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The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
reviewed by Matthew Peckham
Like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust, The Dark Tower cycle has been in production most of his writing life, beginning in March 1970 just before he graduated college, to today and just a few months away from the publication of the final three volumes (totaling seven) over the next 16 months. Faust was Goethe's chef d'oeuvre, and the author likewise refers to The Dark Tower series as his magnum opus, mining material and characters from several of his earlier works like Salem's Lot and The Stand to create a self-referential smorgasbord of interlocking ideas and symbolic junctions for sleuthing critics (or iconic dissertation writers, depending on whom you talk to).

The Matrix Reloaded The Matrix Reloaded
a movie review by David Newbert
It has been four years and over $300 million since The Matrix, and now Neo (Keanu Reeves), Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) return in the first of a two-part sequel that arrives with as much anticipation as anything in the Star Wars saga. Wonderful to behold, the movie nearly matches the hype. It's a great action pic, a good romance, a decent SF epic, a visual candy store, and a thoughtful piece of philosophy concerning the nature of choice. And it may be one of the only films this summer compelling enough to demand a second viewing.

 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 has been listening to The Terminal Experiment by Robert J. Sawyer, First Meetings: Four Stories from the Enderverse by Orson Scott Card and Deathstalker: Rebellion Episode 1: Opening Gambit by Simon R. Green.

Louisiana Breakdown Louisiana Breakdown by Lucius Shepard
reviewed by Greg L. Johnson
Summer's here and the time is right. The author summons up a potent mix of music, magic, and the hot, humid air of the Louisiana delta. It's a tale of tradition and betrayal, hope and abandonment, told by an writer who can make you feel the thickness in the air that the characters breathe. Jungles and tropical climes have long played a part in his fiction as places where reality can break down, exposing hidden mysteries and magic.

Hulk Hulk
a movie review by Rick Norwood
There is a lot to like here. Unfortunately, intellectual directors such as Lee (that's Ang, not Stan -- though Stan gets applause for his cameo) shy away from resolving a story with a superhuman outburst of climactic violence. Too early they learned the lesson "Violence never solved anything." What they do not understand is that, in the Marvel universe, violence solves everything. You need that payoff.

The Animatrix The Animatrix
a DVD review by Rick Norwood
This DVD consists of nine (really eight) short animated films set in the universe of the Matrix. The first four (really three) are written by the Wachowski brothers, and so add to our information about the Matrix universe. It is always fun to discuss which works set in a given universe are canonical. Almost everyone agrees that movies set in the Marvel universe are not, nor are comic books set in the Star Wars universe. As for the Matrix...

SF Site News SF Site News
compiled by Steven H Silver
Every day, items of interest to you arrive in our email. Our bi-monthly format doesn't lend itself to daily updates. However, this is a small inconvenience to our Contributing Editor Steven H Silver. He's begun a new column which will fill you in on recent news in science fiction. We'll be updating the page as he sends in new items.

The New Discworld Companion The New Discworld Companion by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs
reviewed by Steven H Silver
Anyone who picks up this book will be able to give a brief synopsis of the various major entities and places on the Discworld, whether it be Rincewind, Ankh-Morpork, or the Luggage. However, the purpose for a reference book such as this, which is essentially an encyclopedia of a fictional world, is less to provide details about things everyone knows, although it does that, but to provide details...

The Wreck of the River of Stars The Wreck of the River of Stars by Michael Flynn
reviewed by Peter D. Tillman
The MSS "River of Stars", the grandest of the great magsail liners, was launched in 2051. But the new Farnsworth fusion thrusters rang the death-knell for the magsails, and the now-obsolete liner was converted to fusion power in 2084. Two decades later, she has become a tramp freighter, bound for Dinwoody Poke, Jupiter space, on what will be her final voyage. Her crew is made up of casualties of the great 21st-century space boom. This is their story.

Babylon 5.1: Televison Reviews Babylon 5.1
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
Rick offers his thoughts on why no SF or fantasy film has won an Oscar for Best Picture yet. And why some should have taken home the statue. As well, he provides us with some of the titles you can look forward to in the second half of 2003

A Sorcerer's Treason A Sorcerer's Treason by Sarah Zettel
reviewed by Sherwood Smith
The time is 1899, the place the coast of Lake Superior. The heroine is Bridget Lederle, daughter of now deceased parents and mother of a baby who died, all of whom she still mourns. She is a lighthouse keeper, a job that might seem randomly selected but turns out to be important; she also has a kind of second sight, and her single living relative is a grim aunt, Grace, who earns her living as a fake medium. Or is she fake? Can Bridget believe her when she suddenly appears and warns Bridget not to have anything to do with people from "over there?"

