Friday, November 30, 2007

The nine most bad-ass Bible verses.

Awesome! My favorite bit (regarding Numbers 16:23, 31-33):
God listened carefully to their complaints, weighed their points, then made the earth eat them alive. The text does not make it clear whether or not the earth made that "OM NOM NOM" sound, so scholars are forced to speculate.

Huh. That's odd.

Interesting to note that my old blog, The Blog Formerly Known As La Gringa & Co., And Then Called Band Camp, is still getting almost as many hits per day as this here new blog.

Note that there has been no fresh content there since May of this year.

Are y'all REALLY that strapped for things to read online? Don't you have a good porn site you can download or something? I mean, really!

"Does Craigslist make my ass look fat?"*

Yes, for an insomniac with a twisted sense of humor, there is no greater amusement at 1:00 in the morning than perusing the Craigslist W4W personals. You find headline gems like these:
Does anyone like Air Supply? - 36 [Really? You're 36 and like Air Supply? Did you grow up in a nursing home?]

do you remember robert goulet? ed sullivan? - 50 [Robert Goulet and Ed Sullivan are fine... if you're 75. At 50, I'd prefer you remembered The Pretenders, The Kinks, and The Clash.]

Femm seeks Femm 4 Toilet Games, BDSM , Urine Sponge Bathing & Diapers - 44 [No comment.]

Fat Butch seeks Date for Tractor Pull Show in Englishtown - 47 [Fat butch? No prob. Seeking date? No prob. Tractor pull? Yeah, we have a problem.]

MY FRIST TIME [Spelling is correct. I suspect she won't be getting fristed anytime soon.]
* Actual Seattle Craigslist ad headline

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thursday night genre link round-up.

Hmmm... Big day for paranormal romance reviews out there. Vampires and werewolves and tight abs, oh my!
At Fantasy Magazine, Paula Guran reviews Pirate Freedom by Gene Wolfe and The Devil You Know by Mike Carey.

Weird Tales wants to know who you think are the 85 weirdest storytellers ever. Go vote!

Dear Author has two reviews of The Down Home Zombie Blues by Linnea Sinclair. But just one review of Eternal by V.K. Forest. (Poor V.K.!)

Colleen Mondor is very much annoyed at everyone telling her to read something else. (Something that isn't genre, that is.) And she uses John Wayne to make her point. +100 points for that one.

Bookgasm reviews The Sword Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe and I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.

Book Fetish reviews The Deluge by Mark Harris, A Lick of Frost by Laurell K. Hamilton, and Atlantis Awakening by Alyssa Day.

Fantasy & Sci Fi Lovin' Book Review - excuse me, but can I just say, no offense but, dude? You need a better blog name - now where were we? - looks at The Complete Guide to Writing SF, Volume One, edited by Dave Law et al.

Grasping for the Wind reviews The Blue Haired Bombshell by John Zakour, and an interview with Stephen Lawhead.

The Wertzone reviews Swiftly by Adam Roberts.

Graeme's Fantasy Book Review looks at The Awakened Mage by Karen Miller, Another One Bites the Dust by Jennifer Rardin, and In the Eye of Heaven by Dave Keck.

At the Endicott Studio blog, Midori Snyder discusses the various print incarnations of Beowulf. A great article!

A Dribble of Ink reviews The Book of Joby by Mark J. Ferrari.

Fantasy Book Critic has an interview with Josh Conviser.

Do you know somebody who gets people excited about books and reading??? A genuine bookish superhero???

Hey, loyal Swivet readers! Do you know somebody who gets other people excited about books and reading? A passionate bookseller? A teacher who goes above and beyond? A librarian who makes reading fun? (An unemployed blogger who slaves away posting pointless book news while being molested by furry four-legged Luddites in search of tuna?) Is there an organization you know about that you feel is making a difference in the world of books and reading and literacy? Well, now is your chance to say thank you to these individuals and/or organizations, and maybe even help them win some big $$$ for their efforts.

Nominate your favorite bookish superhero(es) for one of the Third Annual James Patterson PageTurner Awards!

Every year, bestselling writer James Patterson awards $250,000 to individuals, schools, companies and other institutions who find original and effective ways to spread the excitement of books and reading. Past winners have included The Washington Center for the Book, All Hallows High School (Bronx, NY), Pam Shelton (Botswana Book Project), Elaine Petrocelli (Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA), Emma Rodgers (Black Images Book Bazaar, Dallas, TX), and the First Book Program in Washington, DC. (Think what you will about Patterson's prose; his heart is definitely in the right place.)

Who is eligible?
The 2007 James Patterson PageTurner Awards submission period will be officially open on Saturday, June 2, 2007. The awards are open to individuals who are legal residents of U.S. or Canada, and to organizations (e.g. companies, schools or any other non-individual organization based in the U.S. or Canada). This year, the awards total $250,000 and will be broken down as follows:

U.S Recipients Individual Awards:
One (1) award in the amount of $25,000
Five (5) awards each in the amount of $5,000
Five (5) awards each in the amount of $2,500

Organization Awards:
One (1) award in the amount of $50,000
Two (2) awards each in the amount of $25,000
Five (5) awards each in the amount of $5,000
Fifteen (15) awards each in the amount of $2,500

Canadian recipients:
One (1) award in the amount of $20,000
Two (2) awards each in the amount of $2,500
So get crackin', kids! The deadline for nominations is December 9th! For more information, click here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wednesday night genre link round-up.

I have nothing witty to say this evening. Sorry!
The Book Swede looks at Crossover by Joel Shepherd, and has a Quote of the Week essay by Karen Miller.

Fantasy Book Critic has a a review of a different Joel Shepherd book, Killswitch, The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz, and The Solaris Book of New Fantasy, edited by George Mann.

At Ecstatic Days, Cat Valente is guest-blogging for Jeff VanderMeer, and she's discussing world-building and (ominous drum-roll) when steampunk goes bad! (Hee hee hee!)

OF Blog goes through the wayback machine and takes a second look at Gene Wolfe's The Fifth Head of Cerberus.

The transcript of Guy Gavriel Kay's Toastmaster Address from the World Fantasy Awards has been posted online.

Milady Insanity has an interview with Jenna Black, author of The Devil Inside.

Astrobiology Magazine has a fascinating essay about what life on Earth would be like if we had no moon. (via SF Signal)

SF Signal reviews The Commons by Matthew Hughes, and Queen of Candesce by Karl Schroeder.

SF Gospel looks at the theology of Battlestar Galactica.

SFF World reviews Once Bitten, Twice Shy by Jennifer Rardin.

The Penguin Blog has an interview with Ace editor and Grand Poobah Ginjer Buchanan.

Amateur Female Jello Wrestling this Sunday night!

If you have nothing else going on this Sunday night and you live in New York City, you may want to check this out. Jello wrestling is possibly one of the funniest things I have ever witnessed; well worth going even if you're only planning to be a spectator. I think I might just go for the laughs! (And, um, hot chicks sliding around in Jello.)

Funniest wedding video EV-AH!!!

Courtesy of McLovin'. Friggin' hilarious!

The slow sad death of my iBook battery.
Anyone know where I can get another one?

My 12" iBook is about four years old now. It still chugs happily along with its minuscule amount of RAM, its beat-up exterior, its cat-scratched monitor screen (Buddy-cat tries to catch the cursor - he is no brain-trust, that one) that occasionally goes black for five minutes without warning for no apparent reason.

But the battery is dying a slow death.

