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]: 2010.01


The Buntline Special: Steampunk + Western

The Buntline Special by Mike Resnick

Mike Resnick’s The Buntline Special is a steampunk-injected re-telling of the gunfight at the OK Corral. Many of the classic characters, including Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp, are present, making for a fun adventure.

The steampunk elements of The Buntline Special are introduced at the very beginning as Doc Holiday rides an electric bulletproof stagecoach into Tombstone. Resnick doesn’t tell us much about what happened to make magic work or the how the alternative technologies came to be — they just are,

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Procession of the Dead: Its publication history is more interesting than its plot

Procession of the Dead by Darren Shan

Procession of the Dead has had an interesting publication history. First published in 1999, Procession of the Dead was originally titled Ayuamarca and was intended to be the first novel in The City trilogy. Unfortunately, the series did not find an audience and the third book was never published. The original author, Darren O’Shaughnessy, went on to fame and fortune under a new pen name (Darren Shan) and with a new series (The Saga of Darren Shan).

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The Habitation of the Blessed: Perfect source material for Valente

The Habitation of the Blessed by Catherynne M. Valente

[Note: I listened to Brilliance Audio’s version of The Habitation of the Blessed read by Ralph Lister. It took me a while to adjust since I have recently listened to Lister read three installments of THE GOREAN SAGA and I at first had a hard time hearing the priest Prester John instead of the sadistic misogynist Tarl Cabot. But I got over this soon enough and thought that Mr. Lister did a great job with this one.]

In The Habitation of the Blessed,

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Bitter Seeds: A dark story of a dark time in human history

Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis

Ian Tregillis takes the notion of an alternate history of World War II to new heights in his first novel, Bitter Seeds. The weapons Germany and England bring to bear on the conflict include not just men and guns, but also magical forces. Germany has developed psychic powers in certain individuals, powered by batteries wired into their brains; the powers vary from individual to individual, but include the ability to become invisible and impervious to weapons; the ability to see the future;

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Personal Demons: Realistic YA

Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

At first, Personal Demons reminded of those Christian romances I devoured like potato chips when I was in high school — the ones where a hot date meant getting together to read the Bible. Frannie, the high school girl who is the principal viewpoint character, comes from a large Catholic family and seems, initially, to be intent on remaining true to every bit of her Catholicism. In my own large Catholic family, that would most definitely include allowing no boy to touch me between my neck and my knees before my wedding night.

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Nightshade: A thought-provoking YA paranormal series

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Nightshade is yet another addition to the burgeoning YA paranormal genre, but stands out for several reasons, including its creative premise. It centers on the Guardians (essentially werewolves but with a few vampire traits as well), who are powerful compared to humans but are themselves enslaved by a race of witches called the Keepers. The Keepers rule most of the world from behind the scenes. But in Vail, where 17-year-old Guardian Calla Tor lives, their dominance is overt.

All I knew going in was that this was a werewolf novel with a love triangle,

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The Horns of Ruin: I can’t wait for the sequels

The Horns of Ruin by Tim Akers

I enjoy steampunk novels. The alternate technology amuses me. When a stream of magic is blended into it as well, a steampunk world is a great place to set a story. The Horns of Ruin by Tim Akers has just such a setting.

Eva Forge is the last Paladin of Morgan, the God of War and the Hunt. He fought many battles, won many wars, and then was killed by his own brother, also a God. The followers of Morgan were once numerous and powerful.

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Tyger Tyger: The plot never grabbed me

Tyger, Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

I wanted to love Tyger Tyger. I’ve got a soft spot for teenagers-in-faeryland stories, and this one gets off to a terrific start. Teagan, the heroine, is working at a Chicago zoo; she plans to pursue a related career when she grows up. I can’t praise Kersten Hamilton highly enough for giving Teagan a concrete aspiration like this. The YA paranormal field is alarmingly full of heroines who seem bland without the magic or without the male lead, and have no idea what they want to do with their lives.

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Right Hand Magic: Fantastically intriguing setting

Right Hand Magic by Nancy A. Collins

Tate, a young New York artist, needs a new apartment right away. She makes metal sculptures out of car parts and other odds and ends, and it seems her landlord isn’t too happy with the noise level. Tate discovers an available room at a reasonable price and jumps at the chance, even though the building is in Golgotham, New York’s magical neighborhood.

Golgotham itself is a fantastically intriguing setting and the best part of Right Hand Magic. It inspires a sense of wonder akin to what you might have felt when first discovering J.K.

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Pathfinder: A great way to steer YAs toward SFF

Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card

Rigg is a 13-year-old boy who lives in seclusion with his father, surviving as a trapper and only occasionally going to the nearest town to sell animals’ pelts. He is successful as a trapper in part because he has a unique ability: he can see the “paths” people and animals have taken, in the form of a colored trail that stretches behind them, showing where they’ve been. This way, he can track almost anything — “almost” because the only person who doesn’t have a trail is his father…

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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