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.

Lies Sleeping: The newly-promoted wizarding detective returns

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch

Peter Grant, our favourite semi-competent detective cum wizard-in-training, returns in Lies Sleeping (2018), the seventh book in Ben Aaronovitch’s RIVERS OF LONDON series. The Faceless Man has been unmasked and is on the run, and it is now up to Peter and the inimitable Detective Chief Inspector Nightingale (slash last officially sanctioned English Melvin the Wizard) to apprehend him.

(Fair warning: some spoilers for preceding books will follow.)

London is once more under threat and there can only be one man behind it. Readers will remember that the Faceless Man was finally unmasked as Martin Chorley, who, in tru... Read More

WWWednesday: December 4, 2019

An interesting word for Wednesday is horologium (hor-oh-LOGE-ee-yum) a noun meaning a time-keeping apparatus like a clock, sundial, etc, or a structure that supports a time-keeping piece.

Giveaway:

One commenter will get a copy of Annalee Newitz’s The Future of Another Timeline.

John Hartness (l) and Melissa McArthur of Falstaff Books. And a shameless plug for Aluminum Leaves.



Conventions:

Last week I spent three days at AtomaCon in Charleston, South Carolina. This was a small convention, which I enjoy. I had a wonderful time! I’m going to plug some people. I tried a VR experience for the first time (undersea images) and I a... Read More

SHORTS: Cho, Machen, Rambo, Scalzi, Andrews

SHORTS: Our column exploring free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. Here are a few stories we've recently read that we wanted you to know about.

“Head of a Snake, Tail of a Dragon” by Zen Cho (2018, free on the author’s website)

This short story is a delightful sequel to Zen Cho's Hugo award-winning novelette, “If at First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again.” And both are free online, so win-win!

Jin-Dae is an imugi, a magical serpent that can — if it learns and grows in the right way — turn into a dragon. But Jin-Dae has no particular interest in becoming a dragon; she's just fine with her life the way it is. Except that there aren... Read More

WWWednesday: Evil on CBS

Next week the links will be back! This is my reaction to the early episodes of CBS's new supernatural thriller Evil.

Cast of Evil. (c) CBS 2019



Evil
10:00 pm Thursday
CBS

I didn’t think I was going to watch Evil until I saw that it starred not only Mike Colter (Luke Cage, The Defenders) but Michael Emerson (Person of Interest, Lost). That casting made me think I’d give it a try. It’s not my favorite kind of story, and it’s on a network that tends to produce mainstream programming that is predictably black-and-white, with a lot of protagonist-centered morality (if our heroes want to do it, then it must be okay). Blue Bloods and a... Read More

Foxglove Summer: You can take the constable outta London, but…

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

One of the definitive aspects of Ben Aaronovitch's PETER GRANT series is the fact that it's set in the big smoke (aka London, for all you non-Londoners). So it may come as a surprise to discover that Foxglove Summer (2014), the fifth instalment of the series, is actually set in the countryside. But don't be fooled into thinking this is story about sleepy village life and the occasional nosy neighbour. Far from it. Peter Grant is back along with a myriad of supernatural problems, and he's just as incompetent as he's always been...

Two eleven-year-old girls have gone missing in the rural town of Leominster, Herefordshire. Constable Peter Grant is sent on a routine assignment to check up on an old ... Read More

Broken Homes: Changes the direction of the story

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch

Peter Grant, mediocre policeman and inferior wizard, is back. Broken Homes (2013) is the fourth instalment of Ben Aaronvitch’s PETER GRANT series, and the detective returns with his love of acronyms and Red Stripe. Once more under the supervision of DCI Thomas Nightingale, Peter, Lesley and (the newly initiated) thirteen-year-old Abigail, must police the supernatural elements of London’s crime scene.

