Selfies September 17, 2014 Selfies Lavie Tidhar Smile for the camera. When Gods and Vampires Roamed Miami September 16, 2014 When Gods and Vampires Roamed Miami Kendare Blake A Goddess Wars story As Good As New September 10, 2014 As Good As New Charlie Jane Anders She has three chances to save the world. Tuckitor’s Last Swim September 9, 2014 Tuckitor’s Last Swim Edith Cohn A hurricane is coming.
From The Blog
September 18, 2014
Cast As Thou Wilt: Kushiel’s Dart Dream Cast
Natalie Zutter
September 17, 2014
How Goldfinger Bound Sci-Fi to James Bond
Ryan Britt
September 15, 2014
Rereading the Empire Trilogy: Servant of the Empire, Part 1
Tansy Rayner Roberts
September 13, 2014
If You Want a Monster to Hunt, You’ll Get It. Doctor Who: “Listen”
Chris Lough
September 11, 2014
The Ghostbusters are an Antidote to Lovecraft’s Dismal Worldview
Max Gladstone
Showing posts by: Justin Landon click to see Justin Landon's profile
Sep 19 2014 1:00pm

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged: “Scars” and “Furious”

Before They Are Hanged Joe Abercrombie reread This week’s chapters hold more stuff than usual, stuffed full of world building in “Scars” and laden with a most intriguing character shift in “Furious.” Remember, this reread does not contain spoilers in the text itself, but I strongly encourage them in the comments. Go nuts.

This week in particular I’d love to see some speculation on Tolomei. What do folks think her story is? Are there any details I’ve missed so far? Educate me rereaders!

 On to this week’s chapters!

[Read more...]

Sep 5 2014 1:00pm

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged: “The Rest is Wasted Breath” and “A Matter of Time”

Good news reread fans! I have it on good authority that Joe Abercrombie would like to come join us for a reread (and otherwise) Q&A session. Does that sound good? I thought so. It would be quite embarrassing though if I was the only one asking questions, so this is my warning to you! Start preparing your questions in your mind! I am currently working with the production staff here and Mr. Abercrombie himself to find a suitable day and time, but suffice to say it will be soon.

In more immediate news, we have two chapters for your rereading pleasure. “The Rest is Wasted Breath” features the brief reuniting of Bayaz and Zacharus from Ferro’s point of view. Meanwhile, “A Matter of Time” shows Glokta coming to grips with the soon-to-come victory of the Gurkish and his captured Eater’s proclivities.


Aug 29 2014 1:00pm

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged: “So This is Pain” and “One Step at a Time”

Welcome back to the First Law Trilogy reread! I normally write a creative introduction with clever anecdotes. Not today. What can I say, I’m all clevered out.

Today’s post covers the chapters “So This is Pain” and “One Step at a Time,” from Jezal and West’s points of view, respectively.

[This week’s post...]

Aug 26 2014 10:00am

Unlocking John Scalzi’s Lock In

Lock In John Scalzi review

You know who’s going to love Lock In? John Scalzi fans. If you fit into that category, stop reading and just go buy the book. Read this article later. If, like me, your relationship with John Scalzi is complicated, keep reading.

Once, I loved Scalzi’s work. I found it witty and charming, with a perfect blend of action, humor, and drama. Once, I found his work indulgent and repetitive, with an overreliance on one voice and one perspective to carry the day. In both instances I was convinced I knew who John Scalzi was as a writer.

With Lock In, it’s time to reevaluate again.

[Unlocking Lock In]

Aug 22 2014 1:00pm

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged: “Heading North” and “Scant Mercy”

Joe Abercrombie First Law trilogy reread Before They Are Hanged So, where was I last week when I should have been posting a reread? I was in London, attending Loncon3 and the Hugo Awards. I was nominated for Best Related Work for a book I edited titled, Speculative Fiction 2012: The Year’s Best Online Reviews, Essays, and Commentary. I didn’t win. Please leave a mocking comments below.

