Marion Deeds

MARION DEEDS, with us since March 2011, is retired from a 35-year career with county government, where she met enough interesting characters and heard enough zany stories to inspire at least two trilogies’ worth of fantasy fiction. Currently she spends part of her time working at a local used bookstore. She is an aspiring writer herself and, in the 1990s, had short fiction published in small magazines like Night Terrors, Aberrations, and in the cross-genre anthology The Magic Within. On her blog Deeds & Words, she reviews many types of books and follows developments in food policy and other topics.

Driving to Geronimo’s Grave: A collection of Joe R. Lansdale’s favorites

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Driving to Geronimo’s Grave by Joe R. Lansdale

See, here’s why I read Joe R. Lansdale; in Driving to Geronimo’s Grave (2018), there is a short story called “Wrestling with Jesus.” The story is about wrestling and male bonding. It’s violent. It’s gross and vulgar. The plot involves two men gambling over a woman. There are two women characters; one is weak and venial and the other is evil and manipulative. It has foul language. It’s funny. Generally, only “it’s funny” would even remotely attract me to a story like this, but “Wrestling with Jesus,” which follows the relationship of a lonely teenage boy and an octogenarian wrestler, is probably my favorite of this 2018 story collection.

Marvin, the teen boy in the story, is a target for bullies in hi... Read More

WWWednesday: October 17, 2018

Awards:

Maryse Conde was awarded the alt-Nobel this year. (Remember, this is the year of the Alternate Award. Here’s the recap.)

Turnip o' lantern.



Books and Writing:

This writer praises the photocopy and discusses digital books from the standpoint of economic equality in a country where books are prohibitively expensive.

I’d heard of Margaret Cavendish, but it’s odd that I’d never heard of The... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: What’s your favorite SFF mashup?

I heard once that William Gibson coined the phrase “mashup,” but it turns out that may not be the case. 

The concept of mixing styles and genres may have come from the music scene and it has several fun names. Some of us are old enough to remember “sampling,” but two other newly discovered favorites of mine are “plunderphonics,” and “collage music” (collage as in the art form of assembling bits from other works).

In fiction, I think “mashup” took hold in the 1990s. Whatever it’s called, speculative fiction has always done it well. Originally, it was mostly copying; many early “space colonization” stories looked like Westerns, for instance. But now, SF-mysteries, fantasy-romance-horror, and “science fantasy” give readers a large smorgasbord of choices. You can read alternate-world novels that are practically LeCarre-style spy stories. Paranormal roman... Read More

WWWednesday; October 10, 2018

Awards:

The Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association announced the Aurora awards on October 6. Fonda Yee won for Best Novel with Jade City and tied for best YA novel with Exo. File 770 has the full list.

Conventions:

Locus Magazine has a report on this year’s DragonCon.

The 13th Doctor with Companions Yaz (l) and Ryan (r) (c)BBC America 2018



Books and Writing:

An ancient library was unearthed in Cologne, Germany Read More

Rock Manning Goes for Broke: A strange and original tale by a brilliant writer

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Rock Manning Goes for Broke by Charlie Jane Anders

The thing I loved the most about Rock Manning Goes for Broke, the 2018 novella by Charlie Jane Anders, is the narrative voce of Rock himself. Here are the opening lines:

Earliest I remember, Daddy threw me off the roof of our split-level house. “Boy’s gotta learn to fall sometime,” he told my mom just before he slung my pants seat and let me go.

That’s the flavor of this brief, fast-paced, action-packed dystopian, heroic dark comedy and kinda-love story.

Dad is not a psycho, or maybe he is, but he is also a stuntman, teaching his sons the trade. Rock gets older and enters school, where his class-clown antics bring him to the attention of the school bully, and also to the... Read More

WWWednesday: October 3, 2018

Scarecrow, (c) Garry Gay



Awards:

The Commonwealth Prize is currently open for unpublished short stories between 2500-5000 words for writers from Commonwealth countries. You may know (or be) someone who qualifies. I’m not one, but I’d love to read a story collection of the finalists.

