Marion Chats with Charles Gannon


Dr. Charles E Gannon was the Director of the Graduate English Department at St. Bonaventure University in New York until 2007 when he left to focus full-time on writing. He is part...

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Summer in Orcus: A Narnia-type tale spiced with wry humor and insight


Summer in Orcus by T. Kingfisher Summer is a young girl whose overly protective, clingy mother tries to protect her from every possible danger, although Summer is allowed to read...

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Circus Love


E. Catherine Tobler has never run away to join the circus — but she thinks about doing so every day. Among others, her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and...

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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

The Tangleroot Palace: A solid collection

The Tangleroot Palace by Marjorie Liu

I’m a big fan of Marjorie Liu’s MONSTRESS series, so I was eager to pick up her collection of short stories, entitled The Tangleroot Palace (2021). Unfortunately, while there was a lot to admire in terms of the prose itself, the stories didn’t do much for me, though they were solid enough. I’ll note, however, as I always do when reviewing a collection, that I’m a tough audience when it comes to short stories, generally preferring longer, more developed works (though one of my favorite books this year will be a collection of stories).

Liu’s collection brings together a half-dozen stories and the eponymous novella. As noted, the prose is strong throughout, especially considering the stories were written while she was still in her twenties and thirtie... Read More

Sunday Status Update: August 1, 2021

Marion: I’m reading Ocean Vuong’s autobiographical novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, and loving every heartbreaking word.


Bill: This week I read two story collections — Dreaming in Quantum and Other Stories by Lynda Clark and The Tangleroot Palace by Marorie Liu, neither of which fully satisfied, and an enjoyable draft of a new novel by an author who shall remain nameless (have to wait for the favorable review it will eventually get).  I’m currently two-thirds of the way through The Kingdoms, by Natasha Pulley, which is sharply written and going in nicely unpredictable directions so far.

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The Empire’s Ruin: A successful return to an engaging world

The Empire’s Ruin by Brian Staveley 

The Empire’s Ruin (2021) kicks off a new series in Brian Staveley’s universe first introduced in his CHRONICLES OF THE UNHEWN THRONE trilogy and then expanded upon via the standalone novel, Skullsworn. The new series, ASHES OF THE UNHEWN THRONE, is a direct sequel to the earlier trilogy, and I strongly recommend reading in publication order, as several of this book’s characters appeared in the first series, while the events of that series drive the plot and characters of this new one. I will note that I found Staveley’s first Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Identify last month’s covers

Today’s covers all come from books or films we reviewed in June 2021. Once you identify a cover, in the comment section list:

1. The number of the cover (1-16)
2. The author/director
3. The book/film title



Please identify just one cover that has not yet been identified correctly so that others will have a chance to play. If they're not all identified by next Thursday at noon EST, you can come back and identify more.

Each of your correct entries enters you into a drawing to win a book of your choice from our stacks (if you're in the U.S.A.) or a $5 Amazon gift certificate (outside the U.S.A.). Winners are notified in the comments, so make sure to check the notification box and/or remember to check back in about 10 days. If we don't choose a winner within 2... Read More

Machine: Should have been more exciting

Machine by Elizabeth Bear

Dr. Jens and her alien colleagues rescue spaceships that are in trouble. After answering a distress call, they discover an old ship in which all of the human crewmembers are in cryogenic storage. Their only caretaker is an oddly sexy robot who was given instructions to build the cryogenic storage containers for the crew long ago.

When Dr. Jens and her colleagues get back to their own ship and get ready to thaw out some of the frozen humans, they discover that their own trusty shipmind, Sally, is starting to forget things. They begin to suspect a rogue artificial intelligence might be responsible for what’s been happening on both of the ships.

When Dr. Jens is asked to figure out what’s going on, she begins to unravel a strange mystery and discovers that the benevolent organization she works with, and some of her beloved colleagues, may not be quite as wonderful as she thought. As we tag... Read More

WWWednesday: July 28, 2021

Next week’s column will probably be single-topic, because I will be leaving for the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference earlier in the week.

The Ladies of Horror Fiction announced their annual award winners.

Mari Ness had a fun story in Daily SF this week.

The British Fantasy Awards short list is out, and included Alix Harrow, Read More

Black Widow: Enjoyable, but not the best entry in the MCU

Black Widow directed by Cate Shortland

Black Widow is an almost always entertaining and often exciting film, though it has its issues. And while they’re the kind of problems that you have to think about a little, making it easy to glide by them amidst the witty banter and multiple explosions, they do lead to a sense that the movie missed some opportunities and thus prevent it from staking its place in the top tier of Marvel films (some minor spoilers to come).

The movie opens two decades ago with an absolutely great first scene that shifts from classic suburban domestic bliss to violence and terror, setting up all the plot points to follow. Natasha, having already been trained in the Red Room, is part of a Soviet sleeper cell family (think The Americans) with her “father” Alexei (aka The Red Guardian, Russia’s more boastful and less intelligent/eloquent version of Captain America), her brilliant if amoral scientist “mot... Read More

The Second Deluge: Rain, rain, go away….

The Second Deluge by Garrett P. Serviss

It is the Indian state of Meghalaya, just north of Bangladesh, the holds the record for being “The Wettest Spot on Earth,” getting, on average, a whopping total of 467” of rain a year. (Do bring an umbrella if you’re planning a visit!) But while this 38-foot tally, 13 times what Seattle might expect annually, is certainly impressive, it pales to insignificance compared to what descends from the heavens in Garrett P. Serviss’ 1911 novel The Second Deluge, in which, due to a cosmic mischance, no fewer than 30,000 feet of rain fall upon our fair planet in under one year … enough to effectively drown the entire world, past the tippy top of Mt. Everest itself! A wonderfully written novel that is fairly epic in scope, it is a sadly neglected apocalyptic work that is surely ripe for rediscovery in our modern-day era... Read More

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: The genesis of the Hunger Games

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

I loved Suzanne CollinsThe Hunger Games, thought Catching Fire was quite good if not as great as the first one, and was only so-so on Mockingjay. Also, it's an uphill battle to write a good, enjoyable prequel if the reader already knows what's going to happen to the main character in the later books and (spoiler) it's highly unpleasant. So I hesitated for over a year to read Collin’s latest HUNGER GAMES book, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (2020), but when I saw it... Read More

Sunday Status Update: July 25, 2021

Kat: Since you heard from me last, I’m caught up on the novelizations of the FogliosGIRL GENIUS comic (so fun!). I finished two more Andre Norton stories: Star Guard and Star Rangers. I also read Juliet Blackwell’s Synchronized Sorcery Read More