Readers' Choice: Best Read Of The Year|
Do recent events make you feel more than a little uneasy about the whole process of voting? Well now it's time to cast a ballot
that should actually make you feel good about voting. Here's your chance to make your votes (all 10 of them) count, by
voting for what you consider to be the best SF & Fantasy books of 2004.
The deadline for voting is February 11, 2005.
A Conversation With Robert Freeman Wexler
An interview with Jeff VanderMeer
On the fantastic in the real world:
"There can be a dislocation between inner, creative life and the surrounding world, between being a writer and earning a
living doing other things, between thinking creatively and listening to the surrounding clang of minutia. Dislocations
of feeling like an outsider, of being an atheist Jew in an increasingly conservative Christian country. Transforming
these dislocations into the literature of the fantastic is a way enabling myself to cope with the world."
Circus of the Grand Design by Robert Freeman Wexler
a novel extract
"No sunlight, no waning crescent moon. And the wind? The chill, battering wind lay in wait, malevolent, hidden for the moment but ready to strike. Ice crumbled in its path; its onslaught leveled mountains. Not safe here, in this flimsy house-box with its No-heat No-light."
compiled by Neil Walsh
Some of the new and forthcoming books for 2005 include new works from Ian R. MacLeod, Sara Douglass, Stan Nicholls, Harry Turtledove, Terry Goodkind, and Gregory Benford. Also featured are some classics re-issued from Dan Simmons, Geoff Ryman, Robert Silverberg, and more.
British Kids Have More Fun: Wood Magic and Bevis
a column by Georges T. Dodds
Bevis, a young boy wanders into an enchanted woodland world, where all of Nature has stories to
tell. In particular, the water flowing in the creeks and the wind whistling through the trees, have more profound truths
to reveal, about life, about good and evil, and so on. With their help, Bevis can sort out the intrigues surrounding the
woodland creatures' attempts to overthrow the evil autocratic regime of the magpie.
The Sellamillion by A.R.R.R. Roberts
reviewed by Steven H Silver
There are some works of art which beg to be parodied due to their popularity and their overindulgences. While J.R.R.
Tolkien's The Silmarillion certainly qualifies for its overindulgences, the work's popularity is based not so much on its
own merits, but its association with Tolkien's more popular books. Nevertheless, following the success of the parody The Soddit, he
has turned his wit to the writing of The Sellamillion.
The Sword of the Rightful King by Jane Yolen
reviewed by Nathan Brazil
Given the seductive lure of Arthurian legend, a tale of an alternate Arthur sounded rather promising.
The premise revolves around an uncertain young king, newly crowned, and struggling to unite those who have yet to
fully accept him as their ruler. The archetypal magician, Merlinnus, and his former apprentice Morgause are both attempting to use their
subtle magics and the symbol of Caliburnus to influence the once and future king of Cadbury.
Relativity by Robert J. Sawyer
reviewed by Adam Volk
When it comes to blending cutting edge science with complex philosophical ruminations, there are few authors more talented
than Robert J. Sawyer. For those unfortunate few who have not yet heard of him, the man has left an indelible mark
on the Science Fiction community; earning a well-deserved reputation as a major talent, in addition to his recent receipt of
both a Hugo and Nebula award. He is one of those rare SF authors who is able to approach complex scientific concepts and
humanize them with believable characters, rich dialogue and all too real moral and philosophical dilemmas.
Ashes and Angel Wings by Greg Stolze
reviewed by Nathan Brazil
It is a cinematically written mad dash, rather like an episode of The Sopranos though a drug haze, but
also including supernatural characters based on the angels and demons of Biblical lore. The mix is one of psychopathic violence,
which is never mindless, Mafia culture, and snappy dialogue presented in a New Jersey accent. The anti-hero is one Harvey Ciullo.
Things look terminal, especially when Harv
has his brains blown out, but then his death attracts the attention of Hasmed, a fallen angel recently freed from Hell.
A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett
reviewed by Charlene Brusso
Now eleven, Tiffany is ready to leave the Chalk to study with Miss Level, a "research witch" in distant High Overhang.
