Ruth Arnell (RETIRED)

RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

Article 5: Dreadfully derivative

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

So, I put this as my status on Facebook:

Guess which book I’m talking about. I’m reading this YA post-apocalyptic novel where the United States of America has been torn apart by War and now it’s all separated into regions and you can’t move between regions without permission from the central government that is set on enforcing its rules on everybody and then the girl that’s the main character gets abducted from her home by the government and sent to this brutal place with a bunch of other kids but she survives because of this guy that she’s known forever and he loves her and protects her and then they join the rebellion.

My friends have come up with six different novels that match this description, and none of them are correct. That’s the problem with Article 5. It’s been done. Multiple times. And better than this as well.

Article 5... Read More

WWWednesday: January 23, 2013

I'm back and feeling good which means this column has all sorts of goodies in it for you. If you can't find something interesting in here to read, watch, or listen to, you're not trying hard enough!

The Sunday Rumpus interviews Margaret Atwood. Also, this week marks the 63rd anniversary of George Orwell's death, and Margaret Atwood wrote a column about her experiences reading Orwell as a child.

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's LIADEN Universe hits its 25th anniversary this year. This is one of my best love worlds. It probably would best be defined as space opera, but its a complex world... Read More

WWWednesday: January 16, 2013

This column is a bit short and lacking in flair because one, I am siiiiiiick, and two, it's my birthday! And apparently I celebrate by reading unreleased Catherynne M. Valente books rather than working on my column. So here we go.

1. An awesome comic teasing Neil Gaiman about his amazing success.

2. An excerpt from George R.R. Martin's upcoming The Winds of Winter. It is due out sometime this year.

3. And here's some video documentaries about The Wheel of Time:
"The Wheel of Time: The Last Chapter"


"The Wheel of Time: Legacy"
4. A fascinating diagram of the most and least like... Read More

WWWednesday: January 9th, 2013

Did you know that you can nominate and vote for the winners of the Hugo Award? You can!

And while you're at it, please vote for Fantasy Literature at the Preditors & Editors Poll for Best Review Site. Thank you!

Tor collected some of the best of the short fiction published on their website this year and collected them into one free DRM-free ebook.

Maurice Sendak's last intervi... Read More

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: We love it

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

I’m pretty sure every person in the western world knows who Harry Potter is and knows the basic story line. Harry Potter was The Boy Who Lived. Both his parents were killed by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, the evil Lord Voldemort, but he survived the attack, somehow causing Voldemort to disappear. Now Harry is eleven, and off to his first year at Hogwarts wizarding school. But it seems like Voldemort is making a resurgence. Is Harry safe, even under the watchful eye of Headmaster Albus Dumbledore?

I recently felt a desire to go back and reread the HARRY POTTER books. I know I have a stack of books sitting on my bedside table that I need to read, and I will, but sometimes the lure of going back to visit an old friend is just too strong to be resisted. Sometimes this leads to disappointment, as books don’t live up to their memory, but I am happy to say that HARRY POTTER is as... Read More

WWWednesday: January 2, 2012

A wonderful list of the things that Kvothe has to do on the third day of The Kingkiller Chronicles. That book is going to be giiiiiiiinormous. And he's going to have to talk like an auctioneer for 24 hours to get through all of that. Or maybe King is just a dog he runs over in a carriage.

According to Lois Lowry, The Giver is going to be made into a movie, with Jeff Bridges in the titular role. I have serious questions about how they are going to end a movie version of this. I also had pictured Jeff Bridges as Haymitch in the Hunger Games books, but that didn't happen. I guess this is why I am not a casting agent.

