The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn April 22, 2015 The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn Usman Malik He will inherit the Unseen. The Ways of Walls and Words April 15, 2015 The Ways of Walls and Words Sabrina Vourvoulias Can the spirit truly be imprisoned? Ballroom Blitz April 1, 2015 Ballroom Blitz Veronica Schanoes Can't stop drinking, can't stop dancing, can't stop smoking, can't even die. Dog March 25, 2015 Dog Bruce McAllister "Watch the dogs when you're down there, David."
From The Blog
April 22, 2015
Daredevil, Catholicism, and the Marvel Moral Universe
Leah Schnelbach
April 22, 2015
The Old Guy Action Comeback: I’m Getting Too Old for This Sh*t
Ryan Britt
April 20, 2015
The Net is the Meat: Bruce Holsinger’s Middle Ages
David Perry
April 17, 2015
Spring 2015 Anime Preview: The Hellish Life of a Pizza Delivery Boy
Kelly Quinn
April 16, 2015
The Disney Read-Watch: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Mari Ness
Showing posts by: Stefan Raets click to see Stefan Raets's profile
Feb 3 2014 4:00pm

Another Fantabulosa Everness Novel: Empress of the Sun by Ian McDonald

Empress of the Sun Ian McDonald EvernessI don’t usually get this effusive about books, but I’ve rarely had as much fun with a Young Adult SF series as I have with Ian McDonald’s Everness—now up to three books with the brand new, shiny addition of Empress of the Sun, possibly the best book of the bunch so far.

Quick intro to the series: young Everett Singh is a math whiz who, early in the series, gets access to the Infundibulum, which is essentially a map of all the parallel universes and alternate Earths. Combined with the Heisenberg trans-dimensional gates, this allows for travel to the Nine Known Worlds: alternate versions of our planet where, for example, there’s no oil or everyone has a telepathic twin or there are five different species of mankind.

[Everett Singh: goalkeeper, mathematician, traveller, Planesrunner.]

Jan 27 2014 5:00pm

When the Magic Went Away: Arcanum by Simon Morden

Simon Morden ArcanumWhat happens when the magic goes away? More specifically, what happens when a small but strategically located region that has relied on its hexmasters for centuries is forced to deal with the sudden disappearance of its all-powerful magic? Simon Morden explores the answer to these questions in his new fantasy novel Arcanum.

So far, Simon Morden is best known for his neo-cyberpunk trilogy-plus-one starring Samuil Petrovich. The original trilogy won the 2012 Philip K. Dick Award. I bounced off its first book Equations of Life and never went back, but decided to give Arcanum a try anyway, mainly to see how the author would handle this very different genre. Despite some reservations, I’m glad I did.

[Read more]

Jan 24 2014 12:00pm

The Siege of Manhattan: Breach Zone by Myke Cole

Shadow Ops Breach Zone Myke ColeBreach Zone is the third entry in Myke Cole’s contemporary military fantasy series Shadow Ops, after series opener Control Point and last year’s Fortress Frontier. “Contemporary military fantasy” is probably not the most evocative way to describe these books. Peter V. Brett’s blurb “Black Hawk Down Meets The X-Men” is much better—and the publisher seems to agree, as this line has now been featured prominently on the covers of all three books in the series.

You see, in the world of Shadow Ops, random people suddenly discover they have supernatural powers. Some can control fire, or water, or air. Some can control the dead or create portals between our dimension and the Source, a realm filled with alien creatures that also appears to be where all the magic actually originates from.

[Read more]

Jan 9 2014 11:00am

The Fairy Tale Consultant: The Bread We Eat In Dreams by Catherynne M. Valente

The Bread We Eat in Dreams Catherynne M ValenteAt first the narrator of “The Consultant,” the opening story of Catherynne M. Valente’s excellent new collection The Bread We Eat in Dreams, sounds like your standard, tired Raymond Chandler private investigator:

She walks into my life legs first, a long drink of water in the desert of my thirties. Her shoes are red; her eyes are green. She’s an Italian flag in occupied territory, and I fall for her like Paris. She mixes my metaphors like a martini and serves up my heart tartare. They all do. Every time. They have to. It’s that kind of story.

But before you get the chance to roll your eyes and maybe double-check that you are in fact holding the right book, things right themselves. The dame explains her troubles, and it soon becomes clear that this is not your standard noir P.I.:

I’m not so much an investigator as what you might call a consultant. Step right up; show me your life. I’ll show you the story you’re in. Nothing more important in this world, kid. Figure that out and you’re halfway out of the dark.

Call them fairy tales, if that makes you feel better. If you call them fairy tales, then you don’t have to believe you’re in one.

