Bill Capossere

BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is lately spending much of his time trying to finish a book-length collection of essays and a full-length play. His prior work has appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other journals and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of several Best American Essay anthologies. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, co-writing the Malazan Empire re-read at Tor.com, or working as an English adjunct, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course, the ultimate frisbee field, or trying to keep up with his wife's flute and his son's trumpet on the clarinet he just picked up this month.

The Heart of What Was Lost: Tad Williams returns to Osten Ard

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Reposting to include Bill's new review.

The Heart of What Was Lost by Tad Williams

Note: This review will contain mild spoilers for Tad Williams’ MEMORY, SORROW & THORN trilogy, but please note that it is not necessary to have read MST and, in fact, this novel can stand alone.

There was great rejoicing heard around the world when Tad Williams announced he was returning to Osten Ard. His original OSTEN ARD trilogy, MEMORY, SORROW & THORN, has been popular with epic fantasy fans since the late 1980s. I’m one of those totally devoted fans who read it way back then when I was a young adult. Since then, I’ve been recommending the trilogy to every new fantasy reader I meet (along with Read More

The Wanderers: A wonderfully intimate, character-driven story

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The Wanderers by Meg Howrey

The Wanderers
(2017), by Meg Howrey, focuses on a simulated mission (code name: Eidolon) to Mars more realistic than anything ever attempted before. Prime Space has chosen three exemplary, experienced astronauts (American Helen, Japanese Yoshi, and Russian Sergei) for a 17-month, fully immersive simulation in the Utah desert in preparation for the real thing two years later. We join the “journey” via their 3rd-person POVs, but are also given a broader view thanks to their family members (one might consider them “satellites” orbiting the main characters — always tied to them): Helen’s actress daughter Mireille, Yoshi’s robot-salesperson wife Madoka, and Sergei’s sexually-uncertain 15-year-old son Dmitri. We also get a POV from Luke, one of the “Obbers” — the Prime Space employees tasked with observing the crew an... Read More

The Mighty Zodiac Volume 1: Starfall by J. Torres

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The Mighty Zodiac Volume 1: Starfall written by J. Torres,  Corin Howell (illustrations), Maarta Laiho (color), Warren Wucinich (letters)

The Mighty Zodiac has a wonderfully cosmic and original premise — the death of a constellation leads to the fall of six stars from the skies and the freeing of the Rabbit Army from the moon. Or as it is put early on:
When the Blue Dragon died, he left the eastern skies vulnerable. Without another dragon to immediately take its place and ascend into the position of the Guardian of the East, six stars fell out of heaven . . . Darkness fell across the region like no one had seen before. The darkness drew out dark creatures with dark designs!
Soon it’s a race between the heroes (the anthropomorphized ani... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Where “peace comes dropping slow” (giveaway!)

St. Patrick’s Day always sees me turn to my favorite Irish poet (perhaps just my favorite poet): William Butler Yeats. For your enjoyment, we’ve pasted one of his more famous poems below — “The Lake Isle of Innisfree.”

The Lake Isle of Innisfree



For our own genre twist, we’re wondering what place in a fantasy/sci-fi setting you’d pick to go to for some blissful, rejuvenating solitude. Not necessarily the place you’d most like to go, not necessarily the most beautiful or most exciting, but the place where “peace comes dropping slow,” the place you’d choose to get away from the hurly-burly of the world.

What will it be? The Hall of Fire in Rivendell? Andelain in The Land? What’s your solo getaway spot? We’ll take an entire planet, a region, a town, a house, a room, even a virtual setting.

We’d love to say one lucky commentator will get a round-trip to their own personal... Read More

Another Castle: Grimoire by Andrew Wheeler

 

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Another Castle: Grimoire Written by Andrew Wheeler, Illustrated by Paulina Ganucheau, Lettered by Jenny Vy Tran

Another Castle: Grimoire is a solid enough graphic story, better suited for younger readers than older ones due to its relatively simple story and characterization, though even aimed at that audience I would have liked to have seen a bit more depth and writing craft.

