Thoughtful Thursday

On Thursdays we host a weekly discussion question and usually gives away a book from our stacks. If you’ve got something you’d like to discuss or a suggestion for cover art that’s begging to be renamed, or if you’ve won a giveaway, please contact Kat. Thoughtful Thursday was originally conceived and hosted by retired reviewer Ruth Arnell.

Thoughtful Thursday: In 2020, we’re thankful for escapism

To our American readers: Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays here at Fanlit. A time we normally set aside for family, close friends, and (of course) good food. A time to consider how grateful we are for those and other aspects of our lives. A chance to reflect on the larger perspective than perhaps our daily lives don’t leave us much time for.

This year, of course, is different. The time we’ll set aside for family will be Facetime. Our close friends haven’t been close enough for far too long. Our food will be less elaborate, come in smaller portions, and no, it won’t taste as good. Little, if anything this year, is “as good.” And while we’ll still take time to reflect, much of that will be on what is missing, and for too many of us, who is missing. At our tables. In our lives.

Oftentimes, we in the fantasy/science fiction world bristle when non-fans disdainfully label our genre, “escapist.... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Identify last month’s covers

Today’s covers all come from books or films we reviewed in October 2020. Once you identify a cover, in the comment section list:

1. The number of the cover (1-16)
2. The author/director
3. The book/film title



Please identify just one cover that has not yet been identified correctly so that others will have a chance to play. If they're not all identified by next Thursday at noon EST, you can come back and identify more.

Each of your correct entries enters you into a drawing to win a book of your choice from our stacks. Winners are notified in the comments, so make sure to check the notification box or remember to check back in about 10 days. If we don't choose a winner within 2 weeks, Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Seventh Annual Speculative Fiction Haiku Contest

Time for our seventh annual SPECULATIVE FICTION HAIKU CONTEST!  Anyone can do this!

As a reminder, here are the rules:

For haiku, the typical subject matter is nature, but if you decide to be traditional, you must give it a fantasy, science fiction, or horror twist. We expect to be told that the peaceful wind you describe is blowing across a landscape of an unfamiliar, distant planet. And if your poem is about a flower, we hope that elegant little touch of beauty is about to be trampled by an Orc. We welcome the sublime as well as the humorous, the pedestrian along with the momentous.

Though you may use the traditional three-line haiku following a 5-7-5 syllable pattern, feel free to break that pattern. Many poets who write English haiku adhere to other expectations:

Written in three lines, though sometimes in two or ... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: What’s the best book you read last month?

It's the first Thursday of the month. Time to report!

What is the best book you read in October 2020 and why did you love it? It doesn't have to be a newly published book, or even SFF, or even fiction. We just want to share some great reading material.

Feel free to post a full review of the book here, or a link to the review on your blog, or just write a few sentences about why you thought it was awesome.

And don't forget that we always have plenty more reading recommendations on our Fanlit Faves page and our 5-Star SFF page.

As always, one commenter with a U.S. mailing address will choose a book from our stacks. Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: What’s your favorite scary movie?

An oversized radioactive octopus wrestling with a mad scientist in a mudpit… that is the earliest image that I have of any horror movie. This B&W scene somehow made a huge impact on my 5-year-old mind, as I sat watching it on a grainy TV screen, and was in part responsible for setting me on the road of horror filmdom.

Today, I have come to realize that the scene in question was just a snippet from – of all things – Ed Wood’s notorious 1955 cheapie Bride of the Monster, a film that elicits mainly laughter in the adult me, instead of scares and awe. But oh, what an impression it made on my kindergarten self back then!

During the intervening decades, my tastes in the arena of horror have matured a bit, and the films that I deem scary these days are a bit more sophisticated in nature. (You can find some thoughts on 22 recent horror watches of mine in this month’s annual Shocktober Film column.)

For me, the most chilling h... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday is on Fall Break

Here are our current giveaways.