[Read more]

Jan 9 2014 10:00am

A Worthy Finale: Rex Regis by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

LE Modesitt Jr Rex Regis Imager Portfolio

Rex Regis is the eighth overall novel in L.E. Modesitt Jr.’s Imager Portfolio and the fifth one in the series-within-a-series about Quaeryt. The first three novels, with Rhennthyl as their protagonist, were set later in this fictional world’s timeline. Scholar, the first Quaeryt novel, moved the story several centuries into the past, initially making these books feel somewhat like prequels that mainly served to show the origins of the world of Imager, Imager’s Challenge and Imager’s Intrigue.

However, five books later, this second series of Imager books actually feels more solid than the first one. Quaeryt has become a more interesting character, and the plot has slowly but inexorably gained momentum. Even though I was initially sceptical about benching Rhenn, I now feel that the five Quaeryt novels are stronger and more rewarding than the initial three Imager books.

[Read more]

Jan 2 2014 4:00pm

Disturbing and Entertaining: The Cormorant by Chuck Wendig

The Cormorant Chuck WendigThe Cormorant is the third installment in Chuck Wendig’s Miriam Black series, after the excellent Blackbirds and equally excellent Mockingbird. And, you know what, just to get it out of the way before we get to the meat of the matter: The Cormorant is excellent too.

I called Mockingbird a “shocking, twisting beast of a book,” and that description applies here again. The Cormorant is prime Wendig, dark and foul-mouthed and not afraid to go there and then some. If you liked Blackbirds and Mockingbird, there’s no way you wouldn’t like this one.

The Cormorant starts in a similar way as Mockingbirds: with the illusion of stability. At the start of the previous novel, Miriam had a job, of sorts, until the crazy caught up with her and things went haywire, before you even got the chance to settle into the novel and get used to the idea of Miriam Black punching in at work.

[What the f**k is that thing? It looks like some kind of Satanic duck.]

Dec 19 2013 10:00am

Under the Radar: Janny Wurts’ Wars of Light and Shadow

Janny Wurts The Curse of the Mistwraith Wars of Light and ShadowFor this installment of Under The Radar—the biweekly column where we highlight books that have unjustly gone unnoticed—I’m going to stretch our definition a bit by highlighting Janny Wurts, an author who has been, well, definitely not unnoticed, but at least underappreciated by readers and critics alike.

Yes, Wurts has published well over a dozen novels with major publishers over the course of her three decade career, but still, somehow her name rarely comes up whenever someone asks for epic fantasy recommendations.

Since I happen to believe that, once it’s completed, her Wars of Light and Shadow series will be counted among the great enduring classics of epic fantasy, I thought I’d take this opportunity to spread the word a bit.

[Read more]

Nov 12 2013 1:00pm

Short Fiction Spotlight: In the Company of Thieves by Kage Baker

In the Company of Thieves Kage BakerKage Baker had many different audiences. After all, she wrote in many genres and formats: fantasy, science fiction, horror, novels, novellas, short stories, series, standalones. (Oh, and: blog posts!) It occurred to me recently that, because of this range and variety, readers must have found—and still find—their way to Kage Baker’s works by distinctly different routes.

Just recently a friend mentioned he read one of her fantasy novels, at which point I launched into my standard “Yes, those are awesome, and there are two more novels and a bunch of short stories set in the same universe, but you really also have to read her SF, and there are all these wonderful other short stories, and and and…”

[Read more]

Nov 7 2013 10:00am

Under the Radar: The Gaslight Dogs by Karin Lowachee

The Gaslight Dogs Karin LowacheeWhen we came up with the idea for Under the Radar, a column that tries to highlight books that for some reason didn’t get as much attention as (we feel) they deserved, there were three books that immediately popped into my mind. The first one I’ve already reviewed: The Red: First Light by Linda Nagata. The second one I’m keeping under wraps for now, mainly because I have no idea how to write about it yet. And the third one is Karin Lowachee’s excellent fantasy novel The Gaslight Dogs.

When Lowachee released The Gaslight Dogs in April 2010, she had already published a trilogy of highly acclaimed SF novels (Warchild, Burndive, and Cagebird). Even though there was no indication of this on the novel’s cover or, as far as I can tell, anywhere else in the book, The Gaslight Dogs was actually the opening volume in a trilogy. The author since confirmed with me that the new series was pitched as a trilogy, but that the publisher only contracted for one book.

[Read more]

Oct 22 2013 4:00pm

Action-Packed Space Romance: Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach

Fortune's Pawn Rachel Bach

Fortune’s Pawn is the story of a talented space mercenary who is addicted to adrenaline, drinks like a fish, sleeps around, and wants nothing more than to become a member of the elite force known as the Devastators.

