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A Journey Into the Universes of Frank Herbert

Today we welcome Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson who are here to tell us about a newly published 700 page collection of Frank Herbert's stories. One commenter will win a hardback copy of this beautiful book which would make a great gift for any science fiction lover on your list.
A Journey Into the Universes of Frank Herbert

by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson

A reviewer for The New York Times once quipped that Frank Herbert's head was so overloaded with ideas that it was likely to fall off. He was a repository of incredible, wondrous information, and a writer of fabulous stories — both at novel length and in shorter forms. His words captivated millions of people all over the world.

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Thank you, Jack Vance

Jack Vance passed away on May 26, 2013. He has been a major influence on science fiction and fantasy since he published The Dying Earth in 1950. We'd like to thank author Matthew Hughes for sharing what Jack Vance meant to him. 

Jack Vance: An Appreciation by Matthew Hughes

When you're young and on the upward curve of your life, you're in the business of doing things for the first time. Most of those things — your first kiss, your first date, your first car — you look forward to. Some of them — your first job interview, your first "we need to talk" talk — not so much.

And then there are the firsts that you don't even recognize as significant until you look back across the years and think, "Oh, yeah, that was where that all... Read More

The Silence of Our Friends

The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long, Jim Demonakos, Nate Powell

One of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s most famous admonishments to all of us who lived in the Civil Rights era was that “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies… but the silence of our friends.” Mark Long’s graphic memoir, The Silence of Our Friends, reminds readers from that period, and surely opens eyes of those who were born long after the fiery 1960’s, that the loudest noise heard amidst the roaring flames of burning American cities, the rousing speeches of frustrated activists, and the staccato fire of automatic weapons echoing from the land of Viet Nam was the silence of too many good people. People who hoped that all this mess would somehow go away magically. People who stayed inside while others were being chased and beaten and firehosed on the streets outside their homes. People who thought Civil Rights only applied ... Read More

Phillipa Bornikova: Happy Endings

Today we welcome Phillipa Bornikova whose first novel This Case is Gonna Kill Me has recently been published by Tor. Phillipa has been the story editor of a major network television series, a horse trainer, and an oil-company executive. She lives in the Southwest. And she likes happy endings. Comment below for a chance to win a copy of  This Case is Gonna Kill Me which Kelly has reviewed here.

Why do happy endings get such a bad rap? I’m not talking about sappy, unrealistic endings, but honest endings in which people get what they need even if they may not get what they want. I know it’s fashionable for critics to sneer at the happy ending as if only grief and suffering have value. As if only a hopeless conclusion filled with pain can be serious or have any ... Read More

Free audiobooks: Horror

FanLit thanks Seth Jones of Free Listens for this contribution!

In my previous column, I introduced you to some free audiobooks of fantasy and science fiction classics. This month's article features horror. As with last time, a link in the book or story title will take you to a full review at my blog, Free Listens. You can download the audiobooks by either clicking on the link to the publisher’s webpage or by right-clicking and saving the mp3 file in brackets.

To get ready for Halloween, there's nothing better than a well-told scary story, unless it's a free well-told scary story. Happily, plenty of good free horror audiobooks are readily found.

... Read More

Free audiobooks: Science Fiction classics

FanLit thanks Seth Jones of Free Listens for this contribution!

In my last column, I introduced you to some free audiobooks of fantasy classics. This time, I'll do the same with fantasy literature's kissing cousin, science fiction.  As with last time, a link in the book or story title will take you to a full review at my blog, Free Listens. You can download the audiobooks by either clicking on the link to the publisher's webpage or by right-clicking and saving the mp3 file in brackets.

The roots of modern science fiction can be traced to a few authors in the 19th century, notably Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.  A good introduction to Verne's work, though not as fully science fiction as some of his larger novels, is Read More

Free audiobooks: Fantasy classics

FanLit thanks Seth Jones of Free Listens for this contribution!

A number of free audiobooks are available for legal download on the Internet, but finding the good ones takes some effort.  I write Free Listens, a blog focused on reviewing the best free audiobooks and audiostories available in all genres, from science fiction space operas to literary classics.  I've been asked to write a series of occasional guest columns for this site, focusing on the best free fantasy audiobooks.

For this introductory post, I'd like to point out some of the acknowledged classics of the genre. In the blurbs that follow, my full review at Free Listens can be found by clicking on the book's title, while a link to the publishing website in parenthesis is followed direct link to download in brackets.

