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Empty Smiles: The fourth and final game begins

Empty Smiles by Katherine Arden

What is it that makes funfairs and carnivals so scary? Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari both take place in carnivals, as do a few significant chapters of Stephen King’s It and several third season episodes of Stranger Things. I even recall that the third book of L.J. Smith’s The Forbidden Game ended in an abandoned funfair.


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WWWednesday: April 10, 2024

Oliver K. Langmead shares six books with Nerds of a Feather, including a collaboration between China Mieville and… Keanu Reeves, an adaptation of Reeves’s comic. Interesting.

Haruki Murakami has a new book coming out in November, The City and its Uncertain Walls.

Angry Robot has opened its submission window and is utilizing an AI sorting program. They have providing an FAQ page and are trying to get ahead of any concerns writers might have. (Thanks to File770.)

Reactor announced that Tor will be publishing a new “Gatsby” themed novella from Nghi Vo.


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The Morningside: A mostly successful mix of genres

The Morningside by Téa Obreht

The Morningside by Téa Obreht is set in a post-climate change near-future in a partial drowned city called Island City (maybe Manhattan?) that is accepting refugees to repopulate the city with promises of newly constructed/renovated homes for those who come to work. The novel is a mostly successful mix of genres, a sort of magical realist/cli-fi Harriet the Spy if Harriet were also a refugee.

Our main character is eleven-year-old Sylvia, who has arrived with her mother in the titular rundown high-rise where Sylvia’s Aunt Ena works as the super (there is a frame and the tale is told as a flashback from adult Sylvia’s perspective,


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The Magic Order (Book 3): More magic and mystery

The Magic Order (Book 3) by Mark Millar (writer), Gigi Cavenago (artist), Valentina Napolitano (colorist), Clem Robins (letterer) 

Book Three of The Magic Order by Mark Millar features wonderful art by Gigi Cavenago and takes us further along on the journey started in the first two books: The focus is still on the Moonstone family, particularly on Cordelia Moonstone, who is the leader of the Magic Order. This book ends on a cliffhanger, so Book Four will be important to read to get a full conclusion to the story.


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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 March 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: April 3, 2024

The Hugo finalist list is out. Any surprises? I’m pleased to see that fans of Chinese SFF didn’t let last year’s mess discourage them.

Not too surprisingly, several people declined nominations and a few of them gave statements. Here’s Camestos Felapton’s.  Natasha Bardon, nominated for Best Editor, Long Form, declined. Bardon edited Babel, an award-winning book that was deemed ineligible for the Hugos last year for no discernible reason. Martha Wells declined a nomination for Best Novella for System Collapse.


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Neither Beg Nor Yield: Stories With S & S Attitude

Neither Beg Nor Yield: Stories With S&S Attitude by Jason M. Waltz (editor) & M.D. Jackson (illustrator)

I don’t know how aware SFF fandom is, but sword & sorcery has had a resurgence of late. Jason M. Waltz and most of the authors featured in Neither Beg Nor Yield have been champions of this subgenre, some for the past quarter century. Mr. Waltz first published sword & sorcery and other great heroic and weird fiction with Flashing Swords Press and later under his own micro-press, Rogue Blades Entertainment.


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The Haunted Stars: Fairlie awesome

The Haunted Stars by Edmond Hamilton

At the tail end of my review of Edmond Hamilton’s The Star of Life (1947), I mentioned that this was the finest novel that I’d read by the Ohio-born author so far, and added that I now looked forward to reading Hamilton’s The Haunted Stars, which seems to enjoy an even greater reputation. Take, for example, these two sources that I have always trusted: The Science Fiction Encyclopedia,


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WWWednesday: March 27, 2024

A single-topic column today.

Fifteen years after Johannes Cabal the Necromancer came out, to acclaim, I finally read it, along with Johannes Cabal the Detective, the second book in Jonathan L. Howard’s series. While I’m not quite sure how I missed them the first time around, I thoroughly enjoyed these first two and the astringent wit with which they are written. I was completely entertained by Johannes Cabal, scientist, necromancer, intelligent and cold-blooded anti-hero who is just human enough to make really big,


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System Collapse: Just as entertaining as all the rest of the series

Reposting to include Marion’s new review.

System Collapse by Martha Wells

The first thing to know about Martha Wells’ System Collapse is that if you can’t dredge up memories of its (chronological) predecessor, Network Effect, you’re going to want to refresh yourself either by a reread (fun enough) or skimming a few reviews, as System Collapse picks up directly afterward and really feels like it could have just been part of Network Effect (you know,


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The Asgardians 1: Odin

THE ASGARDIANS 1: Odin by George O’Connor

What do you do when you finish a 12-title series of graphic novels (THE OLYMPIANS) covering a huge chunk of Greek mythology, one that should be a required purchase for all parents, libraries, and schools? Well, if you’re George O’Connor, apparently you look around and go, “Who’s next?” The answer, it turns out, is THE ASGARDIANS. And thank the Norse gods for that.

