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.

Hunted by the Sky: Engaging characters in a vivid alternate world

Hunted by the Sky by Tanaz Bhathena

Hunted by the Sky (2020) is the first book in Tanaz Bhathena’s YA fantasy duology THE WRATH OF AMBAR. Bhathena is an award-winning YA author, and Hunted by the Sky is her first foray into YA fantasy. Set in an alternate world based on medieval India, the story held my interest with its magic, suspense, and the conflicts the two main characters face. The descriptions of settings delighted me.

Gul has spent her life in hiding and on the run, because of a star-shaped birthmark and a prophecy. When her parents are murdered by Shayla, a Sky Warrior known as The King’s Scorpion, a group of women rebels takes Gul in. Gul lives for only one thing, revenge against Shayla and against Raja Lohar, the king.

Cavas is the son of two non-magical people, who are treated as second-class citizens and relegated... Read More

WWWednesday: September 16, 2020

Lesser Blue Heron, St. Augustine, Florida



Interesting words for Wednesday: Lapidify means to turn to stone. I also like the noun blatherskite, a person “given to voluble, empty talk.”

Books and Writing:


At Tor.com, Christina Orlando talks about reading books late. Lots of good recommendations here!

Kris Kathryn Rusch has, understandably, a strong indie-pub position, but this article is useful and interesting.  It’s about traditional publishing and how it’s faring in the pandemic (spoiler alert: not very well according to her.

File770 Read More

Ballistic Kiss: The series gathers momentum as it heads into the home stretch

Ballistic Kiss by Richard Kadrey

2020’s SANDMAN SLIM novel, Ballistic Kiss, is the second-to-last entry in Richard Kadrey’s long-running demon-fighter punk-wizard series starring James Stark as Sandman Slim. I don’t know what I will do when the series finishes. I’ll miss the big lug.

However, Ballistic Kiss didn’t leave me too much time to fret about the future; Stark has plenty of adjustments to make in his present. Brought back to life by the Sub Rosa magical practitioners after a year dead, Stark is living in a flying-saucer shaped house owned by the Sub Rosa, struggling with PTSD, when the book opens. Returning from Hell (and death), Stark has discovered that, to his way of thinking at least, his friends’ lives have improved without him. Candy is in a muc... Read More

WWWednesday: September 9, 2020

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 02: (L-R) Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Rob Reiner, Chris Sarandon, Wallace Shawn, Carol Kane, and Billy Crystal.(Photo by Dave Kotinsky/WireImage)



Congratulations to John Scalzi (The Last Emperox), Erin Morgenstern (The Starless Sea) T. Kingfisher (The Twisted Ones), and all the other 2020 Dragon Award winners! It was a great ballot this year, with lots of discussion to com... Read More

The Bone Shard Daughter: A past-paced, enticing adventure

The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

The Bone Shard Daughter (2020) by Andrea Stewart is a fast-paced, enticing read, with an attractive world and a magical system that grabs the imagination with both hands and doesn’t let it go.

Stewart’s debut is the first book of a series, THE DROWNING EMPIRE. In an archipelago empire, the imperial Sukai dynasty defeated the powerful Alanga, who ruled it. The current emperor, Shiyen, uses bone shard magic to protect his citizens from the possible return of the Alanga. Shiyen runs his empire using constructs, chimera-like beings animated by chips of bone taken from every citizen of the empire, usually when they are children. At events called Festivals, chips of bone are chiseled out of each child’s skull, sometimes with fatal results. Those chips, later implanted into constructs, animate them. The magic allows the creator of ... Read More

WWWednesday: September 2, 2020

God of Jades and Shadows by Silvia Moreno Garcia



Obituary:

I literally went numb when I read that Chadwick Boseman, who played, among other roles, King T’Challah in Black Panther, passed away from cancer. Boseman’s courage, grace and generosity extended far beyond his screen roles to his day to day life. He will be greatly missed, but he left us a legacy of hope.

