Lev Grossman on Day Jobs


When it comes to writing novels, there is no day job so great that a novelist won’t find a way, in his petty, miserly little heart, to bitterly resent it...

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Why You Should Read… Eric Brown


This week we move into the realms of science fiction for our next Why You Should Read… feature. Our guest is Mark Chitty, who runs Walker of Worlds and the unisphere (a...

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Great Bookstores: Treehorn Books in Santa Rosa, California


One of my favorite bookstores is small but mighty. Treehorn Books, specializing in used, out of print, and antiquarian volumes, occupies a simple storefront at 625 4th Street, Santa...

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Bill catches up with David Walton (and gives away a copy of Quintessence)


David Walton is the author of Quintessence (which I gave a 4.5 last year) and its recent sequel Quintessence Sky (3.5), along with Terminal Mind, which won the 2008 Philip K. Dick...

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Recent Posts

Magazine Monday: Clarkesworld, April 2014

Issue 91 of Clarkesworld opens with “Passage of Earth” by Michael Swanwick. Swanwick is one of my favorite authors when he’s not writing about talking dogs, and this is not a Darger and Surplus story, so I was already inclined to like it. Hank, the protagonist, is the county coroner in a small rural community. One morning, in the wee small hours, an ambulance brings a Worm to his morgue, and Evelyn, a member of the (unidentified) Agency who also happens to be his ex-wife, instructs him to perform an autopsy. The anatomy of the creature, a member of the only other intelligent species in the universe that humans have yet encountered, is so completely different from that of humans that humans don’t know how to combat them — assuming combat is necessary, and the humans appear to be spoiling for war. It’s a tale of interspecies conflict writ small, but with such imagination that the Wor... Read More

Notes from the Internet Apocalypse: Amusing and thoughtful

Notes from the Internet Apocalypse by Wayne Gladstone

Humorist Wayne Gladstone takes on the American obsession with the internet in Notes from the Internet Apocalypse, an amusing but thoughtful look at what might happen to our culture if the world wide web went down for good.

Gladstone himself is the protagonist of his story. Since both his job and his free time activities depend on the internet, he has no idea what to do now that it’s gone. So he begins keeping a journal about how the world is handling the crisis. Accompanied by a guy he’d previously met online and an Australian girl who earns her living selling online access to her in-shower webcam, Gladstone sets out on the streets of New York City to try to find out what happened to the internet. Is it a government conspiracy? Right-wingers? Muslim terrorists?

Many of the people Gladstone meets are trying to find low-tech ways to replace what they loved ab... Read More

Three by Kieron Gillen and Ryan Kelly

Three by Kieron Gillen and Ryan Kelly

Gillen is one of my favorite comic book writers for Marvel, so I was extremely eager to pick up Three, a new series written by him for Image. Otherwise, I wouldn’t normally find myself picking up a book on Ancient Sparta. I suppose I’ve always been partial to Athens. So, I had mixed feelings going into the book . . . and I have mixed feeling coming out of it as well.

Being the academic that I am, it pleases me to see that Gillen worked with Professor Stephen Hodkinson as an historical consultant, and I like the extensive notes in the back of this trade collection. Both Gillen and professor Hodkinson write these notes, and it’s enjoyable to see how clearly they enjoy discussing the historical material they had to work with and how that often questionable information had to be u... Read More

Sunday Status Update: April 13, 2014

And we fall back on a known character this week.

Supergirl: So, uh... this week I was at the Fortress of Solitude again, because the Fortress apparently functions as my naughty stool these days. I maintain that if soccer stadiums didn't want people watching from the Extreme Noseblood seating, they should have closed off the tops. ANYway, since Kal's afraid Batman or Luthor or someone is going to hack his computer, there's no internet and an extremely finite collection of films to watch, so I went exploring. Found this in a stack of old Jimmy Olsen photos: I have no words. Although the pope hat would explain a lot about the holier-than-thou thing he's rocking lately...

