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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 Delimma

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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WWWednesday: Cover Reveal, The Book of Atrix Wolfe

Tachyon Publications celebrates the 30-year anniversary of Patricia McKillip’s The Book of Atrix Wolfe with a beautiful new edition. McKillip, who passed away in May, 2022, wrote seductive fantasies, filled with engaging characters and prose that sang. Beginning in the 1970s, McKillip filled our lives with magic, mystery and beauty.

We’re happy to reveal the beautiful cover of the new book, and host a giveaway. One commenter will have a choice of a hardcopy ARC or an eARC of The Book of Atrix Wolfe.

“When the White Wolf descends upon the battlefield,


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The Brides of High Hill: A well-crafted tale

The Brides of High Hill by Nghi Vo

The Brides of High Hill (2024) is the fifth installment in Nghi Vo’s SINGING HILLS series of novellas. I found it a solid enough of a story if a bit slight, though it’s possible that if, unlike me, you’ve read the others you might have a more positive response.

Cleric Chih is accompanying a young bride, Nhung, and her parents to the estate of Lord Guo, where Nhung is to be wed to her wealthy but far older husband-to-be.


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Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli (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 Damien Cavallo.

Damien Cavallo is a first-year student at Oxford College who is currently studying political science.


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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 May 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: June 5, 2024

Babel by R.F. Huang won the 2024 Xingyun Award for best work in translation. You might remember this book. It was disqualified from the Hugo awards earlier this year for no known reason.

The Bram Stoker Awards were also announced.

Romance Writers of America filed for bankruptcy on May 29. Reasons included a dwindling membership—apparently down from 10,000 members in 2019 to about 2,000 members in 2023–and equally dwindling paid registrations at conventions. The organization itself, according to a Bloomberg headline, blames “DEI,” (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) for its problems.


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Chill: It’s fun to explore this generation ship

Chill by Elizabeth Bear

Chill (2010) is the second installment in Elizabeth Bear’s JACOB’S LADDER trilogy. It begins immediately after the events of the first book, Dust, which you’ll want to read first.

The story takes place on a dilapidated generation ship called Jacob’s Ladder which has been drifting through space, basically becalmed, for hundreds of years. During that time, due to the effects of nanotechnology, the ship’s denizens have evolved into inharmonious groups of post-human species and society has regressed to a type of feudalism with the Conn family as lords.


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Translation State: Diplomacy is dangerous

Translation State by Ann Leckie

With Translation State, which was nominated for a Best Novel of 2023 Nebula Award, Ann Leckie brings us back to the universe adjacent to the Radchaai Empire, which is still embroiled in a civil war. This book directs its attention to the Presger Translators and their mysterious origin race, the Presger Themselves.

I liked Translation State, and about halfway through, one of the characters was suddenly in such jeopardy I could not put the book down.


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Alien Earths: The New Science of Planet Hunting in the Cosmos

Alien Earths: The New Science of Planet Hunting in the Cosmos by Lisa Kaltenegger

Alien Earths: The New Science of Planet Hunting in the Cosmos, by Lisa Kaltenegger is at times a fascinating book, is at times an inspiring book, is often an informative book, but also, unfortunately, is often a frustrating book. Or at least it was for me. It’s a worthy read, but one that feels like it could have been much more.

Kaltenegger is director of the Carl Sagan Institute to Search for Life in the Cosmos at Cornell University and as such is one of the best candidates for writing a book on exoplanets (those planets outside our own solar system),


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I’m Afraid You’ve Got Dragons: Quintessential Beagle

I’m Afraid You’ve Got Dragons by Peter S. Beagle

2023 was a good year for Peter Beagle fans (and who isn’t a Beagle fan?), with the publication of two retrospective short story collections — The Essential Peter S. Beagle Volumes I and II — and another book (The Way Home) combining two novellas, one a reprint and the other brand new. And now, just as the afterglow of all that may be starting to fade, 2024 says “hold my mead,” offering up a new novel,


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WWWednesday: Lost Season Two, by the Book

In Season 2 of Lost, the showrunners  hit both the zenith and nadir of characterization, with Ben Linus (Michael Emerson) and Ana Lucia Cortez (Michelle Rodriguez.) They succumbed to the Epic Fail technique of “fridging.” Pop-star character Charlie wrestled with addiction, as Locke did with faith. And as in Season One, lots of people run through the jungle. With Season 2, the show added the dramatic innovation, “running and falling down in the jungle.”

Starting in September, 2005, Season 2 led us through 24 episodes. Storylines include:

the Hatch

the Tail Section Survivors

Walt’s abduction

The Others

Courtesy of Lostpedia,


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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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