Blog Posts

Twenty Core Urban Fantasies Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves

As with the previous core lists, here are twenty Urban Fantasies chosen entirely on the basis of merit and significance to the field1. No implication is intended that these are the only twenty works you should consider2.

Persons unfamiliar with one or two of the works, congratulations! You’re one of today’s Ten Thousand!

1: There are two filtering rules:

  • Only one work per author per list

  • Any given work by a particular author can appear on only one list. A given author may, however, have works on various lists but each instance of their work will be unique.

2: NO IMPLICATION IS INTENDED THAT THESE ARE THE ONLY TWENTY WORKS YOU SHOULD CONSIDER.

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Books Received, Nov 4 - Nov 10


Forsyth Turn never wanted to be a hero. And yet, even in the Overrealm, a hero is what he’ll be.
After their last adventure in Hain, Forsyth expected to return to the life he’d built with Pip and Alis, his days of magic and heroics behind him. But then Pip starts suffering night terrors laced with images of glowing ivy and Elgar Reed calls with fears of bizarre threats and a man garbed all in black.
But there is no magic in the Overrealm. Forsyth refuses to believe that anything other than mundane coincidence is at work — until Elgar’s stalker leaves him a message too eerie and specific to ignore. Now, he has to face the possibility that Pip’s dreams and Elgar’s fears are connected … and that maybe they weren’t the only ones to escape the pages of The Tales of Kintyre Turn.
And if that’s the case, it’s going to take more than a handful of heroes to save the day this time. It’s going to take an army. Luckily, Reed fans are legion.
A stunning conclusion to the series, The Silenced Tale is a genre-bending whirlwind that breathes life into the idea that the power of story lies not just with the creator, but with the fans who love it.
19 stories of meteorological, agricultural and biological technologies, alternative histories, arcologies and communes, beauty in flooded cities, innovations in cross-continental travel, animals on the verge of extinction, androids, reality tv, new food, environmental refugees, the divide between humans and animals, and friendship, family and love.
Ecopunk! Speculative Tales of Radical Futures examines how humanity might cope with dramatic changes in nature, and adjust to new versions of normal.
Ecopunk! shares stories in which the human race embraces these changes, using innovative technologies and fresh attitudes to make our emerging world sustainable.



Amelia dreams of Mars. The Mars of the movies and the imagination, an endless bastion of opportunities for a colonist with some guts. But she’s trapped in Mexico City, enduring the drudgery of an unkind metropolis, working as a rent-a-friend, selling her blood to old folks with money who hope to rejuvenate themselves with it, enacting a fractured love story. And yet there’s Mars, at the edge of the silver screen, of life. It awaits her.
Jazz Bashara is a criminal.   Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.   Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself — and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

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Books Received, Oct 28 - Nov 3

The adventures of cheerleader-turned-alien-hunter Mana continue in this sequel to Flying by the New York Times bestselling author of Need, Carrie Jones.

Seventeen-year-old Mana has found and rescued her mother, but her work isn’t done yet. Her mother may be out of alien hands, but she’s in a coma, unable to tell anyone what she knows.

Mana is ready to take action. The only problem? Nobody will let her. Lyle, her best friend and almost-boyfriend (for a minute there, anyway), seems to want nothing to do with hunting aliens, despite his love of Doctor Who. Bestie Seppie is so desperate to stay out of it, she’s actually leaving town. And her mom’s hot but arrogant alien-hunting partner, China, is ignoring Mana’s texts, cutting her out of the mission entirely.

They all know the alien threat won’t stay quiet for long. It’s up to Mana to fight her way back in.