Changes are in the offing for the Nac Mac Feegle as well. Their new Kelda, Jeanine of the Long Lake clan, is determined
to whip the wild blue men into shape. First off, they must learn to read and write -- despite their lifelong distrust
of the literary arts. After all, writing leads to implicating documents and court cases, both of which have a way of
seriously cramping a Feegle's style.
The Fetter Mission by M.L. Roland
reviewed by Georges T. Dodds
Rick and Bill of the Jerdain military are amongst those attacking Bahar, the lair of Thomas Fetter and son Curtis, a pair of evil,
ruthless immortals, masters of mind control as well a number of other advanced technologies, and -- naturally -- bent upon
ruling the universe. Sure, this sort of thing has been done a thousand times by the likes of Ray Cummings, Edmond Hamilton,
and John W, Campbell, Jr. -- but perhaps never quite so poorly.
Not One of Us, #32
reviewed by Rich Horton
The opening story is perhaps the best, Sonya Taaffe's "Another Country". Taaffe is a poet, and it shows in her dense and evocative
prose. This story slowly builds a portrait of the relationship between a newly pregnant woman and her two lovers -- it in itself a
fraught situation, but made a bit more complex by the nature of one of the possible fathers. Danny Adams's "A Deconstruction of
Beauty" is about a cop in a grim world who encounters a woman painting forbidden things -- like trees.
Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Vol. 2 by Ken Akamatsu
reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer
Negi Springfield's main dream in life is to become a wizard. He has taken the classes, he has mastered several spells, but
to prove his true worthiness, he needs to become accepted as an official instructor at Mahora Academy, an all girl's
school. The girls seem to finally be accepting their ten-year-old English teacher,
but can he bring his class, who are notorious for only ever making
last place in the exams, up to snuff before the final exams next Monday?
Leviathan 4 edited by Forrest Aguirre
reviewed by Matthew Cheney
This anthology is a book that rises from the marketing
category known as SF, though most readers of science fiction and fantasy will find much frustration in amidst the wonders sensed
here, because some of these stories slip into a different stream, one where fabulation looks conservative and traditional when
viewed through a lens of narrative displacement, meta-fictional paradox, and autonymic antitropes. How many fish can breathe
in such rich, polluted water?
Black Gate, #7
reviewed by Sherwood Smith
This issue features six stories; except for one they are either novellas or novelettes. Instead of a range, this issue's fiction leans
far toward dark side of the fantasy spectrum; arguably one or two of them are downright horror. Perfect reading for the days of cold,
long nights, wind-rattled barren branches and deep shadows.
In Memoriam: 2004
a memorial by Steven H Silver
Science fiction fans have always had a respect and understanding for the history of the genre.
Unfortunately, science fiction has achieved such an age that each year sees our ranks
diminished. The science-fictional year 2004 could have been much worse for the science fiction
community in sheer numbers. While there were a few tragic surprises, the mortality
rate for 2004 was no higher than would normally be expected.
Asgard's Secret by Brian Stableford
Arkham House Books: A Collector's Guide by Leon Nielsen
reviewed by Susan Dunman
Welcome to Asgard. No, not the fabled city of Norse mythology, but an equally amazing structure that seems to have been made
by the gods themselves. In fact, no one can figure out exactly who made it, but Asgard is a planet-sized artifact that consists
of innumerable concentric spheres, one inside the other. No one knows how many levels comprise the entire structure, but
scientists, explorers, crooks, and grave robbers from all the nearby galaxies have made their home in Skychain City, the base of
operations for the exploration of Asgard.
Lost In Transmission by Wil McCarthy
reviewed by Rich Horton
Third in a series, this is the story of a journey to Barnard's Star and the effort to colonize one of
the planets of that star. The main character is Conrad Mursk, the
First Mate of the Newhope. His lover Xiomara Li Weng, or Xmary, is the Captain.
Bascal is the leader of the expedition and will be King once the new planet is reached. Conrad himself is a rather
stolid young man, though perhaps not so stolid as he seems to think.
