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From the Editor
SF Insite: Vote for your favourite books of 2003 in our 6th annual Readers' Choice: Best Read Of The Year list. The deadline for voting is February 13.
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The Anvil of the World The Anvil of the World by Kage Baker
reviewed by Gabe Mesa
In addition to being billed as her first fantasy novel, the novel is also an opportunity to give the author's comedic talents a broader canvas. The book turns out to be not so much a novel per se as a series of three linked novellas featuring Smith, a successful ex-assassin seeking to begin a new life in the city of Troon, and Lord Ermenwyr, the offspring of a saint and a half-demon who becomes, oddly, both Smith's protector as well as his bête noire, his blessing together with his curse.

Lucifer's Crown Lucifer's Crown by Lillian Stewart Carl
reviewed by Jayme Lynn Blaschke
This is not an easy book to describe or classify. It tries to be many things at once, but first and foremost, it's a novel of Biblical apocalypse. In a time where Christian fiction with an apocalyptic bent -- led by the wildly popular Left Behind series -- is a multi-million dollar industry, it was inevitable that more traditional fantasy writers would eventually turn their hand to these tropes and themes. Taking up this challenge, the author has responded with her most complex and ambitious novel to date. What's more important, it's also by far her best.

Demon Witch Demon Witch by Geoffrey Huntington
reviewed by Victoria Strauss
A new caretaker has arrived, and there's something very odd about him -- quite apart from the fact that he's a 600-year-old gnome. A long-absent member of the Crandall family unexpectedly returns, with a lovely young fiancée about whom Devon (and all the other males who encounter her) begins having disturbing, sensual dreams. Devon starts to see terrifying visions of Ravenscliff's Hellhole, open by his hand... and of a mysterious, malevolent sorceress called Isobel the Apostate.

Niamh and the Hermit Niamh and the Hermit by Emily C.A. Snyder
reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer
Princess Niamh is so beautiful that her beauty has driven many a man mad. Even her Fairy mother and royal human father can not bear to look directly upon her, her presence burns like the sun, and anyone who approaches her with less than pure intentions falls in a faint. Except, of course, for the evil Count, who has nothing at all in his heart for her beauty to call to, and is immune. There will be no wedding for the princess, unless the Hermit, known for his kindness and saintly behavior despite his deformity makes him seem like the best -- and only -- possible choice.

The Prince of Ayodhya The Prince of Ayodhya by Ashok K. Banker
reviewed by William Thompson
One has to admire the author's ambition -- one might say hubris. A well-known and respected writer in his native country, noted, according to the publisher's promotional flyer, for authoring the first Indian crime novel in English, as well as the first Indian television series in the same language, he intends in this opening novel to a forthcoming trilogy to recreate and retell the Ramayana of Valmiki which, along with Mahabhrata, are the two greatest works of epic Vedic mythic literature, on par with the Homeric epics, Plato and the Christian gospels, and predating all three.

X2: X-Men United X2: X-Men United
a give-away contest
Mutants continue their struggle against a society that fears and distrusts them. Their cause becomes even more desperate following an incredible attack by an as yet undetermined assailant possessing extraordinary abilities. The shocking attack renews the political and public outcry for a Mutant Registration Act and an anti-mutant movement now led by William Stryker, whose "mutant" work is somehow tied to Logan's mysterious and forgotten past. As Wolverine searches for clues to his origin, Stryker puts into motion his anti-mutant program.
Read the contents, answer the questions, win a DVD. Easy, eh?

The Harvest The Harvest by Scott Nicholson
reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer
Tamara Leon once ignored the Gloomies, which is what she calls the eerie premonitions that haunt her once in awhile. The price she paid was the loss of her father. Now, much older and married, the Gloomies are extracting their own price on her life. She doesn't want to ignore them. In fact, she can't since they are a near constant whisper in her head, but her husband's refusal to believe in them is ruining their marriage.