The story opens with a series of seemingly unconnected crimes: a car accident, a body half-buried in some scrubland, a suicide and the theft of a magic book from a home of a famous architect. And the missing link? The Faceless Man, of course, the other recurring character and supe... Read More

Laugher at the Academy: A must for ardent fans

Laugher at the Academy by Seanan McGuire

Laughter at the Academy
(2019) is Seanan McGuire’s first short story collection as Seanan McGuire (apparently there is a Mira Grant collection). McGuire is amazingly prolific, and this expensive Subterranean Press anthology showcases that. In her foreword, McGuire tells us that she chose these specific stories because she loves them the most. The contents were published between 2009 - 2017. They all take place outside her “pre-existing universes,” as she calls them, but there are resonances with October Daye, the Wayward Children, and others. The collection lets us see the issues that preoccupy McGuire in her writing.

Many (most) of these tales ended up in antho... Read More

WWWednesday: Emergence, on ABC

This is the first of two WWWednesday columns that will be single-subject instead of a links roundup. Next week, November 27, I'll give my reactions to the network TV show Evil.

Emergence



Emergence
ABC, Tuesdays, 10:00 pm
Science Fiction

I watched the first two episodes of ABC’s Emergence wondering exactly what kind of show it was, and I wasn’t alone in that. Twitter filled up with people tweeting, “It’s just like Stranger Things,” “Is it Fringe?” and so on. By Episode Three of the new series, the show revealed its true colors. It is not a Gifted Child in Jeopardy show, it’s not solely a Conspiracy show, and it’s not merely a family drama. It is actual science fiction.

 

This column will contain some spoilers – although it’s hard to say how spoilerish they are, when the show re... Read More

WWWednesday: November 13, 2019

This might be gallimaufry. Or it might be lamb stew, who knows?



Cool word for a Wednesday: gallimaufry (gall-uh-MAW-free); a noun meaning a jumble, a medley or a hodgepodge, or a spicy meat hash. (Isn’t that the planet Doctor Who came from?)

Housekeeping:

There will be no links columns on November 20 or November 27 because I will be out of town both weeks, but I will post a single-subject column on those dates.

Awards:

File 770 reported that the Sunburst Society, a Canadian society for the appreciation of science fiction, has suspended its Copper Cylinder award in 2019. They aren’t giving a reason at the moment.

Read More

Sabbath: It’s strange. It’s interesting.

Sabbath by Nick Mamatas

I don’t always agree with Nick Mamatas or his views on humanity, but I think he is one of the most interesting writers working right now, and Sabbath (2019), while it’s strange, is definitely interesting. The story behind the story is interesting and a little strange too. Sabbath (2019) is a novelization of a graphic novel called Sabbath: All Your Sins Reborn, by Matthew Tomao, which does not seem to be well known or much admired on the internet.

Mamatas writes a book that has some wonderful, hallucinatory prose, gallons of gore, a passel of severed heads, attack poodles, several actiony set-pieces and social observations as astringent as shot of cold gin. To crib a line from the Buffy-spinoff Angel, who doesn’t love... Read More

The Refrigerator Monologues: A herald of change?

Reposting to include Rebecca's new review.

The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente

In her Afterword, Catherynne M. Valente lays out the inspiration for 2017’s collection of linked short stories The Refrigerator Monologues. Valente was inspired partly by the work of comics writer Gail Simone, who created and popularized the term “Women in Refrigerators” as a way to describe women cape-and-mask heroes, and how they are treated in conventional comics. As for structure, Valente looked toward Eve Ensler’s groundbreaking theatrical work The Vagina Monologues. To no small extent, though, Valente was galvanized into writing this collection because of her anger at how Gwen ... Read More

WWWednesday: November 6, 2019

You know what’s not fun? Throwing your go-bag into the trunk of your car at 4:00 in the morning, while law enforcement drives through your neighborhood with sirens and bullhorns, advising you that “This area is under an evacuation order; leave now.” We were in a town that got put under a precautionary evacuation order as CalFire fought the Kincade Fire, which has burned about 78,000 acres in my home county in California. In spite of the stress and anxiety caused by fleeing my house in a windy, smoke-filled morning, I am glad officials took the approach they did. This massive evacuation probably saved lives, and let firefighters focus their attention on the flames, not the citizens.  A heartfelt "Thanks!" to good friends, and to emergency responders everywhere. We had firefighters from Washington state, Oregon, Utah and Colorado assisting with the blaze, and, to date, we have had zero fatal... Read More

