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A House Like an Accordion: Not recommended

A House Like an Accordion by Audrey Burges 

A House Like an Accordion (2024) by Audrey Burges has an absolutely fantastic opening line: “I was brushing my teeth when my hand disappeared.” Talk about a hook. What is going on here? The author had me at the start. Unfortunately, the promise of that opening line was never realized and thanks to a number of issues, the novel ended up being one I had to push myself to finish and thus can’t recommend.


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Lone Women: The past is complicated

Lone Women by Victor LaValle

Victor LaValle’s Lone Women (2023) is brilliant. It’s about connections, family, secrets, guilt and love. Yes, there is a monster in it. Yes, it is suspenseful, and yes, it is gory, and those are both horror trademarks, but Lone Women is filled with hidden history and restored triumphs. Is it horror? That depends on your definition of “monster.”

In 1915, Adelaide Henry flees her family farm in Lucerne Valley, California. She leaves behind a burning farmhouse and her two dead parents;


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Berserk (Volume 1) by Kentaro Miura (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 Adra Curington.

Adra Curington is a first-year student at Emory Oxford College majoring in philosophy.


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Bird Box: Whatever you do, don’t look

Bird Box by Josh Malerman 

Bird Box, published in 2014, was Josh Malerman’s first novel. Malerman came out of the music scene, breaking into fiction with this moody story of psychological horror. A woman and two four-year-olds take a journey down river, blindfolded, in a world where what you see can literally kill you.

In the opening sentences, Malorie decides that today’s the day. The big house is dark, every window and door covered. Even a trip out to the well,


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WWWednesday: May 22, 2024

If you’re a WorldCon member, you know the Hugo Voting Packets are available.

Fiction magazine Small Wonders has initiated a Kickstarter to fund its second year.

ReactorMag reports that Sandman has now cast the rest of the Endless (the siblings of Dream) including Destruction.

They also review the latest Doctor Who episode.

Here’s a fun article about Season 2 of House of the Dragon.

Atlas Obscura shares an interesting article about the Maya and their use of mirrors.


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

Reposting to include Bill’s new review.

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.


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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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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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