The story follows the adventures of Princess Misty, daughter to the king of Beldora and, like many a princess in the old stories, a reluctant prospective bride. Her impending marriage to Prince Pete is meant to unite two kingdoms and hopefully allow them to st... Read More

SPFBO Final Round Reviews part 1

In Mark Lawrence's Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, ten SFF review blogs joined forces to read 300 self-published fantasy novels. Each blog read ten books and chose one to advance to the top ten. The book that we advanced was Kaitlyn Davis's The Shadow Soul (here's our review) and we gave it a score of 5 out of 10 on Lawrence's scale. We are currently reading the remaining top ten SPFBO books. Here is our review of four of them. We'll get the last five books done soon.



The Path of Flames by Phil Tucker (read by Bill and Terry, given a score of Read More

SFM: Chiang, Liu, Sanderson, Kinney, Seybold

Short Fiction Monday: Our weekly exploration of free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. Here are a few stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about. 


“Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang (1998, originally anthologized in Starlight 2, reprinted in Stories of Your Life and Others). 2000 Nebula award winner (novella) and 1999 Sturgeon award winner.

Being more of a fantasy lover than a sci-fi fan, I still hadn’t read the short-story superstar Ted Chiang. Keen to see what I’ve been missing, and possibly throwing myself in at the deep end, I read “Story of Your Life.” Boy,... Read More

SFM: Larson, Barnhill, Jones, Levine, Marzioli, Lee

Short Fiction Monday: Our weekly sampling of free short fiction available on the internet. Here are a few stories that caught our attention this week. 



“Masked” by Rich Larson (July 2016, free at Apex, $2.99 Kindle magazine issue. Originally published in Asimov’s Science Fiction)
It’s been a whole month since anyone’s seen Vera, and the circumstances of us finally seeing her this weekend are going to be ultra grody-odd, so I deliberate forever doing my Face. In the end I decide to go subtle: an airbrushed conglom o... Read More

Smash written by Sara Latta and illustrated by Jeff Weigel

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Smash written by Sara Latta and illustrated by Jeff Weigel

Smash, written by Sara Latta and illustrated by Jeff Weigel, is a clear and concise explanation for young people of the standard model of physics (including the newly discovered Higgs Boson) and in particular of how the giant CERN supercollider contributes to furthering the model’s accuracy/completeness. Saying the book is aimed at the young, however, does it a bit of a disservice, as it works just as well for adults looking for that same clarity and concision.


In tried and true format, Latta has much of the explanation take the form of a dialogue between one knowledgeable person (Sophie, whose parents work at CERN) explaining a difficult concept to one struggling to understand it (her cousin Nick, visiting CERN in hope of finding inspiration for a superhero comic he’s drawing for a contest).... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: SFF Oscar Winners

With Oscars Night nearly upon us, we thought it might be fun to imagine not only a few of the categories/nominees that didn’t make the cut this year, but some of the possible speeches the winners might give as well.

We’ve started it off with the winner of Best Supporting Role by a Piece of Clothing — The Cloak of Levitation (Doctor Strange). We’d like to hear some of your potential categories and/or winning speeches from 2016’s best (or worst) science fiction/fantasy films.

As always, we’ll select a random commentator to receive a giveaway book from our stacks.

Cloak’s speech:
I have so many people to thank. The writers, as it truly felt like this role was tailor-made for me. The director, Scott Derrikson, for taking a chance on a relative unknown seen (or not seen) in just a handful of minor period dramas. My wiser-than-her-years agent, I. Singer. Ye... Read More

Love, Volume 4 The Dinosaur by Frederic Brremaud & Frederico Bertolucci

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Love, Volume 4 The Dinosaur written by Frederic Brremaud and illustrated by Frederico Bertolucci

Love, Volume 4 The Dinosaur (2017) is the newest in a series of wordless graphic novels written by Frederic Brremaud and illustrated by Frederico Bertolucci, each of them following an animal type (a tiger, a lion) through their days. Dinosaurs, thanks to their massive popularity would seem an obvious choice in the series, and they get prime treatment in a gritty, vividly illustrated adventure tale.

Interestingly enough, the story starts small, focusing on an insect and a small shrew-like mammal. They’re quickly disturbed though by the massive foot of a sauropod crashing down as it wanders by while munching the foliage. Just a few panels later, a smaller dinosaur (a bambiraptor I believe, though I’m not sure) enters the picture, an... Read More

Central Station: A snapshot of a strangely familiar time

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Reposting to include Bill's new review.

