Next SFF Author: Patricia C. Wrede
Previous SFF Author: Cornell Woolrich

Series: World Fantasy Award


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Galveston: May be Sean Stewart’s best novel

Galveston by Sean Stewart

This may be Sean Stewart’s best novel, though it is not my favourite. Here we see Stewart displaying full mastery of his prose, his characterization, and his depiction of a fully realized magical world. Be warned though, neither the characters, nor the world presented, are always pleasant to behold.

We follow the story of Josh Cane, a young man with a chip on his shoulder due to the constrained circumstances of his life that are the result of his father’s loss of a pivotal game of poker.


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Watchtower: Fairly standard feminist fantasy

Watchtower by Elizabeth A. Lynn

Watchtower, the first book in the award-winning THE CHRONICLES OF TORNOR series by Elizabeth A. Lynn, follows the tale of a young prince — why is he called a prince when his father is a lord? I have no idea. This bothered me through the whole book — who has to fight against a usurper to regain his lands.

Watchtower is frequently included on lists of feminist and gay SFF.


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20th Century Ghosts: A prime collection of short fiction

20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill

Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son. Good, now that’s out of the way. 20th Century Ghosts (2007) is a prime collection of short fiction. Some stories are horror, some are literary horror and some aren’t horror at all. Hill has a strong style, a distinctive voice, and a willingness to indulge in post-modernism. This means that the conclusions of some stories are left up to the reader. This is not the undisciplined writing of someone who can’t commit to a resolution,


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The Dragon Waiting: Stands up through nearly three decades

The Dragon Waiting by John M. Ford

Here is a fantasy novel that stands up through nearly three decades and still delivers. John M. Ford’s The Dragon Waiting won the World Fantasy Award in 1984, and 27 years later it still offers readers an intricate and compelling story with complex, believable characters.

Ford sets his alternate universe fantasy in what would have been our fifteenth-century Europe. Since Christianity never emerged as a world religion and the Byzantine Empire rules most of Europe and Asia,


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Great Work of Time: It’s time to bring this book back

Great Work of Time by John Crowley

In 1990, Great Work of Time won the World Fantasy Award for best novella. I’m surprised someone hasn’t snapped up John Crowley’s short book, given it a glossy steampunk cover, and re-released it. Of course it isn’t steampunk. John Crowley’s work doesn’t fit easily into any sub-genre except Things John Crowley Has Written. Still, Great Work of Time has enough of the British Empire, airships, alternate histories, train terminals, misty London cityscapes, and men with bowler hats and tightly furled umbrellas to justify a steampunk cover,


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The Physiognomy: Sometimes brilliant, always bizarre

The Physiognomy by Jeffrey Ford

Physiognomist Cley has been sent by Master Drachton Below, the evil genius who constructed the Well-Built City, to the faraway mining district of Anamasobia to investigate the theft of a fruit that’s rumored to have grown in the Earthly Paradise and to have supernatural powers. Upon arriving, the skeptical and arrogant physiognomist finds a whole town of morons whose physical features clearly indicate that they are all backward and generally pathetic. Except for Arla, whose beautiful features suggest that she is intelligent and competent, and who seems to understand the science of physiognomy (even though that’s impossible because she’s a woman).


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Soldier of Sidon: Wolfe and Latro have aged very well

Soldier of Sidon by Gene Wolfe

Soldier of Sidon is the third book in Gene Wolfe’s Soldier series. Latro is a Roman mercenary who fought against the Greeks at Thermopylae. In spite of his battle prowess, he now wakes every morning with no memory of his past ever since receiving a blow to the head. Will Latro ever recover?

Gene Wolfe originally told Latro’s story in Soldier of the Mist and Soldier of Arete,


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The Shadow Year: Little slices of life

The Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford

The Shadow Year is a charming coming-of-age tale about the 6th grade year of an average American boy (we never learn his name) growing up in the 1960s. This year isn’t average, though, because there are some strange things going on in his small town. As he navigates his way around mundane matters such as an alcoholic manic depressive mother, a father who holds down three jobs, live-in grandparents, and unpleasant teachers, he’s also concerned with a prowler, a classmate who disappeared,


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Little, Big: Bittersweet and unforgettable

Little, Big: or, The Fairies’ Parliament by John Crowley

“All Part of the Tale. Don’t Ask Me How…”

This review is going to be well-nigh impossible to write, as the subject matter is so impossible to describe. Well, John Crowley’s Little, Big is definitely a book. That’s a good start. But the second I try to narrow down rudimentary elements like plot and character, my brain gets a bit fuzzy. It’s about a family. And a house. And how this family lives in the house which is situated on the borders of another world which sometimes intrudes upon their own,


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The Very Best of Charles de Lint: Truly Charles de Lint’s very best

The Very Best of Charles de Lint by Charles de Lint

With a title like The Very Best of Charles de Lint, I had high hopes, and I have to say that they were met. Yes, this is the best of Charles de Lint’s fantasy. Chosen in consultation with his readers on Facebook and on his website, de Lint has culled down decades of writing to create a special volume with beautiful cover art by Charles Vess that highlights the reason why de Lint is considered one of the founding fathers of urban fantasy.


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Next SFF Author: Patricia C. Wrede
Previous SFF Author: Cornell Woolrich

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