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Steph Swainston

Steph Swainston Steph Swainston is an archeologist. Her first novel, The Year of Our War, was nominated for the best 2005 novel by the British Fantasy Society. Read excerpts and “deleted scenes” at Steph Swainston’s website.


The Year of Our War: Cluttered plot, erratic execution

The Year of Our War by Steph Swainston

I’m always drawn to material that is described as “fresh,” “original” or “inventive.” So when I was introduced to Steph Swainston and her highly praised fantasy series, I was eager to delve into this fascinating new world starting with Ms. Swainston’s debut The Year of Our War. Unluckily for me, it wasn’t quite what I expected.

Set in The Fourlands, The Year of Our War focuses on three races (humans, winged yet flightless Awians, and the mysterious Rhydanne) who have been at war for almost 2000 years with the giant, carnivorous, ant-like Insects. Aiding the Zascai (mortals) in their constant battle against the Insects are Emperor San and his chosen Circle of fifty Immortals (Eszai), each of whom are masters in a certain area (The Swordsman, The Sailor, The Blacksmith, etc.). While the majority of the book centers on battles... Read More

The New Weird: As terrifying as Kafka on LSD

The New Weird by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

It’s easy to imagine two different readers reacting in opposite ways to The New Weird. One might find it delightfully odd; the other might find it as terrifying as Kafka on LSD. And a third might find it delightfully odd because it’s as terrifying as Kafka on LSD. Certainly, no one is likely to find it boring.

The New Weird is a well-organized anthology, with a short, useful introduction; a section entitled “Stimuli,” containing older selections (though not very old; the oldest piece, by Michael Moorcock, has an original copyright date of 1979, while the Thomas Ligotti selection was published only in 1997); “Evidence,” stories published mostly in this mill... Read More