Rebecca Chats with Terry Brooks


Terry Brooks is a New York Times bestselling author, having published his first book The Sword of Shannara back in 1977. That was before my time, but since then he’s gone on to...

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The Palace of Love: Three of Vance’s best supporting characters


The Palace of Love by Jack Vance Two down and three to go… In order to exact revenge on Viole Falushe, the third Demon Prince, Kirth Gersen must first discover who Mr. Falushe is,...

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Welcome to the Expanded Universe


Greetings, FanLit readers, friends, and potential contributors! We’re launching a new column, Expanded Universe, curated by me, for feature essays that discuss any aspect of...

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Our rating system


We realize that we’re not professional literature critics — we’re just a group of readers who love to read and write about speculative fiction — but we...

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Recent Posts

WWWednesday; February 3, 2016

May (c) Redgoldsparks Press

This week’s word for Wednesday comes courtesy of Terry. It is nefilibata (Neh-FE-lee-BA-ta), from the Portuguese, meaning  “cloud walker;” someone who is a dreamer, living in a world of imagination. The Oxford Dictionary site defines it both as “dreamer; idealist,” and also as “an affected writer.” (Snort.) It’s a lovely word. Thanks, Terry!

Books and Writing

Locus published its 2015 Recommended Reading list, just in time to prepare for Hugo nominations. It is a comprehensive list that includes art books and non-fiction, which fit into categories of Best Related Works.

The  rediscovered Read More

A Criminal Magic: An early contender for our Best of 2016

A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly

In A Criminal Magic, Lee Kelly creates a world in which the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution, ratified in 1919, banned sorcery rather than alcohol. Kelly combines remarkable creativity, imagination, and insight into the human condition, blending fantasy with history and ending up with a complex, entertaining, compelling novel.

Naturally, the passage of A Criminal Magic’s fictional amendment results in the same response as its historical analogue: sorcerers are thrust into the criminal underworld, brewing an illegal ruby-red elixir. This “shine,” as it’s known, is smuggled by gangsters into “shining rooms” across the country, fronted by legal liquor bars and raided by members of the Federal Prohibition Unit who can’t be bribed into looking the other way. Drinking shine gives reality a surreal glow, causes a wide ran... Read More

Podkayne of Mars: Heinlein gives us a smart feministic mixed-race heroine

Podkayne of Mars by Robert A. Heinlein

Podkayne (“Poddy”) Fries is a pretty, mixed-race teenager who lives with her parents and her younger brother (Clark) on Mars. We learn about her family and her adventures via the diary entries she writes. Poddy tell us that her family was planning to take a vacation to visit Old Earth, but when there is a mix-up with some frozen embryos, they had to cancel the trip so Poddy’s mother can take care of the unexpected new babies. Poddy is devastated until her Uncle Tom, a man who is a respected politician on Mars, arranges to escort Poddy and Clark to earth on a luxury spaceship.

Poddy is not White.

On the spaceship Poddy and Clark make a friend and get to enjoy extravagant dinners and dances. Poddy learns a lot about how to fly a spaceship and, along the way, readers will learn quite a bit about space travel, including... Read More

Bitter Greens: Gorgeous historical novel blended with fairytale

Reposting to include Kelly's new review:

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth is a marvelous re-telling of Rapunzel, woven together with historical fiction that gives the reader a glimpse into the life of Charlotte Rose de Caumont de La Force, the French noblewoman who first published the fairy tale. Forsyth, pursuing her doctorate in fairy-tale retellings in Sydney, originally published in this novel in her native Australia. It has just been released in the US.