I've replaced the battery on my Mac once already, last year. The original battery holds a charge for only about fifteen minutes now. I use it as a paperweight these days. (Although I suppose using an explosive device as a paperweight is probably none too bright.)

The current battery - fully charged - will now drain within an hour. This is pretty much the death knell of the battery, methinks.

So, I need a new lithium ion battery for a four-year old Mac iBook. Anyone know the best place to get one?

(And, if anyone at La Familia de La Gringa is reading this? A new laptop battery for my iBook would be greatly appreciated for Christmas! You always complain that I don't tell you what I want - mostly because I don't want anything; I have too much stuff as it is, thank you very much! - so now's your chance!)

New episode of Dykes to Watch Out For posted (#516)

Check it out at Alison Bechdel's blog here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In other news, La Gringa is now
down to one drinking glass.

Thanks, Buddy-cat. I do love you, but really... you're such a klutz.

Tuesday night genre link round-up.

Mumble mumble complain. Links, y'all.
Joss Whedon on the Writers Guild Strike. (Via Constance Ash at Deep Genre)

The Rejecter has some interesting observations about the labeling of genre categories.

The Written Nerd reviews Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon.

Writer Unboxed discusses how to polish your agent query.

Monsters & Critics reviews The Watcher by Jeanne C. Stein.

At Sci Fi Wire, John Joseph Adams profiles Jeffrey Overstreet, author of Auralia's Colors.

At Ficlets, John Scalzi interviews Josh Conviser, author of Empyre.

At Sci Fi Weekly, Paul Di Filippo reviews A War of Gifts by Orson Scott Card, and Paul Witcover reviews Moon Flights, the new collection of short fiction by Elizabeth Moon.

Book Fetish reviews Halting State by Charlie Stross.

Monday, November 26, 2007

300: The Parody. (With felines.)

Via Kameron Hurley, this utterly depraved and hilarious parody of the movie 300. And, what the hell, I haven't posted a cat thing yet this week. Heh!

Publishers Weekly genre review round-up
(November 26th issue)

A good week for Sean Wallace at Prime Books, the long-awaited debut of John Joseph Adams's new anthology (which looks amazing!), a werewolf novel in verse, and a couple of very strong YA entries. Enjoy!
Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow (Harper): * Starred Review * "Barlow’s gut-wrenching, sexy debut, a horror thriller in verse, follows three packs of feral dogs in East L.A. These creatures are in fact werewolves, men and women who can change into canine form at will (“Dog or wolf? More like one than the other/ but neither exactly”). Lark, the top dog in one of the packs who’s a lawyer in human form, has a master plan that may involve taking over the city from the regular humans. Anthony Silvo, a dogcatcher and normally a loner, finds himself falling in love with a beautiful and mysterious woman (“Standing on four legs in her fur,/ she is her own brand of beast”). A strange small man and his giant partner play tournament bridge and are deep into the drug trade. A detective, Peabody, investigates several puzzling dog-related murders. The irregular verse form with its narrative economies proves an excellent vehicle to support all these disparate threads and then tie them together in the bittersweet conclusion." 5-city author tour. (Jan.)

Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse, edited by John Joseph Adams (Night Shade): * Starred Review * "This harrowing reprint anthology of 22 apocalyptic tales reflects the stresses of contemporary international politics, with more than half published since 2000. All depict unsettling societal, physical and psychological adaptations their authors postulate as necessary for survival after the end of the world. Keynoted by Stephen King’s “The End of the Whole Mess,” the volume’s common denominator is hubris: that tragic human proclivity for placing oneself at the center of the universe, and each story uniquely traces the results. Some highlight human hope, even optimism, like Orson Scott Card’s “Salvage” and Tobias Buckell’s “Waiting for the Zephyr.” Others, like James Van Pelt’s “The Last of the O-Forms” and Nancy Kress’s “Inertia,” treat identity by exploring mutation. Several, like Elizabeth Bear’s “And the Deep Blue Sea” and Jack McDevitt’s “Never Despair,” gauge the height of human striving, while others, like George R.R. Martin’s “Dark, Dark Were the Tunnels,” Carol Emshwiller’s “Killers” and M. Rickert’s “Bread and Bombs,” plumb the depths of human prejudice, jealousy and fear. Beware of Paolo Bacigalupi’s far-future “The People of Sand and Slag,” though; that one will break your heart." (Feb.)

Origins by Kate Thompson (Bloomsbury): * Starred Review * "Even readers who have not read the previous books in Thompson’s Missing Link trilogy (begun in Fourth World) will relish this last volume, a post-apocalyptic stunner. Blending weighty science fiction themes like genetic engineering and the future of human evolution with equally thought-provoking allegorical fable, the novel intertwines two storylines. The first consists of diary entries made by series hero Christie, living in northern Scotland, who, in 2009, chronicles the bizarre events that lead to the abrupt end of human civilization. The second narrative takes place centuries in the future, when two factions of Neolithic humanoids who call their clans Cats and Dogs begin a genocidal war. As the world falls deeper into chaos, two refugees—a Cat named Nessa and a Dog named Farral—join forces to try and bring peace by setting off on a quest to uncover the origins of their tribes. Accompanied by a talking blackbird named Yorick, the misfit duo travels to the end of the world where a shocking revelation awaits them. Few conclusions wield the impact of this one; when the storylines finally connect, SF fans will be blown away." Ages 12-up. (Nov.)

Unwind by Neal Shusterman (Simon & Schuster): * Starred Review * "Shusterman (Everlost) explores one of the most divisive of topics—abortion—in this gripping, brilliantly imagined futuristic thriller. After a civil war waged over abortion has almost destroyed America, completely new laws are in effect. Human life can never be “terminated,” but between the ages of 13 and 18, a child can be “unwound” by his parents, an irrevocable decision that leads to every single bit of his body being harvested for medical use. As the novel opens, 16-year-old Connor has secretly discovered his parents’ copy of his unwind order, and decides to “kick-AWOL,” or run away. Connor’s escape inadvertently sweeps up two other Unwinds: a ward of the state who is not quite talented enough to merit her place in a state home any longer, and the 10th son of religious parents, who gave birth to him just to “tithe” him. Beyond his pulse-pounding pace, the cliffhangers and the bombshells, Shusterman has a gift for extrapolating the effects of alien circumstances on ordinary people and everyday behavior. He brings in folklore, medical practices, and slang that reflect the impact of unwinding, creating a dense and believable backdrop. Characters undergo profound changes in a plot that never stops surprising readers. The issues raised could not be more provocative—the sanctity of life, the meaning of being human—while the delivery could hardly be more engrossing or better aimed to teens." Ages 13-up. (Nov.)

Black Sheep: A Dystopian Novel by Ben Peek (Prime): "Society has fractured into three supposedly pure race factions and multiculturalism is a crime in this bleak Orwellian debut, set in the far future. After the Culture War more than a century earlier, the United Nations divided the races to prevent violence and bigotry. Sydney, Australia, has become Asian-Sydney, Caucasian-Sydney and African-Sydney, and crossing the borders is strictly forbidden. Isao Dazai, a recent immigrant from Asian-Tokyo, dares to wonder what the other cities are like, despite fearful warnings from his wife, Kumiko. When she turns him in for speaking multicultural heresy, Isao is sent away for Assimilation, a dehumanizing procedure that strips him of his individuality. Thirteen years later, Isao manages to overcome his programming and becomes desperate to confront Kumiko, who has built a political career on her patriotic betrayal. Although the characters rarely rise above the roles of philosophical mouthpieces, Peek sketches chilling images of a future where individuality is deadly and only sameness provides safety." (Jan.)

