BOOK REVIEW: Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

REVIEW SUMMARY: Lawrence wraps up the story of Jorg and the Broken Empire with pathos, care, deft, and surprising brevity


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The backstory of Jorg’s history, and the history of his broken world, are revealed as his quest to become Emperor is opposed by forces Jorg is barely cognizant of.

PROS: Clever and well execution use of multiple time periods and narrative to draw readers to the conclusion; excellent worldbuilding and character study.
CONS: A newly introduced POV does not rise much above a plot exposition device; strains to wrap up series in only three volumes.
BOTTOM LINE: A well executed end to the Broken Empire Trilogy that ends the series before Jorg wears out his welcome.
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[GUEST POST] Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam’s Top 10 Fairy Tale Short Stories

Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam’s fiction and poetry has appeared in magazines such as Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Daily Science Fiction, and Goblin Fruit. She reviews short fiction bi-weekly on Mondays through her blog, Short Story Review, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast program. Visit her website at

Top 10 Fairy Tale Retellings

by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

Ever since I was a kid, I have always loved fairy tales. The fairy tales that most resonated with me back then were always the grittier ones: Anderson’s Little Mermaid, the original Brothers Grimm. I liked the tragic endings and the grotesque descriptions. But when I read them now, as an adult, I find the stories lacking in depth, in vividness, in complex characterization and psychological motivation. And while I still adore fairy tales, I adore even more the recent (as well as not-so-recent) fairy tale retellings I have stumbled across.

Here is a list of ten of my favorites. These retellings stand out for many different reasons; they shatter or play with the gender issues present in so many fairy tales or add layers to otherwise simple myths or even create a whole new tale from the well-worn tropes. They are all worth checking out and exploring for yourself.
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Top Picks for Science Fiction & Fantasy Books – August 2013

Over at the Kirkus Reviews blog today, I pick a small handful of Top Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Picks for August.

Pop on over!

MIND MELD: What Authors Are on Your Auto-Read List?

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

We all have authors whose work, for whatever reason, inspire us more than the rest, whose books standout and can always be counted on to entertain, and even to comfort. These are the ones that we’ll instantly forgive a misstep or two (maybe even three), because we love them that much, and will buy, and read, anything that they write. So, we asked our panel…

Q: What authors are on your autoread list, and why?

Here’s what they said…

Jaime Lee Moyer
Jaime Lee Moyer lives in San Antonio with Marshall Payne, two cats, three guitars and a growing collection of books and music. Her first novel, DELIA’S SHADOW, will be published by TOR Books on September 17, 2013. Two other books in the series, A BARRICADE IN HELL, and AGAINST A BRIGHTENING SKY, will be published in 2014 and 2015. Her novels are represented by Tamar Rydzinski of the Laura Dail Literary Agency. She writes a lot, she reads as much as she can.

The list has changed over the years as I’ve changed and new writers have come onto the scene. There are so many good books out there, so many new worlds and viewpoints to explore. Potentially this list could get very long, but I’ll limit myself.

  • Elizabeth Bear is an autoread for me. Her worldbuilding is stunning, her use of language is amazing, and her characters suck me right into whatever story she’s telling. The women in Bear’s books are strong and autonomous, and they play central roles in the narrative.
  • Robin McKinley, for the beauty of her storytelling, and how a seemingly gentle story can kick me in the gut. The highest praise I can give a book is that it made me feel something: joy, sorrow, fear. McKinley’s books have made me cry more times than I can count. I love that.
  • Rae Carson, a new writer on the YA scene. Excellent worldbuilding in a non-European setting, and a main character that grows into the role fate has handed her. Carson’s use of language is superb, and just because her protag is young doesn’t mean she gets off easily. Can’t wait to see more from her.
  • Ian Tregillis, another new writer who pulls no punches. First rate storytelling, and characters that made me rethink my definitions of evil and what makes someone a monster. I can’t recommend his books highly enough.

