Why You Should Read… Joe R. Lansdale


This week we turn to science fiction debut author with Gollancz Gavin Smith, who released his novel Veteran earlier this year in the UK. He has decided to bring us all the reasons...

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King Kong: Long live the king!


King Kong directed by Meriam C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack Of all the titles that appear on my personal Top 10 Films list, this is the one that I have a feeling every single...

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Dark Fantasy Meets Real-Life Disease: What I Learned from Cancer about Writing, and Vice Versa


Today, we welcome Tom Doyle, the author of a contemporary fantasy trilogy from Tor Books. In the first book, American Craftsmen, two modern magician-soldiers fight their way through...

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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

Sunday Status Update: June 20, 2021

Jana: This week I read Hard Reboot, a fast-paced and fun “giant mecha battlebots” novella by Django Wexler, and Even and Odd, the latest middle-grade novel from Sarah Beth Durst; I really admire how well Durst incorporates real-world struggles into her candy-colored fantasy stories. Reviews forthcoming. Next week will be devoted to The Hidden Palace, the just-released sequel to Helene Wecker Read More

The Stone From the Green Star: “Dark star crashes, pouring its light into ashes”

The Stone From the Green Star by Jack Williamson

As I mentioned recently in my review of Edmond Hamilton’s 1930 novel The Universe Wreckers, this Ohio-born author was just one of three writers who helped to popularize the genre now known as “space opera,” the other two being E.E. “Doc” Smith and Jack Williamson. I’d recently experienced Smith’s seminal six-book LENSMAN series, written between 1934 and ’48, but it had been a good number of years since I’d read anything by Williamson, one of my all-time fa... Read More

Seven of Infinities: The intricate plot is the star of this tale

Seven of Infinities by Aliette de Bodard

Vân opens the front door to her room to see that the avatar for the mindship The Wild Orchid in Sunless Woods is in the common access area used by Vân and her student, Uyên. Sunless Woods is there to tell Vân that the poetry club in which they are both members is considering ousting Vân on the grounds that she is “commonplace” and “vulgar,” limited by her birth into poverty rather than as a privileged member of the scholarly and wealthy class. It’s a judgment with which Sunless Woods does not agree, so she’s come to warn Vân.

Vân fears this action for several reasons: she’ll lose her job as a private teacher for the wealthy Uyên; but more than that, she risks exposure. For Vân has a mem-implant that is not only unconventional but illegal: a conglomeration of sharp minds and not an ancestor at all. But that problem quickly takes second place ... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: The 2021 Locus Awards (Giveaway!)

On June 26, 2021 Connie Willis will host the Virtual 2021 Locus Awards Ceremony. The Locus Award finalists, listed below, are chosen by a poll of readers using an open public ballot. The Locus Award list is always fascinating because it's a lot different from the Nebula and Hugo lists.

Click the title links below to read our reviews and on the author links to visit our page for the author. (Sorry we didn't manage to read all of them this year!)

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 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 or a $5 Am... Read More

SHORTS: More Hugo and Locus Award finalists

In this week's SHORTS column we wrap up our reviews of most of the 2021 Locus and Hugo award finalists in the novelette and short story categories.

“50 Things Every AI Working with Humans Should Know” by Ken Liu (2020, free at Uncanny magazine)

One eventually gets the list the titles implies, but first the story opens with an obituary of the list’s author — “WHEEP-3 (‘Dr. Weep’), probably the most renowned AI AI-critic of the last two decades.” The obit explains how WHEEP was created/trained by Dr. Judy Reynolds Tran, the odd and at times controversial relationship between the “strange pair who whose lives were inextricably entwined,” the three phases of WHEEP’s career, culminating in “advice aimed at advanced artificial intelligence,” and fin... Read More

Hench: A hilarious debut

Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

Anna Tromedlov (try reading that backwards) works at a temp agency that supplies minions to evil villains. Her expertise is in data analysis so, typically, her jobs involve spreadsheets and reports and she gets to work from home. This fits her personality nicely, plus it’s the safest way to work for an evil villain.

When her best friend June encourages her to take an on-site job, Anna agrees that it might be good for her. She is just beginning to add new skills to her resume when there’s a conflict between her boss and a superhero and she gets badly injured by the hero. Irate, she begins calculating the actual cost of superhero encounters. This is a life-changing event that sparks a whole new career for Anna.

I loved Hench (2020), the Locus-nominated debut novel of Natalie Zina Walschots, from the first paragraph. This fast-moving story is amusing, witty,... Read More

War of the Maps: A straightforward story in a fascinating world

War of the Maps by Paul McAuley

On an artificially created planet made up of numerous islands, a middle-aged man called the lucidor is stalking his prey. At first, we don’t know much about Remfrey He, the man the lucidor hunts, except that he’s an arrogant and corrupt man who, thanks to the lucidor’s detective work, was convicted and imprisoned years ago. But now he’s been set free because his skills will be helpful in fighting “the invasion,” a war with an unknown enemy which has brought genetically engineered monsters to the realm. These creatures are scary and deadly and Remfrey He says he can help the army defeat them.

But the lucidor believes that Remfrey He is the more terrible monster so, in protest, he has resigned from the department and set out to recapture his enemy. The lucidor’s former colleagues, though, have been ordered to stop the lucidor from interfering. Consequently, the lucidor is both hunter Read More

WWWednesday: June 16, 2021

Jurassic Park. Image from The Mary Sue



In Denmark, helmets have always been a good idea.

Many people I know deeply love the original Jurassic Park film. So does The Mary Sue, which celebrates the film’s birthday, calling it the perfect movie.

At Tor.com, L.T. Lukens reminds us of five books that sail the oceans to reap adventure.

Also from Tor.com, Read More

Beowulf: He was the man!

Beowulf: A New Translation by Maria Dahvana Headley

A couple of years ago I read Maria Dahvana Headley’s The Mere Wife (2018) which was a finalist for the Locus Award in 2019. Set in a wealthy suburb, the story was a promoted as a “modern retelling of Beowulf” and told from the perspectives of the mothers. I admired this novel and was therefore eager to read Headley’s new translation of Beowulf which also happens to be a Locus Award finalist in the Horror category this year.

While The Mere Wife was billed as a “retelling,” Beowulf: A New Translation is, as promised, a new modern translation of the epic poem. In the introduction to the piece, Headley explains her love of the poem (she’s been obsessed with it since seeing an illustration of Grendel... Read More

Deathless Divide: Just as tense and engaging as its predecessor

Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland

Deathless Divide (2020) is the sequel to Justina Ireland’s 2018 novel Dread Nation, the fresh take on zombies I reviewed previously. Much like its predecessor, Deathless Divide maintains a break-neck pace and an engaging cast of characters from beginning to end.

I enjoyed Deathless Divide just as much as I did Dread Nation. Sometimes you come across a second book that fails to live up to the promises of the first — this book is not one of them. It hits the ground running with the same intensity and ratcheting up of stakes as the first ... Read More