Justin Blazier (RETIRED)

JUSTIN BLAZIER (on FanLit's staff September 2009 – September 2012) Like many fantasy enthusiasts, Justin cut his teeth on Tolkien. Due to lack of space, his small public library would often give him their donated SFF books. Justin lives in a small home near the river with his wife, their baby daughter, and Norman, a mildly smelly dog. He doesn't have much time for reviewing anymore, but he still shows up here occasionally to let us know how he feels about stuff.

Thoughtful Thursday: Five Free Books for Five years of FanLit

Fantasy Literature reached its fifth year of existence this summer, and I thought it time to do a little celebrating. I love this site a great deal, and it excites me to no end to see it grow like it has. FanLit has played a huge part in my development as a writer, and as a reader. I really appreciate the hard work our team puts into making the site so great. Besides reading and writing reviews, each of us has our own site jobs -- editing, columns we're in charge of, interviews, and many behind-the-scenes tasks that keep us producing daily content. It's all managed by Kat, whose dedication and hard work has enabled this site to continue for as long as it has.

I would like to thank our readers, too. Without you guys coming to the site every day we would have faded into obscurity some time ago. I'm glad you've enjoyed the content over the last five years, and I ... Read More

WWW: July 18, 2012

This week we have Christopher Tolkien blasting the LOTR films, Comic-Con reports, and a little about Apocalyptic YA. In the coming weeks, if you find something interesting you think everyone should read, drop me a line via the contact form and let me know, or just post it below. Let's get started:

1) Interview with Christopher Tolkien: Some surprises in here, or maybe not if you are familiar with C. Tolkien's feelings towards the film adaptions of his father's work.

2) Lou Anders Reports from Comic-Con: Read More

WWW: Wonder: Ties up the story nicely

WWW: Wonder by Robert J. Sawyer

WWW: Wonder is the third and final book in Robert J. Sawyer’s WWW trilogy. It continues the story of visually challenged Caitlin Decter and the self aware web-based intelligence that she has named Webmind. Caitlin and Webmind struggle to deal with the sudden attention Webmind’s emergence has brought on them all. Caitlin believes that Webmind is a benevolent entity, but the government considers it a threat and wants to eradicate it. There are a couple of other subplots that come to together in WWW: Wonder, but the story mostly revolves around the few key characters.

Similar to the previous books, Wake and Watch, Wonder tackles the philosophical themes of self identity, personal responsibility, and the greater good. The message... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: What is the Best Speculative Fiction on Television?

Science Fiction and Fantasy fans are enjoying a bit of a cultural surge lately, and there is a ton of genre related stuff being consumed. Thanks to authors like George R.R. Martin and Charlaine Harris, Fantasy is crushing best seller lists as well as television ratings. There is some very cool genre based stuff available on T.V. right now. Shows like The Wire, The Walking Dead, and Eureka are extremely well written. Past shows like Battlestar Galactica, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the X-Files are excellent examples of quality SFF based television.

What are your favorite SFF shows of all time? What are your favorite shows on curr... Read More

WWW: July 11, 2012

In the coming weeks, if you find something interesting you think everyone should read, drop me a line via the contact form and let me know, or just post it below. Let's get started:

1) Inside the World's Largest SFF Collection: UCTV Prime YouTube Series takes you on a tour.

2) What Really Happens When You Get Sucked Out of an Airlock: Does your head explode? Freeze into a human ice cube? Read this article to find out.

3) Read More

WWW: July 4, 2012

In the coming weeks, if you find something interesting you think everyone should read, drop me a line via the contact form and let me know, or just post it below. Let's get started:

1) Free ebook: Free eBook of Joan Slonzewski's Daughter of Elysium. Use the code 9991545.

2) Still free audiobooks for summer: Each summer, when school's out, SYNC offers two free audiobooks per week that are suitable for teen readers. Today's the last day to pick up The Amulet of Samarkand by Read More

WWW: June 27, 2012

In the coming weeks, if you find something interesting you think everyone should read, drop me a line via the contact form and let me know, or just post it below. Let's get started:

1) Newly Launched Andre Norton Site: An impressive looking site about Andre Norton. I'll be keeping an eye on this one.

2) David Brin Discusses the End of the World: Brin wrote The Postman, which happens to be one of my favorite SF novels. I really enjoyed his perspective in this article.

3) F... Read More

Best Dads in Fantasy

Last weekend in the US it was Father's Day, so I thought it would be fun to name some favorite Dads from the Fantasy genre. I think I'm a good Dad. I often feed my baby, and I rarely misplace her. I also teach her how to make fart noises, which is essential to her social development. I'm pretty sure those are things good Dads do.

Even with my aforementioned accolades of great dadness, I still pale in comparison to Zaknafein Do' Urden. Zaknafein is the father of Drizzt Do' Urden the legendary Dark Elf swordsman from the Forgotten Realms Universe.

