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.

This Body’s Not Big Enough for the Both of Us: A meta-fictional roller coaster

This Body’s Not Big Enough for the Both of Us by Edgar Cantero

This Body’s Not Big Enough for the Both of Us (2019), by Edgar Cantero, is a metafictional roller coaster ride in which the safety bar that holds you into your seat occasionally turns into licorice whips else or disappears completely.

One definition of metafiction is a form of fiction that comments on fictional and literary elements by self-consciously departing from literary conventions within the narrative. If you like metafiction, you will get a kick out of Cantero’s story, and you will probably especially enjoy the opening, which restarts four times, I think, utilizes screenplay format, and has sentences like this one:
She wandered in like a fairy-tale top model into a CGI forest, a flutter of long skirts and flaming red hair kiting be... Read More

WWWednesday: August 14, 2019

Perseid Meteor Shower. Image from Illinois Science.



Cons:

WorldCon 77 starts Thursday in Dublin, and many of our favorite writers and artists are already there. Two Guests of Honor put together a Dublin eating and drinking guide. (Thanks to File770.)

GenCon was held earlier this month in Indianapolis, Indiana. It’s billed as “more games than you could ever play in your lifetime.” I’m not a game person, but the Parks game grabbed my attention!

Arisia faces another setback, with an arbitration decisio... Read More

Shadowhouse Fall: Still magical, still powerful, still wonderful

Reposting to include Kelly's new review.

Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel José Older

Daniel José Older’s Shadowshaper was one of the best books of 2015 — not “best YA books” but best books of all categories. It featured an engaging, authentic female hero, an original magical system, mundane issues as well as magical ones, and a distinctive voice and sensibility. 2017’s sequel, Shadowhouse Fall, shows no second-book slump in this series.

Sierra Santiago is mastering her skill as a shadowshaper, an ability that melds spirit contact with art, and adjusting to her new role as the Lucera, but things are not calm or quiet in her neighborhood. A powerful rival group called the Sorrows still purs... Read More

State Tectonics: A surprising and triumphant ending

State Tectonics by Malka Older

State Tectonics (2018) is the third book in Malka Older’s CENTENAL CYCLE trilogy. The series is a Hugo finalist in the Best Series category. It did not end the way I expected it to!

(This review may contain spoilers for the previous books.)

At the end of Null States, the second book, the handful of main characters had uncovered a plot, not just against the micro-democracies, but against Information, the worldwide information-provision system itself. Now, in the third book, three or four baffling threads converge into a tangle of motivations, betrayals and, ultimately, revelations.

Since the events in Null States Read More

WWWednesday: August 7, 2019

Cons:

WorldCon begins Thursday, August 15, in Dublin, Ireland. You can follow it on Twitter.

Books and Writing:

Medium has a podcast with writer Neal Stephenson, talking about digital facial recognition, social media and space exploration.

Over at Crimereads, Via Mullholland makes the argument that William Gibson, Charles Stross and Neal Stephenson really wrote technothrillers. Why? Because over at Crimereads, they like technothrillers.

The Verge... Read More

Shadowshaper: Five-star characters with five-star prose

Reposting to include Kelly's new review.

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

I’ve commented before that I give very few five-star reviews. Usually, I expect a book to somehow change my thinking, or how I see the world, in order to rate it a five-star book. As I sat down to write this review I was going to say something like, “While that didn’t happen with Shadowshaper, by Daniel José Older, I still…” and then I thought more about it, and decided that Shadowshaper (2015) has changed how I think about the world, mostly because of the time I spent with the main character, Sierra Santiago, who is a hero, an artist and a genuine girl.

As far at the plot goes (and it’s a fast-paced one) in many ways Sierra is a classic Chosen One, a trope that som... Read More

WWWednesday: July 31, 2019

Awards:

Stephen Pastis was awarded the Reuben Cartoonist of the Year Award. (Thanks to File 770.)

The World Fantasy Award finalists are announced.

Earth's moon. image by NASA



Cons:

Locus has a report on May’s SFWA Nebula weekend.

2021 WorldCon site voting has opened.

B... Read More

WWWednesday: July 24, 2019

The house John Adams was born in. Photo by Marion Deeds



Awards:

Rosewater by Tade Thompson won the 2019 Arthur C. Clarke award.

The 2019 Prism Awards, for excellence in LGTBQ+ Comics, were announced at San Diego ComicCon. For short form, see me by e Jackson won. SuperButch won for excellence in a webcomic.

The Inkpot Awards were announced at ComiCon.

Read More

WWWednesday: July 17, 2019

I declare it Kat Hooper Day.



I officially declare today Kat Hooper Day.

Awards:

The Shirley Jackson Awards were announced at ReaderCon, July 14. (Terry was in the audience for this!) Little Eve, by Catriona Ward, won for Best Horror Novel.


Disclaimer:


This will be another column that will not have a lot of links, because I am going to report out on ReaderCon30, held in Quincy, Massachusetts from July 11 through July 14, 2019.

Giveaway:

One commenter chosen at random will get a hardback copy of Richard Kadrey’s newest book, The Grand Dark.

...

