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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

Dedicated to the memory of my friend
David Wallingsford

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Here are a few recently reviewed books and movies to choose from.
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In Theaters Now

The Ballad of
Black Tom

by Victor LaValle

The Expanse
(Updated Review)
On DVD & Blu-Ray

Marvel on Netflix
Jessica Jones
Luke Cage

by Ursula K. Le Guin

Star Trek Beyond
On DVD & Blu-Ray
November 1

Featured title from

by Edward Bryant

-Site Search

One Movie, One Book
Posted by Galen
November 13, 2016
8:20pm CST

Arrival is a remarkable film, with great performances from Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, but highest accolades go to the director and cinematographer.

The last of Ursula Le Guin's award winners (for now) is Powers, which is the third volume of her Annals of the Western Shore. I don't have the first two yet, but fortunately this was mostly a stand-alone tale, which I really liked. One of these days I'll read Gifts and Voices, and when I do I'll update this page.


Two New Pages: 1 Novella, 3 TV Shows
10/20/16; 8:30pm CDT - Galen
Everything Belongs to the Future is a new novella by Laurie Penny, and I believe this is her first fiction story. It's good but has flaws.

Another new page, long overdue, takes a look at the first three shows of Marvel on Netflix, Daredevil, Jessica Jones & Luke Cage. All are recommended, but the second two are the better ones, hard to choose between them.


Infomocracy Redux
10/14/16; 7:40pm CDT - Galen
Yes, I do have lots of other books to read, but I decided to re-read Infomocracy by Malka Older, in hardcover this time. I've edited a few things and added other comments, so even if you've read the review before I invite you to take another look. This is at once fast-paced, with interesting characters, but also with thought-provoking ideas on political possibilities at a point in our world where it seems rabid nationalism is once again on the rise, threatening to drive us all apart. I recommend this book very much. At this time it is at the top of my list for a Hugo nomination next year.


10/5/16; 11:20am CDT - Galen
Cumulus by Eliot Peper is a fast-paced, action-filled, near future techno-thriller. Points deducted for minimal plot background and character development, but not a waste of time.


2 Novellas, Both Alternate Lovecraft Stories
9/29/16; 3:50pm CDT - Galen
Two new reviews today, both novellas, and both alternate takes on Lovecraft stories. Victor LaValle's The Ballad of Black Tom and The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson.


Every Heart a Doorway
9/25/16; 8:50pm CDT - Galen
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire is one of the first novellas that released in print form. It's part fairy tale, part gothic horror. Interesting characters and situations, although not that original, but maybe it's what's under the surface that's more important.


After Atlas
9/24/16; 6:30pm CDT - Galen
Emma Newman's After Atlas is a follow-up to last year's Planetfall, and while it is connected, it's not what I would call a direct sequel. It's not out until Nov. 8, but I got an advance copy from NetGalley. Maybe too soon to post a review, and I will take it down if requested, but I'm very enthusiastic about it and didn't want to wait.


9/22/16; 1:00pm CDT - Galen
Connie Willis' latest novel is Crosstalk. Enjoyable enough, but not as serious as I would have liked. A rom-com novel if you will.


9/18/16; 7:10pm CDT - Galen
Peter Beagle's Summerlong might be different in style and tone from the other fantasies I've read by him, but it's still very good.


9/7/16; 8:45pm CDT - Galen
Nisi Shawl's first novel, Everfair, is sort of a steampunk alternate history, but that's just the simple description. It's a complex and epic tale of a possible utopian society being created in the heart of early 20th Century Africa. But just as utopia means "no place," can any man-made government ever be fair for everyone involved?


All the Birds in the Sky
8/31/16; 9:30pm CDT - Galen
Charlie Jane Anders' first SF novel, All the Birds in the Sky, is both a whimsical fantasy and a profoundly philosophical look at man's trust in science.


Certain Dark Things
8/28/16; 2:45pm CDT - Galen
Silvia Moreno-Garcia's second novel, Certain Dark Things, is a dark and gritty tale of a teenage boy in Mexico City, caught between vampire drug lords, human gangsters, and cops. I haven't decided yet if I like it more or less than her first book, Signal to Noise. They are such different kinds of stories, but both are highly recommended.


My MidAmeriCon II Report
8/24/16; 7:00pm CDT - Galen
I finally got around to writing a bit about MidAmeriCon II. All in all, my experience was a positive one. Unfortunately, it didn't go smoothly for everyone.


2016 Hugo & 1941 Retro Hugo Awards
8/22/16; 11:30am CDT - Galen
I attended three of the five days of this year's Worldcon, MidAmeriCon2 in Kansas City, and had a great time. I intend to write about the experience, but that will have to wait for now. What I have done today is update the Hugo Award and the Retro Hugo pages to highlight the latest winners. All available titles are linked to amazon in case you're interested in purchasing any of them.


Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
8/15/16; 9:30pm CDT - Galen
Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm was the Hugo winner in 1977. Beautifully written, strong character drama, but weak on the scientific end of things.