New York state has named Colson Whitehead as their State Writer. He is the twelfth Writer of the State.

The Ringo Awards – not John Ringo, Mike Wieringo – Read More

SFM: Blackwell, Spires, Grizzle, Fox, Anderson

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.

“Waves of Influence” by D.A. Xiaolin Spires (2018, free at Clarkesworld magazine, $2.99 Kindle magazine issue)

Chenghui, a clever young Chinese woman, has committed fraud to win a contest to be trained by Meixiu, an internet sensation and social influencer. Chenghui’s sister, Yixuan, is a devoted fan of Meixiu, and is also slowly dying of a heart ailment. Chenghui reasons that if she can work her way into Meixiu’s inner circle, she can use her position to pretend to be Meixiu and send personalized messages to Yixuan, giving her the encouragement to keep fight... Read More

The Book of Hidden Things: Well, that was interesting

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The Book of Hidden Things by Francesco Dimitri

Francesco Dimitri’s 2018 novel The Book of Hidden Things is one that I appreciated more than I liked. In fact, I had to think about it for a few days before I wrote this review, because I started seeing more positives in it upon reflection. This is because, despite the title and the packaging, I’m probably not the ideal audience for this book. In reading this review, understand that your mileage may vary.

The Book of Hidden Things takes place in Salento, where every year, on a specific day, four men gather at The American Pizza pizzeria. They made this Pact, to always meet on this day, when they were teenagers. This year, though, Arturo, who goes by Art, is missing. His three friends, Tony, Mauro and Fabio, embark on a search for him that leads them into madness, mysteri... Read More

WWWednesday: September 26, 2018

Awards:

Locus has the Man-Booker Prize short list.

Tananarive Due received the Octavia Butler Award.

Happy Autumn! Autumn Leaves, courtesy of Amazon



Conventions:

I don’t think this is behind a paywall; Amy Brennan writes about Nine Worlds, accessibility issues and the convention in general. The panel on “Cheese and Cheese” sounds funny.

Books and Writing:

Gary Trudeau Read More

Meddling Kids: The Scooby-Doo gang faces the Elder Gods

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Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero 

“And I’d have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids.” –attributed to nearly every villain on Hanna-Barbera’s Scooby-Doo animated series, 1969-1971.

In the early 1970s, cartoon quintet Daphne, Velma, Fred, Shaggy and Great Dane Scooby-Doo drove around in a painted van, solving supernatural mysteries — which always turned out to be staged by all-too-human villains. Edgar Cantero latched onto these cultural icons and flipped the script, asking the story what would happen if one of those ghostly, creepy, eerie creatures had not been human, after all.

Meddling Kids (2018) is set in 1990. In 1977, the Blyton Summer Detective Club, consisting of four young teens and a dog, solved the mystery of the Sleepy Lake Monster. The four youths were inseparable ... Read More

The Fated Sky: The “Lady Astronaut” completes her mission

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The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Fated Sky (2018) wraps up Mary Robinette Kowal’s LADY ASTRONAUT duology, covering the ground from the first peopled space flight ever to a peopled mission to Mars. Kowal has created an intriguing and exciting alternate history and there is nothing to stop her from writing more stories and books in it (more will be coming), but The Fated Sky completes Dr. Elma York’s pursuit of her dream.

When the book opens, Elma has not been chosen for the first peopled flight to Mars. Two teams are already in t... Read More

WWWednesday: September 19, 2018

Greg Van Eekhout



Conventions:

Hector Gonzalez was one of the recipients of the MexicanX Initiative this year at WorldCon. The Artist Guest of Honor created MexicanX to empower more Mexicanx people to attend the convention. Now, those, participants are writing about their experiences and what the stipend meant to them. Hector is the first to do so.

Mercedes Lackey was briefly hospitalized while attending GenCon in Indiana, apparently in reaction to exposure to fumes and outgassing from new hotel carpets and furniture. Lackey was soon released and is doing well.

