Utopia Avenue: Playing in the band


Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell If you’re a fan of David Mitchell (I am) and think five years is way too long to go without a Mitchell novel (I do), you’ll probably eat up his...

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A Wizard of Earthsea: An artistic, intimate drama


A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin With the recent Sci- Fi Channel miniseries, there is bound to be renewed interest in Ursula Le Guin’s classic first book in her...

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Madouc: Lyonesse is Pythonesque


Madouc by Jack Vance Well, here’s the finale of Jack Vance’s Lyonesse, and I’m sorry to see it end. This novel was about Madouc, the changeling princess of...

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Weird Tales: The Magazine That Never Dies


Weird Tales: The Magazine that Never Dies edited by Marvin Kaye Marvin Kaye’s Weird Tales: The Magazine That Never Dies anthology from 1988 takes a slightly different tack...

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Recent Posts

WWWednesday: January 19; Agents of SHIELD, Season Four

No links today.

The Fourth Season Takes Us in Different Directions

(Warning, spoilers for Season Four and previous seasons.)

When Agents of SHIELD’s fourth season opens, the team has defeated their fungal villain Hive, but at great cost. Phil Coulson is no longer the director. He’s an agent again, working with Mac, monitoring Inhumans. Daisy, heart-broken by the death of her boyfriend Lincoln, has left the team to track down and stop the hate group militia called the Watchdogs. (Technically, if you include double-agent Grant Ward, Daisy lost two boyfriends to Hive, so, ouch.) Daisy’s angst is heightened by her guilt for the things she did while possessed by Hive herself.

Daisy, or Quake, has been declared a public enemy by the goverment. Jemma Simmons has been promoted, reporting to the new director. This position requires frequent lie-detector tests, so Agent May, Coulson and Mac have to keep her out of the loo... Read More

Goliath: Sets a high bar for 2022

Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi 

Goliath (2022), by Tochi Onyebuchi, is the first 2022 book I've read and already I'm assuming it's going to be on my Best of the Year list next December. That said, while I'm obviously strongly recommending it, thanks to its structure and style, it won't be to everyone's taste (What book is?), though I certainly hope everyone gives it a shot.

The novel is set in a near-future, post-pandemic, post-natural disaster, post-man-made disaster, post-apocalyptic Earth (New Haven in particular) that has been abandoned by those with the economic and racial privilege to take up residency in the Colonies — large orbital habitats free from the environmental devastation below, a planet poisoned by radiation and pollution and wracked by climate change. A planet where so... Read More

Cytonic: A detour into an unknown dimension

Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson

Humanity has been on the losing end of a centuries-long war with the Superiority, the main organization of galactic races, for decades, trapped on a desolate planet called Detritus and fighting an ongoing war using outdated, small spacecraft to keep from being exterminated. In the second book in this series, Starsight, Spensa Nightshade, a young spaceship pilot who first distinguished herself in Skyward, found a way to leave Detritus and travel to Starsight, a massive alien space station where the galactic government is located. Spensa joined the alien space pilot training program at Starsight while spying on the Superiority to try to find a way for humanity to better fight their captors. She also discovered the hyperjumping capabilities ... Read More

The Hidden Palace: Double the golems and jinnis

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker

In The Hidden Palace (2021) Helene Wecker returns to the richly-imagined world of The Golem and the Jinni, fin de siècle New York City, focusing on the Jewish and Syrian immigrant communities. Chava, an intelligent golem created by an evil-hearted genius, was set free by the unexpected death of her intended husband and master, left with the ability to hear the thoughts of all humans instead of just her master. The jinni Ahmad is released from the bottle that imprisoned him, but he is bound to tangible human form with no discernable way to remove the curse. Despite their opposite natures of earth and fire, golem and jinni are drawn together in a world where neither fits in, and both are hiding their true natures from t... Read More

Sunday Status Update: January 16, 2022

This week, Red Sonja.

Red Sonja: It is so damn cold. The kind of cold where you can step outside just for a moment and the snot starts freezing in your nose. Limping by on coin from a troll contract a while back, though I had a job convincing the burgomaster that I was me. Like he expected me to walk out of a blizzard in a chain-mail loincloth. Had to drop the rucksack right there in the square and dig the damn thing out before he'd believe me. Should have taken that caravan job with Conan a while back. He's probably snug inside an inn someplace, waiting for the snow to end. Nobody with sense is on the road right now. Even the troll seemed to think it was too damn brisk for this nonsense.

Bill: This week I read the excellent The Age of Ash by Read More

Twice Magic: A strong follow-up to the first story

Twice Magic by Cressida Cowell

The second book in Cressida Cowell's WIZARDS OF ONCE series does everything a good sequel should: expand the world, develop the characters, and deepen the story. As we discovered in The Wizards of Once, Ancient Britain is inhabited by two distinct races: the Wizards, who live among the magical creatures of the forest, and the Warriors, who are armed with iron weapons, the only metal that can repel magic.

In the first book, we met Xar and Wish, two young people who've grown up on each side of this conflict. Xar is the rather arrogant and vainglorious youngest son of the King Wizard, Encanzo, while Wish is the more introspective and sweet-natured daughter of Queen Sychorax, leader of the Warr... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday is on Winter Break

We'll be back soon!

Here are our current giveaways. Read More

Pan’s Garden: A stunning collection from “The Ghost Man”

Pan’s Garden by Algernon Blackwood

By the time the renowned British writer Algernon Blackwood released his first collection of short stories, The Empty House, in 1906, he was already 37 years old and had led a life as full of adventure and incident as anyone you might possibly name. He had already worked as a dairy farmer and hotel operator in Canada, gone prospecting for gold in Alaska, been a bartender, and worked as a NYC reporter for The Evening Sun, among other things; occupations that would go to make good material for his 1923 autobiography Episodes Before Thirty. As the new century got under way, Blackwood, long interested in Buddhism, philosophy and the supernatural, joined several occult societies, including The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. His love of nature compelled him... Read More

WWWednesday: January 12, 2022

Filippo Bernardini was arrested last week on charges of wire fraud. The Simon and Schuster employee may have impersonated agents, members of award juries and even famous authors to get his hands on pre-published manuscripts. I want to know what he planned to do with those manuscripts.

The Con Committee chair of ConFusion provides a long, blunt article about why ConFusion 2022 is going forward in-person. She provides two paragraphs on the precautions they are taking. This is a worthwhile read, letting us see how groups are grappling with the physical and fiscal realities of the pandemic. (Thanks to File 770.)

Glen S. ... Read More

Scarlet: A totally fresh take on Red Riding Hood

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet (2013) is the second novel in Marissa Meyer’s LUNAR CHRONICLES. You’ll want to read Cinder first. There will be some spoilers for that novel in this review.

In Cinder we met the titular cyborg, an orphan who lives with her hateful stepmother and two stepsisters in New Beijing. Cinder is the best mechanic in town, which is how she meets the young and handsome Prince Kai. He needs his personal robot fixed because, unbeknownst to Cinder, it may contain information about the whereabouts of Princess Selene, the rightful ruler of Luna, the human colony on the moon. Nobody knows if Princess Selene is alive but, if she is, Kai may be able to avoid a marria... Read More