Pathfinder Tales: Bloodbound Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a galley of Pathfinder Tales: Bloodbound by F. Wesley Schneider, available December 1st from Tor Books!

Larsa is a dhampir: half vampire, half human. In the gritty streets and haunted moors of gothic Ustalav, she’s an agent for the royal spymaster, keeping peace between the capital’s secret vampire population and its huddled human masses. Yet when a noblewoman’s entire house is massacred by vampiric invaders, Larsa is drawn into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse that will reveal far more about her own heritage than she ever wanted to know.

From Pathfinder co-creator and noted game designer F. Wesley Schneider comes a dark fantasy adventure of murder, intrigue, and secrets best left buried, set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

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 12:00 PM Eastern Time (ET) on November 27th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on December 1st. 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.

Pictures With a Thousand Words: Thing Explainer by Randall Munroe

It is tempting to take a page from Randall Monroe’s Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words, and try to write this entire review in, as Monroe puts it, the ten hundred most common words in the English language. It’s an intriguing challenge, because one of the charms of this new book is that it imbues everything between its covers with a childlike and unpretentious sense of delight in humanity’s intellectual achievements.

Still, somehow it makes me want to bust out a thesaurus and get all polysyllabic on you guys.

[Thing you use to go read more about Thing Explainer]

Getting to “The End.” Standalone Fantasy Books That Came Out in 2015

Sometimes you just want to curl up with a fantasy tale that won’t let you get to the back cover without concluding the story, and judging from all of these suggestions (here) for standalone fantasy books (and here), you’re not alone!

Maybe you’re looking for something a little more recent, though? Below, we’ve rounded up a list of standalone fantasy books that have come out in 2015. It is not comprehensive (or even complete since the year itself isn’t), so if we skipped a favorite of yours, mention it in the comments!

[Read more]

Fiction Affliction: December Releases in Urban Fantasy and Horror

Tuck yourself in by the fire and relax with some urban fantasy this month, although with only nine releases, you might have to dig into your TBR pile. This month, look for new releases from, among others, Ilona Andrews, Rob Thurman, Lauren Dane, and Gail Z. Martin.

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]

Midnight in Karachi Episode 38: Francesca Haig and The Fire Sermon

Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad.

This week novelist & award-winning poet Francesca Haig joins Midnight in Karachi to talk about her first novel The Fire Sermon, moving from poetry to fiction, her literary influences, and what our actual apocalypses may be.

[Read more]

The First Star Wars Novelization Reads Like an Alternate Universe Version of the Film

At this point, it’s pretty well known that the novelization of Star Wars: A New Hope was not written by George Lucas himself, but ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster. George Lucas admitted in a foreword written during the mid-90s that he hoped the book would be a modest success, just the way he hoped the film would be. The book sold just fine… and then the movie came out, and the book started flying off shelves.

[Read more]

Series: Star Wars on

Paul Cornell Reveals Who Killed Sherlock Holmes?

Who has killed the ghost of Sherlock Holmes? That’s the question that haunts the third of Paul Cornell’s dark and dangerous Shadow Police novels. And what a question! A title that striking deserves an equally striking cover–so Tor Books UK has taken the opportunity to redesign the whole series. Get a first look at the sharp new designs here, and find out more about Who Killed Sherlock Holmes?

[Read more]

Frederik Pohl Made Doing Literally Everything Look Easy

Frederik Pohl was one of those people who seem to make up the constellations of science fiction, a man who seemed to live five or six different lives in the time most of us only live one.

He was born in 1919, and his family travelled constantly in his early childhood, before his family settled in Brooklyn. He co-founded The Futurians, and belonged to that group as well as the Young Communist League during the 1930s. He left the Communists in 1939, joined the Army in 1943, and remained a sci-fi fan throughout. After World War II he worked as a writer, editor, and SF literary agent. He was married five times and had four children. He did, almost literally, everything.

[Read More]

Rereading The Elfstones of Shannara, Chapters 38-41

Welcome, readers of Shady Vale, to this week’s installment in our reread of Terry Brooks’ classic epic fantasy, The Elfstones of Shannara. If you’re unfamiliar with Elfstones, Brooks, or this reread, be sure to check out the introductory post, in which we all become acquainted.

