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Other Worlds of Clifford Simak: From zebra charms to walking vines

Other Worlds of Clifford Simak by Clifford D. Simak

Other Worlds of Clifford Simak is the companion volume to the 1961 Avon paperback The Worlds of Clifford Simak, a collection that had recently impressed me very favorably. As I mentioned in my review of that earlier volume, The Worlds of Clifford Simak was originally released as a Simon & Schuster hardcover in 1960; a rather generous-sized, 378-page affair containing a dozen of the future Grand Master’s stories.


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The Silverblood Promise: A highly enjoyable stew of fantasy

The Silverblood Promise by James Logan

If any novel can make the case that a cliché is just a poorly executed trope, it’s James Logan’s debut novel The Silverblood Promise, the first in his THE LAST LEGACY series. Rakish, roguish noble? Check. Ancient civilization done in by some sort of cataclysm? Check. Scrappy, sassy street rat? Check. Mysterious, legendary thief? Mysterious, notorious criminal underground? Mysterious ancient artifacts? Unctuous, corrupt, greedy merchant-princes? Check, check, check, check. Heck, we’ve even got dying last words scrawled in one’s own blood (mysterious words,


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WWWednesday: Lost, Season 1: By the Numbers

4,8,15,16,23,42

Lost opens in the immediate aftermath of an airliner crash on a deserted jungle island. The first character we see is a wounded Jack Shepherd, a spinal surgeon with a Messiah complex, but very soon the canvas of the Survivors of Oceanic flight 815 will be spread out before us, and what a broad canvas it is.

Filmed entirely, or nearly so, in the state of Hawaii, mostly on Oahu, Lost was beautiful, but it required some conscious suspension of disbelief to accept Honolulu as every other single city represented in the show.


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Ghost Station: A dead-planet creepfest

Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes 

Ghost Station, by S.A. Barnes (2024), is a mix of haunted-house and The-killer-is-among- us horror, with a generous ladling of body horror to round it out. The standout of this space-horror novel is the setting, a deserted habitat on a dead and snowy planet, where psychologist Dr. Ophelia Bray is supposed to be observing the Reclamation and Exploration Team who had a team member die mysteriously on an earlier assignment. Bray’s specialty is Eckhart-Reisner Syndrome (ERS),


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The Worlds of Clifford Simak: Finely wrought tales from a future grand master

The Worlds of Clifford Simak by Clifford D. Simak

A recent perusal of Clifford D. Simak’s wonderful collection All the Traps of Earth (from 1962) served to remind this reader of how very excellent the beloved Wisconsin-born novelist could be with the shorter form, and I resolved to read more of his stories in the near future. Thus, when I spotted a rather beat-up copy of his collection The Worlds of Clifford Simak (no middle initial here,


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Every Living Thing: The Great and Deadly Race to Know All Life

Every Living Thing: The Great and Deadly Race to Know All Life by Jason Roberts

Every Living Thing: The Great and Deadly Race to Know All Life (2024), by Jason Roberts, is a fascinating and (for me at least) eye-opening book detailing the parallel exploration of the natural word by two 18th -century naturalists, one of whom is a (relatively) familiar household name and the other, at least in this household, is not. With these sorts of books, it probably comes as no surprise that it’s the latter who should be better know.


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Wicked Problems: Save the world, or fix the world?

Wicked Problems by Max Gladstone

Save the world, or fix the world? Can we do either? These questions underlie the second book in Max Gladstone’s CRAFT WARS series, Wicked Problems. Other things are happening in this 2024 installment, too, and the ending, while anticipated, is a gamechanger for everyone involved.

In Book One, Dead Country, Craftswoman Tara Abernathy took on a student, the orphaned and traumatized Dawn. (Mild spoilers ahead.) While Tara tried to teach her about the Craft,


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WWW: Lost, the Island of Terrible Dads

(Giveaway: One commenter will get the hardcover edition of Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes.)

Like the show itself, this is a very long column. Unlike the show, it’s only about one thing. 

Lost aired on ABC from 2004-2010, six enigmatic seasons that left a vocal and devoted fanbase, and a larger audience whose reaction seemed to be more like, “Huh? What?” when they watched the final season—especially the final episode.

Lost can be purchased via Youtube or Amazon Prime. I stopped watching the show early in its original run,


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Emily Wilde’s Map of the Otherlands: Complications abound and danger stalks our heroes

Emily Wilde’s Map of the Otherlands by Heather Fawcett

This review of Emily Wilde’s Map of the Otherlands contains spoilers for Book One, Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries. Heather Fawcett’s second book, published in 2024, advances the adventures of scholars Emily Wilde and Wendell Bamblely as they prepare to embark on a perilous quest. It also introduces some new characters to the mix, and I’ll be interested to see if they appear again in the third book of the series.


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Giveaway! What’s the best book you read last month?

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

What’s the best book you read in April 2024 and why did you love it? 