Awesome things from science fiction that actually Read More

Epic: Legends of Fantasy: Lives up to its title

Epic: Legends of Fantasy by John Joseph Adams (editor)

Epic: Legends of Fantasy, edited by John Joseph Adams, is an anthology of stories written by some of the biggest names in epic fantasy. The book clocks in at over 600 pages not just because it’s very difficult to tell short epic stories (though some of these authors do manage to pull it off) but because here the authors are not just telling epic legends, they are legends in and of themselves. George R.R. Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, Robin Hobb, Paolo Bacigalupi, Brandon Sanderson, Ursula K. LeGuin, Kate Elliott, Orson Scott Card, Tad Williams, Aliette de Bodard, Michael Moorcock, Melanie Rawn, Mary Robinette Kowal, N.K. Jemisin, Carrie Vaughn, Trudi Canavan,  and Juliet Marillier all contributed stories to this volume.

Epic: Legends of Fantasy opens with a novella by Robin... Read More

Magazine Monday: Online stories by Sterling and Parker

Today we're featuring a couple of stories that you can find free online.

“Taklamakan” by Bruce Sterling

Read for free online

Many years ago, Bruce Sterling wrote a short story called “Taklamakan” that won a Hugo award. I’ve been trying to read some past award winners, and since this one was handily available, I decided to start there. So, here’s my problem. “Taklamakan” won the Hugo Award for best short story in 1999 when it was published in the Oct/Nov 1998 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. That means the story is 13 or 14 years old. Do you know how badly near-future science fiction ages in 13 years?

“Taklamakan” is set in the Taklamakan Desert in 2052. Genetically modified N... Read More

Hugh Howey: It’s the end of the world as we know it

Today we welcome Hugh Howey, author of the WOOL books, recent favorites of mine. If you haven't read them, you really must! Unless, that is, the world ends tomorrow... And if it doesn't, we'll send one commenter the Kindle version of the WOOL omnibus or a book from our stacks

It starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes, an aeroplane -- Lenny Bruce is not afraid.
So begins R.E.M.’s classic hit about the end of the world. Now, I don’t know what Lenny Bruce’s source of inner strength was, but he wou... Read More

WWWednesday: Trailers, Trailers, I’ve got your trailers

It's getting to the end of the year, and assuming that the world does not end on Friday, fans of speculative fiction have a lot to be looking forward to next year. One of the great things about the internet is it has the ability to build a buzz around projects long before they actually hit the bookshelves or movie theaters. Today, I want to highlight trailers for some of the movies you might want to keep an eye out on next year.


Man of Steel. Yummy

Thor - The Dark World. Yummier. Can't find an official trailer for this.

Iron Man 3. RDJ does nothing for me, but I'll watch it just to keep up with the Avengers

The Wolverine. Eh. I like it better when Hugh Jackman sings. - Also, no official trailer yet.


Hansel a... Read More

The Wild Ways: Did Not Finish

The Wild Ways by Tanya Huff

The Wild Ways by Tanya Huff is the second book in THE GALE WOMEN series. While I enjoyed the first book, The Enchantment Emporium, even though it had serious flaws, The Wild Ways was not good. I got to about halfway through and didn’t care about the characters. In fact, on a semi-regular basis, I couldn’t keep the characters apart.

I also had serious difficulties with the “too much power/too little consequences” system of magic in this book. Basically, the Gale family can shift reality to meet their will, including things like making airline tickets magically appear when they need them for exactly what they can afford — a magical power I would surely like to develop — and yet it is used for the good of Canada. Or, at least, what the Gale family thinks is the good of Canada. If his... Read More

WWWednesday: December 12, 2012

It seems to be the week to talk about sexism in fantasy literature. Here are a couple of discussion:

The Mary Sue asks: Is "Historical Accuracy” a good defense of patriarchal societies in fantasy fiction?
Tansy Rayner Roberts wants to "unpack" historically authentic sexism.
And we think Jim C. Hines and John Scalzi make a good point for charity.

