Jana Nyman

JANA NYMAN, with us since January 2015, is a freelance copy-editor who has lived all over the United States, but recently settled in Colorado with her dog and a Wookiee. Jana was exposed to science fiction and fantasy at an early age, watching Star Wars and Star Trek movie marathons with her family and reading works by Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury WAY before she was old enough to understand them; thus began a lifelong fascination with what it means to be human. Jana enjoys reading all kinds of books, but her particular favorites are fairy- and folktales (old and new), fantasy involving dragons or other mythological beasties, contemporary science fiction, and superhero fiction. Some of her favorite authors are Bradbury, James Tiptree, Jr., Madeleine L'Engle, and Philip Pullman.

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter: Monsters, men, and monstrous men

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Reposting to include Marion's new review.

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

In The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter (2017), Theodora Goss has created something really exciting and rewarding: a novel that pays homage to the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century works of speculative fiction which inform every standard the modern incarnation of the genre is judged by, and yet stands on its own as a twenty-first century creation.

The epigraph — “Here be monsters” — and a subsequent recorded exchange between Mary and Catherine set the scene: The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter is a collaborative effort, though by whom and for what purpose is not immediately plain. First we... Read More

Space Opera: An overdose of whimsy and wonder

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Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

This is the kind of review I always dread writing — so many people loved Space Opera (2018), either becoming brand-new Catherynne M. Valente fans or cementing their appreciation of her talent. I can see why they would like it, I really can. The novel bears all the hallmarks of a Valente project: an overabundance of whimsy and wonder, intricately wordy sentences that sometimes become whole paragraphs, an aggressively manic-cute species, and much more. And there’s the acknowledged, heavy debt owed to Douglas Adams’ ground-breaking novel Read More

Celebrating #FearlessWomen with TOR, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Sam Hawke

At Fantasy Literature, we love fearless women!

Women are shining in every genre of speculative fiction, and it is no longer enough to say “Women are here.” Instead, #FearlessWomen everywhere are taking a stand to say “Women will thrive here.”

Highlighting major titles from bestselling authors V.E. Schwab, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jacqueline Carey as well as titles from acclaimed and debut authors such as Mary Robinette Kowal, Tessa Gratton, Sam Hawke, and Robyn Bennis, #FearlessWomen is a coordinated social media c... Read More

Machine Learning: Thoughtful and thought-provoking stories

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Machine Learning by Hugh Howey

Odds are good that you’ve heard of Hugh Howey — whether you’ve read one of his novels or short stories, or even if you’re just aware of the runaway success of his SILO trilogy, which began with Wool. Machine Learning (2017) is the first collection of his short stories (and one novelette), most of which were published elsewhere in various times and places, and it’s an excellent display of his range, insight, and talent. Each story is followed up by a brief Afterword from Howey, giving him the opportunity to explain where the story came from and what his goals were in writing it. When necessary, I’ve marked stories that were previously reviewed at... Read More

The Robots of Gotham: A rough couple of weeks in the Windy City

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The Robots of Gotham by Todd McAulty

The Robots of Gotham (2018) is the debut novel from Todd McAulty, and though it’s chock-full of robots, only one of them seems to actually be from Gotham, and the entirety of the book’s nearly-700 pages take place in Chicago. So it’s a slightly misleading title, but there are more than enough explosions, stealth missions, and metal-clad behemoths to make up for it.

In a nutshell, there are humans — mostly part of the Venezuelan army, though the people themselves comprise a multitude of nationalities, and there are two different factions representing American blocs — and there are intelligent machines — some of whom are from the Kingdom of Manhattan, some of whom are unaffiliated, and some of whom aren’t supposed to exist. It’s a lot to keep track of, especially since any one of those groups see... Read More

The Freeze-Frame Revolution: Doesn’t feel complete

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The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts

Having never read one of Peter Watts’ novels before, I thought a short novel like The Freeze-Frame Revolution (2018) would be a good place for me to start. After all, I like science fiction, generation-style ships, rogue AIs, and solid narratives about mutinous crews. Watts delivers on those elements and many more, but the story never really coalesced for me, and I had trouble connecting with the narrator.