Thanks to raw talent, a never-ending thirst for action, and a rare, custom-built set of combat armor, this mercenary has successfully climbed the ranks and now has nowhere else to go but a boring desk job. Then, a dangerous and lucrative assignment comes along. It may just prove to be the final stepping stone to that ambitious dream career with the Devastators, so the mercenary drops everything and joins the group of armored badasses applying for the job.

Her name is Devi.

[Read more]

Oct 21 2013 5:00pm

Mindless Intelligence: Burning Paradise by Robert Charles Wilson

Burning Paradise Robert Charles Wilson As similar as the reality in Robert Charles Wilson’s new novel Burning Paradise may seem to ours, it’s actually very different. The world is preparing to celebrate a Century of Peace since the 1914 Armistice that ended the Great War. There was no Great Depression or World War II, and  segregation in the US was abolished in the 1930s. The world has become a little safer and wealthier every day.

Most of humanity is unaware that the seemingly benign changes that led to all of this are actually the result of interference by an extraterrestrial intelligence that resides in the Earth’s radiosphere. A small group of scientists—the Correspondence Society—discovered the truth a few years before the start of the novel. As a result, many of them were massacred… and now the alien agents known as “simulacra” are coming for the relatives of those who were murdered.

[Read More]

Oct 3 2013 4:00pm

Memoirs of a Con Man: The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

Republic of Thieves Gentleman Bastards Scott LynchSome books deserve more than just a straightforward review. Books that are such huge releases that there’ll be a gazillion straightforward reviews anyway. Books people have been waiting for so long that the wait itself has become its own sort of narrative…

The long-awaited new Gentleman Bastard novel The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch is definitely one of those books, so I hope you’ll forgive me for this very unconventional review of a novel I was extremely eager to get to.

[Read more]

Oct 2 2013 3:30pm

Sweet and Wistful: Jewels in the Dust by Peter Crowther

Jewels in the Dust Peter CrowtherI’d never read anything by Peter Crowther before Jewels in the Dust, a new collection of thirteen stories published between 1996 and 2006 and collected here for the first time. I was, however, very familiar with Crowther’s name, mainly as one of the founders of PS Publishing, the award-winning UK publisher that’s known for high-quality, collectible limited editions of SF and fantasy—somewhat similar to Subterranean Press on the other side of the Atlantic, come to think of it. (Subterranean also happens to be the publisher of this collection.)

Turns out that the person I mainly thought of as a publisher has actually written about half a dozen standalone novels, again as many short story collections, and has edited about twenty anthologies. I’ve got some catching up to do, it seems.

[Read more]

Sep 30 2013 9:00am

Twilight of the Gods: Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

Antigoddess Kendare BlakeI’ll start out by making an admission: the main thing that drew my attention to Antigoddess, the first installment in Kendare Blake’s new series The Goddess War, was its title. The book didn’t really look like my cup of tea, but, hmm, an Antigoddess... Sounds intriguing, right? Sometimes a good title can be a very effective hook all by itself.

Antigoddess is the story of two separate groups of characters, told in alternating chapters. On one side, you have Athena and Hermes, two gods you may recognize from Greek mythology. (If not, there’s always Homer, or if all else fails, Wikipedia.) These gods are still alive in our present day, but Athena is ill: feathers keep growing inside her body and working their way out. Hermes is also wasting away. Clearly, some big changes are afoot in the world of the gods. Impossible as it seems, someone or something is threatening the lives of these seemingly immortal beings.

[Read more]

Sep 27 2013 9:00am

Magic Is a Little Bit Alive: How the World Became Quiet by Rachel Swirsky

How the World Became Quiet Rachel SwirskyJust the most basic book description should be enough to set some people running to their preferred purveyor of books to purchase this new title from Subterranean Press: “How the World Became Quiet: Myths of the Past, Present and Future is a collection of short stories by Rachel Swirsky.” Yep. That’ll do it for me.

If you follow short-form SF and fantasy at all, you’ll probably be familiar with the author’s name. If you’re like me, the possibility of owning a collection of her stories may send you into the same type of frenzied excitement most commonly seen in felines when people dangle catnip in front of their faces. (“Want. Want! Want NOW!”) And if you’re not familiar with the author yet, you’re in luck, because you can sample some of Swirsky’s finest work right here on before (inevitably) purchasing the book. My personal favorite, out of the ones published on this site at least, is the stunning, Hugo-nominated “Eros, Philia, Agape.”

So, the abridged version of this review: I love this collection and recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who has an interest in intelligent, emotionally powerful and occasionally challenging short fiction. Not every story was a slam dunk for me, but taken as a whole, this is an excellent collection.