Navigator: Time’s Tapestry: 3 by Stephen Baxter (Ace): "The engrossing third Time’s Tapestry novel (after Emperor and Conqueror) from Philip K. Dick Award–winner Baxter focuses on Christianity’s reconquest of Spain from the Moors between A.D. 1070 and 1492. This conflict is reflected in the struggle between the English and Spanish branches of a family, both of which have received mysterious prophecies and coded instructions containing designs for weapons that could give one side power to annihilate the other. The characters’ beliefs and passions shape events, but they don’t know how much they have been manipulated by competing tempters from the future. By book’s end, two forces emerge to debate whether Christopher Columbus will be given ships to sail west or an army to lead east in an apocalyptic war against Islam. Baxter understands how a craving for beauty and knowledge can become ghastly fanaticism, and he’s also very good at showing his characters thinking within the limitations of their time." (Jan.)

The Traitor by Michael Cisco (Prime): "Cisco (The Tyrant) ups the ante for provocative dark fantasy by giving this coming-of-age tale a subtle metaphysical edge. While still a boy, sensitive Nophtha realizes that he’s uncommonly empathetic and able to see the world from the perspective of others. Tutored by his uncle, Nophtha apprentices as an itinerant spirit eater, or someone who absorbs lingering ghosts that congest the surrounding atmosphere and converts their essence into formidable healing powers. One day, Nophtha crosses paths with his alter ego, Wite, a soul burner who hopes to evolve to a higher level of being by gorging himself on the souls of the living. Under his sway, Nophtha is compelled to evaluate whether he and Wite are that different in nature, and to assess his feelings about family and community. Cisco writes in a reflective style that masks his narrative’s virtual absence of a plot. Though discursive and sometimes repetitive, the story still moves toward its conclusion with a momentum borne of the author’s meditative prose and aphoristic expressions." (Jan.)

Debatable Space by Philip Palmer (Orbit): "It’s rarely a good sign when an author tells readers with “sad grasshopper minds” to skip ahead if they’re bored, as Palmer does in this muddled debut space opera. After grabbing readers with action sequences revolving around a plan to use former President of Humanity Lena Smith against her despotic son, Peter, whom Lena tenderly calls “the most evil human being who has ever lived,” a series of long, rambling “Excerpts from the Thought Diary of Lena Smith, 2004–” bring the action to a screeching halt. Lena’s description of her thousand-year life and accounts of her sexual escapades and theology will weary many readers. The concepts, writing and plotting leave a great deal to be desired, and Palmer’s attempt at humor centered on the notion of powerful, intelligent flame beasts addicted to bad television also falls flat." (Jan.)

Keepers of the Flame by Robin D. Owens (Luna): "Twin sisters Elizabeth and Brigid “Bri” Drystan are pulled from Denver into another dimension in this overcrowded fourth installment of the Summoning (after 2007’s Protector of the Flight). The twins have the gift of “healing hands,” and while Elizabeth works in traditional medicine, Bri has been exploring global alternative healing methods. Recently reunited, the two find themselves unexpectedly propelled through a rainbow-lit portal to the mystical, musical world of Lladrana, filled with flying horses, magic mirrors and seductive knights. The sisters can’t return to Earth until they heal the people afflicted by a mysterious disease, and by then they may not want to go. Elizabeth must decide whether Chevalier Faucon Creusse is a better match than the lover she left on Earth, while Bri falls for her protector, Sevair Masif. Despite some too-cute prose (“there is a keep-cold twiddle-spell”; “I am Sinafinal, a fey-coo-cu”), Owens’s colorful epic has some charming moments." (Jan.)

Bandersnatch, edited by Paul Tremblay and Sean Wallace (Prime): "It may or may not be frumious, but this original anthology from Tremblay (City Pier: Above & Below) and Wallace (Jabberwocky 2) positively revels in the “strange, dark, and unpredictable.” Nearly all the 13 stories have both feet firmly in the avant-garde. Several tilt toward black-humored horror, and even the authors’ bios run to the bizarre. Talking animals and strange landscapes abound, from the taiga and bears (but no lion) in Alan DeNiro’s surreal opening tale “Taiga, Taiga, Burning Bright” to the genetic hybrids in Karen Heuler’s “Down on the Farm,” which concludes the volume by evoking both Poe and Orwell. Dogs in particular are well represented, figuring in Heuler’s story as well as Ursula Pflug’s “Border Crossing” and Bogdan Tiganov’s “The Children.” An iguana and a soda can trade quips in Seth Ellis’s “The Sidewinders,” and “Scar Stories” by Vylar Kaftan personifies a cat, a punchbowl and the party where they’re present. This corner of the genre is very much an acquired taste, but for those who dig that funky groove, this anthology more than delivers what it promises." (Jan.)

Blood in the Fruit: Book Four of the Marq’ssan Cycle by L. Timmel Duchamp (Aqueduct Press): "Originally written in the mid-’80s and revised in 1996, this fourth installment of the idea-packed near-future dystopian Marq’ssan Cycle (after 2007’s Tsunami) echoes classic feminist anxieties about humanity’s future. It also demands a hefty knowledge of the previous works in the cycle. First, the violence-hating alien Marq’ssan shut down Earth’s technology, asking specifically for women to represent the various nations. Then the women-run Pacific Northwest Free Zone tried to stave off the draconian measures of the male-dominated U.S. Executive. Now, in 2086, amazonian Liz Weatherall, the sworn enemy of once and future Executive leader Robert Sedgwick, wants to create her own savage antimale regime. Duchamp’s writing exudes hatred of men, which she attempts to justify with scenes of sexual torture and a perverse father-daughter relationship. Not for the squeamish, this ferocious vision of male depravity and female will to power demonstrates how corrupting the thirst for domination can be—for both sexes." (Jan.)

Dust by Elizabeth Bear (Bantam Spectra): "Bear proves there’s still juice in one of science fiction’s oldest tropes, the stranded generation ship, in this complex coming-of-age tale. Rien, a handmaid in a feudal society, must care for the prisoner Ser Perceval—a mutilated enemy who Rien discovers is her half-sister by an absent scion of the ruling family. Their quest for a safer home tangles with their society’s own quest for safety, as the descendents of an artificial intelligence and the genetically engineered crew battle for control to save the ship from an impending supernova. Standard plot devices litter the familiar landscape: tarot, pseudo-angels, named swords with powers, and politics as a family quarrel. But Campbell Award–winning author Bear uses them beautifully to turn up the pressure on her characters, who r respond by making hard choices. And—as she did in Carnival and Hammered—Bear breaks sexual taboos matter-of-factly: love in varied forms drives the characters without offering easy redemption." (Jan.)

Evermore by Lynn Viehl (Signet): "Scottish vampire Byrne wrestles with love for Jayr, his female seneschal (or senior officer in charge of domestic ceremonies) in this fifth book in the Darkyn series. In order to dispel temptation, Byrne, lord of Orlando, decides to hold a tournament to see who will replace him as ruler of his domain. A bevy of ambitious vampires come forward, including, distractingly, a vampiric Robin of Locksley (i.e., Robin Hood). When a stranger appears claiming to be the rival Lord of Nottingham, tempers are set immediately on edge. Things grow even more complicated as Jayr and Byrne’s attraction becomes too great to ignore, and attempts are made on Byrne’s life, perhaps by a lord overeager to take his seat. The plot is full of exciting twists and turns, but the chemistry between Jayr and Byrne is fairly tepid. Knowledge of prior books helps one along, but overall Viehl tells a self-contained, page-turning story of medieval vampires." (Jan.)

