20 Heroes: Love & Winter, Yelena’s Story I


Eighteenth in our Heroes series, by Robert Rhodes, this is part 1 of “Love & Winter: Yelena’s Story” which was a finalist in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the...

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The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Four


Readers’ average rating: The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Four edited by Ellen Datlow Anything Ellen Datlow edits automatically finds a place on my list of books to read. For...

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Welcome to the Hope-and-Tragedy Era of Space Exploration


Welcome to another Expanded Universe column where I feature essays from authors and editors of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, as well as from established readers and reviewers....

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Recent Posts

Free Live Free: No rent, but you’ll have to pay in brain cells

Readers’ average rating:

Free Live Free by Gene Wolfe

First of all, let me lay a few cards on the table: Gene Wolfe is my favorite science-fiction author and might be my favorite author, period. I’d give something like fifteen of his books five-star reviews; the only other author who comes close to that is Jack Vance.

Free Live Free (1984) is one of his two books that I just. Don’t. Get. (Castleview is the other.) I’ve read it at least three times, I’ve puzzled over the explanatory synopsis of one character’s actions at the end (I believe the publisher insisted on its inclusion), I’ve read a couple of essays commenting on it, and I still have no clear idea how most of the story connects to ... Read More

Sunday Status Update: September 16, 2018

This week, some great reads for the changing season!

Jana: This week I started reading Legion, which compiles Brandon Sanderson's two previously-published LEGION novellas and a third, previously-unpublished novella which rounds out the trilogy. I'm not a frequent reader of Sanderson's work, but there's a lot to enjoy in these novellas. I'm still making progress with  Read More

The Storm Runner: An unfortunate misstep in this young imprint’s worthy mission

Readers’ average rating:

The Storm Runner
by J.C. Cervantes

The Storm Runner (2018) by J.C. Cervantes is the second book put out by Disney-Hyperion as part of their Rick Riordan Presents imprint. Aimed at Middle-Grade readers, the imprint’s goal is to “elevate the diversity of mythologies around the world” and publish “entertaining, mythology-based diverse fiction by debut, emerging, and under-represented authors.” The first, which focused on Indian mythology, was Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi. Here the underlying mythos is Mayan, and while I love that readers will be introduced to a new culture’s stories, which are absolutely fascinating, The Storm Runner is unfortunate... Read More

Voyage of the Dogs: A book for dog lovers of all ages

Readers’ average rating:

Voyage of the Dogs by Greg van Eekhout

Voyage of the Dogs (2018) by Greg van Eekhout is a middle-grade science fiction book. Young readers will certainly enjoy this action-packed book with dog main characters. Adult dog lovers can enjoy it too.

Lopside is part of a team of “Barkonauts,” specially trained uplifted dogs who are part of the first interstellar space voyage. The Laika is aimed at a planet nicknamed Stepping Stone. Along with the human crew, embryos of cattle and sheep, and fertilized chicken eggs, four dogs comprise the manifest of the ship. As he fulfills his other duties, Lopside searches the starship every day for rats, because he is part terrier. He never finds any, but he is diligent. Lopside feels a little uncomfortable among the other thr... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: TV Adaptations

George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones is the grand-daddy of television adaptations of beloved speculative fiction books, but with companies like Netflix and Amazon making the transition from content-providers to content-creators, the list grows.

When we include graphic works as well as prose only, the steady flow of episodic TV adaptations becomes a flood. And there are more in the pipeline. It’s no wonder; multiple episodes allow the studio time to develop characters and explore subplots that are trimmed out of two-plus-hour movie. In some cases, though, the adapters choose to go in a completely different direction and it’s hard to find the source material in there.



 

Some adaptations, like Read More

The Brass God: McKinley’s big series expands even more

Readers’ average rating:

The Brass God by K.M. McKinley

The Brass God (2018) is the third installment in K.M. McKinley’s THE GATES OF THE WORLD series begun with The Iron Ship and continued in City of Ice. By now, readers should be accustomed to the slow pace and sprawling structure, and The Brass God offers more of the same, though it’s better paced than its predecessor. I’m not sure everyone will have the patience for this series, but if you can muster it up, I remain convinced it’s well worth it.

The Brass God picks up pretty much right after ... Read More

The Dragon Lords: Bad Faith: Attack of the 50 ft. clay-footed god

Readers’ average rating: 

The Dragon Lords: Bad Faith by Jon Hollins

Bad Faith (2018) concludes the DRAGON LORDS trilogy Jon Hollins began with Fool’s Gold, a rollicking heist story that more than earned its comparisons to The Guardians of the Galaxy and The Hobbit. The trilogy’s second volume, False Idols, answered some lingering questions I’d had, but also took the series down a darker and more meandering path. Bad Faith continues that darker and... Read More

WWWednesday: September 12, 2018

Cummudge is “cosy and comfortable” according to Haggard Hawks. Definitely adding that one to my everyday vocabulary!

Books and Writing:

Tor.com is looking for bloggers. They pay by the article.

LitHub profiles the author of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.

“In the history of epic fantasy, following this analogy and paradigm, there has always been a voice in a minor key, a strain of fantasy with antiheroes, shades of dark grey and darkness, worlds where hope and optimism are not valued or are even punished. Violence is the name of the game, dystopic amorality the norm and the worlds are often the succe... Read More

Drop by Drop: A boring small-town soap opera

Readers’ average rating:

Drop by Drop by Morgan Llywelyn

I’m going to make this short. There was nothing — absolutely nothing — that I liked about Drop by Drop (2018), the first book in Morgan Llywelyn’s new STEP BY STEP trilogy.

The story is about a small town where everybody seems to know everybody else. Suddenly one day, the plastic gradually starts to melt. Everything that is made of plastic eventually fails (they call it “The Change”) and the society has to learn to live without plastic. This means reverting to more primitive technologies since cars, computers, the internet, and so many other things all rely on plastic parts. As The Change is happening, we follow personal developments (marriages, divorces, deaths, etc.) of the town’s citizens.

... Read More

Blackfish City: The cyberpunk novel I didn’t know I was missing

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Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller 

“People would say she came to Qaanaaq in a skiff towed by a killer whale harnessed to the front like a horse. In these stories, which grew astonishingly elaborate in the days and weeks after her arrival, the polar bear paced beside her on flat bloody deck of the boat. Her face was clenched and angry…”

Blackfish City (2018) is the cyberpunk book I’ve been wanting to read for a while now, without really knowing it. With a strange and wonderful setting, augmented humans, powerful AIs, catastrophically tilted wealth-and-power dynamics, an “information disease,” crazy-wild urban sports and vivid visuals, Sam J. Miller’s novel picks up the old baton of William Gibson and carries it into some twisty, complex post... Read More