There are more, but those are the top four on my current list.

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Eoin Colfer’s ARTEMIS FOWL Optioned by Disney

This seems like the Summer of SFF film/TV options: Vonda McIntyre’s The Moon And The SunThe Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes…interviews Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs…interviews The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss….and now Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer.

Disney Studios just greenlit a project to bring Colfer’s Artemis Fowl books to film. Producer Harvey Weinstein is leading the project.

Artemis Fowl is a 12-year-old millionaire and criminal mastermind who decides to steal gold from the fairyfolk by kidnapping one of them and holding them for ransom. The trouble is, the fairyfolk here are re quite mean and they do not take too kindly to being ripped off.

The Fantastic Fiction at KGB Kickstarter Successfully Funded

The crowd funding for the Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series was successful in raising funds to carry it on for another 5 years.

From a press release:
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Free SF, Fantasy and Horror Fiction for 7/31/2013

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What’s special about today’s free fiction?

  1. Aphelion #175.17 – July 2013
  2. Black Petals #64 – July 15, 2013
  3. SFFAudio Podcast #223 – The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

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SF/F/H Link Post for 2013-07-31

Interviews & Profiles

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WINNER: Deadly Sting by Jennifer Estep

The winner of our giveaway for Deadly Sting by Jennifer Estep has been chosen and notified.

Congratulations to: J. B. from Sumner, WA!

You will be receiving your prize soon!

Thanks to everyone who entered.

Cover & Synopsis: “The Severed Streets” by Paul Cornell

While you are still marveling over Paul Cornell’s London Falling, the ever-vigilant Rising Shadow is tracking the sequel. Behold, the cover and synopsis of the upcoming (as in April 2014) novel The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell!

Here’s the synopsis:
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BOOK REVIEW: Magic Rises (Kate Daniels #6) by Ilona Andrews

REVIEW SUMMARY: Magic Rises is an exciting, emotional roller coaster ride into a world of dark magic and intrigue.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: In Magic Rises, the 6th installment of the Kate Daniels series, Kate and Curran must travel to the Black Sea to find the panacea that will help to ensure the survival of the shapeshifters’ young, but the chances of this trip being a trap is very high. However, the stakes for the Pack are pretty high too, and Kate and Curran are willing to do just about anything to get the cure.

PROS: The Kate Daniels series is one of the best in urban fantasy with rich world-building, twisted magic, and emotional story lines, and Magic Rises is no exception.
CONS: Honestly, there weren’t any cons for me in this one. It’s probably my favorite of the series and I stayed up very, very late to finish it.
BOTTOM LINE: Magic Rises is a near perfect addition to the Kate Daniels series, and has reawakened my love for the urban fantasy genre.

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[GUEST POST] Kim Curran Says No One Ever Told Her That Women Didn’t Write Science Fiction

Dublin-born Kim Curran studied Philosophy at university with the plan of being paid big bucks to think deep thoughts. While that never quite worked out, she did land a job as a junior copywriter with an ad agency a week after graduating. She’s worked in advertising ever since, specialising in writing for video games. Her first book Shift was published in autumn 2012 with the sequel Control out August 2013. You can find her on her website and on Twitter as @kimecurran.

No One Told Me Women Didn’t Write Science Fiction

No one ever told me women didn’t write science fiction. Or that it might be odd for me to want to. It simply wasn’t an issue. My mother bottle fed us while watching Star Trek. I grew up on Dr Who, Space 1999, Ulysses 31, Back to the Future, E.T, etc.

I was also obsessed with science; with understanding the world around me and spinning tales using whatever snippets of science I had gleaned. My primary school teacher even called me her ‘poet scientist‘ when I was nine, in a strange bit of foreshadowing.

So when it came to reading, it made sense I would reach for the SF shelves. And when it came to writing, the same thing applied. I never stopped to think ‘this isn’t something for a woman.’

