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Twenty Core Problematic Speculative Fiction Works Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves

As with the previous core lists, here are twenty Problematic Speculative Fiction Works chosen entirely on the basis of merit and significance to the field 1 and in this case, the likelihood of encountering their avid fans. No implication is intended that these are the only twenty books you should consider or the only twenty books whose fans may some day corner you so they can expound at length on the virtues of these books.


  • The Heritage of Hastur by Marion Zimmer Bradley
  • Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach
  • Naamah’s Curse by Jacqueline Carey
  • White Tiger by Kylie Chan
  • Tripoint by C. J. Cherryh
  • Grunts by Mary Gentle
  • Farnham’s Freehold by Robert A. Heinlein
  • Misspent Youth by Peter F. Hamilton
  • Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch
  • Sword Art Online: Aincrad by Reki Kawahara
  • The Storm Lord by Tanith Lee
  • The Sardonyx Net by Elizabeth A. Lynn
  • Tea with the Black Dragon by R. A. MacAvoy
  • The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey
  • Voodoo Planet by Andre Norton
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (film) by J. K. Rowling
  • The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
  • The Gate to Women’s Country by Sheri S. Tepper
  • Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis
  • 13th Child by Patricia Wrede

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 can appear on only one list

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Books Received, June 10 - 16

What are the “bamboo”?

They are from China.

They look just like us.

They live by night.

They drink human lifeblood but otherwise keep their distance.

And every century, they grow white blooming flowers.

A boy name Kyo is saved from the precipice of death by Bamboo, a vampire born of the tall grasses. They start an enjoyable yet strange shared life together, Kyo and the gentle Bamboo. But for Bamboo, communication with a human being is the greatest sin.

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Books Received, June 3 - 9


Welcome to Alpha Complex! Welcome to the ranks of the Troubleshooters! Welcome to Paranoia!As a Troubleshooter, you are a member of Alpha Complex’s most expendable elite force. Tasked with finding trouble and shooting it, you will be hunting mutants, terrorists, traitors, [CLASSIFIED], secret societies, renegade bots, and DAIVs, which are [REDACTED]. You’ll save Alpha Complex from its greatest threat, unless you accidentally become Alpha Complex’s greatest threat.

Completely rebuilt from the ground up, Paranoia is the classic RPG of a darkly humorous future, rebooted for a humorously dark present. All-new mechanics include a simple yet brilliant character-generation system, a bluffing-based card-driven combat system that encourages creativity, clever moves and lying, a special Computer Dice which means even the simplest interaction can become hilariously fatal, in-game XP point rewards, and more advice to GMs than you can shake a stick at. Three single-session adventures introduce you painlessly to the new mechanics and background, and are designed to be played straight out of the box.

Everything is the same but everything is different.

You look worried, citizen. Relax! It’s still Paranoia. The year is still 214. You still have six clones and a laser pistol. The Computer is still your friend.

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Books Received: LGBT Bundle

All from the LGBT+ Bundle


In a small New Jersey town, a lonely teen walking along a highway one autumn evening meets the boy of his dreams, a boy who happens to have died decades ago and haunts the road. Awkward crushes, both bitter and sweet, lead him to face youthful dreams and childish fears. With a cast of offbeat friends, antiques, and Ouija boards, Vintage offers readers a memorable blend of dark humor, chills and love.

Vintage was a finalist for the 2008 Andre Norton Award for best young adult speculative fiction by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America!



Demons Are Real. Riley Parra Plans to Give Them Hell.

No Man’s Land isn’t the kind of place you go after dark, even if you have a badge. But Detective Riley Parra was born there, and she refuses to surrender it to the drug dealers, killers and criminals who have made it their home. The case of a body stuffed into a drainage pipe leads her to discover that there is far more at stake than she ever imagined.

Reeling from the knowledge that angels and demons are at war in her city, Riley finds herself thrust into the role of champion for Heaven. Determined to stop the demons and be more than just a pawn for the angels, Riley does the only thing she knows how to do: she fights.

Dorothy Boone’s attempt to help a friend leads her to an encounter with a deadly new rival. Trafalgar and Boone have been working together for a year, taking small commissions in order to learn how to work together. When a friend and colleague is committed to an asylum following a disastrous mission in the Mediterranean, Dorothy takes it upon herself to uncover the truth. What she finds is that her friend was close to the discovery of a lifetime: the remnants of a prehistoric civilization who might have been wiped out by the Biblical Flood. Trafalgar agrees to accompany her on an expedition to finish what her friend began, and soon they run afoul of a powerful enemy: Emmeline Potter, called Virago, is a treasure hunter who is also adept at magic and seeks riches to help fund a violent uprising. Dorothy and Trafalgar must race to defeat their unscrupulous opponent if they hope to preserve the site for future generations, but they soon discover Virago may be the least of their worries. The secrets of the past have ways of remaining hidden, and trying to uncover them may cost Dorothy her life.



A note to the Editor

Dear Henry,

I have been Simon Feximal’s companion, assistant and chronicler for twenty years now, and during that time my Casebooks of Feximal the Ghost-Hunter have spread the reputation of this most accomplished of ghost-hunters far and wide.

You have asked me often for the tale of our first meeting, and how my association with Feximal came about. I have always declined, because it is a story too private to be truthfully recounted, and a memory too precious to be falsified. But none knows better than I that stories must be told.

So here is it, Henry, a full and accurate account of how I met Simon Feximal, which I shall leave with my solicitor to pass to you after my death.

I dare say it may not be quite what you expect.

Robert Caldwell
September 1914



Woman of Mystery

The world knows her as an actress and courtesan, the mistress of one of Napoleon’s glittering inner circle, but Elza (aka Ida St Elme) is more than that. Only a few besides her beloved Michel know she is a secret agent in Napoleon’s service, a confidential spy who works directly for the Emperor himself. Even fewer know that she is also a Companion, an old soul who has lived many lives and whose flashes of clairvoyance have occasionally given her the edge she needed to unravel an unfathomable mystery.


Antuniet Chazillen lost everything the night her brother was executed. In exile, she swore that treason would not be the final chapter of the Chazillen legacy in Alpennia’s history. A long-hidden book of alchemical secrets provides the first hope of success, but her return to the capital is haunted by an enemy who wants those secrets for himself.

