Sleeps With Monsters: Amanda Downum Answers Six Relatively Short Questions

Amanda Downum’s most recent novel, Dreams of Shreds and Tatters (out now from Solaris Books), is a book I unexpectedly loved. Downum has previously written an excellent trilogy, the Necromancer Chronicles, which I can also highly recommend.

Today she’s joined us to talk about unpronounceable cults, nightgaunts, and the difference between writing contemporary and second-world fantasy.

[Read more]

Series: Sleeps With Monsters

We Want More of This Homage to Hayao Miyazaki!

If we could live in any world, it would be a Hayao Miyazaki world. But a Miyazaki world that also includes just a hint of legendary designers Syd Mead and Mœbius? Well, that’s just an embarrassment of imaginary world riches. French animation student Gwen Germain has created just such a world, told a complete story, and homaged the heck out of Miyazaki all in under three minutes in her short, “Celles et Ceux des Cimes et Cieux”. The short, created for her final project at Créapole, features the reverence for nature and sense of looming ecological disaster common to early Miyazaki works, along with some scenes that celebrate the sheer joy of flight…and that’s all before you get to the character in the Mononoke Hime mask. We don’t just want to see this as a feature, we want to live in this movie.

Check it out below!

[There’s also cameo by the animator himself!]

Celebrate June with Young Heroes!

Somewhere in the liminal space between YA fiction and fiction, there exist books with young protagonists who are dearly beloved of full-fledged grownups! Books like Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, and IT give us adult levels of emotional depth and world-weary truth, but seen through the eyes of youth. From Mia Havero to Kvothe, we’re excited to present a rambunctious gathering of young SFF protagonists…most of whom are in over their heads! And be sure to add your favorite young protagonists in the comments!

[Read more]

The Life of the Mind

Humans expanded into space…only to find a universe populated with multiple alien species bent on their destruction. Thus was the Colonial Union formed, to help protect us from from a hostile universe. The Colonial Union used the Earth and its excess population for colonists and soldiers. It was a good arrangement… for the Colonial Union. Then the Earth said: no more.

Now the Colonial Union is living on borrowed time—a couple of decades at most, before the ranks of the Colonial Defense Forces are depleted and the struggling human colonies are vulnerable to the alien species who have been waiting for the first sign of weakness, to drive humanity to ruin. And there’s another problem: A group, lurking in the darkness of space, playing human and alien against each other—and against their own kind—for their own unknown reasons.

In this collapsing universe, CDF Lieutenant Harry Wilson and the Colonial Union diplomats he works with race against against the clock to discover who is behind attacks on the Union and on alien races, to seek peace with a suspicious, angry Earth, and keep humanity’s union intact… or else risk oblivion, and extinction—and the end of all things.

Hugo-award winning author, John Scalzi returns to his best-selling Old Man’s War universe with The End of All Things, the direct sequel to 2013’s The Human Division. The End of All Things will be published by Tor Books in four ebook-only episodes throughout the month of June, beginning with The Life of the Mind on June 9th. Preview John Harris’ cover art for all four episodes here, and read an excerpt below!

[Read an excerpt]

Mad Max: Fury Road Trip!

Mad Max: Fury Road keeps inspiring wonderful memes, and art, and picture of Tom Hardy with puppies! Here’s one of our favorites so far, from Tumblr-er Joanne Kwan. Truly, Max and Furiosa would plan the most epic family vacation ever… maybe we can get them in a remake of Grapes of Wrath next?

Morning Roundup brings you the fascinating life of GRRM’s editor, Patrick Rothfuss’ endearing childhood crush, and some of the strangest deities of D&D!

[Plus, a unicycle, a bagpipe, and the Holy Grail.]

Fiction Affliction: June Releases in Fantasy

Twenty-one new fantasies launch in June, with political takeovers galore. New releases including series additions from, among others, Danielle L. Jensen (The Malediction Trilogy), Mercedes Lackey (Elemental Masters), Jon Sprunk (The Book of the Black Earth), Mark Lawrence (The Red Queen’s War), J.F. Lewis (The Grudgebearer Trilogy), Terry Brooks (The Defenders of Shannara), Elizabeth Haydon (Symphony of Ages), and Jo Walton (Thessaly).

