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"About the best bio you'll find of [Poul Anderson] is at The Templeton Gate. Galen Strickland, the webmaster of Templeton Gate, is in the process of building a useful, critical site." - James Patrick Kelly, On the Net: Mastery,, Issue 0511

A Tunnel in the Sky

Dedicated to the memory of my friend
David Wallingsford

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This site is an affiliate partner of Amazon, Bookshop, and ReAnimusPress. Qualifying purchases through our links may earn us a commission. Here are a few recently reviewed books, films, and TV to choose from. Click on the title to read the review and the affiliate links for purchase. Links for video titles and ReAnimus books are on the image.

The Saint of Bright Doors
by Vajra Chandrasekera

On DVD, Blu-ray & 4K

On Hulu

One Salt Sea
October Daye #5
by Seanan McGuire

Babylon 5: The Road Home
On Blu-ray, 4K & Digital

The Brides of High Hill
Singing Hills #5
by Nghi Vo

Featured title from

Fragments of America
by Norman Spinrad

-Site Search

One Salt Sea
Posted by Galen
May 20, 2024
12:40pm CDT

And now the fifth book in another series, One Salt Sea. October Daye investigates the kidnappings of two princes from the Saltmists, an Undersea kingdom. To complicate matters, her estranged daughter Gillian has also been snatched. Perhaps the best in the series so far, with many more revelations about Toby's heritage and destiny.


The Brides of High Hill
5/14/24; 4:20pm CDT
The fifth novella in Nghi Vo's Singing Hills Cycle is The Brides of High Hill. It has a different style than the others, verging toward horror, and my comments are brief to avoid spoilers. It is recommended.


Shigidi and the Brass Head of Obalufon
5/13/24; 4:10pm CDT
Another debut novel, which was also a finalist for the Crawford Award, won by the previously reviewed book, is Wole Talabi's Shigidi and the Brass Head of Obalufon. It is also a Nebula and BSFA nominee. Very good and recommended. I'm not sure, but there is a possibility of further adventures with Shigidi. If so, I will read that too.


The Saint of Bright Doors
5/9/24; 3:30pm CDT
Vajra Chandrasekera's debut novel, The Saint of Bright Doors, has already won one award, the Crawford from the IAFA, and is a finalist for others; Nebula, Hugo, Lambda. It is very good, but also very complex, and my review is more a short synopsis. Multiple plot elements, not all of which are resolved, but that is a lot like life. Not everything works out the way we thought it would, but sometimes it is better than imagined. Highly recommended.


Over Sea, Under Stone
4/30/24; 12:00pm CDT
From what I have gathered, Susan Cooper, this year's SFWA Grand Master, wrote mostly for children, although I'm not sure what age group the target audience was for various books. The Dark is Rising series is generally regarded as her best work. I was not impressed with the first book, Over Sea, Under Stone, but the series is said to improve later. Hope so.


Secondhand Daylight
4/26/24; 4:00pm CDT
This time my review copy came direct from Eugen Bacon, co-author with Andrew Hook of Secondhand Daylight. Two time travel tales woven together, with the usual potential for paradoxes and/or alterations of events. Recommended.


Web of Angels
4/23/24; 2:00pm CDT
I received a digital review copy of Web of Angels from Edelweiss. It is not a new book, but a reissue of John M. Ford's first novel, originally published in 1980. Ford died in 2006. It is weird, a hard book to describe, and I'm still not sure if I can recommend it, although I'm sure it will appeal to some.


The Practice, the Horizon, and the Chain
4/16/24; 4:15pm CDT
Sofia Samatar's new novella is short, around 100 pages, in three chapters. Today is the official publication date, but it dropped onto my Kindle last night, and I read the first part then, finishing this morning. The Practice, the Horizon, and the Chain may sound like it is about three separate things, but they are all connected. As we are all connected, if we could only open ourselves to that connection. Highly recommended.


Late Eclipses
4/15/24; 4:00pm CDT
The fourth October Daye novel is Late Eclipses. Another perilous adventure, many new revelations concerning Toby's ancestry and abilities. Recommended.


Someone You Can Build a Nest In
4/9/24; 12:40pm CDT
John Wiswell's debut novel, Someone You Can Build a Nest In, is weird and wonderful. Believe it or not, a monster story and a love story, both very different than any you have ever read. Recommended.


Tender + Monster Portraits
4/2/24; 3:20pm CDT
Two books by Sofia Samatar on one page, her first story collection, Tender, along with a much shorter book she did in collaboration with her brother Del, who provided the illustrations for Monster Portraits.


3/27/24; 4:50pm CDT
A show exclusive to Hulu for now, or the Disney/Hulu bundle. Extraordinary is a lot more mature than you'd expect from a Disney production, crass and tasteless at times, with a lot of profanity and sexual situations. It is also a hilarious comedy, but with a lot of meaniful insights into 'normal' human behaviour.


