The Hell of It February 25, 2015 The Hell of It Peter Orullian What will he wager? Schrödinger’s Gun February 18, 2015 Schrödinger’s Gun Ray Wood Maybe in some other timeline it would have gone smooth. Acrobatic Duality February 11, 2015 Acrobatic Duality Tamara Vardomskaya The two of her are perfectly synchronized. The Language of Knives February 4, 2015 The Language of Knives Haralambi Markov They share the rites of death, and grief.
From The Blog
March 2, 2015
A Ranking of 1980s Fantasy That Would Please Crom Himself!
Leah Schnelbach
February 27, 2015
Goodbye, Mr. Nimoy — What Spock Meant to One Geeky 12-Year-Old Girl
Emily Asher-Perrin
February 26, 2015
Introducing the Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch
Keith DeCandido
February 23, 2015
Oh No, She Didn’t: The Strong Female Character, Deconstructed
Ilana C. Myer
February 20, 2015
Evil Eighties: The Paperback Horrors of Lisa Tuttle
Grady Hendrix
Feb 23 2015 10:00am

Oh No, She Didn’t: The Strong Female Character, Deconstructed


They should kick ass but have other talents; they shouldn’t necessarily kick ass because that’s been done to death; they should have agency; they should move the plot forward; they should be assertive but not obnoxious; they should hold positions of power; they shouldn’t be raped or die to give the hero incentive for his quest.

There’s been a lot of talk lately in the science fiction and fantasy community about “strong” female characters, with various authors weighing in about how to write them, what they are, and why the term is flawed in the first place. There are discussions of deadly tropes and how to avoid them. This is all fine, and I agree with the points made for the most part; the last thing we need is a rehash of eyerollingly blatant male fantasies. But with all the focus on writing techniques on the one hand, and political imperatives on the other, I wonder if we’re not losing sight of the big picture.

[Read More]

Feb 23 2015 9:00am

Five Books About Nonsense and Disorientation

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland John Tenniel

In this ongoing series, we ask SF/F authors to recommend five books based around a common theme. These lists aren’t intended to be exhaustive, so we hope you’ll discuss and add your own suggestions in the comments!

When Noam Chomsky challenged himself to write a sentence that was grammatically correct but made no sense at all, he came up with “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.” Chomsky overlooked the human drive to make sense out of everything, even nonsense. There is poetry in his sentence, and, after a vertiginous moment of disorientation, we move rapidly from crisis to the discovery of meaning, with truths often more profound than what we find in sentences that make complete sense. There is magic in non-sense, for words turn into wands and begin to build new worlds—Wonderland, Neverland, Oz, and Narnia. Presto! We are in the realm of counterfactuals that enable us to imagine “What if?”

[Read More]

Feb 23 2015 8:00am

Morning Roundup: Groot is Live at Budokan!

Groot at Budokan

James Gunn recently shared this shot of Groot with all of his fans! Rock star and comic book writer Gerard Way played the stadium last week, and his fantastic drum tech took the opportunity to give our favorite sentient tree a solo.

Morning Roundup gives us an Ultron origin story, Duncan Jones talks about his World of Warcraft movie, and acclaimed novelist Kazup Ishiguro takes a walk on the genre side!

[Plus, what we talk about when we talk about Big Bird.]

Feb 22 2015 8:00am

Dear Joanna Russ: A Letter for an Inimitable Writer

Joanna Russ birthdayWhile researching for We Wuz Pushed: On Joanna Russ and Radical Truth-Telling, I developed a passionate engagement with Russ’s astounding, provocative body of work—and I had intended, at the time, to write her a letter upon completion of the project to thank her for her contributions to feminism, science fiction, and queer scholarship. Unfortunately, on April 29th 2011, Joanna Russ passed away; I had not written or sent that letter.

So, I go back to that initial desire now, to celebrate Russ’s birthday and the imprint her writings left on me, the SF genre, and the wider community of scholars and critics in which she participated.

[Read More]

Feb 21 2015 10:30am

The Turnip Princess Sweepstakes!