The Magazine of Speculative Poetry, Spring 2003
reviewed by Stephen M. Davis
This edition of The Magazine of Speculative Poetry doesn't have the strength of previous numbers I've seen, and the best poem of the lot, "The Water Bulls" by Ray DiZazzo, doesn't appear particularly speculative.

The Astral Grail The Astral Grail by D Jason Cooper
reviewed by Steve Lazarowitz
To say the subtitle of this book, A Novel Approach to Astral Projection, Tarot and the Qabbalah, is misleading, would be a disservice. This subtitle runs far beyond the boundaries of blatant exaggeration. The book offers little wisdom and speaks of arcane matters in only the most peripheral ways. In fact, the only word in the subtitle that applies is "novel," not in its inception, but the fact that it is a book of fiction, like all novels.

Phase Space Phase Space by Stephen Baxter
reviewed by Steven H Silver
The author demonstrates his versatility in the 25 stories which have been collected here. While practically all the stories are of the hard science fiction variety for which he is known, they run the gamut from the alternate historical "Marginalia" and "The Twelfth Album" to the hard speculative science of "Sheena 5" or the problem-solving fiction of "The Fubar Suit."

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. His column will fill you in on recent news in science fiction. We'll be updating the page as he sends in new items.

The Life Eaters The Life Eaters by David Brin
reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer
In the 40s, Hitler, desperate and knowing that he was losing, uses necromancy to create an unholy alliance with the gods of the Norse Pantheon. Odin and Thor lead them through several victories, and all seems lost for the allies until Loki steps in. Siding with the Allied forces, he comes up with a plan that may win them the war. But when it fails, is it the fault of the one known as the trickster god? Can he be trusted is he comes to light again?

Babylon 5.1: Televison Reviews Babylon 5.1
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
Rick offers his thoughts on the new version of Battlestar Galactica. What Ronald D. Moore produced is in the subgenre of military science fiction, which means we get a lot of "Captain on the bridge!" and "Permission to speak freely, sir!"

New Arrivals New Arrivals
compiled by Neil Walsh
This holiday season we're looking at new books from Dale Bailey, Orson Scott Card, Robin Hobb, Lois McMaster Bujold, Mary Gentle, Kage Baker, Gwyneth Jones, Alastair Reynolds, Neal Stephenson, and many more; plus previously unpublished works from Lord Dunsany and Robert A. Heinlein; and no less than 3 new magazines, along with new issues from several others.

"Boys" by Carol Emshwiller
reviewed by Trent Walters
'First, stop reading until you've read Carol Emshwiller's "Boys" Don't skim or cheat. You will form an opinion, which is good, but please turn off the bigot spigots. Focus on the debate, not the debaters, and you will come out enlightened, no matter how seasoned a reader or writer you may be. Carol Emshwiller is, without doubt, one of our finest at the craft. "Boys" is no different. It's an important story -- well told and well crafted -- making bold demands of the reader as all good fiction should. But one major issue is at stake, and depending on how you view the matter, three others follow: 1. unreliable narrators, 2. subtlety, 3. gender politics, and 4. writer ethics.'

First Novels

Gideon's Wall Gideon's Wall by Greg Kurzawa
reviewed by Neil Walsh
Shallai was a mighty empire that covered a vast expanse of territory, until one day it mysteriously disappeared. Some ruins could still be found, thrusting up out of the sands, where once stood fertile lands and vibrant cities. But none of the people survived whatever catastrophe destroyed the empire. No one survived to explain how such a thing could happen.

Second Looks

Amadis of Gaul Amadis of Gaul translated by Edwin Place & Herbert Behm
reviewed by Georges T. Dodds
Some might think The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, Silmarillion and the many subsequent volumes culled from the Tolkien archives, not to mention the works of his imitators, as a literary first for fantasy, a work of pure imagination emerging as a sort of societal and literary icon. Similarly, one might think Conan as the first literary super-warrior to become an industry onto his own, with vast numbers of sequels, adaptations, and ripoffs. Of course, in both cases, one would be roughly 500 years out of date, 600 years if one hearkens back to the origins of Amadis of Gaul.

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