Best weapons in fantasy


Today’s topic of discussion is rather simple. What is the coolest weapon you have ever seen grace the page of a fantasy story? I have a couple in mind I’d like to...

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How Great Science Fiction Works: A college course for science-fiction fans


How Great Science Fiction Works by Gary K. Wolfe For years I’ve been a fan of the GREAT COURSES audiobooks, which I usually pick up at my library or at Audible. These are a...

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How to Make Fictional People Do All the Work, Part 2


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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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 6, 2021

Marion: I’m currently reading a small-town slasher horror novel called The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry. She does a nice job of setting and time period (1985). I also started dipping into a nonfiction book about the 1930s packhorse librarians in Kentucky, Down Cut Shin Creek. It’s got a bonus--it’s filled with photos of these resilient women!

Sandy: Moi? I am currently reading an early novel from one of my favorite authors, sci-fi Grand Master Jack Williamson. It is his 1931 offering entitled The Stone From the Green Star, and I must say that it has really sucked me right in pretty quickly. I hope to be able to share some thoughts about this one with you all very shortly….

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B.P.R.D.: Vampire: The story from B.P.R.D.: 1947 and 1948 is continued

B.P.R.D.: Vampire by Mike Mignola (writer), Joshua Dysart (writer), Gabriel Ba (artist), Fabio Moon (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Clem Robins (letterer)

It’s essential to read B.P.R.D: 1947 and 1948 before reading Vampire, which continues the story of Anders, an early B.P.R.D. agent who, after being taken hostage by two vampire sisters, has had a supernatural cure: The spirits of the two vampires have been locked away inside him, and they are trying to get out. Anders asks the professor for the opportunity to leave the B.P.R.D. before he gets even worse. And, primarily, Anders wants to seek out and destroy vampires as his way to seek revenge.

On his journey, Anders traces family bloodlines and history and rumors that will lead him to the gathering of witches and vampires to worship Hecate. When he is assisted by a local young woman who is seem... Read More

A Short History of Humanity: A New History of Old Europe

A Short History of Humanity by Johannesburg Krause & Thomas Trappe, translated by Caroline Waight

A Short History of Humanity: A New History of Old Europe (2021) is, as one might expect from the title, a surprisingly concise volume covering a lot of ground. It is also, thanks to the combined efforts of its co-authors — Johannesburg Krause, director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology; and Thomas Trappe, a science journalist — an authoritative, informative, accessible, and engaging work of non-fiction.

The focus of the book is archaeogenetics, a recent field that uses newly created technology and new discoveries to “decode ancient genomes, some of which are hundreds of thousands of years old … uncovering not only the genetic profiles of the dead, but also how their genes spread across Europe … [and] sift[ing] out DNA from bacteria that cause deadly disease.”

... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: What’s the best book you read last month?

It's the first Thursday of the month. Time to report!

What is the best book you read in May 2021 and why did you love it? It doesn't have to be a newly published book, or even SFF, or even fiction. We just want to share some great reading material.

Feel free to post a full review of the book here, or a link to the review on your blog, or just write a few sentences about why you thought it was awesome.

And don't forget that we always have plenty more reading recommendations on our Fanlit Faves page and our 5-Star SFF page.

As always, one commenter with a U.S. mailing address will choose a book from our stacks. If you're outside the U.S., we'll send y... Read More

The Chosen and the Beautiful: A five-star book I will read again

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

What if Jay Gatsby literally sold his soul to a demon, in order to woo and win the love of Daisy Buchanan? With that one question, Nghi Vo ushers us into a strange, familiar, wonderful and terrifying world with her first full-length novel, The Chosen and the Beautiful (2021).

In a 1920s USA where magic is common and ghosts walk side by side with people, Vo introduces us to Jordan Baker, bosom friend of Daisy Fay Buchanan. Through Jordan’s eyes we see the story of Gatsby, a man doomed to destruction by his love for Daisy, from a different angle. Unlike the expository Jordan Baker character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, this Jordan, while she was raised wealthy and inherited money, is an outsider and always will be. She was adopted by the Bakers, from the country of T... Read More

WWWednesday: June 2, 2021

 

Carol Williams, town Crier. Image from Atlas Obscura



Ta-Nehisi Coates says farewell to Black Panther.

Another trove of previously-undiscovered writings of the Bronte siblings will go to auction in July. Now’s your chance.

LitHub has book recommendations based on your Zodiac sun sign... Read More

Master of Djinn: A welcome (and longer) return to a fascinating world

Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark

A Master of Djinn (2021) is P. Djèlí Clark’s first novel in the world he’s created in several short stories and a novella, and it’s clear that the setting and its characters can easily handle the expanded length, making for an exciting plot combined with some sharp social criticism.

This novel, and the other works, are set in the early 1900’s, three decades after the scholar/mage al-Jahiz opened a portal between our world and another, bringing an influx of magical/fantastical creatures across, with the djinn not only settling relatively smoothly into Egypt and other countries, but also helping expel the Western imperialists, shrinking their empires and their ability to exploit non-Western cultures for growth, labor, materials, and prosperity, Thus, Egypt is now a “great power” while Britain,... Read More

The Fall of Koli: Plenty of surprises in this finale

The Fall of Koli by M.R. Carey

The Fall of Koli (2021) is the third and final novel in M.R. Carey’s RAMPART trilogy. The first book, The Book of Koli, was one of my favorite books of 2020. In my review I said it has “pretty much everything I want in a novel” – lovable characters, intriguing setting, captivating storytelling, and a great sense of humor.

The second book, The Trials of Koli, was entertaining but definitely felt like a middle book, so I was hoping for a return to form in the final book, The Fall of Koli... Read More

Sunday Status Update: May 30, 2021

Kat: I read two Andre Norton stories this week: The Crossroads of Time and Quest Crosstime. They’ve been released together in a new audio edition by Tantor Audio. Now I’m re-reading (in audio format) some Tolkien with my teenage daughter. While we work on a jigsaw puzzle together, we’ve read The Hobbit and now we’re on to Read More

Upright Women Wanted: Subversive roaming librarians in a near-future U.S.A.

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

After being betrothed to a man she doesn’t love and watching her secret lover, Beatriz, get hanged for aberrant behavior and possession of unapproved reading materials, Esther decides to run away. So she hides herself in the wagon of the traveling Librarians, the distributors of all approved reading materials, who are passing through her town.

When the stowaway is discovered, Esther attempts to convince the librarians that she always wanted to be one of them but, in reality, she is hoping their good morals and upright behavior will rub off on her so she will no longer feel deviant.

But that’s not going to happen, as Esther soon learns, because there’s a good reason why these women have chosen to remove themselves from regular society and become itinerant librarians. They don’t fit into the conservative, patriarchal social order endorsed by the approved reading materials t... Read More