Camp Concentration
3/27/24; 4:45pm CDT
Camp Concentration by Thomas M. Disch came to mind when I was reading Premee Mohamed's latest novel. They have in common main characters who are pacifists confined to prison, but not much more than that. After more than fifty years, Disch's story is still memorable, and recommended.


An Artificial Night
3/22/24; 12:30pm CDT
Continuing with Seanan McGuire's October Daye series with the third novel, An Artificial Night, which sees Toby mount a perilous rescue of several fae, changeling, and human children, abducted by someone she had not heard of before, Blind Michael.


The Will To Battle
3/18/24; 2:10pm CDT
The third book in Ada Palmer's Hugo-nominated series is even more frustrating than what came before. As it turned out, The Will To Battle is only about the preparation for the battle. The war will have to wait for the fourth book.


The Siege of Burning Grass
3/14/24; 12:50pm CDT
Premee Mohamed's The Siege of Burning Grass, is a tale of war and resistance. What will a pacifist sacrifice, or compromise, to achieve their goal? How will society deal with them regardless of what they do? Recommended.


Learn to Howl
3/7/24; 12:50pm CST
Jennifer R. Donohue's Learn to Howl is the seventh of her stories I've read within the past five months. It is her second novel, and the beginning of a trilogy. A hybrid coming of age tale, with lots of action and suspense. And werewolves. Recommended.


The Alamaxa Duology
3/5/24; 1:15pm CST
Hadeer Elsbai's Alamaxa Duology may remind you of other things, but that has been the case with multiple other fantasy and science fiction stories. How different authors approach the subject, and the characters they create to embody the ideas, makes all the difference. Recommended.


The Butcher of the Forest
3/1/24; 11:25am CST
The Butcher of the Forest is a new novella by Premee Mohamed. A dark and perilous journey into a dark and dangerous forest to retrieve two children. Even though children are involved, this is not a children's story. It is very good though.


More October Daye
2/29/24; 2:20pm CST
I edited the previous portion of the review, then added two updates, so this link is for the full page (so far) covering Seanan McGuire's October Daye series. Recommended, particularly if you like urban fantasy.


Seven Surrenders
2/27/24; 11:00am CST
Seven Surrenders is the second book in Ada Palmer's Terra Ignota series. Still a complex and challenging concept, but also still frustrating concerning some plot elements.


The Investigations of Mossa and Pleiti
2/26/24; 12:40pm CST
My original review of Malka Older's The Mimicking of Known Successes will eventually be deleted. At that time even the author was not sure if there would be a collective name for the series, but now with the second story there is, so I combined them and changed the URL. This link is for both of The Investigations of Mossa and Pleiti. Recommended.


Danged Black Thing
2/20/24; 1:00pm CST
Eugen Bacon's story collection, Danged Black Thing, is a finalist for this year's Philip K. Dick Award. She provided a free digital copy for me in exchange for an honest review. I was confused about a few, due to unfamiliar terms and concepts, but I still liked most of them, my favorite turning out to be one of the more confusing ones. Recommended.


The Tainted Cup
2/12/24; 1:20pm CST
Robert Jackson Bennett's The Tainted Cup begins another series with the collective title of Shadow of the Leviathan. A Holmesian pastiche set within a secondary world fantasy. Very good and recommended.


The Last Dragoners of Bowbazar
2/8/24; 4:15pm CST
The Last Dragoners of Bowbazar by Indra Das is a fantasy/science fiction hybrid novella. Is Reuel George descended from dragon riders from space, or are his parents just reluctant to tell him of their heritage as nomads.? Either way, it's a fascinating story. Recommended.


The Winged Histories
2/7/24; 1:50pm CST
Sofia Samatar's The Winged Histories is not a direct sequel to A Stranger in Olondria, but it shares settings and a few characters. Some confusion arose from the non-linear narrative, and that it is from the perspective of four different women. It is still a very good book, maybe even the equal of the first one. Highly recommended.


Demon Daughter
1/31/24; 2:00pm CST
A few weeks ago, out of the blue, Lois McMaster Bujold released her twelfth Penric & Desdemona story. Of course I had to read it, and now add comments about Demon Daughter to the fourth page for the series. Based on the ending, I have to assume it will not be the last one.


Where Rivers Go To Die
1/30/24; 4:30pm CST
Another story collection from an African writer, this time Dilman Dila of Uganda. Where Rivers Go To Die is a mixture of supernatural horror, crime/mysteries, and science fiction. Another strong recommendation.


