Marion Deeds

Marion Deeds, with us since March, 2011, is the author of the fantasy novella ALUMINUM LEAVES. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthologies BEYOND THE STARS, THE WAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, STRANGE CALIFORNIA, and in Podcastle, The Noyo River Review, Daily Science Fiction and Flash Fiction Online. She’s retired from 35 years in county government, and spends some of her free time volunteering at a second-hand bookstore in her home town. You can read her blog at, and follow her on Twitter: @mariond_d.

WWWednesday: February 8, 2023

The Chengdu WorldCon Committee announced that it can now take credit card payments for membership, but still has not opened the Hugo awards for nominations and voting. File770 notes that this means the period will open later than any WorldCon in the past 15 years.

The Horror Writers Association interviews Black horror writer Winifred Iker. I thought I would like Iker when I read the sentence saying she has “a robust collection of Tarot cards.” But the great-aunt who arrived each summer with a tote-bag full of books sealed the deal!

At Writer Beware, Victoria Strauss alerts us to Read More

Hell Bent: Return to magical Yale

Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo

When 2023’s Hell Bent, by Leigh Bardugo, opens, a demon has trapped Galaxy Stern, who goes by Alex, in the basement of the Black Elm house, along with two ghosts. Upstairs, her friend and mentor, Darlington, who was sucked into a hell dimension in Ninth House, Book One of the ALEX STERN series, waits in demon form. It’s safe to say things aren’t going well.

The second book brings us back to dark Yale and the home of the various secret societies, all of whom use magic. Alex, together with Pam Dawes, the archivist or “Oculus” of Lethe House, and Detective Turner, a New Haven cop who is in on the magic deal and serves as “Centurion,” are determined to restore Darlington to this realm. As you’d expect, all forces are arrayed against them; demonic, mundane and a... Read More

Empire of the Feast: Come for the orgy, stay for the intrigue

Empire of the Feast by Bendi Barrett

“Within our sun is the Rapacious and it hungers.”

2022’s novella Empire of the Feast begins with something going wrong. Riverson awakes, being called Empress by a royal retainer, who is shocked to discover that the new ruler is not female, as all of the Stag Empire’s rulers have been. Furthermore, Riverson lacks the memories of his forebears — and it seems his immediate predecessor, the 31st Empress, was murdered. That’s pretty shocking, but it’s going to get more shocking real fast.

Emperor Riverson the First finds out he’s on a space station orbiting his system’s sun, which is no ordinary sun. Something resides within it, something ravening, and the ruler and their court must keep it fed and quiet, mostly by directing the erotic energy generated from the nonstop orgy in the throne room. Riverson, as the ruler of the Stag Empi... Read More

WWWednesday: February 1, 2023

From last year, here is an article for the feline that may have been the inspiration for Grumpy Cat—the Pallas’s, or Pallas cat, indigenous to the Central Asian Steppes.

Malice Domestic announced the finalists for the Agatha Christie Awards this year. The award recognizes excellence in contemporary “traditional” mysteries, or what I might call, from their description, “cozies.” (I love that one of the finalists is titled The Finalist.)

The Library of America announces an April release of a collection of Ursula LeGuin’s poetry, edited by Harold Bloom. I don’t know how I feel about that... Read More

What Moves the Dead: A nifty horror story

What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher

Ursula Vernon, writing as T. Kingfisher, doesn’t try to out-Poe Edgar Allan in her 2022 novella What Moves the Dead. Instead, she flips “The Fall of the House of Usher” sideways, giving us a creepy, atmospheric, heroic and sometimes funny look at the doomed siblings Madeline and Roderick, the moldering mansion they’ve inherited as the last of the family, and the surreal, creepy mountain lake or tarn that laps at the walls of the house. While the house of Usher does fall, the steps that lead to that event are fresh, guided by a lively, plausible first-person narrator who breathes life — well, sort of — into the creepy old house and into the story itself.

It's 1890, somewhere in Europe, and Alex Easton, a soldier now out of the army, is on their way to visit old family friends, Roderick a... Read More

WWWednesday: January 25, 2023

The Academy Awards nominees were announced on Sunday.

