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The Stone Mage and the Sea The Stone Mage and the Sea by Sean Williams
reviewed by William Thompson
The novel opens upon the arid Strand, a desolate waste of sand and stone bordering the margins of the sea, where small, remote villages lie along forgotten roads of crumbling macadam, and where strangers are viewed with suspicion.  Into this setting roll two outsiders, a father and his son, nomads from the Beyond that have spent their entire lives wandering from town to town, staying in one place only long enough to replenish their stocks and refuel their dune buggy before heading on for the next, seemingly random destination. There is a fugitive aspect to their travels, something beyond the desire to be accountable to no one, or the solitary rewards of always looking towards the horizon.

The House in the High Wood The House in the High Wood by Jeffrey Barlough
reviewed by Victoria Strauss
The village of Shilston Upcot, prosperous but remote, sits on the shores of a black glacial lake whose depth has never been measured. On the forested cliffs above it lie the ruins of a monastery, an abode of mad friars who, according to village lore, vanished one day without a trace. Nearby stands the sinister, brooding hulk of Skylingden Hall, its great round rose window gazing down like a baleful eye upon the village. For years Skylingden Hall has stood empty, its owners the subject of a scandal so shocking no one in Shilston Upcot will speak of it. Now, suddenly, it's inhabited again...

Geeks With Books Geeks With Books
a column by Rick Klaw
Rick Klaw gives us a look at how things work from behind the counter of a book store. This time out, he tells us about the foofaraw about Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire winning the Hugo and the impact that awards have on book sales.

The Plutonium Blonde The Plutonium Blonde by John Zakour and Lawrence Ganem
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
There must be a million stories in the 21st century, but they're really all the same: sad sack gets dame, loses dame, gets mixed up with a dame that's nothing but trouble, then gets in dutch with that dame's android double. I know; you've heard it until you can't stands no more. Well, you're going to listen again, because this story different. Really, it is. Just gimme a minute to explain.

Looking for the Mahdi Looking for the Mahdi by N. Lee Wood
reviewed by Donna McMahon
K.B. Munadi is a tough-talking war correspondent who became famous for broadcasting live reports during the Khuruchabja war. What K.B.'s viewers never knew was that "he" was a woman disguising herself as a man so that she could travel freely in the Middle East. Ten years later, she has no intention of passing as a man again, never mind returning to a poverty-stricken hellhole she'd barely escaped. Until she is blackmailed to return accompanied by a humanoid fabricant -- a patented, bio-engineered soldier/spy.

 Vox: SF For Your Ears Vox: SF For Your Ears
a column by Scott Danielson
Scott Danielson is looking at audio SF -- on tape, on CD, on whatever. This time out, he takes us on a tour of the variety of audio delights associated with J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

Interzone, August 2001 Interzone, August 2001
reviewed by David Soyka
Can you judge a magazine by its cover? Well, in the case of this one you can -- as long as you pay attention to the listed authors and not the artwork, which has always struck David as consistently unattractive. However, it could be argued that an ugly illustration is apt for Richard Calder's cover story, "Espiritu Santo," the sixth and concluding episode of the Lord Soho series, dealing with succeeding generations of the Richard Pike dynasty in a far-future England immersed in class conflict and under siege by forces of dark magic.

Icarus Hunt Icarus Hunt by Timothy Zahn
reviewed by Donna McMahon
Smuggler Jordan McKell feels certain his employer hasn't told him everything about the mysterious sealed cargo he's supposed to pilot to Earth. And sure enough, before McKell can even blast off, things heat up. First he's detained by the port authorities as a suspected murderer. Then his employer disappears, leaving him with a note, a cash box full of wages, and a hastily assembled crew of mismatched humans and aliens flying the strangest looking ship McKell has ever seen.

Babylon 5.1: Televison Reviews Babylon 5.1
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
Rick provides us some notes on what to watch this month. Enterprise is all reruns in December, never a good month for television, so it is the 3 new X-Files episodes, plus A Charlie Brown Christmas.

The Amazing Spider-Man The Amazing Spider-Man by J. Michael Straczynski
reviewed by Neil Walsh
The December issue does not appear to be part of the ongoing series. Spider-Man is the vehicle, but the message is a lament for the people who died on September 11th. It's a fitting and moving eulogy, both for the victims and for the survivors. It speaks of "the death of innocents and the death of innocence." For many inhabitants of the western world, this is a resounding truth. Our innocence was brutally and irretrievably crushed that day when we watched in horror as so many innocent lives were cruelly blotted out. For many of us, it is a sad reality that the world will never again be as it once was. But the author is aware of and sensitive to the fact that in other parts of the world innocence has been dead for a very long time, and innocents are still dying.

