fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Fiammetta Singing; Maria Spartali Stillman; Delaware art Museum

This week’s word for Wednesday is the verb adumbrate; it means to outline or sketch lightly, to prefigure or foreshadow, or to overshadow. It is from the Latin word adumbratus (to shade), from the root of the word for shadow. Its earliest known use is around 1575. Since “to foreshadow” is a very different meaning from “overshadow,” this is a word that clearly draws its meaning from context.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction described David Hartwell as “perhaps the single most influential book editor of the past forty years in the American SF publishing world.” He was affiliated with Tor, Signet and Pocket books and the imprint Timescape, which he created. He was justly famed as an anthologist. David Hartwell introduced three generations of readers to speculative fiction and to writers we now include in the canon, writers like Gene Wolfe and Ellen Kushner. On January 19, 2016, Hartwell suffered serious head injury at home. He died several hours later, sending shock and sadness throughout the SF community.

In addition to being an influential editor and a scholar (he had a degree in Ph.D in Comparative Medieval Literature from Columbia), Hartwell was also known to his friends and his writers as a man of sartorial splendor, a wit and a clown in the best sense of that word.

Marta Randall, acclaimed New Wave novelist, editor, and the first woman president of SFWA, put a story about Hartwell and balloons on her Facebook page:

“When the Prince of Darkness, Simon&Schuster/PocketBooks (Timescape), let him go, it was shortly before his birthday. Insiders let us know that the staff was holding a farewell party for him in the Timescape offices. I called everyone I knew and we put together an order for enough helium balloons to fill the party room — somebody did the measuring and somebody else did the math — and the balloons were snuck into the room, so that when David came in there was hardly enough room for him and balloons and people. We had the provider affix a card reading “Happy Birthday! and signed “The Balloon Gang.”

Someone opened a window and the balloons streamed out over midtown Manhattan. We heard wondering reports for a week or so after, of folk in Little Italy or Chinatown or Wall Street finding balloons floating across the sky. It was, we thought, an appropriately silly celebration for one of science fiction’s great clowns.”

Ellen Kushner shared a David Harwell story, and Locus published an obituary here.

Kathryn Cramer, who was married to Hartwell for nearly 20 years, offered this link to the hospital that treated him in his final hours. The small hospital does not have its own respirator (it shares one that rotates among facilities). Cramer mentions a nurse who sat by Hartwell’s bed for five hours, regularly squeezing the ball that ran to the tube acting as his diaphragm. A donation to the hospital will enable them to get their own respirator.

I am putting the universe on notice. I’m tired of including obituaries. So stop it. Right now.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

The Pilgrim Folk, Maria Spartali Stillman, Delaware Art Museum

Movies and Television

About a year ago, Disney realized that they had made the wrong character their main character in their upcoming animated feature Zootopia. What they did next will surprise you. Well, it won’t if you see the movie, but it’s a good article about determining, as they say in the musical Hamilton, “Who tells your story?”

Steven Moffat is leaving Doctor Who at the end of 2016. 2016 is virtually a no-season anyway, since the 2016 Christmas special is currently the only episode planned. I like Broadchurch, so seeing the show in the hands of its producer intrigues me.

AV Club reviews part one of the premiere of the CW’s Legends of Tomorrow. They had some issues with it, but overall they liked it. They were kinder than I would have been, although we are in agreement that the bar fight scene was awesome.

The X-Files returned! It showed up a little bit late because one of the football playoff games ran long, but it did return. Reviewers are trying very hard to like it. Apparently the second episode which aired on Monday, January 25, was better than that awkward premiere.

The fourth NARNIA book, The Silver Chair, is on its way to the big screen. Neither Disney nor Walden Media Group is attached to this production, which will involve a completely new cast (the Pevensey siblings were not in The Silver Chair). I couldn’t believe that Walden Media lost money on this popular franchise, but the article says that, “undisclosed budget disputes” led to Disney leaving the original franchise. (Although in Hollywood, “undisclosed budget disputes” does not mean a movie lost money.) Collider shares a little bit more.

Books and Writing

Damien Walters ruminates on how SFF has interpreted Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Nick Matamas writes about his influences.

SF Signal asked writers what space ship they would captain if they could (Serenity and The Millenium Falcon were both off limits). K.V. Johanson, Jay Garmon and Alexandra Pierce, among others, comment, and there are some great answers.

UPDATE: Our own Brad and Jana were included in this week’s Mind Meld; what comic book character would you like to see make the transition to prose? (What an awesome question.)  I will probably list this item again next week, with a bit or detail, but it came out today so I wanted to add it because — i’ts Jana and Brad!

IO9 recommends three writers workshops and one of them is Clarion. I didn’t miss the Great Clarion Controversy last week but I didn’t exactly follow it either. As someone who has attended residential workshops, I can tell you that they are great in many ways. I also know that getting even three weeks’ leave from a job, plus the workshop fee and travel costs, is an obstacle for many – and most of these, like Clarion, are six-week workshops. It’s a dilemma. Andrea Phillips offers an alternative. I like that Phillips addresses the big, obvious thing about Clarion; the networking. Her final section talks about ways you can network with the same editors, publishers and writers via social media.

The Modern Language Association is looking for papers on SFF and its connections with counterculture, or subcultures. The original premise focused on the New Wave movement of the late 1960s, but the proposal has expanded that. It sounds pretty interesting to me and I’m not even an academic. (Via File 770.)

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Madonna Pietra degli Scrovigni, Maria Spartali Stillman, Delaware Art Museum


The Wall Street Journal shares the year’s worst – and by worst we mean most obvious– passwords. Hey, how did they get mine? Just kidding. I would never have picked QWERTY simply because it is typed almost entirely with one hand. That would start to hurt after a while.

Is cosplay in trouble? Does it violate copyright laws? No. Or, yes. Well, maybe. There was discussion on the internet this week of the possible impact of a future Supreme Court case over cheerleading costumes, that may have implications for cosplayers. (The original story was on the Public Knowledge website, and I can no longer get to it.) Cospuree thinks people shouldn’t panic quite yet.


Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos kept last Friday’s rocket launch a secret until he could say it was a success. New Shepherd left and re-entered the planet’s atmosphere “safely and softly.” The interesting thing is that this is a re-used rocket (I’m glad Bezos believes in recycling).


Some readers in the northeastern USA got a lot of snow. You probably already knew that. NASA has a great picture of it here.

And here, some deer frolic in our capital’s empty, snow-covered streets.


Maria Spartali Stillman, born in 1844, was a pre-Raphelite painter. Several women joined the ranks of the Per-Raphalites as painters, although more attention went to the models. These photos come from an exhibit at the Delaware Art Museum.


  • 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.