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.

WWWednesday: November 25, 2020

Raven Story Postage Stamp



DisCon, slated for August of 2021, updated its membership counts.

Books and Writing:

A little inspiration for participants in NaNoWriMo: Seven published works that started off as WriMo projects.

George R.R. Martin provides his irregular, semi-annual update on The Winds of Winter, and no, he hasn’t finished it. (Thanks to File770.)

Publishers Weekly reports that Read More

Sleep Donation: A strange and thought-provoking tale

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

Sleep Donation by Karen Russell

In the near future, an insomnia epidemic has struck the United States. It’s caused by a dysfunction in orexin and those who acquire it can’t sleep. Eventually, they die. But there is a therapy that can help prolong life and, in some cases, even cure people. Donors can contribute sleep to those afflicted with the disorder. Babies make the best donors because their sleep isn’t contaminated by nightmares.

Trish is the top recruiter for a charity organization that finds sleep donors. Her sister died from the disorder and, when she tearfully tells the story to potential donors, she can get many of them to sign up. When she discovers a baby who turns out to be a rare universal sleep donor, Trish works with the baby’s parents to keep them on... Read More

WWWednesday: November 18, 2020

Paradox Bound by Peter Clines



Books and Writing:

Peter Clines offers some of his books as gifts to those who can’t afford to buy many gifts this year.

SFWA has collected a packet of information and sample documents for writers who need to protect their intellectual property in their trusts or wills.  Thanks to File 770 for this link.

Writers are unhappy with Audible because its Read More

WWWednesday: November 11, 2020

Veterans Day:

From 2010, then Vice-President Joe Biden honors veterans at Arlington National Cemetery.


Books and Writing:

C.C. Finlay is retiring from editing The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction to direct his energy toward his own writing. With the March/Apr, 2021 issue, Sheree Renee Thomas will take the reins.

To no one’s surprise, the Odyssey writers workshop will be online in 2021. It looks like they have some good offerings. The registration deadline is December 7, 2020 and cost varies depending on the workshop. (Thanks to File770.)

Read More

The Hollow Places: I read it in one sitting because I was afraid to put it down

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

 … and we watched the willow branches bow outward from the passing, and it was invisible except that invisible was not the right word, because its not-there-ness hung in the air like an afterimage.

The Hollow Places (2020), by T. Kingfisher, reminded me a lot of the other folk-horror novel of hers I read recently, The Twisted Ones. Both take place in or close to small southern towns, both have alternate realities, protagonists coming to town to help a relative, and discovered manuscripts. Both were inspired by earlier works of horror or Weird. (This one was inspired by “The Willows” by Algernon Blackw... Read More

Network Effect: Complex connections with friends and enemies

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

Network Effect by Martha Wells

Martha Wells’ Murderbot has been gathering enthusiastic fans (which would be certain to have Murderbot hiding behind its opaque armored faceplate), along with multiple Nebula, Hugo and other awards and nominations, as each of the first four novellas in the MURDERBOT DIARIES series has been published over the last three years. In Network Effect (2020), the first full-length novel in this series, Wells is able to explore a more complex plot and to more fully develop Murderbot’s character and its relationships with others.

Murderbot is now with Dr. Mensah and the other Preservation Station characters who Murderbot was protecting in the first book, Read More

WWWedesday: November 4, 2020

Cover of Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse



Obituaries:

File770 has an obituary for actor Sean Connery. While he wasn’t big in our genre (except for Zardoz!) he certainly had an impact on movies. Sir Sean was 90 years old.

Roxanne Conrad, who wrote the MORGANVILLE VAMPIRES series under the name Rachel Caine, passed away.

Books and Writing:

The Mary Sue gives us 8 new-to-me horror novels. Some good ones!

A few days late, but still funn... Read More

The Once and Future Witches: Rage, beauty, and sisterhood

Reposting to include Jana's new review.

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

Our Daddy never taught us shit, except what a fox teaches chickens — how to run, how to tremble, how to outlive the bastard — and our mama died before she could teach us much of anything. But we had Mama Mags, our mother’s mother, and she didn’t fool around with soup-pots and flowers.

Once upon a time there were three sisters, in a world where women’s magic was outlawed and driven underground. They had to battle an evil man and rediscover their own power, but each was filled with so much rage, pain and loss, that seemed impossible.

2020’s The Once and Future Witches is Alix E. Harrow’s sophomore novel. Harrow excels at so much here. The book is angrier than Read More

WWWednesday: October 28, 2020

Cover, Lovecraft Country, by Matt Ruff



Obituary:

He may not be known to many of you. Richard Lupoff, New Wave writer and later a comic writer, passed away earlier this week. Lupoff won a Hugo in 1963 and was a Nebula finalist in 1977. In the 2000s, he was best known for his work with his wife Pat Lupoff in the comics genre. He hosted a radio show on Berkeley, California’s KPFA. Personally, Lupoff was someone who had encouraging words for emerging writers and was a source of inspiration for many of us. Author Marta Randall calls him “one of the good ones.”

Books and Writing:

MacMillan is Read More

The Midnight Bargain: A charming frolic of a book, barbed with social commentary

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 women. Instead of being able to pursue their talents, magical women are... Read More

WWWednesday: October 21, 2020

Don't Move, byJames S. Murray and Darren Wearmouth



Security Breach:

Locus Online signal-boosted the Barnes and Nobel announcement that they were hacked on October 10, 2020.