It doesn’t have to be a newly published book, or even SFF, or even fiction. We just want to share some great reading material.

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

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


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WWWednesday: May 1, 2024

Alan Brown reviews the collected short stories of Vernor Vinge.

Coincidence time: I’d never heard of From, but I’m currently re-watching an old ABC show called Lost which featured Harold Perrineau, and so does From, which includes staff talent from Lost…  which means it could go any number of ways.

Since I have been watching Lost, I wondered where Matthew Fox got to, and here’s the answer.

I didn’t know The Lazarus Project was still on,


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The Book That Broke the World: Enjoyable throughout its entire length

The Book That Broke the World by Mark Lawrence

It’s funny that as I was reading Mark Lawrence’s The Book That Broke the World (2024), I kept thinking how it was much more action/plot oriented than its predecessor, The Book That Wouldn’t Burn, which in my head I recalled as far more character and theme-driven. Then, in preparation for writing this review, I went back and read my review of book one and saw that I’d noted how the action “quickens at a relentlessly breathless rate.” So maybe it’s a balance thing?


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Giants In The Dust: Oliver shines in his final sci-fi novel

Giants In The Dust by Chad Oliver

At this late date, the authors who have penned works in the fields of science fiction and fantasy must number well into the multiple thousands, but the ones with an actual background in science, who have used their education and scientific training to both inform and add veracity to their stories … ah, they are indeed amongst a much more limited crew. Let’s see … Isaac Asimov was, of course, an associate professor of biochemistry. Hal Clement had degrees in both chemistry and astronomy,


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Witch Hat Atelier: Volumes 1-3 (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 Mandy Sun.

Mandy Sun is a first-year student at Emory Oxford University and is considering majoring in Computer Science.


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Utterly Dark and the Heart of the Wild: A fantastic middle book in a captivating trilogy

Utterly Dark and the Heart of the Wild by Philip Reeve

In his review for Skye McKenna’s Hedgewitch, Reeve said: “there are only two sorts of fantasy story: the ones that feel fake and the ones that feel real. It’s hard to explain the difference but you know the real ones when you read them.”

I know exactly what he’s talking about, because he writes the real ones too. His depiction of Faerie – that ancient place where all the fairy tales come from – captures its mystery and danger and uncanny beauty as it also exists in books like Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and Lord Dunsany’s The King of Elfland’s Daughter and Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell,


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Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries: A roller-coaster of a romantic romp

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett

The first book in the EMILY WILDE series is a lively, lovely romp through an alternate Europe, with faeries, magic, lost kingdoms, irascible scholars and their irritating colleagues. Though completely different in tone and subject matter, Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries (2023), by Heather Fawcett, reminded me a bit of Marie Brennan’s LADY TRENT series. Both series feature a woman scientist and a story transmitted via reports or journal entries. There the similarities end,


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WWWednesday: April 24, 2024

Primary endosymbiosis is rare, but it’s happening right now with an algae and a cyanobacterium, which are merging to form an organelle that can fix nitrogen directly from the air.

Among other events, BaltiCon will feature an SFF-themed short film festival. (Thanks to File 770.)

Fallout has been renewed for another season on Amazon.

Nerds of a Feather interview Cheryl Ntumy about Mothersound, a science-fantasy anthology based on African folklore, and the Sauutiverse collective.

Reactor offers an excerpt of James Logan’s new epic fantasy novel The Silverblood Promise.


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Someone You Can Build a Nest In: Can a monster and a monster hunter find love?

Someone You Can Build a Nest In by John Wiswell

Relationships are hard. They may be even harder when one person’s definition of love is implanting their eggs in the beloved, so that the hatchlings eat their way out of their parent. For Shesheshen, the protagonist of John Wiswell’s Someone You Can Build a Nest In (2024), this is how her species defines it. Now that she’s fallen in love with Homily, a human woman, the egg-implantation issue isn’t the only obstacle on their road to happiness.

Shesheshen is a protoplasmic creature,


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The Flying Eyes: Congeal, heal and repeal

The Flying Eyes by J. Hunter Holly

It sports one of the most famous covers in sci-fi paperback history; a piece of art so iconic that I have seen it reproduced in the form of refrigerator magnets! I am referring here to the first edition of J. Hunter Holly’s The Flying Eyes, the cover of which depicts a man and a woman fleeing in abject terror from the onslaught of several dozen – you guessed it – self-propelled, levitating eyeballs!


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WWWednesday: April 17, 2024

The Tolkien Awards were announced on Saturday, April 13.

The Writers Guild announced their awards as well, and there are some genre-related winners here.

Here’s a fun article on an amateur, non-profit Doctor Who film being filmed in Wales (because where else?) (Thanks to File770.)

Molly Templeton asks the question; “Can a Book Really Be for Everyone?” and proceeds to answer it. I’m not sure I completely agree, but it’s a great essay.

I’m not disappointed in this article,


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