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.

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

Foundryside: Come for the action and characters, stay for the thematic depth

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Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett

Bill: Robert Jackson Bennett hit the trifecta, as far as I was concerned, with his DIVINE CITIES trilogy. I placed each book pretty much immediately on my respective best-of-the-year lists as I finished them, and then, once the trilogy was completed, put the whole thing on my best-of-the-decade list. So it would be more than a little unfair to expect his newest novel, Foundryside (2018), to match that experience. But like a younger sibling following after a genius older sister or brother, Foundryside finds its own kind of greatness, a no-less pleasing but more “moderate” greatness if you’ll allow the seeming paradox. Even, I’d... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: 2018 Hugo Awards: Novels & Novellas

Lots of our favorites are included among the finalists for this year's Hugos for Best Novel and Best Novella. Will the "sure things" win? Will Ann Leckie or Yoon Ha Lee pull off an upset?

Not surprisingly, the novella category has the tried-and-true, like Nnedi Okorafor and Seanan McGuire, along with relative newcomers like Sarah Gailey. And the Tor.com novella imprint is well represented in that category!

Click the title links below to read our reviews and on the author links to visit our page for the author. We've displayed the covers of our favorites.

BEST NOVEL

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi, Tor
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WWWednesday: August 8, 2018

The Future is Blue (c) Galen Dara 2014



Awards:

The Dragon Awards ballot was announced. This site describes the process for voting. Voting ends on 9/1/18. (Thanks to File 770.)

Conventions:


Mary Robinette Kowal stepped in to help the WorldCon 76 Committee with their programming issues. She blogs about it here.

Books and Writing:

The Guardian provides a roundup of reviews of new science fiction. They also recommend Read More

The Future is Blue: Life, and this collection, is like a box of chocolates

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The Future is Blue by Catherynne M. Valente

Fans of Catherynne M. Valente who especially love her line-by-line prose will be pleased with her 2018 story collection, The Future is Blue. Fifteen of Valente’s shorter works are showcased here. The title piece is a novelette. The similarity they share is the priority of narrative voice and prose above other story elements, even those of character and plot.

I recommend that readers who love Valente’s prose consider this book as a box of gourmet chocolates, rather than a meal. It is possible to overindulge on Valente’s fascinating and fantastical conceits if you try to read this one sitting — and since it’s a story collection, you don’t have to.

The stories included are:

“The Futu... Read More

Ruin of Angels: Gods, sisterhood and venture capitalism collide

Readers’ average rating:

Reposting to include Bill's new review.

Ruin of Angels by Max Gladstone

Ruin of Angels, published in 2017, is Max Gladstone’s sixth book in the CRAFT series. This story follows Kai, a priestess we met in Full Fathom Five. Kai is a, well, a “venture priestess.” She creates internal spiritual spaces for clients, and invests in projects that reach into the metaphysical — as everything in this world does. A project has brought her to Agdel Lex, a modern city nested in the time and space of Alikand and a dead city as well, while outside the squid-powered protection of Agdel Lex, starving remnants of half-dead gods ravage anyone who tries to enter... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: 2018 Hugo Awards: Series, YA, Campbell

The 2018 Hugo Awards will be presented at Worldcon 76 in San Jose, California, on August 19. The Hugo Award finalists are chosen by readers who are voting members of Worldcon. This week we’ll talk about the awards for Best Series, Best Young Adult Novel, and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Author. We discussed the categories for short works a few weeks ago and we’ll discuss the novels and novellas in our August 9 column.

Best series (in its second year) has a bumper crop of great stories. This category points out, once again, the difficulty in the category, with books that are definitely linked (Robert Jackson Bennett, Brandon Sanderson, for example) and series like Seanan McGuire's books, which can be read as stand-alones. It will be interesting to watch this category evolve.
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WWWednesday: July 25, 2018

Awards:

The 2018 Eisners were announced, with some familiar names for us, including Monstress by Marjorie Liu, Black Bolt by Saladin Ahmed and Black Panther; World of Wakanda, by Roxana Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coats and Alitha E. Martinez.

Conventions:

San Diego Comic-Con was in full swing last weekend, and Syfy was there to cover it along with everyone else. Could I resist a cosplay roundup? I could not. Read More

Kill the Farm Boy: It’s “Bored of the Rings” for the 21st Century

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Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson & Kevin Hearne

Usually, any book that deals with cheese and has a talking goat will win me over. 2018’s Kill the Farm Boy has a talking goat, and it devotes many pages to thoughtful discussions of cheese. It looks deeply into the tropes of epic fantasy and fairy tales, then turns them upside down and inside out. Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne give us gonzo variations on conventional characters, lots of flatulence and poo jokes, and plenty of puns, all the while providing nudges, raised eyebrows and smirky grins from not very far on the sidelines.