While that part of the trip was a failure, the rest of it was a grand success. I had the opportunity to meet a ton of people and renew some friendships. Most relevant to this particular post, I got to hang out with Joe Abercrombie. Since this is the internet, pics or it didn’t happen, right? Well…

[Photo evidence abounds...]

Aug 15 2014 5:00pm

Boldly Going Where Many Have Gone Before: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling Erika Johansen review

Conservative is a loaded term. What once meant traditional, quiet, steady, demure, and prim, now means reactionary, right-wing, and hidebound. So, when I say that The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen is conservative, which it clearly is, I’m references the former and not the latter. It is not, as its copious marketing copy proclaims, a ‘bright new entry in the fantasy genre’, but a capable retread of the form.

Set in the distant future, after an undescribed cataclysm, Queen of the Tearling’s Earth has fundamentally changed. A second dark age has emerged, where sickness and hunger, slaves and serfs, and violence and despotism reign again. Once a country of modest freedom, Tear has become a place of fear as the dead Queen’s brother rules as regent, steeped in liquor and slaves. Kelsea, Johansen’s protagonist and primary viewpoint, is Tear’s last hope. Now nineteen, she will leave everything she’s known behind to assume her long dead mother’s throne. Nothing resists change so well as one who rules, and her uncle has other ideas. With the Queen’s Guard at her back, Kelsea must survive her uncle’s plot to even have a chance to make things right.

[Meeting expectations...]

Aug 12 2014 2:30pm

Pastoral Family Drama: The Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb

Robin Hobb Fool's Assassin

Oh, FitzChivalry. You self-flagellating, depression-suffering, and kindly-narcissist, I’ve missed you. Also, you infuriate me. Seriously, do you have any idea how angry it makes me to watch your turtle into your cocoon and wallow in self-pity, dragging down everyone you love and who loves you while you do it? Hulk angry. You would think thirty years later you’d be over some of your issues, but no… even into the silver years your wisdom is in short supply. If only you weren’t so damned interesting…

So begins my feelings on Robin Hobb’s most recent novel, Fool’s Assassin. Picking up many years after the end of the Tawny Man Trilogy, Fitz is living as Tom Badgerlock, the Holder of his daughter Nettle’s estate, with his wife, Molly. Her children and his are grown, leaving them with an empty nest and the duties of the estate to keep them busy. Of course, despite Fitz’s desire to isolate himself from the crown, Chade and King Dutiful seem to keep him on retainer as something of a consultant.

[Read More]

Aug 8 2014 4:00pm

It’s All Academic: Reviewing KJ Parker’s Academic Exercises

KJ Parker Academic Exercises review

Reading KJ Parker is a religious experience, which is ironic considering some of the stories included within the pages of Academic Exercises undermine institutions with rabid vigor. Two World Fantasy Award winning novellas, three essays, and nine other stories complete the volume and represent the scope of KJ Parker’s short work to date.

From grifting, to wizarding, to alchemy, to music making, Parker takes the reader deep into a professional psyches of her characters and lays their soul bare. This summation of the author’s work is a must read for anyone with even a passing interest in good fiction.

[Read more...]

Aug 8 2014 1:00pm

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged: “One for Dinner” and “One of Them”

I begin this week’s chapters with the quote between Part’s I and II of Before They Are Hanged.

‘He is not fit for battle that has never seen his own blood flow, who has not heard his teeth crunch under the blow of an opponent, or felt the full weight of his adversary upon him.’

This quote can be read many ways, but I read it this way. Battle is love, or at least making meaningful connections with other people. It’s a lot harder than it sounds. And you’re not fit for it until you’ve tried it and survived. All of Abercrombie’s characters undergo this journey. Some more successfully than others. It’s a fitting quote to conclude the first part of Before They Hanged. It recognizes that character arc for Logen, Ferro, and Jezal, while pointing out West and Glokta’s inability do it.

Or it just means you’re a wuss until your crunch someone’s skull with a morning star. I’m open to discussion. This week’s chapters take place just before that quote, one long and one short.

