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The Roberts The Roberts by Michael Blumlein
reviewed by Seamus Sweeney
One of the many false dichotomies sometimes posited between speculative and "literary" fiction is that speculative fiction is more concerned with ideas, concepts, technologies and archetypes; lit-fic is more concerned with emotions, lived experience, and the messy realities of individual lives. Whatever broad-brush truth there might be to this caricature, this is a limiting and misleading opposition that does a disservice to the possibilities both genres.

The Healer The Healer by Michael Blumlein
reviewed by Victoria Strauss
Payne is a Grotesque, a member of an offshoot of the human race distinguished by cranial deformities and an extra orifice in their chests. In most, this orifice is inert, but in a small number of them it's functional, enabling them to perform wondrous healings. Tesques with healing gifts are trained, then dispatched far and wide to serve humanity (and only humanity, for tesques cannot heal other tesques; nor are tesques considered worth healing, for humans regard them as a lesser race).

Beyond His Dark Materials Beyond His Dark Materials by Susan Redington Bobby
reviewed by Nathan Brazil
This is a small book about a large subject; the fictional realms and diverse characters created by Philip Pullman during his more than 30-year career. These are worlds filled with tales of the human condition, filtered through a fantasy lens. The author presents her personal analysis of Pullman's themes, with particular reference to innocence and experience, the journeys that Pullman's characters take, and his quoted belief that wisdom only really comes to us when we lose.

Fairy Tales Reimagined Fairy Tales Reimagined edited by Susan Redington Bobby
reviewed by Sandra Scholes
Fairy tales are the in thing at the moment in movies like Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror, Mirror being successful takes on the popular "Snow White" story. Most girls had a favourite when they were young, whether it was "Cinderella," "Sleeping Beauty" or "Little Red Riding Hood." It still held their interest and compelled them to read others to see what they were like. When we think of fairy tales it is interesting that many of them were not actually English.

Preternatural Too: Gyre Preternatural Too: Gyre by Margaret Wander Bonanno
reviewed by Peter D. Tillman
Karen Rohmer Guerreri, a midlist SF writer, is having trouble selling a new book. But she soon finds herself snatched from her bed at the Days Inn, and dumped onto a straw pallet in Eleanor of Aquitane's Brittany -- the start of a long, strange trip through Julius Ceasar's Gaul, the fall of Berlin in 1945, and several alternate Nows. Peter found it reminded him of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five and the best of Philip K. Dick.

Preternatural Preternatural by Margaret Wander Bonanno
reviewed by Peter D. Tillman
It's an astonishing juggling act -- autobiography, the writer's craft, how your kids grew up while you weren't looking, Trekkie fangirl turns pro, mid-list writer goes to SF conventions, Hollywood business deals, crystal healing, bilingual puns and a Captain Kirk-ish actor who can't get it up.

Endless Endless by Matt Bone
reviewed by David Maddox
John, a non-descript, average graphic designer in England, awakes to find that everyone on Earth is dead. No plague, no virus, no apocalyptic event, everyone just keeled over and stopped living. John then spends the next two years taking care of his former neighbor's cat and trying not to go insane or kill himself. The sheer desolation described in the silent, dead Earth is truly chilling. While this story of loneliness on a dead world is happening, the reader is swapped over to another world, similar to Earth but with different laws and at a different stage of development, called Crescent.

Tainted Blood Tainted Blood by Melanie Lee Bonnefoux
reviewed by Alisa McCune
Holly-Anne and her human boyfriend Ryan have decided to take a trip to Charlotte to visit Ryan's cousin Drew. As usual, strange creatures and events seem to look for Holly and anyone with her. Michele, the Vampire Holder of Charlotte and a male, embroils Holly in a dispute with the Elves of the Shamorah. This dispute threatens to destroy Charlotte and many people that Holly holds dear.

