Kat Hooper

KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

Tower of Glass: Enough ideas for several novels

Tower of Glass by Robert Silverberg

Tower of Glass (1972) is another of Robert Silverberg’s ambitious novels from his most prolific period in the late 1960s/early 1970s. In that time he was churning out several books each year that were intelligent, thematically challenging, beautifully written stories that explored identity, sexuality, telepathy, alien contact, religion and consciousness. At his best, he produced some masterpieces like Downward to the Earth and Dying Inside, as well as some dreadful books like Up the Line, but his unfettered imagination and prolific energy were undeniable.

Unfortunately, a wealth of ideas can sometimes overwhelm even the best books, and I think Tower of Glass Read More

Undead and Unpopular: Short, silly, and shallow

Undead and Unpopular by MaryJanice Davidson

Warning: This review will contain spoilers for the previous books in the QUEEN BETSY series.

Undead and Unpopular is the fifth book in MaryJanice Davidson’s QUEEN BETSY series. Each of the books in this extremely fluffy paranormal fantasy series is short, silly, and shallow. The only thing that keeps me reading is that they’re quick breezy breaks between more substantial works — something I can read with half my brain tied behind my back. Also, they’re available in downloadable audiobook format at my library. I would have quit if it wasn’t for that, and the fact that I find MaryJanice Davidson’s sense of humor genuinely amusing, and Nancy Wu’s narration exceptional.

In Undead and Unpopular, it... Read More

Clockwork: Bad things happen when you don’t finish a story

Clockwork: or All Wound Up by Philip Pullman

Clockwork: or All Wound Up (1996) is a very short (about 100 pages) children’s fairytale by Philip Pullman. It stars Karl and Fritz, two young Germans who have not finished a job that they were supposed to do and are worried about what will happen when the townspeople find out. Karl and Fritz meet one snowy evening in the local tavern. Karl, the clockmaker’s apprentice, is brooding because tomorrow is the day when he must unveil the mechanical project he’s supposed to have finished. For hundreds of years, each apprentice has contributed an exquisite clockwork figure to the town’s clock and everyone gathers on graduation day to admire it in the town square. Karl confesses to Fritz that he has not created anything.

Fritz, a writer, tells Karl that authors also ha... Read More

The Crack in Space: Off the mark by 72 years

The Crack in Space by Philip K. Dick

Although he displayed remarkable prescience in many of his books, cult author Philip K. Dick was a good 72 years off the mark in his 18th sci-fi novel, The Crack in Space. Originally released as a 40-cent Ace paperback in 1966 (F-377, for all you collectors out there), the novel takes place against the backdrop of the 2080 U.S. presidential election, in which a black man, Jim Briskin, of the Republican-Liberal party, is poised to become the country's first black president. (Dick must have liked the name "Jim Briskin"; in his then-unpublished, non-sci-fi, mainstream novel from the mid-'50s, The Broken Bubble, Jim Briskin is the name of a DJ in San Francisco!) Unlike Barack Obama, whose campaigning centered around the issues of war, economic crisis and h... Read More

SFM: Kevin Hearne, Brandon Sanderson, H.P. Lovecraft

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. 

"Clan Rathskeller" by Kevin Hearne (2010, available at Kevin Hearne's blog, audio available)

“Clan Rathskeller” is one of Kevin Hearne’s short stories set in his IRON DRUID CHRONICLES world. This one takes place before the events of the first book, Hounded. Atticus, the last druid, and his Irish Wolfhound Oberon, are in Tempe Arizona, trying to lay low and avoid the attention of any ancient gods. But then they notice some gnomes disguised as Santa’s elves and they end up getting involved in their fight against an evil creature who stole something from them.

All of Hearne’s IRON DRUID storie... Read More

The Aeronaut’s Windlass: Begins a new series by Jim Butcher

The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

Fans of Jim Butcher (including myself) were thrilled to see that he’s started a new series called THE CINDER SPIRES. This one is quite different than his previous works. THE DRESDEN FILES, for which Butcher is best known, is a modern-day urban fantasy with a first-person narrator and a hardboiled feel. THE CODEX ALERA is an epic fantasy with a typical medieval setting and plot.