When the state controls your emotions, how hard will you fight to feel free?
In a radiant world of endless summer, the Intercept keeps the peace. Violet Crowley, the sixteen-year-old daughter of New Earth’s Founding Father, has spent her life in comfort and safety. Her days are easy thanks to the Intercept, a crime-prevention device that monitors emotion. But when her long-time crush, Danny Mayhew, gets into a dangerous altercation on Old Earth, Violet launches a secret investigation to find out what he’s hiding. An investigation that will lead her to question everything she’s ever known about Danny, her father, and the power of the Intercept.
ALL EMOTIONS ARE UNIVERSAL.
WE LIVE, WE DREAM, WE STRIVE, WE DIE
Follow twenty-three science fiction and fantasy authors on their journeys through Asia and beyond. Stories that explore magic and science. Stories about love, revenge, and choices. Stories that challenge ideas about race, belonging, and politics. Stories about where we come from and where we are going. Each wrestling between  ghostly  pasts  and  uncertain  future. Each trying to find a voice in history.
Orphans and drug-smuggling in deep space. Mechanical arms in steampunk Vancouver. Djinns and espionage in futuristic Istanbul. Humanoid robot in steamy  Kerala.  Monsters  in  the  jungles  of  Cebu.  Historic  time  travel  in Gyeongbok Palace. A rocket launch in post-apocalyptic Tokyo. A drunken ghost in Song Dynasty China. A displaced refugee skating on an ice planet. And much more.
Embrace them as you take on their journeys. And don’t look back …
Nobody expects to get turned into a vampire, especially a guy like Bob.
Everybody hopes that if they somehow get transformed into a vampire, they will instantly become some kind of superhero vampire out of the movies.  Bad news guys: not gonna happen. More likely than not, you’re gonna be one of the poor clueless bastards hanging out on Thursday nights with Bob in his vampire support group. 
You may think you know what being a vampire is supposed to be like, but Bob is here to set you straight. He’s made it his personal mission to get answers about the reality of being a vampire. He’s been shot, stabbed, thrown off rooftops, survived bad coffee and endured crippling boredom - all in the name of answering the eternal question of what it means to be a vampire.


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Twenty Core Speculative Fiction Works Featuring Notable Cities Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves

As with the previous core lists, here are twenty Speculative Fiction Works featuring notable cities chosen entirely on the basis of merit and significance to the field1. No implication is intended that these are the only twenty books you should consider2.

Persons unfamiliar with one or two of the works, congratulations! You’re one of today’s Ten Thousand!

1: There are two filtering rules:

  • Only one work per author per list

  • Any given work by a particular author can appear on only one list. A given author may, however, have works on various lists but each instance of their work will be unique.

2: NO IMPLICATION IS INTENDED THAT THESE ARE THE ONLY TWENTY BOOKS YOU SHOULD CONSIDER.

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October 2017 in Review

October

22 books read. 12 by women (55%), 10 by men (45%)

Works by POC: 7 (32%)

Year to Date

212 works reviewed. 116.5 by women (55%). 90.5 by men (43%). 4 by non-binary authors (2%). 1 by N/A (0.0%)

Works by POC: 64.5 (30%)

And now, the meaningless table.

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Books Received, Oct 21 - 27

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of eighteenth-century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trades she uses to get by — palm readings, zars, and a mysterious gift for healing — are all tricks, both the means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles and a reliable way to survive. 
But when Nahri accidentally summons Dara, an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior, to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to reconsider her beliefs. For Dara tells Nahri an extraordinary tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire and rivers where the mythical marid sleep, past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises and mountains where the circling birds of prey are more than what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass — a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.
In Daevabad, within gilded brass walls laced with enchantments and behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments run deep. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, her arrival threatens to ignite a war that has been simmering for centuries. 
Spurning Dara’s warning of the treachery surrounding her, she embarks on a hesitant friendship with Alizayd, an idealistic prince who dreams of revolutionizing his father’s corrupt regime. All too soon, Nahri learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences. 
After all, there is a reason they say to be careful what you wish for …


Jasmine faces more tragic events than the average teen. Her overworked mother, Bev, doesn’t see her enough, and visiting her dad, “Slip”, often makes things worse. Even Jasmine’s deepening relationship with her boyfriend Jason can’t lift her spirits enough, and depression seeps in.
The Queen relishes the descent into misery, and she wants Jasmine. The Queen hunts the lonely and dejected, pulling victims into her Kingdom. Her bony hand is invisible while covering Jasmine’s mouth, the stench of her world’s black sludge and the eerie sound of her voice, only penetrates the minds of her loyal subjects.
Family and friends can’t see the Queen, but they are worried as they watch Jasmine drift even further out of reach.
…And closer to the Queen.
It has a dark past―one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself “Murderbot”. But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more.
Teaming up with a Research Transport vessel named ART (you don’t want to know what the “A” stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue.
What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…

When Commander Rallya of the patrol ship Bhattya hires Rafe as their new Web officer, she knows she is taking a risk. As an oath breaker, Rafe has suffered the ultimate punishment – identity wipe – but luckily for him, there’s no one else around qualified for the job. Shunned by his previous shipmates, Rafe is ready to keep his head down and do his job, but his competence quickly earns him respect, admiration, and, in one particular case, love.
It’s difficult to maintain the glow of acceptance however, when his past is chasing him across the galaxy in the shape of an assassin, intent on dealing once and for all with Rafe, whatever the cost.

