On this date in 1497, Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama left for his voyage from Lisbon, Portugal to Calicut, India. He is the first European who made it from Europe to India by sea. On July 8, 1776, a 2,000 pound bell forged of copper and tin was rung in Philadelphia to call people out to hear the reading of the Declaration of Independence. The bell was later named the Liberty Bell.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

The Strickland Brooch from the Sutton Hoo Site; British Museum


Science Fiction Poetry Association has announced the Rhysling award winners for 2015. The award recognizes excellence in science fiction poetry. Winners this year include “Shutdown” by Marge Simmons (1st place for short poems) and “100 Reasons to have Sex With an Alien” by  F.J Bergman (first place for long poems). I think that must be Commander Will Ryker’s favorite poem ever.

Suzanne Haden Elgin discusses here the nature of science fiction poetry.

The 2015 Seiun Award winners were announced. The Japanese award recognizes excellent works in translation. Andy Weir’s The Martian won, as did Pat Cadigan’s short story, “The Girl-Thing Who Went out for Sushi.”

Books and Publishing:

Since it was published in 1965, Frank Herbert’s Dune has captivated the imaginations of SF readers. Although the story is basically a straightforward prince-regains-his-throne tale, Herbert’s elaborate universe, with the inhospitable planet that is the sole source of the most valuable substance in the universe, still mesmerizes us. The UK Guardian takes a look at the history of Dune, while over on the Nautilus, they are discussing the lessons a drought-hammered California can take from the books. Next season on The Kardashians, expect Kim to be sporting the latest in still-suit-wear.

Although it’s not a speculative fiction title, the new book by Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman, due out July 14, is exciting a lot of discussion. Once again, a controversy has arisen, this time over exactly when the mystery manuscript was discovered. The New York Times reports on it here. I am skeptical about the seriousness of this issue, given the closeness to the drop date, but it’s still interesting to watch the interest swirl around Lee, who is an American treasure.

Brandon Sanderson fans, Tor.com is offering an excerpt from Brandon Sanderson’s sequel to The Alloy of Law, his steampunk/alt-world fantasy set in the same world as the MISTBORN. It’s called Shadows of Self, and due out October 6, 2015.

Also at Tor.com; five villains who simply could not, well, keep it simple. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Who would you nominate for a villain whose evil plan was just too complicated?

Berkeley and New American Library are combining. The new imprint will be called the Berkeley Publishing Group. The statement contains the usual “boilerplate” language about how great these two imprints were and how the new one will continue the legacy, and so on. Whatever happens it’s clear some SF lines, like Ace Books, well be affected by this change.


Terminator; Genisys disappointed its studio. It only made $44.2 million over the five-day holiday weekend period. It is reported to be the worst-performing movie of the franchise. Forbes’s reviewer liked it. I have to say this movie review has more dollar signs in it than I’m used to.  Over at Rotten Tomatoes, they grade it a little bit harder, but the audiences are liking it more than the critics. You know what people are still turning out to see? That movie with those zany dinosaurs in it.

Space, Science and Technology:

The New Horizons spacecraft, set for a fly-by of Pluto on July 15, 2015, put itself in Safe Mode on Saturday, July 4. Technicians at NASA do not know why yet. The craft is in contact with them feeding them telemetric information, and all necessary course correction for the Pluto approach have been done, but now the trick is to find out why New Horizons set itself in Safe Mode, which means it will not transmit scientific data. IO9 has the story. My fingers are crossed that the big brains at NASA can figure this out before the 15th!

The Russian rocket Progress reached the International Space Station without incident, delivering supplies, after  the explosion of the SpaceX rocket last week.

Apparently, the failure of the  SpaceX rocket hasn’t dimmed the luster of the company’s genius CEO,

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Burial Helmet from Sutton Hoo site; British Museum

Elon Musk. Here is an interview from last year, by the U.K Telegraph, with the man who created PayPal, Tesla Motors and is rumored to be director Jon Favreau’s inspiration for his interpretation of Iron Man Tony Stark.

In a sign of the impending apocalypse, inventors have now created bubble-wrap that will not pop. The reason is that bubbly bubble-wrap is too bulky to ship and this kind, which is pumped up by the person using the wrap, will save money. One more stress-reliever bites the dust.

The Internet:

File 770 celebrates a science fiction writer who won on the TV show Jeopardy. Writers aren’t only creative, they’re smart, even if, according to the post, they don’t understand how to wager correctly on the show.

File 770 has been providing ongoing coverage on the Hugo spat and the subsequent discussions. Last week FanLit made it into the mix, courtesy of Terry’s Magazine Monday column. She’s also included in IO9’s Best Short Story round table article. Go, Terry!

Scientific American offers a slide show of weather photos that range from massive and dramatic to tiny and delicate. Enjoy!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Belt buckle, Sutton Hoo; British Museum.




The British Museum’s exhibition of artifacts from the Sutton Hoo burial site provide our images today. Look at the detail in the Strickland brooch! It’s amazing.



  • 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.