THE CINDER SPIRES is set in a more imaginative world. With its airships and steam power, it has a steampunk feel. The story takes place on a mist-covered planet (possibly a future Earth?) whose surface is so dangerous that humans have built their habitats in tall spires miles above the planet’s surface. Each spire is about two miles in diameter and is ruled... Read More

Undead and Unreturnable: A little goes a long way

Undead and Unreturnable by MaryJanice Davidson

Warning: This review will contain spoilers for the previous books in the QUEEN BETSY series.

Undead and Unreturnable is the fourth book in MaryJanice Davidson’s QUEEN BETSY series. In the first book, Undead and Unwed, we met Betsy, a shallow fashion-conscious young woman who died and woke up as a vampire. She tries to get back to her normal life, but discovers that the supernatural community expects her to participate. In Undead and Unemployed, Betsy has become the new vampire queen and is expected to do queenly duties, including recognizing the extremely sexy Eric Sinclair as her consort. In Undead and Unappreciated, Betsy discovers that her sweet half-sister is the... Read More

Talking to Dragons: The first, fourth, and final ENCHANTED FOREST book

Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Talking to Dragons is the fourth and final book in Patricia C. Wrede’s ENCHANTED FOREST CHRONICLES, though it was actually the first book in the series to be published (1985). Wrede wrote the later three books (Dealing with Dragons, Searching for Dragons, Calling on Dragons) as prequels and now the correct reading order is to start with those three prequels and read Talking to Dragons last. So, in this review, I’ll be spoiling a bit of the plot of the prequels.

The hero of Talking to Dragons is Daystar, son of Princess Cimorene and King Mendanbar. At the end of the previous book, Calling on Dragons, Mendanbar was tra... Read More

SFM: Ursula Vernon, Robin Sloan, K.J. Parker, Edgar Allen Poe, Ray Wood

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.

"Jackalope Wives" by Ursula Vernon (2014, free at Apex Magazine, podcast available)

Ursula Vernon's "Jackalope Wives" is a nominee for this year's Nebula Award and World Fantasy Award for short story and deservedly so. It certainly has my vote. It isn't clear where the story is set. All we know is that on the outskirts of town lies a desert, and in the desert the jackalope wives comes out at night to dance a wild dance. What are jackalope wives? This isn't immediately clear, we are drip fed tantalising details of their long ears and smooth coats which they shed in order to dance. They entrance the young men of the town and one in particular. But what happens when you catc... Read More

Giveaway! Deadlands: Ghostwalkers by Jonathan Maberry

Our friends at Tor have provided a copy of  Jonathan Maberry's new book Deadlands: Ghostwalkers to give away to one of our readers in the U.S. or Canada. Each giveaway will include a signed bookplate designed especially for this promotion. If you'd like a chance to win, simply submit the form below. Here's what Tor has to say about Deadlands: Ghostwalkers:

Take a walk on the weird side with this brand new novel based on the bestselling role-playing game, Deadlands!
Deadlands: Ghostwalkers  by Jonathan Maberry

"One of the best traditional zombie tales I’ve ever read… This is a zombie book for the ages." —Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Dead of Night
Read More

Calling on Dragons: Weakest book in the series

Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Warning: Contains spoilers for previous books in this series: Dealing with Dragons and Searching for Dragons.

Calling on Dragons is the third book in Patricia C. Wrede’s ENCHANTED FOREST CHRONICLES series for young readers. I loved the first book, Dealing with Dragons, for its fun quirky plot, but mainly because of the way Wrede turned the princess and fantasy tropes on their heads. Princess Cimorene decides she does not want to do princess things such as etiquette and embroidery, and she doesn’t want to marry a silly handsome prince, so she runs away and becomes the right-hand man of the King of the Dragons (who happens to be female). I found this refreshing for a children... Read More

Two JOHN GOLDEN novellas by Django Wexler: Fun geeky stories

John Golden: Freelance Debugger and John Golden & The Heroes of Mazaroth by Django Wexler

John Golden: Freelance Debugger and John Golden & The Heroes of Mazaroth are two related short urban fantasy novellas by Django Wexler. I discovered these at Audible. Both stories are read by Kevin T. Collins and Jorjeana Marie. John Golden: Freelance Debugger is 2.5 hours long and John Golden & The Heroes of Mazaroth is 2 hours long. I recommend the audio versions, but you can also get them in ebook or, in the case of John Golden & The Heroes of Mazaroth, paperback.

