Bill Chats with Alma Alexander


Recently I had a chance to chat with Alma Alexander, author of the young adult epic WORLDWEAVERS. Please find synopses, cover art, and my reviews of Alma Alexander’s...

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Lud-in-the-Mist: Unconventional and terribly lovely


Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees I find myself in something of an awkward position with Lud-in-the-Mist, which is in part why it’s difficult to review. The fact of the matter is...

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SF or Fantasy? Who cares?


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

Sunday Status Update: May 29, 2016

This week, Supergirl with another instance of Alien World Problems.

Supergirl: I sleepwalk occasionally. I don't like to mention it too often, because people seem to get a little concerned when they hear me say so. And I get it. I do. When most people sleepwalk, they just kind of do what they'd do anyway in their day-to-day lives. Sort of roam around, turn lights on and off. I knew someone once who made sandwiches when she sleepwalked. Aside from a bit of spoiled mayonnaise, there's rarely any real harm done. But then there's me. I spend my days flying around at mach 3 and punching things really hard. So I am both a lot more mobile and a lot more damaging than your average somnambulist. I woke up outside an Arby's in Kentucky once. Apparently everything was closed but the drivethrough, but I tried the door anyway. Apart from the door being off its hinges, there wasn't any real problem -- they tickled me awa... Read More

Archangel, Issue One, by William Gibson and Michael St. John Smith

 Archangel, Issue One, by William Gibson and Michael St. John Smith, Illustrated by Butch Guice

I kept my head down as I moved through the crowd. This mission was a total Hail Mary, two agents-in-place improvising because we had to work fast. Fankind risked his cover even talking to HQ, but if the intel was right, if he had what we thought he had… “Archangel, Issue One, by William Gibson,” he had said. “This could change everything.”

Rumors were only rumors, of course, but as I pretended an interest in the Cruisin’ The Main Drag Car Parade I couldn’t help, just for a few seconds, but dream. The first original comic co-written by William Gibson and Michael St. John Sm... Read More

Sandman (Vol. 3): Dream Country by Neil Gaiman

The Sandman (Vol. 3): Dream Country by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman's Dream Country, the third volume in his Sandman series, is a collection of four stand-alone stories. I think it makes for a great introduction to the world of Sandman because each story is incredibly different from the one that precedes it; therefore, this particular volume is more likely to include at least one story that appeals to new readers who may be put off by a volume collecting only a single storyline. In fact, I recommend that readers new to Sandman start with either volum... Read More

The Spider’s War: Brings a great series to a more-than-satisfactory close

The Spider’s War by Daniel Abraham

I thought Daniel Abraham was one of the best writers working in the craft when I first read A Shadow in Summer nearly ten years ago, and the rest of that series, THE LONG PRICE QUARTET did nothing to dissuade me of that first impression. Nor has what followed over the years, which includes the ongoing EXPANSE science fiction series (co-written with Ty Franck) and the fantasy series, THE DAGGER AND THE COIN, which wrapped up this spring with The Spider’s War, bringing to an end another great series in unsurprisingly excellent fashion. I’m going to assume you have already read the previous books and so won’t bother recapping/explaining previous events or characters.

The Spider’s War picks up shortly after the events of the prior book, Read More

Fall of Light: Takes a while to get going, but rewards the patient reader

Fall of Light by Steven Erikson

OK, look. I’m just going to put it on the table early on. I had a tough time with the beginning of Steven Erikson’s Fall of Light. And by “beginning,” I mean the first 150-200 of its 800-plus pages. It wasn’t just the pace (though it was admittedly more than a little slow). Or all the new characters (though really, one wonders at some point how many Tiste we haven’t met, not to mention Jaghut, Azathanai, Jhelken, Dragons, etc.). Or that there was a lot of table-setting going on (though given how book one had spent a good chunk of its 600 pages laying out the plates and silverware and glasses, I confess I’d expected the food to come a lot more quickly than it did).

All of those ... Read More

The Keeper of the Mist: A quietly charming traditional YA fantasy

The Keeper of the Mist by Rachel Neumeier

Kerianna, the illegitimate daughter of the dissolute, ailing Lord of the country of Nimmira and a former serving girl, is a baker in the town of Glassforge who prides herself on the quality of her wedding cakes and other baked goods. It’s a struggling business, and Keri has to run it by herself since the death of her mother, but it’s modestly successful and Keri has hopes for the future.

Rule over Nimmira passes from parent to child, along with the magical power that enables the Lord or Lady of Nimmira to maintain the magical mists that hide the entire country from the powerful countries around it that would quickly take over Nimmira, if they only knew of its existence. Though Keri has daydreams of being the next ruler and fixing the problems of Nimmira, she, like everyone else in the country, expects leadership to fall to one of her three older half-brothers. So it’s a shock to ever... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Summer reading giveaway!

Today’s the last day of school for my kids, which means that summer is here! Even though it’s a little chaotic around here with the kids home for the next couple of months, I am out of the classroom and teaching only one online course, so my schedule is lighter than usual and I’m planning to get a lot of reading done.

Click to embiggen.



I took a good long look at what will be landing on our bookstore shelves soon when Woman’s World Magazine asked me to contribute to their Summer Reading issue (it was in your grocery store check-out line this past week!).

There are several important sequels coming out, but for the magazine article, I focused on books that didn't have any prerequisites.

They only printed two of my suggestions, probably the two they thought would be most appealing to their readers:

Children of Earth & Sky by Read More

The City of Mirrors: An overlong but fitting conclusion to an excellent trilogy

The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

The lengthy journey from Justin Cronin’s vampire apocalypse The Passage comes to a full conclusion (and maybe a bit more) in the third and final book, The City of Mirrors. If The Passage was absolutely great (and it really, really was), and the sequel The Twelve was good but not quite as, mostly due to it feeling much more its length than the first book did, then The City of Mirrors falls somewhere in between, though my guess is that some will react more negatively to a few of its elements than I did. It’s impossible to discuss this final book without spoilers for books one and two, so fair warning. Also, I’m going to assume you’ve read the first two books and so won’t other re-detailing characters and events.

The story focuses mostly on the hundred thousan... Read More

The Healer’s War: Harrowing tale of a Vietnam combat nurse

The Healer’s War by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

This is another Nebula winner I’ve had on the shelf ever since it was published in 1998, but hadn’t got around to reading. So when I found an audio version on Audible narrated by Robin Miles, one of my favorite female narrators after listening to N.K. Jemisin’s phenomenal The Fifth Season, that was enough to pull it to the top of my TBR list. Elizabeth Ann Scarborough is mostly known as a writer of humorous fantasy novels, along with several collaborations with Anne McCaffrey, so it was quite a surprise to discover that she was a combat nurse in Vietnam, and The Healer’s War is a fictional ... Read More

Thirteen: A story with conflicting agendas

Thirteen by Richard K. Morgan

Like drugs for techno-action junkies, Richard K. Morgan did the futuristic, world-weary warrior story well in his TAKESHI KOVACS series. With a Wild West-style of justice continually seeping through the scenes of blood and gore, Morgan also indicated there may be a little more on his mind than just action. The nihilism was left without an explicit voice, so Morgan set out to rectify this in his 2007 Thirteen (Black Man in the UK*). Slowing the plot to allow ideological exposition a place, the novel finds the author highlighting the prevalence of vice in unabashed, overt style. The thematic content does not always match character representation and premise, so the result is a story with conflicting agendas.

Thirteen is the story of... Read More