Book Review: Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith

13 Nov Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith

Xhea has no magic. Born without the power that everyone else takes for granted, Xhea is an outcast—no way to earn a living, buy food, or change the life that fate has dealt her. Yet she has a unique talent: the ability to see ghosts and the tethers that bind them to the living world, which she uses to scratch out a bare existence in the ruins beneath the City’s floating Towers.

When a rich City man comes to her with a young woman’s ghost tethered to his chest, Xhea has no idea that this ghost will change everything. The ghost, Shai, is a Radiant, a rare person who generates so much power that the Towers use it to fuel their magic, heedless of the pain such use causes. Shai’s home Tower is desperate to get the ghost back and force her into a body—any body—so that it can regain its position, while the Tower’s rivals seek the ghost to use her magic for their own ends. Caught between a multitude of enemies and desperate to save Shai, Xhea thinks herself powerless—until a strange magic wakes within her. Magic dark and slow, like rising smoke, like seeping oil. A magic whose very touch brings death.

With two extremely strong female protagonists, Radiant is a story of fighting for what you believe in and finding strength that you never thought you had.

Karina Sumner-Smith’s debut novel, “Radiant,” is fresh, enjoyable and interesting. The worldbuilding, characterization, plot, and language all work together in an involving and satisfying way. The pacing is pleasing, starting with small-scale negotiations and individual-scale risks; discoveries and choices bring greater danger, bigger decisions and sacrifices, and finally building to a City-changing conclusion. In fact, I read the last half of the book in one gulp. Continue reading

230. Celine Kiernan (a.k.a. the Ghost of Nimh) — Into the Grey (An Interview)

12 Nov

Ghost children, night terrors, and mislabeled books, oh my!  It’s been far too long since Celine Kiernan was last on our show.  And that’s why we asked her back to discuss her novel, Into the Grey, which recently released in the United States.  We discuss her influences, writing stories in a recent Irish past, and much more.

We hope you enjoy the episode!

Note:  If you have iTunes and like this show, please give us a review on our iTunes page, or feel free to email us with your thoughts about the show!

Here’s the episode (show notes are below):

Episode 230 — Download (MP3)

Into the Gray by Celine Kiernan

Show Notes:

Our new intro music is “Time Flux” by Revolution Void (CC BY 3.0).  Additional music from “Black Vortex” Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0.

That’s all, folks!  Thanks for listening.  See you next week.

My Superpower: Anne E. Johnson (Green Light Delivery)

12 Nov GLD-Front

My Superpower is a regular guest column on the Skiffy and Fanty blog where authors and creators tell us about one weird skill, neat trick, highly specialized cybernetic upgrade, or other superpower they have, and how it helped (or hindered!) their creative process as they built their project. Today we welcome Anne E. Johnson to talk about how the power of writing around chaos relates to Green Light Delivery.


I can write while surrounded by chaos.

When I was an undergrad at a large university famous for its party life, I would often go to the Student Union on Saturday night. Hundreds of students and faculty would be there, hoisting beers (the legal drinking age was 18 back then) and carrying on. I’ve never been a drinker or a partier, but man, I loved the Student Union on Saturday night. Just me with a cup of coffee, doing my Ancient Greek or Latin Comp homework amid a crowd of half-soused revelers. They ignored me, and I them. Continue reading

Torture Cinema Poll for the Holiday Special!

10 Nov

We used to call this the Christmas Special, but given that the winter months are host to a number of holidays, we think it’s time we take a page out of the Star Wars playbook and call this the Holiday Special.

You know the drill.  VOTE!

(Note:  We’re still trying to fill out our list of holiday-theme sf/f-ish bad movies.  If you have a suggestion, leave a comment below.  We’re also trying to find non-Christmas-themed movies for this; if you know any, please let us know!)

229. Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) — A Live Torture Cinema “Adventure” (Halloween Special)

4 Nov

Vampire zombies, angry aliens, and tin saucers, oh my!  Recorded live on Google+, Shaun, Rachael, Paul, and Julia discuss Plan 9 from Outer Space.  What more could you ask for to celebrate the scariest time of the year?

We hope you enjoy the episode!

(This episode was recorded live.  The audio in the podcast is slightly different from the raw audio from the video provided in the show notes below.)

Note:  If you have iTunes and like this show, please give us a review on our iTunes page, or feel free to email us with your thoughts about the show!

Here’s the episode (show notes are below):

Episode 229 — Download (MP3)

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)

Show Notes:

Our new intro music is “Time Flux” by Revolution Void (CC BY 3.0).  Additional music from “Industrial Revolution” Kevin MacLeod (, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0.

That’s all, folks!  Thanks for listening.  See you next week.

Torture Cinema Poll for November: Time to Vote!

3 Nov

You know the drill.  Campaigning is acceptable.  We also accept bribes.


#27. Snowpiercer (2013) — A Shoot the WISB Subcast w/ James L. Sutter

31 Oct

Trains, bug patties, and revolutions, oh my!  James L. Sutter joins the crew to discuss Joon-Ho Bong’s critically-acclaimed Snowpiercer (2013).  We tackle the film’s symbology, its religious imagery, the allegories of capital and race in its narrative, and a whole lot more.  Plus:  there’s a big old debate at the end on how dramatic “serious” sf is sometimes treated differently than “fun” sf.

We hope you enjoy the episode!

Spoiler Alert:  the following podcast contains spoilers for the film being reviewed; if you wish to see the film without having it ruined for you, download this podcast and save it for later.

Snowpiercer (2013)

Download the episode here.

Show notes (info about our contributors can be found on the about page):

Comment away!


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