Natural Disasters, Where to Donate:

New Orleans city government posted a number of places to donate. By the way, World Kitchen Central does wonderful work. They have been here in California too,... Read More

The Hereafter Bytes: A funny book, a fun read

The Hereafter Bytes by Vincent Scott

I believe that humorous science fiction is hard to write. I’m not talking about humorous banter or moments within a book — many writers excel at that — but books that are conceived as comical stories from the start. Humor requires the balance of many elements and crucial timing. Even if those things are present, a sense of humor is hard to quantify, and a technically funny book may fail to entertain for some ephemeral reason.

Vincent Scott, however, is unafraid, and tackles humor in his 2020 comic cyberpunk novel The Hereafter Bytes. Right on the cover, it says, “A Funny Sci Fi Novel,” allowing you to judge it by that metric. And for me, it succeeded.

I read an ARC of this book and blurbed it. I usually raise my eyebrows at comic SF, but I enjoyed this book both times I read it. It’s funny. Sometimes the humor is labored, but... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Favorite re-told fairy tales

Classic fairy-tale retellings had a moment just a few years ago.

That moment left us with a bounty of books and stories that start with the elements of those tales and spin them off into strange and wonderful directions.

Naomi Novik, Catherynne M. Valente, and Seanan McGuire all dived headfirst into that rich pool of story, but there were many others as well.

Most of us can probably think of a fantasy book or story we’ve read in recent years that is a fairy-tale retold.

Which is your favorite? And why? Which one will you read next?

One commenter with a USA mailing address will win a book from our Stacks. Read More

WWWednesday: August 26, 2020

Books and Writing:

Lots of celebrations of Ray Bradbury’s birthday—he would have been 100 years August 22 of this year.  File770 had several articles, including one about various events. (Note, the readathon continues through Labor Day.) The American Writers Museum in Chicago celebrated by displaying his typewriter and inaugurating a series of podcasts.

Nina Allan discusses “the canon” through the perspective of a British reader. It’s a dense, thoughtful artic... Read More

The Bird King: Magic is woven throughout the book

The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson

G. Willow Wilson’s 2019 YA Novel The Bird King is a wonderful read: an exciting adventure with a complicated female protagonist, set in a time and place that may be unfamiliar to many of us. Magic is woven throughout the book, as young Fatima wrestles with the concepts of faith, freedom and leadership.

Fatima is the Sultan’s concubine in the last Islamic kingdom on the Iberian Peninsula. She holds a precarious place in the palace hierarchy. As a slave she’s powerless; as the Sultan’s concubine she wields, or could wield, great influence, especially if she bears him a son. Fatima, born into enslavement, dreams of freedom, but the closest she gets to it is the magical maps drawn by her friend, the royal mapmaker, Hassan. Hassan can map a place that exists only in his imagin... Read More

WWWednesday: August 19, 2020

Awards:

The Dragon Award finalists were announced. The award’s eccentric eligibility period, November through July of the following year, means odd additions and exclusions (some 2019 books may have been nominated last year). As you would expect, this list of popular books upsets some people. File 770 cataloged a few reactions.

(Dragon Award nomination and voting are not tied to membership in any convention, and basically anyone with an email address can nominate and vote. It says one vote per person in the FAQ’s, but if you have more than one email address I don’t know how they would identify multiple votes.)... Read More

Harrow the Ninth: The haunted palace is Harrow’s mind

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Last year’s Gideon the Ninth was a delightfully over-the-top space fantasy that ended with a gut punch that had readers shouting “Damn you, Tamsyn Muir!” and clamoring for the sequel. The sequel, Harrow the Ninth (2020) is here, and I enjoyed it a lot, though there are a few things you’ll want to know going in.

One is that there is a lot going on, much of it cryptic, some of which ties back into details from the first book that might be hazy by now. I would recommend rereading Gideon the Ninth first, or at least keeping it close at hand, so you can refer back to it if you have que... Read More

WWWednesday: August 12, 2020

Tonight is one of the best nights to see the Perseid meteor shower.

