Marion Deeds

Marion Deeds, with us since March, 2011, is the author of the fantasy novella ALUMINUM LEAVES. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthologies BEYOND THE STARS, THE WAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, STRANGE CALIFORNIA, and in Podcastle, The Noyo River Review, Daily Science Fiction and Flash Fiction Online. She’s retired from 35 years in county government, and spends some of her free time volunteering at a second-hand bookstore in her home town. You can read her blog at deedsandwords.com, and follow her on Twitter: @mariond_d.

Ace of Spades: Dark academia meets Gossip Girl, and no place is safe

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Ace of Spades (2021) is Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé’s first novel. It’s a YA thriller and doesn’t have any speculative elements, but if you like good prose, good characterization and high-suspense thrillers this book might be for you. I was not the target audience for this book, but after the first couple of chapters, I could not put it down.

Chiamaka and Devon are students at an upscale private high school called Niveus Academy. It’s senior year, and the two are each selected to be Senior Prefects (the school, while located in the USA, follows certain British school traditions.) For Chiamaka, this simply ticks another box on her personal to-do list, which include being crowned queen of the school ball and accepted into Yale premed. Devon, a scholarship student, is stunned that he’s been made prefect, because he has no friends and k... Read More

WWWednesday: September 15, 2021

File 770 provides part one the Emmy Creative Arts award.

You are probably already wondering what to get your children for Christmas, right? Of course  you are. How about a robot unicorn, suitable for riding? Child sizes only, sorry.

The UK Guardian provides a long story about three techbros, their vision of a libertarian utopia, crypto-currency and a decommissioned cruise ship. What could possibly go wrong? (Spoiler alert…) (Genuine spoiler alert—I knew libertarianism was out the window as soon as they started talking about pets.)
Read More

The Angel of the Crows: Too faithful to the originals

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison

For about the first third or perhaps half of Katherine Addison’s newest, The Angel of the Crows (2020), I was thinking I was finally off the schneid, as it had been about two weeks since I’d really thoroughly enjoyed a novel I was reading. And I was definitely enjoying the pastiche of several Sherlock Holmes stories which basically boils down to “It’s Holmes but with angels and vampires!” Which sounds like a lot of fun, and as noted, it was, at least for that first third or so. But then, well, it never really went anywhere beyond “It’s Holmes but with angels and vampires!” and after about the halfway point my enjoyment began to falter, the story began to sag, and by the end I was left feeling that a n... Read More

WWWednesday: September 8, 2021

Dragon Awards were announced Sunday. Andy Weir won for Best Science Fiction novel (Project Hail Mary); Jim Butcher won for Best Fantasy novel (Battle Ground). T. Kingfisher walked away with two Dragons; one for best YA and one for best horror novel. Congratulations to all the winners. The Baen Fantasy Adventure Award was also announced.

The Sideways Awards, celebrating ex... Read More

You Brought Me the Ocean: A sweet romance with beautiful artwork

You Brought Me the Ocean by Alex Sanchez, drawn by Julie Maroh

Jake Hyde dreams of the ocean and has secretly applied to the marine biology program at the University of Miami, but in waking life, the ocean is limited to the aquarium in his room. His father drowned, and since then his mother has resolutely kept him away from water (hence the secrecy about University of Miami). She even moved them to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, to keep her son away from water.

A yearning for the ocean’s not the only secret Jake is keeping. He likes guys, a fact he hasn’t shared with his best-friend-since-forever, Maria, whose feelings for him are clearly changing. Meanwhile, Jake is attracted to Kenny Liu, the school swim team captain, who is out and proud.

You Brought Me the Ocean (2020) is a graphic novel, a coming-out romance set in the world of DC Comics. Jake is a reimagining of a 1960s Aquama... Read More

WWWednesday: September 1, 2021

Clarion West offers online classes. (Thanks to File 770.)

On Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog, R.W.W. Greene talks about celebrity names and other things from her new dystopian novel Twenty Five to Life.

On his blog, John Scalzi notes that adaptations from his work Love, Death and Rob... Read More

Marion chats with Daryl Gregory (GIVEAWAY!)

Daryl Gregory’s first novel Pandemonium won the 2009 Crawford Award. His novella We Are All Completely Fine won both the World Fantasy and the Shirley Jackson awards. Gregory writes across genres, with science fiction titles like Afterparty, and fantastical family sagas like Spoonbenders. Earlier in 2021 his novella The Album of Dr. Moreau was released, and his newest release is his Southern gothic horror novel Read More

Revelator: A high-proof distillation of horror

Revelator by Daryl Gregory

Stella Birch sees her family’s god when she is nine years old, in 1933. Her father has dropped her off in a sheltered valley, the cove, in the Smoky Mountains. He says he’s leaving her with Motty, her grandmother, while he looks for work, but he’s never coming back.