Giveaway and Author Event:

This item has few links.... Read More

Voyage of the Dogs: A book for dog lovers of all ages

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Voyage of the Dogs by Greg van Eekhout

Voyage of the Dogs (2018) by Greg van Eekhout is a middle-grade science fiction book. Young readers will certainly enjoy this action-packed book with dog main characters. Adult dog lovers can enjoy it too.

Lopside is part of a team of “Barkonauts,” specially trained uplifted dogs who are part of the first interstellar space voyage. The Laika is aimed at a planet nicknamed Stepping Stone. Along with the human crew, embryos of cattle and sheep, and fertilized chicken eggs, four dogs comprise the manifest of the ship. As he fulfills his other duties, Lopside searches the starship every day for rats, because he is part terrier. He never finds any, but he is diligent. Lopside feels a little uncomfortable among the other thr... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: TV Adaptations

George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones is the grand-daddy of television adaptations of beloved speculative fiction books, but with companies like Netflix and Amazon making the transition from content-providers to content-creators, the list grows.

When we include graphic works as well as prose only, the steady flow of episodic TV adaptations becomes a flood. And there are more in the pipeline. It’s no wonder; multiple episodes allow the studio time to develop characters and explore subplots that are trimmed out of two-plus-hour movie. In some cases, though, the adapters choose to go in a completely different direction and it’s hard to find the source material in there.



 

Some adaptations, like Read More

WWWednesday: September 12, 2018

Cummudge is “cosy and comfortable” according to Haggard Hawks. Definitely adding that one to my everyday vocabulary!

Books and Writing:

Tor.com is looking for bloggers. They pay by the article.

LitHub profiles the author of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.

“In the history of epic fantasy, following this analogy and paradigm, there has always been a voice in a minor key, a strain of fantasy with antiheroes, shades of dark grey and darkness, worlds where hope and optimism are not valued or are even punished. Violence is the name of the game, dystopic amorality the norm and the worlds are often the succe... Read More

Blackfish City: The cyberpunk novel I didn’t know I was missing

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Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller 

“People would say she came to Qaanaaq in a skiff towed by a killer whale harnessed to the front like a horse. In these stories, which grew astonishingly elaborate in the days and weeks after her arrival, the polar bear paced beside her on flat bloody deck of the boat. Her face was clenched and angry…”

Blackfish City (2018) is the cyberpunk book I’ve been wanting to read for a while now, without really knowing it. With a strange and wonderful setting, augmented humans, powerful AIs, catastrophically tilted wealth-and-power dynamics, an “information disease,” crazy-wild urban sports and vivid visuals, Sam J. Miller’s novel picks up the old baton of William Gibson and carries it into some twisty, complex post... Read More

Fright into Flight: This anthology gives “flight” a broad definition

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Fright into Flight edited by Amber Fallon

2018’s Fright into Flight anthology, edited by Amber Fallon, contains a collection of stories written by women. Theoretically, each story deals with flight, although that definition is broad. Because this was published by Word Horde, I expected a horror anthology, but several of these stories aren’t horror, and one is straight-up fantasy. All but one of the stories is a reprint. “I Did it for the Art” by Izzy Lee, is original to this volume.

Here’s the table of contents:

“The Floating Girls: A Documentary,” by Damien Angelica Walters. Written in “found-footage” structure, this story addresses a bizarre occurrence that happened twelve years ago, as the documentarian wrestles with her own sense of guilt over the loss of her childhood friend.

“I Did it for the Art,” by Izzy... Read More

WWWednesday: September 5, 2018

Awards:

The Dragon Awards were announced at DragonCon September 2, 2018. Winning works included: Artemis, by Andy Weir, best SF Novel; Oathbringer, by Brandon Sanderson, best Fantasy Novel, Sleeping Beauties, by Stephen King and Owen King, best Horror Novel; Read More

Hollywood Dead: Stark’s back in L.A, and nothing will be the same again

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Hollywood Dead by Richard Kadrey

“There’s dead and then there’s Hollywood dead and those are two very different things.
Dead is just dead. In the ground. Pennies on your eyes. A cold slab of meat and no slaw and definitely no dessert.
But Hollywood dead? That can be a lot of things. Yeah, you’re still a slab of meat, but now you come with curly fries and hot apple pie.”