See you next week! Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Identify last month’s covers

Today’s covers all come from books we reviewed in September 2020. Once you identify a book cover, in the comment section list:

1. The number of the cover (1-16)
2. The author
3. The book title



Please identify just one cover that has not yet been identified correctly so that others will have a chance to play. If they're not all identified by next Thursday at noon EST, you can come back and identify more.

Each of your correct entries enters you into a drawing to win a book of your choice from our stacks. Winners are notified in the comments, so make sure to check the notification box or remember to check back in about 10 days. If we don't choose a winner within 2 weeks, Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Blank Slate

When my 24 year old son (Nate) was visiting recently, he suggested that we listen to an audiobook together and asked me to introduce him to one of my favorite fantasy series.

I was delighted to do this, of course, and I downloaded my Audible copy of Robin Hobb's Assassin's Apprentice. Within minutes, Nate was hooked. We listened to the first two books together before he had to leave.

He loved FitzChivalry's story just as much as I did and it was exciting to visit it again through his fresh eyes though, as I told Nate, I wish I didn't know what was going to happen so I could be just as surprised (and worried, and relieved, and gutted, etc) as he will be.

This reminded me that t... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: What’s the best book you read last month?

It's the first Thursday of the month. Time to report!

What is the best book you read in September 2020 and why did you love it? It doesn't have to be a newly published book, or even SFF. We just want to share some great reading material.

Feel free to post a full review of the book here, or a link to the review on your blog, or just write a few sentences about why you thought it was awesome.

And don't forget that we always have plenty more reading recommendations on our Fanlit Faves page and our 5-Star SFF page.

As always, one commenter with a U.S. mailing address will choose a book from our stacks. 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

Thoughtful Thursday: Identify last month’s covers

Today’s covers all come from books we reviewed in August 2020. Once you identify a book cover, in the comment section list:

1. The number of the cover (1-16)
2. The author
3. The book title



Please identify just one cover that has not yet been identified correctly so that others will have a chance to play. If they're not all identified by next Thursday at noon EST, you can come back and identify more.

Each of your correct entries enters you into a drawing to win a book of your choice from our stacks. Winners are notified in the comments, so make sure to check the notification box or remember to check back in about 10 days. If we don't choose a winner within 2 weeks, Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Rename this horrible cover

Time for another "Rename This Horrible Cover" contest!

Actually, this cover isn't that bad, but we do feel like the book needs a better title -- one that fits the cover art better.

Can you suggest one?

The creator of the title we like best wins a book from our stacks

Got a suggestion for a horrible cover that needs renaming? Please send it to Kat. Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: What’s the best book you read last month?

It's the first Thursday of the month. Time to report!

What is the best book you read in August 2020 and why did you love it? It doesn't have to be a newly published book, or even SFF. We just want to share some great reading material.

Feel free to post a full review of the book here, or a link to the review on your blog, or just write a few sentences about why you thought it was awesome.

And don't forget that we always have plenty more reading recommendations on our Fanlit Faves page and our 5-Star SFF page.

As always, one commenter with a U.S. mailing address will choose a book from our stacks. 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

Thoughtful Thursday: Identify last month’s covers

Today’s covers all come from books we reviewed in July 2020. Once you identify a book cover, in the comment section list:

1. The number of the cover (1-16)
2. The author
3. The book title



Please identify just one cover that has not yet been identified correctly so that others will have a chance to play. If they're not all identified by next Thursday at noon EST, you can come back and identify more.

Each of your correct entries enters you into a drawing to win a book of your choice from our stacks. Winners are notified in the comments, so make sure to check the notification box or remember to check back in about 10 days. If we don't choose a winner within 2 weeks, Read More

Ninth Annual Speculative Fiction Limerick Contest

It's time for our annual Fantasy Limerick contest!

Your task is to create an original limerick that has something to do with speculative fiction. It could be about a character, a series, an author, or whatever fits the theme. Here are the rules for creating a good limerick (quoting from this source). A limerick:

is five lines long
is based on the rhythm "da-da-DAH" (anapest meter)
has two different rhymes
Lines 1, 2, and 5 have three of those da-da-DAH "feet," and rhyme with each other.
Lines 3 and 4 have two, and rhyme with each other.
You can break the meter rules if there's a good reason. You may

drop the first "da" in a line, changing that foot to da-DAH
add an e... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: What’s the best book you read last month?

