fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

The Flight of the Muse (c) Paul Bond

This week’s world for Wednesday is wassail, a noun, meaning a salutation wishing health to another person, usually in the form of a toast; or also a spiced ale beverage drunk on winter holidays, most notably winter solstice, Christmas or Twelfth Night. The phrase entered the language in the 1100s from the phrase, “Be Hale.” Rather than go into detail about the spiced ale, I’m just going to link to a recipe. And here’s a non-alcoholic (and egg-free) recipe.

I hope your winter solstice was filled with light and the warmth of family and friends, and that the many millions of you who saw Star Wars; The Force Awakens enjoyed it. Variety shares some speculation on projected box office for the film.

Star Wars

This week Star Wars gets its own category.

Business Insider speculates on what would have happened if Darth Vader had separated from employment with the Emperor in some way other than dying. He would need a resume, they decide, and they provide one. I especially like “dealt with a boss who refused to provide parental leave.” Courtesy of File 770.

The Geek Bar loves Star Wars and Star Wars fans, but they don’t love spoilers. While they welcome people who have just seen Star Wars; The Force Awakens, they have a strict policy about spoilers. They’re serious!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

In Between Here and Not Here (c) Paul Bond

Books and Writing

25 best books of the year from booksellers.

Here’s a present for us; from November, Orbit Books will be expanding its SFF line, doubling the number of books it releases. Factors included the runaway success of Ann Leckie’s RADCH EMPIRE series, and people like you; intelligent, voracious readers who know what they want. Courtesy of Locus.

Over on Book Smugglers, Michael Wojcik talks about five Canadian fantasy works.’s reviewers (including Stefan Raets) give us their Best of 2015 listOurs is here, in case you missed it. Two books that keep showing up: Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, and Seth Dickinson’s The Traitor Baru Cormorant.

IO9, which has now officially merged with Gizmodo, has its Best of 2015 list here.

The Oxford English Dictionary adds words, or expands definitions each year, and 2015 saw the introduction of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “waybread,” and “the bank of Mom and Dad,” among others. There are some interesting tidbits here! No way, you say? Yes way.

Head of Donnbo reimagines Star Wars IV: A New Hope, as an Irish epic poem, delivered via Twitter. Yes, that’s right. That’s what it is. (Courtesy of Natalie Luhrs.)

SF Signal’s Mind Meld asked our own Kat Hooper who was her favorite new-to-her author in 2015. Here is her response along with the others.

Morgan Rhodes hosts an AMA at Reddit.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

The Carriage Ride Circa 1890 (c) Paul Bond


The Toronto Star has decided to turn off the comments section on its online site. They say tactfully that comments show up so many other places, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, they will glean the best comments from those sites. I translate that as, “The comments are toxic sludge.” Is this the wave of the future? What do you think?

John Scalzi provides some holiday whimsy with his interview with Santa’s Reindeer Wrangler.

The Icelandic choral group Arstidir performs a 13-century hymn in a German train terminal. You probably heard this last year, but it’s so beautiful and tranquil I’m sharing it again, for the season. According to their website, these guys founded the group after the economic crash of 2008. The linked recording helped get them international attention. And I will not promise that this is the last music I’ll post this year because I still have one more week.


And here is your first drone-delivered light-painting holiday card, courtesy of Ascending Technologies. (Darn it, every time I think “I’m so done with drones,” someone does something like this.)

For the steampunk geek in your life, there’s this, a 19th century keyboard that’s Bluetooth enabled.

And speaking of gadgets, watch the video of this amazing 18th century writing desk/prayer altar. Many thanks to the Writers Circle for this one.

Bas Bleu has book-themed gifts, including this cool area rug.

Movies and TV

A review of Childhood’s End. For me, this was a “static” viewing experience and more than once I was reminded of TORCHWOOD’S Children of Earth. I’m proud of Syfy for trying, and this was an ambitious project, but I think The Expanse is a more successful adaptation. The Wrap has some opinions. And here’s AV Club weighing in.

And a review of The Expanse from Den of Geek.

Den of Geek also gave us a spoiler-free review of the special preview of Syfy’s The Magicians.

Best Of lists… AV Club has one on movies. And… Crimson Peak is on it. I didn’t see that coming!

The Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication will be awarded to those who help promote science to the public through media such as cinema, music, writing and art.


Joe Ambercrobie reviews Fallout 4, again, courtesy of File 770.

Forbes give us its Best of 2015 list of Games. Not sure if the staff of Forbes are experts in gaming, but I admire their enthusiasm.


Share your favorite books of 2015 and win one from our Stacks.


Paul Bond studied in Guadalajara, Mexico, and his work embraces the Latin American concept of magical realism, where fantastical or mythic themes blend with realism for a sense of a place where anything can happen. He lives in California; his work can be seen in galleries and in private collections internationally, and prints are available.  Visit his website here. I especially love “The Muse’s Journey.”

Wishing you and yours joyful winter holidays!


  • Marion Deeds

    Marion Deeds, with us since March, 2011, is the author of the fantasy novella ALUMINUM LEAVES. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthologies BEYOND THE STARS, THE WAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, STRANGE CALIFORNIA, and in Podcastle, The Noyo River Review, Daily Science Fiction and Flash Fiction Online. She’s retired from 35 years in county government, and spends some of her free time volunteering at a second-hand bookstore in her home town.

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