In the 1850s, Franz Xaver von Schönwerth traversed the forests, lowlands, and mountains of northern Bavaria to record fairy tales, gaining the admiration of even the Brothers Grimm. Most of Schönwerth's work was lost—until a few years ago, when thirty boxes of manu­scripts were uncovered in a German municipal archive. Now, for the first time, Schönwerth's lost fairy tales are available in English with The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales, out next Tuesday from Penguin Classics.

Violent, dark, and full of action, and upending the relationship between damsels in distress and their dragon-slaying heroes, these more than seventy stories bring us closer than ever to the unadorned oral tradition in which fairy tales are rooted, revolutionizing our understanding of a hallowed genre.

We have three copies, so comment in the post to enter!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States and D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec). To enter, comment on this post beginning at 10:30 AM Eastern Time (ET) on February 21. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on February 25. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor:, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

Feb 20 2015 4:00pm

Rainbow Rowell Says Carry On Isn’t Fanfiction, It’s Canon

Rainbow Rowell Carry On interview Simon Snow Baz fanfiction fantasyCan Rainbow Rowell’s next book Carry On be described as fanfiction if she’s writing about the magical adventures of her fictional characters’ favorite fictional characters? (She did create the mage-in-training roommates Simon Snow and Tyrannus Basilton “Baz” Pitch for her novel Fangirl, but as the stars of various fanfics.) And while she created a fantasy world detailed enough for her protagonist to write fanfic in, how does she make that fantasy world stand on its own?

Rowell answered these and other tricky questions in a new interview with Time, in which she discussed which fantasy tropes she embraced or discarded while writing Carry On, and why we should all thank the Harry Potter generation.

[Read more]

Feb 20 2015 3:00pm

The Yellow Wood Wields an Intimate and Disturbing Wizardry

review Melanie Tem Yellow Wood Sandi Kove left home as a young woman and has all but cut ties with her family of origin. She has a husband, two beautiful adopted teenagers, and a stable job writing marketing reports for a company that seems to appreciate her. When she hears from her sister that their elderly father is all but begging she return for a visit—and that he might not live much longer– she breaks a decades-long father-daughter silence and returns to a peculiar patch of scrub forest, a yellow wood where all of her other siblings have settled down within walking distance of Dad’s cabin.

It is clear that Sandi’s departure, years earlier, was an escape from something. Though she refers to her father as a wizard, it is clear that even she is not certain what she means, or exactly what it was that she was getting away from. Certainly Alexander Kove was a domineering parent, and as the two of them take the first tentative steps into their reunion we see that he is stubborn, racist, emotionally withholding, and afraid to show any of his considerable vulnerabilities.

[A review.]

Feb 20 2015 2:00pm

Icefall (Excerpt)

Gillian Philip

Gillian Philip Icefall Death stalks Seth MacGregor’s clan in their otherworld exile. Kate NicNiven is close to ultimate victory, and she is determined that nothing will keep her from it. Not even the thing that took her soul: the horror that lurks in the sea caves.

But Kate still needs Seth’s son Rory, and his power over the Veil. And she’ll go to any lengths to get him. Seth’s own soul is rotting from the wound inflicted by Kate, and survival for his loved ones seems all he can hope for. But might a mortal threat to his brother’s daughter force him to return to his own world to challenge Kate? And will Rory go with him? Because Rory suspects there’s a darkness trapped in the Veil, a darkness that wants to get out. But only one Sithe knows how near it is to getting its way: Seth’s bound lover, the witch Finn. Nobody gets forever. But some are willing to try...

From critically acclaimed author Gillian Philip, Icefall is the final installment in the Rebel Angels series—available March 24th from Tor Books!

[Read an Excerpt]

Feb 20 2015 1:30pm

Afternoon Roundup: Won an Oscar, Kinda Makes It Better

geek Oscars Batman song The Lego Movie

With Dr. Horrible Neil Patrick Harris hosting the Academy Awards this weekend, Nerd Approved wanted to make sure that 2014’s geekier works got their chance to bring home an Oscar statuette. (And hey, Batman can actually thank his parents in his acceptance speech for best song.) Because Emily Blunt’s arms in Edge of Tomorrow and Baymax in Big Hero 6 both deserve to be recognized for best supporting roles.

