Fiction Affliction: May Releases in Science Fiction

Sixteen science fiction books are beaming onto shelves this May, including space epics, post-nuclear dystopias, cyborg racing, the untapped potential of the brain, and, oh, this little thing called Star Wars. Look for new series additions from Neal Asher, Stephanie Saulter, and Jack Campbell (among others), plus standalones from Lavie Tidhar, Madeline Ashby, and more!

[Read more]

Five Books (of Short Stories) That’ll Make You Rethink Reality

Stephen King once said a novel is a love affair, while a short story is a kiss in the dark. Hey, I’ll buy it. Novels are work. Commitments. Contracts in good faith. Often, intimate and soul-enriching partnerships. But they’re not without their trappings.

For one, they can go on longer than they should. They can be clunky in places. Rigid in their approach. Forceful, even. And while novels have the ability to whisk us off to new and fully-formed worlds, alongside fully-formed characters, there can be disagreements with where the narrative should be heading, or how things should turn out. At their most comprehensive, novels can make too many choices on our behalf, or reduce the celestial realm of imagination to a single, absolute conclusion.

It should be of no surprise then that, when it comes to speculative fiction—fiction of the weird, of the physically and metaphysically flexible—the short story may just be the perfect medium. It’s a peck in the dark for the recklessly imaginative, often providing something more precious and affecting than the mechanics of plots and resolution. In its ability to puncture little more than a peephole in the veil of reality, a good short story can provide not only a glimpse of an unfinished image, but conjure up the lingering and hopeful sense of infinite possibility.

Here are five short story collections that know just what I mean.

[Read more]

Series: Five Books About…

Rocks Fall Everyone Dies

Aspen Quick’s family has secretly protected their small upstate New York town for generations, using their gifts to conduct a periodic ritual to keep the cliff that looms over Three Peaks from collapsing. Aspen also uses his powers for his own benefit—reaching inside people to steal their innermost fears, memories, scars, and even love. This summer he’ll discover just how strong the Quick family magic is—and how far they’ll go to keep their secrets safe.

Lindsay Ribar’s Rocks Fall Everyone Dies is a fast-paced, twisty story about power, addiction, and deciding what kind of person you want to be, in a family that has the ability to control everything you are. Available June 7th from Penguin.

[Read more]

The Closing of the Cycle: Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven King

Last week saw the release of the final novel in Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle, The Raven King. While I’ll still be writing a final companion installment to the previous three-part essay on the Raven Cycle (found here)—which will be more in-depth—the pressing concern is to discuss immediate impressions.

The Raven King picks up immediately after the events of Blue Lily, Lily Blue. It’s fall, school is back in session after one perfect strange summer, and the fivesome are all facing down imminent changes in their lives. College, and the lack thereof; love, and the consequences thereof; magic, and the cost thereof. The arc has built up through three prior books to a trembling, tense point where it’s all going to come to a shattering conclusion. And with perhaps the most chilling, devastating end-of-prologue lines I’ve had the pleasure of reading, Stiefvater sets off the final book in the cycle:

The hounds of the Aglionby Hunt Club howled it that fall: away, away, away.

He was a king.

This was the year he was going to die.

[A review. Spoilers.]

A Galaxy Far, Far Away Meets The Great White Way With #broadWAYthe4thBeWithYou

Thanks in small part to Hamilton, Broadway and musical theater are getting more attention on the Internet, through hashtags and memes as their fandoms find one another. (This year marked the first BroadwayCon.) And while we already knew that #Force4Ham was a thing, today’s Star Wars Day celebration has made room for the return of a hilarious hashtag: #broadWAYthe4thBeWithYou. That’s right, people are mashing up Broadway and Star Wars on Twitter, and the results are wonderfully witty.

[Read more]

The Queen of Sheba Versus The Beautiful Menace From Mars: Joanna Russ’s “My Boat”

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

Today we’re looking at Joanna Russ’s “My Boat,” first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in January 1976. Spoilers ahead.

[ “Be careful, Jim. Look again. Always look again.”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

Is Bran Stark the Hero of Game of Thrones?

As they say in pop-culture parlance, “Hang onto your butts”. In only two episodes, Game of Thrones Season 6 has established—for anyone who may have forgotten in the last 5 seasons of letter writing, sword-poking and sexposition—that it is the most magic-filled series on television. This overt acknowledgement of the whole Fantasy part of this fantasy series may point to a new trend for what we can expect on Game of Thrones. It’s got to be hard to downplay all the magic stuff when a main character is performing ongoing feats of hair-based miracle working… But we digress.

While nearly every major character is gifted in some way, there are some characters that are just more magical than others. They function as center points of regional beliefs and as the nexus of converging plot points. While some may focus on the powerful possibilities of the followers of R’hllor or the ingrained abilities of the descendants of Valyria we want to introduce you to the most important character in ASOIAF. Period. The coincidentally-newly-returned-to-the-show…Bran Stark.