Over the last sixty million years, Sunday Ahzmundin and the rest of the Eriophora’s crew have been traveling the galaxy, harvesting usable materials from ... Read More

Thunderhead: A tug-of-war between forward momentum and backsliding

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Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

Neal Shusterman follows up Scythe, which introduced readers to a mostly-perfect futuristic world in which death isn’t permanent (until it very much is) with Thunderhead (2018), the second installment in his ARC OF A SCYTHE trilogy. Regrettably, I won’t be able to discuss anything about Thunderhead without spoiling some of Scythe’s details, so consider yourself warned and/or prepared.

Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova are no more — at least, as far as the rest of the world is concerned. Rowan has taken his fight ... Read More

Celebrating #FearlessWomen with TOR and Jacqueline Carey

At Fantasy Literature, we love fearless women!

Women are shining in every genre of speculative fiction, and it is no longer enough to say “Women are here.” Instead, #FearlessWomen everywhere are taking a stand to say “Women will thrive here.”

Highlighting major titles from bestselling authors V.E. Schwab, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jacqueline Carey as well as titles from acclaimed and debut authors such as Mary Robinette Kowal, Tessa Gratton, Sam Hawke, and Robyn Bennis, #FearlessWomen is a coordinated social media c... Read More

Guardian: Get up, stand up — don’t give up the fight

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Guardian by A.J. Hartley

With Guardian (2018), A.J. Hartley brings his STEEPLEJACK trilogy to a triumphant close. Readers who savored the voyeuristic thrill of soaring along rooftops and bringing evildoers to justice alongside Anglet Sutonga in Steeplejack and Firebrand are sure to cheer as she tackles an even more daunting task: gathering allies both near and far to protect the city she calls home. The STEEPLEJACK books (and reviews of said books) need to be read in order, but I’ll try to keep unavoidable spoilers to a bare minimum.

As if Read More

Semiosis: Oh, give me a home where the fippokats roam…

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Semiosis by Sue Burke

Semiosis, Sue Burke’s 2018 debut novel, is a fascinating examination of culture, intelligence, and co-operation in the face of extreme hardship. A small group of high-minded and free-thinking colonists have left Earth for a planet they’ve named Pax, in honor of their Utopic dream of what the planet represents, though they quickly discover that peace is not easily achieved — especially when they discover that you can never go home again, but neither can you completely leave it behind.

Pax has breathable air and potable water, a higher gravity than Earth, and a terrifying menagerie of plants and animals offering constant reminders that expectations about how things will work can be deadly. One of the biggest stumbling blocks for the new residents of Pax, something they butt their heads against time and time again, is their assumed sense ... Read More

The Overneath: And assorted interesting stories

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Reposting to include Jana's new review.

The Overneath by Peter S. Beagle

It must be hard to be a literary icon, late in your career. You’ve ascended the literary heights and amassed an adoring following who still expect you never to repeat, and even improve upon your previous genius with each new work. But I’m not sorry for Peter S. Beagle, nor his latest short story collection The Overneath, which came out in November of 2017.

Most striking, to me, is that Beagle manages each new tale with a distinct, and yet perfectly effortless narrative voice. No problem with that whole repetition worry. There is none here. His narratives roll out rich in otherworldly wonder.

He does revisit the unicorn theme in this collection with b... Read More

Luna: Wolf Moon: Fighting over dust and sunlight

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Luna: Wolf Moon by Ian McDonald

Luna: Wolf Moon (2017) continues the saga Ian McDonald began in Luna: New Moon, which explored the power struggles between the Five Dragons, five powerful families controlling certain areas of influence on Earth’s moon. Each family, in turn, adheres to a national identity which dictates how they do business, what sort of business they do, and who they’re most likely to (figuratively and literally) stab in the back at the nearest opportunity while simultaneously marrying their offspring to one another in attempts to gain influence or construct gossamer-thin alliances. If crazy-rich people behaving badly is your thing, then I have very good news for you, because Read More

Buried Heart: Forced to pick a side

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Buried Heart by Kate Elliott