Caged Ocean Dub
1/28/24; 3:45pm CST
The first story collection from Dare Segun Falowo, Caged Ocean Dub, is a mixture of general fiction, fantasy, horror, and science fiction, with the Orisha gods prevalent in many. Falowo lives up to the description that he is a voice of Nigerian Weird. Very good and recommended.


Your Shadow Half Remains
1/24/24; 3:20pm CST
Sunny Moraine's short horror novel, Your Shadow Half Remains, is oppressively bleak, filled with paranoia and madness, but it isn't always clear what is actually happening, what is only in the mind of the main character. Horror is not my preferred genre, but I liked it and can recommend it.


A Stranger in Olondria
1/23/24; 1:25pm CST
Winner of World Fantasy, British Fantasy, and Crawford awards, Sofia Samatar's debut novel, A Stranger in Olondria, was every bit as good as I had been told it was. Highly recommended.


Mislaid in Parts Half-Known
1/16/24; 1:50pm CST
An update for another long running series. This time it is the latest in Seanan McGuire's Wayward Children, Mislaid in Parts Half-Known. Another great story, and I hope there will be more.


System Collapse
1/15/24; 5:25pm CST
The second novel in the Murderbot series, and the ninth story overall (there are two short stories I haven't read yet), System Collapse is a direct sequel to the previous novel Network Effect. Still exciting, still recommended. I have split the reviews to two pages now, with a link at the bottom of each directing you to the other.


Rosemary and Rue
1/11/24; 2:05pm CST
I will be reviewing several books in Seanan McGuire's October Daye series, although I don't know how far into it I will get. It is urban fantasy, the first novel being Rosemary and Rue, which I enjoyed.


Too Like the Lightning
1/7/24; 3:30pm CST
I have re-read Ada Palmer's Too Like the Lightning, and made a few minor edits to my original review. I plan to follow up in subsequent months with the other three books in a series known as Terra Ignota.


Happy New Reviews!
1/1/24; 3:10pm CST
Starting off the new year with two reviews I wanted to post yesterday but ran out of time. Two more novellas by Jennifer R. Donohue, each separate and unique, not tied to any other story. Both are good, and both confirm Donohue has quickly mastered her craft. The Drowned Heir is a fantasy examining a weird tradition, while Between the Blood and the Sun is a noir/horror Western.


The Shamshine Blind
12/31/23; 2:20pm CST
Paz Pardo's debut novel, The Shamshine Blind, is a combination of noir-detective story and alternate world science fiction, one in which Argentina is now the leading world power. Weird, but good, and recommended.


The Tusks of Extinction
12/26/23; 4:00pm CST
Another Ray Nayler story, a novella this time, one I read in advance of its publication on January 16. The Tusks of Extinction may be set in the same future as his novel, or maybe not. It involves the cloning of mammoths, as well as the resurrection of a human consciousness. Another strong story, recommended.


12/26/23; 2:00pm CST
It is not a genre film but it is about science, and about a subject speculated many times within the genre. I am willing to bet Oppenheimer will end up on the Hugo ballot next year, maybe the Nebula too. It is the best film I've seen in quite a few years. Cillian Murphy is brilliant, and the rest of the cast, and the director, are all at the top of their form.


The Mountain in the Sea
12/26/23; 10:15am CST
Ray Nayler's debut novel, The Mountain in the Sea, won a Locus Award for Best First Novel, and was a Nebula finalist. Very good, with great world building, intriguing characters and scenarios, with deep insight into human and animal consciousness. Highly recommended.


Run With The Hunted, 1-3
12/20/23; 12:15pm CST
Last month I read the first novella in a series, now follow that up with the second and third. Since I made edits to the original review, this link is for the first three stories in Run With The Hunted by Jennifer R. Donohue.


The Coward's Option + Tasha's Fail-Safe
12/19/23; 1:40pm CST
I have now read all of the available Andrea Cort stories by Adam-Troy Castro, even though not always in chronological order of her life or by publication date. The last two (for now) are set earlier in her career, and like the others, Tasha's Fail-Safe & The Coward's Option are good and recommended.


Hild & Menewood
12/17/23; 3:00pm CST
Some brief comments about the second book in Nicola Griffith's mostly fictional look at the woman who would later be known as Saint Hilda of Whitby. But I also re-read the first book, and made some edits to those comments, so this link is for both of The Hild Sequence.


The Expanse: Dragon Tooth
12/9/23; 1:40pm CST
After nine novels, eight shorter stories, six seasons of TV, an RPG, video game, podcasts, and sundry other things, The Expanse now gets a major graphic story. The best thing about Dragon Tooth is it is brand new story, not a rehash of what has already been told. Set in between novels six and seven, it tells of special Martian forces left behind when rogue Admiral Winston Duarte escaped Sol System through the Laconia Gate.