Central Station by Lavie Tidhar

Central Station is a thoughtful, poignant, human take on a possible future. For the most part Central Station occurs at the titular port on planet earth. This space resides in what we know today as Tel Aviv, but in the distant future it has gone through many names and many people. Everything seems to begin in earnest when Boris Chong arrives in Central Station after spending a great deal of time away — some of which on Mars. Central Station, the place, is a half-thought meeting of a variety of worlds. Central Station the book is more thoughtful than I think I know how to express, but I’ll give it a try.

Central Station occurs in the very spot where humans expanded from our first planet th... Read More

SFM: Lee, Jones, Pratt, Skillingstead & Courtier

Short Fiction Monday: Our weekly sampling of free short fiction available on the internet. Here are a few stories that caught our attention this week. 



“The Pirate Captain’s Daughter” by Yoon Ha Lee (2009, free at Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

A female pirate captain sails the Unwritten Sea on her ship, the Improbable Dragon. Her crew includes her daughter, who is still unnamed despite growing into a young woman, for the Unwritten Sea has its laws and traditions, and a pirate must have the soul of a poet, and write a poem to the sea with enough power in it to move a ship. But the pirate’s daughter knows that she is no poet, and despite assiduous practicing and countless tries, nothing she writes can even move a toy boat acros... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: SFF Tinder profiles

As Valentine’s Day approaches, and thoughts turn to romance, we thought it’d be fun to imagine how some of our favorite science fiction & fantasy characters might promote themselves on Tinder.

We’ve started you off with a couple of our own (click image to embiggen). Now it's your turn. Write a "Facts About Me" paragraph for any SFF character's Tinder profile. Add as many as you like and we'll choose our favorite to win a book from our stacks. We look forward to seeing how your characters put themselves out there...

Click to embiggen

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Empress of a Thousand Skies: Propulsive plot but a few too many issues

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Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza is a YA space opera that feels a bit like old-time science fiction with a modern sensibility, in that characterization takes a back seat to a plot that can’t really be examined too closely, but those relatively flat characters are a nicely diverse mix in terms of gender and color. Sometimes such a propulsive plot can compensate for, or at least ameliorate somewhat, flat characters, but the plot also had its issues, and so the book didn’t succeed for me, though YA readers may be a bit more forgiving, particularly younger ones.

Years ago, Crown Princess Rhiannon’s father, mother, and sister died in an “accident” that led to her growing up in exiled protection while the galaxy was ruled by Regent Seotra. The book opens up as Rhee, as she’s called, i... Read More

SFM: Kusano, Swanwick, Howard, Tanzer

Short Fiction Monday: Our weekly sampling of free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. Here are some of the stories that caught our attention this week. 


“Next Station, Shibuya” by Iori Kusano (Jan. 2017, free at Apex, $2.99 Kindle magazine issue)

A poetic little story (under 4000 words) narrated by a city (or perhaps a city’s local spirit/deity) in second-person address toward Nagiko, a resident in whom the city has taken a particular interest.  I really liked the small details by which the city shows its love of Nagiko:
As you walked home from the station I made sure every streetlight above you was lit … There is alwa... Read More

With Blood Upon the Sand: Draws one deeper into an already good story

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With Blood Upon the Sand
by Bradley P. Beaulieu

With Blood Upon the Sand (2017) is the second in Bradley P. Beaulieu’s THE SONG OF THE SHATTERED SANDS series, following up on the excellent Twelve Kings in Sharakhai. The sequel didn’t grab me quite as fully as its predecessor, but it’s quite nearly as good and certainly has me eager to continue reading the series.

So as to avoid spoilers for the first book, I’m going to offer up a relatively brief, vague plot summary. Though I will need to reference characters, so unavoidably you’ll know those folks survived book one. Re... Read More

Miniatures: Like pistachios; you won’t stop with one

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Reposting to include Bill's new review:

Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi by John Scalzi

Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi (2016), is a collection from John Scalzi, published by Subterranean Press. Sub Press cleverly chose only one blurb for the back cover, from Kirkus reviews: “Often verging on the silly, but on the whole, quite amusing.”

That was a stroke of marketing genius on the part of Sub Press because this collection of works does verge on the silly. It jumps the border of silly. It tap-dances and cartwheels through the world of silly, shrieking “Wheeeee!” the whole time until the end, where there is one serious piece. As a journalist, a columnist, and a long-time blogger, Scalzi works well in... Read More

The Time Museum by Matthew Loux

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The Time Museum, by Matthew Loux, is a graphic story with a nice premise, but neither the text nor the graphics fully exploited that premise, leaving me more than a little cold toward the final result.