John Scalzi was awarded the Heinlein Award.

The finalists for the Bram Stoker Award have been announced. Oh, I just realized. Award Season has been declared Open.

The Roger Ebert website reviews AMC’s serialization of Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire. Jacob Anderson brings to undead life the brooding Louis. Here’s Read More

The Spare Man: Nick and Nora Charles in space

The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal

Uber-wealthy inventor and heiress Tesla Crane and her husband, retired detective Shalmaneser Steward, plan to enjoy their honeymoon on the interplanetary luxury liner Lindgren as it travels from Earth to Mars. Horribly, the trip is interrupted when a person is stabbed to death right outside their luxury suite, and to make matters worse, Shal is arrested for the crime. As the evidence against him mounts, will Tesla be able to prove he’s innocent? Will she and her gallant Westfield terrier service dog Gimlet discover the true killer? More importantly, will Shal be free in time for happy hour?

As the title and the cover of the trade paperback show us, 2022’s The Spare Man, by Mary Robinette Kowal, is an homage to Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man—Nick and Nora Charles in Space. For lovers of Hammett, there is an “Aster” easter... Read More

WWednesday: January 18, 2023

If you wanted to start a fan-fund to help pay the way for low-income fans to attend a convention, how would you do it? File770 lays out the basics as part of their discussion of a new European Fan Fund.

Everything Everywhere All At Once swept the Critics’ Choice awards this week.

Florida struggles to address the advance of blue-green algae in its estuaries and coastal waters. Here is a FAQ page about blue-green algae and its risks. (Florida is not the only state fighting this battle.)

Read More

Legendborn: There’s much to like in this debut

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Tracy Deonn’s Legendborn (2020), the first book in her LEGENDBORN CYCLE, wasn’t on my radar until I saw it on the Locus Awards finalists list for Best Young Adult novel. I grabbed the audiobook and one of the YAs that lives in my house (Tali, my 18-year-old daughter) and we listened to Legendborn together as we worked a jigsaw puzzle. We agreed to give Legendborn a rating of 3.5 which is quite a bit lower than the book currently rates at both Amazon and GoodReads, so keep that in mind (YMMV). The bottom line is that we found the story entertaining and wanted to know what happened, but there were too many issues for us to fully endorse Legendborn.

Bree Matthews is a young black high school student who is smart and succ... Read More

WWWednesday: January 11, 2023

Caroline Herschel was the sister of 18th-century astronomer William Herschel. An accomplished singer herself, Caroline helped her brother chart the heavens, and identified nebulae. Philip Henry and Hannah Martin wrote and performed this song about her back in 2005.

LitHub compiled some exceptionally vicious book reviews from 2022. Several of these read like reviewers who saw a chance to practice their writing skills, and several cross over into ad hominem comments… but a lot of them are funny.

The Washington Post explores why it took 43 years to get Octavia Butler’s Kindred to the small screen. (Thanks to File770.)

My husband stumbled across a Read More

Battle of the Linguist Mages: Might make a fun video game

Battle of the Linguist Mages by Scotto Moore

My low rating of 2022’s Battle of the Linguist Mages comes from the distance between my anticipation of this book based on its excellent title, and the reality of reading it. I think people who like watching other people play video games will enjoy this book. I don’t, and so I didn’t. Your mileage, as we say, may vary.

Battle of the Linguist Mages is filled with awesome ideas. Here are a few:

a “battle language” that changes reality
extraterrestrials who live in human consciousness as punctuation marks
a powerful, high-tech cult
a dictatorial governor of California with a plan of conquest
1980s tropes and dance-offs

Moore’s book is filled with cool visuals and snappy dialogue, with villains who know they’re villains, and snark back with great glee at our ... Read More

Little Eve: Best gothic horror book I read in 2022

Little Eve by Catriona Ward

Little Eve is the best gothic horror book I read last year. Originally published in the United Kingdom in 2018, it won the Shirley Jackson award and the British Fantasy Award for Best Horror Novel. It’s a book saturated with atmosphere, filled with clues, puzzles, masks and secret identities. Ultimately, it’s about cults, serpents, sisters, lies, and love.