Read More

WWWednesday: The Rook

(This is my World Wide Wednesday column, but it isn’t a link column today. I am on my way to ReaderCon2019, with Terry Weyna. Enjoy my thoughts on the STARZ adaptation of Daniel O’Malley’s book The Rook.)

Daniel O’Malley’s amnesiac, paranoiac, chess-themed super-powered-human novel got lots of good buzz when it was published in 2012. Tadiana reviewed it here. STARZ has taken the story and given it a polished adaptation that reminds me a bit of both the film production of The Children of Men, and STARZ’s own too-soon-cancelled SF/alternate world/spy drama Coun... Read More

WWWednesday: July 3, 2019

Mary Robinette Kowal (c) Mary Robinette Kowal



Awards:

The Locus Awards were announced. Mary Robinette Kowal won for Best Science Fiction Novel with The Calculating Stars, Paul Tremblay for Best Horror with The Cabin at the End of the World, and Naomi Novik won Best Fantasy Novel for Spinning Silver.

Read More

A Spectral Hue: Weird in the best possible way

A Spectral Hue by Craig Laurance Gidney

I don’t know how to categorize Craig Laurance Gidney’s 2019 novel A Spectral Hue. It has an eerie, otherworldly story, and it’s published by a noted small horror press, but I didn’t think it was horror. I didn’t think it was fantasy either. And maybe categories don’t really matter for this slim novel that gave me a genuinely original reading experience.

Gidney’s story is set in a small town, a village really, nearly surrounded by marshlands, in Maryland. Many escaped or emancipated enslaved people ended up in Shimmer, working as crab fishers or taking other jobs associated with the water. There is an entity in the marsh, and some people are sensitive to it. Whether they are drawn to the somewhat rare marsh bell orchid flower, with its pink-purple flowers, or something else, they began to create things. Hazel Whitely, an enslaved woman, made strange qui... Read More

NOS4A2: Skip the show and read the book

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son. Everyone on the same page? Okay… Hill has delivered a deeply satisfying and literate novel in NOS4A2. He is absolutely his own man, and he’s very good. But he’s also picked up some tricks from his father. He writes children well, especially those that have some unique ability. In this case, Victoria McQueen has a special gift: she can find lost things. And this skill tends to transport her to wherever those lost things happen to be.

The book is most successful in its character development. Many a page is dedicated to the growth and transformation of Vic McQueen’s personality, as we see her grow from a young girl overwhelmed by her unique capabilities, to a mother equally as overwhelmed by h... Read More

The Grand Dark: A successful experiment for fans of the very strange

The Grand Dark by Richard Kadrey

By day, the bleak city of Lower Proszawa exists in shades of gray and black. Smoke from the many factories cloak the sky. Robotic vehicles roll along the streets, and robot devices and genetically-altered chimera share the sidewalks with the residents, including the wounded war veterans called Iron Dandies because many wear masks to hide burned and disfigured faces. By night, decadent theaters, bars, and mansions glow like moons as people party with a desperate glee — trying to hold at bay their fear of the plague, the new war, the Nachtvogel (secret police), the brutal city police, and each other.

Largo Moorden is a bike courier, a young man of simple needs. He just wants to make love to his girlfriend, party, and ensure that he has his next hit of morphia. An unexpected and undeserved promotion pushes Largo into a labyrinthine warren of discoveries about his city, the last war, and the coming o... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: 2019 Hugo Awards: Novelettes & Short Stories

The 2019 Hugo Awards will be presented at Worldcon 77 in Dublin, Ireland, on August 18. The Hugo Award finalists are chosen by readers who are voting members of Worldcon. This week we'll talk about the shortest works, novelettes and short stories. We'll discuss other categories in future columns.

Click the title links below to read our reviews and on the author links to visit our page for the author. I’ve included the cover art for our favorites.

Who do you think will win the Hugo Award in these categories?
Answer below for a chance to win a book from our stacks.


BEST NOVELETTE

Read More

WWWednesday: June 26, 2019

Books and Writing:

Mark Lawrence, who manages and hosts the annual Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO) also has a “cover contest.” So far, three covers are up, and they’re pretty good! (Thanks to File 770.)

Dark Matter zine shares late illustrator Ian Gunn’s “silly illos” of fiction clichés. This week is, “The villain, pursued by cops, climbs to the top of the highest building in the city, and then falls off.”

(c) Melody Knighton. "The Hunger."



Ian Sales, who neither nominates nor votes for the Hugos although he is eligible to, reviews the Hugo shortlist in the Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: The 2019 Locus Awards: Novels (Giveaway!)

Next weekend the 2019 Locus Awards Ceremony will be held in Seattle, Washington, on June 28-30, 2019. The Locus Award finalists are chosen by a poll of readers. A couple of weeks ago we discussed the finalists for the Short Fiction categories, so this week let's look at the novels.

Click the title links below to read our reviews and on the author links to visit our page for the author. I’ve included the cover art for some of our favorites. We loved many of these novels and others, not so much. It's interesting that most of our favorites are in the Horror category. The Locus Award list is always fascinating, almost always very different from the Nebula and Hugo lists.