12/8/23; 6:10pm CST
Another in the PM Press Outspoken Authors series, Carter Scholz's Gypsy contains the novella of that title, two other stories, one essay, an interview, and bibliography. I realize the title is problematic, and I'm sure the author was aware of it too, but the story is still very good.


12/6/23; 2:35pm CST
Shadows is the last novel Robin McKinley has published, ten years ago. It is the tenth of her novels I have read, along with two story collections. I have liked all of them to various degrees. This one has similarities to my favorite, Sunshine, still enjoyable if not quite up to that level.


Knot of Shadows
12/3/23;12:05pm CST
At this time, Knot of Shadows is the last of Bujold's Penric & Desdemona stories. No word on if she intends to continue, start another series, or retire. If she does write again, I will read it, and I need to go back and read her earlier fantasies, The Spirit Ring, and Sharing Knife.


Hiding Place
12/1/23;11:30am CST
"Hiding Place" is another Andrea Cort novella, as far into her life as Castro has written so far. He has said if he continues beyond that, the next will have to be another novel. If he ever writes it, I will read it.


War of the Marionettes
11/17/23; 2:35pm CST
War of the Marionettes is the third, and at this time the last novel in Adam-Troy Castro's Andrea Cort series, as much a sequel to the Marionettes novellas I reviewed last month as it is for the previous novels. It is well-written and exciting, but also bleak and forboding most of the time. I will read a novella next month that follows this book, as far into Andrea's life as he has written so far.


11/13/23; 1:50pm CST
Another AppleTV+ exclusive, Severance is a weird combination of scientific innovation and mind control, set within what appears to be an alternate world. Recommended, but I'm disappointed by the short season, which of course ended on a huge cliffhanger.


A Stab of the Knife
11/12/23; 4:30pm CST
A Stab of the Knife is another novella by Adam-Troy Castro which features Andrea Cort, but also characters from other stories I haven't read yet, but may soon in the case of one of them. Another intriguing mystery with lots of action, as well as character introspection. It is set between the second and third novels, the latter being my next read.


The Assassins of Thasalon
11/12/23; 1:15pm CST
The only novel length Penric & Desdemona story (so far), and at this time the penultimate tale, The Assassins of Thasalon sees Penric travel to Cedonia for the third time, his task to help right the wrongs that had forced his brother-in-law to flee his native country after being falsely branded a traitor. Another exciting adventure with nary a wasted page. Recommended.


11/7/23; 4:25pm CST
Robin McKinley's Chalice is another well-written fantasy, without a lot of details of the history of the land. But it has a great central character in Marisol, the Willowlands new Chalice, second in importance in the demesne to its Master. Recommended.


Run With The Hunted
11/2/23; 12:00pm DST
Run With The Hunted is the first novella in a series that has extended to five more titles so far. The author, Jennifer R. Donohue, says it is cyberpunk, and that may be more evident in later stories, but even though it is near future and there is a lot of high tech, nothing seemed out of the realm of current tech. Fast-paced and exciting. Recommended.


The Lover
11/1/23; 12:35pm DST
The second story Silvia Morena-Garcia has published as an Amazon Original, The Lover is somewhat a variation on Red Riding Hood, but there are other elements, and other surprises. Recommended.


A Night in the Lonesome October
10/31/23; 2:45pm DST
Roger Zelazny's A Night in the Lonesome October is a book very appropriate for Halloween. The events depicted are told in 32 chapters, the first being the exception of being titled by the date, the others go from October 1 through the 31st. Multiple recognizable characters (and a few I haven't figured out) come together for a mystical ceremony under a full moon on Halloween night. Very good and recommended.


Nettle & Bone
10/30/23; 3:10pm DST
Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher (a pseudonym of Ursula Vernon) is the latest novel to win a Hugo. It is a dark fantasy, a revenge tale. I liked it, and can recommended it, although there were quite a few other books that would have been my preference this year.


Exit Ghost
10/24/23; 1:40pm DST
Exit Ghost is Jennifer R. Donohue's debut novel, but don't let that, or the fact it was self-published, dissuade you from giving it a chance. Very well written, intriguing characters, magical overtones, in a story that has a bit of Shakespeare's Hamlet in its makeup. Highly recommended.


2023 Hugos
10/21/23; 11:30am DST
Hugo winners were announced last night, seeing as how it was Saturday night already in China. I've updated the Awards Page with purchase links for as many things as possible, as well as links to online venues to read the shorter works.


The Marionettes Novellas
10/10/23; 10:15pm DST
Stories that are connected to those of Andrea Cort, and which lead up to the events in the third novel, are the Marionettes Novellas, the third of which was written many years ago, but not published until recently, included with the e-book of the second novel. Weird and mysterious aliens, perhaps even weirder humans. Recommended. If you can find them, since the first two are not in print or e-book at this time.


