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 deedsandwords.com, and follow her on Twitter: @mariond_d.

WWWednesday: June 29, 2022

2022’s Locus Awards winners include A Desolation Called Peace (Arkady Martine) for Best Science Fiction Novel, My Heart is a Chainsaw (Stephen Graham Jones) for Best Horror Novel; Jade Legacy (Fonda Lee) for best fantasy novel; Victories Greater Than Death Read More

Spear: Go read it. Now.

Spear by Nicola Griffith

Nicola Griffith’s Spear glides effortlessly and confidently into the Arthurian cycle, while giving us a completely new character and an outsider’s perspective of Arthur, his court, Merlin, and the Holy Grail.

Published in 2022, this novella starts with the account of a young girl who lives in a cave in the woods with her mother. Their one item of value is a large cauldron in which the mother cooks their food and heats water. The girl roams the woods, learning the language of the animals, knowing how to read the plants and the seasons. She grows stronger. The girl has two names, depending on her mother’s mood. Sometimes she is a word for “gift.” Sometimes, when her mother is raving in nightmares, the girl’s name is “price.” Always, her mother is filled with fear that someone will come seeking... Read More

WWWednesday: June 22, 2022

Nerds of a Feather review K.J. Parker’s How to Rule An Empire and Get Away With It.

Over at Tor.com, they introduce us to the possibility of Count Dracula Daily, as a Substack blogger is emailing out Dracula in serial format every day.

Fantasy writer Faith Hunter has publicly apologized for harassing behavior, and withdrawn from conventions for the rest of the year, after several incidents at JordanCon this year. File 770 has two long articles on this for those who want the details.

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Payback’s a Witch: A fizzy paranormal rom-com

Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper

In 2021’s effervescent Payback’s a Witch, the stakes are low, hearts are worn on people’s sleeves, and love is the answer. (Note: No hearts are literally outside the body in this book.) Lana Harper, who writes YA fantasy as Lana Popovic, enters the world of adult paranormal romantic comedy with a story of two modern witches who plot to win a magical tournament while navigating the rocky path of their increasing mutual attraction.

A few hundred years ago, four magicians founded the town of Thistle Grove. Three of them, Avramov, Blackmoore, and Thorn, had powerful magic. The fourth, the actual founder of the town, Elias Harlow, was a far weaker magician. Since the founding, the four families have presided over the magical town. Every fifty years they hold an event called the Gauntlet, and the sci... Read More

Last Exit: Complex, compelling, and intense

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

Last Exit by Max Gladstone

Here is Max Gladstone’s recipe for a Last Exit (2022) cocktail:

One part fervent, confident intensity of young adulthood
One part fever dream (or nightmare) of magic and alternate worlds
Add bitters in the form of mid-life fears, regrets, and resignations born out of both trauma and simple aging
Splash of Mad Max
Zest of Zelazny
Stir with a rusty spoon of entropy
Pour slowly into a clear (eyed) glass filled one-quarter with the crushed ice-dreams of Americana myth and rimmed with sugar for a little bit of innocent sweetness
Serve with a shot of hope (the kind that burns on the wa... Read More

WWWednesday: June 15, 2022

A Google engineer in an AI project states that they have created a sentient AI. The engineer is currently on administrative leave from Google. The article uses the word sentient, which basically means having emotions, or consciousness, but the text from the article makes it sounds like we’re discussing sapience, which is self-awareness.

Charlie Jane Anders writes about the balance to grimdark, which she has dubbed sweetweird.

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WWWednesday: June 8, 2022

Samit Basu discusses the journey he took to imagine his newest book, The City Inside.

Tor.com spotlights new June releases.

Mary Robinette Kowal highlights the upcoming anthology The Reinvented Heart.

A Witcher school in Poland—yes, that’s what I said, a Witcher school—had to close its... Read More

The Dragon Republic: For fans of grimdark

The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang

As a rule, I don’t like grimdark, and I don’t read grimdark. R.F. Kuang’s debut novel The Poppy War was an exception. It impressed me, mostly for the way she wove the historical wars between China and Japan into her fully fleshed-out fantasy world. Based on my liking of the first book, I read 2019’s The Dragon Republic, Book Two in THE POPPY WAR series. Sadly, with the second book I was reminded of why I don’t like grimdark.

So why did I read it? See above: Because the first one lured me in.

In Book One, we met Fang Runin, who goes by Rin. Rin is an orphan, a woman, darker-skinned than the aristocratic northerners, and raised in the south, the poorer part of the Nikara Empire. Rin is unvalued and dismissed, but through determination and s... Read More

Razzmatazz: Drag kings, crime gangs, corrupt cops, and a dragon

Razzmatazz by Christopher Moore 

Razzmatazz, Christopher Moore’s fantasy/action/comedy follow-up to Noir, came out in 2022. While I recommend Noir, you don’t need to read it first to enjoy this outing.

