A report from HawaiiCon! (WWWednesday: September 21, 2016)


Words for Wednesday; aloha means “hello,” “hi,” and “goodbye.” Mahalo means “thank you,” and slippah is a noun for a soft-soled foot-covering that might be worn...

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Fevre Dream: Vampires on the Mississippi River


Readers’ average rating: Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin For some time I’ve been a fan of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. In the last few years,...

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Coming Up with Fantasy Names: A Somewhat Vague and Impractical Guide


Sam Bowring began writing at a young age, and had his first book published when he was nineteen. Since then he has written various other books and stage plays, as well as for...

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WWWednesday; September 28, 2016

This week’s word for Wednesday is anfractuous, an adjective, meaning winding or circuitous. The 16th century word comes from the Latin noun anfractus, meaning a bending.

Awards:

The MacArthur Foundation Fellowships were announced this week, and 23 Fellows were named. The group includes a civil rights lawyer, historians, art historians, linguists, poets, microbiologists, video artists and writers. Of the 23, ten are women. (Thanks to File 770.)

Tor.com lists the British Fantasy Award winners here.

Books and Writing:

Ruth Franklin has published a new book about Shirley Jackson, and she shares eleven facts you might not have known about one of America’s premiere writers. ... Read More

The Wolf in the Attic: Like reading two different books. I really liked one of them.

Readers’ average rating:

The Wolf in the Attic by Paul Kearney

Reading The Wolf in the Attic, by Paul Kearney, was like reading two different books. One of these books was a solid three-star read. The other was very familiar and ultimately unsatisfying, and would probably get a 2.5 star rating from me. I’ll explain at the end of the review how I came to the overall rating I chose.

Kearney’s other work is described as second-world epic fantasy and he is compared to David Gemell. The Wolf in the Attic is a departure for him. It’s set in 1920s Oxford, England, and the main character is an eleven-year-old girl named Anna.

Anna Francis, like her father, is a Greek refugee, forced t... Read More

A Fine and Private Place: A gentle tale of love, death, and lost souls

Readers’ average rating:

A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle

Peter S. Beagle is a well-known author of many fantasy novels, including the classic The Last Unicorn. However, I don’t often hear mention of his debut novel, A Fine and Private Place (1960), written when he was only 19 years old. Given his age it’s a phenomenal achievement — the prose is polished, filled with pathos and humor, and the characters’ relationships are deftly described. And yet I couldn’t get into the story at all, because there was almost no dramatic tension of any kind — just two central romantic relations, one between two people lonely and disconnected in the living world, and one between two recently deceased spirits not ready to let go of life.

The story bears remarkable sim... Read More

Author Marc Aramini talks to Stuart about the complicated works of Gene Wolfe

Last year I tried twice (unsuccessfully) to finish The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Retrospective of His Finest Fiction, giving up in defeat. Many SFF readers are baffled and frustrated by his stories, because they are packed with metaphors, literary references, hidden themes, and require extremely close reading to understand and appreciate. I did get a lot of supportive feedback from various readers who encountered the same difficulties, including a very knowledgeable person named “Aramini”.

When the 2016 Hugo Awards were announced, Marc Aramini’s Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe, 1951 to 1986 was the runner-up in the Best Related Work category. It’s an 826-page analysis covering Wolfe’s output through 1986, including ... Read More

Sword of Destiny: More great WITCHER stories

Readers’ average rating:

Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski

Sword of Destiny is the second story collection in Andrzej Sapkowski’s WITCHER books which are the basis of the popular video game. Sword of Destiny should be read second in the series. (This is confusing because the English translations of the WITCHER books were not published in chronological order.) I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the first WITCHER book, The Last Wish, and was eager to read Sword of Destiny. It did not disappoint. I love Sapkowski’s hero, a man named Geralt of Rivia who... Read More

Monsters: Some competition for Dagora

Monsters directed by Gareth Edwards

Fortunately enough for me, I first saw Gareth Edwards' 2010 sci-fi debut, Monsters, as a middle-aged adult, rather than when I was a kid. Decades back, any monster movie that didn't deliver the titular creature within the first 1/2 hour would invariably leave me very restless; even the great '50s shocker The Giant Behemoth was pooh-poohed by me back then for withholding its initial glimpse of the film's radioactive brontosaurus for "too long." (Hmmm ... maybe this partially explains why I STILL consider The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms — in which we see the monster in the film's first 10 minutes and regularly thereafter — the greatest such film ever created.) So what would I have made of a film like Monsters, in which, despite that title, we don't get a good, solid glimpse of the alien creatures until the picture's FINAL 10 minutes, and never get to see them in open daylight? Not much, I'm ... Read More

SFM: Hodge, Chiang, Vaughn, Ryman, Simmons

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


“More Full of Weeping Than You Can Understand” by Rosamund Hodge (2010, free at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, 99c Kindle magazine issue)

Violet always knew she was different: she's unable to feel deep concern or love for others, whether it was her kitten that died or her Grandmama. So she isn’t too surprised when a tall pale woman with huge butterfly wings appears to her and tel... Read More

The Witch-Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom: A strange yet oddly forgettable film…

Readers’ average rating:

The White-Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom directed by Jacob Cheung

I'm always in the mood for a good wuxia-fantasy, and The White-Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom has everything you'd expect from the genre: a noble hero, a sprawling plot, a number of gravity-defying action scenes, and an enigmatic woman at its heart.

Based on the novel Baifa Monü Zhuan by Liang Yusheng, the story is set in the last days of the Ming Dynasty, a time in which China is threatened by both foreign invaders and internal corruption. Famine spreads across the land, but a woman known only as Jade Raksha helps the starving people by attacking soldiers and stealing supplies.

From the Wudang Mountains journeys a man called Zhuo Yihang, chosen by his people to deliver the Emperor's medicine to the palace. On the way he gets caught up in the political machinations of his country when he cro... Read More

Sunday Status Update: September 25, 2016

Something of a slow week, which means... it's time for the characters to take over again.

Ayesha: Week 148,394. Still no Kallikrates. I did have a rather bizarre visit, though. Some pale little man showed up from nowhere in particular with a lot of pamphlets and started telling me about how I should accept Jesus Christ as my personal lord and savior. Jesus is either on his way to me, or has already been here and left, or maybe he's just spying on me from somewhere? Honestly, I was getting very little of it, because the interpreter was dreadful. In the end, I promised that if I saw Jesus, I would welcome him. That seemed to satisfy the funny little man, and off he went. I don't know why he thought it was such a momentous decision. It's not like I charge admission to this place. If a dancing elephant came by wanting to visit, I'd probably let him in too. I lead a boring life.
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Twilight Zone: Shadow and Substance by Mark Rahner, Tom Peyer, and John Layman

Readers’ average rating: 

Twilight Zone: Shadow and Substance by Mark Rahner, Tom Peyer, and John Layman Illustrated by Edu Menna, Randy Valiente, Rod Rodolfo, Jose Malaga, and Colton Worley.

Twilight Zone: Shadow and Substance is a large (250 pages) collection of, well, new Twilight Zone stories in graphic form. Or maybe “newish” might be better, as several have deliberate (I’m assuming) echoes of classic Twilight Zone tale, and most have, at least in my mind, a bit of a retro feel to them. I’m not sure this element however is as intentional, leaving many of the stories feeling more than a little predictable and stale. I suppose, for those who don’t read often in the genre o... Read More