John Golden is an IT guy in an alternate version of our world in which fairies — and we’re talking the nasty type — can infiltra... Read More

Robot Dreams: 21 stories by Asimov

Robot Dreams by Isaac Asimov

Every time I see a short story collection by Isaac Asimov in audio format, I pick it up because I love his short stories more than I love his novels. Last year Recorded Books released Robot Dreams, which was originally published in print form in 1986. The audiobook is 14.5 hours long and narrated by the wonderful George Guidall.

Robot Dreams contains these 21 excellent stories. All but the titular story were originally published in periodicals (noted here):

“Little Lost Robot” — (originally published in Astounding Science Fiction, 1947) When a human tells the robot named Nestor to “get lost,” he does, by hiding himself in a room full of identical robots. This is a problem for Dr. Susan Calvin and the other scientists because N... Read More

2001: A Space Odyssey: The perfect collaboration between book and film

2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke actually collaborated with Stanley Kubrick to produce the novel version of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) in order to provide the basis for brilliant Stanley Kubrick film of the same name. So although the book can be considered the original work, the filmmaker also had a role in its creation, and Clarke also rewrote parts of the book to fit the screenplay as that took shape.

Readers and viewers will forever enjoy debating whether a film or novel version is better, with no final answer. Famous examples include The Lord of the Rings, A Clockwork Orange, Read More

SFM: Hao Jingfang, Ruthanna Emrys, Phil Plait, Andre Norton

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. 

"Folding Beijing" by Hao Jingfang (translated by Ken Liu) (2015, free at Uncanny Magazine)

Hao Jingfang’s novella “Folding Beijing” stayed with me long after I finished reading it. It wasn’t just the images of her fantastic city, where buildings fold down into cubes and once a day the entire city revolves like a tossed coin. It wasn’t just the descriptions of the lives of people in Third Space, Second Space and First Space. At the core of this story is an “ordinary” man, risking his freedom and maybe his life for money, and as his motives become clearer, I grew to care more and more about him.

Lao Dao works lives in Third Space and wo... Read More

Searching for Dragons: Funny and entertaining

Searching for Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

It’s been more than 5 years since I read Dealing with Dragons, the first book in Patricia C. Wrede’s ENCHANTED FOREST CHRONICLES. I loved the way the story, written in 1990, ridiculed and subverted the princess stereotype. It stars Cimorene, a teenage princess who runs away to avoid marrying a handsome but dull prince. She ends up working as a housekeeper and librarian for a dragon. (Housekeeper and Librarian seem like “female” roles, but at least these are the jobs Cimorene wants to do and she doesn’t shy away from “men’s” work.)

In my quest to finish all the series I’ve started, I read the rest of the ENCHANTED FOREST CHRONICLES this week. Searching for Dragons, the second book, giv... Read More

Raphael: A bit of a struggle to finish

Raphael by R.A. MacAvoy

Warning: This review will contain spoilers for the previous books, Damiano and Damiano’s Lute.