The Physicians of Vilnoc
10/6/23; 1:55pm DST
Another Penric and Desdemona story, The Physicians of Vilnoc sees our favorite sorcerer battling a serious epidemic in multiple locations around Vilnoc, with Nikys and their young daughter at home and worried about his fate. As with all the other Penric tales, this is recommended.


10/5/23; 1:50pm DST
Sunshine is my favorite Robin McKinley book so far. A strong, first-person narrative of a woman who may know a little bit of magic, but is it enough to battle the Others? Highly recommended.


More Andrea Cort
9/30/23; 2:40pm DST
Returning to the Andrea Cort stories page, I take a look at two of her earlier adventures, "Burning the Ladder" and "With Unclean Hands."


Mammoths at the Gates
9/28/23; 2:20pm DST
Mammoths at the Gates is the fourth novella in Nghi Vo's Singing Hills Cycle. Another introspective look at memory, loyalty, friendship, and tradition. Recommended.


The Third Claw of God
9/22/23; 5:20pm DST
The second novel in the Andrea Cort series by Adam-Troy Castro is The Third Claw of God. An intriguing mystery, multiple possible suspects, tense action sequences, but probably too much tell rather than show. Lots and lots and lots of dialog.


9/16/23; 11:15am DST
Robin McKinley's Deerskin is a more mature story than the others I've read so far. I had to be vague about some things, without cautionary notes, since even a minor hint could be a spoiler. It started off slow for me, and at one point I thought I might not finish, but I'm glad I continued. The latter half is much better written than earlier. Recommended.


The Orphans of Raspay
9/10/23; 4:20pm DST
A second review today, another Penric & Desdemona novella. The Orphans of Raspay sees Penric in peril, but he's not alone. He also has to safeguard two orphan girls. Another recommendation.


The Water Outlaws
9/10/23; 12:30pm DST
S. L. Huang's latest book, The Water Outlaws, is a gender-swapped adaptation of what is considered to be one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature. It is very good, but also very violent at times. Recommended.


Emissaries From the Dead
8/31/23; 5:05pm DST
Emissaries From the Dead is the second story, and first novel, featuring Andrea Cort, an investigator in the future. As intriguing as the mystery in this story, Andrea may be the biggest puzzle of all. Recommended.


Unseen Demons, an Andrea Cort Story
8/26/23; 1:10pm DST
Along with other books, I will devote the next few months reading novels and shorter works by Adam-Troy Castro, the central character being Andrea Cort, an investigator of murders (and perhaps other crimes) in the future on other planets and habitats. Her first appearance came in the 2002 novella "Unseen Demons."


Masquerade in Lodi
8/24/23; 12:35pm DST
Starting a third page for the adventures of Penric & Desdemona by Lois McMaster Bujold, the first story of which is Masquerade in Lodi. Enjoyable, although I figured out part of the mystery long before Penric did.


The Outlaws of Sherwood
8/22/23; 3:55pm DST
The Robin McKinley book for this month is The Outlaws of Sherwood. I can't give it a strong recommendation, but it's not a waste of time, especially if you are a fan of other tellings of the Robin Hood legend.


The Blue, Beautiful World
8/19/23; 1:15pm DST
Again, compared to the first book in the sequence, I did not like The Blue, Beautiful World as much, but I still recommend the series. Other readers might like the second and third books more than I did, might not like the first as much. The only way to know is to read them.


Babylon 5: The Road Home
8/14/23; 6:20pm DST
The Road Home is a new animated film in the Babylon 5 franchise. I liked it a lot, and I hope we get more of the same. Or live action, or puppets, I don't care, I just need more B5.


Babylon 5
8/14/23; 8:15am DST
My original review of Babylon 5 was among the first pages uploaded when The Templeton Gate went live on July 27, 2000. I've edited and updated it a few times since, the last was when it came to Amazon Prime, but that was four years ago. No longer on Prime, and it was pulled off HBO-Max even before that changed to just MAX, but it will be out on Blu-Ray in December. So I've added that information, as well as tweaking some of my comments about the show. Also, I hope to upload a review of the new animated film The Road Home sometime later today. Stay tuned.


The Galaxy Game
8/13/23; 12:50pm DST
The second of Karen Lord's Cygnus Beta novels is The Galaxy Game. I created a new page rather than combine it with the previous review, since most of the action takes place other places besides Cygnus Beta, and the third book, which I've already started, is in another location as well, at least in the beginning. I didn't like Galaxy Game as much due to my confusion on multiple things, but I tried to avoid spoilers. Not sure I succeeded.