It’s 1947, in San Francisco, and Sammy “Two-Toes” Tiffin, bartender and sometime detective, and his group of regulars are still just trying to get by, when Sammy’s friend Eddie “Moo Shoes” Shu brings Sammy to a meeting with Eddie’s Uncle Ho. Uncle Ho has a job for Sammy; recover a black dragon statuette currently in the town of Locke, California, and give it to one of the criminal tongs, or they’ll kill Ho.

Sammy has some other things on his mind; namely, where h... Read More

Nettle and Bone: A princess, a dog, and a fairy godmother like you haven’t seen them before

Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher

Kingfisher’s Nettle and Bone (2022) was exactly the book I needed to read when I read it, so I am grateful to it and the writer for that. Kingfisher’s original fairy tale is a satisfying read at any time, with characters who engaged my imagination and find original ways to solve their problems.

Marra is a princess, the third daughter of a small kingdom with a deep-water harbor, nestled between two powerful warlike nations, each of whom covets the harbor. Marra’s mother marries off her eldest daughter, Damia, to the prince of the Northern Kingdom, which is the less vulnerable of the two bellicose kingdoms because it is protected by magic. Shockingly, almost immediately, Damia dies, supposedly in an accident. Marra’s next sister, Kania, marries the prince, and she lives. Kania has a child, and Ma... Read More

WWWednesday: June 1, 2022

As we noted in an earlier column, fantasy author Patricia McKillip passed away on May 6, 2022. This column is not an obituary; it contains some of my thoughts about her work, mostly THE RIDDLE-MASTER TRILOGY.

Many people mentioned that McKillip was their gateway to fantasy, sometimes the first fantasy book they read (in some cases, even before THE LORD OF THE RINGS). The Riddle-Master of Hed was not the first fantasy book I’d read, but it created an alchemical reaction in me—it inspired me.

The Riddle-Master of Hed was published in 1976. That November, Jimmy Carter defeated an appointee president, Gerald Ford. Read More

WWWednesday: May 25, 2022

SFWA announced the Nebula winners on Saturday, May 21, at the Nebula Conference. P.Djeli Clark won Best Novel for  A Master of Djinn; Premee Mohamad won Best Novella for And What Can We Offer You Tonight; Sarah Pinsker won Best Short Story for “Where Oaken Hearts do Gather.” See all the winners here.

Mercedes Lackey was inducted as SFWA’s most recent grandmaster at the same event. Later, Read More

The Untold Story: A convincing finale

The Untold Story by Genevieve Cogman

Irene and her team face the most dangerous question of all in 2021’s The Untold Story. With this book, the overarching plotline of the INVISIBLE LIBRARY series is resolved, although Genevieve Cogman has tweeted that there may be different stories in the future.

This review may contain spoilers for earlier books in the series.

Like all the INVISIBLE LIBRARY books, this one plunges us straight into danger and action, as librarian Irene and her Great Detective friend Vale enter a secret undersea base in search of a letter. The letter should contain vital information about worlds that have suddenly disappeared. In Irene’s universe, realities range between two poles: Order, represented by the Dragons, and Chaos, represented by the Fae. Both the Fa... Read More

WWWednesday: May 18, 2022

Writer David B. Coe blogs about clueless writing advice. There’s not any actual writing advice but it’s an entertaining column, and I’m pretty sure we’ve all had some version of this experience.

You can be famous a number of ways. YA SFF writer Kass Morgan, (aka Mallory Kass) author of The 100, competed on Jeopardy last week.

From last week, fantasy writer Patricia A. McKillip Read More

Siren Queen: Another five-star read from Vo

Siren Queen by Nghi Vo

2022’s Siren Queen by Nghi Vo is another 5-star read. Set in the same world as The Chosen and the Beautiful, Siren Queen looks at the magic of movies, and the exploitative studio system of the medium’s early days. In Vo’s world, the magic of movies is real magic, and that magic is often hungry.

Our main character is a Chinese American girl in Los Angeles who becomes enthralled with the magic of moving pictures. Soon, a director picks her up as an extra, and he starts using her more and more frequently. Her father disapproves, but her mother sees that the family needs the money. When our protagonist is given a line to speak in a film, she feels the magic envelope her as she speaks, and knows this is what she wants to do with her life. The question is, can she do it on her own terms? The entire system is arrayed against her. Read More

WWWednesday: May 11, 2022

The podcast Tales From the Trunk hosted me last week on a Book Tour segment. I had a lot of fun; Hilary, the host of Tales from the Trunk, is a witty and welcoming host.

File 770 rounds up Hugo nominees and other anime in this article.

SWFA’s silent auction, fundraising in partnership with Worldbuilders, continues through next week.

John Palisano discusses Jewish heritage in horror.

Nerds of a Feather takes a look at the Read More

WWWednesday: May 5, 2022

Marshal Zeringue has several blogs, and one of them is the “Page 69 Test.” The premise is this; would a reader, opening a book at random and reading page 69, have an understanding of what the book’s about? Interesting test! Here’s a recent column.