[Read more]

Sep 25 2013 4:00pm

Oh You Masters of War: The Red: First Light by Linda Nagata

Linda Nagata The Red First LightThere are many possible reasons why I’ll choose certain books for review. Most often it’s simply because they look promising. Occasionally it’s because I’m a fan of the author, series, or (sub-)genre. Sometimes I just get drawn in by something intriguing or odd in the publicity copy.

But every once in awhile there’s a book that, I feel, just deserves more attention, a book that’s not getting read enough for some reason. In those cases, it’s wonderful that I can take advantage of the generous platform gives me to introduce people to what I consider hidden gems.

Case in point, Linda Nagata’s excellent, independently-published military SF novel The Red: First Light, which, if I can just skip to the point for people who don’t like to read longer reviews, you should go ahead and grab right now, especially if you’re into intelligent, cynical military SF. If you want more detail, read on.

[Read more]

Sep 18 2013 2:00pm

It Is Our Discontent That Drives Us: The Incrementalists

The Incrementalists Steven Brust Skyler WhiteWith certain authors, I’m reaching the point where I feel like I may as well stop reviewing them, because their books have become so reliable it verges on the predictable. Not that I’d stop reading them: I enjoy their works, and there’s always something reassuring about a nice slice of comfort pie. It’s more that I feel like I’m running out of things to say about them.

And then there’s Steven Brust, who is not one of those authors. About 20 of his books are set in the same (Dragaeran) universe, but they still constantly surprise the reader in the way they experiment with form and style, switch narrators, juggle the internal chronology, and use a host of other tricks and techniques to keep things fresh and exciting. Outside of that universe, his books range from a retelling of the Revolt of the Angels to what’s possibly my favorite vampire novel ever to, well, just take a look at his bibliography to see how he has reinvented himself in the course of his career. Brust plays hopscotch with his readers’ expectations.

[“I believe in Better because I was never any good at Good.”]

Sep 17 2013 2:00pm

The Words Are Hide and Seek: The One-Eyed Man by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

The One-Eyed Man L E ModesittIn early 2012, Tor editor David Hartwell launched what came to be known as the Palencar Project: a set of short stories based on a painting by John Jude Palencar. The project would end up including stories by Gene Wolfe, James Morrow, Michael Swanwick, Gregory Benford and, yes, L.E. Modesitt Jr. All five stories are available on or can be purchased as an ebook.

In a conversation with Tor publisher Tom Doherty (and later in a separate blog post) Modesitt explained that his first attempt at the Palencar story ran to over 10,000 words with no end in sight. He decided to set this story aside and write a new one, which is the “New World Blues” story that was included in the Palencar Project. Later, in a break between novels, Modesitt went back and finished up the first story, which turned into his latest stand alone science fiction novel, The One-Eyed Man: A Fugue, with Winds and Accompaniment. (And yes, the gorgeous and distinctive cover illustration is the Palencar painting that started it all.)

[Are fingers smart?]

Sep 2 2013 11:00am

The Return of Cassandra Kresnov: 23 Years On Fire by Joel Shepherd

It’s been almost a decade since the release of Killswitch, the third novel in Joel Shepherd’s excellent Cassandra Kresnov series. In that time, Shepherd wrote a series of four fantasy novels entitled A Trial of Blood and Steel (also excellent, by the way). Given the long break, I’m sure that many readers assumed that the Cassandra Kresnov series was done at three books. At least, it came as a complete surprise to this fan when an advance copy of 23 Years On Fire, a brand new novel in the Cassandra Kresnov series, landed on my doorstep.

First things first: if you’re new to Cassandra Kresnov, you probably shouldn’t start with 23 Years On Fire. Some time has passed in the internal chronology since the end of the previous novel, which makes the book feel like a series reboot of sorts, or even the start of what will possibly turn out to be a whole new trilogy. Whatever the case may be, you’ll be lost if you haven’t read the first three novels in the series: Crossover, Breakaway, and Killswitch.

[Read more]

Aug 21 2013 10:00am

Talking With Tom: A Conversation Between Tom Doherty and Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson Tom Doherty

Who better to interview a living legend than another living legend? Welcome to the fourth installment of “Talking With Tom”, a series in which Tor publisher Tom Doherty chats with one of the many authors and industry icons whose careers he helped launch and shape. Previous installments covered conversations with L.E. Modesitt Jr., Harriet McDougal, and Gregory Benford.

Tom and Brandon discussed the start of Sanderson’s career, his work on the Wheel of Time, his new YA novel The Rithmatist, his writing schedule for the near future, and many other subjects.

Please enjoy this fascinating conversation between Tom Doherty and Brandon Sanderson.

[Read more]