Walter Jon Williams
Walter Jon Williams A Conversation With Walter Jon Williams
An interview with Jayme Lynn Blaschke
On writing historical fiction:
"There's a certain amount of overlap between the skills necessary to write SF and historical fiction, which is the ability to convey a world that is not the world of the present. As I was also writing adventure novels that took place on ships, I was also able to hone the ability to convey the intricacies of an alien technology -- in this case, square-rigged sailing ships of war -- to the reader without overly burdening them with exposition."

Metropolitan Metropolitan by Walter Jon Williams
reviewed by Donna McMahon
Here, the author creates a bizarre techno-fantasy world -- a sort of a Gotham City planet encrusted in urban sprawl. Magic fuels this world, but the magic (called "plasm") is channeled through wires and conduits, like electricity, and controlled by a giant utility company. Rich people can afford plasm. Poor people can only dream... or get fantastically lucky, like the heroine, and discover an untapped plasm source (a "glory hole") that the Authority doesn't know about.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
a movie review by Rick Norwood
This movie is about wishes that come true, and both the book and the film are better than we had any right to hope. There is enough plot here for 10 films, and it would have been easy to rush scenes or to leave them out entirely, but we are always allowed a few moments to gape in awe at the wonder and beauty of this wholly magical world. The attention to detail is delightful; this is a magical world that looks lived in, more real than reality.

Past Imperfect Past Imperfect edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Larry Segriff
reviewed by Rich Horton
This is a themed original anthology on the subject of time travel. The dozen stories included ring some mostly familiar changes on the time travel idea: variations of visiting yourself in the past and fixing things, of falling in love with someone in the past, of visiting the past to collect something valuable when it is still cheap, and of tangling past events into paradoxical knots that seem cleverly resolved to the reader even as the participants are confused.

New Arrivals New Arrivals
compiled by Neil Walsh
New novels from C.J. Cherryh, Michael A. Stackpole, Simon R. Green, Steven Erikson and new anthologies from Martin H. Greenberg, James Lowder and Al Sarrantonio -- all these are among the many new books received here at the SF Site in the last few weeks.

Black House Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub
an offer from audible.com
Audible lets you download and listen to a great book at a great price. Listen to a free sample now.

Second Looks

The Game-Players of Titan The Game-Players of Titan by Philip K. Dick
reviewed by Rich Horton
This is not one of Dick's better-known works. It comes from a somewhat transitional period for him, when he was just beginning to produce his most impressive novels. This novel follows the brilliant Hugo winner The Man in the High Castle, and precedes the excellent The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, but it is most reminiscent of another novel from the early to mid 60s, Clans of the Alphane Moon. Like that novel, it is awash in concerns with marriage, mental health, and drug use; and like that novel it features overtly science-fictional elements such as silicon-based alien life forms to tell a story that, at its base, seems mostly about suburban life in the 60s.

A Case Of Conscience A Case Of Conscience by James Blish
reviewed by Martin Lewis
A contact team of four scientists have been sent to decide whether to open up Lithia to Earth. This decision is complicated by the fact that Lithia is inhabited by intelligent, civilized aliens with the appearance of 12-foot high reptilian kangaroos. Michelis believes the planet should be opened up so Earth can benefit from contact with the peaceful, unified Lithians; Carver believes the planet's high quantity of lithium makes it ideal for turning into a bomb factory; Agronski is undecided, flitting between both views; Ruiz-Sanchez, a priest as well as a biologist, believes Lithia should be placed in permanent quarantine because it is a creation of the devil.

The Stars Compel The Stars Compel by Michaela Roessner
reviewed by Donna McMahon
The Duchessina Catherine de Medici, age 11, has just moved to Rome from Florence and is scheming to foil Pope Clement's plans to marry her off to the King of France. Despite political pressures, she is hoping to wed her handsome cousin, Ippolito. Inevitably, her personal chef, Tommaso Arista, is pulled into her intrigues as he cooks and spies for the Medici family, and studies with famous artists Cellini and Michelangelo so he can learn to create masterpieces of culinary presentation.

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