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Julian Comstock Julian Comstock by Robert Charles Wilson
reviewed by Greg L. Johnson
In the twenty-second century, a resurgent America, having survived the end of the previous two centuries's oil-based civilization and the economic and environmental turmoil that accompanied it, now controls all of North America, with the exception of those pesky Dutch in occupied Labrador. It's a land where the inhabitants are proud to call themselves "Americans," but this is an America where wealthy aristocrats own vast estates worked on by indentured servants, where the President is in essence a military dictator, and where religious freedom means the right to worship at the Christian Dominion approved church of your choice. Out of this background comes Julian Comstock...

The Rapture The Rapture by Liz Jensen
reviewed by Paul Kincaid
What would you do if someone, who had accurately predicted the dates of a series of natural disasters, told you the date of "the big one"? What if that person were a psychotic teenager who had murdered her mother and whose predictions came as a side effect of Electro-Convulsive Therapy? And what if you were psychically damaged yourself, confined to a wheelchair as a result of a road accident that killed your lover and your unborn baby?

The Secret History of Science Fiction The Secret History of Science Fiction edited by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel
reviewed by Martin Lewis
This anthology uses Jonathan Lethem's infamous 1998 Village Voice article, "The Squandered Promise Of Science Fiction," as a starting point to discuss literary science fiction. In brief, it posits that 1973 was a potential turning point for science fiction and that if Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon had been awarded the Nebula that year, science fiction could subsequently have been "gently and lovingly dismantled, and the writers dispersed." Obviously, this didn't happen. The editors therefore take it as their mission to prove that the promise of science fiction was not, in fact, squandered.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
The weekend before Christmas while wandering Austin Books, Rick Klaw spied an old friend looking over Watchmen as though he'd never seen it before. Lee surprised Rick with his seeming unfamiliarity with the classic graphic novel. Like many of Rick's friends, Lee's comic geek quotient far exceeds the norm. Turns out Lee was holiday shopping for a new friend unfamiliar but curious about comics. Rick decided to talk him out of Watchmen. This led Rick to consider what comics he would recommend to someone who is a novice when it comes to graphic novels.

Anathem Anathem Vote for SF Site's Readers' Choice Awards for 2009
Traditionally, the arrival of the new year is a time to look ahead, and make plans for the future. But it's also a time to look back and reflect on the year we've just completed. And at the SF Site, it's traditional to review the past year's worth of reading and to vote on what you considered to be the best of it. This is your chance to have your say. The same rules apply as in previous SF Site Readers' Choice Awards: if you read it, you liked it, and you want to vote for it, go nuts. If you've forgotten what you chose in previous years, you can find them all linked at Best Read of the Year including Anathem by Neal Stephenson which was the top choice last year.

Gaslight Grotesque Gaslight Grotesque edited by J.R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec
reviewed by Mario Guslandi
Mario is happy to report that the present anthology is definitely of superior quality and that the large majority of the thirteen stories assembled therein are accomplished examples of dark fantasy, apt to satisfy even the more demanding readers, either Sherlockian enthusiasts or horror fans or just fiction lovers seeking out entertaining and well written stories.

The Billy Meier Story The Billy Meier Story
a DVD review by Kit O'Connell
Who is Billy Meier? While you may not know his name, if you've seen a UFO documentary then you have almost certainly seen his work before. Close your eyes for a moment and picture a flying saucer -- from a photo or film footage you've seen. It floats gently over a green, sparsely vegetated Alpine landscape, perhaps hovering in place or orbiting lazily around a tree.

The Age of Ra The Age of Ra by James Lovegrove
reviewed by Nathan Brazil
The ancient Egyptian gods have defeated all other pantheons, and now rule the Earth, which they have divided into warring factions. Lieutenant David Westwynter, of His Pharaonic Majesty's Second Paratroop Regiment is leading a covert operation into northern Africa, when his contingent are ambushed. Soon he finds himself in a very sticky situation, and looks certain to die. Fate, however, has other plans.

News Spotlight -- Genre Books and Media News Spotlight -- Genre Books and Media News Spotlight -- Genre Books and Media
a column by Sandy Auden
Discovering new authors is one of the pleasures of reading. This month, Mike Shevdon and Jeremy de Quidt talk about their debut novels. Mike Shevdon's Sixty-One Nails takes us on a haunting journey as a man's life is torn apart and rebuilt in unexpected ways; and Jeremy de Quidt's The Toymaker takes our children on a snowy and dangerous adventure.

New Arrivals New Arrivals
compiled by Neil Walsh
Some of the highlights from this month's look at new arrivals to the SF Site offices include the latest from Charles de Lint, Orson Scott Card, Peter V. Brett, Jay Lake, Raymond E. Feist, Peter Straub, Connie Willis, plus much, much more.

Babylon 5.1: Televison Reviews Babylon 5.1
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
The big news in February is the premiere of the sixth and final season of Lost. It was reported that President Obama moved his State of the Union Address so as not to conflict with that much awaited event, which takes place February second.

The Book of Eli The Road The Book of Eli and The Road
movie reviews by Rick Norwood
In both The Book of Eli and The Road, a man walks the roads of a devastated future trying to preserve something precious, in one movie a Bible, in the other a child. The book, The Road, is a classic. The movie version makes many changes, all for the worse. The Book of Eli is more fun.


Do Androids Sleep With Electric Sheep? Critical Perspectives on Sexuality and Pornography in Science and Social Fiction Do Androids Sleep With Electric Sheep? Critical Perspectives on Sexuality and Pornography in Science and Social Fiction edited by Johannes Grenzfurthner, Günther Friesinger, Daniel Fabry and Thomas Ballhausen
reviewed by Paul Graham Raven
Subtitled "monochrom's Arse Elektronika Anthology," a name taken from a conference held in 2008 by self-styled "art-tech-philosophy collective" monchrom, and one can assume the vast majority of the material within it was generated or presented at said event (although the book is devoid of any explanation of its origins, as if inviting the reader to work it out for themselves). While a lot of the content is very much NSFW in subject matter, it's not particularly titillatory (unless you have a sexual fetish for academic language and/or science fictional speculation, perhaps, which isn't completely implausible).

Cinema Spec: Tales of Hollywood and Fantasy Cinema Spec: Tales of Hollywood and Fantasy edited by Karen A. Romanko
reviewed by David Maddox
Tinseltown has been the birth of many fantasies and tales of the unusual. But many of the stories that created such tales are just as bizarre as the stories made. And what if you blended those stories with the cultural consciousness that is Hollywood?

First Novels

Spellbent Spellbent by Lucy A. Snyder
reviewed by Katherine Petersen
Jessie Shimmer lives with her magical mentor/lover, Cooper Marron and their respective familiars. Lately they've both had nightmares, but Cooper doesn't seem too worried. Unfortunately, during an uncomplicated spell to bring a storm to save the local farming community, Cooper opens a portal to hell instead.

Second Looks

FlashForward FlashForward by Robert J. Sawyer
reviewed by Kit O'Connell
For two minutes, every human being on Earth simultaneously falls unconscious. Those who survive awaken with a vision of their own future (in a shared human vision of a moment either six months or thirty years ahead, depending on whether you're watching TV or reading the book). Not only must those who remain bury their dead and heal their injured, they also have to deal with a profound metaphysical shock, one that raises complex issues of free will and temporal logic.

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