Fair warning: It is difficult to review this book without spoiling the plot, but I will try. I fully plan to spoil several of the puns, though.

Some... Read More

WWWednesday: July 18, 2018

I am slammed with deadlines, so it’s a short column today. Besides, it’s summer! Don’t you kids ever go outside and play? 

Conventions:

StokerCon 2020 will be held in the UK. Apparently, this will be the first time since the convention’s founding that it will be held there. File under Only Slightly Ironic. (h/t to File 770.)

Awards:

The David Gemmell awards were presented last week, with Best Novel going to Assassin’s Fate by Robin Hobb (which we loved).

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Age of Myth: Well-wrought prequel to the RYRIA fantasy series

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Reposting to include Marion's new review.

Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan

With Age of Myth, Michael J. Sullivan begins a prequel series to his RYRIA CHRONICLES and RYRIA REVELATIONS series. The good news for newcomers to his books is that, since this series takes place about 3,000 years earlier, you don't need to be familiar with either of those series or the world of Elan to enjoy this new LEGENDS OF THE FIRST EMPIRE series, so I was in good shape. I know pretty much zero about the other Ryria books, except that many epic fantasy fans are very enthusiastic about them, but I really enjoyed Age of Myth and am anxious to start the next book in this series, Read More

SFM: Larson, Connolly, Lechler, Murphy and Doherty

Short Fiction Monday: Our exploration of free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. Here are a few recent stories we've read that we wanted you to know about.

 

“Meat And Salt And Sparks” by Rich Larson (June 2018, free at Tor.com, 99c Kindle version)

Al Huxley and Cu are detectives and partners in this near-future SF tale. Cu is a chimpanzee whose intelligence has been enhanced to human-level through a company’s cruel and illegal experimentation. Granted "personhood" rights ― and a hefty settlement ― in a court case, Cu still feels isolated. She’s most comfortable alone in her Washington state home, off Puget Sound, usually working with Huxley on a remote basis, ... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: 2018 Hugo Awards: Novelettes & Short Stories

The 2018 Hugo Awards will be presented at Worldcon 76 in San Jose, California, on August 19. 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. We liked all of these stories and loved most of them. It's not surprising that we saw many of these in the Locus and Nebula finalist lists.

BEST NOVELETTE

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The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter: Monsters, men, and monstrous men

Readers’ average rating:

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

In The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter (2017), Theodora Goss has created something really exciting and rewarding: a novel that pays homage to the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century works of speculative fiction which inform every standard the modern incarnation of the genre is judged by, and yet stands on its own as a twenty-first century creation.

The epigraph — “Here be monsters” — and a subsequent recorded exchange between Mary and Catherine set the scene: The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter is a collaborative effort, though by whom and for what purpose is not immediately plain. First we... Read More

WWWednesday: July 11, 2018

Awards:

The short list for the British Fantasy Awards has been published. Best fantasy novel finalists include: The Age of Assassins by RJ Baker; The Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith Spark and The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams. Best horror novel finalists are: The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey; The Changeling by Victor LaValle; Relics by Tim Lebbon; The Crow Garden Read More

Noir: It’s noir, it’s Moore; what else can I say?

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Noir by Christopher Moore

At the first sentence of this review I’m having trouble because: “Christopher Moore’s 2018 novel Noir is a hard-boiled detective story set on San Francisco’s mean streets…” only it’s not quite, okay, so, “Noir is a darkly funny comedy set in 1947 San Francisco, following cops and wise guys and…” only it’s not quite, or not only, so maybe: “Noir is a dark comedy set in 1947 with corrupt cops, sexy dolls, men in black, space aliens with a kinda-criminal bartender main character and this horrible little kid…”

Okay. Fine. It’s by Christopher Moore. By now you should know what you’re getting into.

Sammy Tiffin works at Sal’s, a seedy bar. One night he comes in to f... Read More

WWWednesday: July 4, 2018

If you live in the USA, happy Independence Day. Please enjoy your music and cookouts, and be very careful with fireworks!

Obituary:

Harlan Ellison (1934-2018)



Harlan Ellison, who changed the landscape of speculative fiction with works like “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream,” and “Repent, Harlequin, Said the Ticktockman,” passed away last week at the age of 84. Tor.com looks back on his life and influence. Locus does too.

Ellison was an influence on many of us here at Fantasy Literature. A few reviewers shared their thoughts and reactions to this professional madman, gadfly and possible genius.