Kat: I’m nearing the end of my semester, so I didn’t get much r... Read More

The King’s Dragon by Scott Chantler

The King’s Dragon by Scott Chantler

Though The King’s Dragon is the fourth book Scott Chantler’s THREE THIEVES series, and I have not read the first three, I had no problem picking up the story already in progress. In fact, if I hadn’t been given that information, I would have guessed it was the first volume of a great new series of comic book adventure stories for young readers. 

The basic story in this book focuses on Captain Drake, a member of The King’s Dragons. Due to some previous misfortune, a deep scar runs across his face and is long ... Read More

Game Review: The Keeper’s and Investigator’s Guides for Achtung! Cthulhu

The Keeper’s and Investigator’s Guides for Achtung! Cthulhu by Modiphius Games

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a character in your favorite story? I think everyone has wondered this at some point. Using the imagination to transport you to a place that doesn’t exist in the real world is one of the fundamental reasons we read speculative fiction. It’s a chance to escape reality for awhile. You can take your imagination a step further by actually playing the role. I’m talking about Role Playing Games — games in which you become the character you’re reading about and partake in pseudo-imaginary adventures with your peers.

I was never into RPGs and wrote them off as mostly a past-time for the more “serious nerd.” I chose to occupy myself with way less nerdy endeavors like making Anime Music Videos or painting Steampunk robots. My introduction to RPGs really began at Gen Con. I started Read More

Fanboy Friday! Grandville, Bete Noire: Luscious Art Creates Good Escapist Fun

Grandville, Bete Noire by Bryan Talbot

Grandville, Bete Noire, Bryan Talbot’s third steam-punk themed graphic novel, has the same lavish detail and striking use of color as the first two. English Badger D.I. Archie LeBrock is back, as rough-and-tumble as ever, and in this book we spend a bit more time with Quayle or “Q,” a brilliant inventor adept at stealth weapons, like a smoking pipe that is really a bomb. It’s a nice wink in the direction of Ian Fleming.

The plot is slimmer and more predictable than the first two, and a large part of the story is taken up with the exploration of LeBrock’s relationship with the beautiful prostitute Billie, who he met in Grandville, Mon Amor. We find out a bit more about Billie, especially, in one hilarious and naughty frame, what her particular work “specialty... Read More

Fanboy Friday! The Eternal Smile: Three Stories

The Eternal Smile: Three Stories by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim

I just finished reading The Eternal Smile for a second time to see if I would like it as much as I did the first time. The answer is, "Yes." There's no doubt in my mind that this work is a truly great comic book that is unique in presenting three very different short stories with overlapping themes. They are extremely different in look and in genre, but they come together to present some unified ideas about the dreams we have, the stories we tell ourselves, and the stories of our lives that we want to deny.

Artist Derek Kirk Kim, though perhaps not as well known as Gene Luen Yang, has written and illustrated several books I love and hope to review in the near future: Read More

Fanboy Friday! Hinterkind: The Waking World

Hinterkind: The Waking World by Ian Edginton (writer) and Francesco Trifogli (artist)

I’m not a big fan of post-apocalyptic stories, but Hinterkind pulled in this reluctant reader — twice. Initially, I bought the first two monthly issues because of the artwork and because it was a Vertigo title (DC’s mature line of comics), but I dropped the title because the plot didn’t grab me, and frankly, there was an abundance of monthly comics coming out — too much for this fan’s budget! However, when I saw the first six issues of Hinterkind collected together in trade and available for reviewers, I thought I’d give it another chance. I’m glad I did. The art is good all the way through and the plot not only improves with each issue, it fully hooked me by the end of the story arc. And now I want to read... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Book deal breakers

In one of last month's Thoughtful Thursday columns, April suggested a discussion topic. She wants to know what your "book deal breakers" are.

Laughable Lyrics: A Fourth Book of Nonsense Poems, Songs, Botany, Music, etc. by Edward Lear (1894).

Book deal breakers are elements you find in the synopsis, cover, title, or text that will make you absolutely not buy, read, or continue reading a particular book. April says "I know everyone has some!"

So, readers, what are your book deal breakers?

As always, one commenter will be chosen to pick a book from our stacks. Winners are notified in the comments, so make sure to check the notification box or remember... Read More