Blood and Mind Blood and Mind by Melanie L. Bonnefoux
reviewed by Alisa McCune
Our heroine, Holly-Anne Feather is not your average co-ed. She posses incredible PSI abilities and is an empath. Because of these powers, she is noticed by the local vampire community. Lucien, the vampire 'Holder' or master, takes a very keen interest in her. Of course, Holly is torn. Lucien is technically a dead man -- reanimated flesh. But, Holly finds herself lusting after Lucien. Into this mix comes Ryan, a fellow student. Then the bodies start to appear.

The Wolf King The Wolf King by Alice Borchardt
reviewed by William Thompson
A snowdrift, an Alpine blizzard, a runaway Saxon slave finds a woman near frozen. The wind howls around them and the dark shadow of a bell tower in the distance can be seen through the snow. Stumbling into the monastery, they are set upon by undead brigands and a mad abbot, whose demonic master rises from an alter as a monstrous, flaming bear. Through desperate courage and quick wits, the Saxon and his new-found companion manage to beat back the attack, only to find shape-shifting wolves awaiting them outside...

Our Jewish Robot Future Our Jewish Robot Future by Leonard Borman
reviewed by Steven H Silver
This is the story of Margarita Haralson and her husband, Alex, whose desire to have grandchildren causes them to create a future race of robots and found a new Garden of Eden. The Haralson's story is told almost as a confessional, with Margarita describing a visit she and her husband had to their rabbi to tell him about the strange events which happened to them.

The Dharma of Star Wars The Dharma of Star Wars by Matthew Bortolin
reviewed by Chris Przybyszewski
Book publishers everywhere are scrambling to take advantage of the media swirls that surround Revenge of the Sith. Many understand that a timely publication will equal greater sales than otherwise possible. This book falls directly in this mold. While the motives of the author and publisher are not necessarily monetary rather than idealistic, the product is a thinly disguised attempt to associate a popular form of entertainment with a popular form of spiritual enlightenment.

Bruce Boston

British Kids Have More Fun: The Green Knowe Chronicles British Kids Have More Fun: The Green Knowe Chronicles
a column by Georges T. Dodds
While the people, places and objects in this series are different from the others and the history spans close to nine centuries, these books capture the essence of such a time in a child's life when an unfettered imagination, a locale which invites exploration, and an older, but not too intrusive adult is present to pass on the historical continuity of the family and locale, combine in a life-affirming and altering experience.

The Green Knowe Series The Green Knowe Series by L.M. Boston
reviewed by Georges T. Dodds
Some of us are fortunate enough to have had that grandmother or aunt with a house full of fascinating things to discover as well as all sorts of family stories to tell. While the history in these books spans close to nine centuries, they capture the essence of such a time in a child's life when an unfettered imagination, a locale which invites exploration, and an older adult present to pass on the historical continuity of the family and locale, combine in a life-affirming and altering experience.

Struck Struck by Jennifer Bosworth
reviewed by Katherine Petersen
Mia Price, has a unique addiction; she craves lightning and has been struck so many times that she has veiny scars all over her body. Luckily her face has been exempt, but one more strike and they'll expand there, too. Mia, and her mother and younger brother, Parker, live in Los Angeles, a city rarely hit by lightning. Its lack of affinity for lightning, doesn't preclude earthquakes, and a massive one, which many believe originated with an electrical storm has turned downtown L.A. into a wasteland with the surrounding areas not a whole lot better.

Seven Threads Seven Threads by Susan J. Boulton and Dan Bieger
reviewed by Georges T. Dodds
A collection of 7 tales of fantasy and science fiction with strong elements of male-female romance, or other intense interpersonal relationships, this book is itself apparently the result of the blossoming of a trans-Atlantic Internet-mediated interpersonal relationship. With the advent of role playing games and quasi-instantaneous communication, it is now possible for two people to act out a story by e-mail or chat service, capturing a certain spontaneity that was perhaps absent in earlier times.

Mars Dust & Magic Shows Mars Dust & Magic Shows by Mark Bourne
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
This collection of short stories that flutter along like butterflies and come back to burrow into your mind like yellow jackets. Upon first reading, these stories are fun, light reading, just the thing to bring a smile to your face. It's later, after you've set the book aside, that the full significance of the tales comes back to weigh on your mind.

Ben Bova

Skull Full Of Spurs Skull Full Of Spurs edited by Jason Bovberg and Kirk Whitham
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
At first blush, some people might be dubious about the idea of mixing horror and westerns; those would be the people who never considered the consequences of a compound fracture with "qualified" medical attention four days' ride away. And no anesthesia once you get there. Then you learn the limb has to come off. The horror is already there waiting for the right authors to pump it up. The editors have rounded up those tumbleweed terrorists for you.

From the Files of the Time Rangers From the Files of the Time Rangers by Richard Bowes
reviewed by Matthew Cheney
The Time Rangers are a band of people orphaned from the Timestream, plucked from the loneliness of their particular circumstances by the Fagins of an almost-eternity ruled by the Titans of the Greek pantheon. The job of the Time Rangers is to maintain the multiverse, to prevent events and eruptions that could lead to, among other things, a future death of the gods.

Minions of the Moon Minions of the Moon by Richard Bowes
reviewed by A.L. Sirois
All of his life, Kevin has been aware of the presence he thinks of as his Shadow, a second self that is usually not visible to others unless Kevin allows it to manifest. Kevin is a mess. He's a drug abuser, an alcoholic, and he sells his body to older men. Kevin's world contains very little that is wholesome, and that's just fine with Fred, his Shadow, who exists in an even darker framework than Kevin.

Frontier Earth Frontier Earth by Bruce Boxleitner
reviewed by Don Bassingthwaite
Caught up in historical events of the American Old West and pursued by vicious alien hunters, a mysterious amnesiac named Macklin slowly comes to realize that he's from another planet. As soon as a stagecoach headed for Tombstone and counting Doc Halliday among its passengers makes an appearance, you know the OK Corral can't be far away.

The Alchemist The Alchemist by Donna Boyd
reviewed by Victoria Strauss
Randolph Sontime -- mysterious, rich, powerful, charismatic -- walks one day into the office of New York psychiatrist Anne Kramer and confesses, casually, to the brutal and senseless murder the press has dubbed "the crime of the century" (exactly who has been murdered isn't clear at this early point in the book). He tells Anne it's necessary that she understand why he committed the crime. First, though, she must know who he really is.

Ariel Ariel by Steven R. Boyett
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
For two years, Pete Garey wandered through the strange new world that is Earth after the Change, a moment when technology ceased to work and things like planes, trains, and automobiles became useless junk. He was alone until the day he was found by a unicorn who would become his familiar. Ariel is just one of the many mythical, magical creatures to appear after the Change, but the only one with the stunning ability (or, perhaps, the only one with the desire...) to talk.

Treks Not Taken: A Parody Treks Not Taken: A Parody by Steven R. Boyett
reviewed by Mark Shainblum
What if Stephen King, Anne Rice, Kurt Vonnegut, James Joyce, Dr. Seuss and other famous writers had written episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation? Boyett is a good literary counterfeiter and his parodies are often side-splitting. Wesley Crusher as J.D. Salinger's cynical anti-hero in "The Crusher in the Rye" literally had Mark laughing so hard that he dropped the book.

Bloodwind Bloodwind by Charlotte Boyette-Compo
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
This powerful novel provides more than enough testimony to account for the author's loyal following. An erotic love story, a space opera, an account of corruption on a universal scale -- it is an enthralling read from the first paragraph.

The Secret of Sinharat The Secret of Sinharat by Leigh Brackett
reviewed by Georges T. Dodds
John Stark, besides being a tough and independent mercenary, is a man with a very thin veneer of civilisation overlying an almost animalistic core. In somewhat of a parallel with Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan of the Apes, Stark was raised from infancy by barely-human Mercurian aborigines, and under certain stressful situations, which are not uncommon in his business, he reverts to his origins and lives by his quasi-animalistic instincts.

