Reading Melanie Rawn’s Skybowl: Chapters 1–5

Welcome to the weekly Wednesday read of Melanie Rawn’s Dragon Star Trilogy! This week we begin the last volume of the trilogy and the conclusion of the series. It’s the longest of all the books, with all the threads it has to tie up, so will take a bit longer than the previous volumes. I’ll do five chapters a week, and we’ll advance to the end.

In these opening chapters of Skybowl, we pick up right after we left off in The Dragon Token. All the players are advancing toward the big showdown, and complications abound–while a long-standing and bitter rivalry declares a (probably temporary) truce. [Read more]

Series: Rereading Melanie Rawn

Malazan Reread of the Fallen: The Healthy Dead, Part Four

Welcome 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, and finally comments from readers. In this article, we’ll continue our coverage of The Healthy Dead.

A fair warning before we get started: We’ll be discussing both novella 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]

Series: Malazan Reread of the Fallen

Where to Begin with Margaret Atwood

There’s no denying this: Margaret Atwood is She Who Can Do No Wrong. At least, as far as her fans are concerned. Everyone who isn’t her fan is probably someone who hasn’t read her work. Or so feel her fans.

(See where this is going?)

Atwood has been steadily producing work of incredible literary quality and imagination since her first novel in 1969, Edible Woman. Ten years later, her fourth novel Life Before Man was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award in her native Canada but it was 1985’s The Handmaid’s Tale which won not just the Governor General’s Award but also the Arthur C. Clarke Award and was shortlisted for the Booker. That Atwood was a force to reckon with couldn’t have been any clearer. Incredible vision, serious writing chops and the ability to be startlingly prescient is something she’s now known for in every sort of fandom, but there are still people who haven’t yet read her work—shocking, I know! Her latest novel is the hilarious, disturbing The Heart Goes Last, which began life as a serialised story for Byliner—Atwood isn’t one to be left behind by technology either.

[So where do you start?]

Envy of Angels

In New York, eating out can be hell.

Everyone loves a well-catered event, and the supernatural community is no different, but where do demons go to satisfy their culinary cravings? Welcome to Sin du Jour—where devils on horseback are the clients, not the dish.

We’re pleased to present an excerpt from Envy of Angels, the first novella in Matt Wallace’s new Sin du Jour series—available in paperback, ebook, and audio format October 20th from!

[Read more]

Revealing Kathleen Jennings’ Cover Art for Tremontaine

We’re pleased to present Kathleen Jennings’ cover art for the first three episodes of Tremontaine, a serial novel and prequel to Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint and the rest of the Riverside series! Released in weekly episodes by Serial Box, Tremontaine begins October 28th and is written by Ellen Kushner, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Malinda Lo, Joel Derfner, Racheline Maltese, and Patty Bryant. You can subscribe now via!

Learn more about the novel below, plus check out the entire cover design process, including artist Kathleen Jennings’ early sketches and comments from Serial Box Art Director Charles Orr!

[Read more]

Sail the Ether: Jim Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass

When I heard Jim Butcher had a new series coming out, I was a little apprehensive. Of course I wanted to see what he would do with a new book, but I only knew him from his Dresden Files series. When I heard that it was steampunk, in particular, I had mixed reactions.

I love steampunk (I’ve even been accused of writing it) but would Butcher’s version be different enough? Would The Aeronaut’s Windlass have something new to say?

[Grab your goggles and take to the skies to find out…]

Hold-Time Violations


Ellie is on her way to visit her comatose mother when her sister sends her to repair physics. Each universe has skunkworks that generate the universe within it, making this multiverse a set of matryoshka dolls. The skunkworks that generate this universe have become faulty, and the physical constants suddenly…aren’t. In order to fix the skunkworks, to make physics self-consistent again, and to make the world work as it’s supposed to, Ellie will have to remember everything her mother has taught her.

[Read “Hold-Time Violations” by John Chu]

Never Mind the Messenger: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

In the suggestive sentence attached to the first chapter of The Rest of Us Just Live Here, “the Messenger of the Immortals arrives in a surprising shape, looking for a permanent Vessel; and after being chased by her through the woods, indie kid Finn meets his final fate.”

