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.

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 release date delayed while the con... 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.

Books and Wr... 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 be making the move it announc... 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

WWWednesday: May 29, 2019

Golden Gate Bridge, image from Pixabay.



The Golden Gate bridge had a birthday this week. It wasn’t a milestone one. The bridge opened to traffic on May 27, 1937.

Awards:

Selmaa Ahmad was awarded the first A.C. Bose Grant from the Speculative Fiction Foundation. The award is presented to a South Asian diaspora writer developing speculative fiction. Ahmad’s stories sound wonderful.

The Ursa Major awards, for excellence in the furry arts, were awarded on May 26, at AnthroOhio.

Also honoring the anthropomorphic, the Coyotl awards, presented in Portland, Oregon. (I’m tempted to write something with a nonhuman-mammal MC, just to t... Read More

Memento Mori: The Fathomless Shadows: It draws you in

Memento Mori: The Fathomless Shadows by Brian Hauser

Memento Mori: The Fathomless Shadows (2019) is horror writer Brian Hauser’s debut novel. The story follows three women: Tina Mori and A.C. Waite, avant-garde filmmakers in the 1970s, and Billie Jacobs, a teenage zine-publisher, in what is probably the late nineties or early oughts. The book plays with the macabre, the mysterious, The King in Yellow and the blasted shores of the city of lost Carcosa.

Memento Mori’s structure is a series of nested stories presented in the form of various manuscripts. Hauser chooses to use what I’m going to call The Colbert Maneuver, after Stephen Colbert (even though many writers have done it); introducing a character named “Brian R. Hauser” into the first page of the book. The character Hauser i... Read More

WWWednesday: May 22, 2019

Phoenix Sculpture by Xu Bing. Image from Walkaboutny.com



Awards:

Congratulations to Mary Robinette Kowal, Bo Bolander and Aliette de Bodard among others for their Nebula wins last weekend. The full list of winners can be found here. Congratulations and thanks to all the finalists for providing us with such wonderful ideas, characters and stories.

Crimefest awards were announced, with Robert Galbraith AKA Read More

WWWednesday: May 15, 2019

This week’s word for Wednesday is spelaean, an adjective, meaning like a cave. That’s no real surprise since I’m sure it’s from the same root as the verb spelunk. 

Awards:

It’s awards season! And you don’t need an antihistamine to enjoy it!

File 770 wins the award for Most Meta; a list of Best Awards! The Awards Award. No surprise that the Hugo and the Nebula top the list, but I was surprised to see the Shirley Jackson award so low.

Paul Tremblay won a Bram Stoker award for The Cabin at the End of the World. The other winners are included in the link.

Apologies if I’ve already posed this; The Dartmouth Neukom Institute Read More

Tyrant’s Throne: A near-perfect close to a great series

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

Tyrant’s Throne by Sebastien de Castell

De Castell turned to Kest. “How would you rate our chances?”

Kest rifled through the manuscript. “We’ll get four and five-star reviews and show up on a dozen Best of the Year lists, after which you’ll get one, no two, major nominations. People will be very sad it’s over and will repeatedly beg you for more. Falcio will appear on five or six ‘Best Characters in a Series’ lists, which won’t do much for his humility, I hate to say.”

“I’ll have you know I have the best humility of anyone.”

“My point exactly. I’ll get a Top 10 mention on a list of Best Swordsperson in a fantasy work, but poor Brasti will almost certainly be forgotten, unless someone makes a list of ‘Characters Who You Only Remember as ‘That Other Guy.’”

Brasti glanced up from polis... Read More

Soulbinder: This time, Kellen must go it alone

Soulbinder by Sebastien de Castell

In the first three books of Sebastien deCastell’s SPELLSLINGER series, Kellen, son of a powerful Jan’Tep sorcerous family and follower of the Argosi way, has been able to count on a loyal and powerful support network. Reichis, a squirrel-cat, is thieving and verbally abusive, but fierce and faithful. Ferrius, an Argosy traveler, has taught Kellen much about the power of magic and of life. In Soulbinder (2018), the fourth book of six planned, Kellen finds himself alone, forced to rely only on his own resources.

(This review may have mild spoilers for the previous books.)

Kellen carries a demonic infection called shadowblack. At the end of Charmcaster Read More

WWWednesday: May 8, 2019

Red rhododendrons at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden. Photo by Marion Deeds, 2019



Cons:

SpikeCon, scheduled for July 4-7, 2019, will be held in Utah. This year’s convention will be a blend of NASFIC and WesterCon. NASFIC is the North American convention that is held in any years that WorldCon is not held in the USA.

Awards:

The finalists for the Shirley Jackson Awards have been announced.

I did not know there was a Woman’s Award, but there is, and Madeline Miller’s Circe made the finalist list, along with Ghost Wall Read More

Not WWWednesday: Roswell, New Mexico on the CW

(I was out of town most of last week and the weekend with no time to do a links column. Instead I am posting my observations of a TV adaptation of the Roswell High books by Melinda Metz. Links will be back on May 8!)

Roswell, New Mexico, the CW.



