When last we left Alix Hiboux, The Owl, her defrocked archaeologist turned international antiquities thieving career had been transmogrified into working for a casino-owning Japanese dragon. For someone really reluctant to deal with the secret supernaturals that live in the modern world, the Owl has sure been immersed into that world, much to her chagrin. Vampires chasing her, part of a Dragon’s team that includes a variety of supernaturals, and then there’s the fact that her online gaming buddy isn’t human, either. And now with necromantic artifacts in the Syrian City of the Dead threatening a full-fledged zombie outbreak, she’s going to get her fill of arcane artifacts and the supernatural beings that love them. If she doesn’t get killed or cursed, or worse, first. And then there is the mess of her personal life… [Read more…]
It’s one of the most populous cities in the world and yet it is a city that is relatively mysterious to most Western audiences. Its geography, its nature, and even the languages spoken there (did you know the first language for many in Lagos is a Pidgin language and not English?) do not readily come to mind. But why would aliens, if they would come, necessarily park their ship above London, or crash into New York Harbor outside the U.N., or send troops into Los Angeles? Why wouldn’t they pick, instead, say, Lagos? What would a first contact be like if shapeshifting aliens who decided to come to stay on Earth for a while decided to skip the usual suspects and land in the lagoon outside the city of Lagos?
Lagoon, by Nnedi Okorafor explores that exact first contact scenario. [Read more…]
If you have read any of Martha Wells’ Raksura novels and stories, you likely do not need me to coax you into reading her latest volume, THE EDGE OF WORLDS, now that you know it’s here. Go forth and get it, and enjoy it as I did. You’re excused from reading the rest of this review.
For those of you who are new to Wells’ fiction, or her Three Worlds novels, let me open up this treasure of wonders for you. Imagine a fantasy world filled to the brim with more sentient species than a Talislanta corebook, and more diverse than the various types of hominids on Niven’s Ringworld. A fantasy world whose roots run deep, where ancient ruins of cities from civilizations long dead hold treasures, wonders and dangers. Where the foul Fell, an all-consuming race who view all other races as prey, seek to spread and devour the world. [Read more…]
Helen Lowe, Kate Elliott and Courtney Schafer joins Paul in a special discussion of what makes their fantasy novels tick, from worldbuilding, language, style and much more.
We hope you enjoy the episode!
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Here’s the episode (show notes are below): [Read more…]
Millie is broken, and perhaps not still good. But she is trying. Having lost her filmmaking career and her legs in a failed suicide attempt a year ago, her path back to a stable life has been a tough one. When Caryl Vallo from the Arcadia Project offers Millie a position, things are even more complicated. For the Arcadia Project, in the manner of the Men In Black, keeps track of the visitors to Earth not from space, but from the Fairyland next door. And Millie’s past problems and current nature are not a problem, but rather a selling point to the organization. Even as a simple sample assignment goes haywire, Millie learns that she is not the only person with issues in the Arcadia Project. But can Millie rise above these challenges before the fallout from that simple assignment causes problems that will extend far beyond her life, or even Tinseltown?
Borderline is the debut novel from Mishell Baker. [Read more…]
You and your husband have been at the center of a lot of events in history over the last few decades, especially involving a tricky succession and regency that nearly blew up an entire planet more than a few times. But all that is in the past. Sadly and tragically, your husband is now dead. Your former charge is now a secure Emperor on his throne, and you yourself are Vicereine of a colony. Your son is now firmly in the Ducal seat that your late husband held, and is doing well. More so, thanks to Betan genetic engineering and breeding, you are pretty sure that you have many decades of productive life left. So, what do you do *now* — especially if you are Cordelia Vorkosigan? Not go to Disneyland, that’s for sure. And definitely not fade away.
After the game-changing events of Unbound, where the existence of magic and magical creatures were revealed to the world at large, what does one do for an encore? Isaac Vainio’s announcement and the blowing open of centuries-old secrets are, as it turns out, the beginning. Even as Isaac works to try and keep paranoid government agencies and a disturbed public from freaking out, elements from within and without the magic community see the revelation of magic to the world as a chance to advance their own agendas. In this new world order where magic exists, it’s going to take fast feet and thinking, as well as book smarts, for Isaac and his companions to keep the world together.
Revisionary is the fourth and capstone book in the Magic Ex Libris series. [Read more…]
A mysterious source of energy from another universe and the emergence of particles that should not exist according to principles of modern physics and chemistry. And thus, when they decay, they release free, clean energy. Who cares about the motives of the para-men in the parallel universe who are sending the atoms of impossible Plutonium 186 to us in exchange for atoms of Tungsten 186 (equally unstable in their world), right? The Electron Pump is a benefit to both sides, right?
Or is it? Is the Electron Pump really that benign, or is it a devilish energy trap designed to foster dependency on it, or worse, be actively harmful to both humans and aliens alike? Once the Pump is in operation, can a source of limitless free energy that threatens the survival of two civilizations even [Read more…]
In late 1930’s Rome, American archaeologist Martin Padway is having a holiday from his dig in Lebanon. Over dinner with his Italian friend Tancredi, a discussion of the nature of time and how a man might change the web of time becomes of eminently practical use when, a few hours later while studying the Pantheon, Martin finds himself cast back in time, to 6th Century Rome.
In 535 AD Rome, The Roman Empire is a half century dead, in the West anyway. The Gothic Kingdom rules Rome and Italy. The Byzantines lurk to the East, dreaming of reconquering Italy for the Eastern Roman Empire. Martin himself is a stranger in a strange land, of competing Christian sects and ambitious nobles. Its going to take all of Martin’s wits to not only survive in an alien country, but to forge an even grander scheme. You see, at the cusp of the long slide after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Martin realizes he is at an important moment of history, and as per his old friend, might be able to tackle the greatest challenge of all: To keep the Dark Ages from occurring.
Lest Darkness Fall is a classic time travel story by L. Sprague De Camp. In six decades of writing, L. Sprague De Camp, separately and in collaboration, wrote over 100 books and numerous stories. From straight historical novels like Dragon at the Ishtar Gate to time travel stories like Lest Darkness Fall to reconstituting Burroughs like Sword and Planet stories with the Viagens Interplantarias series, De Camp was a seminal figure of early science fiction and fantasy who quietly but inexorably influenced generations of contemporaries and successors.
While the conceit and methodology of sending Padway into the past is clearly just a literary device, once Padway finds himself in Rome, the novel goes into a “hard alternate history” sort of mode. No more fantastic elements. Padway struggles with the language; his Latin is rusty, and it gives De Camp a [Read more…]
Robert Wolff has had a series of hard knocks in his life. He can’t remember anything before the age of twenty, and in fact was fostered and taken care of by a family whose last name he now borrows. He has a wife and is looking to buy a new house, but being on the verge of a nervous breakdown and at his retirement age to boot, not even the end years of his life seem to be set to be peaceful or happy. So, when he discovers a strange inter-dimensional portal in the basement of said house and an invitation to use the aural horn-like key to open it, Wolff doesn’t hesitate. On the other side, he finds a wondrous artificial universe built like the layers of cake, with creatures out of mythology, magical portals, dread forces working against him, and the true secret of who and what he *really* is.
Welcome to the World of Tiers.