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The Years of Rice and Salt The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson
reviewed by Rich Horton
This is a long, ambitious, alternate history novel. The point of divergence is the Black Death in 14th Century Europe: in the author's imagined timeline nearly everyone in Europe died of the plague. This leaves the world stage free for a centuries long struggle between a mostly Buddhist or Confucian China, and an Islamic Middle East and Africa, with Europe and Christianity no factor at all. His interest is in the nature of history, and in the possible evolution of these religions, and their associated social and political structures, without the pressure of Christianity and European Colonialism.

L.H. Maynard and M.P.N. Sims
L.H. Maynard and M.P.N. Sims A Conversation With L.H. Maynard and M.P.N. Sims
An interview with Trent Walters
On story endings:
"The ending has to come from the rest of the story and be a part of it. It has to be a conclusion, but, as in life, that conclusion does not always have to neat and tidy. There are times when the story is told, and the final full stop does not give the whole game away. Here is a remaining mystery and that is where the narrative has been leading all along. Now, some people find that unsatisfactory, they want the ending to explain and tuck them up in bed. It doesn't always work like that..."

The Hidden Language of Demons The Hidden Language of Demons by L.H. Maynard and M.P.N. Sims
reviewed by Trent Walters
The U.S. government is at it again. This time, they've tapped into human paranormal powers -- only they don't know what they've tapped into. A power greater and darker than any paranormal has ever experienced has awakened in the mind of Michael Moreland, the evil third of three paranormal brothers who haven't spoken in years. As the paranormals and their loved ones fall like flies to the insecticide mind of Michael, brothers Robert and Frank Moreland have to grapple with this demonic presence and banish it before it destroys them.

The Works of M.P. Shiel The Works of M.P. Shiel
reviewed by Georges T. Dodds
Unless you're a fairly diehard aficionado of early science fiction or detective literature, you're likely wondering who M.P. Shiel was, and why close to 1800 pages of biography, bibliography, literary criticism, reprinted magazine appearances of his stories as well as letters are being discussed here. M.P. Shiel wrote what remains among the two or three best last-man-on-Earth novels: The Purple Cloud (1901), an equally seminal collection of early detective tales: Prince Zaleski (1895), as well as classic horror short stories.

Stardust Memories Stardust Memories
a convention memoir by Hank Luttrell
Hank Luttrell thinks he might be the senior SF convention Dealers' Room Manager in the world, what with 26 years tenure. Here we have his rambling report on WisCon 26, a convention which celebrates women in science fiction, including an encounter with artist Charles Vess, news and views about Vess' and Neil Gaiman's book Stardust, and even an idea about how to make SF conventions more accessible.

Christendom Christendom by Neil Cross
reviewed by Martin Lewis
This is one of those science fiction novels that only says Fiction on the back. Sometimes this is a sign that the author has no knowledge of the genre or that they believe in the old "its too good to be sci-fi" cliché (Paul Theroux and P.D. James are two notorious culprits). Luckily though this is a different type of author; someone who is at ease employing any trope they see fit in order to serve their story.

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.

Orbis Orbis by Scott Mackay
reviewed by Victoria Strauss
Real-world history veers off-track just after the death of Christ, with an invasion by technologically-advanced alien beings calling themselves Benefactors, looking for a way to preserve their dying race. Of all peoples on Earth, only the Romans refuse to accept the Benefactors' domination; when the Romans realize they can't prevail, they steal Benefactor technology and escape to the stars, where they continue their own tradition of cultural subjugation, conquering planets instead of nations. In the escape, though, the location of Earth (Orbis) is lost. Ever since, the Romans have searched in vain for their home.

Charisma Charisma by Steven Barnes
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
Now, we are always looking for ways to improve the odds for the next generation, to give the children a better shot at avoiding our mistakes. Suppose you were to take the template of a phenomenally successful, inspirational person and find a way to imprint that masterpiece of a human being onto young children. Surely, they would grow up to icons just as worthy as their role model. But, right, there is the downside: do we ever really know everything we need to know about another person?

New Arrivals New Arrivals
compiled by Neil Walsh
Stock up on your summer reading material with new books from Steve Aylett, Richard Calder, Eric Van Lustbader, Jack McDevitt, Robert Silverberg and many more.

