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Tim (T.A.) Pratt

Tim PrattTim Pratt was born in Goldsboro, NC, and grew up in various places in the American South. He relocated to Northern California in 2001. His fiction has won a Hugo Award, and he’s been a finalist for Sturgeon, Stoker, World Fantasy, Mythopoeic, World Fantasy, Scribe, and Nebula Awards, among others. His other books include three short story collections; a volume of poems; contemporary fantasy novels The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl and Briarpatch; gonzo historical The Constantine Affliction under the name T. Aaron Payton; fantasy roleplaying game tie-ins; and, as T.A. Pratt, eight books (and counting) about sorcerer Marla Mason. He occasionally edits anthologies, including the Rags and Bones anthology co-edited with Melissa Marr. He works as a senior editor for Locus magazine, and lives in Berkeley, CA, with his wife Heather and their son River.

Marla Mason

Marla Mason — (2007-2015) Publisher: Meet Marla Mason — smart, saucy, slightly wicked witch of the East Coast… Sorcerer Marla Mason, small-time guardian of the city of Felport, has a big problem. A rival is preparing a powerful spell that could end Marla’s life — and, even worse, wreck her city. Marla’s only chance of survival is to boost her powers with the Cornerstone, a magical artifact hidden somewhere in San Francisco. But when she arrives there, Marla finds that the quest isn’t going to be quite as cut-and-dried as she expected… and that some of the people she needs to talk to are dead. It seems that San Francisco’s top sorcerers are having troubles of their own — a mysterious assailant has the city’s magical community in a panic, and the local talent is being (gruesomely) picked off one by one. With her partner-in-crime, Rondeau, Marla is soon racing against time through San Francisco’s alien streets, dodging poisonous frogs, murderous hummingbirds, cannibals, and a nasty vibe from the local witchery, who suspect that Marla herself may be behind the recent murders. And if Marla doesn’t figure out who is killing the city’s finest in time, she’ll be in danger of becoming a magical statistic herself…

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Blood Engines: Recognizable, but distinctive, urban fantasy

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Blood Engines by T.A. Pratt

On the surface, Blood Engines seems like any number of urban fantasy novels out there. Strong leading heroine? Check. Contemporary backdrop? Check. Supernatural action, sex, and sarcastic humor? Check, check, check.

Yet, Blood Engines has more going for it than you might think. For instance, in most of the urban fantasy series that I’ve read, the opening volume usually spends a lot of time on set-up and ends up leaving the reader with more questions than answers. Not so in Blood Engines, which is basically a self-contained story. Sure, there are a couple of threads left unresolved that will get picked up in the sequels, but never once did I feel that I was reading a set-up novel.

Part of the reason is that the leading protagonist reads like a veteran character — ap... Read More

Poison Sleep: Entertaining urban fantasy

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Poison Sleep by T.A. Pratt

Urban fantasy is all the rage these days. While I’m concerned about the eventual over-saturation of the market, it’s definitely a good time to be a fan of the sub-genre, especially when writers like T.A. Pratt are given the chance to shine. Tim Pratt, the winner of the 2007 Hugo Award for the short story “Impossible Dreams,” also left a positive impression on me with his novel Blood Engines and its rewarding blend of wacky characters, comedy, supernatural action, and imagination. Granted, I had a few issues with the writing, but overall I really enjoyed the book and looked forward to the sequel.

Whereas Blood Engines took place in San Francisco, Poison Sleep finds Marla Mason back in her element as the chief sorcerer of Felport — a made-up city in an alterna... Read More

Little Gods: An elegant collection by Tim Pratt

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Little Gods by Tim Pratt

A friend of mine simply adores Tim Pratt and so my curiosity was piqued when I saw this short story collection in the bookstore. Little Gods isn't thick by any means (at under 300 pages) but it does include 14 short stories.

First off, I really, really love the book design. Second, the book has an introduction by Michaela Rossner, and then an afterword in which Tim Pratt talks about his stories. As for the stories themselves, the adjective that best describes them is “elegant.” Whether Pratt's stories are very, very short (and seem to end abruptly) or long, his writing style is beautiful in its simplicity — not elaborate and filled with overdone descriptions, but rather the type that anyone can appreciate. Pratt’s endings tend to be open, yet there’s enough closure for them to be considered an actual story.