Awards:

Fiyah Literary Magazine has announced a new award, IGYNITE, as part of their online conference scheduled for October. (Thanks to Skye Walker for letting me know about this item!) Fiyah is revitalizing the SFF field in so many ways.

The Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association has announced the candidates for this year’s Aurora Award. (Thanks to Skye for this link too.)

Conventions:

I should have seen this coming; Read More

Gideon the Ninth: Macabre & original

Reposting to include Tim's new review.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Necromancers and their sword-fighting cavaliers star in Gideon the Ninth (2019), Tamsyn Muir’s radically original debut novel, which has been nominated for the 2019 Nebula Award. This science fantasy novel, steeped in an atmosphere of decay and decrepitude, is a mix of space opera and a gruesome treasure hunt that takes place in a spooky, crumbling castle. At the same time, it’s set in an interstellar empire consisting of nine planets, each one ruled by a different House of necromancers.

Eighteen-year-old Gideon Nav is trying to escape her forced servitude in the particularly moribund Ninth House, where she’s surrounded by living skeletons and corpses and near-dead nobles and nuns who pray on knucklebones. Gideon’s escape plan involves sneaking off the entire Ninth planet in a space shut... Read More

WWWednesday: August 5, 2020

Awards:

Arkady Martine took the Hugo for best novel with A Memory Called Empire; Amar El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone won best novella with This is How You Lose the Time War; N.K. Jemisin took the award for best novelette with “Emergency Skin;” the best short story was awarded to S.L. Huang for “As the Last I May Know.” See Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Speculations about a post-COVID world

The COVID pandemic is a shocking new experience for all of us. Epidemics aren’t new, but a global pandemic we watch on our devices as it plays out in real time is. We are all experiencing changes in behavior; staying at home, social distancing, using hand sanitizer, wearing facial coverings. We miss our social get-togethers and dining out in a pleasant restaurant or coffee house, and we’re getting expert at video-conferencing.

The changes associated with COVID are sweeping, and no one can predict what “normal” will be on the other side (I’m going to be optimistic and say, “When we have a vaccine”). We can’t predict, but we’re speculative fiction readers, so let’s predict anyway. Instead of the huge, scary and gloomy changes, let’s talk about day-to-day social changes.

Will the handshake go the way of the courtly bow and the curtsy? Will the bow and curtsy make a comeback? Will “share your toys” be bad advice? Will food trucks and ... Read More

WWWednesday: Lucifer, the Series

Today's column is a single-issue deal, a review.

Giveaway:  One commenter with a USA mailing address will get a copy of The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher.

Tom Ellis as Lucifer



Lucifer the series currently runs on Netflix, with the 5th season starting up in August. The show began its life on Fox in 2016, with a dark-haired Welsh actor named Tom Ellis in the title role. (“Dark-haired? But that’s not canon!” say the comic book readers. Trust me. Go with it.)

Readers of  Neil Gaiman’s Sandman met Lucifer when Dream journeyed to Hell to retrieve one... Read More

WWWednesday: July 22, 2020

March, Vol 1; John Lewis's graphic memoir of the 1960s Civil Rights movement.



Hack:

We have probably not heard the last of last week’s Twitter hack. At first it was funny, especially when Twitter blocked all verified (blue-check) accounts while they worked to solve the problem; now that we learn that there was a data breach as well, it’s slightly less laughable. Here’s what NPR knew as of last Friday.

Obituaries:

The son of sharecroppers, John Lewis was a champion of equality and justice even when it meant risking his life, a voice for all Americans and a model of integrity, fairness and strength. The Congressman represented the 5th District in Georgia from 1987 until h... Read More

The Relentless Moon: A tense spy thriller set on the Moon

The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal

With a new protagonist and definite resistance to expanded space colonization coming from Earth, The Relentless Moon (2020) provides increasing tension, drama and action, giving us, in part, a spy thriller set on a lunar colony.