First up is a s... Read More

A Shot in the Dark: A strong sequel

A Shot in the Dark by K.A. Stewart

A Shot in the Dark continues a few months after A Devil in the Details, with Jesse James Dawson mostly recovered from his last demon death-dance and tornado tango, but still suffering from nightmares of an earlier near-fatal demon fight. His annual Colorado camping trip with his buddies should provide ample opportunity for rejuvenation and recreation. A walk in the woods, dodging paintballs and pine cones, to a mountain cabin retreat should fit the bill.

His hiatus from demon hunting sputters when Axel, the demon personally plaguing Jesse, invites himself to the pre-vacation barbecue at the Dawson home, despite the wards maintained by Jesse's wife on the house and the yard. Axel acts strange, even for a demon, and attempts to warn Jesse against making the camping trip, but Jesse just wants Axel gone and ignores the friendly overtures.
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A Devil in the Details: Demonically delicious

A Devil in the Details by K.A. Stewart

A Devil in the Details introduces us to the wry and wiry Jesse James Dawson, a 21st century Midwestern samurai who saves souls in the best tradition of The Seven Samurai. If you sold your soul to the devil, or one of his demonic henchmen, who you gonna call? JJD, of course, or one of his fellow demon-fighting champions. His wife, Mira, a practicing Wiccan white witch, owns a shop in Westport, a trendy Kansas City district of specialty shops and bars. Together they attempt to corral their young daughter, Annabelle, appropriately nicknamed Hurricane Anna. Ivan, a retired Ukrainian demon killer, mentors Jesse and several other champions scattered around the globe. When two champions fail to report in, Ivan warns Jesse and travels to Mexico to investigate Miguel's disappearance.

Meanwhile, Jesse is juggling life and a new client with wisecracking adroitness. An ... Read More

The Door Within: Well-done Christian allegory

The Door Within by Wayne Thomas Batson

The Door Within grabbed my attention immediately. While I read fantasy novels continuously, I don't always indulge in the young adult action-adventure flavor of fantasy.

Aidan Thomas faces his rite-of-passage on two fronts. His parents relocate to care for Aidan’s grandfather, depriving Aidan of his friends and familiar environs. He discovers and reads some scrolls that transport him to The Realm, where he trains rigorously to become an elite warrior of King Eliam and join the fight for the hearts and minds of the people of Mithgarde. An accomplished warrior and Glimpse (similar to a Knight in our world) named Gwenne befriends Aidan. The King’s Captain, Valithor, only survivor of the treachery and betrayal by Paragor, sets high standards for the warrior trainees, tempered with kindness.

Wayne Thomas Baston avoids any blatant litera... Read More

God Stalk: Heists, action, intrigue

God Stalk by P.C. Hodgell

God Stalk, first in the Kencyrath series authored by P.C. Hodgell in the early 80s, opens with Jame stumbling into Tai-Tastigon, which is apparently deserted, after being so long on the run that she's delirious with exhaustion and fighting off her race's healing dwar sleep. She chances upon Penari, a famous thief, as he's trapped in a doorway by a couple of footpads. Jame rushes to the rescue and Penari offers her a job as recompense. Too weak, confused and lost to comprehend, Jame wanders the maze of Tai-Tastigon until she collapses just inside the doorstep of the Res a'Bytrr, one of the few taverns open on the eve of the Feast of the Dead Gods.

Jame is adopted into the hearts and hearth of the tavern owner and his staff. She recovers rapidly, but is stalked by nightmares of her life before arriving at Tai-Tastigon... Read More

Corvus: A tale of war in all of its bloody horror

Corvus by Paul Kearney

I was introduced to Paul Kearney’s writing when I read The Ten Thousand, and I instantly loved the way Kearney does his brand of historical fantasy. His focus is on a Greek-like, Bronze Age civilization peopled by the Macht, a war-like civilization of city-states very much like the Greece of ca. 400 BC. In both The Ten Thousand and Corvus, Kearney uses ancient history as a broad structure for telling a tale of war in all of its bloody horror.

In Corvus, Kearney brings back Rictus, one of the leaders of the Ten Thousand, mercenaries who fought their way out of the Asurian Empire after their employer failed to seize its throne, and who are very loosely based on this world’s Ten Thousand, Greeks who similarly fought their way out of Persia. Rictus has a legendary stature in the cities of the Macht, and is... Read More

Century of the Soldier: An excellent conclusion

Century of the Soldier by Paul Kearney

Century of the Soldieris the omnibus edition of The Iron Wars (1999), The Second Empire (2000) and Ships from the West (2002), and is the concluding volume of Paul Kearney’s re-issued The Monarchies of God. It is as compelling and readable as Hawkwood and the Kings, and while it does not enjoy five-star status with its predecessor, it is an excellent conclusion, and I stand by my statement in my previous review: any person who loves good epic fantasy must read these books.