Jeanne, Vicomtesse de Cherdillac is bored. The Rotenek season is flat, her latest lover has grown tediously jealous and her usual crowd of friends fails to amuse. When Antuniet turns up on her doorstep seeking patronage for her alchemy experiments, what begins as amusement turns to interest, then something deeper. But Antuniet’s work draws danger that threatens even the crown of Alpennia.

The alchemy of precious gems throws two women into a crucible of adversity, but it is the alchemy of the human heart that transforms them both in this breathtaking follow-up to the widely acclaimed Daughter of Mystery.


Becca Thornton, divorced, middle-aged and trying to embrace a quiet life, discovers that there are still plenty of surprises to be had when her menopause kicks in with bonus lycanthropy. And she’s not the only one. The seemingly peaceful and dull town of Wolf’s Point has its own all-female werewolf pack and Becca has just become its newest member. But it’s not all protecting Wolf’s Point, midnight meetings at the Women’s Club and monthly runs through the woods. There are werewolf hunters in town and now they’ve got Becca and the Wolf’s Point Pack in their sights.

As if that wasn’t enough, Becca’s cute lesbian werewolf neighbor, Erin, is starting to haunt her dreams as well as her doorstep. What’s a newbie werewolf to do, between the hot flashes and the unexpected physical transformations? Can Becca overcome her fears and help the werewolves defeat their greatest enemy?

Eleven tales of the queer fantastic by award-winning author Catherine Lundoff. A bookstore clerk goes on a quest for the Norns while a couple of mercenaries wake up to some big surprises at their favorite inn. Shakespeare’s sister, Judith, forms an alliance with playwright Christopher Marlowe. A witch attempts the wrong love spell and a young prince meets an irresistible monster. Swordswomen, ghosts, the Queen of the Fay, the occasional gentleman of the evening and other unforgettable characters populate these stories rich and strange. Includes the Gaylactic Spectrum Award finalist “At the Roots of the World Tree” as well as several other stories not previously collected.

Megan Amazon’s life was a disaster: terrifying stalker ex, weird celebrity mom, you really don’t wanna know. She decided to run, run far, run fast, run… to Wonder City.

Wonder City: where an eight-foot-tall woman could try to blend in and make a normal life in a city of superheroes and superzeroes. Where else could she meet up with a retired superhero with a brain-dead son and a daughter-in-law who could fall for Megan’s new BFF Simon? Or almost accidentally kill a superhero noob like Nereid, who’s just trying to pass her college classes and get into her supergroup, and really didn’t intend to fall in love with her (provisional) teammate?

Everyone has their secrets. For some people, like the Ultimate and the Fat Lady, secrets are their stock in trade, while others don’t know half the secrets they’re carrying around. Megan thought her own secrets would be safe as long as she kept one-night-standing her way through the local queer scene, but sooner or later, everything will come out. And everyone will come into their own, whether they want to or not.

Nicholas Rathe is a pointsman, a watchman in the great city of Astreiant, the capital of the Kingdom of Chenedolle. It is the time of the annual trade fair, and the city is filled with travelers, and someone is stealing children. The populace is getting angry and frightened and is looking for someone to blame, especially some foreigner. Nicholas, in the midst of all this, must find the children and save the city.

His practice newly established, metaphysician Ned Mathey can’t afford to turn away any clients. But the latest Londoner to seek Ned’s magical aid gives him pause: Mr Edgar Nevett, an arrogant banker, is the father of the bully who made Ned’s life hell at boarding school. Nevertheless, Ned accepts the commission to ensure the Nevett family silver bears no ancient or modern curses, and then prepares to banish the Nevett family to unpleasant memory again. Until Edgar Nevett is killed by an enchanted silver candlestick—one of the pieces Ned declared magically harmless.

Calling on his old school friend Julian Lynes—private detective and another victim of the younger Nevett—Ned races to solve the murder, clear the stain on his professional reputation, and lay to rest the ghosts of his past.

Assisted by Ned’s able secretary Miss Frost, who has unexpected metaphysical skills of her own, Ned and Julian explore London’s criminal underworld and sodomitical demimonde, uncover secrets and scandals, confront the unexpected murderer and the mysteries of their own relationship.

In Death by Silver veteran authors Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold introduce a Victorian London where magic works, influencing every aspect of civilized life, and two very appealing detectives.

Ladies and Gentlemen: I give you the Kissing Booth Girl! Lips that beguile. Oh, I promise, the nearest thing to nuzzling an angel can be yours—today!—for a shiny round Seated Liberty I know you carry in your very pockets as I speak.” But to mechanically-inclined Beni, is the ethereal girl who fell from the sky a wish come true or false hope for life beyond the confines of the odd carnival called home. Her story — as well as tales of an order of deep-sea diving nuns caring for a sunken chapel and a high school boy asked to prom by the only dead kid he’s ever met — can be found in A.C. Wise’s newest collection of the fantastical, the weird, the queer and the poignant.

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Twenty Core Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Speculative Fiction Works Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves

As with the previous core lists, here are twenty Post-Apocalyptic Speculative Fiction Works chosen entirely on the basis of merit and significance to the field 1.


No implication is intended that these are the only twenty books you should consider.




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

Feel free to comment here.

1: There are two filtering rules:

  • Only one work per author per list
  • Any given work can appear on only one list

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Books Received, May 27 - June 2



All Maggie, Russell, and Henry wanted out of their last college vacation was to get drunk and play archaeologist in an old house in the woods outside of town. When they excavate the mansion’s outhouse they find way more than they bargained for: a sealed bottle filled with a red liquid, along with the bizarre skeleton of a horned child

Disturbing the skeleton throws each of their lives into a living hell. They feel followed wherever they go, their homes are ransacked by unknown intruders, and people they care about are brutally, horribly dismembered. The three friends awakened something, a creature that will stop at nothing to retrieve its child.

What would you sacrifice in the name of success? How much does an artist need to give up to create great art?

Imogen has grown up reading fairy tales about mothers who die and make way for cruel stepmothers. As a child, she used to lie in bed wishing that her life would become one of these tragic fairy tales because she couldn’t imagine how a stepmother could be worse than her mother now.

As adults, Imogen and her sister Marin are accepted to an elite post-grad arts program—Imogen as a writer and Marin as a dancer. Soon enough, though, they realize that there’s more to the school than meets the eye. Imogen might be living in the fairy tale she’s dreamed about as a child, but it’s one that will pit her against Marin if she decides to escape her past to find her heart’s desire.