The spray-on condom. Those Germans think of everything.

Via my new favorite blog find, Lock the Bedroom Door, this article from Spiegel about a spray-on condom that will supposedly fit all sizes. (Because having to stick yer wiener in a tube, have wet latex sprayed all over it and then wagging it around to dry for twenty-five seconds is such an AWESOME way to enhance a romantic evening.)

My favorite bit:
He admits he will have to overcome some legal hurdles and technical niggles before he can bring the product to market, but he already has a working prototype and says the system can cater for most sizes.

"With our technology we could spray a condom on an erect elephant," he declared, not without a hint of pride.
Heh. (Yes, I'm twelve.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The (les)Bionic Woman.

(Via Joe.My.God.)

Kirkus Reviews genre review round-up
(December 1st issue)

Here ya go:
In The Courts of Crimson Kings by S. M. Stirling (Tor): * Starred Review * "The splendid alternate universe Stirling invented in The Sky People (2006) has—quite justifiably—metamorphosed into a series. Two hundred million years ago, mysterious aliens dropped by, terraformed Venus and Mars and stocked them with dinosaurs and other Mesozoic life forms from Earth. Two hundred thousand years ago, the Lords of Creation swung by again, this time conveying humans and other mammals to both planets. Now, in the year 2000, Mars's ancient civilization—highly advanced in bioengineering, weak in physical science—is slowly dying, along with its emperor, Sajir sa-Tomond. Apparently without issue, the emperor is secretly preparing to declare his daughter, Teyud za-Zhalt, as his heir. Representing Earth's Western powers, archaeologist Jeremy Wainman has come to Mars to locate and study the lost city Rema-Dza. His companion, intelligence agent Sally Yamashita, knows their real mission is to locate dangerously powerful ancient technology left by the Lords of Creation, one such device already having turned up on Venus, and keep it out of the hands of the Eastbloc competition. Jeremy's guide will be Teyud, an expert and fearless warrior. But neither Teyud nor Sajir yet know that several political factions, among them ambitious Prince Heltaw, have figured out who Teyud really is and will stop at nothing to kill or control her. The pace soon heats up, while the wonders—magnificently wacky Martian biological machines; the planet's antediluvian, fully developed and carefully crafted social system; alien technology so advanced it's magic; the possibility that the aliens themselves are, somehow, still hanging around—never cease. Stirling has hit an unexpectedly rich lode of creative ore, or perhaps finally plumbed a hidden reserve of talent: Either way, after years of happy somewhat-above-mediocrity, it's a wonderful surprise." (Mar.08)

The Wannoshay Cycle by Michael Jasper (Five Stars): "A classic first-contact scenario in the near future ends somewhat inconclusively in this debut novel.After the aliens called the Wannoshay crash-land on Earth, their presence injects tension into a United States and Canada already roiling with social unrest. The Wannoshay's tendency for sudden, random violence, plus the mysterious explosions that occur in their vicinity, don't help to endear them to their human hosts, either. Only a few people—a Chicago priest, a single mother working in a Milwaukee brewery, an unemployed blue-collar worker, a documentary maker addicted to stimulants and a somewhat addled, elderly Native American—choose to get close enough to the aliens to interpret their cryptic utterances and telepathically induced visions, and to help them resolve their troubles both with humans and within themselves. Jasper has a real gift for evoking a mood, and for the most part, manages to make the Wannoshay seem genuinely, creepily alien and inexplicable. But the book lacks complexity and depth in both its plot and characters, whom Jasper (stories: Gunning for the Buddha, 2005) establishes with only the thinnest of pasts. Portions of the book were previously published as short stories, and, unfortunately, it shows. A tale that feels both patched-together and decidedly incomplete." (Jan.22)

Singularity's Ring by Paul Melko (Tor): "After linking together via implants and artificial intelligences to form the Community, 90 percent of the human race dies; whether or not they achieved transcendence is unknown. In this medium-future yearn, the survivors have developed "pods"; not the icky space-invader kind, but small groups of individuals linked mentally and chemically. Apollo Papadopulos—the reason for the name remains unexplained—consists of three females, autistic math and physics whiz Quant, communicator Meda and Moira, their conscience, along with two males, Strom the hulk and dexterous Manuel, whose feet are like hands adapted for work in space; their ultimate mission is to pilot a starship. During wilderness survival training, somebody tries to kill the five (although they don't at first realize this). Later, a singleton, Malcolm Leto, who survived the Community meltdown and intends to revive its projected glories, kidnaps and enslaves Meda, and implants her before the others can rescue her and drive him off. While the pod trains on a space station, a mysterious military duo attempts sabotage; Apollo pulls off a daring rescue, but then must flee to the Ring, a giant orbiting habitat built by the Community and empty since its demise. Thanks to Meda's implant they gain entry, then, still pursued by the military, descend to the ground by space elevator and go looking for answers. However, Leto, building a slave army via the implant technology, still pursues his dreams of transcendence; and only Apollo can stop him. The plot never quite coheres and the lack of sharp edges among the characters muffles the narrative voice. Still, Melko is clearly an up-and-comer, and this is a distinctive debut." (Feb.08)

Viewpoints Critical: Selected Stories by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (Tor): "First story collection from the prolific and versatile author of fantasy and science fiction (Natural Ordermage, 2007, etc.) comprising 19 entries, three previously unpublished. The previously unpublished pieces involve established series: The Saga of Recluce, The Corean Chronicles and The Ghost Books, where tangible ghosts are the occasion of both scientific study and criminal activities. Some of the older science-fiction pieces today read as sober fact: Modesitt's first published story (1973) describes an electronic banking scam; another ponders the impact of sophisticated computer analysis on the legal profession; still another sets forth the impending economic collapse of the United States. Elsewhere, the author recasts aspects of his service in Vietnam as science fiction; presents the troubling implications of mingling war and religion; imagines unexpected consequences in trying to solve the problem of climatic change; foresees the future of gymnastics going way beyond performance-enhancing drugs; offers a wry and incisive comment on what men don't understand about women; pens a sort of precursor to The Spellsong Cycle; and wonders what might happen if advanced AIs controlled huge manufacturing plants. One standout, a ghastly vision of where weaponry might be headed, analyzes the impact of such weapons on those whose task is to deploy them. Admittedly, the short format preempts the intricate, leisurely development of ideas that is Modesitt's trademark, and sometimes exposes the limitations of his technique—narratives and tones often seem one-dimensional and pedestrian. Still, the collection amply demonstrates his probing intelligence and the breathtaking range of his inquiries." (Mar.08)

Monster, 1959 by David Maine (St. Martin's): "Maine (The Book of Samson, 2006, etc.) falls short of his usual high standard in his fourth fictional riff on a well-known tale: in this case, an island monster in love with a buxom blonde. K. is 40 feet tall with antennae, butterfly wings, feathers sprouting from his chest, fur covering his body, reptilian skin on his hands and feet. This nightmare collection of parts probably resulted from nuclear testing conducted in the 1940s, but the natives on K.'s South Pacific island have a creation myth to explain his presence, and once a year they sacrifice a maiden to appease him. The young women all die, but it's not really his fault. Sometimes they fall from his treetop nest; sometimes they're scooped up by a pterodactyl-type beast; sometimes they run away and are killed by the other weird jungle creatures. K. is neither predator nor prey, just a mindless vegetarian roaming around the jungle without much of what we would call consciousness. His life and perhaps his consciousness are altered when a group of adventurers including Billy, Johnny and his wife Betty land on the island. Soon enough, K. is restrained on a ship bound for America, where he will star in Billy's traveling roadshow. Maine's insightful, occasionally brilliant previous novels vivified the psychology and moral agenda of biblical characters such as Adam and Eve (Fallen, 2005) to create portraits marked by depth and originality. But his reinterpretation of King Kong seems oddly redundant: K. has little motivation but instinct, no inner life to reflect on, no outrage or sadness at his captivity. Throughout the novel, historical snapshots of Palestinians fleeing Israelis or dictators seizing control with the help of a familiar superpower seek to undermine the intentional campiness of the monster plot, but the allusions are too broad to achieve the tone of subtle wit and dread the author seems to intend. A generally inspired writer fumbles with this take on monsters and manmade 20th-century mayhem." (Feb.08)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

It's a sham. It's a sham with yams. It's a yam sham!
(Actually, it's just a genre link round-up.)