Who do you think will win the Locus Award in these categories?
Answer below for a chance to win a book...
Read More

WWWednesday: June 19, 2019

Cons:

Punakha Suspension Bridge, image from Atlas Obscura



Terry and I will be attending ReaderCon in Boston in two weeks. Here are some of the people I look forward to seeing (some are deceased and I don’t expect to actually see them).

Books and Writing:

You write a nonfiction book, and part of your premise is based on your faulty understanding of an old legal term. This is discovered shortly before your book is released. What do you do? In the case of Naomi Wolf’s Outrage: Sex, Censorship and the Criminalization of Love, what Wolf wants and what her publisher wants is very different. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt wants the rele... Read More

The Raven Tower: Intelligent, thoughtful, and visceral

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

The Raven Tower (2019) begins, as so many fantasy tales do, with a young man returning home to claim the powerful title and honor which are his birthright. Upon his arrival, he discovers that his father has gone missing and is presumed dead, while his uncle has taken the seat of power for himself with the promise that it will be given over to the young man when the time is deemed to be right (with the implicit understanding that the uncle will never do so). The young man then sets about proving his uncle’s perfidy and setting the countryside back to its normal state of affairs with the help of a few trusted friends. Despite much hardship and sacrifice, the young man succeeds in usurping the usurper, titles and honor are bestowed upon him, and everyone lives happily ever after, right? Right.

Except Read More

Swarm of Locusts: Excellent book in an original, wonderful series

Swarm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse

I pull my knees to my chest, feeling myself irrationally offended at being rejected by a sentient casino.

Rebecca Roanhorse’s second THE SIXTH WORLD book, Storm of Locusts (2019), continues to deliver on the promise of Trail of Lightning. Maggie, a Navajo monsterslayer (or now, as some call her, Godslayer) ventures outside the magical walls of the Navajo reservation to stop a magically enhanced terrorist from destroying it. She also mourns the loss of Kai Arviso, the son of a god, who helped her in the first book. Maggie now carries the Lightning Sword, but she doesn’t know how to activate it.

Maggie takes a bounty hunter job wit... Read More

WWWednesday: June 12, 2019

Should have used sunscreen. (Dark Phoenix, image from The Verge.)



June 8 is the birthday of SF editor John W. Campbell, who is often credited with creating (or at least helping create) SF’s Golden Age; most notably through Astounding Science Fiction. While Campbell’s racism and other political views are problematic now, he helped shape the field as it is today.

In word-related news, I did not know that stymie could be a noun. I was certainly familiar with it as a verb, (to block or obstruct), but as a noun it is a golfing term that means the same thing; when your ball lies between your opponent’s ball and the cup, that’s a stymie.

Awards:

George R.R. Martin received the Carl Sandburg Literary Award.
... Read More

The Mortal Word: Fans of the series shouldn’t miss this one

The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman

The Mortal Word (2018) is the fifth book in Genevieve’s Cogman’s INVISIBLE LIBRARY series. Irene Winters is a librarian who works for the Invisible Library, which helps maintain the balance of the worlds between order and chaos. Irene’s former protégée, dragon prince Kai Strongrock, is no longer assigned to the library, but the two of them meet now and then at the home of Vale, a consulting detective in the Victorian-era world where Irene is currently assigned. During her visit, rival librarian Bradamant comes to hire Vale to investigate the murder of a prominent Dragon lord on another neutral world. The murder is particularly important because it happened on the eve of a vital peace conference between the champions of order, the Dragons, and the Fae, who r... Read More

WWWednesday: June 5, 2019

Rainbow. Image by Pexels



Awards:

The Neukom Awards were announced.

Books and Writing:

Last month Nerds of a Feather reviewed Seven Blades in Black by Sam Sykes.

Fran Wilde talks about permanence and impermanence in “The Fire Opal Mechanism,” on Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog.

MacMillan’s parent company of Tor, will... Read More

The Young Unicorns: Set in 1968, it’s a story as distant as a Jane Austen novel

The Young Unicorns by Madeline L’Engle

Madeline L’Engle published The Young Unicorns in 1968. It features the Austin family, who were introduced in L’Engle’s 1960 novel Meet the Austins. In The Young Unicorns, the scientific, artistic Austin family has moved from a small rural Connecticut town into New York City. They live in Morningside Heights in Manhattan, a stone’s throw from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, which figures prominently in the story.

The Young Unicorns has no overlap with the WRINKLE IN TIME quartet except for one specific character mention, but it shares concerns and themes. This book, published for young adults, deals with science, spirituality and morality, and within its pages the ... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: The 2019 Locus Awards: Short fiction

The Nebula Awards are in our rearview, and next up are the Locus Awards, leading us into Hugo Season!

The Locus Weekend will be held in Seattle, Washington, on June 28-30, 2019.

The Locus Awards have lots of categories, so I am focused on the short fiction this week and in a few weeks we’ll discuss the novels.

Click the title links below to read our reviews and on the author links to visit our page for the author. I’ve included the cover art for some of our favorites.

Who do you think will win the Locus Award in these categories?
Answer below for a chance to win a book from our stacks.


BEST NOVELLA

The Black God... Read More

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