The Best of All Possible Worlds
8/11/23; 5:50pm DST
I re-read a book and made very minor edits to the review, but included new information and cover image. Karen Lord's second novel, The Best of All Possible Worlds, was published in 2013, and I first read it in January of 2018. It was reissued last month with new cover art, along with another book which will be my next review. A third book in the sequence comes out later this month, and I have an advance review copy of it.


Her Husband's Hands
8/2/23; 2:50pm DST
Her Husband's Hands is a collection of eight stories by Adam-Troy Castro. Grim, gruesome, horrific, no feel-good stories here. But they are well written and compelling. Recommended.


Africa Risen
7/24/23; 3:30pm DST
Africa Risen is a thirty-two story anthology by African and African Diaspora writers. I didn't go into details about specific stories, since I don't think I could do them justice. They all deserve to be read without further comment from me, other than giving it the highest of recommendations.


A Knot in the Grain
7/11/23; 4:15pm DST
A Knot in the Grain is a short story collection by Robin McKinley. Only five stories, less than two hundred pages, but all are good, the title story being as good, if not better, than anything else I've read of hers so far. Recommended.


The Prisoner of Limnos
7/9/23; 12:10pm DST
Continuing with the adventures of Penric & Desdemona, we come to the sixth novella I've reviewed, the third in the second omnibus. The Prisoner of Limnos sees Penric still with Nikys, attempting to rescue her mother from incarceration in a very formidable island complex. Recommended.


The Deep Sky
7/6/23; 3:30pm DST
The Deep Sky, the debut novel from Yume Kitasei, presents some interesting characters and scenarios, but it is hampered by not enough background information, and a lot of the science is wonky.


For All Mankind Update
7/5/23; 12:30pm DST
I finished watching Season 3 yesterday and have edited some previous comments, and added a few more paragraphs to my review of For All Mankind, AppleTV+'s alternate history space race drama.


Silver Nitrate
6/28/23; 2:30pm DST
Silvia Moreno-Garcia's new novel is a bit deceptive, with Silver Nitrate seeming to be more like one of her mainstream mysteries, then the fantastical elements ramp up toward the end. Not without its faults, but still a very exciting narrative.


Mira's Last Dance
6/24/23; 1:10pm DST
I continue with Bujold's Penric & Desdemona series with Mira's Last Dance, which is a direct sequel to Penric's Mission. Another good look at Penric's talents, as well as the myriad possibilities if he utilizes all the other personalities that make up Desdemona.


The Ghosts of Trappist
6/23/23; 12:45pm DST
The conclusion(?) of the NeoG series is The Ghosts of Trappist, which is exciting and multi-layered, but there are hints of possible future events.


Hold Fast Through the Fire
6/16/23; 1:00pm DST
The second NeoG book is Hold Fast Through the Fire. A new mystery, one which threatens to tear the NeoG apart, or at least significantly limit their effectiveness. Still a lot of emphasis on character, which is the better part. Recommended.


For All Mankind
6/12/23; 3:20pm DST
Currently an exclusive on AppleTV+, For All Mankind is an alternate history where the Russians landed a man on the moon first, and the space race continues at a feverish pace. I'm two episodes into the second season now, and while I don't like everything about it, I will finish the three seasons currently available, and may extend my subscription beyond the free trial, depending on when Season 4 will premiere. [Update a day later: I guess I should have waited to start the review, since after just one more episode I felt the need for a couple of edits.]


A Pale Light in the Black
6/11/23; 1:10pm DST
A Pale Light in the Black is the first book in K. B. Wagers' NeoG series, that standing for the Near Earth Orbital Guard. Equivalent to our Coast Guard, although its reach has expanded to wherever humanity has set foot across the solar system, and beyond. I can recommend it, although I have reservations about how much time was devoted to one aspect instead of the major mystery.


The Hero and the Crown
6/4/23; 12:45pm DST
The Hero and the Crown is generally regarded as the second book in Robin McKinley's Damar series, but since it's a prequel maybe it should be #1 instead, or perhaps .5, and why wasn't it "Heroine" of the Crown? A slow start, redeemed by a dynamic second half. Recommended.


The Wild Girls
5/31/23; 1:15pm DST
The Wild Girls by Ursula K. Le Guin was the sixth volume in the PM Press "Outspoken Authors" series. The title story, originally in Asimov's in 2002, was revised for this book, but I'm not sure by how much. Hard to say how to classify it; not exactly fantasy, but maybe horror? Two essays, five poems, an interview, a bibliography, and a short biography fill out the volume. Recommended.


The Beginning Place
5/29/23; 4:30pm DST
A stand-alone novel from Ursula K. Le Guin, 1980's The Beginning Place is a portal fantasy, but different from most any other I've read. It's short, too short perhaps, but still recommended.