R.A. MacAvoy winds up her DAMIANO trilogy with Raphael, a book that focuses on the angel Raphael instead of Damiano, the young man who was the protagonist of the first two books. That’s because at the end of the previous book, Damiano’s Lute, Damiano died when he sacrificed himself for Gaspar’s sister. That deed was noble, I suppose, and perhaps MacAvoy is saying something about sacrifice and redemption in this religiously-inspired story, but it probably didn’t resonate much with readers since we don’t like Gaspar and don’t even know his sister. I was hoping to get a sense of the importance of... Read More

The Dirdir: The best PLANET OF ADVENTURE book so far

The Dirdir by Jack Vance

Poor Adam Reith. He’s still stranded on the planet Tchai where he is the only Earthman on a world where nobody believes in Earth and everyone thinks he’s crazy. All of Adam’s efforts to leave have, so far, only resulted in him becoming a wanted criminal. After escaping from the Chasch in the first book (City of the Chasch) and from the Wankh in the previous book (Servants of the Wankh), Adam wants to travel to the domain of the technologically-advanced Dirdir. They have a spaceyard in the city of Sivishe where he should be able to find the specialized supplies and labor he needs to build a spaceship capable of taking him home.

Since book one, Adam has been traveling with two very different companions, Traz and Anancho:
They ate in silence; disparate beings, each found the other incomprehensible. Anacho, tall, thin and pallid like all Dirdirme... Read More

Six POWDER MAGE prequels: A great introduction to McClellan’s world

Six POWDER MAGE prequels by Brian McClellan

After noticing what John and Kevin said about Brian McClellan’s POWDER MAGE trilogy, I was eager to give the books a try, but I thought I’d start with the six short prequels that McClellan has written to introduce his world and its characters. Each of these is available in Kindle and Audible formats, often with the Whispersync deal. For example, the first novella (Forsworn) can be purchased for $2.99 in Kindle format and you can add Audible narration for an additional $1.99. I read all of these stories in audio format. The narrators are Julie Hoverson and Daniel Dorse.

I read the prequels in chronological order:

Forsworn (2 hours long) takes place about 35 years before the events of the first POWDER MAGE novel, Read More

SFM: Isabel Yap, Hugh Howey, Michael Livingston, Michael J. Sullivan, Sherwood Smith, Judith Tarr

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. We'll put our favorites at the top.

The Oiran's Song" by Isabel Yap (2015, free at Uncanny Magazine)

"The Oiran's Song" is the tale of a young man who is sold into service with a traveling group of Japanese soldiers; this is a better fate than what befell his younger brother. It's also the tale of a young woman who entertains soldiers through various methods, traveling with them for as long as her services are required. It's also about human cruelty and kindness. It's about oni and snow and blood and vengeance and the fragility of hope. The brutality of war and human depravity are ever-present, but Yap never victimizes her characters: the terrible things which hap... Read More

Messenger’s Legacy: Another DEMON CYCLE novella

Messenger’s Legacy by Peter V. Brett

There are a few reasons why I haven’t yet read the novels in Peter V. Brett’s DEMON CYCLE. First is that Bill’s been reviewing them, so there’s no urgent need for me to do so for this site. (I know that sounds ridiculous, but that’s kind of what happens sometimes with a group blog.) Second is that they’re a huge time commitment — the last two were each 700 pages long! Third is that the series isn’t finished yet and I have so many unfinished series floating around in my head that I want to wrap up more of them before starting something new. However, I’ve been collecting the novels in audio format at Audible and I’ve been reading the spin-off novellas that Subterranean Press sends me. I really can’t wait to indulge myself in Brett’s world when the time is right. I know I’m goi... Read More

Servants of the Wankh: Still trying to get off that crazy planet

Servants of the Wankh by Jack Vance

Servants of the Wankh (1969) is the second of Jack Vance’s PLANET OF ADVENTURE stories. It’s a direct sequel to City of the Chasch, which you’ll want to read first, though Servants of the Wankh has a short but thorough recap of the story so far. Adam Reith was stranded on the planet Tschai after his spaceship crashed there. He is now back to full health, has formed a couple of friendships and a romance, and is still trying to get off that crazy planet.

