Cold Wind April 16, 2014 Cold Wind Nicola Griffith Old ways can outlast their usefulness. What Mario Scietto Says April 15, 2014 What Mario Scietto Says Emmy Laybourne An original Monument 14 story. Something Going Around April 9, 2014 Something Going Around Harry Turtledove A tale of love and parasites. The Devil in America April 2, 2014 The Devil in America Kai Ashante Wilson The gold in her pockets is burning a hole.
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April 13, 2014
Game of Thrones, Season 4, Episode 2: “The Lion and the Rose”
Theresa DeLucci
April 11, 2014
This Week’s Game-Changing Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Was Exactly The Problem With The Show
Thom Dunn
April 8, 2014
Let’s Completely Reimagine Battlestar Galactica! Again. This Time as A Movie!
Emily Asher-Perrin
April 4, 2014
The Age of Heroes is Here. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Chris Lough
April 3, 2014
A Spoonful of Music Makes the Nanny: Disney’s Mary Poppins
Mari Ness
Showing posts tagged: review click to see more stuff tagged with review
Tue
Apr 15 2014 2:00pm

Since it happens to be poetry month, the time seems more or less just right for talking about the transitional last print issue of long-running speculative poetry magazine Mythic Delirium. It’s issue #30, and in honor the magazine’s Kickstarter funded shift to digital publication and a new format, editor Mike Allen had gathered up a retrospective from the past fifteen years’ worth of issues—poems ranging from the first from their first issue, to the most recent MD poem to win a Rhysling Award.

It is an interesting sort of project, a goodbye to the old and a remembrance of the past that also happens to be signaling a fresh start for the magazine, with different guiding principles and a radically different format. I look forward to seeing what the Allens (Mike and Anita) do with the upcoming magazine, but for now, there’s the retrospective issue and the poems in it.

[A review.]

Tue
Apr 1 2014 12:00pm

Lightspeed Magazine issue 46 Welcome back to the Short Fiction Spotlight, a space for conversation about recent and not-so-recent short stories. In our last installment, I talked about the winter issue of small magazine Ideomancer (12.4) and its three lyrical short stories. This time around, I’d like to talk about a few more pieces of short fiction, these from the most recent issue of Lightspeed Magazine: two original stories, “How to Get Back to the Forest” by Sofia Samatar and “A Different Fate” by Kat Howard,“ as well as one reprint, ”Turnover" by Jo Walton.

These three stories all share a structural similarity, though their thematic centers are quite different, and that’s their open-endedness paired with a particular sort of self-reflexivity. Each story is an exploration of an idea and/or occurrence without a concrete resolution; each is structured primarily around the protagonist thinking about or reflecting back on this thing, be it (in the case of the Walton story) an idea for the future or (in the other two) a haunting occurrence in the past.

[A discussion.]

Fri
Mar 14 2014 1:00pm

Scruffians Hal Duncan Scruffians! by Hal Duncan, releasing in early April from Lethe Press, is a wickedly entertaining collection of short fiction fantastical and queer in nature—full of “scruffians and scamps and sodomites,” with some pirates and fairies besides. These stories range from comedic romps to lyrical and meditative explorations on the nature of meaning-making, while Duncan’s engaging and clever voice resonates throughout as a strong thread connecting the various different sorts of pieces.

Duncan has published two chapbooks of short fiction—An A to Z of the Fantastic City (Small Beer Press) and Errata (New Sodom Press)—but Scruffians! is his first full-length collection of short stories, containing work published from 2005 onward. Two of the fifteen stories collected are original to the book: “How a Scruffian Gets Their Name” and “The Shoulder of Pelops.” The first several stories also form a neat group of their own, continually expanding and recursively building the mythology and potential of the titular Scruffians.

[A review.]

Mon
Feb 17 2014 3:00pm

Talking to strangers is totally fine, especially if those strangers are amnesiac Colin Farrells. With a friendly and dopily disarming gaze, Colin made us believe he was a brainwashed victim in 2012’s Total Recall. Now in 2014’s romantic zombie comedy—Winter’s Tale—he plays a totally convincing angel-zombie, who also isn’t sure what his name is or if he’s any good at robbing people. Here, Farrell with the help of Jessica Brown Findlay (Lady Sybil) brings home the most romantic Valentine’s Day message of all: Will Smith is Satan!