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Hart & Boot & Other Stories: By Tim Pratt

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Hart & Boot & Other Stories by Tim Pratt

Tim Pratt’s second short story collection, Hart & Boot & Other Stories, features 13 stories that tackle various concepts and genres. While most of the stories still retain that mythology-inspired influence that is undeniably Pratt, they tend to have more closure compared to the stories in the previous collection. They’re nonetheless quick and easy reads, however, and anyone can get immersed in Pratt’s writing style.

Somehow, Tim Pratt manages to write stories called “Romanticore” and “Lachrymose and the Golden Egg” yet end up with a serious, compelling story that doesn't make the title sound ludicrous. My favorite story in the collection, hands down, is the aforementioned “Romanticore.” The protagonist has a unique — if sometimes unsympathetic — voice, the mix of reality with fantasy ... Read More

Magazine Monday: Nightmare Magazine, January and February 2014

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The January 2014 of Nightmare Magazine opens with “The Mad Butcher of Plainfield’s Chariot of Death” by Adam Howe. Gibbons is the proud owner of Eddie Gein’s car, a genuine relic of the murder on which Alfred Hitchcock based his movie Psycho. Gibbons has a carnival show built around the car, a regular “Disneyland from hell,” and he can’t figure why it isn’t the huge success he expected when he spent his inheritance from his mother on the thing. But not only don’t people flock to see his show with a two-bit carnival traveling from town to town; he is frequently shut down by the local police in response to a citizenry that finds his show too grotesque. And the rest of the carnies don’t like the police nosing around, because there’s a lot going on behind the tents that the cops shouldn’t know about. Even though the carny is all Gibbons has ever known, it looks like he’s not going to la... Read More

SFM: Pratt, Liu, Lee, Klages, Maberry

Short Fiction Monday: These are a few of the online short works we read this week. Our themes this week are libraries and books, mixed with some poison and zombies. As long as we keep the zombies and the poison out of the libraries, it's all good.  



The Fairy Library by Tim Pratt (2013, free on Apex, Kindle magazine issue, also included in Read More

SFM: Slatter, Tolbert, Pratt, Pinkster

Short Fiction Monday: There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about. 


Finnegan’s Field by Angela Slatter (Jan. 2016, free at Tor.com, 99c Kindle version)

This grim story of a mother’s love for her child taps into a rare feeling of collective folklore from a shared history. Finnegan’s Field is a dark fantasy tale about a missing girl returning home after having disappeared three years prior. As it unfolds, the mother, Anne, has either uncovered something no one wants to explain or has lost her... Read More

SFM: Lee, Jones, Pratt, Skillingstead & Courtier

Short Fiction Monday: Our weekly sampling of free short fiction available on the internet. Here are a few stories that caught our attention this week. 



“The Pirate Captain’s Daughter” by Yoon Ha Lee (2009, free at Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

A female pirate captain sails the Unwritten Sea on her ship, the Improbable Dragon. Her crew includes her daughter, who is still unnamed despite growing into a young woman, for the Unwritten Sea has its laws and traditions, and a pirate must have the soul of a poet, and write a poem to the sea with enough power in it to move a ship. But the pirate’s daughter knows that she is no poet, and despite assiduous practicing and countless tries, nothing she writes can even move a toy boat acros... Read More

The Solaris Book of New Fantasy: Celebrates the rich diversity of the genre

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The Solaris Book of New Fantasy by George Mann (ed.)

I’m pretty much a novice when it comes to short fiction. Because of my lack of experience in this area, I hope that you will bear with me as I try to provide a thoughtful and comprehensive analysis of The Solaris Book of New Fantasy, even if I don’t always succeed. The plan is to first look at each short story individually providing synopses and commentary, followed by my evaluation of the compilation as a whole. So, let’s look at the stories:

1) “Who Slays the Gyant, Wounds the Beast” by Mark Chadbourn. On Christmas Eve in the year 1598 in a world where England is at war against the Faerie, England’s greatest spy Will Swyfte is on a mission of the greatest import — he has until dawn to prevent the Faerie Queen from crossing over to the other side... Read More

Sympathy for the Devil: A collection of bedtime stories

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Sympathy for the Devil edited by Tim Pratt

Please allow me to introduce Sympathy for the Devil, a fine new anthology filled entirely with short stories about the devil... who is, as we all know, a man of style and taste. However, you won’t just find the smooth-talking stealer of souls here. In addition to that famous version of His Grand Infernal Majesty, you’ll also find funny devils, monstrous devils, abstract devils and strangely realistic ones. Devils scary and not-so-scary, devils who are after children’s souls and others going after old men. Devils with a surprising amount of business acumen, and devils who try to get what they want, no matter the cost. There’s even one who engages in a competitive eating contest — the prize is, of course, someone’s soul.