Where we love, we ruin…

Some families hand down wealth through generations; some hand down wisdom. Some families, whether they want to or not, hand down the secret burdens they carry and the dangerous debts they owe.

Lissa Nevsky’s grandmother leaves her a big, empty house, and a legacy of magic: folk magic, old magic, brought with Baba when she fled the Gulag. In the wake of her passing, the Russian community of Toronto will depend on Lissa now, to give them their remedies and be their koldun’ia. But Lissa hasn’t had time to learn everything Baba wanted to teach her—let alone the things Baba kept hidden.

Maksim Volkov’s birth family is long dead, anything they bestowed on him long turned to dust. What Maksim carries now is a legacy of violence, and he does not have to die to pass it on. When Maksim feels his protective spell fail, he returns to the witch he rescued from the Gulag, only to find his spell has died along with the one who cast it. Without the spell, it is only a matter of time before Maksim’s violent nature slips its leash and he infects someone else—if he hasn’t done so already.

Nick Kaisaris is just a normal dude who likes to party. He doesn’t worry about family drama. He doesn’t have any secrets. All he wants is for things to stay like they are right now, tonight: Nick and his best buddy Jonathan, out on the town. Only Nick is on a collision course with Maksim Volkov, and what he takes away from this night is going to crack open Nick’s nature until all of his worst self comes to light.

Lissa’s legacy of magic might hold the key to Maksim’s salvation, if she can unravel it in time. But it’s a legacy that comes at a price. And Maksim might not want to be saved…

Born in Japan and raised as a human, Taiki is overwhelmed when he’s brought back to the kingdom of Tai, where he’s told he’s a kirin. With little knowledge or guidance, he must trust his latent instincts to choose a king for the Kingdom of Tai from among dozens of men and women who seek the position. Will the frustrated Taiki, who can’t even figure out how to transform into animal form, make the right choice? And more important, will he discover the kirin that lives within?



In a new Cold War between Earth and the colonies on Mars, when devastating weapons go missing, there’s only one team you can call – the Outriders. A crack force of highly specialised super-soldiers, their clone bodies are near-immortal. When a fully-autonomous vessel with orbital strike capabilities goes missing, it’s up to the Outriders to track the untrackable. But when the trail leads them to the influential Martian People’s Collective Republic, the operation gets a lot more complicated…

No matter how far humanity comes, it can’t escape its own worst impulses…

A new generation comes of age eighteen years after humanity arrived on the colony planet Gaia. Now threats from both within and outside their Trident threaten everything they’ve built. The discovery of an alien installation inside Gaia’s moon, terrorist attacks and the kidnap of a man’s daughter stretch the community to breaking point, but only two men stand a chance of solving all three mysteries before the makeshift planetary government shuts everything down.


Deep within the palace of the Mede emperor, in an alcove off the main room of his master’s apartments,. Kamet minds his master’s business and his own. Carefully keeping the accounts, and his own counsel, Kamet has accumulated a few possessions, a little money stored in the household’s cashbox, and a significant amount of personal power. As a slave, his fate is tied to his master’s. If Nahuseresh’s fortunes improve, so will Kamet’s, and Nahuseresh has been working diligently to promote his fortunes since the debacle in Attolia.

A soldier in the shadows offers escape, but Kamet won’t sacrifice his ambition for a meager and unreliable freedom; not until a whispered warning of poison and murder destroys all of his carefully laid plans. When Kamet flees for his life, he leaves behind everything—his past, his identity, his meticulously crafted defenses—and finds himself woefully unprepared for the journey that lies ahead.

Pursued across rivers, wastelands, salt plains, snowcapped mountains, and storm-tossed seas, Kamet is dead set on regaining control of his future and protecting himself at any cost. Friendships—new and long-forgotten—beckon, lethal enemies circle, secrets accumulate, and the fragile hopes of the little kingdoms of Attolia, Eddis, and Sounis hang in the balance.


Kate Standish has been on the forest-world of Huginn less than a week and she’s already pretty sure her new company murdered her boss. But the little town of mill workers and farmers is more worried about eco-terrorism and a series of attacks by the bizarre, sentient dogs of this planet, than a death most people would like to believe is an accident. That is, until Kate’s investigation uncovers a conspiracy which threatens them all.

A former friend has betrayed the Raksura and their groundling companions, and now the survivors must race across the Three Worlds to rescue their kidnapped family members. When Moon and Stone are sent ahead to scout, they quickly encounter an unexpected and potentially deadly ally, and decide to disobey the queens and continue the search alone. Following in a wind-ship, Jade and Malachite make an unlikely alliance of their own, until word reaches them that the Fell are massing for an attack on the Reaches, and that forces of the powerful Empire of Kish are turning against the Raksura and their groundling comrades.

But there may be no time to stage a rescue, as the kidnapped Raksura discover that their captors are heading toward a mysterious destination with a stolen magical artifact that will cause more devastation for the Reaches than anything the lethal Fell can imagine. To stop them, the Raksura will have to take the ultimate risk and follow them into forbidden territory.

The Harbors of the Sun, from celebrated fantasy author Martha Wells, is the thrilling follow-up to The Edge of Worlds, and the conclusion of a new Three Worlds duology of strange lands, uncanny beings, dead cities, and ancient danger.

Mokoya and Akeha, the twin children of the Protector, were sold to the Grand Monastery as children. While Mokoya developed her strange prophetic gift, Akeha was always the one who could see the strings that moved adults to action. While his sister received visions of what would be, Akeha realized what could be. What’s more, he saw the sickness at the heart of his mother’s Protectorate.

A rebellion is growing. The Machinists discover new levers to move the world every day, while the Tensors fight to put them down and preserve the power of the state. Unwilling to continue to play a pawn in his mother’s twisted schemes, Akeha leaves the Tensorate behind and falls in with the rebels. But every step Akeha takes towards the Machinists is a step away from his sister Mokoya. Can Akeha find peace without shattering the bond he shares with his twin sister?