A brief Turkey Day round-up for y'all:
At Omnivoracious, Jeff VanderMeer discusses Peter S. Beagle's A Fine and Private Place.

Tandem Insights (a new blog discovery) revisits Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass.

Sara's Holds Shelf looks at Scott Westerfeld's Extras.

French skiffy site ActuSF has a new interview with Tad Williams, en anglais.

At Fantasy Magazine, lots of new things: K. Tempest Bradford interviews Carole McDonnell (Wind Follower) and Alaya Dawn Johnson (Racing the Dark) as well as an earlier interview with Cat Valente (In the Cities of Coin and Spice). There are reviews of David Marusek's Getting to Know You and Natasha Mostert's Season of the Witch; reviews of Elizabeth Hand's Generation Loss and Ellen Klages Portable Childhood; reviews of Emma Bull's Territory and After the War by Tim Lebbon; and lastly, reviews of Ellen Datlow's Inferno and Margo Lanagan's Red Spikes.

SFF World has much new goodness: reviews of The Electric Church by Jeff Somers, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, and Ilse of Swords by Wayne Thomas Batson, and interviews with Hal Duncan, Alan Dean Foster, Philip Palmer and George R.R. Martin.

Fantasy Book Critic reviews Terry Goodkind's Confessor.

Vector Magazine interviews Richard K. Morgan.

Many new reviews at Fantasybookspot: Reviews of Faith Hunter's Host, George R.R. Martin's Inside Straight, Sharon Shinn's Reader and Raelynx, Jon Courtenay Grimwood's Stamping Butterflies, John Levitt's Dog Days, Sherwood Smith's Inda, Michael Jasper's The Wannoshay Cycle, Tobias Buckell's Ragamuffin, and Troon Harrison's The Separated.

Grasping for the Wind looks at R.A. Salvatore's The Orc King.

And there's a fun new SF/F blog out there: SpecLit - check it out!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wednesday night genre link round-up.

I am full of Hunan beef and steamed pea shoots with garlic and various other assorted spicy Chinese food thingies, and therefore must hie myself to bed. More genre links tomorrow.
At Ficlets, John Scalzi looks at Kristine Smith, author of Endgame, in the "Big Idea".

Mostly Fiction reviews Raw Shark Texts by Stephen Hall, Blood and Iron by Elizabeth Bear, Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff, and Spook Country by William Gibson.

has new reviews of Effendi and Pashazade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood, The Harrowing by Alexandra Solokoff, The Road to Hell by Jackie Kessler, and Cybermancy by Kelly McCullough. There's also a new urban fantasy Beyond Bounds column up by Katie MacNeill, with a focus on vampires.

Dear Author also looks at The Road to Hell by Jackie Kessler, as well as Dancing With Werewolves by Carole Nelson Douglas.

The Book Design Review has chosen its favorite book covers of the year; go check them out. (It would be interesting to get Bookscan numbers for these titles and see how the sales numbers actually correspond to the popularity of the jacket.)

Book Fetish has reviews of An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris, Scent of Darkness and Touch of Darkness by Christina Dodd, and Let Me In by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

Bookgasm has reviews of American Supernatural Tales, edited by S.T. Joshi, and Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik.

Eve's Alexandria goes back in time a bit and revisits Juliet E. McKenna's Warrior's Bond. (and it's not genre, but there's also a great discussion of Affinity by Sarah Waters.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesday night genre link round-up.

Lots of new things to share:
Monsters & Critics reviews Faith Hunter's Host.

At SF Weekly, Paul Di Filippo reviews Gene Wolfe's Pirate Freedom and Powers by Ursula K LeGuin; Cynthia Ward reviews The Down Home Zombie Blues by Linnea Sinclair; and Doug Fratz reviews Cauldron by Jack McDevitt. A.M. Dellamonica also takes a second look at Dan Simmons' classic Hyperion.

Wands and Worlds reviews First Light by Rebecca Stead.

At the Agony Column, Rick Kleffel reviews The Witch's Trinity by Erica Mailman, In War Times by Kathleen Ann Goonan, Halting State by Charlie Stross, and The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet.

Green Man Review looks at Jackie Kessler's Hell's Belles and The Road to Hell; C.E. Murphy's Heart of Stone, Laura Anne Gilman's Burning Bridges, Jeaniene Frost's Halfway to the Grave, and lots more.

Katie's Reading looks at The Innocent Mage by Karen Miller, Upon the Midnight Clear by Sherrilyn Kenyon, and A Gathering of Gargoyles by Meredith Ann Pierce.

Sci Fi Dimensions has reviews of Nova Swing by M. John Harrison, The Pesthouse by Jim Crace, and David Weber's In Fury Born.

The November issue of SF Revu has posted, with reviews of In the Cities of Coin and Spice by Cat Valente, The Devil Inside by Jenna Black, Plague Year by Jeff Carlson, Mister B. Gone by Clive Barker, The Watcher by Jeanne C. Stein, and more.

New issue of SF Site has also gone up, with reviews of The Spiral Labyrinth by Matthew Hughes, One for Sorrow by Chris Barzak, and more.

At Strange Horizons, reviews of Shelter by Susan Palwick, Navigator by Stephen Baxter, Getting to Know You by Dave Marusek, 9Tail Fox by Jon Courtenay Grimwood, The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, The Imago Sequence by Laird Baron, In the Night Garden by Cat Valente, Soldier of Sidon by Gene Wolfe, The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner, and The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch.

The Gravel Pit reviews Ragamuffin by Tobias Buckell.

The Book Swede looks at The Shadow Road by Sean Russell, and a Quote of the Week essay by Elizabeth Bear.

Sandstorm Reviews looks at Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik.

Grasping for the Wind reviews Karen Miller's The Awakened Mage.

OF Blog reviews Jeffrey Overstreet's Auralia's Colors, Gene Wolfe's Pirate Freedom, and Sarah Monette's The Bone Key.

Scalzi + Creation Museum Pics + LOL Captions
= Irreverent Merriment for All!

The winners of Scalzi's LOLCreashun Contest have been posted. Go forth and be mirthful!

Hal Duncan dissects Beowulf the Movie.
(Consequently, La Gringa snorts coffee out of her nose.)

This is utterly hilarious. Really, how many other people could use Weebles and Cabbage Patch Kids to illustrate a scene from a thousand-year old Anglo-Saxon poem?