[Read more]

Series: HBO’s Game of Thrones

Malazan Reread of the Fallen: Blood and Bone, Chapter Thirteen (Part Three)

Welcome back 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 (with Amanda, new to the series, going first), and finally comments from readers. In this article, we’ll cover Chapter Thirteen (Part Three) of Ian Cameron Esslemont’s Blood and Bone.

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

Pathfinder Tales: Liar’s Bargain Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a galley copy of Tim Pratt’s Pathfinder Tales: Liar’s Bargain, available June 7th from Tor Books!

The sequel to Hugo Award Winner Tim Pratt’s Liar’s Island! For charming con man Rodrick and his talking sword Hrym, life is all about taking what you can and getting away clean. But when the pair are arrested in the crusader nation of Lastwall, Rodrick faces immediate execution, with Hrym spending the rest of eternity trapped in an enchanted scabbard. Their only hope lies in a secret government program in which captured career criminals are teamed up and sent on suicide missions too sensitive for ordinary soldiers.

Trapped between almost certain death and actual certain death, the two join forces with a team of rogues and scoundrels, ready to serve their year-long tenure as best they can. Yet not everyone in their party is what they seem, and a death sentence may only be the start of the friends’ problems.

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 11:30 AM Eastern Time (ET) on May 4th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on May 8th. 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.

Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood Movie Casts Its Leads

Twilight author Stephenie Meyer is adapting Kendare Blake’s YA ghost story Anna Dressed in Blood (from Tor Teen) for the big screen, Deadline reports, and the leads have just been announced. Cameron Monaghan (Shameless) will star as Cas Lowood, who is tasked with killing the dead—destroying ghosts that have stayed on for unfinished business, especially of the murderous sort. But when he comes across a deserted Victorian that has claimed the lives of everyone who enters it, he finds that the ghost, known as Anna Dressed in Blood (Maddie Hasson, who stars on Freeform’s Twisted) is less killer than cursed.

[Read more]

The Temeraire Reread: Black Powder War

Hello, everyone! Welcome back to the Temeraire Reread, in which I recap and review Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, one novel a week, leading up to the release of the final volume, League of Dragons, on June 14th. We continue this week with the third novel, Black Powder War, in which we return to Europe—and the Napoleonic Wars—via Istanbul. You can catch up on past posts at the reread index, or check out’s other posts about Naomi Novik’s works through her tag.

Reminder: these posts may contain spoilers through all currently-published novels, but will contain no spoilers for the forthcoming League of Dragons (I’ve now read it, but I’m pretending I haven’t). If you have read League, absolutely no spoilers! But there’s no need to warn for spoilers about the published books, so spoil—and comment!—away.

[Read more]

Series: The Temeraire Reread

Sexy Texas: Night Shift by Charlaine Harris

Midnight is a tiny village in of Texas at the crossroads of the middle nowhere to even more nowhere. It’s a place that attracts transients and those looking to live under the radar. Like the town of Bon Temps in Charlaine Harris’ other more famous series, Midnight is a quirky country town with a preponderance of magic. A lovelorn witch, an empathetic psychic, a vampire, a pair of fallen angels, a pack of weretigers, a mystical quickie mart manager, and a talking cat all call the town home, not to mention the professional hitwoman, the restaurant owners who aren’t who they claim, and the equally lovelorn pawnshop owner.

In the first two books of the “Midnight, Texas” rural fantasy trilogy, Charlaine Harris explores the deepest, darkest secrets of the townsfolk, and in Night Shift she digs into the evil under the town that drew them there and may end up killing them all. When strangers wander into the crossroads and start killing themselves in increasingly brutal ways, the Midnighters rally together to figure out why. Lemuel acquires help translating the ancient books Bobo found in the shop, and what he discovers offers no good news. A newcomer sparks the locals’ interest, especially since about the same time as his arrival a voice begins talking to Fiji. Turns out the town is built over an imprisoned demon and he wants out. Now. Unfortunately for Fiji, she’s the key to his escape as well as his continued imprisonment.

As bad as the spellwork required to battle the demon is, it’s her collapsing unrequited romance with Bobo that hurts her the most. It’s time for Fiji to take her life into her own hands. Saving the town and finding happiness are up to her, but only if the creeps following Olivia, the threat posed by Teacher and Madonna, and Lemuel’s risky dealmaking don’t get in the way first.

[“Fiji was not a happy witch.”]

Star Wars: Bloodline Should Definitely Be a Movie

Claudia Gray’s new Star Wars novel, Bloodline, is tense and exciting and galaxy-spanning in scope. You might even say it’s… cinematic. It would make such a good movie, is what I’m trying to say here. And as soon as that occurred to me, I starting dream-casting the new characters. Read on for my vision for Bloodline, and add your own in the comments! I’ve kept the post spoiler-free, but beware of any lurking in the comments—you can also check out my review of the book if you need more convincing that this movie NEEDS to happen.

[Read more]