In Dark Elf society women are the rulers. They subjugate the men with wicked ruthlessness, cunning politics, and excessive violence. Now that I think about it, it's really not that much different from our own world. Zaknafein was the greatest swordsmen alive, and he taught Drizzt everything he knew. The most ... Read More

WWW: June 20, 2012

In the coming weeks, if you find something interesting you think everyone should read, drop me a line via the contact form and let me know, or just post it below. Let's get started:

1) What do Authors of Historical Fiction Owe To History?: Author and history Ph.D. holder D.B. Jackson gives you his perspective.

2) HBO and the producers respond to the Game of Thrones controversy: The impaled prop head of George W. Bush revealed in Game of Thrones DVD commentary. Political statement, or simple prop economics?

3) Read More

Nightfall: A bloody mystery thriller

Nightfall by Stephen Leather

Jack Nightingale was a cop, a negotiator to be specific. He becomes a private investigator after a series of strange and tragic events. Things get really weird for Jack when he finds out the parents he lost as a teenager had actually adopted him, and his real father has left him a huge mansion in the countryside. I should also mention that his biological father was an evil bastard who sold Jack's soul to a demon, and only a few days remain till said demon comes to collect. Jack the level-headed investigator doesn’t buy into any of it, until his loved ones start having “accidents.” He tries to find out who is doing the killing while trying to unravel the mystery of his family’s past.

Nightfall is a bloody mystery thriller with fantasy elements mixed in. It had its scary moments, but didn’t keep me up at night. I found much of the story to be very sad, actually. The th... Read More

WWW: June 13, 2012

In the coming weeks, if you find something interesting you think everyone should read, drop me a line via the contact form and let me know, or just post it below. Let's get started:

1) Tropes vs. Women in Video Games: A Kickstarter for a video series that will explore the topic of women and how they are portrayed in video games.

2) A Martian Joined Ray Bradbury and Me for Dinner in Paris: An amusing little story about having dinner with Ray Bradbury.

3) Read More

WWW: June 6, 2012

In the coming weeks, if you find something interesting you think everyone should read, drop me a line via the contact form and let me know, or just post it below. Let's get started:

Ray Bradbury 1920-2012



1) Ray Bradbury dies at 91: From Bradbury's website: Ray Bradbury, recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation, died on June 5, 2012, at the age of 91 after a long illness. He lived in Los Angeles.

2) Free ebook for June: Phoenix Pick's free ebook for June is Paul Cook's Tintagel Read More

WWW: May 30, 2012

If you find something interesting you think everyone should read, drop me a line via the contact form and let me know, or just post it below. Let's get started:

1) Writing About Race in Science Fiction and Fantasy: SF Signal hosts a round table discussion about writing race in SFF. A very well done and thought-provoking piece.

2) Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award: Care of Grasping the Wind, here is a list of the finalists for the Sturgeon Award. All of the nominations carry links to the stories, so you can see how your judgment stacks up ... Read More

Books that did not stand the test of time

I still watch my fair share of cartoons and have a deep love for them that extends from early in my childhood. One of my favorites was Heathcliff -- I adored that show when I was little. I recently found some old episodes on YouTube, sure that watching it again would whisk me back to the junkyard fights and trashcan-dumping shenanigans Heathcliff was famous for. Instead, I was disappointed; the cartoon was actually quite terrible. The voices were cheesy, the animation was cheap, and the plots were terrible. How could I have loved this show so much? When did I outgrow it? I never outgrow anything -- I'm still amused by MadLibs for God's sake. But sometime in the last 25 years, Heathcliff started to suck for me.

Could the same thing happen for books I think I love? If I went back and read some of my childhood favorites, would they suddenly be terrible? I highly suspect the pun-filled adventures of Read More

WWW: May 23, 2012

In the coming weeks, if you find something interesting you think everyone should read, drop me a line via the contact form and let me know, or just post it below. Let's get started:

1) The Flight Deck of the Space Shuttle Discovery: Here's a 360 degree view of the Space Shuttle Discovery's flight deck during decommissioning in the Orbiter Processing Facility. Click on the picture and hold your mouse button down to move around the flight deck in any direction. Don't forget to look at the ceiling!

2) Ladies, do you need a new bullet-holding leather garter?: Steampunked Out has all your intimate leather needs!... Well, maybe not all, but they've got plenty of lovely hand-crafted Victorian leather goods for... Read More

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 building just ahead. They quicken their pace, eager to find somewhere they can get off their feet and fill their bellies. As they get closer they begin to hear the faint sound of pipes cheerfully playing within. The sound of laughter and singing is audible and their spirits soar as they know they've found an inn. Before they enter, they look up and notice a small sign swinging from a pair rusted chains. The sign reads in ornately carved letters, "[Insert Fantasy Tavern Name Here]".

The Dancing Badger? The Smug Unicorn? Maybe it's not named after an animal at all. Finish this classic scene from one of a thousand fantasy novels we've all read, and name the tavern. You can also share your favorite taverns from books you've read in the past. Read More

WWW: May 16, 2012

In the coming weeks, if you find something interesting you think everyone should read, drop me a line via the contact form and let me know, or just post it below. Let's get started:

1) John W. Campbell Memorial Award Finalists: The John W. Campbell Memorial Award nominations have been announced. To be well read in the best SF and fantasy of 2011, pretty much all you need to do is read these 11 novels.

