Mistborn: The Final Empire: So much to like!


Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson I was a fan of Brandon Sanderson’s first novel, Elantris, though the novel had some pretty clear flaws. I’m an even...

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Stories of Your Life and Others: Eight carefully crafted stories


Reposting to include Tadiana’s new review. Stories of Your Life: And Others by Ted Chiang In his review of Ted Chiang’s brilliant short story collection Stories of Your Life...

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Lavondyss: Will stay in my mind forever


Lavondyss by Robert Holdstock The wood sucks at the mind, it sucks out the dreams. Many times I don’t like sequels because there’s nothing new to learn. Authors tend to...

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The Alchemaster’s Apprentice: Fun for everyone


The Alchemaster’s Apprentice by Walter Moers First, my hearty thanks to the translator. I saw Walter Moers’s previous novel, The City of Dreaming Books, in the Berlin...

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Recent Posts

The Greatest Invention: A History of the World in Nine Mysterious Scripts

The Greatest Invention: A History of the World in Nine Mysterious Scripts by Sylvia Ferrara, translated by Todd Portnowitz

Sylvia Ferrara is an Italian scholar/researcher/professor who has devoted much of her life, both in solo work and (more importantly and effectively to her) in collaboration, to learning how writing developed/develops and to deciphering a number of scripts that have stubbornly resisted translation. In The Greatest Invention she offers the fruits of that research in often fascinating, sometimes dizzying, sometimes frustrating, always exuberant fashion.

The dizzying part comes partly from the way Ferrara flies all over the place in space and time, hitting regions such as China, Crete, Easter Island, Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, Central and South America, and the United States, among others, all of them at various stages of mostly ancient but sometimes recent history. The fascina... Read More

The Extractionist: Enjoyable, left me wanting more

The Extractionist by Kimberly Unger

With The Extractionist, Kimberly Unger presents a pretty typical futuristic-internet-cybersetting-with-a-name background (in this case the cyberverse is called “the Swim”), but enhances the familiar setting with an original spin — a class of workers called Extractionists whose job it is to rescue people who get “stuck” in the Swim by reconnecting their Swim persona and their real-world body.

I loved the idea, and mostly loved its embodiment in Eliza McKay, the book’s protagonist, but felt the story could have been executed better.

McKay’s job is actually a fall-back position she takes on after she was banned from the high-level nanotech research she really wants to do (the reason for her being “burned” is gradually revealed).

Extracting is part engineering / tech know-how and part art, and McKay is good at both aspects, he... Read More

WWWednesday: June 29, 2022

2022’s Locus Awards winners include A Desolation Called Peace (Arkady Martine) for Best Science Fiction Novel, My Heart is a Chainsaw (Stephen Graham Jones) for Best Horror Novel; Jade Legacy (Fonda Lee) for best fantasy novel; Victories Greater Than Death Read More

Spear: Go read it. Now.

Spear by Nicola Griffith

Nicola Griffith’s Spear glides effortlessly and confidently into the Arthurian cycle, while giving us a completely new character and an outsider’s perspective of Arthur, his court, Merlin, and the Holy Grail.

Published in 2022, this novella starts with the account of a young girl who lives in a cave in the woods with her mother. Their one item of value is a large cauldron in which the mother cooks their food and heats water. The girl roams the woods, learning the language of the animals, knowing how to read the plants and the seasons. She grows stronger. The girl has two names, depending on her mother’s mood. Sometimes she is a word for “gift.” Sometimes, when her mother is raving in nightmares, the girl’s name is “price.” Always, her mother is filled with fear that someone will come seeking... Read More

The Girl in the Golden Atom: “One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small…”

The Girl in the Golden Atom by Ray Cummings

In Irish author Fitz James O’Brien’s classic novella of 1858, entitled “The Diamond Lens,” a scientist, employing his newly invented supermicroscope, is able to observe a beautiful young woman who lives in the impossibly small world of a droplet of water. Flash forward 77 years, and we find British author Festus Pragnell, in the novel The Green Man of Graypec (1935), giving us the tale of a man who is accidentally sucked, via his scientist brother’s new supermicroscope, into the subatomic world of Kilsona, where he is forced to abide for some time. Sandwiched between these two works, however, is a book that has, over the decades, managed to achieve for itself pride of place in these kind of microverse affairs, in... Read More

