Archive by Author

My Superpower: Jay Swanson

9 Mar

My Superpower is a guest column on the Skiffy and Fanty blog where authors and creators usually 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. In this case, we’re hearing about the superpower best suited for the protagonist of Into the Nanten.

“Of all my accumulated powers, I think my ability to influence the perceptions of those around me is the most useful — especially with regards to how they feel. It’s subtle, really, this capacity to touch the mind and leave no trace. It’s almost like an aura, one you’ll never truly leave should you enter it. Continue reading

My Superpower: E.C. Ambrose (Elisha Rex)

22 Jul

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 E.C. Ambrose to talk about how the power of hiking in the rain relates to Elisha Rex.


In addition to being a novelist, I am also an adventure guide, and it was this second career which led me to a surprising super-power, one which, as a child, I would never have dreamed of possessing: hiking in the rain.

One of the great joys of being a grown-up, and a self-employed one at that, is, in most cases, I can do whatever I want — or choose not to do it, and most of the time, it works out just fine. As a child, I had a great aversion to rain: I would hide in the toybox to avoid having to go out in the rain. But as an adventure guide, hiding in the toybox, no matter how appealing it sounds, is simply no longer an option. Adventure Camp doesn’t stay inside when it rains.

Writing the third book in an on-going series is a similar situation. Continue reading

Book Review: Zombies & Calculus by Colin Adams

9 Dec

If you’re looking for a good zombie novel, then just keep looking. But if you’d like a light refresher on mathematical principles with a side of peril, or if you need a gift for somebody taking calculus or pre-cal who doesn’t mind a sprinkling of gore, then Zombies & Calculus may be a good pick.

The author, Colin Adams, is a professor at Williams College and the humor columnist for the Mathematical Intelligencer. He has written several other math-related books; this is his latest (published in September). A couple of videos starting here illustrate some of the scenarios in Zombies & Calculus, in case you want to get a sense of the book’s tone. Continue reading

Book Review: Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith

13 Nov

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

Z Nation and “A Chick Thing”

17 Oct

While I was counting down the hours before the return of The Walking Dead, I took the opportunity to write down some thoughts about Z Nation. Sure, it’s no Walking Dead, but it does have its moments.


Last weekend, my sister visited, and, among other activities, she took a break from her TV-less lifestyle. After I got to show her the wonderful “Manhattan,” she found that SyFy was starting a four-episode marathon of “Z Nation.”

I had previously caught the last 20 minutes of that show’s premiere, been annoyed by a stupid decision to needlessly pursue a zombie into a clutter-filled deathtrap, and decided just to wait a few weeks for TWD. But my sister wanted to try Z Nation, so we watched for a couple of episodes, and I kept it on after she went to bed. Continue reading

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