[Spoilers Ahead]

Tue
Feb 4 2014 6:00pm

One of Prime Books’ most recent collections, Handsome Devil: Stories of Sin and Seduction takes on the task of gathering together tales about incubi and other “handsome devils.” I often find these themed collections hit-or-miss, depending on the subject matter—I, for example, do not care much about zombie stories—but this particular theme seemed intriguing enough. As the collection’s editor, Steve Berman, notes in his introduction, this is a fraught but itself seductive topic for people from far in the past up to today.

These stories of seduction and “sin” range from the playful to the extremely dark; given the topic, it’s no surprise that a few of these stories cover uncomfortable territory in terms of consent and violence. For the most part, however, these are stories about desire and magic, stories where there is a cost for getting what you want—but sometimes it’s worth paying. And that idea, of the cost of magic, is a familiar one in plenty of fantastical stories.

[A review.]

Fri
Jan 17 2014 1:30pm

As Red Delicious makes abundantly clear from the start, Siobhan Quinn the werepire has a lot of problems: monster hunting ex-priests, succubi, and her own mile-wide self-destructive streak to name a few. When her handler and keeper, Mr. B, tells her to look into the missing daughter of one of Providence’s oldest necromantic families, things do not go well, possibly because she’s no detective and possibly because there’s far more at stake than the apparent disappearance. The story that follows is, of course, of questionable provenance—as Quinn frequently reminds the reader, she lies constantly—but it is entertaining.

Red Delicious follows on the heels of 2013’s Blood Oranges (reviewed here), of which I was fairly fond. These novels are a fine balance between parodying urban fantasy and being urban fantasy: a little grim and a lot tongue-in-cheek, Quinn as narrator never allows the reader to forget for particularly long that they’re reading a book, with all of the regular fourth-wall breaking that that implies.

And she’s not particularly fond of the genre that her book falls in, either.

[Read More]

Fri
Nov 15 2013 2:00pm

Dear Mr. Watterson, a new documentary by Joel Schroeder, attempts to capture the enduring appeal of Calvin and Hobbes. For a comic that began in 1985 and ended a decade later at the peak of its popularity, Calvin and Hobbes’ mixture of wry observation and mischievous childhood imagination continues to draw new fans and entertain the old, even 18 years later. Dear Mr. Watterson will probably not enjoy that kind of longevity—fans of Calvin and Hobbes won’t find anything new here, but it is a safe place to geek-out and reminisce.

[Let’s go exploring...]

Thu
Oct 10 2013 10:00am

RASL Jeff Smith RASL, released by Cartoon Books in late September, is the complete one-volume collection of Jeff Smith’s most recent project, which initially ran in single issue comics from 2008 to 2012. Smith is renowned for the long-running series Bone, winner of several Eisner Awards, which ended in 2004—but this is a rather different sort of story. RASL is best described as a scifi noir, and it follows a parallel-universe hopping art thief/ex-military engineer (whose tag is the titular anagram, “RASL”) through his trials and tribulations.

RASL presents an obvious shift in tone and subject matter for Smith, whose books are generally kid-friendly. The protagonist, Rasl, has a violent streak, drinks far too much in order to deal with the side effects of universe-hopping in the Drift, and has several “on-screen” sexual relationships with different women; the plot is concerned with physics, the military-industrial complex, and a general theme of personal responsibility for complex problems. So, not the usual fare.

[A review.]

Tue
Oct 1 2013 12:00pm

Glitter and Mayhem Welcome back to the Short Fiction Spotlight, a space for conversation about recent and not-so-recent short stories. Last time around, I discussed the newest installment of Steve Berman’s Wilde Stories collections. In a similar vein, this week I’d like to look at a recently released short fiction anthology: Glitter & Mayhem, edited by John Klima, Lynne Thomas, and Michael Damian Thomas. This anthology—funded by a Kickstarter campaign and published by Apex—has a very particular theme, as the tagline on the back makes clear: “Welcome to Glitter & Mayhem, the most glamorous party in the multiverse.”

The stories here primarily feature roller derby, disco, parties, and a stunning number of night clubs, rendered in vivid detail by writers like Christopher Barzak, Seanan McGuire, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Maria Dahvana Headley and Amal El-Mohtar. Glitter & Mayhem cultivates a high-energy tone of risk, reward, and delight—it’s not what you’d call a serious book, though it does have its moments of darkness and contemplation. It’s also, and this should come as no real surprise based on the list of contributors, a fairly queer anthology; many of the stories herein deal with gender and/or sexuality in various forms.

[A review.]