Library Journal genre review round-up
(November 15th issue)

Here ya go:
Dragon Harper by Anne & Todd McCaffrey (Del Rey): * Starred Review * "Nearly 500 years have passed since humans landed on Pern, and, according to their records, another fall of deadly Thread, a lethal rain of spores from space, is only a few years away. As young Kindan struggles with his studies at Harper Hall and sets his sights on becoming harper to the dragonriders of Benden Weyr, he and his friends become aware of a mysterious and usually fatal plague infecting the holds of Pern. Despite their own vulnerability, the apprentice harpers and healers battle against time to find a cure before the sickness spreads to the dragonriders. In their third collaborative effort (after Dragon's Kin and Dragon's Fire), McCaffrey and her son Todd delve into Pern's early years as they continue the story of Kindan, whose talent with the dragon kin of Pern has brought him to the attention of holders, harpers, and dragonriders. Strong storytelling and compelling drama, along with memorable characters, make this essential for any library patronized by fans of Pern and its dragons." (Dec. 2007)

Coyote Season by Michael Bergey (Five Star): "The trickster spirit Coyote decides that his powers need updating and that to be effective in the modern world he must master the contemporary magic that is science. Soon his efforts land him in trouble not only with the CIA, who want to talk to him or, perhaps, use him for research, but with other, stranger foes whose motives are not so easily discerned and whose goals have nothing to do with any good purpose. The sequel to New Coyote brings a modern twist to an ancient and mythic creature—the eternal trickster with the best of intentions and the worst of results. This comic fantasy belongs in larger libraries and where trickster tales are popular." (Nov. 2007)

The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe (Night Shade): "A princess is missing, and her father, King Felix of Balaton, wants her back; when his wizards fail to find her, King Felix hires private investigator and sword-for-hire Eddie LaCrosse. Along the way, LaCrosse stumbles upon another royal family in distress—a murdered heir and a queen suspected of the crime—and the solution lies in a past that Eddie would rather forget. Bledsoe's debut novel begins a fantasy detective series featuring a wisecracking, noble-hearted hero and a world of moon priestesses, cheap spells, and real monsters, some in human form. Fans of Glen Cook's Garrett novels or hard-boiled detective fiction will appreciate this well-crafted gem of a tale. For most libraries." (Nov. 2007)

The High King's Tomb by Kristen Britain (DAW): "Long ago, the Arcosian Empire had failed to conquer the neighboring realm of Sacoridia. Mornhavon the Black, the tyrant of Arcosia, though immortal, was imprisoned in Blackveil Forest behind a magical structure known as D'Yer Wall. Now the wall lies breached, Arcosia threatens once again, and Mornhavon, though transported magically into the future, may yet return to command his troops with his dark magic. Charged to defend Sacoridia and to recover old magic, Karigan G'ladheon and the other Green Riders find themselves faced with a new threat—this one from within their borders. Continuing the epic tale begun in Green Rider and First Rider's Call, Britain's latest combines familiar characters with new allies and enemies as it builds to a crucial point in the history of the land. Readers of epic fantasy and series followers will want this finely honed, skillfully crafted tale. For most fantasy collections." (Nov. 2007)

The Sorcerers' Plague by David B. Coe (Tor): "Grinsa, hero of the "Winds of the Forelands" series (Rules of Ascension; Seeds of Betrayal; Bonds of Vengeance; Shapers of Darkness; Weavers of War), has been banished because he is one of the Qirsi Weavers, a user of multiple types of magic. With his family he travels to the southern continent, looking for peace. Instead, he finds a land filled with warring clans and, worse, a plague that attacks the powers of the Qirsi race. Turning his attention to a different part of his fantasy universe, Coe weaves another saga of high drama and personal heroism that should please fans of epic fantasy. A good choice for most fantasy collections, particularly where the first series had a following." (Dec. 2007)

The Wrath of Zar by Shayne Easson (Westbank): "Village-raised Adan Caynne discovers, through a series of unexpected disasters, that a larger destiny awaits him. At the same time in the city of Corrona, Prince Riordan is betrayed by those he trusts and blamed for his father's murder. Finally, Princess Karyna of Wyndhaven is torn from her true love and sets out to follow a trail of blood in hopes of finding him. Behind the scenes, feeling that their time has come at last, ancient demons arise once more to wage dark war upon a once-peaceful land. This fantasy debut by Calgary native Easson launches a saga of war and treachery, where demons threaten all that is good and a few stalwart heroes must prevail against them. A good choice for large sf collections or where epic fantasy is popular." (Nov. 2007)

Eclipse One: New Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Jonathan Strahan (Night Shade): "From Andy Duncan's opening tale of a parish priest's encounter with a precocious little girl and her pet chicken, Jesus Christ ("Unique Chicken Goes in Reverse"), to the final story, by Lucius Shepard, of an unforgettable relationship with a Russian woman as enigmatic as the country of her birth ("Larissa Miusov"), the 15 original stories gathered here defy easy categorization as either sf or fantasy but push the borders of both genres to surprising extremes. Contributions by a variety of veteran and new writers including Peter S. Beagle, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Bruce Sterling, and Gwyneth Jones round out an unusual collection of speculative fiction that belongs in libraries where short stories are popular." (Nov. 2007)

Shadowbridge by Gregory Frost (Del Rey): "Born on a world of bright seas crossed by glittering spans that provide homes for the planet's population, the girl called Leodora finds her true calling as a shadow puppeteer, collector, and performer of the stories of each culture she encounters. Disguised as a man, Leodora performs as Jax, the greatest shadow puppeteer since the legendary Bardisham, her mysterious father; only her two companions, the drunkard Soter who once served Bardisham and the young musician Diverus, touched by the blessing or curse of a nameless god, know the truth—and their knowledge could mean death for them all in a world that does not accept women as keepers and performers of the stories of their lives. Frost (Lyrec; Fitcher's Brides) brings elegance and grace to a novel that explores the importance of memory and imagination in the forging of a destiny. This first entry in a new series set in the unusual fantasy world of Shadowbridge is a good purchase for all fantasy collections." (Dec. 2007)

Damselfies: An Ancient Mirrors Tale by Jayel Gibson (Synergy): "In the Seven Kingdoms, only one Damselfly remains; the rest of her kind have been butchered by evil men who fear the potent magic of these winged women. Aided by Ilerion, a nobleman unlike the Damselfly hunters, Arcinaë must wage war to save her kind from extinction. Continuing the story begun in The Wrekening and Dragon Queen, Gibson sets her saga of survival amid persecution in a richly detailed universe populated by many races as well as fantastical creatures and bathed in the light of magic. A solid addition to most fantasy collections." (Nov. 2007)

Host by Faith Hunter (Roc): "In Hunter's third postapocalyptic fantasy (after Bloodring and Seraphs), seraphs and demons now inhabit Earth along with the few human survivors who have had to cast their lot with either light or darkness. Thorn St. Croix represents a third kind of human, a neomage with powers thought demonic by the fundamentalist orthodoxy of the kirk but allowed to exist, with proper licensing, by the Administration of the ArchSeraph. Thorn's job is to protect the humans of Mineral City, but when a greater Power of Darkness loosens his bonds, she faces her most severe trial yet. Hunter has created a remarkable interpretation of the aftermath of Armageddon in which angels and devils once again walk the earth and humans struggle to find a place. Stylish storytelling and gripping drama make this a good addition to most fantasy collections." (Nov. 2007)