In Night Flower, Kiya and Esladas met and fell in love, beginning a journey that would, eventually, shake the city of Saryenia to its very foundation. In Court of Fives, their daughter Jessamy got her heart’s desire, the chance to train as a Court of Fives runner, at the cost of her family’s safety. In Poisoned Blade, Jes did everything she could to reunite her loved ones while rooting out royal corruption, but it wasn’t enough. In Bright Thrones, Jes’ twin Bettany put her depthless anger... Read More

84K: The value of a human life

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84K by Claire North

Claire North brings a haunting and all-too-realistic vision of the near-future to life for her most recent novel, 84K (2018), in which an already-existing real world injustice is pushed to its natural limit: every possible crime and infraction are assigned a monetary value, from murder to petty theft and everything in between, and wealthy citizens escape punishment by simply paying the appropriate fine. Those who cannot pay their fine are, at best, interned in working penitentiaries known as “the patty line,” making cosmetics and frozen dinners and shiny baubles that they could never afford, and at worst... well, it doesn’t bear thinking about.

Parliament isn’t really Parliament anymore; along with stripping basic rights from every single person... Read More

Neverwhere: Wonderfully fantastical setting

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Reposting to include Stuart's new review.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Neverwhere is a novel that improved dramatically for me on reread, which actually was a surprise to me. I originally read it about six years ago when, in an odd twist worthy of London Below, it mysteriously appeared one day on my clunky Kindle 2, without my having ordered it. About a month later it just as mysteriously disappeared again (luckily I had finished it just in time). I was fascinated by the marvelous and imaginative setting of Neverwhere and London Below, but only mildly entertained by the plot, which ― other than the beginning and the end ― I found quite forgettable.

Still, when I was offered the chance to read a 2016 edition of Neverwhere with the “author’s preferred text” and illustrations by Chri... Read More

Celebrating #FearlessWomen with TOR and V.E. Schwab

At Fantasy Literature, we love fearless women!

Women are shining in every genre of speculative fiction, and it is no longer enough to say “Women are here.” Instead, #FearlessWomen everywhere are taking a stand to say “Women will thrive here.”

Highlighting major titles from bestselling authors V.E. Schwab, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jacqueline Carey as well as titles from acclaimed and debut authors such as Mary Robinette Kowal, Tessa Gratton, Sam Hawke, and Robyn Bennis, #FearlessWomen is a coordinated social media c... Read More

Armistice: Plots and plans

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Armistice by Lara Elena Donnelly

Lara Elena Donnelly continues THE AMBERLOUGH DOSSIER with Armistice (2018), a worthy sequel to her Nebula- and Lambda-nominated novel Amberlough. Three years have passed since the fascist Ospies took over Amberlough City and its surrounding lands, bringing tremendous change and hardship to the lives of the people who oppose them. If you haven’t yet read Amberlough, I strongly suggest doing so before reading any reviews of Armistice, to avoid even minor spoilers for this brilliant, twisty series.

Cordelia Lehane, hip-deep in a resistance movement cleverly named “the Catwal... Read More

The Mermaid Handbook: An Alluring Treasury of Literature, Lore, Art, Recipes, and Projects

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The Mermaid Handbook by Carolyn Turgeon

Carolyn Turgeon has followed up 2017’s The Faerie Handbook with The Mermaid Handbook: An Alluring Treasury of Literature, Lore, Art, Recipes, and Projects (2018), a similarly-themed and -structured guide to mermaid folklore throughout history and around the world, along with stunningly-photographed examples of modern mermaid couture, particularly the bespoke mermaid tails available in a range of colors and styles. And if readers are interested in mermaid-themed cocktails, snacks, or tablescapes for parties, this beautifully-crafted book provides tips and recipes to get anyone started down the right path.

This collection is more about the half-woman, half-fish mermaid concept than anything else, so there’s little about m... Read More

Celebrating #FearlessWomen with TOR and Robyn Bennis

At Fantasy Literature, we love fearless women!

Women are shining in every genre of speculative fiction, and it is no longer enough to say “Women are here.” Instead, #FearlessWomen everywhere are taking a stand to say “Women will thrive here.”