The Blue Sword
5/25/23; 1:20pm DST
Robin McKinley's second novel, The Blue Sword, was the first in the Damar series. It's Young Adult, coming-of-age, as well as a chosen one epic. Interesting, but not as good as it could have been if she had been writing for a more mature audience. I'll give it a reserved recommendation.


5/21/23; 12:30pm DST
There were a couple of times I thought this might turn into a ghost story, but R. F. Kuang's new novel, Yellowface, is contemporary fiction set in the world of publishing. From a certain perspective it could be considered a thriller, but either way you look at it, it is very good. Highly recommended.


Penric's Mission
5/17/23; 2:45pm DST
Starting a new page for the Penric & Desdemona series, the first story being Penric's Mission. The longest of all the novellas, probably close to novel length, and so far my favorite of the series.


The Roamers
5/15/23; 2:45pm DST
Francesco Verso's The Roamers is the English translation of just the first part of a 2018 book originally in Italian. Some interesting concepts, but hard to believe within the very near future timeline, and there were characters I didn't care for. I hate to say not recommended, but I would also hesitate to say the opposite.


2022 Nebula Awards
5/15/23; 9:45am DST
Winners and all finalists for the 2022 Nebulas, including links for purchase or for reading online, are now on the main Awards Page.


Dual Memory
5/11/23; 1:40pm DST
Sue Burke's fourth novel, Dual Memory, is the first of hers I have read, but it won't be the last. Equal parts post-apocalyptic tale showing the ravages of climate change, refugees displaced from their homelands due to wars and private vendettas, but also the emergence of independent A.I.s, and the consequences of bringing alien life back to Earth. Lots to pack into just 350 pages, but Burke does it well. Recommended.


No One Will Come Back For Us
5/7/23; 12:50pm DST
Premee Mohamed's first story collection, No One Will Come Back For Us, will be published next week but I got an advance digital review copy. Lots of Lovecraft inspired stories, but also enough variety to please most readers with several others. Recommended.


Promises Stronger Than Darkness
4/30/23; 1:00pm DST
The conclusion of Charlie Jane Anders' Unstoppable series, Promises Stronger Than Darkness, is filled with darkness, but also hope, compassion, and cooperation. Things are left hanging at the end, and I would welcome further exploration of the situations and characters, particularly a certain "princess." Recommended, with a few caveats.


Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak
4/24/23; 3:35pm DST
After a re-read of the first book I now add comments about the second of Charlie Jane Anders' Unstoppable series, Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak. This one is in third-person instead of first, with the various characters taking different paths, although the majority get back together at the end. But still more adventures to come in the third book, which I've already started.


Hamra and the Jungle of Memories
4/18/23; 5:35pm DST
Hanna Alkaf's fourth novel, Hamra and the Jungle of Memories, is a twist on Red Riding Hood infused with many Malaysian legends. It's directed toward Middle Grade readers, but I loved it. Highly recommended.


Penric's Fox
4/16/23; 1:40pm DST
Continuing with Bujold's Penric & Desdemona series, I now review the third novella, in character chronology that is, even though it was the fifth published. Penric's Fox is better than the previous two, and I look forward to more.


The Door in the Hedge
4/15/23; 1:40pm DST
There are four stories in Robin McKinley's The Door in the Hedge, although none of them have that title. It is used more as a metaphor, as a transition from one reality to another.


The Wishing Pool and Other Stories
4/12/23; 2:35pm DST
Tananarive Due's new story collection is The Wishing Pool and Other Stories. Ghost stories and other horror elements abound, most tied to recurring fears in the lives of black people. Very good.


Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow
4/12/23; 2:30pm DST
Nearly a year and a half since I reviewed a graphic story. I read Tom King's eight issue mini-series Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow when another blogger kept singing its praisies, saying it would be on their Hugo nominating ballot. The art is great, the story less so, and it could have been told in fewer issues.


Lone Women
4/4/23; 1:40pm DST
Victor LaValle's new novel Lone Women is a mixture of alternate history, creepy folktale, with a dash of horror. Just remember, not all monsters look like monsters on the outside.


Furious Heaven
4/1/23; 12:50pm DST
The second of Kate Elliott's Sun Chronicles is Furious Heaven. Much longer than the first book, but also better in both action and character development. A grand space opera, highly recommended.


Unconquerable Sun
3/19/23; 5:50pm DST
Unconquerable Sun is the first book in Kate Elliott's space opera trilogy, The Sun Chronicles, the publisher's blurb for which is "a gender-swapped Alexander the Great in interstellar space." The gender-swap fits, not so sure about Alexander. Lots of action and intrigue, fast paced, with some interesting characters, even though some of them are also frustrating. I have an advance copy of the next book, due out in a month.