2) British Fantasy Awards: The short list for the British Fantasy Awards has been announced. Some of the nominees are familiar to American audiences, but some works haven't been published here yet.

3) Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Genre Mash-Ups

My writing class is over, and I want to thank Kat for helping me with my FanLit duties. For those that wish to know, my class went well. When I began the class I was pretty sure I wanted to be a writer. Now that the class is over I am still pretty sure I want to be a writer. That’s good. I took the class with every expectation of having my writing aspirations dashed upon the rocks of academic scrutiny. That has not happened, and it gives me heart.

One thing I noticed about my writing is that I couldn't keep the fantasy from leaking into my pieces. It made for some interesting mixes of genres, and resulted in positive comments from my professor. Little did he know that the fantasy elements were in there not because I was being super creative, but it was because I was unable to stop myself.

Which brings me to the topic for today: genre mash-ups. Fantasy has plenty of genre mixing stories. In fact, if a fantasy novel doesn't have some mix of genres it is ge... Read More

WWW: May 9, 2012

In the coming weeks, if you find something interesting you think everyone should read, drop me a line via the contact form and let me know, or just post it below. Let's get started:

1) Maurice Sendak Dies at 83: Maurice Sendak's work had a tremendous impact on my childhood. I was still surprised by my reaction to this news. I feel like a little like a piece of my childhood is no longer accessible. I have a 6 month old daughter and I have just begun to read her books like Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are. I'm not sure if I'm reading them for her benefit or mine. Since she is only 6 months old, I suspect I know the answer. Mr. Sendak, the world will miss you; we've all grown up a bit more at your ... Read More

WWW: May 2, 2012

Got any interesting SFF tidbits? Just post below in the comments.

1) I'll have the e-lobster for $9.99: Publishers, next time meet at Denny's because those fancy restaurants look really suspicious and now you're being sued for price-fixing. Readers, you can peruse the antitrust civil suit here (opens a pdf). Discussions of elicit meetings at fancy restaurants begins on page 13.

2) Microsoft invests in Nook: As reading habits change, brick and mortar stores gradually decline, ... Read More

WWW: April 25, 2012

In the coming weeks, if you find something interesting you think everyone should read, drop me a line via the contact form and let me know, or just post it below. Let's get started:

1) Tor Does Away with DRM: Finally. The people spoke and a major publisher has listened. Stay tuned as I'm sure more will follow.

2) Shirley Jackson Award Finalists: A nice collection of dark fantasy to add to your TBR list.

3) RIP K.D. Wentworth: Cancer has nabbed another SFF talent. Ms. Wenworth had multiple Nebula nominations, and served as secretary for the SFWA for quite som... Read More

WWW: April 18, 2012

Got any interesting SFF news? Post it in the comments below!

1) Free ebooks: Phoenix Pick's free ebook for April is Adventures: The Chronicle of Lucifer Jones, Volume I by Mike Resnick. Use coupon code 9991422. They've also got a new promotion going on: Every week for the next couple of months they're offering a free ebook which can be downloaded on Tuesday and Wednesday. Today is the last day to get this week's book which is Victoria Strauss's The Arm of the Stone.

2) Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Audio, anyone?

A few weeks ago we had a discussion about reading in different formats, and mostly we talked about ebooks vs. print, a topic we'll cover every couple of years as technology progresses and our reading habits change.

Today I wanted to ask specifically about audiobooks. Here at FanLit we've got all types of readers: a couple of us read mostly in audio, a couple of us find ourselves unable to focus on audio, a couple of us have never tried one, and a couple of us have only recently tried them.

How about you? Do you read in audio? Tell us:

If not, why not? Have you ever tried audio? Why didn't you like it?

If so, where do you get your audiobooks? On what device do you listen to them? Do you have favorite apps, publishers, services, or narrators? Any particular SFF audiobooks to recommen... Read More

WWW: April 11, 2012

In the coming weeks, if you find something interesting you think everyone should read, drop me a line via the contact form and let me know, or just post it below. Let's get started:

1) Hugo Award Nominees: A couple surprises in there. Certainly a ton of quality work represented, but I still can't help but feel a little disappointed.

2) Does SFF Cause Recurring Dreams?: I don't believe I've had a recurring dream since I was very young, but I definitely have some strange fantasy related ones from time to time.

3) Libertarian S... Read More

Hominids: What if Neanderthals survived on a parallel Earth?

Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer

What would it be like if Neanderthals had become the dominant race of humans on the planet? Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer explores that very idea. This book follows a brilliant Neanderthal physicist named Ponter Boddet. Ponter and his partner, while working on experimental quantum computers, accidently open a bridge between universes. The bridge leads to the world we (Homo sapiens sapiens) currently reside in. Ponter fell into our world accidently and has now become stranded here.

Robert J. Sawyer is a master at taking an interesting thought experiment and turning it into a full-length novel. What would a Neanderthal world be like? What would a modern Neanderthal do if he were dropped into our world? It’s fascinating to think about. Sawyer answers those questions in a thoughtful, heavily researched, and entertaining manner.

Ponter Bodd... Read More

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