B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth (vol. 11): Flesh and Stone: Monsters and a magic sword

B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth (vol. 11): Flesh and Stone by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), James Harren (art), Dave Stewart (colors), Clem Robins (letters)

There are multiple stories going on in this volume: Johann and Howards are on a clean-up mission for the air force, Iosif has a new suit made for him as his health is stabilized, and we get some background on Howards’s sword in the distant past, including one hunting scene with the ancient warrior who once had the sword. Back at headquarters, Liz is starting a garden with a little advice from Fenix. Zinco continues with its inhumane testing back in New York with the new Black Flame as ruler.

With Winter comes harsher conditions, and the battles against the monsters continue. Iosif and his associates work together to take down large monsters with massive explosives. Meanwhile, Enos, Howards, and his team go deep in the snow to seek out one particular monster that proves... Read More

Walk the Vanished Earth: A debut with great potential

Walk the Vanished Earth by Erin Swan

Walk the Vanished Earth by Erin Swan is a debut novel with great potential in its underlying premise, structure, and characters, but while the story does at times rise to meet that potential, it does so unevenly and by the end, for me at least, unsatisfactorily.

The story opens at the close of a buffalo hunt in the Kansas prairie in 1873, with a young Irishman named Samson doing the last bit of work amidst the bloody carnage and recalling the harsh life that led them here and making plans for the better one he hopes to forge for himself: “In this New World, he told himself, he would be a new man.”

From there, the narrative leaps forward in time to 2073 and outward in space to Mars and a young girl named Moon who has spent much of her remembered life traversing the Marscape with Uncle One and Uncle Two, a pair of beings that are clear... Read More

WWWednesday: June 22, 2022

Nerds of a Feather review K.J. Parker’s How to Rule An Empire and Get Away With It.

Over at Tor.com, they introduce us to the possibility of Count Dracula Daily, as a Substack blogger is emailing out Dracula in serial format every day.

Fantasy writer Faith Hunter has publicly apologized for harassing behavior, and withdrawn from conventions for the rest of the year, after several incidents at JordanCon this year. File 770 has two long articles on this for those who want the details.

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Payback’s a Witch: A fizzy paranormal rom-com

Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper

In 2021’s effervescent Payback’s a Witch, the stakes are low, hearts are worn on people’s sleeves, and love is the answer. (Note: No hearts are literally outside the body in this book.) Lana Harper, who writes YA fantasy as Lana Popovic, enters the world of adult paranormal romantic comedy with a story of two modern witches who plot to win a magical tournament while navigating the rocky path of their increasing mutual attraction.

A few hundred years ago, four magicians founded the town of Thistle Grove. Three of them, Avramov, Blackmoore, and Thorn, had powerful magic. The fourth, the actual founder of the town, Elias Harlow, was a far weaker magician. Since the founding, the four families have presided over the magical town. Every fifty years they hold an event called the Gauntlet, and the sci... Read More

The Last Days of the Dinosaurs: Planet Earth’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

The Last Days of the Dinosaurs by Riley Black

As just about any child can tell you, roughly 65 million years ago a nearly ten-mile-wide asteroid crashed into the earth in the Yucatan, unleashing planet-wide firestorms, geography-changing tsunamis, and years of acid-rain and dark days. In short, it was not a good day for Planet Earth. Or for the more than 75% of animal species wiped out by the impact, including, of course, its most famous victims, the dinosaurs. In The Last Days of the Dinosaurs (2022), Riley Black gives a wonderfully evocative and vivid accounting not just of those horrible days following the asteroid’s impact, but of life’s slow recovery during the following million years, making the book, in Black’s words, not a “monument to loss [but] an ode to resilience.”

Her particular focus is on the Hell Creek area of the western US as it is one of the most explored site... Read More