3/12/23; 1:50pm DST
Arkady Martine's Rose/House is a novella coming out at the end of the month. Is it a murder mystery, a haunted house tale, or an examination of artificial intelligence? All of the above. And it's very good. Recommended.


Spindle's End
3/11/23; 11:45am CST
Robin McKinley's Spindle's End is the third novel generally grouped with two others as Folktales, although looking ahead to some of her other books, almost all could be described in that way. We shall see. As for this one, it's a remarkably different retelling of Sleeping Beauty, wherein almost everything has been changed from any other version you may have read or seen. Very good, and highly recommended.


Penric and the Shaman
3/4/23; 4:15pm CST
The second novella in Bujold's fantasy series is Penric and the Shaman. Good, but with a few weak spots. I'm still looking forward to more, which will come next month.


Raising Hell
3/4/23; 4:10pm CST
Raising Hell by Norman Spinrad is part of the "Outspoken Authors" series from PM Press. It consists of one novella, one essay, an interview with the author, and a bibliography. Very good, and a good companion to the previously reviewed Fragments of America.


Two Non-Fiction books by Norman Spinrad
2/27/23; 5:45pm CST
I reviewed Spinrad's Bug Jack Barron over ten years ago, with a free review copy from ReAnimus Press. Later I bought several others, ones I didn't already have in print. Two of them are non-fiction, one being a short essay from 1976 about the history of the writing of that novel, so I amended my review with comments about Experiment Perilous. The other is a collection of essays originally in different magazines or newspapers, together now in Fragments of America.


Penric's Demon
2/25/23; 11:25am CST
I will be reading all of the Penric and Desdemona stories by Lois McMaster Bujold, one a month through the rest of the year. Since there are currently ten novellas and one novel, I'll create different pages, the first of which begins with Penric's Demon, which was a Hugo and Locus finalist.


The Mimicking of Known Successes
2/21/23; 5:05pm CST
The Mimicking of Known Successes is a new novella from Malka Older. A sequel due about this time next year has already been announced, but a collective name for the series hasn't been decided yet. If that happens I can change the URL for the page. I am very interested in following the adventures of Mossa and Pleiti (which might end up being the collective title).


Rose Daughter
2/18/23; 3:10pm CST
Rose Daughter is the second of Robin McKinley's Folktales, but I had a mistaken notion it would be about Briar Rose, aka Sleeping Beauty, but it is like the novel I reviewed last month, another version of Beauty and the Beast. There are enough differences to make it interesting, and I'd say it's better than Beauty in several ways.


2/11/23; 12:00pm CST
Meru is S. B. Divya's second novel, and the first in a new series called the Alloy Era. It started slow for me due to several confusing concepts, some for which I originally had a mistaken notion. That soon passed, and I enjoyed this unique space opera very much. Recommended.


The Lathe of Heaven
1/31/23; 1:15pm CST
It has been several years since I've read Le Guin, and this time is another re-read. I highly recommend her first standalone novel, The Lathe of Heaven.


The Peripheral
1/27/23; 12:50pm CST
I normally like to read a book before its film or TV adaptation, but I watched the first couple of episodes of the Prime series first, then stopped to read William Gibson's The Peripheral, which I liked but also have some reservations about.


The Terraformers
1/22/23; 12:30pm CST
Annalee Newitz'a third novel, The Terraformers, comes out at the end of the month, but I received an advance ebook from Edelweiss. It is a good example of the necessity of employing the "suspension of disbelief." Many of the events and characters may seem preposterous, but considering the timeframe involved the reader should be able to understand and accept them.


The Hallowed Hunt
1/15/23; 4:30pm CST
The Hallowed Hunt is the third novel in Lois McMaster Bujold's World of the Five Gods series, or the first since it is a prequel to the other two. At this time I'm thinking I like it best, but a re-read might change that opinion, but who knows when that might happen.


Beauty by Robin McKinley
1/6/23; 1:50pm CST
Robin McKinley is the most recent honoree for SFWA's Grand Master Award. I'm sure I had not read her before, so decided to start with her first novel, Beauty, which is also the first of three Folktales.


More Wayward Children
1/1/23; 6:10pm CST
New Year, new review. This time I talk about four different stories, two novellas, one novelette, one short story, all the latest in Seanan McGuire's Wayward Children series, the last of which may be my favorite among all ten so far.


Happy New Year
1/1/23; 6:00pm CST
The best of wishes for a better new year. My review count went down last year, but I'm still satisfied since I enjoyed most of the books and the shows and movies I saw. Again I'm not setting any goals for 2023, that way I won't be disappointed if I don't fulfill them. I'll leave last year's updates here for a while, but will eventually move them to the Archives. First review of the year coming up soon.


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