The book starts in the 1920s, when a local man in a remote Scottish village discovers the bodies of everyone who lives in the rotting castle on the bluff. All are dead except one. Dinah, a young woman his age, has survived. Her story is strange, but the group—the “family”—who lived at the castle were strange to begin with. The mystery remains as the story shifts; to an earlier death in 1917, and forward to the aftermath of the mass death at the castle.

The story is told among shifting points of view... Read More

WWWednesday: January 4, 2023

Happy 2023. I hope it goes well for all of you.

Brandon Sanderson ended last year with an update about his successful Kickstarter campaign, the state of his various series, and some new projects.

On New Year’s Day, Avengers and Hawkeye star Jeremy Renner was hospitalized, in critical but stable condition, after a snowplow accident.

Darusha Wehm, Nebula-nominated game developer, discusses six books with Nerds of a Feather.

Victor LaValle is Read More

Network Effect: Complex connections

Reposting to include Bill's new review.

Network Effect by Martha Wells

Martha Wells’ Murderbot has been gathering enthusiastic fans (which would be certain to have Murderbot hiding behind its opaque armored faceplate), along with multiple Nebula, Hugo and other awards and nominations, as each of the first four novellas in the MURDERBOT DIARIES series has been published over the last three years. In Network Effect (2020), the first full-length novel in this series, Wells is able to explore a more complex plot and to more fully develop Murderbot’s character and its relationships with others.

Murderbot is now with Dr. Mensah and the other Preservation Station characters who Murderbot was protecting in the first book, Read More

WWWednesday: December 28, 2022

Have a safe and happy New Year's, everyone.

I commented on the first three episodes of Amazon’s The Peripheral, their adaptation of Book One of the Jackpot Trilogy by William Gibson. While I liked many parts of it, I was ultimately disappointed. The show improved by prodigious leaps, however, once the character Ainsley Lowbeer appeared on the screen, and the last five episodes set up a decent storyline, ending on an acceptable cliffhanger. Acceptable, I should say, if Amazon gives us a second season.

Ainsley Lowbeer is a character of Future London, a member of the Metropolitan Police. In the books she is a great deal more, a nearly invulnerable character with extraordinary legitimate and informal power. In the series, while she is still powerful, it seems that Cerise Nuland (T’Nia Miller) from the Research Institute is her equal, or at least nearly. And the series still clings closely to the events in near-future South Carolina, in “the coun... Read More

WWWednesday: December 21, 2022

Opened magic book with blowing black letters

Scientists achieved a breakthrough with nuclear fusion.

Today is solstice. In the northern hemisphere, it’s winter solstice, the longest night of the year; in the southern hemisphere it’s midsummer. Whatever holidays you observe during this week, I hope you enjoy them with friends and loved ones, with joy, health and safety.

Hanukkah started this Sunday and runs through December 25. This festival symbolizes hope and resistance against tyranny. The miraculous bottle of oil that burned for eight nights was not part of the original story of Hanukkah, which depicted the Macca... Read More

Even Though I Knew the End: Powerful setting and period piece

Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk

Let me start with what I loved about C.L. Polk’s 2022 novella, Even Though I Knew the End. I loved the premise of the magical system at play here, and the story delivered a 1940s Chicago, Illinois, that was both familiar and convincingly strange. The Wink, a lesbian bar that has rolled through several incarnations in its lifetime, is a sheer delight of evocative description.

I liked the fast-moving plot and Polk’s spin on the hard-boiled detective story. Helen Brandt was a promising auspex or magical practitioner (her original area of expertise was astrology), destined to assist her brother in the Brotherhood of the Compass. When a car accident derailed her entire life, Helen made a decision that was anathema to the Brotherhood — and to many others in this world where conventional Christianity (presumably all organized religions) and magic live side-by-side. N... Read More

WWWednesday: December 14, 2022

I’ve done some short columns in the past couple of years. This is probably the shortest.

My only offering is this video of Vocces 8 singing a medley of secular Christmas songs.

Next week and probably the week after will be single-topic columns (but probably a little longer than this.)