The world is ending again, evidently. But never mind the Messenger—the impending apocalypse its presence heralds is not the point of Patrick Ness’ latest revelation. There are indeed dark times ahead for the friends of indie kid Finn—this Immortals nonsense will lead to any number of melodramatic deaths—but the household heroes of The Rest of Us Just Live Here are safely outside of said circle.

[Just living keeps them plenty busy]

Echoes: Little Sister Death by William Gay

As his friend Tom Franklin notes in the intimate introduction with which Little Sister Death begins, the late, great William Gay’s lost horror novel “is the most metafictional thing [he] ever wrote—it’s about a writer, obsessed with a haunting, who moves his family to the site” of said unearthly events.

Gay, for his part, didn’t go quite as far as that, but he had “long been fascinated with the Bell Witch phenomenon in Tennessee, and even had his own encounter with, perhaps, an echo of the Bell Witch herself.” That true tale acts at a capstone on the unsettling story at the centre of Little Sister Death, but there’s a goodly amount of truth, too, in the several hundred posthumously published pages preceding the author’s authentic account of his own eerie experience.

[Read more]

David Wong Prize Pack Sweepstakes!

To celebrate the publication of David Wong’s Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits (available October 6th from Thomas Dunne Books), we’re giving away a prize pack featuring all three of Wong’s novels, including John Dies at the End and This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It.! Plus, you’ll get some cool alternate book cover posters for Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits!

Wong’s first two books saw David Wong and John discover the “sauce” that gives you a window into another dimension, fend off intergalactic invaders, and try to warn others of insidious brain spiders. With Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits, he jumps a bit forward in time, to a near-future where social networks track your every move, anyone can be famous, and superhuman villains control what’s happening behind the scenes. When Zoey Ashe gets stalked by a murderous Internet celebrity, she instead uncovers secrets about her father’s disappearance and finds herself the target of a megalomaniac.

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 3:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on October 6th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on October 10th. 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.

Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: First Season Overview

Star Trek First Season
Original air dates: September 1966 – April 1967
Executive Producer: Gene Roddenberry
Producer (“Miri” forward): Gene L. Coon

Captain’s log. After a false start with “The Cage,” a more promising pilot in “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” the series settled into something like a rhythm. The Starship Enterprise travelled to the edge of the galaxy, met more than one powerful being—Charlie X and the Thasians, Trelane and his parents, the Metrons, the Organians—made a number of first contacts—the First Federation, the Gorn—and encountered more than its share of dangers—a salt vampire, a bunch of Augments, flying vomit that makes you crazy, more than one machine-run world, a disease that makes you act drunk, a malfunctioning transporter, a quasar-like phenomenon, Harry Mudd.

[I am attempting to construct a mnemonic circuit using stone knives and bear skins.]

Series: Star Trek: The Original Series Rewatch

Five Weird Books by Women

A “weird tale,” Ann and Jeff VanderMeer tell us in their compendium The Weird, is “fiction in which some other element, like weird ritual or the science fictional, replaces the supernatural while providing the same dark frisson of the unknown.”

Though writers such as Lovecraft have become the face of the Weird tale, many women have written such stories: Joyce Carol Oates, Caitlín R. Kiernan and Shirley Jackson, to name a few. My five selections cannot encompass the whole breath and variety of such writers but I hope they are a delicious samples of the uncanny.

[Read more]

Series: Five Books About…

Ann Leckie Talks About Tea, Radchaai Sympathy, and Ancillary Mercy!

Ann Leckie, author of the Hugo, Nebula, Arthur C. Clarke, Locus, BSFA and Golden Tentacle Award-winning novel Ancillary Justice, the BSFA and Locus Award-winning sequel to that, Ancillary Sword, and the conclusion to the trilogy, Ancillary Mercy, which is available now! Leckie took to reddit to answer fan questions about gender, her writing process, and the vital importance of tea, and to explain exactly why she once typed out an entire C.J. Cherryh novel. You can read the AMA here, and we’ve rounded up highlights below!

[Justice, Swords, and Mercy!]