Afternoon Roundup brings you a Powerpuff Girls reboot, Stephen Hawking’s space photos, and a Harry Potter fan documentary!

[Read more]

Feb 20 2015 1:00pm

Reading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, The Last Argument of Kings: “Too Many Knives” and “Best of Enemies”

Joe Abercrombie reread The Last Argument of KingsI’m going to Disney World today, so thankfully, there isn’t much butchery in this week’s chapters. There’s something incompatible about meat cleavers and the Magic Kingdom. I mean, there is certainly some gruesome bits, per our favorite Inquisitor, but no one gets stabbed! Or slashed! Or burned! It’s almost like a Carebear episode.

Kind of…not really. There is that toe crushing hammer to contend with.

[Read the rest…]

Feb 20 2015 12:10pm

Read’s 2014 Nebula-Nominated Fiction

The Science Fiction Writers of America has announced their shortlist for the 2014 Nebula Awards, is thrilled to have published three Nebula-nominated works of short fiction in 2014.

Want to see what all the fuss is about? You can read “The Mothers of Voorhisville” by Mary Rickert, “The Devil in America” by Kai Ashante Wilson, and “Sleep Walking Now and Then” by Richard Bowes for free!

Feb 20 2015 11:58am

Announcing the 2014 Nebula Awards Nominees!

Nebula Award 2013 nomineesThe Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America are pleased to announce the 2014 Nebula Awards nominees (presented 2015), for the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, and the nominees for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.

We are personally pleased to announce that one novella and two novelettes have been nominated: “The Mothers of Voorhisville,” by Mary Rickert and edited by Liz Gorinsky, “The Devil in America,” by Kai Ashante Wilson and edited by Ann VanderMeer, and “Sleep Walking Now and Then,” by Richard Bowes and edited by Ellen Datlow.

Congratulations to all of the nominees!

[Click through for the complete list of nominees]

Feb 20 2015 12:00pm

Malazan Reread of the Fallen: Orb Sceptre Throne, Chapter Three

Ian C Esslemont Orb Sceptre Throne Malazan rereadWelcome back to the Malazan Reread of the Fallen! Every post will start off with a summary of events, followed by reaction and commentary by your hosts Bill and Amanda (with Amanda, new to the series, going first), and finally comments from readers. In this article, we’ll cover chapter three of Ian Cameron Esslemont’s Orb Sceptre Throne.

A fair warning before we get started: We’ll be discussing both novel and whole-series themes, narrative arcs that run across the entire series, and foreshadowing. Note: The summary of events will be free of major spoilers and we’re going to try keeping the reader comments the same. A spoiler thread has been set up for outright Malazan spoiler discussion.

[Read more]

Feb 20 2015 11:00am

Highlights from Kate Elliott’s Reddit AMA Include Unrestrained Romance, Secret Projects, and Chocolate Cake

Kate Elliott Reddit AMA best answers highlightsFor more than twenty-five years, Kate Elliott’s fantasy and science fiction has focused on (as she told us in Sleeps With Monsters) “how people function in the social space of the societies they live in.” That might range from crumbling empires rebuilding themselves to the immigrant experience and the culture clash experienced by two very different societies. Best known for her Crossroads and Spiritwalker trilogies and her Crown of Stars series, she has also just released a new short fiction collection, The Very Best of Kate Elliott.

Recently, Elliott took to Reddit’s r/fantasy subreddit to answer all manner of reader questions. During the talk—scheduled around the Hawaii-based Elliott’s outrigger canoe practice—she explained how J.R.R. Tolkien made her love worldbuilding, gamely accepted the commentary from one reader who didn’t enjoy her books, and shared her best chocolate cake recipe. Check out the highlights!