Sympathy for the Devil, edited by Tim Pratt, of... Read More

More books by Tim Pratt

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsThe Strange Adventures of Rangergirl — (2005) Publisher: In this debut novel, acclaimed short-story author Tim Pratt delivers an exciting heroine with a hidden talent–and a secret duty. Witty and suspenseful, here is a contemporary love song to the West that was won and the myths that shape us…. As night manager of Santa Cruz’s quirkiest coffeehouse, Marzi McCarty makes a mean espresso, but her first love is making comics. Her claim to fame: The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl, a cowpunk neo-western yarn. Striding through an urban frontier peopled by Marzi’s wild imagination, Rangergirl doles out her own brand of justice. But lately Marzi’s imagination seems to be altering her reality. She’s seeing the world through Rangergirl’s eyes — literally — complete with her deadly nemesis, the Outlaw. It all started when Marzi opened a hidden door in the coffeehouse storage room. There, imprisoned among the supplies, she saw the face of something unknown… and dangerous. And she unwittingly became its guard. But some primal darkness must’ve escaped, because Marzi hasn’t been the same since. And neither have her customers, who are acting downright apocalyptic. Now it’s up to Marzi to stop this supervillainous superforce that’s swaggered its way into her world. For Marzi, it’s the showdown of her life. For Rangergirl, it’s just another day….fantasy and science fiction book reviews


The Nex — (2010) Publisher: Teenager Miranda Candle finds a mysterious necklace and is suddenly transported to The Nex, the bizarre city at the center of all possible universes, where she falls in with a pair of would-be revolutionaries — the skinshifter Howlaa and the bodiless Wisp — fighting the oppressive regime of the city-state’s Regent and his army of steam colossi, cynical cyborgs, and the depraved royal orphans.


fantasy and science fiction book reviewsSilver Linings — (2010) Publisher: Even ordinarily, cloudmining can be dangerous — those silver linings are heavy and potentially lethal — but it’s nothing compared being a cloudminer on the run.


fantasy and science fiction book reviewsBriarpatch — (2011) Publisher: Darrin’s life has been going downhill ever since his girlfriend Bridget walked out on him without a word of explanation six months ago. Soon after losing her, he lost his job, and his car, and eventually his enthusiasm for life. He can’t imagine things getting worse — until he sees Bridget again, for the first time since she walked out, just moments before she leaps to her death from a bridge. In his quest to find out why Bridget took her own life, he encounters a depressive (and possibly immortal) cult leader; a man with a car that can drive out of this world and into others; a beautiful psychotic with a chrome shotgun; and a bridge that, maybe, leads to heaven. Darrin’s journey leads him into a place called the Briarpatch, which is either the crawlspace of the universe, or a series of ambitious building projects abandoned by god, or a tangle of alternative universes, depending on who you ask. Somewhere in that disorderly snarl of worlds, he hopes to find Bridget again… or at least a reason to live without her.


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FanLit Asks: June 12, 2012

Some of your favorite authors take some time to answer our questions:
Got any news to share with us?
Jennifer Armintrout: I'm very excited to be working with Resplendence Publishing on a series of shape-shifter romances centered around a clan of werewolves in an alternate fourteenth century England. My hope is to continue with these in several different time periods, all with wolves from the same clan.

Steven R. Boyett: I just finished my first unsolicited short piece in over a decade, a novelette called "Hard Silver." I'm stoked that Bill Schafer picked it up for his wonderful Subterranean (pub date not yet set). It was liberating t... Read More

FanLit Asks: July 3, 2012

Some of your favorite authors take some time to answer our questions:
Got any news to share with us?
J.A. Pitts: Forged in Fire was just released from Tor. I'm currently on my book tour in San Diego and San Francisco. I have more events planned in the next month which can be found on my website under appearances.

James Barclay: I’m on the jury for this year’s British Fantasy Awards which is an honour and a privilege -- there is so much quality on the shortlists this year and I’m really buzzed about reading it all though picking the winners is going to be a tough job. I’ll be at FantasyCon 2012 in Brighton for the whole weekend -- that’s Friday 28th September to Su... Read More