[Read More]

Aug 1 2014 1:00pm

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged: “Among the Stones” and “The Fruits of Boldness”

Reading the First Law Trilogy has been a different experience this time around. The pulse pounding excitement and visceral action has been far scarcer than I remember, replaced with thoughtful trope inversion and deeply fascinating characters. In fact, before this week there had been less than five scenes where serious ass-kicking (or blood letting) took place. This trend is changing in a major way at this point in Before They Are Hanged as Logen’s crew takes on their pursuers and Colonel West’s army is destroyed by Bethod. I’m pretty excited about it!

Get your athletic tape out and reinforce those joints, we’re about to get grimdark up in here.

[Among the Stones…]

Jul 25 2014 4:00pm

Tower Bored... I Mean Tower Lord by Anthony Ryan

Tower Lord Anthony Ryan review

Books have rhythm. Narratives have rhythm. When that rhythm is disrupted things fall apart very quickly. Tower Lord by Anthony has the rhythm of Kevin James in Hitch (2003). Which is weird, because Ryan’s debut novel, Blood Song, was like a breakdancer standing on his head with a beatbox accompaniment.

Blood Song, while a little clichéd, was digestible and addicting and incapable of being put down because the rhythm of it hooked the reader like an ear worm. Without that, Tower Lord falls apart, with a brutally benign first act and a dislocating sense of time and pace.

[Read more]

Jul 18 2014 1:00pm

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged: “Long Odds,” “The Road to Victory,” and “Necessary Evils”

Joe Abercrombie puts us on the cusp this week in Before They Are Hanged. Ferro (and crew), West, and Glokta all sit on the precipice of battle. Rather than give the reader several complete chapters detailing the run up to the clashes of arms, Abercrombie gives three extremely small bite chapters that hit like staccato notes.

Rather than write about each of these chapters individually, I figured I’d write about them as a group. Below you’ll find summaries of each of the chapters, and then, for the rest of the post, I treat them as one chapter. We’ll see how it goes.

[Three for the Price of One…]

Jul 18 2014 9:00am

The Art of Julie Dillon

Julie Dillon

Julie Dillon. Twice nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Artist, she’s become synonymous with awards ballots. The Chesley Award, Spectrum, and the World Fantasy Award, among others, have all named her as one of the finest illustrators working in science fiction and fantasy art.

Oddly, she remains under used in the cover game, with only a handful to her credit among major publishing houses. And among cover artists, her name recognition in comparison to stalwarts like John Harris and Michael Whelan lags behind, which is a fact not long for this world. Because Julie Dillon has something few artists lay claim to, a distinctive point of view.

[Read More]

Jul 14 2014 10:00am

Grimdark for Young Adults: Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

Joe Abercrombie Half a King reviewJoe Abercrombie is two writers. He is the writer everyone ascribes him to be and the writer he actually is. The former is Lord Grimdark, a moniker even the man himself has adopted, in which he is accused of, or praised for, writing the most despicable characters and situations. The latter is one of the most thoughtful writers of fantasy fiction, who undermines tropes, points out their absurdity, and makes us feel good about loving them still.

I have always believed in him to be the second of the two.

[Half a review? No! Click through!]

Jul 11 2014 1:00pm

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged: “Prince Ladisla’s Stratagem” and “Until Sunset”

Joe Abercrombie Before They Are Hanged reread First Law trilogy I hope all our U.S. readers had a nice Fourth of July last week. I mean, I hope you all had a nice July 4th, but I figure it was just a regular Friday for the rest of you! As a result of the holiday the reread took a short break from its otherwise breakneck pace! In the interim, Joe Abercrombie’s Half a King hit the streets in the United Kingdom, debuting at number three on the Sunday Times Bestseller list. While the world enjoys his new offering, we’ll just keep picking apart the first things he ever published!

With this week’s chapters we find ourselves on the cusp of two battles. The one in the North is a situation that should be won, but won’t due to inept leadership. The one in the South is a situation that should surely be lost, but success seems possible due to Glokta’s capable hand. It’s an interesting juxtaposition Abercrombie has set up.

