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J.M. McDermott

J.M. McDermottJ.M. McDermott graduated from the University of Houston in 2002 with a BA in Creative Writing. He resides in Arlington, Texas with an assortment of empty coffee cups, overflowing bookshelves, and crazy schemes. You can read more about him at J.M. McDermott’s blog.

Never Knew Another: Fascinating concept, frustrating deficiencies

Never Knew Another by J.M. McDermott

AUTHOR INFORMATION: J.M. McDermott is the author of numerous short fiction and the critically-acclaimed debut novel, Last Dragon, which was shortlisted for an IAFA William Crawford Award and included on’s list for Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2008. Last Dragon will be reprinted in early 2011 by Apex Publications who will also publish McDermott’s next novel, Maze, in Spring 2011.

PLOT SUMMARY: When Walkers discover the corpse of a demon’s child — a city guard of noble blood named Jona — the memories of the deceased lead the Walkers to the city the... Read More

Maze: Scary, surreal, and scattered

Maze by J.M. McDermott

J.M. McDermott’s Maze is about a maze. Or possibly the maze: An unending series of stone halls and corridors which lurks in our primordial past, populated by monstrous creatures, loops and fragments of non-linear time, and a ragged band of humans who somehow got stranded there. The maze is never revealed to have any moral or mechanical logic; it just is, and the people who live there just do. Maze operates as a disjointed series of narratives about the people who have fallen into the maze. There are glimpses of their past worlds (a spaceship, medieval France, dystopian Texas), but the bulk of the novel is about the gritty, ugly process of surviving in an inhospitable place. It’s surreal, scattered, gruesome, and sometimes excellent.

Many books with ambitions towards literary surrealism leave me floating in a haze of meaningless strangeness — oh look, I think, ... Read More

Tales from a Talking Board: Is anyone here? Read along and see.

Tales from a Talking Board edited by Ross Lockhart

Tales From a Talking Board (2017) delivers fourteen shivery stories that involve spirit boards. In the US, we think of them as Ouija Boards, but that was actually a brand name; spirit boards, which involve a surface with the alphabet and an object that glides over it, stopping at letters, have been around quite a while.

This anthology has plenty to please people who like the creepy, and lends itself to a dark autumn night pretty well. Some stories are more gory than others. At least one is flat-out funny. A few tales strain to wrap themselves around the spirit board and at least one has no divinatory prop at all.

I’ll talk about the stories I liked best or found noteworthy. Here is the complete Table of Contents from Tales from a Talking Board:

“YesNoGoodbye,” by Kristi DeMeester. Cassandra and... Read More

Magazine Monday: Beautiful Steampunk

“The Melusine (1898)” by Caitlin R. Kiernan is this week’s offering by Subterranean Online. It is a wonderful story, written with an unearthly beauty. Kiernan imagines a steampunk circus that comes to town advertising its name in letters five-stories high, “shaped from out of nothing but the billowing clouds of red dust raised by those rolling broad steel and vulcanized rims." The circus is made of automaton mastodonts and living elephants, and no one can tell if the acrobats are mechanical or real. It promises miracles.

Cala Monroe Weatherall is “a learned woman of industry and science” who comes to the circus in answer to a secret cry, “a dream so vivid and bizarre that she might almost name it a nightmare.” She has been summoned – somehow, some way -- to the... Read More

Other books by J.M. McDermott

J. M. McDermott Last DragonLast Dragon — (2008) Publisher: The debut of a brilliant new voice that will change the fantasy genre forever. An intricate web of stories weave together to tell a tale of revenge, justice, ambition, and power. Zhan has been sent to find her grandfather, a man accused of killing not only Zhan’s family, but every man, woman, and child in their village. What she finds is a shell of a man, and a web of deceit that will test the very foundations of a world she thought she understood. A tale of revenge that grows into something more, Last Dragon is a literary fantasy novel in the tradition of Gene Wolf and Gabriel García Márquez. J.M. McDermott brings the fantasy genre to new literary heights with a remarkable first novel that will leave critics and readers alike in stunned awe.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsWomen and Monsters — (2011) Publisher: The women and monsters of Greek mythology rarely get to speak for themselves. This collection of stories embraces the surreal and hallucinatory to tell the stories that are always absent from the official books of history. There are as many versions of the myth as there are grandmothers in Greece. There are always more myths, more variations on the song. Sing muse, for yourself.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsDisintegration Visions — (2012) Publisher:  Sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it. These are the words of Crawford Award-nominated fantasy author J.M. McDermott (Last Dragon and Never Knew Another). McDermott says it with aliens, magical frogs, and the Berlin wall. Share his discoveries in nature, bug-infested basements, and visions of death. Visions of the future. Visions of forgotten pasts. It’s all here in J.M. McDermott’s powerful collection of dark fantasy and horror from Apex Publications.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsThe Lady or the Tiger, Death Mask and Eulogy: and Other Re-Imaginings — (2012) Publisher: In these tales of high fantasy, and science fiction, cities grow on the back of humongous lizards, where a young boy crashed down must choose his lady or a tiger. A mostly nameless wanderer seeks to trade everything he has to find a homeland — skin, bone, pain, and soul. A basilisk builds a palace of stone made of prisoners, and he is honored as a king. There are nightmares, dreams, other myths and other re-imaginings. Join critically-acclaimed fantasist, J. M. McDermott, in journeys of the imagination.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsKing Basilisk’s Palace — (2012) Publisher: A basilisk king turns prisoners to stone who gaze upon the monster. His servants use these gruesome building blocks to build a palace on the sea. Rebecca sails from Antioch in chains, to be turned to stone among other prisoners. Unlike the others, Rebecca is blind, and will never see the king to turn into stone.