Ironcrown Moon by Julian May
reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer
In this second book of The Boreal Moon Tale, Snudge, spy, wild talent, and trusted friend of King Conrig Windcantor
continues to reveal the secrets of what really happened, risking his own life and the security of the Blenholme Sovereignty.
In the last book Conrig's wife, Queen Maudrayne, forced into a divorce from her husband, calmly signs the papers, then
leaps off the castle walls and to her death. But now Conrig knows she did not die, and that she may have born a child.
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.
Philip K. Dick Awards
compiled by Rodger Turner
The Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually for distinguished science fiction
published in paperback original form in the United States. The award is sponsored
by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and the award ceremony is sponsored
by the NorthWest Science Fiction Society.
Prisoner of the Iron Tower by Sarah Ash
reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer
Gavril is working side by side with his men, trying to rebuild their kastle,
and is eventually taken to the asylum, where he is forced into a terrible
choice. Eugene, even, though he is the antagonist, is not easily categorized as evil. He is filled with insecurities
about his marriage, worries over his daughter, and he treats the people around him, mostly, with decency and
respect. His government concentrates on tasks such as providing schooling for every child and improving the economy.
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
Rick has TV reviews of the Star Trek Enterprise episode titled "Daedalus," and the two
Battlestar Galactica episodes titled "33" and "Water."
He also has some ideas on the similarities between Andromeda and Stargate SG-1.
reviewed by Trent Walters
Arkham House is one of the finest publishers of collected short fiction in the field. Its beginnings were humble as friends
of H.P. Lovecraft founded the house in order to publish Lovecraft in book form as a memorial. Later, they began publishing
others of that weird fiction clan: the first collections of Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, Ramsey Campbell, Fritz Leiber,
Lord Dunsany, August Dereleth, Clark Ashton Smith, Frank Belknap Long, William Hope Hodgson, Seabury Quinn, and Donald Wandrei.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
reviewed by Chris Przybyszewski
It is one of the more remarkable books of our time. Sure, the text has its share of warts. The
characters are more like caricatures, over the top and thin in their complexity. The auhtor indulges his inner high-school
writer with his strong use of comparisons. Moreover, the ending is simplistic and idealistic, where the well read of society emerge
from their homeless shelters to save a post-apocalyptic world. But still.
What Rough Beast by H.R. Knight
The Magister's Mask by Deby Fredericks
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
A scoundrel has come to town and he's just the sort Harry Houdini lived to expose. This Victorian Era John Edwards
claims to be able to put the bereaved in touch with their deceased relatives, provided the bereaved can enrich
Maxmillian Cairo's existence on this plane. Debunking such frauds was of special interest to both Houdini
and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and they expect no problems with exposing this con man's tricks before he can bilk
anymore vulnerable clients.
There Will Be Dragons by John Ringo
reviewed by Michael M Jones
In the far future, we've finally used technology to master the world and all aspects of our lives. Teleportation and shapechanging
are commonplace, sickness and death are practically unknown, and there is no need. Our imaginations dictate our surroundings, and we
spend our lives indulging in fantasies and various forms of instant gratification. Technology has, in other words, become sufficiently
advanced so as to be indistinguishable from magic...
reviewed by Donna McMahon
In the city of Chalsett, it is traditional that an apprentice who has finished her training shall be assigned
the very next case that requires a magister. But Shenza Waik, humble daughter of an illiterate fisherman, feels
far from ready when that case turns out to be the horrifying murder of the First Lord of Chalsett by magical fire.
The Silver Spoon by Stacey Klemstein
reviewed by Alisa McCune
No one knows when the Observers originally arrived on Earth, but their unveiling was an event not to be forgotten. Somewhere
in the world, nuclear warheads were launched, escalating into war. Everyone was glued to the television with announcers
giving us 20 minutes until the end of the world. Then they appeared on TV with an offer no one would refuse -- "We will save
Earth from destruction if you allow us to study mankind." The Observers got what they requested with no resistance.