Fiction Affliction details releases in science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and “genre-benders.” Keep track of them all here. Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.

[Read about this month’s releases]

Meet Your Favorite Authors at the Tor Author Drinkup!

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s (SFWA) 50th Annual Nebula Awards Weekend will be held at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, Illinois, from June 4-7. The weekend will include tours, autographing sessions, legal workshops, and the Nebula Awards ceremony on June 6.

One particularly fun bit of programming is the Tor Author Drinkup, held at Chicago’s Geek Bar Beta on June 6 from 2-5 p.m. Attendees will have the rare chance to hang out (and maybe grab a beer) with Tor Books and authors including John Joseph Adams, Ellen Datlow, Cixin Liu, Ken Liu, Fran Wilde, and more!

[Read more]

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: “The Education of a Magician”

This week’s episode of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is concerned with the appropriate use of magic, the affects of war, and importance of silence and speaking amongst many other things.

(There are spoilers for the novel in this review, for the record, even past the point where the episode ends. So if you haven’t read the book, this might not be for you?) [Read more]

The Flicker Men Sweepstakes!

We have five galleys of The Flicker Men, out from Henry Holt on July 21st, and we want to send you one now!

Eric Argus is a washout. His prodigious early work clouded his reputation and strained his sanity. But an old friend gives him another chance, an opportunity to step back into the light. With three months to produce new research, Eric replicates the paradoxical double-slit experiment to see for himself the mysterious dual nature of light and matter. A simple but unprecedented inference blooms into a staggering discovery about human consciousness and the structure of the universe. His findings are celebrated and condemned in equal measure. But no one can predict where the truth will lead. And as Eric seeks to understand the unfolding revelations, he must evade shadowy pursuers who believe he knows entirely too much already.

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 June 1. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on June 5. 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.

The Coode Street Podcast Episode 236: Books to Look Forward to in 2015

Welcome to The Coode Street Podcast, an informal weekly discussion about science fiction and fantasy featuring award-winning critics and editors Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe. The Coode Street Podcast debuted in 2010 and has been nominated for the Hugo, British Science Fiction, and Aurealis awards.

Every year there are thousands of books published and any one of them could appeal to you. To help you find great new books, Locus publishes a list of forthcoming titles every three months. And to help you navigate through that, each quarter we invite Locus  Editor-in-Chief Liza Groen Trombi to join us and discuss the books that we think might be most interesting that are due out between now and the end of 2015. This month, unfortunately, Liza was not able to join us. However, we have persevered and have some recommendations for you. Of course, we strongly recommend you pick up a copy of the June issue of Locus and see the full list, which goes through to March 2016.

[Listen to Coode Street]

Series: The Coode Street Podcast

Vote on the 2015 David Gemmell Award for Fantasy Shortlist

Voting on the shortlist for the 2015 David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy is now open. The award, established in memory of David Gemmell and first awarded in 2009, honors fantasy novels that adhere to the “heroic” or “epic” subgenre that Gemmell himself worked in. Awards are given for Best Novel, Best Debut Novel, and Best Cover Art. Past honorees include Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, and Helen Lowe.

[Read more]

Talking Villainy at BEA: The Big Bad Theory with Charlie Jane Anders!

You might expect a late-Sunday BEA panel to be a sedate affair, but The Big Bad Theory was anything but! Charlie Jane Anders, author of All the Birds in the Sky, moderated a lively discussion on the tropes of villainy with authors Ilana C. Myer, Scott Westerfeld, David Wellington, and Michael Buckley. If you’re trying to write a villain, these panelists have some excellent advice for you! Anders kicked things off by asking the audience to give her their best “villainous mwahahaha” – and the room responded with a truly terrifying enthusiasm.