Fallen prophet, master of the elements, and daughter of the supreme Protector, Sanao Mokoya has abandoned the life that once bound her. Once her visions shaped the lives of citizens across the land, but no matter what tragedy Mokoya foresaw, she could never reshape the future. Broken by the loss of her young daughter, she now hunts deadly, sky-obscuring naga in the harsh outer reaches of the kingdom with packs of dinosaurs at her side, far from everything she used to love.On the trail of a massive naga that threatens the rebellious mining city of Bataanar, Mokoya meets the mysterious and alluring Rider. But all is not as it seems: the beast they both hunt harbors a secret that could ignite war throughout the Protectorate. As she is drawn into a conspiracy of magic and betrayal, Mokoya must come to terms with her extraordinary and dangerous gifts, or risk losing the little she has left to hold dear.

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May 2017 in Review

May

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

Works by POC: 6 (27%)

Year to Date

106 works reviewed. 58 by women (55%). 47 by men (44%). 1 by a non-binary author (1%).
note: rounding error

Works by POC: 34.5 (33%)

And now the meaningless table!

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Books Received, May 20 - 26


The God Wars destroyed the city of Alikand. Now, a century and a half and a great many construction contracts later, Agdel Lex rises in its place. Dead deities litter the surrounding desert, streets shift when people aren’t looking, a squidlike tower dominates the skyline, and the foreign Iskari Rectification Authority keeps strict order in this once-independent city―while treasure seekers, criminals, combat librarians, nightmare artists, angels, demons, dispossessed knights, grad students, and other fools gather in its ever-changing alleys, hungry for the next big score.

Priestess/investment banker Kai Pohala (last seen in Full Fathom Five) hits town to corner Agdel Lex’s burgeoning nightmare startup scene, and to visit her estranged sister Lei. But Kai finds Lei desperate at the center of a shadowy, and rapidly unravelling, business deal. When Lei ends up on the run, wanted for a crime she most definitely committed, Kai races to track her sister down before the Authority finds her first. But Lei has her own plans, involving her ex-girlfriend, a daring heist into the god-haunted desert, and, perhaps, freedom for an occupied city. Because Alikand might not be completely dead―and some people want to finish the job.



The first humans still hunt their children across the stars. Dave Hutchinson brings far future science fiction on a grand scale in Acadie.

The Colony left Earth to find utopia, a home on a new planet where their leader could fully explore their genetic potential, unfettered by their homeworld’s restrictions. They settled a new paradise, and have been evolving and adapting for centuries. Earth has other plans.

The original humans have been tracking their descendants across the stars, bent on their annihilation. They won’t stop until the new humans have been destroyed, their experimentation wiped out of the human gene pool.Can’t anyone let go of a grudge anymore?



Shuos Jedao is unleashed. The long-dead general, preserved with exotic technologies as a weapon, has possessed the body of gifted young captain Kel Cheris.

Now, General Kel Khiruev’s fleet, racing to the Severed March to stop a fresh enemy incursion, has fallen under Jedao’s sway. Only Khiruev’s aide, Lieutenant Colonel Kel Brezan, is able to shake off the influence of the brilliant but psychotic Jedao.

The rogue general seems intent on defending the hexarchate, but can Khiruev—or Brezan—trust him? For that matter, can they trust Kel Command, or will their own rulers wipe out the whole swarm to destroy one man?

Feel free to comment here.

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Twenty Core Speculative Fiction Works About Science and Scientists Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves

As with the previous core lists, here are twenty Speculative Fiction Works about Science and Scientists chosen entirely on the basis of merit and significance to the field [1]. No implication is intended that these are the only twenty books you should consider.


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 can appear on only one list

Feel free to comment here.

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An updated guide to my review categories


Each category header is a link.

Sponsored Reviews

You can buy a review for a book for $100. Various guidelines pertain, which can be found at the other end of the link.

Reds Under the Bed


Subversives! They lurk everywhere! They could be anyone, from the kindly couple next door to the innocent seeming nuclear researcher mailing thick bundles to Moscow every week, from your child’s teacher to the President himself! Even you could be an unsuspecting brainwashed puppet of the enemy!

There have been many noteworthy works about the hidden enemy. Some were even readable. Many will be reviewed.



A Year of Waterloo Region Speculative Fiction


The Waterloo region (and neighboring areas) are not generally known as hotbeds of spec-fic writing. If you’ve heard of us at all, it’s most likely thanks to the University of Waterloo or the annual Oktoberfest. Kitchener’s Public Library does not even bother to keep track of which SF authors come from the surrounding region.


But I do.


In 2017 I will be reviewing fifty-two works of speculative fiction by as broad a cross-section of the names above as I can manage. Please join me.



Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn’t Suck


There are lots of books that fall under either military science fiction or military fantasy; the first is generally shortened to MilSF and the second runs into very similar nannyware issues as the original series title. Most published MilSF and MilF embodies Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of everything is crud (1). I will be reviewing military speculative fiction I believe falls into that last 10%, MilSpecFic that isn’t an egregious insult to the reader’s sensibilities.



Space Opera That Doesn’t Suck

Similar to the MilSF series but specifically for Space Opera.


James Tiptree, Jr. Award Reviews

The James Tiptree, Jr. Award is an “annual literary prize for science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender.” Details on its history and why it has the name it does, as well as a list of winners, the honor lists and other notable works can be found here.I had the privilege to be a jurist in 2011. For that and other reasons, this is an award for which I have a personal interest, as should you all. Accordingly, over the next year or so, I will be reviewing the Tiptree winners in the chronological order in which they won, more or less, as copies fall into my hand.



Graveyard Orbits


Graveyard Orbits is a very irregular series of reviews of noteworthy books that were also their author’s final books due to Author Existence Failure.


Because My Tears Are Delicious to You


In which I revisit books that I loved when I was a teenager, back in the 1970s. Some of these have aged well. Others …. not so well. Come for my delighted surprise at discovering new depths in old friends, stay for my writhing agony as old favourites betray me.



The Rediscovery series


Success for authors is often a matter of luck and there are many exemplary books that were overlooked when they were first published. The rise of ebooks allows authors to reissue their own books when traditional publishers have dropped them. I select the best of the re-issued books to bring to your attention.



The Translation series


The world of science fiction extends far outside the borders of l’anglosphere. In this series I review translated works of speculative fiction.


KW Science Fiction and Fantasy

F & SF by authors from Kitchener-Waterloo, the region in Ontario in which I live, which I began because I was MCing a night of readings by local authors.