Daryl Gregory’s 2021 southern gothic horror novel Revelator trades in bone-deep horror, stunning beauty, strangeness, and acid-etched banter. Moving between two timelines, Stella’s time with Motty in the cove and her present life as a moonshiner in 1948, the novel reveals the secret of the Birch women and the god in the mountain, and includes interesting bits of history, like the creation of the Smoky Mountain National Park, which will inclu... Read More

WWWednesday: August 25, 2021

File 770 shared the announcement of the nomination period for the Sara Douglass Book Series Award. I think the idea of an award strictly for series is great.

A new C.L.Polk book! A novella, due out next fall.

Giveaway: one commenter chosen at random, with a USA or Canadian address, will get a copy of C.M. Waggoner’s The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Winzardry.

At LitHub, Heather Cass White examines the primal sin of literacy in Read More

The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry: Witty, rollicking good fun

The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry by C.M. Waggoner

Dellaria Wells is an untrained fire witch, living hand-to-mouth in the slums of Leiscourt, trying to keep track of her drip-addicted mother. Behind on rent and threatened with a curse by her landlady, Delly plans to answer a mysterious advertisement recruiting various women to protect a Lady of Some Importance. When she is interviewed — through the bars of a cell, as it happens — Delly gives a succinct summation of her skills to the interviewer:
“… Why on earth would I be willing to interview a criminal for a position in my employer’s household, Miss Wells?”

 

“If I might beg your pardon, Magister,” Delly said, “I’m only a very petty criminal, but I’m a rare excellent fire witch, and we ain’t so very thickly strewn upon the local thoroughfares…”
Delly is hired along with several women as a protection detail for Mi... Read More

WWWednesday: August 18, 2021

CONvergence is reporting that someone who attended has notified the Con Committee that they now have Covid. (Thanks to File 770.) If you attended the in person events you may want to get tested.

The Dragon Award finalists have been announced.

DragonCon is requiring proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test done no more than 72 hours before admittance to the Con.

Jon del Arroz has been permanently suspended from the Twitter platform.

From File... Read More

WWWednesday: August 11, 2021

Debris premiered on NBC in 2021. The network canceled it after one season. (You can find it On Demand if you really want to.) I’m not surprised they canceled it. The show never gained traction with the audience, and this was because it never found its footing as a story.

There are several good things about the show, which I will list. You can decide if they are enough to make you watch.

The pluses include:

Excellent special effects
Some good performances
John Noble (plus and minus)
Beautiful and strange “Debris” pieces—kudos to the props department
Great use of ending credits to advance the story (plus and minus).

The story seems to be set in this reality in the present day. Finola Jones and Bryan Beneventi are intelligence agents, she from MI6, he from… the CIA (maybe?)... Read More

WWWednesday: August 4, 2021

I said this would be a single-issue column, but it will be a short links column instead.

Tordotcom Books has revealed the beautiful cover of Comeuppance Served Cold, here! And you can preorder it. You’re thinking, “She’s going to get obnoxious about this,” and you’re right.

Randall Plunket, Baron of Dunsany, descendent of the Lord Dunsany, Read More

Ring Shout: The horrors of racism and hatred made tangible

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark

In Ring Shout (2020), P. Djèlí Clark melds two types of horror, Lovecraftian monsters and the bloody rise of the Ku Klux Klan in 1922 Georgia, as a group of black resistance fighters take on an enemy with frightening supernatural powers.

As Ku Klux Klan members march down the streets of Macon, Georgia on the Fourth of July, Maryse Boudreaux, who narrates the story, watches from a rooftop with her two companions, sharpshooter Sadie and former soldier Cordelia “Chef” Lawrence, a bomb expert. They’ve baited a trap for the “Ku Kluxes,” who are hellish demons that hide in disguise among the Klan humans, taking over the bodies of the worst of them. The trap works, but the silver pellets and iron slags contained in the bomb aren’... Read More

WWWednesday: July 28, 2021

Next week’s column will probably be single-topic, because I will be leaving for the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference earlier in the week.

The Ladies of Horror Fiction announced their annual award winners.

Mari Ness had a fun story in Daily SF this week.

The British Fantasy Awards short list is out, and included Alix Harrow, Read More

The Midnight Bargain: A charming frolic of a book

Reposting to include Tadiana's new review.

The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk 

By the bottom of the second full page of text, when the protagonist of The Midnight Bargain (2020) walked into Harriman’s Bookshop, I was hooked. When Beatrice Clayborn entered the second-hand shop and I saw it through her eyes, the book claimed me, not unlike the way a spirit might claim a sorceress in Beatrice’s magical world.

It’s bargaining season, or marriage season in Beatrice’s world, and young women of the upper classes, like Beatrice, jostle and compete for the hand of a suitable husband. Suitability is decided by their fathers, of course, and usually determined based on wealth, status and influence.

Beatrice loathes the bargaining season. She wants to study magic and become a full-blown Mage, a path closed to women, especially upper-class wome... Read More

WWWednesday: July 21, 2021

Charlotte Nicole Davis writes about getting her first Harry Potter tattoo at 21—and getting it removed. A moving essay about the things that get us through childhood, and the things we leave behind.

