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]: 2003


Blind Lake: Lockdown at an Interplanetary Observation Facility

Blind Lake by Robert Charles Wilson

Of course I know what to expect when reading one of Robert Charles Wilson’s novels: a strange technology or entity has a localized effect that snowballs until it has the potential to completely change the world. We follow the ride primarily from the point of view of one everyman character, but he just happens to know both the scientists and the politicians that are responding to the strange technology. 300 pages later, the story is finished.

But that’s not how Blind Lake works — or at least not exactly.

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Dreamer of Dune: A faithful portrait of a sci-fi legend

Dreamer of Dune by Brian Herbert

In 2003 Tor released Dreamer of Dune, a biography of Frank Herbert (1920 – 1986) written by his son Brian Herbert, who has written a number of novels as well. The best known of these are the DUNE prequels and sequels written in collaboration with Kevin J. Anderson. Dreamer of Dune is not the only book about Frank Herbert or his works but the others I am aware of are currently out of print.

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Veniss Underground: Jeff VanderMeer’s debut novel

Veniss Underground by Jeff VanderMeer

Avoiding the trappings of fragile motifs, Jeff VanderMeer’s debut novella — err, novel — Veniss Underground shows every sign of a writer who is confident in his ability to put a fresh perspective on well-worn tropes. The framework of Veniss Underground is based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, but the setting and imagery remain wholly original. Scenery twisted like cyberpunk on acid, its details macabre to the bone — a surreal dream — VanderMeer seems poised to make a place for himself in fantasy of the 21st century.

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The Etched City: Plenty of brains and courage, missing a heart

The Etched City by K.J. Bishop

The Etched City is a story about a deteriorating tropical city whose denizens include the monstrous, the deranged, and the metamorphic, circling each other in rainy alleys and hot cafes. It’s been lauded as an intelligent and alluring novel. Bishop has been compared flatteringly with Miéville and Moorcock. While The Etched City certainly has plenty of brains and courage, it may be missing its heart.

The book opens on the dusty fringes of civilization,

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Neil Gaiman’s Murder Mysteries

Neil Gaiman’s Murder Mysteries adapted for comics by P. Craig Russell

P. Craig Russell’s artwork is stunning in his adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Murder Mysteries. And since the story has all the other-worldly hallmarks of a Neil Gaiman Sandman story, Russell really gets a chance to show off his talent as he bounces from the angelic Silver City to the cityscapes of our mundane world.

This graphic novel is based on what was originally a short story by Neil Gaiman (and eventually a radio drama in the spirit of The Shadow);

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The Black Gondolier: Horror stories by Fritz Leiber

The Black Gondolier by Fritz Leiber

The Black Gondolier is a collection of horror stories by Fritz Leiber. I love Leiber’s LANKHMAR stories — they’re some of my very favorites in fantasy literature — and I’ve enjoyed several of Leiber’s short stories and one of his horror novellas, so I figured I might enjoy The Black Gondolier.

I found The Black Gondolier to be, as we so often say when reviewing a story collection, “a mixed bag.” I love Leiber’s style in all of these stories — he’s got a great ear and I love the way he uses language.

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A Study in Emerald: Gaiman pays tribute to Sherlock and Lovecraft

A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman

A Study in Emerald is a Hugo and Locus Award winning short story by Neil Gaiman in which he pays tribute to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.

At first Gaiman’s story appears to be a straight Sherlock Holmes pastiche as a man who appears to be Watson relates how his new friend, a consulting detective who appears to be Holmes, is being asked by Inspector Lestrade to help solve a murder mystery.

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Mirror Mirror: A genuinely creative take on the famous fairytale

Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire

The Eye Is Always Caught by the Light, but Shadows Have More to Say…

Gregory Maguire is best known for Wicked, his take on the life of the Wicked Witch of the West, but due to the fact that 2012 seems to be the year of Snow White (with two big-budget films based on the classic fairytale heading into cinemas) I thought that I’d start with his retelling of the girl “with skin as white as snow.”

With a tale so familiar,

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The Night Country: Far more than a ghost story

The Night Country by Stewart O’Nan

In our Edge of the Universe column, we review mainstream authors that incorporate elements of speculative fiction into their “literary” work. However you want to label them, we hope you’ll enjoy discussing these books with us.

To call The Night Country a ghost story or horror story does a disservice to both the author and the work. It’s like calling The Odyssey a ghost story because Odysseus speaks to the shades.

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Changing Planes: The perfect book to read in the airport

Changing Planes by Ursula K. Le Guin

Airports are horrible places — the boring waits, the noisy rush, the germy stale air, the ugly utilitarian décor, the nasty food. That is, until Sita Dulip, while waiting for her delayed flight from Chicago to Denver and noticing that “the airport offers nothing to any human being except access to the interval between planes,” developed a technique to change planes inside the airport. She discovered that in the airport the traveler is uncomfortable, displaced, and already between planes and can therefore easily slip into other planes of existence while waiting for a flight.

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Recent Discussion:

  1. Not sure I can be persuaded on two of these articles. When I was young book-banning meant you couldn't sell…

May 2023