O’Connor opens up his new series with Odin,


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The Star of Life: Flash-frozen for extra freshness

The Star of Life by Edmond Hamilton

Anyone who has delved into the writings of Radium Age/Golden Age sci-fi author Edmond Hamilton will be able to tell you that there is a huge difference in both tone and quality between his earliest work and his efforts of some 20 years later. Those early stories and novels were, generally speaking, crudely written fare that yet won the reader over by dint of their great sweep, gusto, imagination, color, and epic scale. But a funny thing happened to the quality of Hamilton’s writing starting in the mid-1940s,


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WWWednesday: March 20, 2024

March 17 is best known in the modern USA as St. Patrick’s Day. It is also the feast day of St. Getrude of Nivelles, an aristocratic woman who became a nun and an abbess, and might be the patron saint of cats. This older article is interesting, even though there is no formal documentation of a Patron Saint of Cats.

Short story writer and award winner John Wiswell shares six books with Nerds of a Feather.

Best five? Best six? Stubby the Robot says, “Hah!” to such paltry lists and gives us 13 selkie stories on Reactor.


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Dark Waters: “Until next time” is now

Dark Waters by Katherine Arden

The third (but clearly not final, given its cliffhanger ending) book in the SMALL SPACES QUARTET sees our three eleven-year-old protagonists once more go up against “the Smiling Man,” an immortal fey creature who loves to make deals and play games with unsuspecting mortals. As I anticipated after Small Spaces and Dead Voices, it’s Brian’s turn to be front-and-center while Ollie and Coco take on supporting roles.

Having received a cryptic note that promises yet another round of the terrifying feud they’ve been dragged into,


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The Magic Order (Book 2): An evil family makes moves against the magic order

The Magic Order (Book 2) by Mark Millar (writer), Stuart Immonen (artist), Sunny Gho (colorist), David Curiel (colorist), and Clem Robins (letterer)

The second book of The Magic Order continues the story of the Moonstone family that was started in book one. It is equally good even with a new artist taking over the series. At the beginning of the comic Cordelia Moonstone is the head of the Moonstone family and the magic order itself. But there are members of the magical community who do not like her leadership and are plotting against her,


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The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles: Come for the mystery, stay for the great characters

Reposting to include Bill’s new review.

The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles by Malka Older

On Jupiter, known as Giant, Mossa, an Investigator, and Pleiti, scholar and instructor, are on a new case, involving the disappearance of a student. As Mossa explores, she finds not one, but seventeen university students, faculty and staff have gone missing. What the two sleuths will uncover in 2024’s The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles, by Malka Older, will destabilize Pleiti’s already-shaky faith in the university system,


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WWWednesday: March 13, 2024

Tom Doherty will be awarded the 2024 Robert Heinlein Award.

Reactor shares more casting news in the Murderbot adaptation. All the “good” characters appear to be cast.

File 770 recapped the Oscars in case you missed them.

Point Nemo is the most remote spot on the planet, it seems.

According to Beth Ann Malow, “springing forward” is not good for us—and yet we keep doing it. https:

This year’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off has identified its 10 finalists.


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The Book of Love: A book only Kelly Link could have written

The Book of Love: A Novel by Kelly Link

The Book of Love (2024) is both a book only Kelly Link could have written and a book only Kelly Link could have written. What I mean by that is that the book has Link’s DNA all over it, all the elements and feel of a Kelly Link story, from statues coming to life and walking off their plinths to ancient temples rising alongside a sleepy seaside town to beautifully stunning transformations and transmutations. There are cats of course.


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Witch King: Good adventure in a lush fantasy world

Witch King by Martha Wells

2023’s Witch King, by Martha Wells, is the first book in a new fantasy series, THE RISING WORLD. In the opening pages we meet Kaiisteron, who goes by Kai, the Witch King of the title. Kai awakens in a strange place, unable to move. He can mentally contact his friend Ziedi, but their magical connection should let him know exactly where she is, and he can’t find her. He can’t find his own body, either.

From there,


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Hedgewitch: The first instalment in a magical new series

Hedgewitch by Skye McKenna

Have you ever read a book in which the plot and characterization are best described as “fun but not special” only to completely fall in love with the world in which they’re set? In this case, there’s nothing wrong with the story of Hedgewitch (even if it hews a little too closely to the HARRY POTTER formula for its first few chapters: a magically-gifted child escapes a terrible environment with the help of a flying broomstick and a talking cat) but the construction and ambiance of the setting is just intoxicating.


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