Midnight Riot: A blast from start to finish

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

Midnight Riot (aka Rivers of London in the UK) by Ben Aaronovitch

Peter Grant is a constable-in-training in London’s police force. At the end of his probation period, it looks like he’s in line for a long career of boring desk work in the Case Progression Unit, but that all changes when he draws the luckless duty of guarding a crime scene overnight where, earlier that day, a headless body was found lying on the street. While Peter is freezing his heels off in the cold London night, he is approached by possibly the crime’s only witness — who also happens to be a ghost…

Peter is swiftly recruited into a secret department that focuses on the supernatural and magical, and apprenticed to the mysterious Thomas Nightingale, the leader and only other active member in this centuries-old department. Peter begins the long process of learning... Read More

The Future of Another Timeline: Interesting, but ultimately didn’t satisfy me

The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz

The Future of Another Timeline (2019) was a miss for me, which surprised me given how much I enjoy this writer. Many people on Amazon give it high ratings, so, as we say, your mileage may vary.

There are five-time machines embedded in the earth’s crust in Annalee Newitz’s 2019 novel. These objects, growing out of prehistoric rock, may be machines, or sentient entities, or some kind of strange natural occurrence, but they react to certain rhythmic sounds by sending a person back in time … and allowing them to return to their present.

The Machines are awesome.

The book follows two characters, Beth in a 1992 timeline that isn’t quite ours, and Tess from a 2022 that is upstream from Beth. Tess is an approved time traveler, who, usi... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Favorite fictional haunted places

Today is the USA’s creepiest holiday, Halloween.

Oh, sure, there are cute costumes, pumpkin-spice everything, candy, harvest carnivals and bobbing for apples, but there also ghosties, ghoulies and scary noises. And, haunted places.

Houses, or interiors generally, can be haunted by entities, or they can absorb death, despair and evil themselves, radiating those back at hapless humans who enter the space.

One of my favorite haunted buildings in fiction is Hill House, in Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. This mansion has both an evil ghost and evil oozing from its wainscoting and walls.

Several decades later, the decaying “stately pile” in Sarah Waters’s The Little Stranger is another brilliantly cre... Read More

Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places

Reposting to include Kelly's new review.

Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey

If ghosts exist, we don’t know why, but ghost stories exist because the living make them up; and the living make them up because we need them. Colin Dickey’s book Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places (2016) explores the US’s social conflicts and hidden histories as they play out in places that are publicly advertised as “haunted.” In the first chapter, Dickey says, “If you want to understand a place, ignore the boastful monuments and landmarks, and go straight to the haunted houses. Look for the darkened graveyards, the derelict hotels, the empty and decaying old hospitals.”

That passage is also something of a roadmap to the book, which comprises a collection of Dickey’s essays. The chapters are divided by category: haunted houses; h... Read More

WWWednesday: October 30, 2019

NASA: Active regions on the sun give it the appearance of a jack-o'-lantern.



Awards:

The 2019 Nommo Awards were announced. These awards are given to African speculative fiction writers. Thanks to File 770.

Books and Writing:

Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) weighed in on the recent issue of Fireside cancelling book scheduled to be published, with very little notice and no compensation. The Contracts Committee reviewed the contract in question. They note that this was a non-advance contract and there was no compensation if the publisher could not fulfill their obligations.... Read More

WWWednesday: October 23, 2019

Image courtesy of Rover.com



Awards:

File 770 shares the British Fantasy Award winners; Jen Williams took the award for Best Fantasy for The Bitter Twins; Little Eve won Catriona Ward the Best Horror Novel awards, and Aliette de Bodard took Best Novella for The Tea Master and The Detective.

Books and Writing:

For anyone who has a bucket list, here’s something to add: Stephen and Tabitha King... Read More

WWWednesday: October 16, 2019

Olga Tokarczuk. Image from Wikipedia



Nobel Prize for Literature:

The Nobel Prize for Literature Committee awarded two prizes, one for 2018 and one for 2019. Olga Tokarszuk and Peter Handke are the awardees for 2018 and 2019 respectively. Here is more information from the BBC.