Cauldron by Jack McDevitt (Ace): "By the middle of the 23rd century, starflight has become a thing of the past, relegated to private eccentrics as inefficient and fiscally unjustifiable, until a young man, John Silvestri, approaches the Prometheus Foundation claiming to have produced a star drive that makes travel to distant stars almost instantaneous. Demonstrating his claim, John enables the Prometheus Foundation to journey to the heart of the galaxy, a seething tumult of stars, strange omega clouds, and an enormous black hole—the Cauldron. Accompanying John and a chosen few scientists and researchers is Priscilla Hutchinson, a former pilot for the now-defunct Academy of Science and Technology and an expert on the many dangers that threaten their journey. Nebula Award winner McDevitt's novels featuring Hutchinson (Odyssey) display his talent for character building and seamlessly blending hard science with sf action/adventure. Highly recommended." (Nov. 2007)

A Rose from Old Terra: A Novel of the Scattered Worlds by Don Sakers (Speed-of-C): "When former librarian Jedrek nor Talin, now attempting to recover failing technology from the defunct Terran Empire, receives a single yellow rose by special courier, he must travel to Old Terra—Earth—to come to the assistance of his old circle of librarians. A voyage to deep space to repair ancient communications equipment places Jedrek and his companions in the middle of a situation that could erupt into interstellar war and destroy human civilization forever. Author and librarian Sakers adds to his "Scattered Worlds" series (Weaving the Web of Days) a tale of adventure and intrigue as only a group of librarians can do it. A good addition to most sf collections and sure to be popular with library staff everywhere." (Nov. 2007)

Reader and Raelynx: A Novel of the Twelve Houses by Sharon Shinn (Ace): "Summoned to the palace to use his "reading" skills to see into the hearts of the suitors for the hand of the Princess Amalie, the mystic Cammon falls in love with Amalie despite his knowledge that their love is forbidden. When the king's subjects rise in rebellion, however, thoughts turn to survival—for the king and for the woman he loves. Shinn (Archangel) continues her powerful and richly detailed "Twelve Houses" series (Dark Moon Defender) with a tale of dangerous love and open rebellion. Libraries should purchase where the series or the author has a following." (Nov. 2007)

The Third Lynx by Timothy Zahn (Tor): "In the future, intragalactic transit is carried out by Quadrail, a transportation system maintained by robotic, spiderlike creatures that answer to a woman named Bayta. Frank Compton, an ex-government agent-turned-private investigator, becomes involved in his most important case yet as he tries to confront the hive-minded Modhri, whose "host bodies" could be anywhere and who are determined to wreck the fragile union of galactic civilizations. In this sequel to Night Train to Rigel, the award-winning author of numerous Star Wars novels has created his own freewheeling, fast-talking galactic traveler. For most sf collections." (Nov. 2007)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Mark Evanier on the WGA strike.

Good stuff.

Second part of La Gringa's interview posted at
A Dribble of Ink

Aidan has just posted the second half of a round-robin interview he conducted with a group of SF/F bloggers, including myself. Go check it out!

Monday night genre link round-up. (All print reviews)

At the Boston Globe, Steve Almond reviews Michael Chabon's Gentlemen of the Road.

At the Los Angeles Times, Scott Timberg profiles Frank Beddor, author of YA fantasy series The Looking Glass Wars (which is much fun to read, by the way).

At the San Francisco Chronicle, Mike Berry recommends skiffy reading for the holidays, including Kage Baker's The Sons of Heaven, One for Sorrow by Chris Barzak, Territory by Emma Bull, 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill, Un Lun Dun by China Mieville, Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff, The Terror by Dan Simmons, and Halting State by Charlie Stross. Elsewhere in the Chronicle, Susan Faust recommends some children's fiction for the holidays, and includes Pat Murphy's Wild Girls (yay!) and The Hound of Rowan by Henry Neff.

The Kansas City Star names their Top 100 Books of the Year; among them are several SF/F and YA fantasy novels.

At the Rocky Mountain News, Mark Graham looks at Joe Hill's 20th Century Ghosts.

At the Austin American-Statesman, Matthew Bey reviews Charlie Stross's Halting State.

Associated Press profiles "nerds in love". (Awwwwwwww...)

Publishers Weekly genre review round-up
(November 19th issue)

Here ya go:
The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez (Tor): * Starred Review * "Martinez (In the Company of Ogres) tickles the funny bone in this delightful, fast-paced mishmash of SF and hard-boiled detective story. Mack Megaton drives a cab in the mutant-infested “technotopia” of Empire City. It's a step down for a massive killing machine created for world domination, but kindhearted Megaton has bucked his programming, and when his secretive neighbors, the Bleakers, go missing, he begins a search. Young Holt Bleaker has something in his mutant blood that makes him valuable to aliens poised to invade Empire City, and only a giant robot—a robot like Mack Megaton—can break him out of the fortress where he's held prisoner. Soon plans go awry when sinister psychic Grey subverts Megaton's programming, but he finds an unlikely ally in Lucia Napier, an outrageously beautiful and talented media star and roboticist. Eccentric characters, all of whom are clever twists on stereotypes, populate a smart, rocket-fast read with a clever, twisty plot that comes to a satisfying conclusion." (Feb.)

Runemarks by Joanne Harris (Knopf for Young Readers): * Starred Review * "In Norse myth the whole world ended with Ragnarók, the last battle, at which the gods were defeated and after which eternal winter descended. In her highly successful first children’s novel, however, the author of the bestselling Chocolat tells readers what happened next. The supposed end of all things is now centuries past and the Middle World is ruled by the Order, a repressive theocracy reminiscent of the Magisterium in Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass. Maddy, born with a rune of power on her hand, is deeply unpopular in her backwoods village. Thorny and imaginative, she is believed to be a witch by the locals who would have cast her out long ago if she didn’t have a convenient talent for controlling the goblins that infest their cellars. Such creatures are thick in the village because of its proximity to Red Horse Hill, a place of ancient power. Then Maddy’s life is transformed when she meets first One-Eye, a mysterious traveler who agrees to train her in the ways of Faërie, and then Lucky, the trickster captain of the goblins under the hill. Throughout, Harris demonstrates a knack for moving seamlessly between the serious and the comic, and her lengthy book moves swiftly. Playing fast and loose with Norse mythology, she creates a glorious and complex world replete with rune-basedmagical spells, bickering gods, exciting adventures and difficult moral issues. Maddy’s destiny, readers realize, is to remake the world, but to succeed she must first remake herself into someone worthy of that fate." Ages 10-up. (Jan.)

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson (Scholastic): * Starred Review * "In Sanderson’s (Elantris) children’s debut, an over-the-top fantasy/adventure, librarians are evil because they control all the information in Hushland (America). They distort some facts and fabricate the rest. Alcatraz, meanwhile, is the name of the protagonist, who has been raised in a series of foster homes. As the novel opens, on his 13th birthday, he is quickly initiated into the true nature of librarians by his heretofore unmet grandfather, Leavenworth Smedry. Before long, Sanderson brings on talking dinosaurs (it’s a librarian distortion that they’re extinct), a parallel world, visiting villains and more. The madcap plot can seem chaotic, with action pulling Alcatraz toward new characters at a breakneck speed, but Sanderson unexpectedly draws everything together in an extravagantly silly climax. Readers whose sense of humor runs toward the subversive will be instantly captivated: not only does the author poke fun at librarians, he lampoons books (including this one) in frequent passages directly addressed to readers: “You are saying to yourself, 'The story just lost me. It degenerated into pure silliness…. I’m going to go read a book about a boy whose dog gets killed by his mother. Twice.’” Like Lemony Snicket and superhero comics rolled into one (and then revved up on steroids), this nutty novel isn’t for everyone, but it’s also sure to win passionate fans." Ages 9-up. (Oct.)