Completed Series

The Great Heinlein Juveniles (Plus The Other Two) Reread

In which I reread all of Heinlein’s classic juveniles plus Starship Troopers and Podkayne of Mars because I was curious to see how they stood up and also someone paid me.



Fifty Nortons in Fifty Weeks

Andre Norton was an important and prolific SF author and many of the Ace MMPK editions of the Heinlein Juveniles had an ad for 50 of her titles. I decided it would be fun to track down and read (or reread) all fifty.



Women of Wonder


The Women of Wonder anthology series was an important part of my reading experience as a teen and rather than lump it in with the Because My Tears Are Delicious to You series, I decided to give Women of Wonder its own series.



Leigh Brackett’s Solar System


Brackett was one of the few women who were high-profile science fiction writers back in the 1940s. She started writing for the detective pulps before turning to the sort of planetary romance seen in Planet Stories. In this series, I looked at her planetary romances.



A Year of Tanith Lee


Tanith Lee died in 2015. She was extraordinarily prolific, writing more than ninety novels in a career that spanned six decades. Too many of her books to list here were nominated for awards but her wins include Death’s Master (BFA), The Gorgon (WFA), Elle Est Trois, and (La Mort) (WFA); in 2013, she was presented by a Life Achievement WFA. Clearly she was a writer of significance but in recent years she had not received the attention her talent deserved.

When I heard the news of her death, I decided to commemorate her career in this very small way, by reviewing a wide selection of her published works.



The 2017 Prometheus Award Finalists


The Libertarian Futurist Society awards the Prometheus Award to the best libertarian novel of the year. They take a very broad view of what qualifies, which is why some years conventional American libertarian works win and other years books by Scottish socialists win. I thought it would be interesting to review the 2017 nominees.

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Reds Under the Bed

Subversives! They lurk everywhere! They could be anyone, from the kindly couple next door to the innocent seeming nuclear researcher mailing thick bundles to Moscow every week, from your child’s teacher to the President himself! Even you could be an unsuspecting brainwashed puppet of the enemy!

There have been many noteworthy works about the hidden enemy. Some were even readable. Many will be reviewed.

STAY ALERT TRUST NO ONE KEEP YOUR LASER HANDY 1!

Feel free to comment (and make suggestions!) here.

1: Foreshadowing: the mark of quality literature.


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Books Received, May 13 - 19

New Arcadia is a city-sized oil rig off the coast of the Canadian Maritimes, now owned by one very wealthy, powerful, byzantine family: Lynch Ltd.

Hwa is of the few people in her community (which constitutes the whole rig) to forgo bio-engineered enhancements. As such, she’s the last truly organic person left on the rig — making her doubly an outsider, as well as a neglected daughter and bodyguard extraordinaire. Still, her expertise in the arts of self-defense and her record as a fighter mean that her services are yet in high demand. When the youngest Lynch needs training and protection, the family turns to Hwa. But can even she protect against increasingly intense death threats seemingly coming from another timeline? Meanwhile, a series of interconnected murders threatens the city’s stability and heightens the unease of a rig turning over. All signs point to a nearly invisible serial killer, but all of the murders seem to lead right back to Hwa’s front door. Company Town has never been the safest place to be — but now, the danger is personal.

A brilliant, twisted mystery, as one woman must evaluate saving the people of a town that can’t be saved, or saving herself.


Only nine months after her debut as the superhero Dreadnought, Danny Tozer is already a scarred veteran. Protecting a city the size of New Port is a team-sized job and she’s doing it alone. Between her newfound celebrity and her demanding cape duties, Dreadnought is stretched thin, and it’s only going to get worse.

When she crosses a newly discovered billionaire supervillain, Dreadnought comes under attack from all quarters. From her troubled family life to her disintegrating friendship with Calamity, there’s no lever too cruel for this villain to use against her.

She might be hard to kill, but there’s more than one way to destroy a hero. Before the war is over, Dreadnought will be forced to confront parts of herself she never wanted to acknowledge.

And behind it all, an old enemy waits in the wings, ready to unleash a plot that will scar the world forever.


The rule is simple: don’t bleed.

For as long as Molly Southbourne can remember, she’s been watching herself die. Whenever she bleeds, another molly is born, identical to her in every way and intent on her destruction.

Molly knows every way to kill herself, but she also knows that as long as she survives she’ll be hunted. No matter how well she follows the rules, eventually the mollys will find her. Can Molly find a way to stop the tide of blood, or will she meet her end at the hand of a girl who looks just like her?

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Books Received: 2017 Hugo Voters Package


The Worldcon Hugo voters package is out. It contains a bewildering list of items, enough that I am not going to bother tracking down the cover art for everything with cover art. File770’s overview of the package lists the contents as follows:



Novel: 5 full novels and 1 excerpt
Novella: 6 full novellas
Novelette: 6 full novelettes
Short Story: 6 full short stories
Related Work: 4 full long works, 1 full short work, and 1 excerpt
Graphic Story: 6 full works in PDF form only
Dramatic Presentation (Long Form): a PDF document summarizing the Finalists, with hyperlinks to each work’s video trailer, official website, IMdb entry, and Wikipedia entry.
Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): a PDF document summarizing the Finalists, with hyperlinks to each work’s video trailer, official website, IMdb entry, and Wikipedia entry. In the case of the Clipping musical work, links are included to listen for free on YouTube, Spotify, iTunes and Bandcamp.
Editor – Short Form: submissions from 6 editors
Editor – Long Form: submissions from 6 editors
Professional Artist: image galleries for 6 artists, with citations of where and when each work was published, and a PDF document with links to all the artists’ websites
Semiprozine: submissions from 6 semiprozines
Fanzine: submissions from 6 fanzines
Fancast: PDF submissions for 6 fancasts with episode summaries and links to online podcasts
Fan Writer: submissions from 5 fan writers and 1 PDF document with a link to an online submission from a 6th fan writer
Fan Artist: image galleries for 6 artists, and a PDF document with links to all the artists’ websites
Series: 2 full series, 1 novel for each of 2 series, 1 excerpt for each of 2 series, and a PDF document for each series which lists all the works in the series and includes some hyperlinks to bonus related online content.
John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer: 3 novels, 2 novellas, and 9 short stories for 6 authors

Memberships are available here.



Mark at File 770’s detailed list of the contents is as follows:

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Books Received, May 6-12



Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of Dreadnought, the world’s greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, Danny was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But before he expired, Dreadnought passed his mantle to her, and those secondhand superpowers transformed Danny’s body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.

It should be the happiest time of her life, but Danny’s first weeks finally living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. Between her father’s dangerous obsession with “curing” her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and her fellow superheroes arguing over her place in their ranks, Danny feels like she’s in over her head.

She doesn’t have time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer—a cyborg named Utopia—still haunts the streets of New Port City, threatening destruction. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.


The future of democracy is about to implode.

After the last controversial global election, the global infomocracy that has ensured thirty years of world peace is fraying at the edges. As the new Supermajority government struggles to establish its legitimacy, agents of Information across the globe strive to keep the peace and maintain the flows of data that feed the new world order.

In the newly-incorporated DarFur, a governor dies in a fiery explosion. In Geneva, a superpower hatches plans to bring microdemocracy to its knees. In Central Asia, a sprawling war among archaic states threatens to explode into a global crisis. And across the world, a shadowy plot is growing, threatening to strangle Information with the reins of power.

In Science Fiction and the Mass Cultural Genre System, John Rieder asks literary scholars to consider what shape literary history takes when based on a historical, rather than formalist, genre theory. Rieder starts from the premise that science fiction and the other genres usually associated with so-called genre fiction comprise a system of genres entirely distinct from the pre-existing classical and academic genre system that includes the epic, tragedy, comedy, satire, romance, the lyric, and so on. He proposes that the field of literary production and the project of literary studies cannot be adequately conceptualized without taking into account the tensions between these two genre systems that arise from their different modes of production, distribution, and reception. Although the careful reading of individual texts forms an important part of this study, the systemic approach offered by Science Fiction and the Mass Cultural Genre System provides a fundamental challenge to literary methodologies that foreground individual innovation.



For nearly half a century, feminist scholars, writers, and fans have successfully challenged the notion that science fiction is all about “boys and their toys,” pointing to authors such as Mary Shelley, Clare Winger Harris, and Judith Merril as proof that women have always been part of the genre. Continuing this tradition, Sisters of Tomorrow: The First Women of Science Fiction offers readers a comprehensive selection of works by genre luminaries, including author C. L. Moore, artist Margaret Brundage, and others who were well known in their day, including poet Julia Boynton Green, science journalist L. Taylor Hansen, and editor Mary Gnaedinger. Providing insightful commentary and context, this anthology documents how women in the early twentieth century contributed to the pulp-magazine community and showcases the content they produced, including short stories, editorial work, illustrations, poetry, and science journalism. Yaszek and Sharp’s critical annotation and author biographies link women’s work in the early science fiction community to larger patterns of feminine literary and cultural production in turn-of-the-twentieth-century America. In a concluding essay, the award-winning author Kathleen Ann Goonan considers such work in relation to the history of women in science and engineering and to the contemporary science fiction community itself.
Deacon James is a rambling bluesman straight from Georgia, a black man with troubles that he can’t escape, and music that won’t let him go. On a train to Arkham, he meets trouble ― visions of nightmares, gaping mouths and grasping tendrils, and a madman who calls himself John Persons. According to the stranger, Deacon is carrying a seed in his head, a thing that will destroy the world if he lets it hatch.

The mad ravings chase Deacon to his next gig. His saxophone doesn’t call up his audience from their seats, it calls up monstrosities from across dimensions. As Deacon flees, chased by horrors and cultists, he stumbles upon a runaway girl, who is trying to escape the destiny awaiting her. Like Deacon, she carries something deep inside her, something twisted and dangerous. Together, they seek to leave Arkham, only to find the Thousand Young lurking in the woods.

The song in Deacon’s head is growing stronger, and soon he won’t be able to ignore it any more.

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Twenty Core Trader Speculative Fiction Works Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves

As with the four previous core lists, here are twenty Speculative Fiction works featuring traders chosen entirely on the basis of merit and significance to the field [1]. No implication is intended that these are the only twenty works you should consider.

  • The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham
  • The Trouble Twisters by Poul Anderson
  • The Anvil of the World by Kage Baker
  • “The Space Traders” by Derrick Bell
  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
  • The Pride of Chanur by C. J. Cherryh
  • A Thousand Words for Stranger by Julie Czerneda
  • Trafalgar: A Novel by Angélica Gorodischer
  • Spice and Wolf by Isuna Hasekura
  • Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb
  • The Dream Merchant by Isabel Hoving
  • Hellspark by Janet Kagan
  • Traveller: Science Fiction Adventure in the Far Future by Mark W. Miller
  • There and Back Again by Pat Murphy
  • Sargasso of Space by Andre Norton
  • Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti
  • Storyteller by Amy Thomson
  • The Heaven Chronicles by Joan D. Vinge
  • Signs of Life by Cherry Wilder
  • Fool’s War by Sarah Zettel

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
  • No given work appears on more than one list.

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Books Received, April 29 - May 5


Breaking the laws of nature is a serious crime!

In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Equipped with mechanical “”auto-mail”” limbs, Edward becomes a state alchemist, seeking the one thing that can restore his and his brother’s bodies…the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.

Alchemy: the mystical power to alter the natural world, somewhere between magic art, and science. When two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, dabbled in these powers to grant their dearest wish, one of them lost an arm and leg…and the other became nothing but a soul locked into a body ofliving iron. Now they are agents of the government, slaves of the military-alchemical complex, using their unique powers to obey their orders…even to kill. But their powers aren’t unique. The world crawls with evil alchemists. And in pursuit of the ultimate alchemical treasure, the Philsopher’s Stone, their enemies are even more ruthless.

than they are…


Scarred by war. In pursuit of truth.

Army veteran True Brighton left the service when the development of robotic helicopters made her training as a pilot obsolete. Now she works at Requisite Operations, a private military company established by friend and former Special Ops soldier Lincoln Han. ReqOp has embraced the new technologies. Robotics, big data, and artificial intelligence are all tools used to augment the skills of veteran warfighters-for-hire. But the tragedy of war is still measured in human casualties, and when True makes a chance discovery during a rescue mission, old wounds are ripped open. She’s left questioning what she knows of the past, and resolves to pursue the truth, whatever the cost.

For high-schooler Yoko Nakajima, life has been fairly ordinary — that is until Keiki, a young man with golden hair, tells Yoko they must return to their kingdom. Once confronted by this mysterious being and whisked away to an unearthly realm, Yoko is left with only a magical sword; a gem; and a million questions about her destiny, the world she’s trapped in, and the world she desperately wants to return to.More than just a fantasy story filled with horrific monsters, half-beasts, and magicians, The Twelve Kingdoms centers around a world reminiscent of Chinese mythology and rife with civil and political upheaval. Sea of Shadow, the first volume of this ongoing seven-volume epic, takes you on a wild ride that leaves you questioning the bounds of reality and fantasy.

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Books Received, April 22-28


Long after the Towers left the world but before the dragons came to Daluça, the emperor brought his delegation of gods and diplomats to Olorum. As the royalty negotiates over trade routes and public services, the divinity seeks arcane assistance among the local gods.

Aqib bgm Sadiqi, fourth-cousin to the royal family and son of the Master of Beasts, has more mortal and pressing concerns. His heart has been captured for the first time by a handsome Daluçan soldier named Lucrio. In defiance of Saintly Canon, gossiping servants, and the furious disapproval of his father and brother, Aqib finds himself swept up in a whirlwind gay romance. But neither Aqib nor Lucrio know whether their love can survive all the hardships the world has to throw at them.

(I have already reviewed A Taste of Honey but from a DRMed ebook long since expired. Now I have a personal copy.)


Since leaving his homeland, the earthbound demigod Demane has been labeled a sorcerer. With his ancestors’ artifacts in hand, the Sorcerer follows the Captain, a beautiful man with song for a voice and hair that drinks the sunlight.

The two of them are the descendants of the gods who abandoned the Earth for Heaven, and they will need all the gifts those divine ancestors left to them to keep their caravan brothers alive.

The one safe road between the northern oasis and southern kingdom is stalked by a necromantic terror. Demane may have to master his wild powers and trade humanity for godhood if he is to keep his brothers and his beloved captain alive.

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April 2017 In Review

April

21 books read. 11.5 by women (55%), 9.5 by men (45%).

Works by POC: 4 (19%)

Year to Date

84 works reviewed. 46 by women (55%). 37 by men (44%). 1 by a non-binary author (1%).

Works by POC: 28.5 (34%)

I am not making the progress on non-binary and genderqueer authors I had hoped to make.

And now for my favourite part: the meaningless table!

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Twenty Core Military Speculative Fiction Works Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves


Books Received, April 15-21


When the outlanders abandoned a baby girl on the outskirts of a village, few imagined that she would grow up to marry into the illustrious Akakuchiba family, much less that she would develop clairvoyant abilities and become matriarch of the illustrious ironworking clan. Her daughter shocks the village further by joining a motorcycle gang and becoming a famous manga artist. The outlanders’ granddaughter Toko—well, she’s nobody at all. A nobody worth entrusting with the secret that her grandmother was a murderer.

This is Toko’s story.

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Books Received, April 8 - 14

9 Tales of Raffalon by Matthew Hughes (Cover to come)

A THIEF IN THE DYING EARTH

In an age of wizards and walled cities, Raffalon is a journeyman member of the Ancient and Honorable Guild of Purloiners and Purveyors. In other words, a thief.

His skills allow him to scale walls, tickle locks, defeat magical wards. He lifts treasures and trinkets, spends the proceeds on ale and sausages in taverns where a wise thief sits with his back to the wall.

But somehow things often go the way they shouldn’t and then Raffalon has to rely upon his wits and a well calibrated sense of daring.

Here are nine tales that take our enterprising thief into the Underworld and Overworld, and pit him against self-serving thaumaturges, grasping magnates, crooked Guild Masters, ghosts, spies, ogres, and a talented amateur assassin.

Includes “Inn of the Seven Blessings,” from the bestselling anthology, ROGUES.





Seventeen-year-old Aiko lives a life of casual sex and casual violence, though at heart she remains a schoolgirl with an unrequited crush on her old classmate Yoji Kaneda. Life is about to get harder for Aiko, as a recent fling, Sano, has been kidnapped, and the serial killer Round-and-Round Devil has begun slaughtering children. The youth are rioting in the streets, egged on by the underground Internet bulletin board known as the Voice from Heaven. Expecting that Yoji will come and save her from the madness, Aiko posts a demand for her own murder on the V of H, but will she be left waiting…or worse?



When Kayu Saitoh wakes up, she is in an unfamiliar place. Taken to a snowy mountainside, she was left there by her family and her village according to the tradition of sacrificing the lives of the elderly for the benefit of the young. Kayu was supposed to have passed quickly into the afterlife. Instead, she finds herself in Dendera, a utopian community built over decades by old women who, like her, were abandoned. Together, they must now face a new threat: a hungry mother bear.

In a future where reality has been augmented and biology itself has been hacked, the world’s food supply is genetically modified, superior, and vulnerable. When gene mapper Hayashida discovers that his custom rice plant has experienced a dysgenic collapse, he suspects sabotage. Hayashida travels across Asia to find himself in Ho Chi Minh City with hired-gun hacker Yagodo at his side—and in mortal danger—as he pushes ever nearer to the heart of the mystery.


“You are now a discard. We have no further use for you in play. You are free to walk the Bounds, but it will be against the rules for you to enter play in any world. If you succeed in returning Home, then you may enter play again in the normal manner.” When Jamie unwittingly discovers the scary, dark-cloaked Them playing games with human’s lives, he is cast out to the boundaries of the worlds. Only then does he discover that there are a vast number of parallel worlds, all linked by the bounds, and these sinister creatures are using them all as a massive gamesboard. Clinging to Their promise that if he can get Home he is free, he becomes the unwilling Random Factor in an endless game of chance. Irresistible Diana Wynne Jones fantasy adventure, featuring an insect-loving shapeshifter, an apprentice demon hunter and a whole host of exotic characters clinging to the hope that one day they will return Home.



A Dragon is dead.

Corta Helio, one of the five family corporations that rule the Moon, has fallen. Its riches are divided up among its many enemies, its survivors scattered. Eighteen months have passed.

The remaining Helio children, Lucasinho and Luna, are under the protection of the powerful Asamoahs, while Robson, still reeling from witnessing his parent’s violent deaths, is now a ward — virtually a hostage — of Mackenzie Metals. And the last appointed heir, Lucas, has vanished of the surface of the moon.