Lamp Black, Wolf Grey Lamp Black, Wolf Grey by Paula Brackston
reviewed by Katherine Petersen
Laura Matthews and her husband, Dan, have bought an ancient longhouse in the Welsh Hills, leaving their London lives behind. Although Dan returns to London for the work week, Laura immerses herself in the wild beauty of the landscape, hoping to do her best painting ever and just maybe the magical nature of the area will help her to conceive the baby she's always wanted. For, in this part of Wales, the veil between reality and legend remains thin.

Book of Shadows Book of Shadows by Paula Brackston
reviewed by Katherine Petersen
Elizabeth Anne Hawksmith, age 384, has moved once again to start another segment of her nearly solitary life. As Bess Hawksmith, a witch finder condemned her mother to hanging in England in 1628. Bess turned to Gideon Masters, a local warlock to save her from a similar fate. As the daughter of a hanged witch, she stood no chance against a village out for blood. Gideon taught her witchcraft and helped her find the power to become immortal. But he commanded a price.

Ray Bradbury

Noise Noise by Darin Bradley
reviewed by Jason Erik Lundberg
The novel joins other notable society-wide apocalyptic fictions such as Stephen King's The Stand, José Saramago's Blindness, and Octavia E. Butler's Parable of the Sower: apokalypsis in medias res. Rather than give us the aftermath of catastrophe, we are thrust face-first into its genesis and immediate consequences. The effect is like the collision with an undivertable freight train, as society as we know it very quickly degrades into cataclysmic collapse.

Priestess of Avalon Priestess of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Diana Paxson
reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer
Helena is an inititate of Avalon. During her becoming of age rite, she is gifted with a three-fold vision from the goddess she serves, a vision that shows her life as maiden, mother and crone. The man she sees in this vision is a Roman officer, one, she discovers later, is to lay with her best friend in a ritual. When she takes her best friend's place in the ceremony, she is banished from Avalon. Fortunately the Roman, Constantius, returns her love, and is happy to take her with him. Whether their love can survive the many heart breaks fate has for them and the constant manipulations of politics remains to be seen.

The Fall of Neskaya The Fall of Neskaya by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Deborah J. Ross
reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer
In this new novel of Darkover, during the time of the Hundred Kingdoms, two young people are caught up in the invasion of their homelands. The first is Coryn Leynier, a young man who is just coming into his Laran. He's sick with the Threshold sickness, and a visitor offers to check to see how powerful he is. The other is Queen Taniquel. Her husband and his army are attacked and destroyed, and a rival king would have her marry his own son.

Sword and Sorceress XIX Sword and Sorceress XIX edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley
reviewed by Rich Horton
Highlights in this volume of the anthology series include "Lord of the Earth" by Dorothy J. Heydt, "Familiars" by Michael H. Payne, "All too Familiar" by P. Andrew Miller and Laura J. Underwood's "The Curse of Ardal Glen." If you've been reading these books with enjoyment all along, this one will probably satisfy.

Sword and Sorceress XVI Sword and Sorceress XVI edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley
reviewed by Thomas Myer
The latest installment from Marion Zimmer Bradley brings us some unique voices and vistas. Thomas had some favourites: "Weaving Spells," by Lawrence Watt-Evans and Deborah Wheeler's "Enaree, an Azkhantian Tale."

The Gratitude of Kings The Gratitude of Kings by Marion Zimmer Bradley
reviewed by Margo MacDonald
This charming little volume offers up a story of magic and salamanders. It is a fairy tale without the strong moral meaning but with all the other necessary elements -- a royal wedding, a beautiful princess, magicians, an old woman with ill intentions, magical creatures and secrets.

Shadow Matrix The Shadow Matrix by Marion Zimmer Bradley
reviewed by Lela Jones Olszewski
Lela takes a look at our second MZB title this month, this one a new novel of Darkover.

Gravelight Gravelight by Marion Zimmer Bradley
reviewed by Ann Benson
Novelist Ann Benson finds MZB has an unparalleled ability to write stories that make us accept things we would not ordinarily believe. We drop all our preconceived notions of what the world truly is in exchange for her sometimes wild ideas of what it might be -- if we just looked a little closer.

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