction as a slave – a pretty clear indication of how dark this story can get, even when it becomes apparent that she's more in control of the situatio... Read More

Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms by Fumiyo Kouno

Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms by Fumiyo Kouno (An Oxford College Student Review!)

In this column, I feature comic book reviews written by my students at Oxford College of Emory University. Oxford College is a small liberal arts school just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. I challenge students to read and interpret comics because I believe sequential art and visual literacy are essential parts of education at any level (see my Manifesto!). I’ll be posting the best of my students’ reviews in this column. Today, I am proud to present a review by Grace Nguyen:

Grace Nguyen is a freshman at Oxford College of Emory University and is interested in sociology, law, and business. She was born and raised in Westminster, CA until she turned eight and moved to Macon, GA... Read More

The Changeling: A rich dark fairy tale for the Information Age

Readers’ average rating:

The Changeling by Victor LaValle

“How do we protect our children?" Cal said quietly.
Apollo watched the soft little shape in his hand. "Obviously I don’t know."


Victor LaValle’s novel The Changeling (2017) is a five-star book, one of the year’s best. I predict this thoughtful modern dark fantasy novel — or it might be horror — will be shortlisted on several awards and Best Of lists.

LaValle takes the tropes of traditional middle European fairy tales and blends them perfectly with a view of modern living, specifically modern living in New York City. He uses this blend to explore the terrifying state of parenthood, when a person’s life, and heart, become inextricably yoked to another human being.

Apollo Kagwa’s ... Read More

The Promise of the Child: Ambitious but confusing space opera

Readers’ average rating:

The Promise of the Child by Tom Toner

The Promise of the Child (2015), an ambitious space opera that spans centuries and multiple planetary systems, begins with a prologue set in in fourteenth century Praha (Prague), where Princess Eliška, married to King John of Bohemia, meets with a man named Aaron to discuss his help with her son’s ill health. The story then jumps to AD 14,647 … but we will meet Aaron (“the Long-Life”) again.

In this distant future, humanity has spread to many worlds and "prismed" into many vastly different races, including giants (the Melius, who can change their skin color at will, and who inhabit Earth, now known as the Old World), a fairy-like race known as the Oxel scouts, and others in between. Overseeing all of the Firmament empire is a small, powerful group of humans known as the Amaranthine, who are virtually immortal due to ... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Still on it’s summer/birthday vacation… be back next week!

Thoughtful Thursday is still on its summer/birthday vacation.

We'll be back next week with a new contest.

Meanwhile, find our current giveaways here.

We've got some good ones!

  Read More

A World from Dust: How the Periodic Table Shaped Life

Readers’ average rating: Comment Reviews for this post are disabled. Please enable it first

A World from Dust: How the Periodic Table Shaped Life by Ben McFarland

A World from Dust: How the Periodic Table Shaped Life
(2016), by Ben McFarland, can at times be a difficult read, but despite that, and regardless of some writing/structural issues, it’s an often engaging and always confidently informative exploration of how life was driven down certain paths by the implacable requirements of chemistry.

McFarland’s perspective contrasts directly, as he describes on several occasions, with Stephen J. Gould’s pronouncement that if the “tape of life” were rerun from the beginning, the end result would be wildly different (meaning we humans most likely wouldn’t be around to notice that). McFarland argues that Gould may have a point in a very narrow sense, but is incorrec... Read More

Miranda: An absolutely charming fish-out-of-water tale

Readers’ average rating:

Miranda directed by Ken Annakin

Back in the early '60s, when I was a very young lad, there were two television programs that held a great fascination for my young mind. One was the part live/part animated kiddie show Diver Dan, which featured the undersea adventures of the titular hero, and showcased one very beautiful blonde mermaid, called Miss Minerva. The other program was one that I have a feeling not too many remember, for the simple reason that it only lasted 13 episodes in the fall of '63. That show was simply called Glynis, and featured the exploits of its star, Welsh actress Glynis Johns, playing a kooky mystery writer. As a child, I was fascinated by this lovely heroine, with her cracked and husky voice (Glynis' voice has always been as distinctive, in its own way, as that of Jean Arthur, Bette Davis or Katharine Hepburn), and my liking of her only increased over the decades, as I got to see... Read More

WWWednesday; June 21, 2017

The name for the sound a quail makes is called curkling. That’s this week’s word for Wednesday.

Radiance (c) Likhain



Solstice:

Solstice occurred at 04:24 UTC, and June 21st will be the longest day of the year. Don’t forget sunblock. 

Awards:

Com... Read More

A Closed and Common Orbit: A popular Hugo nominee that bored me

Readers’ average rating: 

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

Warning: This review will contain a spoiler for the previous novel, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. It’s really impossible to talk about A Closed and Common Orbit without this spoiler. However, you don’t need to read The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet before reading A Closed and Common Orbit since this sequel focuses on two minor characters from the first book.

Becky Chambers’ debut novel The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is immensely popular but I didn’t like it. As I explained in Read More