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Twenty Core Alternate Histories Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves

As with the previous core lists, here are twenty Alternate Histories, chosen entirely on the basis of merit and significance to the field1. No implication is intended that these are the only twenty works you should consider2.

Persons unfamiliar with one or two of the works, congratulations! You’re one of today’s Ten Thousand!

1: There are two filtering rules:

  • Only one work per author per list

  • Any given work by a particular author can appear on only one list. A given author may, however, have works on various lists but each instance of their work will be unique.

2: NO IMPLICATION IS INTENDED THAT THESE ARE THE ONLY TWENTY BOOKS YOU SHOULD CONSIDER.

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Books Received, Oct 7 to 13


A City of living bone towers crumbles to the ground and danger abounds. Kirit Densira has lost everything she loved the most — her mother, her home, and the skies above. Nat Brokenwings — once Kirit’s brother long before the rebellion tore them apart — is still trying to save his family in the face of catastrophe. They will need to band together once more to ensure not just their own survival, but that of their entire community.


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Books Received, Sept 30 to Oct 6



Hundreds of miles above Earth, the space station Ciudad de Cielo — The City in the Sky — is a beacon of hope for humanity’s expansion into the stars. But not everyone aboard shares such noble ideals.
Bootlegging, booze, and prostitution form a lucrative underground economy for rival gangs, which the authorities are happy to turn a blind eye to until a disassembled corpse is found dancing in the micro-gravity.
In charge of the murder investigation is Nikki “Fix” Freeman, who is not thrilled to have Alice Blake, an uptight government goody-two-shoes, riding shotgun. As the bodies pile up, and the partners are forced to question their own memories, Nikki and Alice begin to realize that gang warfare may not be the only cause for the violence.
There is a dark secret that is hiding at the heart of New York City and diminishing the city’s magicians’ power in this fantasy thriller by acclaimed author Kat Howard.
In New York City, magic controls everything. But the power of magic is fading. No one knows what is happening, except for Sydney — a new, rare magician with incredible power that has been unmatched in decades, and she may be the only person who is able to stop the darkness that is weakening the magic. But Sydney doesn’t want to help the system, she wants to destroy it.
Sydney comes from the House of Shadows, which controls the magic with the help of sacrifices from magicians.
Astrophysicist Reggie Straifer has an idea. He’s discovered an anomalous star that appears to defy the laws of physics, and proposes the creation of a deep-space mission to find out whether the star is a weird natural phenomenon, or something manufactured.
The journey will take eons. In order to maintain the genetic talent of the original crew, humankind’ss greatest ambition — to explore the furthest reaches of the galaxy — is undertaken by clones. But a clone is not a perfect copy, and each new generation has its own quirks, desires, and neu roses. As the centuries fly by, the society living aboard the nine ships (designated Convoy Seven) changes and evolves, but their mission remains the same: to reach Reggie’s mysterious star and explore its origins — and implications.
A mosaic novel of discovery, Noumenon — in a series of vignettes — examines the dedication, adventure, growth, and fear of having your entire world consist of nine ships in the vacuum of space. The men and women, and even the AI, must learn to work and live together in harmony, as their original DNA is continuously replicated and they are born again and again into a thousand new lives. With the stars their home and the unknown their destination, they are on a voyage of many lifetimes — an odyssey to understand what lies beyond the limits of human knowledge and imagination.
Locus is the magazine of the science fiction, fantasy, and horror publishing fields, with book reviews, author interviews, news, and listings.
Locus Issue #681 (October 2017) features interviews with James Patrick Kelly and Annalee Newitz, a column by Kameron Hurley, an obituary and appreciations of Jerry Pournelle, reports and photos from Worldcon 75 in Helsinki, and reviews of short fiction and books by John Crowley, R.S. Belcher, Ann Leckie, Elizabeth Bear, JY Yang, and many others.

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Twenty Core Speculative Fiction Works Featuring Gingers (Cosmic or Otherwise) Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves

As with the previous core lists, here are twenty Speculative Fiction Works featuring remarkable red heads chosen entirely on the basis of merit and significance to the field1. And the colour of at least one significant character’s hair. No implication is intended that these are the only twenty books you should consider2.



Persons unfamiliar with one or two of the works, congratulations! You’re one of today’s Ten Thousand!