The Bone Key by Sarah Monette (Prime): "Writing in the tradition of M.R. James and Algernon Blackwood, Monette reconstructs the traditional English ghost story—insinuated horror, no gratuitous sex or violence—with a decidedly modern-day approach in this laudable collection of 10 necromantic mystery stories featuring introverted museum archivist Kyle Murchison Booth. Noteworthy selections include “Elegy for a Demon Lover,” which chronicles Booth's entanglement with a seductive otherworldly entity who teaches him about “pleasure and pain and the shadowed places in-between.” In the brilliantly Lovecraftian “Bringing Helena Back,” Booth agrees to help an old college friend bring his wife back from the dead, with horrifying results. Booth also investigates the skeleton of a woman sealed within the basement walls of the museum where he works, a house haunted by the spirit of a young girl and the ghost of a murdered private school student. Cerebral, ethereal and stylishly understated, this entrancing collection will appeal to fans of literary horror, dark fantasy and supernatural mystery." (Jan.)

Dragon Mage by Andre Norton and Jean Rabe (Tor): "Based on a concept discussed between Norton and Rabe before Norton's death in 2005, this long-delayed sequel honors the classic elements of Norton's 1972 young adult fantasy Dragon Magic while taking on a decidedly modern air. Shilo's ordinary teenage life has been shaken up by her father's death. Now living with her grandparents in the backwoods of Wisconsin, Shilo rummages in the attic one night and finds a wooden picture puzzle with four dragons on the cover that belonged to her father. When she completes the puzzle, Shilo finds herself transported to ancient Babylon, where a dragon entreats her to help save its eggs and keep the earth from being overrun by demons. Rabe (The Finest Creation) has built on Norton's estimable groundwork to produce an action-packed, satisfying young adult story that will be very accessible to modern teens as well as now-grown fans of the original Magic books." (Jan.)

Bond of Fire: A Novel of Texas Vampires by Diane Whiteside (Berkley Sensation): "This audacious second installment of the Texas Vampire series (after Bond of Blood) blends European and American history and contemporary paranormal romance into a shockingly heady brew. Beautiful widow Hélène d'Agelet fell hard for Jean-Marie St. Just, George Washington's former spymaster turned compañero—enslaved by blood—to the sister of powerful vampiro mayor Don Rodrigo Perez. The Napoleonic wars disrupted their affair, and after an explosive espionage incident involving Hélène's sister, double agent Celeste de Sainte-Pazanne, Hélène and Jean-Marie believed each other dead for centuries. Celeste's lover, Raoul, killed her parents, so Hélène killed Raoul. Now the sisters, both of whom have become vampiras, are hunting each other down, bent on revenge. Filling the story with explosions and blood and the prose with enough French, Spanish and purely invented terms to require a glossary, Whiteside merrily rampages through history and vampire lore, building an impressively sturdy and compelling narrative from the wreckage." (Jan.)

Inside Straight, edited by George R.R. Martin (Tor): "The newest Wild Cards mosaic novel marks a new beginning for the long-running saga. Veteran contributors such as Melinda M. Snodgrass and John Jos. Miller and newcomers like Carrie Vaughn and S.L. Farrell create a new generation of fantastical characters, including Jonathan Hive, who can transform himself into a swarm of wasps, and the six-armed, tattooed giant Drummer Boy. Twenty-eight superhuman “aces” are cast in a new reality show called American Hero. As the contestants compete in staged challenges and systematically get voted off amid Hollywood-fueled melodrama, horrific events in the Middle East bring to light the glaring unreality of reality television. When the show reaches its climactic final episode, some of the contestants decide to forsake the trappings of fame and fortune and become real-life heroes. The first volume of a projected trilogy, this fast-paced and sardonic story will appeal to comic book aficionados and heroic fantasy fans alike." (Jan.)

99 Coffins: A Historical Vampire Tale by David Wellington (Three Rivers): "Vampires and mortals fight a modern battle of Gettysburg in vampire hunter Laura Caxton's gore-soaked second outing (after 2007's 13 Bullets). When a college archeological dig uncovers a cache of Civil War–era coffins, each containing a corpse minus heart, grizzled detective Jameson Arkeley recognizes these remains as evidence of a forgotten Union vampire corps and immediately summons Caxton. Before the two can unravel the historical mystery, someone reanimates one of the vampires, setting the stage for the full vampire army to rise and resume its unfulfilled mission. Wellington keeps the pace brisk, alternating action-packed chapters set in the present with chapters cast credibly in the form of extracts from period journals, letters and dispatches that gradually reveal the origin and intent of the vampire regiment and its enigmatic leader, Alva Griest. The taut narrative never slackens, providing thrilling entertainment for readers who like their horror raw and bloody." (Jan.)

Weird Tales: The Twenty-First Century, Volume One, edited by Stephen H. Segal and Sean Wallace (Prime): "Given the middling quality of these 12 stories in this reprint anthology, it would be optimistic to suggest that the next Edgar Allan Poe will emerge from Wildside Press's revival and recent redesign of Weird Tales, whose original goal was finding Poe's successor. The volume as a whole is entertaining but unremarkable, lacking both clunkers and triumphs. The best of the lot is Paul E. Martens's hilarious “What Happened When Tammy Brookmeyer Sold Her House” (to a bear), which may strike some as a humorous take on T.E.D. Klein's “Petey.” Carrie Vaughn also manages a few new wrinkles on an old theme in “For Fear of Dragons.” Too many of the rest, like Bob Bodey's “Body Parts,” are cliché-laden splatterfests. If this is the cream of the crop, Weird Tales may need more than a makeover to reach new readers and keep current ones happy." (Jan.)

Wizard's Daughter by Catherine Coulter (Jove): "Coulter's latest in the historical Sherbrooke series (following Lyon's Gate) stars Rosalind de la Fontaine, a beautiful young woman with an ethereal voice who has no memory of her name, her family or her heritage since being saved and adopted by Ryder Sherbrooke as a girl. Nicholas Vail, the new earl of Mountjoy, returns to England and recognizes her as the girl he has seen in his dreams since childhood chanting, “I am your debt.” The two are soon inseparable, and their relationship reaches an altogether new level when they inexplicably discover an old book written in code, with tales of a magical place filled with dragons, wizards and abundant evil: the book urges them toward the realization of Nicholas's “debt” and the interpretation of a haunting song that Rosalind sings spontaneously. Coulter leaves some important questions unanswered, and her emphasis on the supernatural results in a faltering romance, but the suspense and the spirited mystery will keep readers glued." (Jan.)

The Declaration by Gemma Malley (Bloomsbury): "Set in the year 2140 in England, this chilling dystopian tale explores issues of overpopulation, global warming and the ethics of immortality. A drug called Longevity has made life without death a reality for the masses—but driven humanity to the brink of a Malthusian catastrophe. Orwellian-like Authorities have all but outlawed procreation in an effort to stabilize the population. Those born illegally are inevitably captured, sent to processing facilities and taught to be Valuable Assets to society, i.e., slaves to the immortals. Surplus Anna has spent most of her 14 years inside Grange Hall, where she has learned to hate not only herself but also the parents who selfishly broke the Declaration in giving life to her. But the arrival of a rebellious Surplus named Peter, who has lived on the Outside, brings Anna disturbing revelations about the world and her particular place in it. In her first YA book, Malley (British author Gemma Townley writing under a pseudonym) successfully imparts a strong message about the need for continual change (“Nature is not about preserving old things, but about creating new ones. New life. New ideas”). Although the backstory and world-building elements seem slightly underdeveloped, readers with a taste for speculative fiction will enjoy this relevant read." Ages 10-up. (Nov.)