Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Order [book in series=yearoffirstbook.book# (eg 2014.01), stand-alone or one-author collection=3333.pubyear, multi-author anthology=5555.pubyear, SFM/MM=5000, interview=1111]: 1982.01


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The Blue Sword: Strong female lead, interesting moral conundrum

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

This, my friends, is how young adult fantasy is done. In The Blue Sword, Robin McKinley has created a world out of whole cloth and polished it until it shines. Or in this case, until it is a dusty desert full of horse riding warriors, a dwindling magic, demon barbarians invading from the north, and civilized white men invading from across the ocean. McKinley is a master of prose, and this book has stood the test of time for almost 25 years now.


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Saga of the Swamp Thing: Book One: The figures seem to jump out of the pages

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 Jacob Brummeler:

Jacob Brummeler is a sophomore at Oxford College of Emory University and is pursuing a double major in Playwriting and Media Studies.


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Nifft the Lean: Vance’s Cugel reimagined by Hieronymus Bosch

Nifft the Lean by Michael Shea

Back in 1950, Hillman Periodicals published a little book for 25 cents called The Dying Earth by Jack Vance. It could easily have disappeared into obscurity like thousands of other books, but there was something special about it. There weren’t any other books in SF/Fantasy quite like it, depicting an incredibly distant future earth where the sun has cooled to a red color, the moon is gone, and humanity has declined to a pale shadow of former greatness,


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Helliconia Spring: A battle for survival on a fantastic planet

Helliconia Spring by Brian W. Aldiss

What if the planets orbited not only the sun, but the whole solar system orbited another, even larger sun? Cycles within cycles is the basic premise of Brian Aldiss’s HELLICONIA trilogy, of which the first installment is Helliconia Spring (1983). A planet of the fantastic, Helliconia is home to a diverse variety of imaginative flora and fauna a la Jack Vance. The sentient life, however, bears comparison to our own. Struggling Darwinian style, humans and a species called Phagors inhabit the planet,


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The Monster’s Ring: A quick and breezy Halloween tale

The Monster’s Ring by Bruce Coville

Note: This book is titled Russell Troy, Monster Boy in some markets.

For kids that are too young for the complexity of the HARRY POTTER series, and yet still interested in fantasy stories, Bruce Coville‘s MAGIC SHOP books might be the thing to hook them up with. Five in total, each one revolves around a simple premise: a young child with the usual kid problems (home trouble, bullies, crushes, angry teachers,


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The Elfin Ship: Charming, light-hearted and funny

The Elfin Ship by James P. Blaylock

Audible has recently put several of James P. Blaylock’s novels in audio format, so I’m giving a few of them a try. The Elfin Ship, first published in 1982, is the first book in Blaylock’s BALUMNIA trilogy about a whimsical fantasy world filled with elves, goblins, dwarves, wizards, and (because it’s Blaylock), a few steampunk elements such as submarines and airships.

In The Elfin Ship we meet Jonathan Bing, a cheesemaker who lives in a quaint little village with his dog Ahab.


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The Gunslinger: The world has moved on

The Gunslinger by Stephen King

Stephen King’s The Gunslinger is a post-apocalyptic Western-fantasy hybrid about the gunslinger Roland Deschain and his pursuit of the man in black across a desert.

At first glance, the Western plays the largest role in The Gunslinger. Roland carries two heavy six shooters with sandalwood handles, and he can fire them both with deadly accuracy. He wears a duster, leads a pack mule when we first meet him, and is chasing his quarry across a seemingly endless desert.


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Magician: Apprentice: A less graphic reminder

Magician: Apprentice by Raymond E. Feist

Raymond E. Feist’s Magician: Apprentice was one of my favorite books in the mid-1980’s — I read it over and over. If I have read this book less than 20 times I would be completely amazed. The wonderful part of re-reading it recently and having 20 years plus of fantasy literature experience is that I can appreciate something sublime.

Pug and Tomas are best friends raised practically as brothers at the Keep of the Duchy of Crydee. Tomas’ parents are in charge of the kitchens and the boys have lived a fairly happy childhood.


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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,


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Pawn of Prophecy: Juvenile

Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings

I read Pawn of Prophecy as an adult, a few years ago. I had heard great things about it, so I was disappointed after reading it. The plot is typical “orphan boy saves the world” fantasy, the description is weak, the dialogue is often silly (humor is a focus, and much of the dialogue is funny — but it’s not realistic). The pace is rapid, however, and I flew through the book in one day.

The Belgariad would be just right for a teenager (so I give it 3 stars),


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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