File 770 offers an excerpt from Tear Down the Throne by Jennifer Estep.

J.D. Evans’s Reign and Ruin is the winner of the Seventh Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off , in what I’d describe as a photo finish (just one-tenth of a point ahead of the runner-up).

ChiCon 8 has updated Read More

WWWednesday: April 27, 2022

Nisi Shawl



Don’t forget about FOGCon’s reading April 30, 2022, with Nisi Shawl and Karen Joy Fowler. The signup for the link is in the article.

File770 shares news about Martha Jones and the Tenth Doctor in comics.

Uncanny Magazine will open submissions for novellas from May 1 thru May 15, and short fiction from May 16 through May 30. Haven’t they won a Hugo? Maybe your story will be the next winner.

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The Dark Archive: One for the fans

The Dark Archive by Genevieve Cogman

Fans of THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY series will enjoy 2020’s The Dark Archive. Cogman’s intrepid librarian Irene bounds from one adventure to another, armed with her wits, magical knowledge and the power of the Library’s Language. This story adds important information to the conspiracy that is bubbling in the background, while serving up a comfortable, familiar set of adventures for Irene and her team. Along the way, we get to know some secondary characters a bit better.

When Irene’s detective friend Peregrine Vale takes Irene through a suboceanic tunnel to retrieve a vitally important letter, the two realize almost immediately that they’ve been lured into a trap, fighting zombiefied sailors who are being compelled by mechanical cerebral controllers. Escaping them, Irene co... Read More

Noor: Okorafor weaves another stunning imaginary world

Noor by Nnedi Okorafor

Nnedi Okorafor’s 2021 Noor is a short, fast-paced science fiction novel. The futuristic energy delivery system called Noor, and the “Red Spot” dust storm are innovative, made plausible by Okorafor’s grounded writing and her fine eye for detail.

Anwuli calls herself AO for Artificial Organism. Considered “wrong” even before birth, AO was seriously injured in a car accident when she was a young adult. An experimental process gave her prosthetic limbs and cerebral implants. She is an outsider, tolerated, barely, because of her useful skills. Her peaceful life in a small Nigerian town ends when, on a trip to the market, a group of men attack her with no provocation. AO’s instinctive reaction leaves dead people in her wake, and her on the run, heading into the desert.

While she is es... Read More

WWWednesday: April 20, 2022

The British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) awards were announced last weekend. Best YA novel went to The Iron Widow, by Xiran Jay Zhou; Best novel, Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky, best shorter fiction Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard. Congratulations to all the winners. 

File 770 has an article about Ukrainian art of resistance. (This column will have a couple of Ukrainian topics included.)... Read More

Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak: Space Princesses as only Anders can do them

Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak by Charlie Jane Anders

“Knowledge is ugly, and that’s why we wear cute dresses and eat cake.”

As with most second books in a trilogy, things are bad, teetering on the precipice, by the end of Charlie Jane Anders’s second YA SF book Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak (2022). Our stalwart band of earthlings are not giving up, however, even in the face of injury, doubt, and a devastating loss.

In Victories Greater Than Death, Rachael, the artist, used her talent to activate an ancient weapon and stop Marrant, the military leader of the Compassion, from completing genocide. As a result, Rachael has now lost the ability to draw. Tina, raised as a human but in fact a cl... Read More

WWWednesday: March 13, 2022

I don’t think I posted the Hugo Award finalists for this year. Here they are. This list shows me how behind I got in my reading last year.

The Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association announced the finalists for the Aurora Awards.

Spock’s first name has been revealed! Oh, wait, no it hasn’t. (Thanks to File 770.)

To no one’s surprise, there’s been a spike in book-banning. There’s been a spike in voter s... Read More

The Circus Infinite: A night at the circus

The Circus Infinite by Khan Wong

I’ll start off with a list of things I liked from 2022’s The Circus Infinite, a science fiction novel by Khan Wong:

Wonderful, occasionally psychedelic visuals
Interesting world building
Unusual non-human characters
“What happens on Persephone-9 stays on Persephone-9”
A brisk start that balances action with exposition
The circus!

The Circus Infinite introduces us to Jes, who is on the lam from an evil Institute when the story opens. Jes lays down a false trail at a spaceport, and leaves the planet of Indra for Persephone-9, a moon orbiting the planet of Persephone. The pleasure moon is the Las Vegas of this star system, and Jes hopes he can keep his head down, that he and his extraordinary ability can avoid detection.

Well, that doesn’t happen.
Read More

WWWednesday: April 6, 2022

Silver Shamrock, an indie publisher specializing in “hard-hitting horror,” courted some controversy on the internet with its “edgy” marketing copy for an upcoming novel. When social media reacted predictably, Silver Shamrock shut down its website, released the rights to all upcoming works to its authors, and shuttered. And all that took three days. It’s item 4.

This 21-minute-long video post-mortem of Shamrock’s demise is entertaining.

Joe Abercrombie sold a new trilogy, Read More

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