Terry: I'm not sure which I read first d... Read More

Weaver’s Lament: The Industrial Revolution and social upheaval with magic

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Weaver’s Lament by Emma Newman

Weaver’s Lament (2017) is Emma Newman’s second novella in her INDUSTRIAL MAGIC series. The first one is Brother’s Ruin. Both stories feature Charlotte Gunn, a young woman from a respectable family who is hiding several secrets; she is secretly an illustrator of popular fiction and she is secretly magical, having clandestine meetings with a magus to learn to control her abilities. In the first story, Charlotte used her abilities to enhance her older brother’s lesser skill and get him accepted into the Royal Society (who pays the family of nascent magi a pretty penny).

Now Charlotte and her family are financially comfortable. She wants little more than to marry her diligent fiancé George, but brother Ben summons her to Manchester, where he is working. Ben and another magic... Read More

The Lost Plot: Kai and Irene must save the Library! Again!

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The Lost Plot by Genevieve Cogman

The Lost Plot (2017) is the fourth book in Genevieve Cogman’s INVISIBLE LIBRARY series. Committed to the Library’s mission to maintain the balance between chaos and order, Irene Winters and her student, Kai, end up in a world in a Prohibition timeline, as they track down a Librarian who has violated the Library’s neutrality by assisting an agent of Order (a dragon).

To put it simply, if you enjoyed the other INVISIBLE LIBRARY books, you will enjoy this one. It has book humor, lavish use of the magical Library language, dragons, Fae, double-crosses, predicaments, chase scenes and action scenes galore, culminating in a suspenseful interrogation sequence in the royal court of a Dragon Queen.
... Read More

WWWednesday: June 27, 2018

Victor LaValle's The Changeling won a Locus Award for Best Horror Novel.



Awards:

Tor.com has a list of Saturday’s Locus Award winners, which include The Collapsing Empire (John Scalzi) for Best Science Fiction Novel, The Stone Sky  (N.K. Jemisin) for Best Fantasy Novel; The Changeling ( Read More

The Outsider: Fighting monsters, King’s characters remind us what it is to be human

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The Outsider by Stephen King

The Outsider (2018) by Stephen King is a big book with a big, layered story. With great effort I’m going to hold my review to one or two aspects of it. First things first; it’s horror, with its roots in King’s classic horror works but with a sensibility influenced by the modern world. It’s good. Horror readers will love it and be creeped out by it, but non-horror readers will find plenty that is thought-provoking (and they’ll be creeped out by it). Of course I’m recommending it.

Terry Maitland is a big man in the town of Flint City, Oklahoma. He is an English teacher at the high school, and he coaches both football and baseball. Nearly everyone knows him because he’s coached nearly every boy in town in some sport. He has a loving ... Read More

WWWednesday: June 20, 2018

Books and Writing:

President Barack Obama shares his late-spring reading list; in this case, it’s all non-fiction. There are some interesting books on here.

"The Skeleton Bridge" (c) Alia Yusuf for the short story Chinlap by Sunny Moraine



Sad news for readers and writers. Shimmer, known for publishing fantastical short stories that preferred poetic prose, is closing after thirteen years. I will miss their great stories by writers like Alix E. Harrow, and I’m glad we had the magazine around as long as we did. The November issue will be the last (and watch for... Read More

Akata Warrior: Scores goal after goal as it enhances the series world

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Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor

From its stunning cover to the triumphant final word (“Gooooooooal!”), Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Warrior (2017) continues to deliver on the promise of Book One, Akata Witch. Sunny, an American-Nigerian girl currently living in Nigeria with her family, has embraced her heritage as a Leopard Person, one of a magical lineage, but things to do not get easier for her or for her magical friends, the oha coven. Ekwensu, the evil force that Sunny faced and vanquished in the first book, is back, and she’s brought friends. In the mundane, everyday world, Sunny’s older brother Chukwu, the favored child, gets into serious trouble when he goes away to university, and Sunny’s attempt to help him puts her squarely at odds with the teachings of the Leopard Peop... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: The 2018 Locus Awards: Novels

The 2018 Locus Awards Weekend will be held in Seattle, Washington next weekend (June 22-24). 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 our favorites. We loved many of these novels. The Locus Award list is always fascinating, almost always very different from the Nebula and Hugo lists.

How many of these finalists have you read? Who do you think will win the Locus Award in these categories? Answer below for a chance to win a book from our sta... Read More

WWWednesday; June 13, 2018

California Long-tailed weasel. (c) Marion Deeds 2018



Conventions:

The antics at ConCarolinas have now spilled over to DragonCon, resulting in the firing and resignation, respectively, of two different staffers. Richard Fife is one of them and he put a statement regarding his resignation on his blog. (Thanks to File 770.)

Books and Writing:

Junot Diaz has been asked to relinquish his position as chair of the Pulitzer Prize Committee after numerous allegations of sexual misconduct were made. Read More

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