The Cabinet of Curiosities The Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
In a marketplace filled to overflowing with serial killers, FBI agents, and mysterious murders, the authors have found a way to make their thrillers stand out. Start off with the unlikely heroine of Nora Kelly, not-too-successful archeologist and employee of the New York Museum. Add a grisly cache of skeletons -- the victims of a serial killer who lived almost 100 years ago. And polish the premise with a smooth, brilliant, uncanny Fed unlike any seen before, and you've got the making of one taut mystery.

McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales edited by Michael Chabon
reviewed by Hank Luttrell
The introduction, which the editor calls a rant, suggests that the modern short story is dominated by the "...contemporary quotidian, plotless, moment-of-truth revelatory story." In fact, there are few popular or commercial venues for short stories, and many publications that do use short stories, such as little magazines, tend toward these everyday plotless narratives he describes. The editor is, of course, the successful author of the novel Kavalier & Clay, which clearly reflects his interest in American popular culture and commercial story telling, as his protagonists are the creators of a popular comic book during the formative years of comic book publishing.

The Impossible Bird The Impossible Bird by Patrick O'Leary
reviewed by David Soyka
One problem with the notion of an afterlife is, what do you with all your spare time? Sure, it'd be great to have the leisure to read all you want, but this is eternity, after all. So after getting through entire opuses several times over, you might start to get bored. Then what do you do? Practice your putting? That's the conundrum the author confronts here. His answer provides disturbing reassurance that maybe there's a good reason for us to have limited shelf life.

New Arrivals New Arrivals
compiled by Neil Walsh
Some of the newest treats to arrive at the SF Site office include new novels from Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Eric Van Lustbader, Robert Newcomb and Terry Pratchett.

Second Looks

Sorcery and Cecelia Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
reviewed by Margo MacDonald
One of the sweetest fall-outs of the amazing and unsinkable popularity of the Harry Potter books is that the demand for well-written and magical works of fiction for young readers is on the increase. Publishers, very wisely, have jumped at this opportunity to re-publish some of the best of these books, out of print for some time and all but forgotten. We've seen such works as Prince Ombra by Roderick MacLeish, Dogland by Will Shetterley, and A College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer reprinted and marketed for young readers and now we may add another to this prestigious list.

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick
reviewed by Alma A. Hromic
If the world of written science fiction were ever to be translated into the language of visual art, Philip K. Dick would probably be Salvador Dali. His vision does not depend on Picassoesque transformations of the familiar into the grotesque so much as a jumbling of the familiar into sometimes deeply disturbing new combinations, whose disturbing aspect is not attenuated but rather accentuated by their very familiarity.

The Book of Athyra The Book of Athyra by Steven Brust
reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer
In this omnibus, we get the complete texts to two books of the amazing Vlad Taltos series, Athyra and Orca. In a way, the fact that both of these books are together is very important, as the first introduces a main character for both, creating a back story that is absolutely essential for the second.

First Novels

Paper Mage Paper Mage by Leah R. Cutter
reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer
Mei-Mei was offered the immortal peach, but filial piety prevented her from taking it. Now, years later, her granddaughter Xiao Yen may finally have a chance to impress Old Zhang enough to be offered this peach. She has been trained to give it to her Aunt, who regrets her decision and longs to be swept away to a better place, away from the cycle of birth and rebirth, pain and sorrow.

Son of the Sword Son of the Sword by J. Ardian Lee
reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer
In 1713, the British are trying to quash the Jacobite rebellion, even as Queen Anne is trying to create a peace between the warring lands. The British soldiers think nothing of burning out and murdering families. Sinann, a fairy of the Sidhe, is sick and tired of it. She takes a sword that has just fallen from the hands of one of her beloved Mathesons, who she strives to protect, and pours her power into it, bidding it to bring her a hero. The first Matheson who touches it will come to her people and lead them to victory over their oppressors.

Swords for Hire Swords for Hire by Will Allen
reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer
King Olive is rotting away in a dark, dank dungeon. His only hope is a message that he has managed to smuggle out, written in his own blood. A prisoner of the Boneman, betrayed by his brother who is now the king, he has little hope. King Boonder, a greasy, disgusting creature with a fixation with worms, is content until he hears of this note, and of the unusual heroes who may have gotten it.


Urban Arcana Urban Arcana
a gaming review by Mike Thibault
This module is a generic setting for the d20 Modern role-playing game that mixes magic with technology and monsters with thugs. It expands on one of the three mini-settings found in the core rule book and gives you all of the basic information you need to run full campaigns and, for good measure, they have thrown in some less setting-specific tools to help out your game.

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