Highlighting major titles from bestselling authors V.E. Schwab, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jacqueline Carey as well as titles from acclaimed and debut authors such as Mary Robinette Kowal, Tessa Gratton, Sam Hawke, and Robyn Bennis, #FearlessWomen is a coordinated social media c... Read More

By Fire Above: The absurdity and brutality of war

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By Fire Above by Robyn Bennis

Robyn Bennis’ debut novel The Guns Above introduced readers to Captain Josette Dupre, Lord Bernat Hinkal, and the rest of the crew of the airship Mistral, caught up in a seemingly interminable war in defense of the Garnian empire against their Vinzhalian enemies. By Fire Above (2018) is the second entry in Bennis’ SIGNAL AIRSHIP series, and it’s just as flint- and steam-powered as the previous novel; while some of the former’s cheekiness has been set aside in favor of gallows humor and dark absurdity in the latter, it’s still as entertaining and compelling as its predecessor.

The only thing worse than being caugh... Read More

SFM: McIntosh, Szpara, Andrews

Short Fiction Monday: Our weekly exploration of free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. Here are a few stories we've read that we wanted you to know about, including 2017 Nebula nominees in the short fiction categories.

“What is Eve?” by Will McIntosh (April 2018, free at Lightspeed, $3.99 Kindle magazine issue)

Ben and several other middle school aged children are separated from their families and taken to an isolated school, to participate in a “unique program” that is supposed to be an incredible opportunity for the children. Once they arrive, Ben and the other students are given some odd instructions: wear an earbud day and night... Read More

The Queen of Sorrow: Complex and triumphant

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The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst

The Queen of Sorrow (2018) is the third volume in Sarah Beth Durst’s THE QUEENS OF RENTHIA series, appearing to conclude the storylines of Queens Daleina, Naelin, and Merecot which began in The Queen of Blood and were explored further The Reluctant Queen. Renthia is a world filled with all manner of spirits, who are capable of tremendous destruction unless kept under tight control by the queen of the realm, who must also perform the expected state duties of caring for her subjects and guarding against incursion from foreign ent... Read More

Celebrating #FearlessWomen with TOR and Sherrilyn Kenyon (giveaway!)

At Fantasy Literature, we love fearless women!

Women are shining in every genre of speculative fiction, and it is no longer enough to say “Women are here.” Instead, #FearlessWomen everywhere are taking a stand to say “Women will thrive here.”

Highlighting major titles from bestselling authors V.E. Schwab, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jacqueline Carey as well as titles from acclaimed and debut authors such as Mary Robinette Kowal, Tessa Gratton, Sam Hawke, and Robyn Bennis, #FearlessWomen is a coordinated social media c... Read More

The City on the Other Side: A charming graphic novel

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The City on the Other Side by Mairghread Scott & Robin Robinson

A devastating war is being waged between the Seelie and Unseelie courts — Coscar, the Unseelie king, has kidnapped the daughter of King Ro’hish in revenge for the theft of a precious item. Coscar’s campaign has been a long and bloody one, and it seems that he’ll stop at nothing to retrieve what was taken. Meanwhile, in our world, little Isabel comes from a wealthy Latinx family and lives with her mother in San Francisco, sometime shortly after the great Quake of 1906. Her mother is going to Europe for the summer and doesn’t want any distractions, so against Isabel’s fervent wishes, she is left with her artist father, who lives outside the city and doesn’t much seem to care about her presence. While wandering in the woods outside her father’s studio, Isabel meets a mortally wounded messenger from the Seelie realm, who tas... Read More

The City of Lost Fortunes: A rich gumbo full of passion, life, and magic

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The City of Lost Fortunes by Bryan Camp

Bryan Camp’s debut novel The City of Lost Fortunes (2018) is a loving ode to New Orleans and everything that makes it superlative: the food, the music, the soul-crushing humidity, and of course, the people. Ambitious, insightful, and filled with commentary on the diversity and similarities across world mythologies, this novel is absolutely the product of a writer who is worth keeping an eye on.

Invited to an exquisitely bizarre card game that he’s compelled to attend, Jude Dubuisson discovers himself in the company of some terrifying entities: a vampire, an ancient Egyptian god, New Orleans’ own god of fortune, a famous voodoo loa, and a literal angel. Jude is, himself, the son of a trickster god and has the ability to find lost items just by touching the people who have lost them, so he’s got just ... Read More

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