1: There are two filtering rules:

  • Only one work per author per list

  • Any given work by a particular author can appear on only one list. A given author may, however, have works on various lists but each instance of their work will be unique. Unless I screw up.

2: NO IMPLICATION IS INTENDED THAT THESE ARE THE ONLY TWENTY BOOKS YOU SHOULD CONSIDER.

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Books Received, Sept 23-29



Beneath the Sugar Sky, the third book in McGuire’s Wayward Children series, returns to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children in a standalone contemporary fantasy for fans of all ages. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the “real” world.
When Rini lands with a literal splash in the pond behind Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, the last thing she expects to find is that her mother, Sumi, died years before Rini was even conceived. But Rini can’t let Reality get in the way of her quest – not when she has an entire world to save! (Much more common than one would suppose.)
If she can’t find a way to restore her mother, Rini will have more than a world to save: she will never have been born in the first place. And in a world without magic, she doesn’t have long before Reality notices her existence and washes her away. Good thing the student body is well-acquainted with quests…
A tale of friendship, baking, and derring-do.
Warning: May contain nuts.

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September 2017 in Review

September

22 books read. 13 by women (59%), 9 by men (41%)

Works by POC: 6 (27%)

Year to Date

190 works reviewed. 104.5 by women (55%). 80.5 by men (42%). 4 by non-binary authors (2%). 1 by N/A (0.5%)

Works by POC: 57.5 (30%)

And now, the meaningless table.

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Twenty Core SF Works About Psionics and Awesome Mind Powers Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves

As with the previous core lists, here are twenty Speculative Fiction Works about psionics and other mental gifts chosen entirely on the basis of merit and significance to the field1. No implication is intended that these are the only twenty works you should consider2.

Persons unfamiliar with one or two of the works, congratulations! You’re one of today’s Ten Thousand!


1: There are two filtering rules:

  • Only one work per author per list

  • Any given work by a particular author can appear on only one list. A given author may, however, have works on various lists but each instance of their work will be unique.

2: NO IMPLICATION IS INTENDED THAT THESE ARE THE ONLY TWENTY BOOKS YOU SHOULD CONSIDER.

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Books Received, Sept 9 - 15

In a world where any act of magic could open a portal to hell, the Order insures that no wizard will live to summon devils, and will kill as many innocent people as they must to prevent that greater horror. After witnessing a horrendous slaughter, the village girl Heloise opposes the Order, and risks bringing their wrath down on herself, her family, and her village.

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A very tentative schedule for Fridays in 2018

This is a work in progress. Open to suggestions. In 2015 and 2016, I devoted Fridays to Norton and Lee, respectively. That led to a certain level of fatigue towards the end of the projects. In 2017, I focused on authors from Waterloo Region, which side-stepped the fatigue issue at the cost of causing problems with the gender ratio of authors reviewed1. In 2018, my idea is to

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Books Received, Sept 2 - 8

Three thousand years from now, galactic transportation relies on the
sentient energy field known as the Deep. Its immortal human emissaries call
themselves Witches, and they control how the Deep is used. When
eight-year-old Tembi Moon wakes on an unfamiliar world, she knows the Deep
has to be involved, but to leave her home planet and become a Witch
herself? No, that life isn’t for her.
Or so she thought.
At sixteen, Tembi takes her rightful place with the other Witches. They
believe the Deep is a tool; Tembi knows it’s a person with its own hopes
and dreams, and a *wicked* sense of humor! With a war coming that could
cost the lives of millions, Tembi has to find a way to convince the Witches
that the Deep wants them to join the fight.
Because something worse than war is coming, and the Deep needs its Witches
to be ready.
STONESKIN is a prelude to the DEEP WITCH TRILOGY, coming soon.


An odd Eritrean coin travels from lovers to thieves, gathering stories before meeting its match. Google becomes sentient and proceeds toward an existential crisis. An idealistic dancer on a generation ship makes an impassioned plea for creativity alongside survival. Three Irish siblings embark on an unlikely quest, stealing enchanted items via bad poetry, trickery, and an assist from the Queen of Cats. 
In her first collection, multi-award-winning novelist Jo Walton (Among Others, Farthing, NecessityThe King’s Peace) delivers subtle myths and wholly reinvented realities. She soars with eclectic stories, subtle vignettes, inspired poetry, and more — rising from the everyday into the universe itself.

