The Secret History of Fantasy edited by Peter S. Beagle
reviewed by Paul Kincaid
Some have argued that, over the last 30 or 40 years, the genre of fantasy has come to be
identified with a bunch of multi-volume Tolkien clones that follow an overly-familiar trajectory. Although the
formula is not specified here, we all know how it goes: a youth (almost always male) is unexpectedly
revealed to have a special skill or be a long-lost prince and must then embark on a quest to recover various
plot tokens before finally defeating the forces of evil. It's a format that accounts for an awful lot of what
appears on the fantasy shelves of our bookshops.
The Unlikely World of Faraway Frankie by Keith Brooke
reviewed by D. Douglas Fratz
Frankie Finnegan is a contemporary teenager living in a seaside English town where he is psychologically
bullied by his peers. His sister (and closest companion)
was killed in an accident. He is a terribly average teen whose only
real talent is his vivid imagination. His imagined world is,
at first, just a subtle variation of his own village, but it slowly becomes more and more different.
When his sister inexplicably returns, he finds he can change things in his new world.
Watching the Future
a column by Derek Johnson
As 2010 winds down, Derek considers the best genre movies he has seen this year… and he feels as if someone
has edited significant chunks of memory. It's not that you couldn't find something worthwhile
showing at the multiplexes -- any year that offers Winter's Bone, The Social Network,
The Ghost Writer and the Coen brothers' fine remake of True Grit certainly has done
something right -- but few, if any, of those with geek chic matched the quality
of 2008. Or 2009, for that matter.
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, September/October 2010
reviewed by Sandra Scholes
If readers thought the last issue's stories were unusual then they will really enjoy this most recent series of
gems from such interesting writers as Richard Matheson, Ken Liu, James L. Cambias, and Fred Chappell.
"The Literomancer," by Ken Liu will take readers back to fifty years. Its setting is China.
The story is a cleverly constructed piece well worth being included in this issue.
Ethan of Athos by Lois McMaster Bujold
an audiobbok review by Nicki Gerlach
Athos is one of the most isolated planets in the galactic community, which is exactly how the inhabitants
like it. It's a planet entirely of men, where contact with off-planet sources is strictly limited, and each
next generation is conceived in vitro and incubated in uterine replicators. This system has worked for
hundreds of years, but now Athos is facing a serious problem: their carefully cultured lines of ovarian
tissue, the same cell lines that have provided half of the genetic material of every Athosian for centuries, are failing.
Echo by Jack McDevitt
an audiobbok review by Steven Brandt
It all started innocently enough. A woman places a local ad to have a stone tablet removed from the
house she recently purchased. The tablet made a nice centerpiece for her garden for a while, but now
she is tired of it and is willing to offer it to anyone willing to come and haul it away. Interstellar
antiquities dealer Alex Benedict is instantly intrigued by the photo of the stone, which is inscribed
with runes that do not appear to be in any language known to man. Alex and his assistant, Chase Kolpath,
have no idea that they are about to embark on a path that could uncover a monumental tragedy that
occurred thirty years ago -- if they live long enough to reach its conclusion.
Blood and Honor by Simon R. Green
an audiobbok review by Sarah Trowbridge
The kingdom of Redhart faces a succession crisis. Old King Malcolm has died, under ambiguous circumstances,
and it's unclear which of his three sons is destined to take the throne. According to ancient Redhart
tradition, the rightful ruler is the one who can produce the official crown and seal and then survive a
blood-oath ritual on the ancient Stone beneath the throne. The trouble is, none of the three princes
are exactly king material.
No Mercy by Sherrilyn Kenyon
an audiobbok review by Julie Moncton
First there was Romeo and Juliet, and more recently Edward and Bella -- couples who fall in love, but whose love is
forbidden. Now there is Samia Savage and Devereaux Peltier. In a previous life, Samia was Queen of the Amazons,
but now has joined the ranks of the Dark Hunters -- immortal warriors who hunt and kill Daemons to protect human
kind. Devereaux is a Were Bear Shapeshifter, who is forbidden to have anything to do with Dark Hunters. But rules were made to be broken...
Nights of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton
an audiobbok review by Ivy Reisner
An ice age is coming to the archipelago empire of Jamul. Peasants are gathering, seeking sanctuary,
but they are being kept out. Adherents to a forbidden religion are gathering power and seeking to take
control of the empire. It is against, and driven by, this backdrop that this jigsaw puzzle of a story
opens. Looking at the scattered bits and discovering how they fit together is what makes this a most intriguing story.
Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon
reviewed by Gil T. Wilson
Nick Gautier is your typical high school freshman -- full of sarcastic wit, worried about bullies,
and fully aware of girls. On the other hand, he has some secrets, but there's one he doesn't even know
himself -- he's not quite human. It is never fully revealed as to what he is, but it is powerful. It
will be up to Kyrian, a supernatural Dark Hunter, to help show Nick what his true potential might be.
Transcendence, Part 2: The Demon Wars by R.A. Salvatore
reviewed by Gil T. Wilson
This installment continues with the adventures of the Ranger, Brynn Dharielle. Brynn was trained by
the elves to become a hero for her people, the To-Gai, who are being enslaved by the Behrenese. During the
journey to her homeland, Brynn is separated from her two travelling companions when they come across the
lair of a dragon. Brynn escapes and goes on to her country to find a small revolution already in progress.