The premise is relatively simple. Sometime in the far future, the Earth Time Museum was founded as “the most complete collection of the planet Earth’s geology, biology, art, culture, and history all under one big roof . . . To chronicle and preserve all the important things about this great planet.” That’s in the words of the museum’s founder and creator Lyndon Beckenbauer, “Uncle Lyndon” to the story’s main characte... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Collaborative Cliche — Space Opera edition!

It’s time for another Collaborative Cliché! We all have subgenres we love, and they all have certain elements that endear them to us. And, sometimes, they use those elements just a liiittle too much.

We are going to start you off with anonymous villains, hidden asteroids, mysterious energy beams and gruff star ship captains. Yes, it’s our homage to Space Opera. Please bring out your most tired, over-used, predictable tropes, and use the Comments section to add to our interplanetary story. One random commenter with a USA address will win a book from our Stacks. And now we have liftoff:

*****


In a secret installation deep in an asteroid, a villain we won’t name yet chortled with ev... Read More

The City of Ice: Still slow moving, but a worthy follow-up in a fascinating series

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The City of Ice by K.M. McKinley

I was going to start out this review of K.M. McKinley’s The City of Ice (2016) by saying that I could pretty much cut and paste the first paragraph of my review of its predecessor The Iron Ship, since it matched exactly what I’d say about The City of Ice. But then I realized why say I could when I actually can do that. So here it is, with some edits.

The Iron Ship City of Ice is a sprawling, slow build of a story that mostly follows the POV exploits of five siblings whose stories generally wend their own way. With its large cast, ... Read More

Babylon’s Ashes: A great read in the best sci-fi series going

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Babylon’s Ashes by James S. A. Corey

Here’s the short version of the review of James S. A. Corey’s Babylon’s Ashes (2016), book six in THE EXPANSE series: I’ve long considered THE EXPANSE my favorite science fiction series I’ve read as an adult, and Babylon’s Ashes does nothing to change that opinion. If you’ve read the other books (and if you haven’t, why are you reading this?), jump in with all confidence. The long version follows with major spoilers for prior novels.

Babylon’s Ashes picks up right after the operatically cataclysmic events of Read More

Invisible Cities: Philosophical sketches of imaginary cities

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Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

Italo Calvino has long been on my list of foreign writers of the fantastic who have been deeply influential to SFF writers while remaining only tangential to the genre. This would include the great Jorge Luis Borges, as well as Stanislaw Lem. All these writers revel in philosophical musings, magic realism, and intellectual play. They belong to the deeper end of the fantastic literature swimming pool, but adventurous readers and authors have often plunged into those depths to one degree or another.

Invisible Cities was first published in Italian in 1972 but appeared in English in 1974 and was a surprise nominee for the Nebula Award in 1976. It is a unique and al... Read More

Blood of Innocents & A Shattered Empire: Execution fades as the story continues

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Blood of Innocents A Shattered Empire by Mitchell Hogan

Since I read the last two books, Blood of Innocents and A Shattered Empire, in Mitchell Hogan’s SORCERY ASCENDANT series one upon the other, I’m just going to review them together. There may be minor spoilers for book two (you’ll know which characters survive for instance), but I’ll avoid major spoilers. The takeaway is that the series disappoints in its conclusion, making it one I can’t recommend starting, and so as usual with my negative reviews, this will be relatively brief.

The narrative picks up where A Crucible of Souls ended. Caldan is on the run from Anasoma’s invasion with a group of allies (inc... Read More

A Crucible of Souls: A solid if somewhat familiar entry in the fantasy genre

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A Crucible of Souls by Mitchell Hogan

A Crucible of Souls by Mitchell Hogan is the first book of a trilogy that runs over pretty familiar ground in the coming-of-age fantasy genre and rarely rises above average in its telling, but has a likable enough main character and an intriguing enough plot to keep the reader satisfied.

Caldan is a young orphan raised by monks in a relatively secluded monastery that typically educates the wealthy children of the empire. When an incident occurs between one of those wealthy entitled youth and Caldan, he is expelled from the monastery by the monks, who give him a pair of powerful (and possibly dangerous) heirlooms left to him by his parents. The monks also reveal that what Caldan had been told about his parents’ deaths wasn’t quite the full truth. Determined to make his way in the world, and maybe find out more about his pa... Read More

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