Thu
Sep 19 2013 4:00pm

Book of Iron Elizabeth Bear This is a jewel of a book.

Elizabeth Bear is a versatile author as well as an award-winning one. Book of Iron, her new novella from Subterranean Press, is the latest addition to an extensive and varied bibliography. Set in the same world as Range of Ghosts, albeit many centuries after, it forms a prequel—of sorts—to another of Bear’s Subterranean Press novellas, the acclaimed Bone and Jewel Creatures. It’s also connected to one of her earlier short stories, “Abjure the Realm”

Bijou the Artificer is a Wizard of Messaline, the City of Jackals. Together with the Bey’s second son, Prince Salih, she and Kaulas the Necromancer solve problems of a magical nature. They’re adventurers in the prime of their lives and partnership.

[Read More]

Thu
Sep 5 2013 5:00pm

The Woken Gods Gwenda Bond Gwenda Bond’s The Woken Gods takes place in a world similar to ours, but where gods—the deities of our ancient mythologies—have awakened. Humanity has a perilous arrangement with the gods, and of course all kinds of people are trying to work different angles on this. Seventeen-year-old Kyra lives in a transformed Washington, D.C., home to the embassies of divine pantheons and the mysterious Society of the Sun. But when she encounters two trickster gods on her way back from school, one offering a threat and the other a warning, it turns out her life isn’t what it seems...

[Read More]

Wed
Jul 31 2013 9:30am

dangerous women anthology

Tor.com will be previewing Joe Abercrombie’s contribution to Dangerous Women, “Some Desperado,” later this fall in its entirety—in the meantime, please enjoy this non-spoiler review of the story for a taste of great things to come…

Joe Abercrombie is the author of several very good novels. Some might call them exceptional. From the First Law Trilogy, to his subsequent standalone novels, to his more recent, and slightly more underground, exploration of the unicorn (not really), his work has consistently pushed the envelope of what’s expected within the traditional second world fantasy.

This forward progress is no more clear than in his triptych of standalone novels which embrace and blend other genre traditions with fantasy. The revenge thriller in Best Served Cold, the war novel in The Heroes, and the western in Red Country, capture the genre source material without treading too far from the fantasy tropes readers expect. Abercrombie has also published three pieces of short fiction in his Circle of the World setting, soon to be joined by a fourth titled “Some Desperado” in the George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois anthology, Dangerous Women.

[Read More...]

Tue
Jul 23 2013 12:00pm

Welcome back to the Short Fiction Spotlight, a space for conversation about recent and not-so-recent short stories. The PM Press Outpoken Authors series is—as I’ve said before when discussing their Ursula K. Le Guin volume The Wild Girls Plus…—pretty neat. These chapbooks run around 100 pages, collecting short pieces of various sorts from their authors as well as a long interview with them done fresh for inclusion in the book. The ninth in the series, released last year though I’ve just gotten around to it, features Nalo Hopkinson. Hopkinson is a writer whose work I deeply enjoy; so, naturally, I was pleased to see her included in this handsome series of little books.

Report from Planet Midnight Plus… reprints two stories, “Message in a Bottle” and “Shift,” as well as a transcript of Hopkinson’s 2010 speech to the audience at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, “Report from Planet Midnight.” The volume closes with the quintessential long interview and a detailed bibliography (one of my favorite parts of these volumes, actually!).

[A discussion.]

Tue
Jul 9 2013 11:30am

By this week’s episode, Under the Dome is one badly rendered CGI minotaur away from being a SyFy original movie, only longer and with Dean Norris. I wrote that sentence to express my dismay with this show in an amusing way so that I can register my dislike but not seem humorless or grouchy. And I wrote that sentence because, like the residents of Chester’s Mill, I now feel a need to explain everything I say as obviously as possible, usually in the same line of dialogue. “Pass the ketchup, because I need ketchup to put on my fries because I like them better that way.” But despite this show’s dependence on stating the obvious, there are still some compelling mysteries. One that has been haunting viewers since the first episode is, “Can you make Junior drink his milk?” In this episode we finally learned the answer: NO, YOU CAN’T MAKE JUNIOR DRINK HIS MILK!!! Also, the basic principles of journalism, same-sex adoption, and the Sherman Antitrust Act are all explained for you.

[Read more.]

