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Brenda Clough

Brenda Clough(1955- )
Brenda W. Clough spent much of her childhood overseas, courtesy of the U.S. government. She has lived in Laos, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Germany. She earned a degree in English/Creative Writing at Carnegie Mellon University in 1977. Locus Magazine said of her work “Clough brings myth and science and plain human existence (complex as all get-out) together for what proves to be a fine blend, and a very good read, offering physical, psychological, and metaphysical insights into the human condition, along with the sometimes delightfully outlandish action that drives the best of pulp fiction.” The New York Times Book Review says, “Ms. Clough has an appealingly cheeky imagination.” Learn more at Brenda Clough’s website.

The Crystal Crown: The components are good, but…

The Crystal Crown by Brenda Clough

The Crystal Crown is basically a simple story. Liras-Ven, an unassuming and softspoken gardener, is chosen to be his nation’s next king, much to his horror. He makes a few bumbling attempts to extricate himself from the situation before settling down to endure a comical succession of royal duties and a military campaign that will test his resolve as leader as well as his ties to those he holds… he h….*snore*

Huh? What? Oh… right, yes. Anyway, The Crystal Crown measures in at about 230 pages in a pocket-size paperback, so it’s hardly a doorstopper, yet I must say I found it incredibly difficult to work my way through it. Having said that, most of the components that make up this novel are actually quite good. Clough’s prose is very deft, her sense of humor is charming, and the characters are overall fairly distinct. ... Read More

Science Fiction Super Pack #1: A generally above-average anthology

Science Fiction Super Pack #1 edited by Warren Lapine

Like the companion fantasy volume, Science Fiction Super Pack #1, edited by Warren Lapine, only has one story I didn't think was good, and it's a piece of Lovecraft fanfiction. H.P. Lovecraft's overwrought prose doesn't do much for me even when Lovecraft himself writes it, and much less so when it's attempted by imitators. And Lovecraft's stories at least have something frightening that happens in them; these two stories (in this volume and the other) only have visions of aspects of the Mythos and crazy people ranting, which isn't scary or interesting. Everything else was good, occasionally even amazing.

Again like the fantasy volume, it more or less alternates between recent stories by moder... Read More

It Happened at the Ball: 13 stories with ballroom settings

It Happened at the Ball edited by Sherwood Smith

This collection of thirteen (mostly) fantasy short stories and a novelette or two is tied together by their ballroom settings, whether it be the Almack’s Regency ballroom (where a group of young ladies happens upon an overly potent magical love potion in Marissa Doyle’s “Just Another Quiet Evening at Almack’s”) or a Civil War-era ball in Galveston, Texas (P.G. Nagle’s “A Waltz for May”). There are also some other themes that surface and resurface: masks and hidden identities, romance, and ― as editor and author Sherwood Smith freely admits in her foreword ― escapist wish-fulfillment. Here be faeries, vampires, thieves, pirates and lots of other intriguing character... Read More