[Read more]

Feb 20 2015 10:52am

Jason Momoa Looks Appropriately Badass as Aquaman

With this tweet showing the first look at Jason Momoa in costume, Aquaman director Zack Snyder has ushered in the era of the badass Atlantean. We didn’t really doubt that the man who embodied Khal Drogo—and who made a pretty intimidating Drax, even just in test shots—would look like a marine killing machine, but it’s another thing to actually have him glaring at you to assert his status as the one king. Gone is the spandex, and his scales are replaced by tattoos—we like.

[Read more]

Feb 20 2015 10:00am

Evil Eighties: The Paperback Horrors of Lisa Tuttle

Lisa Tuttle Familiar SpiritStarting last Friday the 13th, Grady Hendrix, author of Horrorstör, and Will Errickson of Too Much Horror Fiction are back to uncover the best (and worst) horror paperbacks from the 1980s.

Who is Lisa Tuttle and why is she such a pervert? We may never find an answer to that second question. After all, what drives an author to write some of the most psychologically harrowing, squick-inducing, “find your soft places and dig in with my fingernails” mass market paperbacks of the 1980s? Why does she seem to delight in our discomfort? But maybe the answer is easy.

Why is Lisa Tuttle so perverse? It might be because her books taste better that way.

[Read More]

Feb 20 2015 9:00am

Five Books About the Perils of Education

Flowers for Algernon Charly

In this ongoing series, we ask SF/F authors to recommend five books based around a common theme. These lists aren’t intended to be exhaustive, so we hope you’ll discuss and add your own suggestions in the comments!

Most writers are, one way or another, trying to get some kind of message across, so it’s no surprise to discover that teachers and pupils are a common theme in fiction. No surprise, also, to discover that the process often goes wrong.

Below are a five of my favourite takes on the perils of education.

[Read More]

Feb 20 2015 8:00am

Morning Roundup: Now Can We Get Duchovny Dressed As Gomez?

Yeah, that’s Gillian Anderson cosplaying as Morticia Addams. Thank you, Lost-Carcosa and myfaithingravity. You’re welcome, everyone else.

Morning Roundup has discovered that there’s an APB out on Queen Elsa, Lucifer has decided to freelance for the LAPD, and Playmobil has some really weird ideas about what kids like to play with.

[Plus, Tina Belcher: Riot Grrrrl.]

Feb 20 2015 7:00am

Terror on a Deadline: Remembering Richard Matheson

Richard MathesonIn writing some of the On This Day features for, I’ve been privileged to learn more about some of the greatest writers in the SFF canon. One thing that has continually impressed me is the way these people treated writing as a job. They didn’t wring their hands over their genre’s marginalization, or complain about writers block—they just told stories. Sometimes the stories hit, sometimes they didn’t, but these writers knew there’d always be another one to tell, and in the meantime the rent was due and the kids needed to be fed. Richard Matheson, whose birthday we celebrate today, is an excellent example of this old school work ethic.

[Cue evil Zuni doll cackling]

Feb 19 2015 4:00pm

Dead Spots (Excerpt)

Rhiannon Frater

Dead Spots Rhiannon Frater The stillbirth of Mackenzie’s son destroyed her marriage. Grieving, Mac reluctantly heads for her childhood home to seek refuge with her mother, who constantly reminds her of life’s dangers.

Driving across Texas, Mac swerves to avoid hitting a deer...and winds up in a dead spot, a frightening place that lies between the worlds of the living and the dead. If they can control their imaginations, people can literally bring their dreams to life—but most are besieged by fears and nightmares which pursue them relentlessly.

Mackenzie’s mother and husband haunt her, driving her to the brink of madness. Then she hears a child call for help and her maternal instincts kick into overdrive. Grant, Mac’s ally in the dead spots, insists Johnny is a phantom, but the boy seems so real, so alive. As the true horrors of the dead spots are slowly revealed, Mackenzie realizes that time is running out. But exits from the dead spots are nearly impossible to find, and defended by things almost beyond imagination.

Horror novelist Rhiannon Frater returns with Dead Spots, available February 24th from Tor Books!

[Read an Excerpt]