Bitter Greens begins with the story of Charlotte, exiled from the court of Louis XIV, the Sun King, and locked in a nunnery. Through her narrative, we learn that she was a vivacious courtier whose passion and wit would not be contained. Early in the novel, her mother tells the young Charlotte that she could have been a troubadour; instead, as an adult, she h... Read More

An Apprentice to Elves: A primer in in-depth worldbuilding

An Apprentice to Elves by Elizabeth Bear & Sarah Monette

An Apprentice to Elves, the third installment of the ISKRYNE series, is a book that depends on its thick world-building. Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette have created realistic cultures that take some cues from Norse and Roman history and dramatized a cultural conflict between them, at the same time as developing relationships and characters rooted in these cultures. Most of the narrative is set in the Northlands, an icy forested domain whose natural defenses are harsh enough to help the Northmen stay safe. But a new enemy, the fiercely disciplined Rhean, invades from the south, hoping to colonize the Northlands and bring the Northmen under their rule. The No... Read More

Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels, 1946-1987: Introduces many lesser-known fantasy works

Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels, 1946-1987 by David Pringle

Following on the success of 1985’s Science Fiction: 100 Best Novels, An English-Language Selection, 1949-1984, it made sense that David Pringle would tackle the wide-ranging and ill-defined field of fantasy with Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels, An English-Language Selection, 1946-1987. It’s actually an amazing effort, since Pringle would have to read comprehensively in both genres for almost four decades, and I think it’s quite unusual for someone to do that. Moreover, though the borders of sci-fi are defined differently by each person you ask, this is even more so for the fantasy genre, which can include horror, epic fantasy, hallucinatory trips, magic realism, contemporary fantasy, and things that don’t fit any convenient categories. It’s almost impossible to narrow this do... Read More

The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories: Humane science fiction

The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories edited by Tom Shippey

I read Tom Shippey's other excellent collection, The Oxford Book of Fantasy Stories some time ago, so it was only a matter of time before I sought out this one. Like its stablemate, The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories consists of a chronological collection of stories from a variety of authors with an introduction by the editor. I was struck by the idea of "fabril" literature, which is discussed in the introduction: a form of literature in which the "smith" is central. Certainly, a great deal of early science fiction in particular involves a clever engineer solving some sort of problem, and I'm sure many careers in engineering and the sciences have been launched in this way. I'd say that there is some tendency, though, as the genre matures, for technology to become the problem and human factors the solutio... Read More

SFM: Adam Christopher, Alex Bledsoe, Will McIntosh, Matt Wallace, Keith Brooke and Eric Brown

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.



“Brisk Money” by Adam Christopher (2014, $0.99 for Kindle, free at Tor.com)

Ray is an electromatic man — a full-metal private investigator in 1960s Los Angeles — with a functional memory which must be reset every twenty-four hours. He relies on his assistant, Ada, an artificial intelligence who lives in a bank of computers, to keep him up-to-date on jobs, assignments, and information that isn’t hard-wired into his behavioral circuits. When Ray starts se... Read More

Alistair Grim’s Odd Aquaticum: Fairy dust magic and steampunk mechanics

Alistair Grim’s Odd Aquaticum by Gregory Funaro

The strange adventures of Grubb, a young boy and former chimney sweep swept away to hair-raising magical escapades in Gregory Funaro’s Alistair Grim’s Odditorium, continue in Alistair Grim’s Odd Aquaticum, the second volume in the ODDITORIUM series set in Victorian-era England. Grubb is starting to feel at home in the Odditorium, a magically mechanical ― or perhaps mechanically magical ― flying mansion of wonders built by Alistair Grim, an inventor and sorcerer. Magical energies in this universe are color-based, a detail that is likely to enchant young readers. They include yellow fairy dust from Gwendolyn the Yellow Fairy, which enables the Oddi... Read More

The Master: An epic game of chess

The Master by Claire North

The Master is the third and apparently final entry in Claire North’s wonderful THE GAMESHOUSE series of novellas. These stories are about a mysterious organization called The Gameshouse where elite patrons are invited to play for very high stakes. For example, they might win a prestigious political office, or they might lose the memories of their first love. Once they become involved with the Gameshouse, they belong for life and may be called on to participate in other players’ games.

In the first GAMESHOUSE novella, The Serpent, we met a 17th century Venetian woman who attempted to gain personal freedom from an abusive husband by helping another man become the doge of Venice. In the second novella, The Thief... Read More