fantasy and science fiction book reviewsWell, considering that it was a long holiday weekend in which I accomplished nothing, I kind of expected the rest of the world to be lolling around on their Mom’s couches too. But they weren’t. The first news is that the GoodReads Choice awards have been announced, with almost 2 million votes. The Ocean at the End of the Lane won the fantasy category, which is fun because people keep trying to label it as a “kid’s” book. Even more entertainingly, Atwood won the science fiction category with MaddAddamThis is awesome because she’s been very vocal about how nobody should call Her Great Literature “science fiction,” and LeGuin has been all like, “LOL, you need to chill.” Or something like that.

There are also a ton of book lists out this week, mostly because of Black Friday and the beginning of December. First, Kirkus has released its list of the year’s best books for teens, which includes a ton of SFF. Then SF Signal has a pretty exhaustive list of all the SFF and horror books coming in December. If that panics you, My Bookish Ways has a curated version of the list, and has a list exclusively for British Genre Fiction in December. Finally, the LA Times has a short holiday gift guide for SFF books.

There have also been some neat articles and fairly furious controversies this week. Amazing Stories ran an opinion piece arguing that diversity isn’t needed in science fiction, which was met with predictable horror (from me, Radish Reviews, Cora Buhlert, The World in the Satin Bag, Stacy Whitman, and Silvia Moreno-Garcia). It’s an infectious rabbit hole of righteous outrage, so consider yourselves warned. In case you want to catch up on other controversies in the genre (not all of which are new), LitReactor has made a list.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsBut on to lighter stuff. The past week included C.S. Lewis’ birthday and Madeline L’Engle’s birthday, which is cute. National Novel Writing Month is also officially over, and The Guardian ran a rather sweet and inspirational article about it, which also advises you not to send your 50,000 words of slush to the poor publishers. BookRiot also had a post about the classic authors who wrote insanely fast and would “win” NaNoWriMo (spoiler: it’s Asimov). In other bookish news, BuzzFeed’s book section will not include negative reviews, in accordance with their “if you don’t have anything nice to say…” principles.  And the NY Times responded with predictable snark to that decision. I definitely don’t like writing negative reviews, but I do feel they make my five-stars a little more meaningful.

And now, as usual, some stuff to look at: The Guardian has collected some of the most genuinely creepy Victorian portraits you’ve ever seen. They’re not strictly SFF, but they totally could be. Also, I did a little research, and it only gets creepier the more you know — apparently it was common practice to take baby portraits of… the recently deceased. Which some of those babies definitely are. To undo that psychological damage, go admire the artwork of David Petersen, author of the MouseGuard graphic novels and drawer of pretty things.

As a final postscript, I would recommend this truly brilliant review essay from the New York Review of Books, which isn’t strictly in the genre but dudes this is what you get when a history grad makes your link posts.  It’s about the history of the monstrous and fantastical in our map-margins, and it has some truly stunning lines about our “monstrous imagination,”

“…which revels in excess and assemblage; tricephalous and multilimbed, with arthropod and reptilian features such as ruffs, tusks, fangs, tentacles, and jaws… They belong to dark places, those underworlds under land and sea — volcanoes, ocean abysses — because they embody our lack of understanding, and mirror it in their savagery and disorderly, heterogeneous asymmetries of shape. “


  • Alix E. Harrow

    ALIX E. HARROW, who retired from our blog in 2014, is a part-time historian with a full-time desk job, a lot of opinions, and excessive library fines. Her short fiction has appeared in Shimmer, Strange Horizons,, Apex, and other venues. She won a Hugo Award for her fiction in 2019. Alix and her husband live in Kentucky under the cheerful tyranny of their kids and pets. Find her at @AlixEHarrow on Twitter. Some of her favorite authors include Neil Gaiman, Ursula LeGuin, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Susanna Clarke.

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