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Twenty Core Cyberpunk Works Every True SF Fan Should Have on Their Shelves

As with the previous core lists, here are twenty Cyberpunk Speculative Fiction Works chosen entirely on the basis of merit and significance to the field1. No implication is intended that these are the only twenty books you should consider2.

Persons unfamiliar with one or two of the works, congratulations! You’re one of today’s Ten Thousand!

1: There are two filtering rules:

  • Only one work per author per list

  • Any given work by a particular author can appear on only one list. A given author may, however, have works on various lists but each instance of their work will be unique.

2: NO IMPLICATION IS INTENDED THAT THESE ARE THE ONLY TWENTY BOOKS YOU SHOULD CONSIDER.

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Books Received, August 26 - Sept 1

The Only Harmless Great Thing is a heart-wrenching alternative history by Brooke Bolander that imagines an intersection between the Radium Girls and noble, sentient elephants.

In the early years of the 20th century, a group of female factory workers in Newark, New Jersey slowly died of radiation poisoning. Around the same time, an Indian elephant was deliberately put to death by electricity in Coney Island. 

These are the facts.

Now these two tragedies are intertwined in a dark alternate history of rage, radioactivity, and injustice crying out to be righted. Prepare yourself for a wrenching journey that crosses eras, chronicling histories of cruelty both grand and petty in search of meaning and justice.


Vada’s To-Do List:

- Turn 18 (check!)
- Register super name
- Order supersuit
- Attend superhero indoctrination
- Graduate high school
- Start kicking criminal tail

Vada Lawson can’t wait to be a superhero. Born into a family with special powers, she’s been training to fight criminals and villains her whole life. But her indoctrination into the underground super community is derailed when normals start breaking out in superpowers themselves.

Not trained to control their new abilities, the normals are frightened and vulnerable. Then their mutilated corpses begin turning up all over town. What the heck?

Somehow, with the help — and hindrance — of an annoying newly-minted super named Orion, Vada has to stop the chaos before it destroys her and everything she holds dear…and ruins her superhero debut.

The September issue features interviews with Matt Ruff and Karin Tidbeck, a column by Cory Doctorow, an obituary and appreciations of Brian Aldiss, lists of forthcoming books through June 2018, and reviews of short fiction and books by Annalee Newitz, Josh Malerman, Kat Howard, Linda Nagata, and many others.

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August 2017 in Review

August

22 books read. 12.5 by women (57%), 8.5 by men (37%),  1 by N/A (5%)

Works by POC: 5 (23%)

Year to Date

168 works reviewed. 91.5 by women (54%). 71.5 by men (43%). 4 by non-binary authors (2%). 1 by N/A (0.6%)

Works by POC: 51.5 (31%)

And now, the meaningless table.

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Twenty Core Speculative Fiction Works It May Surprise You To Learn I Have Not Yet Read Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves

Here are twenty core Speculative Fiction Works it may surprise you to learn I’ve never read, chosen entirely on the basis of merit and significance to the field1. No implication is intended that these are the only twenty books you or for that matter I should consider2.

I’ve owned copies of some of these for a significant fraction of my life to date.

Persons unfamiliar with one or two of the works, congratulations! You’re one of today’s Ten Thousand! SO AM I. ALWAYS NEW FRONTIERS TO EXPLORE.

1: There are two filtering rules:

  • Only one work per author per list

  • Any given work by a particular author can appear on only one list. A given author may, however, have works on various lists but each instance of their work will be unique.

2: NO IMPLICATION IS INTENDED THAT THESE ARE THE ONLY TWENTY BOOKS YOU SHOULD CONSIDER.

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Books Received, August 5 - August 11


Welcome to Gluttony Bay High Security Supernatural Prison. We value your patronage. For your entertainment this evening, we are delighted to welcome the world’s most renowned paranormal culinary experts.
And on the menu: You.


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Twenty Core Young Adult Works of Speculative Fiction Every True SF Fan Should Have on Their Shelves

As with the previous core lists, here are twenty Young Adult Speculative Fiction Works, chosen entirely on the basis of merit and significance to the field i. No implication is intended that these are the only twenty books you should considerii.


Persons unfamiliar with one or two of the works, congratulations! You’re one of today’s Ten Thousand!



i There are two filtering rules:

  • Only one work per author per list
  • Any given work by a particular author can appear on only one list. A given author may, however, have works on various lists but each instance of their work will be unique.

ii NO IMPLICATION IS INTENDED THAT THESE ARE THE ONLY TWENTY BOOKS YOU SHOULD CONSIDER.

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