Welcome to the Neighborhood: The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015

The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015, collected by series editor John Joseph Adams and guest editor Joe Hill, has a very important job: it must bring our rocketships, our magic, our monsters, and our hearts to the rest of the reading world. But it has to be more than an olive branch to the world of readers who want to know more about the state of American science fiction and fantasy; it has to be a welcoming present to the neighborhood. And what a present it is: together, Adams and Hill have run through the collective summer forest of our community, coaxed twenty bright, beautiful, and ethereal fireflies into a jar, and given them to the world to enjoy in this collection.

Is one firefly brighter than the others? Does one story cut deeper, or make you feel larger or smaller in your existence? Maybe. All mileage may vary, in the end, but at the core of this collection, Adams and Hill have crafted a wonderful welcome-to-the-neighborhood collection of short stories.

[Read more]

How D’Ya Like Them Potatoes?

In The Martian, stranded astronaut Mark Watney has to rely on a fragile potato crop for survival, making him the loneliest spud boy. In a truly inspired piece of cross-promotion, Fox Studios partnered with Mail a Spud, you know, that company that sends potatoes through the mail, so that 1000 lucky fans can send each other potatoes with Mark Watney stamps on them. Now, we realize you may ave some questions. First, yes, Mail a Spud is real. Second, if you receive such a potato, do not eat it: “We do not recommend you consume the potato after it has travelled across the country inside of trucks, planes, and postal service bags,” the site’s FAQ pronounces. “It has touched a lot of germs by the time it arrives.” Third, doesn’t this waste food? Well, yes. But Mail a Spud figures it’s OK because “each spud shipped is bringing more awareness to the beauty of the potato.” Fair enough.

Afternoon Roundup brings you the odd naming conventions of Star Wars, thoughts on J.G. Ballard, and could there be new life for Flatliners?

[Plus Hap and Leonard news!]

Jaws 19 Gets a Trailer as Back to the Future Part II Nears

In the year 2015, Marty McFly encounters hoverboards, young Elijah Wood, dust-repellent paper, and a cinema playing the latest blockbuster Jaws 19.

Now, at least one of those things is finally real. Universal Pictures has assembled a trailer for Jaws 19, leading up to the October 21 date in which Marty and Doc (and Jennifer) arrive in the future during the events of Back to the Future Part II.

Who knew the Jaws mythos was so rich? We would watch at least 14 of these movies.

[You gotta check this out, Doc.]

The Wheel of Time Reread Redux: The Great Hunt, Part 19

It’s the Wheel of Time Reread Redux, where the term “cloak and dagger”… er, would be applied a little more literally than in some cases. But the segue is, espionage! Capers! Really wild things!

Yeah, I swear this was going to be a wittier intro (or at least one that made actual sense), but then my brain defected… to the Soviets. Look, I got nothing. Sorry!

BUT ANYWAY, today’s Redux post will cover Chapters 32 and 33 of The Great Hunt, originally reread in this post.

All original posts are listed in The Wheel of Time Reread Index here, and all Redux posts will also be archived there as well. (The Wheel of Time Master Index, as always, is here, which has links to news, reviews, interviews, and all manner of information about the Wheel of Time in general on

The Wheel of Time Reread is also available as an e-book series! Yay!

All Reread Redux posts will contain spoilers for the entire Wheel of Time series, so if you haven’t read, read at your own risk.

And now, the post!

[“Look, we all go way back and uh, I owe you from the thing with the guy in the place and I’ll never forget it.” “That was our pleasure.” “I’d never been to Belize.”]

Series: The Wheel of Time Reread

Are You 1337 Enough for these Cyberpunk Tales?

Cyberpunk literature lit up sci-fi in the early 80s, promising a glowing future of virtual realities and Singularities. From Vernor Vinge and William Gibson’s early foundational forays through recent offerings from Hannu Rajaniemi, James Cambias, and G. Willow Wilson, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite stories.

Forget those losers who still live in meatspace! Come with us and jack into the glorious world of the Net/Matrix/Metaverse/Other Plane…

[Check out the whole L157!]

Dreamquest, Take 1: “Celephais”

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s original stories.

Today we’re looking at “Celephais,” written in November 1920 and first published in the November 1922 issue of Rainbow. You can read it here.

Spoilers ahead.

[“Kuranes had awaked the very moment he beheld the city”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread