Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Month: June 2024


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Invincible Vol. 1: Family Matters by Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker (An Oxford College Student Review!)

In this column, I feature comic book reviews written by my students at Oxford College of Emory University. Oxford College is a small liberal arts school just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. I challenge students to read and interpret comics because I believe sequential art and visual literacy are essential parts of education at any level (see my Manifesto!). I post the best of my students’ reviews in this column. Today, I am proud to present a review by Javier Davis.

Javier Davis is a first-year student at Oxford College and is considering majoring in Business.


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Grail: A creative conclusion

Grail by Elizabeth Bear

Elizabeth Bear’s Grail (2011) concludes her JACOB’S LADDER trilogy. You’ll first want to read Dust and Chill which describe the generational ship called Jacob’s Ladder and introduce us to the ship’s strange denizens which include the ruling Conn family, various genetically engineered post-human species, and the ship’s fractured god-like AI.

Jacob’s Ladder has finally reached its destination, the planet they call Grail,


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Nick and the Glimmung: Likeable city!

Nick and the Glimmung by Philip K. Dick

In his 1969 novel Galactic Pot-Healer, cult author Philip K. Dick introduced his readers to a character named Glimmung: a semidivine being who calls ceramic repairman Joe Fernwright, among others, to Plowman’s Planet (aka Sirius 5) to help raise a sunken cathedral from the oceanic depths. Confusingly described by Dick as weighing 40,000 tons and, later, 80,000 tons, Glimmung was yet a truly fascinating creation. But as it turns out,


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WWWednesday: June 26. 2024

Orphan Black; Echoes premiered last Sunday. The Daily Beast liked it a lotVariety, not so much. My personal observations, from the most superficial to the relatively less superficial, are: 1) Krystin Ritter is so skinny it’s distracting; 2) what the heck is a 4D printer, and 3) can they convince me the woman scientist is who they say she is?

Yahoo news shares some tidbits and interviews about the new clone show.

Neon Hemlock has a cover reveal for their We’re Here 2023 anthology.


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Cunning Folk: Life in the Era of Practical Magic

Cunning Folk: Life in the Era of Practical Magic by Tabitah Stanmore 

Cunning Folk: Life in the Era of Practical Magic by Tabitah Stanmore, is a deeply researched exploration of a particular sort of magic in the medieval/early modern era. Full of illustrative anecdotes mostly from primary sources (particularly court cases), Stanmore does an excellent job in showing how “Our focus on witches and the sensationalism of witch trials makes us forget that there was a whole host of magical practitioners … not every person who practiced magic was a witch.” The specific cases are often fascinating,


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So Bright The Vision: Brownies and milk

So Bright The Vision by Clifford D. Simak

I have been on something of a kick this past year as regards Clifford D. Simak and his shorter fiction of the 1950s. All the Traps of Earth (1962), The Worlds of Clifford Simak (1961) and Other Worlds of Clifford Simak (1962) had all proved to be truly wonderful – or perhaps I should say “wonder-filled” – collections,


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WWW: Lost, The Demigod Dilemma

In my first post about Lost, I  casually referred to Jacob and his unnamed twin, two characters who appear in Seasons 5 and 6, as “demigods.” After I wrote that, I had some doubts. The traditional definition of “demigods” is the offspring of a deity and a mortal. (Hmmm… so it doesn’t have to be a human, just a “mortal.” There could be demigod rabbits or demigod earthworms or… Oh! Demigod trees!)

But I digress.

There is no mention in the lore of Lost that Jacob and his brother have a divine parent.


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Upgrade: Flip this genome

Upgrade by Blake Crouch

I chose Blake Crouch’s 2022 novel Upgrade out of curiosity because I’d never read anything of his. He is a popular author whose books are everywhere, and he writes thrillers, usually with a speculative-fiction flavor. I’d heard of him years ago when Fox TV made a show based on his WAYWARD trilogy, and the one or two episodes I saw (Season 1) had a nifty, paranoid, who-can-you-trust vibe. Upgrade shares that vibe.

My plot synopsis may contain mild spoilers.


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How to Become the Dark Lord and Die Trying: If at first you don’t succeed, change sides

How to Become the Dark Lord and Die Trying by Django Wexler

I’ll admit I got Wexler’s 2024 fantasy novel, first in the DARK LORD DAVI series, mostly because of the title, How to Become the Dark Lord and Die Trying. I couldn’t help noticing that blurbs and reviews both take delight in describing this book as funny and raunchy. I don’t see “raunchy” as a description that much anymore—in this case it is accurate. Davi, our first-person narrator,


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THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.: Sandy reviews 23 U.N.C.L.E. novels

THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.

Perhaps you would have to be a baby boomer to fully understand just how big a deal The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was back in the mid to late 1960s. Riding the crest of the spy-wave mania created by the seismic shock that were the James Bond films starting in 1962, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. debuted on NBC TV in September 1964 and ran for four seasons; well, actually, 3 ½, that final season having the plug pulled on it after just 16 episodes.


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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