In many ways, Century of the Soldier is a very different book from Hawkwood and the Kings. The first two thirds continue where Hawkwood left off, dealing with th... Read More

Hawkwood and the Kings: Best battle scenes in fantasy literature

Hawkwood and the Kings by Paul Kearney

Hawkwood and the Kings is an omnibus of Hawkwood’s Voyage and The Heretic Kings, first released in the mid-nineties to critical acclaim but limited commercial success. Paul Kearney is, to the detriment of readers of fine fantasy, one of those authors who ran into publisher difficulties. Had the publisher actively marketed the original releases of The Monarchies of God, the books would have sold well and would unquestionably be considered classics alongside other great adult fantasies like George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and Read More

Rise of the Darklings: A new series for Harry Potter fans

Rise of the Darklings by Paul Crilley

Emily Snow is old beyond her years. Only 12 and supporting herself and her younger brother by selling watercress on the streets of Victorian England, Emily is lucky if she makes enough in one day to buy one meal to keep herself and her brother alive for one more day. Her parents having both mysteriously disappeared, Emily is not in a great mood when she pulls herself out of bed one cold winter morning to drag herself to work. On the way however, Emily comes across something she should not have seen. In a dark alley there is a battle going on. Tiny piskies are engaged in combat with real weapons and when Emily selflessly rescues one of the injured, she is thrown into a world she had no idea existed right in front of her face. After rescuing the piskie she unknowingly becomes involved in a war between the Seelie and the Unseelie, two opposing factions of fairies that have been battling each other throughout ce... Read More

The Portrait of Mrs Charbuque: Couldn’t put it down

The Portrait of Mrs Charbuque by Jeffrey Ford

The best thing about being my own master when it comes to choosing what I want to read is that when I read a book I really want to talk about I can without feeling like I have to put aside any other obligations, and I really want to talk about The Portrait of Mrs Charbuque.

Piero Piambo, a portrait artist in New York in 1893, is currently in fashion and as a result also in high demand. Despite the financial security it affords him, he begins to wonder if he has not lost his way in regards to his art, and when he receives a mysterious commission from the blind Watkins, servant of Mrs Charbuque, he accepts it with the absurd condition that he must paint her portrait without ever seeing her. The one concession that she does make is that Piero can visit for an hour Monday through Friday and ask her any questions he wants as long as they do not pertain to her appea... Read More

The Traitor: A wonderfully dark tale of bleak morality

The Traitor by Michael Cisco

A good friend of mine who has excellent taste recommended The Traitor to me. I had heard of Michael Cisco, mostly through people like Jeff Vandermeer and Jeffrey Ford saying nice things about his work, but until now I hadn’t read any of his novels. With strong recommendations from three people who opinions I rate highly I expected quite a lot, and I have to admit I wasn’t disappointed.

The Traitor is written as a first person narrative by Nophtha, the traitor of the title, as he awaits death in his jail cell convicted of acts of treason. Noticed by his uncle as a child as a blank, he is initiated as a spirit eater, a shunned and despised part of society... Read More

Mansfield Park and Mummies: Tricked into reading Jane Austen

Mansfield Park and Mummies by Vera Nazarian

I had always heard great things about Vera Nazarian’s books, both from friends and publications, but I never quite got around to reading any of her work until recently when I picked up her short story collection Salt of the Air, published by Prime Books. The introduction was by Gene Wolfe, a man I have an enormous amount of respect for as a writer. After reading the wonderful things that Gene had to say about her, I knew I was in for a treat, and I was not wrong. The sublime opening story “Rossia Moya,” about an old woman returning to the Russia she emigrated from when she was younger to see it for the last time before it closes to the outside world, is the perfect introduction. Following it are other great short stories: a cautionary tale in the form of beauty and the ... Read More

Spirited: Confusing and unsatisfying

Spirited by Nancy Holder

During the height of the French-Indian War, Isabella and her father, who is a doctor with the British army, are making their way to a new fort through the New York wilderness. In the meantime, Wusamequin, a Native American brave who is looking to avenge the death of his wife and child has a vision of soldiers crossing through the lands of his people. In a fit of rage Wusamequin leads a party of warriors against the English. Impressed with the way Isabella fights back, he spares her life and takes her into his home as his slave, though soon both of them begin to realize that they are becoming much more than servant and master.