Audio version

First, though, he has agreed to escort Ylin Ylan, the damsel in distress that he saved in the previous book, back to her country. He’s secretly hoping that her wealthy fath... Read More

Damiano’s Lute: Failed to engage me

Damiano’s Lute by R.A. MacAvoy

Damiano’s Lute is the second book in R.A. MacAvoy’s DAMIANO trilogy, which takes place in Renaissance Italy. In the first book, Damiano, we met a young man named Damiano Delstrego who was feeling befuddled because he was both a witch and a Christian. He had left his village with his lute and his talking dog. He had several encounters with the archangel Rafael, who acts as a sort of patron to Damiano and taught him to play the lute. Satan also seems particularly interested in Damiano’s life. At the end of the first book, Damiano has renounced his magic and his talking dog has died, leaving the young man bereft and lonely.

In Damiano’s Lute, Damiano is roaming the French countryside with a young man named Gaspa... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Back to school! (giveaway)

It's that time of year again.

Children groan and parents cheer as another year of school begins!

In fact, at this very moment, as I'm writing this post, I'm trying to get the last of my kids off to school for the day before I leave for work.

Maybe if he went to Hogwarts, he'd be more enthusiastic about his education. They certainly had a better school lunch!

Did you ever fantasize about being a student at a fictional school? Which speculative fiction institution would you like to attend? Or is there a school you'd hope to be expelled from if you were a student there?

As always, one random commenter with a US address wins a book or audiobook from our stacks. Read More

From a High Tower: Rapunzel as Annie Oakley

From a High Tower by Mercedes Lackey

The most recent addition to Mercedes Lackey’s ELEMENTAL MASTERS series of stand-alone retold fairy tales is a version of Rapunzel set in the Black Forest of Germany. Giselle (Rapunzel) is the natural daughter of a poor man who made a desperate deal that required him to give Giselle to a witch when she was born. The witch was an Earth Master who raises Giselle (who turns out to be an Air Master) as her own daughter. One day, when Giselle is locked in her tower bedroom while her mother is out of town, she lets a handsome man climb up her fast-growing golden hair. This turns out badly.

At this point the story loses its Rapunzelness as Giselle becomes a sharpshooter and decides to join Captain Cody’s traveling Wild West Show as an Annie Oakley type character. Since the show is touring Central Europe, Rosamund (the Red Riding Hood monster hunter from Read More

Array ( [SERVER_SOFTWARE] => Apache [REQUEST_URI] => /author/kat-hooper/ [DOCUMENT_ROOT] => /home1/fantatn0/public_html [GATEWAY_INTERFACE] => CGI/1.1 [HTTP_ACCEPT] => text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,*/*;q=0.8 [HTTP_ACCEPT_ENCODING] => x-gzip, gzip, deflate [HTTP_ACCEPT_LANGUAGE] => en-us,en-gb,en;q=0.7,*;q=0.3 [HTTP_HOST] => www.fantasyliterature.com [HTTP_USER_AGENT] => CCBot/2.0 (http://commoncrawl.org/faq/) [MAGICK_THREAD_LIMIT] => 1 [PATH] => /bin:/usr/bin [QUERY_STRING] => [REDIRECT_MAGICK_THREAD_LIMIT] => 1 [REDIRECT_STATUS] => 200 [REDIRECT_UNIQUE_ID] => VhLtmkKT9HoAAHgnOsYAAAKc [REDIRECT_URL] => /author/kat-hooper/ [REMOTE_ADDR] => [REMOTE_PORT] => 41026 [REQUEST_METHOD] => GET [SCRIPT_FILENAME] => /home1/fantatn0/public_html/index.php [SCRIPT_NAME] => /index.php [SERVER_ADDR] => [SERVER_ADMIN] => webmaster@fantasyliterature.com [SERVER_NAME] => www.fantasyliterature.com [SERVER_PORT] => 80 [SERVER_PROTOCOL] => HTTP/1.0 [SERVER_SIGNATURE] =>
Apache Server at www.fantasyliterature.com Port 80
[UNIQUE_ID] => VhLtmkKT9HoAAHgnOsYAAAKc [PHPRC] => /home1/fantatn0/public_html/:/usr/php/54/etc/ [PHP_SELF] => /index.php [REQUEST_TIME_FLOAT] => 1444081050.5979 [REQUEST_TIME] => 1444081050 )