And here's some movie news:

Tor brings us First Look At Harrison Ford Yelling At Kids On The Set of Ender’s Game. Some of us can't wait for this movie!
... Read More

The Time Machine: Absolutely gorgeous and groundbreaking

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

One thing I’ve always wanted to do since the first time I read an anthology edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling was to read all the books they recommend in the excellent essays they almost always include on the topic of the volume. I finally decided to do it, using the essay in After as my reading list. The book they listed as having started modern dystopian fiction is The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Luckily, it is in the public domain so I downloaded a free copy and started reading, though I must admit I wasn’t expecting much from a science fiction novel published in 1895. And while Wells does get the science wrong in some places, there is so much more he gets right.

This is a dystopian nove... Read More

The Well of Tears: Taking the history out of historical fantasy

The Well of Tears by Roberta Trahan

From the back cover description of The Well of Tears by Roberta Trahan:
More than five centuries after Camelot, a new king heralded by prophecy has appeared. As one of the last sorceresses of a dying order sworn to protect the new ruler at all costs, Alwen must answer a summons she thought she might never receive. Bound by oath, Alwen returns to Fane Gramarye, the ancient bastion of magic standing against the rise of evil. For alongside the prophecy of the benevolent king, a darker foretelling envisions the land overrun by a demonic army and cast into ruin. Alwen has barely set foot in her homeland when she realizes traitors lurk within the Stewardry, threatening to destroy it. To thwart the corruption and preserve her order, Alwen must draw upon power she never knew she possessed and prepare to sacrifice everything she holds dear—even herself. If she fails, ... Read More

WWWednesday: December 5, 2012

It's like fruit of the month club, but with books.

A wonderful column discussing the role of Christianity in the work of Madeline L'Engle, written by a non-Christian.

Author Malindo Lo responds to the controversy over how to portray gay characters in (particularly YA)  fantasy in a brilliant two part column, part one and part two.

The BBC is going to be doing a radio adaptation of my favorite Neil Gaiman novel, Neverwhere, and it'... Read More

Kenny & the Dragon: A great read-aloud book

Kenny & the Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi

Kenny & the Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi is a charming tribute to Kenneth Grahame’s children’s classic The Reluctant Dragon, which most people are familiar with through the Disney short film adaptation. In this beautifully illustrated volume, DiTerlizzi tells the story of a small, bookish rabbit named Kenny who learns that a dragon has been spotted on his family farm. Armed with a bestiary, he goes to investigate, and instead of a fearsome fire-spouting dragon, he finds Grahame, a dragon much more interested in poetry, crème brulee, and rearranging the rocks around his cave than in anything as savage as fighting. Kenny and Grahame become fast friends, but trouble rears its head when the villagers find out about the dragon and demand his e... Read More

WWWednesday: November 28, 2012

Locus Online is hosting a poll to determine the best novels and short fiction of the 20th and 21st century. You have until the 30th to nominate your choices.

SF Signal hosts a great video from N.K. Jemisin talking about the significance of Octavia E. Butler's Dawnthe first book in the Xenogenesis trilogy.

Sword and Laser's Author's Guide and Interview with Patrick Rothfuss.

Book recommendations to help you get over the pain of losing a Read More

Renegade: Will scratch your Hunger Games itch

Renegade by J.A. Souders

Tolstoy wrote “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” I find that with dystopian literature, every unhappy society is alike. There is a good argument to be made that modern literature has two main strands of dystopian literature, what we could refer to as the Orwellian strand and the Huxley strand, and YA dyslit follows that same trend. Renegade falls into the Orwellian/HUNGER GAMES camp with an authoritarian central government that controls every aspect of the citizens’ lives. For those who read political philosophy, there are definite echoes of Plato’s Republic echoing through this story, as could probably be said of much dystopian literature.

Any genre has the limitations of the field it has to work within, however. Where Read More

WWWednesday: Happy Thanksgiving

Foreign edition cover art for The Crown Conspiracy by MJ Sullivan, by Marc Simonetti

Lots of links today to give you plenty of reading for when you've had just about as much family togetherness as you can take.