I liked the idea behind Spirited; I love stories where Native American tribes take in settlers and the settlers learn that all they have been taught about “Indians” is wrong. It’s a classic theme, I know, but I can’t help liking those kinds of stories... Read More

Mother Aegypt and Other Stories: Kage Baker had a true gift for storytelling

Mother Aegypt and Other Stories by Kage Baker

When Kage Baker died from cancer earlier this year, I was regretful that I had never gotten around to reading any of her work. I had always heard good things about her writing, both from friends and from other writers, and had seen she had been nominated for a number of writing awards I value. I always intended to get around to it, but we all know what our reading piles are like and I never did. Wanting to read her work, I ordered Mother Aegypt from Night Shade, as I am a firm believer in starting with an author’s short stories if possible, prescribing to that old adage that if you can’t tell a good story in ten pages, you can’t tell a good one in two hundred.

So the collection is made up of twelve short stories, all reprinted from other publications, and one original novella loosely tied to her  Read More

Latro in the Mist: Two fantastic novels


LATRO IN THE MIST is the omnibus edition containing two of Gene Wolfe’s historical fantasies set in ancient Greece: Soldier of the Mist and Soldier of Arete. They tell the story of Latro, a Roman mercenary wounded while fighting on the side of the Persians at the battle of Plataea. The wound to the head robs him of most of his long term memory as well as his short, limiting him to only about twenty-four hours before he forgets. The other effect is that Latro finds that he is able to see the gods, mythical creatures and the spirits of the dead. On the advice of an oracle of Apollo he sets off on a quest to restore his memory so he can return home that takes him across most of Greece meeting both minor and major deities, as well as famous historical figures.

Soldier of the Mist opens with a dedic... Read More

Eulalia: Another great Redwall story

Eulalia by Brian Jacques

Torn from his humble home in the Northern Isles, Gorath the badger is taken captive aboard the feared vessel Bludgullet captained by the feared Viska Longtooth, a savage and crazed fox with an unquenchable blood thirst.

Meanwhile, far away in the heart of Mossflower Woods, a young thief is exiled from the great Redwall Abbey. Orkwill Prink, a spirited and energetic hedgehog, forges ahead into the unknown to seek his fortunes in the wider world. Orkwill is unaware, however, that he is soon to cross paths with the mighty badger and a crew of vile vermin.

I have always been a lover of Brian Jacques’s Redwall series, and Eulalia was no exception. I love Jacques’s work because, even though the reader visits the same places over and over again in all of his book... Read More

Brightly Woven: Great characters make up for fuzzy plot

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

Ten years. A long time to go without rain, but the citizens in Sydelle’s small country town are used to it by now. Until one ordinary day when Wayland North wanders into the sleepy community and brings rain with him.

Sydelle is drawn to the self-proclaimed wizard and when her town is raided the night after North’s arrival, she soon finds herself the wizard’s unwilling “assistant” and suddenly on the adventure of a lifetime. Even though Sydelle longed to leave her village, she questions why North, a great and powerful wizard, would choose a simple weaver from a small country village which the rest of the country has all but forgotten about. North also behaves strangely towards her. He is surprisingly overprotective for someone who is practically a stranger, and Sydelle has the funny feeling that North is hiding something from her…

The shining stars in Bright... Read More

A Chat with Celia S. Friedman

We're big fans of C.S. Friedman (see our reviews here) and are pleased to present this interview which was conducted for FanLit by our friend R.K. Charron. Thanks, RK! 

Celia S. Friedman was born in 1957. She is the author of the SF novels In Conquest Born, The Madness Season, and This Alien Shor... Read More

Flesh and Fire: Where’s the fire?

Flesh and Fire by Laura Anne Gilman

Jerzy is a slave. He has never known anything but slavery in the Master Vineart’s fields, toiling away at the grape vines that create the magical wine that is so coveted by the powerful and all of the Vinearts. Jerzy’s life is uneventful until one fateful day when he happens to get a face full of the grape mash and feels something magical in the wine. Knowing death is certain now that he, a lowly slave, has tasted the magical brew, the Master summons Jerzy to the main house. But instead of walking to his execution, the master gives Jerzy a test and takes him on as his apprentice. It seems that Jerzy has the gift to craft and use spellwines.

While Jerzy is receiving his training, strange things are happening all over the realm. Cities are disappearing, strange monsters are causing death and destruction, and diseases threaten to kill off many of the spell vines. The Master is confused and worr... Read More

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