Last week, the Elven army limped into Arborlon, the King awoke, and Amberle and Wil met an old foe and a new friend.

This week, the Elfstones are stolen and regained, the siege of Arborlon begins, and Mallenroh makes a dramatic entrance.

[Click to pry open Cephelo’s hands]

Series: Rereading Shannara

Fiction Affliction: Genre-Benders for December

Santa’s saving his genre-benders until January, as only eight books span space and genre this month. Look for three new anthologies: the annual Nebula Awards Showcase edited by Greg Bear; A Paula Guran-edited anthology devoted to Warrior Women; and a collection of author “Detours” edited by Brian James Freeman.

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.]]

Jessica Jones is a Primer on Gaslighting, and How to Protect Yourself Against It

Jessica Jones has left most everyone I know with a lot to talk about. And there are plenty of reasons, of course–the show is smart, sassy, well-written, beautifully-acted, and features a female lead who is allowed to be as complex as women truly are.

It is also a show the puts female experiences of abuse and trauma under a microscope, and forces us to confront them.

[Read more]

Reading Melanie Rawn’s Skybowl: The Final Chapters

Welcome to the weekly Wednesday read of Skybowl! Finally we’ve reached the end. The long saga is over. The battles are done, the cast of hundreds get their various resolutions. Or hints at same, as lives go on (or not) and the world continues past the scope of the series.


Chapters 36-39 and Epilogue

Here’s What Happens: In Chapter 36, the battle has ended with collapsed Vellant’im and somewhat less flattened magic users. Maarken relays Pol’s order: the enemy are out but not dead, and are not to be killed. Sionell takes it on herself to pass this on. Chay sorts out Maarken and the rest.

Isriam and the High Warlord scuffle, and mostly knock each other out. The Warlord comes to, sees what’s happened to his army, and bellows a challenge to Pol. [Read more]

Series: Rereading Melanie Rawn

The Man in the High Castle: Worldbuilding, Reality, and You

In addition to Netflix’s Jessica Jones, I also bingewatched Amazon Studios’ The Man in the High Castle over this past weekend. This experience was interesting, as it represented the twin poles of current geek culture—two wildly different, equally complex takes on fantastical universes. Where Jessica Jones is deeply personal, dealing with intimate trauma and healing, The Man in the High Castle is an inventive, heady look at politics, that uses an alternate history to ask questions about society and humanity as a whole.

[This was quite a weekend.]

The Jessica Jones Paranoid Conspiracy Support Group

Hot off her Alias reread, Tansy Rayner Roberts reviews Netflix’s Jessica Jones. In this post: “AKA 99 Friends” and “AKA The Sandwich Saved Me.” Spoilers for season 1.

“AKA 99 Friends”

Written by Hilly Hicks Jr
Directed by David Petrarca

“Nothing plays like pictures in court.”

Jessica gets a new client, and her paranoia—already off the rails thanks to the mystery photographer who has been stalking her on Kilgrave’s behalf—hits previously untapped levels. Audrey Eastman seems on the level, an angry woman looking for pictures of her philandering husband Carlo to support her divorce, but Jessica can’t be sure that this isn’t another Kilgrave trap.

Trish, meanwhile, calls in a panic because Sergeant Will the murderous cop is back with a bemused friend, banging on her reinforced security door. Jessica realises that the poor guy is acting out because he thinks there’s a dead body in the apartment.

JESSICA: He thinks he killed you. I recognise that look.

[Read more]

Was the Death Star the Atomic Bomb of the Star Wars Galaxy?

Did the original Star Wars trilogy kick off an arms race that we’ll be seeing the results of in The Force Awakens?

I am so pumped up about the new Star Wars movie that I’m having dreams about it, but even as excited as I am, I still have to admit that the villains having a “Starkiller” weapon feels absolutely silly. The name brings me back to recess on the elementary school playground, and the kind of playfully impossible escalation that occurs between children playing make believe. “I shoot my mega laser at you!” “Yeah, well, I shoot my INFINITY laser at you!”*

*This always works.

[Read more]