It's the first Thursday of the month. Time to report!

What is the best book you read in July 2020 and why did you love it? It doesn't have to be a newly published book, or even SFF. We just want to share some great reading material.

Feel free to post a full review of the book here, or a link to the review on your blog, or just write a few sentences about why you thought it was awesome.

And don't forget that we always have plenty more reading recommendations on our Fanlit Faves page and our 5-Star SFF page.

As always, one commenter with a U.S. mailing address will choose a book from our stacks. 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

Thoughtful Thursday: The 2020 Hugo Awards

Winners of the 2020 Hugo Awards will be announced at the 78th World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon) which will be in New Zealand (CoNZealand) this year, though events are virtual due to COVID. The final award ceremony takes place on Saturday August 1 and George R.R. Martin will be the toastmaster. The Hugo Award finalists, listed below, are chosen by a poll of readers.

Click the title links below to read our reviews and on the author links to visit our page for the author. We’ve included the cover art for our favorites.

Which, if any, of these finalists have you read? Who do you think will win the Hugo Award in these categories? Are there any titles you think should have been on this list but aren't? Answer below for a chance to win a book from Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Identify last month’s covers

Today’s covers all come from books we reviewed in June 2020. Once you identify a book cover, in the comment section list:

1. The number of the cover (1-16)
2. The author
3. The book title



Please identify just one cover that has not yet been identified correctly so that others will have a chance to play. If they're not all identified by next Thursday at noon EST, you can come back and identify more.

Each of your correct entries enters you into a drawing to win a book of your choice from our stacks. Winners are notified in the comments, so make sure to check the notification box or remember to check back in about 10 days. If we don't choose a winner within 2 weeks, Read More

Thoughtful Thursday is on Summer Break

Here are our current giveaways.

See you next week! Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: What’s the best book you read last month?

To our U.S. readers: Happy Independence Day! Stay safe out there!

It's the first Thursday of the month. Time to report!

What is the best book you read in June 2020 and why did you love it? It doesn't have to be a newly published book, or even SFF. We just want to share some great reading material.

Feel free to post a full review of the book here, or a link to the review on your blog, or just write a few sentences about why you thought it was awesome.

And don't forget that we always have plenty more reading recommendations on our Fanlit Faves page and our 5-Star SFF page.

As always, one commenter will choose a book from our stacks. Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Identify last month’s covers

Today’s covers all come from books we reviewed in May 2020. Once you identify a book cover, in the comment section list:

1. The number of the cover (1-16)
2. The author
3. The book title



Please identify just one cover that has not yet been identified correctly so that others will have a chance to play. If they're not all identified by next Thursday at noon EST, you can come back and identify more.

Each of your correct entries enters you into a drawing to win a book of your choice from our stacks. Winners are notified in the comments, so make sure to check the notification box or remember to check back in about 10 days. If we don't choose a winner within 2 weeks, Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: The 2020 Locus Awards

On June 27, Connie Willis will host the Virtual 2020 Locus Awards Ceremony. The Locus Award finalists, listed below, are chosen by a poll of readers.

Click the title links below to read our reviews and on the author links to visit our page for the author. We’ve included the cover art for our favorites. The Locus Award list is always fascinating, almost always very different from the Nebula and Hugo lists.

Which, if any, of these finalists have you read? Who do you think will win the Locus Award in these categories? Are there any titles you think should have been on this list but aren't? Answer below for a chance to win a book from our stacks.

BEST SHORT STORY

Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Can speculative fiction help fight racism?

Leave your name in the comments if you'd like a copy of one of these books. We'll choose at least 30 commenters with US addresses.
Winners will choose one of these:
The New Jim Crow (Kindle, paperback, or Audible)
How to Be an Antiracist (Kindle or Audible)
The Underground Railroad (Kindle, paperback, or Audible).


Recently I’ve been deluged with suggestions for books to read about race and racism. Most are non-fiction works ( Read More