I watched the first season of the CW’s Roswell, New Mexico, and I have Thoughts. I’m a sucker for “aliens among us” stories, so this reboot of the tale was a natural for me. Am I embarrassed to admit that I sometimes watch the CW? I’m not. I’m not their demo, but I know a few people in my age group who watch it too. It’s like we’re aliens hiding in plain sight among their viewership.

In 1999, the CW tried a show called Roswell, based on the YA series ROSWELL HIGH by Read More

Planetfall: An SF exploration of mental illness

Planetfall by Emma Newman

Planetfall, the first science fiction offering from Emma Newman, is about a colony of humans who left Earth to follow Suh, an alleged prophet who received a supernatural message giving her the coordinates of an unknown distant planet where she was supposed to travel to receive instructions about God’s plans for humanity. Suh and her best friend Ren, a brilliant geneticist and engineer, gathered a team of like-minded believers and they landed on the planet 22 years ago. After “Planetfall,” Suh disappeared into “God’s City,” where she continues to live and send yearly messages and instructions to the rest of the colonists. All is going well until a visitor arrives and claims to be Suh’s grandson. His presence threatens the colony’s peace and it’s up to Ren, the story’s protagonist, to pr... Read More

Saint’s Blood: Another great romp mixing humor and grief

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

Saint’s Blood by Sebastien de Castell

Saint’s Blood (2016) is the third in Sebastien de Castell’s GREATCOATS series, and as with the previous two (Traitor’s Blade and Knight’s Shadow), it’s both a lot of fun (really, a lot of fun) and deeply emotionally affecting. The series isn’t perfect, but it’s just so enjoyable and engaging that you just don’t mind the few flaws, and that continues with Saint’s Blood, which resolves its major story arc but also points at the very end to a fourth book. And I ... Read More

WWWednesday: April 24, 2019

Awards:

Voting for the semi-finalists of the Alliance Award for excellence in Christian speculative fiction closed yesterday. (Thanks to File 770.)

Housekeeping:

I will be out of town the rest of the week and early next. I will post a column on 5/1, but it won’t be links.

Valley and volcanoes in Iceland. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian.



Books and Writing:

This Hawaiian Business Magazine article explores native Hawaiian culture as one that practices the scientific method and incorporates respect for the environment.

It’s embarrassing to admit that I didn’t ge... Read More

The Magicians: The TV Show (Giveaway!)

Syfy adapted Lev Grossman’s trilogy THE MAGICIANS into a series in 2015. The books got a lot of buzz as they followed a group of students at a college for magic and later into a magical land called Fillory. If the upstate New York college, Brakebills, was the anti-Hogwarts, Fillory was the anti-Narnia, and Grossman used the books to comment on the hero myth, entitlement, colonialism and the uses of power.


The show, which airs Wednesdays at 9:00 pm on Syfy, used the original stories as its starting point but has gone in a different direction… several different directions. It stars Jason Ralph as Quentin Coldwater, Read More

Knight’s Shadow: Great characters enrich this second installment

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

Knight's Shadow by Sebastien de Castell

I absolutely loved Sebastien de Castell's Traitor's Blade, first in his GREATCOATS series, having been immediately charmed by the utterly winning voice of its first-person narrator Falcio val Mond and its flamboyant Three Musketeers-like tone and narrative. So I was greatly looking forward to its sequel, Knight's Shadow. I'm pleased to say that while I had a few issues, for the most part I was wholly satisfied despite such high expectations.

The sequel picks up pretty much right after the close of Traitor's Blade and continues with the same basic goal: find a way to keep the king's thirteen-year-old heir Aline alive long enough... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: The 2018 Nebula Awards: Novelettes & Short Stories

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s 54th Annual Nebula conference (May 16-19) will be held in Los Angeles, and the 2018 Nebula Awards will be announced on Saturday, May 18, 2019.

Today let’s talk about the finalists for Best Novelette and Best Short Story. We'll talk about other categories in future columns.

Here are the finalists in these categories. Click the links to read our reviews and get the links to the stories:

BEST NOVELETTE:

“An Agent of Utopia” by Andy Duncan, Small Beer Press (review coming soon)
The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander, Tor.com
Read More

WWWednesday: April 17, 2019

Gene Wolfe. Image (c) Locus Magazine



Obituary:

Gene Wolfe died on Sunday, April 14. Wolfe was a master writer who is probably best known for THE BOOKS OF THE NEW SUN. Wolfe’s work dealt with identity, memory and mystery, often featuring a main character who didn’t realize that he (and it was usually a “he”) had only a small part to play in a much larger story. His prose is amazing, and he will be missed. Tor.com celebrates the life of this master storyteller.

Awards:

File 770 presents the long list for the Best Books in Translation award.

... Read More

SHORTS: Cho, Stueart, Palmer, Kingfisher

Our weekly exploration of free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. Here are a few excellent stories, including two of the recently announced Hugo nominees, that we wanted you to know about.

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again by Zen Cho (2018, free to read online or download at Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog). 2019 Hugo award nominee (novelette).

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again, by Zen Cho, is a Hugo-nominated novelette about an imugi, a Korean creature who isn’t quite a dragon yet, but desperately wants to ascend to Heaven and join that august celesti... Read More

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