Black Magic: Sandy’s Favorite Read of 2021


Black Magic by Marjorie Bowen The British publishing firm Sphere Books had a really wonderful thing going for itself back in the 1970s: a series of 45 books, both fiction and...

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The Son of Summer Stars: Unicorns get back their dignity


The Son of Summer Stars by Meredith Ann Pierce In the last book in the Firebringer trilogy, we finally come to the event that the two previous books have been steadily building...

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Oddity: In a folkloric USA, a brave girl fights magic with magic


Oddity by Eli Brown 2021’s Oddity is a wonderful middle-grade adventure, with a valiant and compassionate young heroine, a beguiling take on alternate early-USA history, and a...

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The Passage: One of those novels


The Passage by Justin Cronin The Passage, by Justin Cronin, is one of “those” novels. What kind? Well, it’s one of those literary page-turners: a sleek, fast-paced,...

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Recent Posts

The Spare Man: Nick and Nora Charles in space

The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal

Uber-wealthy inventor and heiress Tesla Crane and her husband, retired detective Shalmaneser Steward, plan to enjoy their honeymoon on the interplanetary luxury liner Lindgren as it travels from Earth to Mars. Horribly, the trip is interrupted when a person is stabbed to death right outside their luxury suite, and to make matters worse, Shal is arrested for the crime. As the evidence against him mounts, will Tesla be able to prove he’s innocent? Will she and her gallant Westfield terrier service dog Gimlet discover the true killer? More importantly, will Shal be free in time for happy hour?

As the title and the cover of the trade paperback show us, 2022’s The Spare Man, by Mary Robinette Kowal, is an homage to Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man—Nick and Nora Charles in Space. For lovers of Hammett, there is an “Aster” easter... Read More

WWednesday: January 18, 2023

If you wanted to start a fan-fund to help pay the way for low-income fans to attend a convention, how would you do it? File770 lays out the basics as part of their discussion of a new European Fan Fund.

Everything Everywhere All At Once swept the Critics’ Choice awards this week.

Florida struggles to address the advance of blue-green algae in its estuaries and coastal waters. Here is a FAQ page about blue-green algae and its risks. (Florida is not the only state fighting this battle.)

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The Giant Anthology of Science Fiction: Of Stark and Crag and Court and Cord

The Giant Anthology of Science Fiction edited by Oscar J. Friend & Leo Margulies

For the past five years, all the books that I have read, be they novels or short-story collections, and whether in the field of sci-fi, fantasy or horror, have had one thing in common: The were all written during the period 1900 – 1950; a little self-imposed reading assignment that I have often referred to as Project Pulp. But all good things must come to an end, and to bring this lengthy series of early 20th century genre lit to a close, I have chosen a most fitting anthology, incorporating as it does no fewer than 10 of the greatest authors of that period. The collection is entitled The Giant Anthology of Science Fiction, an apt name considering the hardcover volume’s near-600-page length, and was released in 1954. Compiled by editor and anthologist Leo Margulies and pulp author, anthologist and literary ... Read More

Sunday Status Update: January 15, 2023

Marion:  I finished Mary Robinette Kowal’s “Nick and Nora Charles in Space” mystery, The Spare Man. It was fun. Continuing my William Gibson re-read, I’m about one-third of the way through Count Zero.

Sandy: Moi? I recently finished reading a book by Read More

Uzumaki: A town horrifically taken over by spirals

Uzumaki by Junji Ito

Junji Ito’s masterpiece is without a doubt Uzumaki. Junji Ito is a manga creator (writer and artist), and he is known for his horror graphic novels and story collections. The bulk of his work is made up of story collections such as the brilliant Shiver. Uzumaki, however, is a long six hundred-plus page single-story book. Yet, at the same time, it is still made up of discreet, individual stories. Each chapter, while featuring the same main characters, focuses on another aspect of this strange town, which is the true main character of Uzumaki. The town is characterized by the proliferation of the spiral (Uzumaki means “spiral” in Japanese). The reason the book is written as a series of discreet stories is that they were serialized from 1998-1999 in Big Spirit Comics, a manga magazine in Japan. Each story, ther... Read More

Legendborn: There’s much to like in this debut

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Tracy Deonn’s Legendborn (2020), the first book in her LEGENDBORN CYCLE, wasn’t on my radar until I saw it on the Locus Awards finalists list for Best Young Adult novel. I grabbed the audiobook and one of the YAs that lives in my house (Tali, my 18-year-old daughter) and we listened to Legendborn together as we worked a jigsaw puzzle. We agreed to give Legendborn a rating of 3.5 which is quite a bit lower than the book currently rates at both Amazon and GoodReads, so keep that in mind (YMMV). The bottom line is that we found the story entertaining and wanted to know what happened, but there were too many issues for us to fully endorse Legendborn.

Bree Matthews is a young black high school student who is smart and succ... Read More

WWWednesday: January 11, 2023

Caroline Herschel was the sister of 18th-century astronomer William Herschel. An accomplished singer herself, Caroline helped her brother chart the heavens, and identified nebulae. Philip Henry and Hannah Martin wrote and performed this song about her back in 2005.



LitHub compiled some exceptionally vicious book reviews from 2022. Several of these read like reviewers who saw a chance to practice their writing skills, and several cross over into ad hominem comments… but a lot of them are funny.

The Washington Post explores why it took 43 years to get Octavia Butler’s Kindred to the small screen. (Thanks to File770.)

My husband stumbled across a Read More

Conan: Blood of the Serpent: Conan is back, Baby!!!

Conan: Blood of the Serpent by S.M. Stirling

To say I was thrilled to discover a new Conan novel is the understatement of my year or maybe even decade. Conan of Cimmeria, barbarian, thief, warrior, outlaw, mercenary, reaver, king, Robert E. Howard’s legendary hero, the one who made him the father of Sword and Sorcery has returned. Conan is back, Baby!

Conan, and REH, not to mention ERB’s Tarzan, are not only what made me into a bookworm, but transformed me into the total fantasy geek I am today. I literally get chills when I read the line “Know ye O’ Prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis....”

So, Blood of the Serpent (2022) is a struggle for me to review objectively but, seeing as how Conan s... Read More

Battle of the Linguist Mages: Might make a fun video game

Battle of the Linguist Mages by Scotto Moore

My low rating of 2022’s Battle of the Linguist Mages comes from the distance between my anticipation of this book based on its excellent title, and the reality of reading it. I think people who like watching other people play video games will enjoy this book. I don’t, and so I didn’t. Your mileage, as we say, may vary.

Battle of the Linguist Mages is filled with awesome ideas. Here are a few:

a “battle language” that changes reality
extraterrestrials who live in human consciousness as punctuation marks
a powerful, high-tech cult
a dictatorial governor of California with a plan of conquest
1980s tropes and dance-offs

Moore’s book is filled with cool visuals and snappy dialogue, with villains who know they’re villains, and snark back with great glee at our ... Read More

House of the Restless Dead and Other Stories: Spelunking

House of the Restless Dead and Other Stories by Hugh B. Cave

In my ongoing quest to read every one of the selections spotlighted in Jones & Newman’s excellent overview volume Horror: 100 Best Books, I have come to the realization that some of those books are a lot harder to obtain than others. Oh, sure, with the search tools available on the Interwebs, pretty much any title is easy to find today, but getting it at a decent price … ah, that can be more problematic. For example, I despair of ever being able to find E. H. Visiak’s Medusa (1929) at a price that I can afford, and ditto for Marjorie Bowen’s The Last Bouquet (1933). All of which brings me to Hugh B. Cave’s  Murgunstrumm and Others, chosen for inclusion by British horro... Read More