On Kalimac’s Corner, DB thinks about what they loved about Tolkien, and what other writers they found it in. (Thanks to File 770.)

There’s a new Shirley Jackson biography coming out.

Coincidence, or curse? You decide. Just like the original CW show, Read More

A Broken Darkness: Nick’s in more trouble than ever

A Broken Darkness by Premee Mohamed

At the end of Beneath the Rising, the first book in Premee Mohamed’s cosmic horror trilogy of the same name, I thought narrator Nick Prasad couldn’t be worse off. Yes, he and his prodigy friend Joanna “Johnny” Chambers had closed an interdimensional rift and stopped the Ancient Ones from invading earth, but at the end Nick is left heartbroken, betrayed and disillusioned by what he has learned about Johnny. Like I said, I didn’t think it could get worse for him.

I was so wrong.

This review contains mild spoilers for Beneath the Rising.

Johnny and Nick did manage to close the rift, but it was open for nearly two minutes. In that time period,... Read More

WWWednesday: July 14, 2021

Thanks to Terry Weyna for this link to the Aurealis Award winners.

Congratulation to Natania Barron and other winners of the Manley Wade Wellman Award.

The Ladies of Horror site have unveiled their finalists for 2020. Premee Mohamed, Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Read More

Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Futures

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake

Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Futures (2020), by Merlin Sheldrake, is an always informative and often fascinating look at the (mostly) hidden world of fungi. There’s a lot more to them than those shitakes you’re adding to your stir-fry and Sheldrake makes for an enthusiastic tour guide to all that lies beyond the edible mushroom (though he touches on those too).

Sheldrake begins with truffles (he goes on a truffle hunt with a couple of dogs and their trainer) and uses this early part to introduce us to the basics of fungal life and their development on Earth. Like the entirety of the book, this section is filled with choice details (a 2 to 8000-yr-old fungus in Oregon taking up ten square k... Read More

WWWednesday: July 7, 2021

One commenter chosen at random will get the paperback ARC of Nancy Jane Moore’s For the Good of the Realm.

Did I mention I’ll be on The Story Hour tonight? Oh, I did? Well, let me mention it again. It’s tonight, July 7, at 7 pm Pacific Daylight Time… or you’ll be able to find the recording through the site.

Dream Foundry is offering a speculative fiction contest.

Here’s an update on Hugh Ho... Read More

WWWednesday: June 30, 2021

Kelp farming. Image by Matt Cosby.



A “shivoo” (noun) is a raucous party.

Locus Awards were announced Saturday, June 26. Winners include:

Martha Wells, for Best SF Novel, Network Effect

N.K. Jemisin, for Best Fantasy Novel, The City We Became

Silvia Moreno Garcia, Best Horror Novel, Mexican Gothic

Read More

For the Good of the Realm: Genderswapped swordplay for Three Musketeers fans

For the Good of the Realm by Nancy Jane Moore

2021’s For the Good of the Realm is a gender-swapped swashbuckler heavily inspired by Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers. Author Nancy Jane Moore creates a world of nation-states much like France and its neighbors of the Musketeers. Against this backdrop, Anna D’Gart, a swordswoman in the Queen’s Guards, serves the queen and the realm against enemies foreign and domestic — although one domestic adversary is powerful, and Anna finds herself swimming in very deep waters.

In the opening chapter, Anna and her friend Asamir are given a secret assignment to recover a necklace the Queen gave to an admirer, because the King wants her to wear it at an upcoming ball. Fans of The Three Musketeers will recognize this plot. In this adventure, we the readers learn that the King and Queen shar... Read More

The Golem and the Jinni: A magical mural of the immigrant experience

Reposting to include Jana's new review.

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

A Genie. A golem. Nineteenth-century New York City. Boy, did I want to love this book. Drawn by its come-hither characters, its promise of poetry, and by its dark side in the form of a truly nasty character, I really, really wanted to love it. And truth is, I liked The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker. But in the well-trod words of middle school, I didn’t “like like” it. Oh, it was fun, it made me smile sometimes and think sometimes and feel a bit sad at other times. I enjoyed hanging out with it for the length of its near-500 pages. But, despite that fire-genie at its heart, there just wasn’t that spark. I just wanted to be friends.

We meet our two fantastical characters early on via two different storylines. The Golem, Chava, travels to 1899 New York on a steamer and finds herself ashore in... Read More

WWWednesday: June 23, 2021

SMOFCon, a convention for people who want to run a convention, is offering three scholarships. The con will be held in December in Lisbon, Portugal.

File 770 addresses the Twitter announcement that the Hugo Administrative Committee for DisCon II (WorldCon) has resigned en masse. The issue may be about space limitations imposed by the Con Committee.  Within the File 770 article is a link to one of the Pixel Scrolls that addresses that concern.

Dean Wesley Smith thinks that writers make things hard for themselves when they start thinking about making money too early in the writing proces... Read More

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