Enjoy the lovely voices. Read More

WWWednesday: December 7, 2022

From 2020, National Geographic has put together an article tracing the origins of the Christmas tree. While many cultures used evergreen boughs and ornaments in their midwinter celebrations, the official ruling is that 16th century Germany is the point of origin for the tree tradition as it is now known.

Good Housekeeping offers up a list of the most popular classic holiday foods. I was going to skip this one and then I saw that it had recipes! So here it is.

Atlas Obscura offers their 2022 gift guide.

Sunday Morning Transport gives us Read More

The Hourglass Throne: Rune creates his court

The Hourglass Throne by K.D. Edwards

The Hourglass Throne, published in 2022, is the third book in K.D. Edwards’s THE TAROT SEQUENCE, following the adventures of Atlanteans transplanted to Nantucket Island. This review may contain spoilers for The Last Sun and The Hanged Man, the two previous books. I recommend reading both earlier books; at least read The Last Sun to better understand what is happening here.

Rune St. John was the sole survivor of the raid on Lord Sun’s court more than twenty years ago. His father, Lord Sun, was murdered. Rune was raped, tortured, impoverished, and left bereft of magic due to the loss of his family’s sigils, the items Atlanteans use to store... Read More

WWWednesday: November 30, 2022

Lindsey Eagar serves up eight fantasy books featuring bread, bread-adjacent foods, and/or baking, on

Giveaway: One commenter chosen at random will win a copy of Even Though I Knew the End  by C.L. Polk.

Vulture has an overview of the life of the amazing Octavia Butler, written by E. Alex Jung.

We’re heading into nomination season for the 2023 awards, and Cora Buhlert is introducing podcasts. This column highlights Tales From the Trunk.

Read More

WWWednesday: November 23, 2022

Have a good day tomorrow everybody, if you celebrate the holiday or it you don’t.

Giveaway: One commenter chosen at random will get a copy of Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi.

Greg Bear, Nebula Award winner, passed away on November 20, 2022.

Snoopy is part of Project Artemis. At least, a stuffed Snoopy dog is on the lunar vehicle.

The Onion posted this satirical article about Meta, Mark Zuckerberg and his avatar. Oh, come on, they just wrote what we were all thinking.

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The World We Make: High stakes and good fun

The World We Make by N.K. Jemisin

Book Two in N.K. Jemisin’s GREAT CITIES duology, 2022’s The World We Make is full of action, suspense, humor and good fun. That doesn’t mean the stakes aren’t serious (the continued existence of our reality), but as she did in The City We Became, Jemisin lets herself have fun with a self-aware New York and its human avatars. In spite of the seriousness of the plot, this book is lighter in tone than the first one.

Here's a brief recap with a risk of spoilers for The City We Became. New York City woke to awareness, a living city, with human avatars — one representing each borough and one who represents the whole city. Neek (NYC), a gay, homeless graffiti ar... Read More

WWWednesday: November 16, 2022

Does anybody have a turkey stuffing recipe that doesn’t call for onions? Seriously. If you do, and you’re willing to share, please put the link in the comments. Thank you!

Z-Library has been seized by the Feds for pirating and copyright infringement.

While overall the election results seem to lean toward support of democracy, in a few places, libraries were defunded. If you think education, reading, and books are important, this might concern you.

It looks like in-person or at least hybrid Read More

Stonefish: Not your basic horror novel

Stonefish by Scott R. Jones

2020’s horror novel Stonefish by Scott R. Jones is not your basic horror novel. I tend to forget that, like every other genre, horror has an array of subgenres, styles, and tropes. Even so, it’s hard for me to “sum up” what kind of horror story Stonefish is. I’m settling for futuristic-dystopian-gnostic-phantasmagorical weird horror, with Sasquatch.

Climate change and leaps in high technology have created the everyday world of Den Secord, who writes things for his generation’s version of the internet. Secord has an editor so I’m calling him a journalist. (“Content-provider” might be more accurate.) Den lives in a plural community called a crèche. Social changes have been driven by the noönet, which lets people interact with each other’s minds and emotions directly, in a vast network. You might think that would bring out a... Read More

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