The third book in Mary Robinette Kowal’s THE LADY ASTRONAUT series follows Nicole Wargin, one of the original six women astronauts and wife of the politically ambitious Kansas governor. Nicole has been tapped for a trip to the nascent lunar colony with a group of civilian colonists, but even before the trip gets underway, accidents, technical failures and social unrest ramp up, leading to the poisoning of the Wargins’ friend, and linchpin of the space program, Nathaniel York.

Even with the looming threats... Read More

WWWednesday: July 15, 2020

The Vanished Seas by Catherine Asaro



Obituary:

Grant Imahara, 49, was the cheerfully nerdy technogeek on Mythbusters. He also operated robots in the Star Wars franchise and worked behind the scenes on many SF blockbusters. I remember Imahara always smiling as he explained some wonderful high-tech thing. The early reports are that he died from an aneurysm. 

Conventions:

Here’s the San Diego Comic-Con At Home Edition program. This article provides some background on Read More

Mexican Gothic: A creepy gothic novel featuring fungus

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Noemí Taboada is a 22-year-old flighty socialite living in Mexico City. She loves to dress up in beautiful gowns and high heels and go to parties with handsome young men. One evening she’s called home from a party early. Her wealthy father has received a strange letter from Catalina, Noemí’s recently married cousin. Catalina thinks she’s in danger from her new husband’s family and is begging for help. Is Catalina really imperiled, or is she suffering a mental breakdown?

Noemí’s father asks her to visit her cousin at High Place, her husband’s family’s mansion on top of a mountain in an isolated rural area of Mexico. When she arrives, Noemí is shocked to discover that, indeed, her cousin is not well. Though Catalina has moments of lucidity, at other times she rails about ghosts and other hallucinations.

The house and its inhabitants are undeniably frightening. T... Read More

A Book of Bones: A book too long for its story

A Book of Bones by John Connolly

2019’s A Book of Bones is the 18th book in John Connolly’s CHARLIE PARKER series. This series is dark, with a thriller plot steeped in supernatural elements. Over the years, we’ve seen Parker, his human helpers Louis and Angel, and his supernatural protectors Sam and Jennifer face a variety of entities. A Book of Bones seems to resolve most of the issues around a specific Not-God and an evil murderous cult called the Familists. The two nasty villains, a book collector named Quayle and a creepy woman called Pallida Mors — a play on “Pale Death” — return from the previous book, and Parker is on their trail.

Parker is giving evidence in a child sex-trafficking case in Texas when he is called away by his FBI connection, Special A... Read More

WWWednesday: July 8, 2020

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia



Conventions:

DragonCon will convert to an online convention in 2020.

Books and Writing:

Verso and Feminist Press are turning 50.

Nerds of a Feather interviews Hugo fan artist nominee Iain J Clark.

Mary Robinette Kowal hosted Read More

Creatures of Want and Ruin: A sheer pulpy delight

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

Creatures of Want and Ruin by Molly Tanzer

At first glance, based on the title and cover art, Molly Tanzer’s Creatures of Want and Ruin (2018) looks and sounds like it’s a sequel to her earlier novel Creatures of Will and Temper, but it’s not. The stories have different characters and settings, so I’m going to treat Creatures of Want and Ruin as a stand-alone novel.

During prohibition, Ellie West is a bootlegger in Amityville, a village on New York’s Long Island. Due to her father’s declining health and inability to work at his trade as a fisherman, her family struggles to make ends meet but is unwilling... Read More

WWWednesday: July 1, 2020

The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders, Locus Winner for Best SF Novel



Locus awards:

Here’s the list. Charlie Jane Anders’s The City in the Middle of the Night won the Locus Award for best science fiction novel. Best fantasy novel is Middlegame, by Seanan McGuire, best horror novel is Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon Ja... Read More

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