[Panels need more Villainous Mwahahahas]

Yes, Robin, Everyone is So Proud of You

When he’s not art directing Teen Titans GO!, artist Dan Hipp draws pop culture comics on his Tumblr. And while he’s gotten us in the feels before, today’s comic, “Boy Wonders,” was especially emotional: An injured Batman reading to an even more beaten-up Robin (Dick Grayson, that is) from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows after an especially harrowing battle. Great, now we’re gonna be sniffling all day…

Afternoon Roundup eagerly awaits the Lumberjanes movie, mourns the loss of Tron 3, and pays a visit to The Grand Overlook Hotel:

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Water Wars: The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

The city of Phoenix in The Water Knife is a grim place. Paolo Bacigalupi’s second novel for adults takes us to a Phoenix that is derelict, poverty-ridden and lawless, a place where most of the population have to get by surviving the dust storms and relentless heat with no constant access to electricity or water. Those who are lucky—or ruthless—get to live in the Chinese-built high rise arcologies, where ‘zoners’ aren’t allowed access, unless they’re the Texas ‘bangbang girls’ escorting richer men for the price of a meal and a shower.

The situation outside the arcologies is dire, with mafias controlling society by brute force. With water rights under corporate control, entire neighbourhoods have been rendered desolate with water being been cut off. ‘The Queen of the Colorado had slaughtered the hell out of these neighbourhoods: her first graveyards, created in seconds when she shut off the water in their pipes.’ The Queen of course, is well beyond the reach of these gangs, though everyone else must eke out a living around them, often by paying them taxes on all earnings just to stay alive. Water is more than just currency here, it’s the most valuable commodity around.

[Read more]

We Need Diverse Books Talks True, Political, Global Diversity in Sci-Fi and Fantasy

A year after its establishment, the We Need Diverse Books movement brought two engaging panels to BookCon 2015, partnering with bestselling authors to address the need for greater diversity in sci-fi and fantasy and children’s literature. In the panel In Our World and Beyond, SFF authors Kameron Hurley, Ken Liu, Nnedi Okorafor, and Daniel José Older, along with Saga Press Executive Editor Joe Monti, discussed the obstacles to depicting full representation of marginalized characters in SFF.

[Read more]

By the Sword: The Tower

This section is a classic.

There are a lot of books where a character runs away from home and sells their sword. There are a lot of books where a teenage character finds a mentor. The world of fantasy is full of magical artifacts that compel characters into interesting and improbable situations. And people fall in love and then back out of it every day of the week.

And then there’s this section of By the Sword, which has all of those things in the best possible way.

[This is my favorite part.]

Series: Heralds of Valdemar Reread

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 8 “Hardhome”

After last week’s dramatic meetings and departures (and boobs, always boobs) Game of Thrones brings its all-new plot developments Beyond the Wall, where Jon goes on a diplomatic mission even stupider than Jaime’s in Dorne, but at least contains exciting things like White Walkers and jerky Thenns and my pretend soul mate Dolorous Edd. So I’m not even mad.

Major episode spoilers ahead.

[“The White Walking Dead…”]

Series: HBO’s Game of Thrones

Five Books About Exploring and Communicating with Alien Cultures

Many of my favorite stories in science fiction and fantasy deal with exploring an alien culture. I really like to see different species learning to communicate with each other, or an alien viewpoint on a more familiar human culture. It often requires the writer to step outside the box and create a point of view that takes into account different physical and mental abilities, a different environment, a different way of thinking.

I’ve always been drawn to these kinds of stories, especially the ones that are told through alien viewpoints, especially non-human aliens. I’ve always liked getting into the point of view of characters that are different from me, and seeing the world through their eyes.

[Read more]

Series: Five Books About…

Will He Have to Defeat the Seven Evil Veronicas?

Comic Book Resources recently posed a fun challenge to the internet: send us your Golden Age version of modern comics! All of the entries are great, but our favorite is this Archie-ied version of Scott Pilgrim, from cartoonist Rachel Ordway. We think she captures the epic awkwardness of both characters beautifully!

Morning Roundup brings you news of the Ninja Turtles, more thoughts on Tomorrowland, and a breakthrough in the printing of human skin.

[Plus the greatest 80s kung fu movie David Hasselhoff ever made.]