First, three free e-books from Nightshade Press. Two of these have been on my need to read list, and the third one looks interesting. Go here for details. (And yes, I checked it and it works!)

It's like a slot machine for the literary set.

Sword and Laser's Author Guide to Jim Butcher, with interview.

If you're planning to re-read The Hobbit Read More

Castle Waiting by Linda Medley

Castle Waiting by Linda Medley

I picked up Castle Waiting by Linda Medley at the recommendation of The Book Smugglers who described a charming take on classic fairy tales with a twist. When I checked it out from the library, it felt like a vintage volume of fairy tales with a beautiful full-color illustrated cover, rough cut pages, and a silk ribbon bookmark. However, there is a very modern sensibility to these stories. Castle Waiting is a hardback omnibus collection of the first several issues of Medley's comics about an abandoned castle that has become a refuge for the abandoned, lost, and rejected in society.

Castle Waiting starts with a take on the classic Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, but in this case, the princess runs off and the castl... Read More

WWWednesday: November 14, 2012

In case you are looking for gift ideas for your favorite bibliophile, artist cedarMyna has a collection of beautiful travel posters for literary locations. Who wouldn't want one of these?

Sword and Laser's latest introduction to authors and interview featured Robin Hobb.

Alan Baxter wrote a guest post over at SF Signal on what urban fantasy means.

How much of a nerd am I that I am considering taking one of these master's level courses on The Hobbit? There's also classes on Science Fiction and Latin. Do I really need another degree?

John DeNardo wrote an excellent post at Kirkus Reviews abou... Read More

The Dead of Winter: A setting in search of characters to care about

The Dead of Winter by Lee Collins

In this urban fantasy with a twist — set in the Wild West in wintery Colorado — monster hunters Cora and Ben are hired to deal with an unknown beast that slaughtered some wolf hunters in the mountains. As they investigate, they realize that they are looking for a beast neither of them is familiar with. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the evil beasties lurking in them thar hills.

I don’t read a lot of urban fantasy these days for a few reasons. When I think of the urban fantasy subgenre, I think of Charles deLint and Emma Bull, instead of tattooed back-baring weapon-wielding lovelies... Read More

The Emperor’s Soul: Good intro to Sanderson

The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson

Set in the same world as Elantris, The Emperor’s Soul tells the story of a Forger named Shai who is called upon by the ranking bureaucrats of the Empire. The Emperor has suffered a traumatic brain injury in an assassination attempt, and rather than have him step down, which would mean a demotion in their own power, the Guardians decide that they will call on the power of a Forger, someone who can magically imprint upon objects a new identity with their magically carved seals, to forge the soul of the emperor. The penalty for failure will be Shai’s death. However, she knows that if she succeeds, she will be killed anyway because her talents are considered blasphemous, and no one can ever know what she has done.

This novella is the first experience I have had reading the work of Brandon Sanderson, and I can see now what... Read More

WWWednesday: November 7, 2012

 From Baen Books: The new "I Read Baen'd Books" bumperstickers are in, and they look amazing! To celebrate, we're giving away signed books and prizes. Place your "I Read Baen'd Books" bumpersticker in the most interesting, intriguing, amazing, amusing, and not-more-than-PG-13 spot, and win! Details here.

It's also Lois McMaster Bujold Month at Baen Books: Planet Baen celebrates the release of Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, a new entry in the Vorkosigan Saga with special gifts, whacks, and a contest. Plus, as always: play the game, Planet Baen here.

Phoenix Pickings' free Ebook for November is Read More

Flora Segunda: Did Not Finish

Flora Segunda by Ysabeau S. Wilce

Flora Segunda by Ysabeau S. Wilce is just odd. For one thing, the book is fully titled as Flora Segunda: Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog, and while I don’t have a problem with long titles in general — see my love for Catherynne Valente’s Fairyland books, or Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede’s collaborations — the problem with this title is the same problem I had with the book. It’s just trying to contain too many things. Also, stop spelling magic with a K.... Read More

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