Cult Cinema DVD Cult Cinema DVD
a contest
Universal has developed the Cult Cinema DVD Collection. It includes Legend, 12 Monkeys, Blood Simple, Dune, It Came From Outer Space, Silent Running, and The Thing.
Browse the page, answer the questions, win a prize. Easy, eh?

Jeffrey Ford
Jeffrey Ford A Conversation With Jeffrey Ford
An interview with Nick Gevers
On the use of metaphor today:
"The use of metaphor, I am afraid, is on the way out in literature. Too bad. It requires readers' minds to operate on multiple levels at the same time. Metaphor used in the right degree, at just the right juncture, is really language magic. Whole books have been written about it, but no one has ever been able to definitively say how or why metaphor works. For me, there is something very mystical about it."

The Fantasy Writer's Assistant The Fantasy Writer's Assistant by Jeffrey Ford
reviewed by David Soyka
In this collection, the author's characters are often writers or creators of some sort. The title story concerns how a clerical assistant to a famous hack writer of a lucrative fantasy franchise has to step in to finish a book when the author suffers writer's block. The ending -- of both the novel in the story and the story itself -- turns out differently than planned.

Year of Wonders Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
reviewed by William Thompson
Not remotely slipstream (nary a ripple; not a rill), with only the most remote or tenuous resemblance to the fantastic found arguably or fabricated in the form of historical reference to the superstitions and witchcraft of the 17th century, or perhaps the horrors attending rural customs or the corporal punishments of the period, this novel, as its secondary title suggests, more readily identifies itself with historical fiction, possessing perhaps only a trace of romance as defined through the novels of Jane Austen or especially the Brontė's. While this book does exhibit a haunting quality reminiscent of Wuthering Heights, it could hardly be identified with horror or phantasms any more than its 19th century predecessors, despite the obvious and tempting associations. So why review it here?

The Great Escape The Great Escape by Ian Watson
reviewed by Greg L. Johnson
The safe, sure way for a writer to gain an audience is to find something that works, and then keep working it, expanding your readership without losing your original fans. It's a tried and true method that has been used by many an SF writer (not to mention more than a few songwriters), and one that it is quite evident this author never heard of. This collection displays the talents of a writer who is equally at home in, and brings an individual slant to, science fiction and fantasy, comedy and drama, philosophy and farce.

Golden Gryphon Press Golden Gryphon Press
compiled by Rodger Turner
Golden Gryphon Press was founded in 1997 by Jim Turner, the long-time editor of Arkham House. He wanted to publish handsome, quality books of short story collections. Upon his death in 1999, Gary Turner and his wife Geri took over the operations Shortly thereafter, Marty Halpern joined the publishing house to help in the acquisition and publication of new titles. Jim Turner won the 1999 World Fantasy Award for his work at Golden Gryphon Press.

Babylon 5.1: Televison Reviews Babylon 5.1
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
Rick offers his thoughts on Witchblade, season two, a new book by J. Michael Straczynski, Delicate Creatures and a look at the DVD version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Second Looks

The Death of the Necromancer The Death of the Necromancer by Martha Wells
reviewed by Donna McMahon
Nicholas Valiarde leads a double life. During the day he is the leisured and embittered young heir of Doctor Edouard Viller, a renowned metaphysician who was executed ten years ago on false charges of necromancy. At night he is Donatien, master criminal and man of disguises. Donatien has become the city's foremost thief, but his career is only a cover for Valiarde's real purpose -- to destroy the evil Count Montesq, the man who destroyed his father.

The Shadow Out of Time by H.P. Lovecraft: The Corrected Text The Shadow Out of Time by H.P. Lovecraft: The Corrected Text edited by S.T. Joshi and David E. Schultz
reviewed by Marc Goldstein
Often cited as pulp horror master H.P. Lovecraft's last major story (and some would argue, his greatest), it has never been published as Lovecraft originally intended, until now. The introduction, by editors S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz, details the story's difficult path from conception to publication. Written between November 1934 and February 1935, Lovecraft's confidence was so poor at the time that he refused to type a draft of the manuscript.

A Red Heart Of Memories A Red Heart Of Memories by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
reviewed by Donna McMahon
Matt Black, a homeless woman, is sitting on a park bench eating discarded sandwiches when a man steps out of a nearby ivy-covered wall. The man is Edmund. Edmund wanders the world, going where the spirit moves him, and the spirit has told him to follow Matt. Thus begins a most extraordinary fantasy adventure set in the contemporary U.S.A., slightly to the left of reality.

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