Thu
Jun 27 2013 2:00pm

The Last of Us

A few years ago, developer Naughty Dog became a rising star in the third-person action-adventure genre with the launch of their Uncharted franchise. After the release of Uncharted 3, Naughty Dog opted to take a break from their wildly successful, established franchise in order to pursue a new IP. In what is essentially the PlayStation 3’s swan song, Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us has given the rest of us what can very nearly be described as the perfect game—and a pinnacle title for the console—from both a technical and artistic standpoint.

[The Last of Us puts the “fun” in fungus...]

Wed
Jun 26 2013 11:00am

North American Lake Monsters The first collection of short fiction by Nathan Ballingrud, North American Lake Monsters: Stories, is being published this July by the ever-delightful Small Beer Press. Ballingrud’s work has previously appeared in various anthologies and magazines, including Ellen Datlow’s Teeth and The Naked City. This collection gathers together several of his published pieces—including Shirley Jackson Award winner, “The Monsters of Heaven”—as well as one story original to the volume, “The Good Husband.”

The publisher describes the collection’s thematic focus as “love stories … and also monster stories,” which matches my previous experiences of Ballingrud’s fiction: concerned with human relationships and their complexities, but also ominous and frequently dark in a way that I appreciate. Based on those past experiences, I’ve been looking forward to having a chance to read a collection of his work.

[Read more.]

Tue
May 14 2013 5:00pm

A Stranger in Olondria cover, Sofia Samatar

For a long time now I have been afraid of Sofia Samatar's fiction. Knowing the effect her poetry has had on me—in Goblin Fruit, in Stone Telling, in Strange Horizons—I have trembled at the thought of allowing her words any deeper purchase on my psyche. Given her ability to incapacitate me with a few well-turned stanzas, what havoc might she wreak with a whole novel?

Through some terrible and wonderful magic, A Stranger in Olondria has anticipated these fears and commented on them. With characteristic wit, poise, and eloquence, Samatar delivers a story about our vulnerability to language and literature, and the simultaneous experience of power and surrender inherent in the acts of writing and reading.

[Read more]

Fri
Apr 26 2013 10:00am

Spin State cover, Chris MoriartyThe first installment of Chris Moriarty’s recently-completed Spin Trilogy, Spin State (2003) was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick, John Campbell, Spectrum and Prometheus Awards—a strong debut, fast-paced, that Nicola Griffith described as “vivid, sexy, and sharply written […] a nonstop, white-knuckle tour of quantum physics, artificial intelligence, and the human heart.” And it’s also—more of a rarity—a hard science fiction novel with a queer woman protagonist.

Spin State introduces Major Catherine Li, a UN Peacekeeper sent to investigate an “accidental” death on her home planet, a mining world that produces the Bose-Einstein condensate that makes quantum entanglement and its benefits—travel, commerce, communication—possible. As one might expect, however, the situation is anything but straightforward; Li is being played against (and by) a variety of actors in the larger political sphere. The answers she finds on Compson’s World could shift the balance of power between the UN and the Syndicates with regard to the control of inhabited space. Li’s own secrets are at risk of discovery, and her relationships to her handlers, associates, and friends—particularly an Emergent AI called Cohen—will determine the outcome.

[A relatively spoiler-free review.]

Wed
Apr 17 2013 5:00pm

Review Unnatural Creatures Neil Gaiman Mari Dahvana HeadleyThe tidal wave of vampires, werewolves, and mermaids that has washed over the publishing industry these last few years has obscured the stranger and subtler pleasures of griffins, unicorns, and even weirder chimerae and unspeakable things with no names. For re-introducing these things, Unnatural Creatures would be a welcome volume by any standard, and it also happens to be, by any objective standard, an excellent anthology. Additionally wonderful is that sales will benefit 826 DC, a non-profit dedicated to developing the writing skills of elementary, middle-school, and high school students. So if you like fantasy fiction, especially about weird mythical creatures, you should check out this volume.

[Read more]

Wed
Apr 10 2013 2:00pm

The Shambling Guide to New York City Mur Lafferty Book ReviewThis review feels a little odd to write. Not because of the book exactly but because of who it is written by. You see, The Shambling Guide to New York City is the mainstream debut of Mur Lafferty. She is the host of, amongst other things, the I Should Be Writing podcast and, at the time of writing, she’s released almost 300 episodes of writing advice. So knowing that, and listening to the podcast, there is this niggling question of can she practice what she preaches?

But talking about how to write a novel doesn’t help you actually write one and sitting in an office doesn’t make you an expert in making a guide to where coterie (monsters to you and me) hang out. And that is one aspect where Mur and her main character Zoë are alike. They are both learning by doing.

[Read more]