[First up! Ladisla’s Stratagem!]

Jul 11 2014 9:30am

Why I’m Voting for Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice Ann Leckie Hugo nomineeWhen thinking about Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, the first thing that comes to my mind is gummy worms. Sour gummy worms, to be precise, are a very specific desire. When you want a sour gummy worm nothing else will do. Seriously, nothing else. The second thing that comes to mind are macaroons, those little delicious crispy baked goods that have replaced the cupcake as the pastry du jour.

Yes, Ancillary Justice is like gummy worms and macaroons, combined. Early buzz meant that readers were craving Ann Leckie’s debut novel, and finally getting to read it was both satisfying and sweet.

[Read More]

Jul 2 2014 1:00pm

Lyrical Empowerment: Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta

Memory of Water review Emmi Itaranta

I tried to describe Memory of Water to a few people in the days after I finished it. It was a bit of challenge that led to me falling back on tiresome comparisons. One example read, ‘it feels like the young adult novel I wanted Paolo Baciagalupi’s Shipbreaker to be.’ Or, ‘it’s like Rob Ziegler’s Seed if he cared a lot less about explody things.’ Or worst of all, ‘Emmi Itäranta creates a cocktail of The Hunger Games and The Windup Girl, with Susan Collins’ sense of character and Paolo Baciagalupi’s haunting image of our future.’ Bad, right?

Itäranta’s novel laughs at all these comparisons. Written simultaneously in both English and Finnish, Memory of Water is a lyrical and emotionally scarring novel of life in the indeterminate post-climate change future. Once a plentiful resource, water has become as tightly controlled by the government as nuclear material in the modern world. Wars are waged over it. In northern Europe, seventeen-year-old Noria Kaitio is learning to become a tea master like her father. It’s a position of great responsibility in their culture, one that affords them more water than anyone not affiliated with the government.

[Read more]

Jun 27 2014 1:00pm

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged: “One Hundred Words” and “The Blind Lead the Blind”

Fans of Joe Abercrombie can rejoice by listening to his interview on the podcast this week. I had a nice chat with him on Rocket Talk, covering a host of issues from his new novel Half a King, to the World Cup, to whether or not Logen Ninefingers is half-devil or crazy. I hope you’ll check it out. If not, well, Abercrombie will write the death of many characters with your lack of listening in mind. He’s remorseless.

You know who else isn’t remorseless? The characters in the First Law Trilogy. Sure, they do bad things, but they feel really bad about it mostly. Not like the author, not at all. Onward...

[One Hundred Words]

Jun 20 2014 1:00pm

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged: “And next... My Gold” and “Fear”

When I’m not writing this reread, I’m the host of the podcast, Rocket Talk. I mention this because on Wednesday, June 25, I’ll be posting the 15th episode of Rocket Talk, which, believe it or not, is an hour long discussion with our favorite author, Joe Abercrombie. We ended up talking about a host of issues, including, but not limited to: the World Cup, my deep and abiding love for his work, this reread, his new book Half a King, and whether or not Logen is a half-devil or not. If you’re a regular listener, it’s something to look forward to. If you’re not a regular listener it’s an opportunity to start!

In the meantime, let’s get on to this weeks chapters, in which Glokta gets an unexpected windfall and Jezal just falls off his horse.

[And Next. . . My Gold]

Jun 19 2014 5:00pm

The Quick and the Dead: Lauren Owen’s The Quick

The Quick review Lauren Owen

Lauren Owen’s debut novel The Quick makes a concerted effort to not mention a certain word in its cover copy. The word rhymes with campfire, which ironically enough is something this rhyming word would rather want to avoid due to combustibility.

Why do they try so hard to avoid it? I can only surmise it’s because campfires are inherently silly and this novel is serious business! No sparkling campfires here fair reader of literary fiction. No sir. These are pale, long lived, and thirsty campfires, which are not magical, just grumpy.

[Read More]