Conventions:

Also from Locus: I didn’t know Iceland had a biannual SF convention, but it does. They are apparently hoping for an in-person conference in November, 2021.

Giveaway:

One commenter with a USA mailing address will get a copy of C.L. Polk’s new fantasy novel The Midnig... Read More

The Only Good Indians: Read it with all the lights on

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

When I was a kid growing up in Montana, hunting was a steadfast part of my family’s life. Elk, deer (mulies and white-tails), antelope, pheasant — if you wanted to eat it, you had to go out into the snow-covered woods before the break of dawn and hope that you would find something early enough that you wouldn’t have to spend the rest of the day dragging the cleaned carcass back to your truck. There were rules, of course: respect nature to the point of veneration; don’t shoot what you don’t have a permit for; don’t shoot anything you don’t intend to kill; don’t kill more than you need. The cardinal rule, the one impressed the hardest into my mind, was that you don’t set foot anywhere that you don’t have permission to go, not for any reason.

That particular decree, in myriad permutations, is at the hear... Read More

WWWednesday: October 14, 2020

Cover, Mask of Mirrors by M.A. Carrick



Conventions:

World Fantasy Con 2020 submitted a draft program that was riddled with problematic language and assumptions, to put it politely, and not for the first time. This is an increasingly troubled event with a history of sexual harassment, sexism, racism, other bigotry and accessibility errors. The conference is online this year, but the WFC is seeing a dramatic, public drop in participation.

While I was browsing some other material for the column, I stumbled over the Sirens Conference, being held next week. It’s online, free and it looks interesting.

 ... Read More

WWednesday: October 7, 2020

Lois McMaster Bujold. Image by Kyle Cassidy



Last week interesting enough for you all?

Books and Writing: 

Lois MacMaster Bujold fans, especially those who like the Penric stories, will be pleased by this announcement on Bujold’s Facebook page. (Thanks to File770.)

The Illinois Science Fiction in Chicago organization (ISFIC)  is holding its annual writing contest even though WindyCon has been postponed to 2021.

The Speculative Literature Foundation Read More

WWWednesday: September 30, 2020

I'm Kovacs. I hit people and look intense.



Netflix adapted Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon into a series which has now run for two seasons. This review of Season One, which I watched via Amazon Prime, might contain spoilers for the show. In this column, my goal is to review the show without comparing it to the book.

One commenter chosen at random will win a hardcover copy of Harrow the Ninth by Tamsin Muir.

Altered Carbon, Season One is a hyper-violent, hyper-male noirish adventure set in a moody Blade-Runneresque world. It carried me right along, nicely balancing mood, exposition, special effects and action, but stumbled into cliché at the end, and I was troubled by certain aspects of the male gaze that pe... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Gifts

In Season 4 of Syfy’s space opera Killjoys, Da’vin Jacobis gives his thirteen-year-old son Jak, who was born six days ago (it’s a long story) a picture. He is sending Jak to hide out with his former-evil-overlord mother (again, long story). He doesn’t want Jak to forget him, so he gives him the only photo of himself he has — his old military ID.

It’s a touching moment, and a sweet gift.

Quest stories often include the giving, or exchange, of gifts. Some gifting follows, more or less, the steps of the Hero’s Journey, one template for a quest. Often, that gift is some sort of weapon. Sometimes it’s magic, or knowledge. A gift can be an inheritance, a legacy the giver never had time to explain. Often the gift is a mystery.

Gifts can be perilous. Not all of them can be trusted. Sometimes the gift is a betrayal. Sometimes the receiver of the gift doesn’t value it enough. (It wasn’... Read More

A Sick Gray Laugh: A disturbing, metafictional, transgressive tour de force

A Sick Gray Laugh by Nicole Cushing

A Sick Gray Laugh, Nicole Cushing’s 2019 horror novel, is disturbing, at times disgusting. It’s surreal, it’s metafictional and it’s often hilarious. And, really, that’s about all I have to say about it. If you like any of those things, or all of them, you should read it.

Oh, what? I should tell you about the plot? Okay. Noelle Cashman, our first-person narrator, is an award-winning horror novelist. Recently, though, she has started medication for her struggles with anxiety and depression and now, faced with a book to write, discovers she doesn’t want to write another novel. While parts of her life are getting much better — she joined a softball team, lost some weight, is eating more healthily — Noelle is distressed and intrigued by the steady encroachment of th... Read More

WWWednesday: September 23, 2020

Pink Begonias, Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden



Housekeeping:

Next week’s column will be single-item, probably a review of a series, and there might be a giveaway attached.

Pictures:

I was able to spend a couple of days at the seaside village of Mendocino, California, and the images used in the column are from that trip.

 

Books and Writing:

This is two years old but still interesting, as Crime Reads interviews Joe R. Lansale about Hap and Leonard.

Publishers Weekly has Read More

The Starless Sea: Visually spectacular

Reposting to include Jana's new review.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Given the success of her debut, it would be impossible to write about Erin Morgenstern's eagerly awaited follow-up without alluding to The Night Circus (2011). The bestseller accrued a mass following of 'Rêveurs' – the self-styled fanbase, named after the followers of the circus in the book. It inspired a formidable amount of tattoos and artwork on Pinterest, as well as being translated into thirty-seven languages, no less. It was always going to be a hard act to follow, but can Morgenstern live up to her own success?

The Starless Sea (2019) follows the tale of Zachary Ezra Rawlins, the son of a... Read More

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 fast-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

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