Olga Tokarczuk’s work sounds like something I would like to read; it has elements of magical realism and the fantastical. Her most recent novel, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, was published in 2009. She has won many honors throughout Europe including the Man Booker Prize.

Peter Hand... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Magical Medical Facilities

The brave wizard trio of the HARRY POTTER series were quite familiar with Hogwarts’s infirmary.

In Cassandra Clare’s MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series, the Shadow-hunter Institute also has a nice infirmary, although it looks like they outsource most of their medical work to the witch/warlock community.

Magical communities have their medical needs, just like everybody else, with some special twists. If you’re a werewolf and you are injured in wolf form, are you better off with a veterinarian than a surgeon who works on humans? Do vampires suffer from anemia? And do the faerie folk risk environmental allergies in an increasingly industrialized world?

Some fantasy series do address medical needs in an organized fashion, not by just seeking the help of a mystical he... Read More

WWWednesday: October 9, 2019

Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. It started a few minutes before sunset yesterday.

Octopus Dreaming:

PBS’s Nature ran a show on the octopus. A scientist studies Heidi, the octopus who lives in an aquarium in his living room. He captured this eerie, beautiful footage of Heidi changing color while she was apparently asleep. These colors manifest in the octopus while it is hunting or eating, so the scientist “narrates” Heidi’s dream.



Nobel Prizes:

The Nobel prize in physics was awarded to a Canadian scientist and two Swiss scientists Read More

Steel Crow Saga: A big old basket of wild, zany fun

Steel Crow Saga by Paul Krueger

Paul Krueger’s first book, Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, was a quirky, fun urban fantasy in which magical bartenders saved Chicago from primordial evil. Based on that, I was eager to read his 2019 novel Steel Crow Saga. After I pre-ordered it, I began to read, on Twitter and other places (I follow Krueger on Twitter) that it drew heavily from the tradition of Japanese animation and the series/game Pokémon. Since I’m one of the six people in the continental USA who knows nearly nothing about either of those topics, I began to wonder if I would be the right reviewer for this book. I didn’t need to worry. This 512-page book does draw from Pokémon, gloriously celebrates ani... Read More

WWWednesday: October 2, 2019

Happy Fall! Autumn Leaves



Conventions:

Tad Daley shared some more WorldCon pictures on File 770.

Some self-promotion; I’ll be attending AtomaCon in November. It’s a cozy South Carolina convention. I’m not a guest, just a participant, but look forward to meeting any FanLit fans who might attend.

Awards:

Gollancz and Ben Aaronovitch are sponsoring a fiction contest open to Black, Asian and minority ethnic writers in Britain. (The ... Read More

WWWednesday: September 25, 2019

Deaths and Memorials:

Margaret Atwood’s longtime partner, writer and conservationist Graeme Gibson, died last week. He was 85.

Aaron Eisenberg, who played Nog on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, died last week at the age of fifty.

vectorstock Image



Books and Writing:

Heather Demetrios wrote an article last week that got a lot of attention. Taking a “learn from my m... Read More

The Toll: Priest breathes creepy, swampy, glimmering life into Southern Gothic

The Toll by Cherie Priest

Cherie Priest’s 2019 Southern Gothic novel The Toll delivers the creeping terror, the strangeness and the surprises I’ve come to expect from her, since she is the queen of this subgenre. From the weird, dying little town of Staywater, Georgia, to a house haunted by dolls, to “granny women” and ghosts, to that thing in the swamp, The Toll builds and delivers on a mood that progresses from shivery to biting-your-fingernails suspenseful.

As a character in the book (and the back cover blurb) points out:
State Road 177 runs along the Suwannee Rover, between Fargo, Georgia and the Okefenokee Swamp. Drive that road from east to west, and you’ll cross six bridges. Take it from west to east, and you might find seven. But you’d better hope not. Read More

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