James Stark, once known as Sandman Slim, is Hollywood dead when the 2018 book of the same name opens. Specifically, he has been brought back from the dead, but only partially. The tenth SANDMAN SLIM book brings us back from Hell to Los Angeles, but it’s not full circle; it’s a spiral, as it delves deeper into Stark’s death, life and destiny.

(This review may contain mild spoilers for earlier books.)

Eva Sandoval, a leader of the global-co... Read More

WWWednesday: August 29, 2018

Hugos:

File770 looks at instances of 3-in-a-row (threepeat) winners and finds that in the novel/novella categories N.K. Jemisin has pulled off a “first.”

Here’s the text of Jemisin’s acceptance speech.

The UK Guardian approves of Jemisin’s threepeat. Deeper into the essay they seem to imply that her characters aren’t rounded, and that is not correct.

Conventions:

Have I mentioned recently that I love Read More

The Descent of Monsters: Creeping, inexorable dread

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Reposting to included Marion's new review.

The Descent of Monsters by J.Y. Yang

Every page of J.Y. Yang’s newest TENSORATE novella, The Descent of Monsters (2018), carries a pervasive and steadily-increasing sense of dread. But when the primary character announces straight off that “You are reading this because I am dead,” it’s hard not to wonder how and why that comes to pass, and which event will be the one which ends Tensor Chuwan Sariman’s life.

Note: It will help to read The Black Tides of Heaven and The Read Threads of Fortune before beginning The Descent of Monsters Read More

Robert Jackson Bennett returns to FanLit to talk about FOUNDERS (giveaway!)

Robert Jackson Bennett returns for a record-setting fifth interview with Fantasy Literature. He sat down with Bill and Marion to talk about his new release Foundryside, the first in his brand new THE FOUNDERS TRILOGY. Three commenters (U.S. only) chosen at random will receive a free copy of Foundryside.

Bill and Marion: Your last work, THE DIVINE CITIES trilogy, received a slew of critical acclaim, including a Hugo nomination for Best Series. Did that affect at all your decision to make FOUNDERS TRILOGY a multiple book series? In any case, can you tell us a little bit about the conceptual and structural differences between a stand-alone and a multi-book story and if/how it affects your writing process?


Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: SFF BFFs (giveaway!)

Speculative fiction heroes have all kinds of people with whom they interact. They have sidekicks, mentors, hot exes with emotional baggage, and nemeses galore – but a lot of them don’t seem to have many friends. It’s not a big surprise. Being a best friend to an SF main character is a high-risk activity.

Sometimes the faithful sidekick fulfills the role of friend, but how many main characters have someone who is, plotwise, mainly a friend? That’s the person who will come bail you out, who offers a shoulder to cry on and provides a much-needed reality check when you’re going off the rails.

Even though he works for her, Sigurd and Sharra in Robert Jackson Bennett’s THE DIVINE CITIES series sprang to mind. Their loyalty and affection transcends an employee/employer dynamic, which leads, toward the end of the trilogy, to betrayal and an aba... Read More

WWWednesday: August 22, 2018

It’s going to be a short column this week.

Awards:

N.K.Jemisin was awarded the Best Novel Hugo for The Stone Sky, while Martha Wells won for best novella with All Systems RedThe full Hugo awards are listed here. There are two other awards I’ve broken out for an item under WorldCon.

WorldCon:

Mike Glyer wa... Read More

The Calculating Stars: A fight for the right to go into space

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The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

Elma York has a PhD in physics, and her husband has one in engineering. They are enjoying a much-deserved weekend getaway in the Poconos in 1952 when a huge meteorite destroys Washington DC and much of the North American eastern seaboard. Experts fear the aftermath will create an extinction-level event, and this accelerates the race to the stars. Elma has a front row seat, but she wants more; she wants to go into space.

2018’s The Calculating Stars is the first novel of Mary Robinette Kowal’s LADY ASTRONAUT series. Kowal has written two short stories, “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” and “We Interrupt this Broadcast... Read More

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