The Passage by Justin Cronin
an audio review podcast by Brian Price
Embraced by thousands of eager readers, this ambitious story takes on the usual subjects: science
and authority run amok, the sudden loss of 90 percent of the human race, and of course, the slow march back
to a good, clean America, circa 1952 or something. Narrator Edward Herrmann reads Justin Cronin's prose
with a wonderfully self-depreciating gravity and civility, but where is this story going?
The Evolutionary Void by Peter F. Hamilton
reviewed by Dominic Cilli
The Evolutionary Void is the third and final volume of Peter F. Hamilton's The Void Trilogy,
but that is a little bit misleading. Yes, it is true and that is how it will be listed in bibliographies, but in
reality it's really the fifth volume of the Commonwealth Saga and the culmination of one of the
grandest modern space operas ever written. If you are unfamiliar with Peter F. Hamilton, don't even think of
reading any of The Void Trilogy before you have read both Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained.
Gods of Manhattan by Al Ewing
The Jedi Path by Daniel Wallace
reviewed by Nathan Brazil
The story revolves around three lovingly re-imaged characters. El Sombra, is a merciless, Zorro-esque Mexican swordsman. Once upon a
time he was a poet named Djego. Now, he is the Saint of Ghosts, El Sombra, who believes the only good Nazi is a
dead Nazi. Moving along a seemingly parallel path is the Blood Spider, who begins the book as a murderous masked
vigilante, something like a cross between Batman and the Shadow. Then there's America's Greatest Hero, Doc
Thunder, who is presented as an amalgam of Doc Savage, Hulk Hogan, and the original template for Superman.
Seven Ghosts and One Other by C.E. Ward
reviewed by Mario Guslandi
In the era of internet, smartphones and digital technology, it may seem silly and unfashionable to seek
pleasurable shivers by reading ghost stories set either in a long gone past or, at most, in the age of gaslight
lamps and hansom cabs. Yet, classical ghost stories, as the ones penned by a master of the genre such as M.R. James,
continue to fascinate readers from all over the world.
Shotgun Sorceress by Lucy A. Snyder
reviewed by John Enzinas
This one picks up where Spellbent left off, with the titular hero, Jessie Shimmer, coming to terms with the fact
that her hand has been replaced with demonic plasma and she's just killed a couple of extremely powerful
creatures. Just as she's wondering if maybe her flaming hand is just some kind of gift, she discovers that she now
feels death (and other memories).
She Nailed a Stake Through His Head: Tales of Biblical Terror edited by Tim Lieder
reviewed by David Soyka
The title of this slim collection of nine stories that recast Biblical legends reminds us that
a lot of really nasty things were going on a few hundred centuries ago among so-called religious
people all in the name of serving God. For that matter, God himself performs some
really nasty things.
compiled by Neil Walsh
With the new year, we're looking at some old and some new, including the latest titles from Orson Scott Card, James Lovegrove, Michael Moorcock, Tom Piccirilli, as well as a fresh look at old classics from Robert Silverberg, H. Beam Piper & John F. Carr, Stephen R. Donaldson, plus plenty more.
News Spotlight -- Genre Books and Media
a column by Sandy Auden
At this time of year, we often find ourselves looking back at the year that was and looking
forward with hope and high expectations for the year to come. Authors and publishers are no
different to the rest of us so here is part one of a whole range of talented
people -- including Peter Hamilton, Mark Chadbourn, Jasper Kent, Ramsey Campbell,
Tim Lebbon, Juliet McKenna and James Barclay -- talking about what's out and what's coming in 2011.
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Perhaps Rick Klaw's favorite comment that he and Mark receive in response to their annual "Year That Was" sequences of
the best graphic novels goes something likes this: "I love your selections, even
though I've never heard of half of the books." In this spirit, Rick presents this list
of perhaps lesser known works that would have made the
cut if they had been preparing best-of compilations when they were originally
published. Sadly, half of these books are currently out of print.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
a movie review by Rick Norwood
Rick loved this film. The weight of critical opinion says it's the weakest of the Narnia series. Rick
liked it best. Other reviewers found it uninvolving. Rick cried. Some critics complained that the characters
were cardboard. Rick loved the characters.
a movie review by Rick Norwood
Tron: Legacy is essentially about a stock character (rebellious teen abandoned by father) fighting
meaningless battles (I can throw a Frisbee faster than you can) amid 3D special effects that are supposed
to be awesome but aren't.
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
Rick offers his thoughts the comings and goings of TV series in January 2011 including
Doctor Who, "A Christmas Carol," Stargate Universe,
Medium, V, Primeval and the final five episodes of Caprica.
reviewed by Charlene Brusso
It comes in a black cardboard box, and weighs just shy of 5 lbs. Open the box, unpack the thing inside,
and you have the "vault," a slightly smaller box of gray and silver plastic with beveled corners,
about the size of an old-fashioned family bible. The front is decorated with images from that very first
film: Tatooine's twin suns, solar discs intersecting like a Venn diagram, and hands -- undoubtedly
Luke's -- raising a light saber in a salute. Press the black semicircle at the bottom and you hear the
hiss of a pressure equalizing as the top splits into two panels that spread apart, like an ancient
tomb, Indiana-Jones style. A palette within rises, lifting the Book.
Horrors: Great Stories of Fear and Their Creators by Rocky Wood, illustrated by Glenn Chadbourne
reviewed by Richard A. Lupoff
Certainly an ambitious project, and one worthy of the attempt, this is an
attempt to provide a history of gothic literature, taking as its point of departure the famous
(or infamous) 1816 party at the Villa Diodati in Italy. There, Lord Byron challenged his
companions, Dr. Polidori, Percy Shelley, Claire Claremont and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (aka Mary Shelley)
to a ghost story contest.