In short, I was blissfully unaware that gender even came into it. So to have arrived in the community of SF writers and readers and realised there is a battle raging between the genders, well, it came as a bit of a shock.
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Table of Contents: ‘OLD VENUS’ Edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois

George R.R. Martin has posted the table of contents for the upcoming anthology he co-edited with Gardner Dozois, Old Venus. This is a follow up to another upcoming anthology, Old Mars. Martin says “Gardner and I wish to categorically deny the rumor that we are now working on OLD URANUS”. Hiyo!

Here’s the table of contents…
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VIDEO: Thanos Crashes Comic-Con

This is what happens when Thanos, the Mad Titan, decides to invade Comic-Con.

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Free SF, Fantasy and Horror Fiction for 7/30/2013

Back after a week away, and catching up. For those of you who haven’t checked out Dave Tackett’s Quasar Dragon, DO IT NOW for some excellent birthday celebrations of authors and their free fiction.

Want these delicious links emailed to you once a week? Sign up for the Free SF/F/H Fiction Newsletter

What’s special about today’s free fiction?

  1. Beneath Ceaseless Skies #126 – July 25, 2013
  2. Expanded Horizons #40 – July 2013
  3. Radio Drama Revival presents a science fiction satire in two parts.

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SF/F/H Link Post for 2013-07-30

Interviews & Profiles

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BOOK REVIEW: Second Chance by David D. Levine


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Astronaut Chaz Eades’ fraught awakening onto a mission to Tau Ceti unfolds a web of mystery, deceit, and emotional tension.

PROS: Intriguing set of interlocked mysteries; strong character grounding and focus; emotionally resonant.
CONS: The story is missing a beat on the protagonist’s emotional and social path.
BOTTOM LINE: An evocative, emotional, character-focused novella with enough crunch to satisfy space travel SF grognards too.

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[GUEST POST] David Nickle Looks at Feminism in Horror

David Nickle is an author and journalist living in Toronto, Canada. His most recent novel, The ‘Geisters, is available from ChiZine Publications through this link.

Rosemary’s Daughters

by David Nickle

One evening many years ago, author and playwright Ira Levin paid a visit to his friend Rosemary Clooney. It was during her pregnancy, in the apartment she shared with her husband Jose Ferrer in the Dakota Building in New York City. As legend would have it, Ferrer was a lousy husband, and Levin worried about Rosemary both in the marriage and in that gloomy old building. He went away and set to work on a new novel, about a woman also called Rosemary married to a down-on-his-luck actor in a building very much like the Dakota.

The novel departs from Clooney’s depressingly mundane reality, as Rosemary Woodhouse’s husband Guy sells her uterus to a pack of Satanists living upstairs. And as they wait for their little Dark Lord to gestate, the course of a difficult pregnancy turns into the nightmarish horror show of Rosemary’s Baby — arguably one of the most influential and powerful horror novels of the 20th century.

Reportedly, Levin was dismayed by the most obvious influence of the book, in creating a genre of horror fiction that preyed on what he regarded the superstitious impulses of the reading public. But he ought to have been more pleased with the other big influence: the introduction of feminist themes into horror fiction. In particular, into horror fiction written by men.
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The SF Signal Podcast (Episode 198): The Three Hoarsemen: Get Off My SF Lawn!

And so it was that, during the brutal heatwave of July 2013, Fred Kiesche, John Stevens, and Jeff Patterson did re-convene to swelter and bemoan the state of things. Thrill as they endure cicadas and noisy fans! Listen to them discuss Readercon, the irrelevance of poorly-researched reviews, comic books, noir, specious definitions of the “canon,” and other sundry subjects. It’s like visiting three cranky uncles in a run down retirement home…

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Gareth L. Powell Releases Best Work As Free eBook

Gareth L. Powell has just released a sampler eBook of of his best speculative fiction called Entropic Angel.

Details on the free download follow…
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