Only Lady Sun, dowager of Taiyang, suspects that Lucas Corta is not dead, and more to the point — that he is still a major player in the game. After all, Lucas always was the Schemer, and even in death, he would go to any lengths to take back everything and build a new Corta Helio, more powerful than before. But Corta Helio needs allies, and to find them, the fleeing son undertakes an audacious, impossible journey — to Earth.

In an unstable lunar environment, the shifting loyalties and political machinations of each family reach the zenith of their most fertile plots as outright war erupts.

Luna: Wolf Moon
continues Ian McDonald’s saga of the Five Dragons.

Three new stories from three of the best science fiction writers in Japan:

“Overdrive” by Toe EnJoe — How fast is the speed of thought?

“Sea Fingers” by TOBI Hirotaka — A small enclave survives after the Deep has consumed the world, but what does the Deep hunger for now?

“A Fair War” by Taiyo Fujii — The future of war, the age of drones, but what comes next?

Saiensu Fikushon is Haikasoru’s new e-first mini anthology series, dedicated to bringing you the narrative software of tomorrow, today. Now more than ever, the future is Japanese!

Once upon a time, a little girl was rescued by a prince.

That girl then grows up to be strong and courageous as she awaits his return.

To defend a friend’s honor, she challenges a brute to a duel and wins.

She is entrusted with the SWORD OF DIOS and the Rose Bride, who is the key to finding her elusive prince.

But this won’t end like a fairy tale.

Because Utena has the power to REVOLUTIONIZE the world.

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The 2017 Prometheus Award Finalists

To paraphrase the Libertarian Futurist Society:

In 1979, science fiction writer L. Neil Smith created the Prometheus Awards, intended to honor libertarian fiction. A panel selected F. Paul Wilson’s Wheels Within Wheels as the best novel, and a gold coin then worth $2,500 was presented to Wilson. Due to the cost of the award, and lack of a formal organization, the Prometheus Awards fell into limbo the following year.

The Libertarian Futurist Society (founded in 1982 to provide encouragement to science fiction writers whose books examine the meaning of freedom) revived the Prometheus Award soon after its founding. In 1983 it added a second annual award, the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award, designed to honor classic libertarian fiction.

Libertarians are an easy target for cheap shots and an award granted by them might seem doubly so. For example, how many of you are surprised that gun-waving anarchists lacked sufficient organization to ensure the continuation of the awards after the first given? Hands up in the audience? No one?

You might think that the awards would have soon become a ping-pong match, with a few people of very similar views batting the Prometheus Award back and forth between them.

You’d be wrong. For example, look at the list of authors who have won the award three times:

Koman and Smith fall within the American libertarian mainstream but look at the other two triple winners. Doctorow isn’t just a leftie. He’s a Canadian leftie. MacLeod is a recovering Trotskyite. A Scottish Trot at that. Somewhere along the line, the Prometheus Award began to take the mandate for their award at face value, casting its net well outside what I assume is the comfort zone for American libertarians.

This year’s finalists are:

Five books, four authors, two women, two men. How politically diverse are they? Well, let’s find out together over the next month.

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Books Received, April 1 - 7

Barbara Gordon is no stranger to secrets. She’s the daughter of GCPD Jim Gordon, the vigilante known as Batgirl and was once Oracle, the most powerful hacker on the planet.

Someone new has resurrected the Oracle mantle that Babs once controlled, and whoever is behind it is sending Batgirl on a wild chase all across Gotham City. By her side are two equally dangerous vigilantes — Dinah Lance, the rock star-turned-hero known as Black Canary, and Helena Bertinelli, the lethal spy code-named the Huntress.

Can this mismatched trio come together in time to solve the mystery of the new Oracle and defeat the villainous forces arrayed against them? Or will these Birds of Prey have their wings clipped before they can even get off the ground?



Danielle Cain is a queer punk rock traveler, jaded from a decade on the road. Searching for clues about her best friend’s mysterious and sudden suicide, she ventures to the squatter, utopian town of Freedom, Iowa. All is not well in Freedom, however: things went awry after the town’s residents summoned a protector spirit to serve as their judge and executioner.

Danielle shows up in time to witness the spirit — a blood-red, three-antlered deer — begin to turn on its summoners. Danielle and her new friends have to act fast if they’re going to save the town — or get out alive.

A story of ancient witchcraft among modern-day vagabonds, and about the hope we find in the strangest of places.




Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr had been the very model of a Confederation Marine. No one who’d ever served with her could imagine any circumstance that would see her walking away from the Corps.

But that was before Torin learned the truth about the war the Confederation was fighting…before she’d been declared dead and had spent time in a prison that shouldn’t exist…before she’d learned about the “plastic” beings who were really behind the war between the Confederation and the Others. That was when Torin left the military for good.

Yet she couldn’t walk away from preserving and protecting everything the Confederation represented. Instead, ex-Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr drew together an elite corps of friends and allies—some ex-Marines, some civilians with unique skills—and together they prepared to take on covert missions that the Justice Department and the Corps could not—or would not—officially touch. But after their first major mission, it became obvious that covert operations were not going to be enough.

Although the war is over, the fight goes on and the Justice Department finds its regular Wardens unable to deal with violence and the people trained to use it. Ex-Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr has a solution: Strike Teams made up of ex-military personnel, small enough to maneuver quickly, able to work together if necessary. Justice has no choice but to implement her idea and Torin puts her team of independent contractors back into uniform. It isn’t war, it is policing, but it often looks much the same.
When the scientists doing a preliminary archaeological dig on a Class Two planet are taken hostage, Torin’s team is sent to free them. The problem of innocents in the line of fire is further complicated by the fact that the mercenaries holding them are a mix of Confederation and Primacy forces, and are looking for a weapon able to destroy the plastic aliens who’d started and maintained the war.

If Torin weren’t already torn by wanting that weapon in play, she also has to contend with the politics of peace that have added members of the Primacy—former enemies—to her team. Before they confront the mercenaries, Torin will have to sift through shifting loyalties as she discovers that the line between“us” and “them” is anything but straight.

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

As with the two previous core lists, here are twenty epic fantasies chosen entirely on the basis of merit and significance to the field. No implication is intended that these are the only twenty books you should consider.






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