Downbelow Station
8/10/16; 9:00pm CDT - Galen
C. J. Cherryh won a Hugo for Downbelow Station in 1982. Not as good as I remembered, but I'm sure my tastes have changed somewhat. It was ambitious, but maybe longer and more complex than she could handle at that time in her career. I'd say at least three other books nominated that year were better.


Children of the Different
8/2/16; 4:40pm CDT - Galen
Stuart Charles Flynn's debut novel is Children of the Different. Recommended, with a few reservations.


NOT the Last Book of Earthsea
7/30/16; 9:30pm CDT - Galen
Eighteen years after the end of the original Earthsea Trilogy, Le Guin returned to that world for another adventure. Not sure if it was her decision or her publisher's, but Tehanu, later a Nebula winner, was at that time identified as the Last Book of Earthsea. It wasn't; she would later release another novel, a story collection, plus a non-fiction lecture series on her fictional universe. I don't have any of those yet, so at this time I can say that Tehanu is the best of the series that I have read.


Star Trek Beyond
7/26/16; 11:00am CDT - Galen
Eliza is a bigger Trekkie than me, so I asked her for this movie review: Star Trek Beyond.


Back to Earthsea
7/24/16; 8:15pm CDT - Galen
I return to Le Guin's Earthsea with a few comments on the third book of the original trilogy, The Farthest Shore.


7/17/16; 2:20pm CDT - Galen
C. A. Higgins' second novel is a continuation of the story begun in last year's Lightless. I made a few edits to that page and added comments on the new book below that.


The Fifth Season
6/29/16; 6:50pm CDT - Galen
Yet another book I wanted to like much more than I did. N. K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season is the beginning of a new trilogy. It was nominated for Nebula and Locus awards, but didn't win either, but also up for a Hugo. I had to read it before voting, but I'm not sure I'm interested in the rest of the series, unless they are also nominated or win some awards.


The Aeronaut's Windlass
6/10/16; 8:30pm CDT - Galen
Jim Butcher's latest novel, The Aeronaut's Windlass, is the beginning of a new series called The Cinder Spires. It has been nominated for a Hugo, and while it is entertaining enough, not what I would call award-worthy. YMMV.


Updates for Two Book Series
6/4/16; 7:30pm CDT - Galen
It's been a while since I finished Nemesis Games, the fifth novel in the Expanse book series by James S. A. Corey. I had wanted to take another look at that review, maybe eliminate some spoilers in previous sections. I may have deleted or changed a few comments, but mainly just put up more spoiler warnings. If you haven't read any of the books yourself, or any of my review, I suggest you scroll to the top of that page and stop after the first section. If you're not worried about spoilers and just want to get a sense of the story, feel free to continue through the review.

The other addition for today is The Tombs of Atuan, the second novel in Le Guin's original Earthsea trilogy.


5/26/16; 9:45pm CDT - Galen
Malka Older's first novel is also the first novel from the imprint. Infomocracy is a taut thriller in a near future with a transformed political landscape, while at the same time it has some eerie parallels to current political and social situations. Recommended.


A Wizard of Earthsea
5/22/16; 6:00pm CDT - Galen
This fantasy series from Le Guin is very highly regarded by most critics and readers, but I have to rate A Wizard of Earthsea below the SF books that I have read by her. I'm hoping the rest of the series helps to change my mind, and I'll get back to it soon, but another book from another author will come before that.


Captain America: Civil War
5/15/16; 7:00pm CDT - Galen
My opinion is once again different from a lot of others. No, this is not the best of the MCU. Of course that opinion is based on absolutely no knowledge of the storyline from the comics. I just didn't care for how our "heroes" acted in this one.


5/15/16; 4:15pm CDT - Galen
The latest Nebula winning novel is Uprooted by Naomi Novik. On the surface it seems a typical enough fairy tale, but it's really compelling and unpredictable.


2015 Nebulas
5/15/16; 10:30am CDT - Galen
I've just updated the Awards Page with the winners of this year's Nebulas, as well as the nominees for the Hugos (to be presented mid-August), plus added links to all the appropriate Amazon pages. I finished reading the Nebula winner last night, and will follow up with a review as soon as possible.


The Grace of Kings
3/16/16; 9:30pm CDT - Galen
Ken Liu's The Grace of Kings has received generally positive reviews and has been nominated for a Nebula. I obviously didn't like it as much as others.


3/11/16; 8:15pm CST - Galen
In spite of a few minor faults, Neal Stephenson's Seveneves is one of the best books I've read in a while, a real mind-blower. Definitely on my Hugo nomination list.


Three Book Reviews
2/29/16; 1:15pm CST - Galen
I've read four novels since uploading the last review, and had previously thought I would continue reading as many Hugo eligible titles as possible before doing any more reviews. But I am taking advantage of Leap Day to post some comments about three of them. I'll get to the fourth one as soon as possible, but since it is a continuation of an on-going series I need to take a fresh look at that page to see if I should do some edits of previous comments first. At this time, at least one of the following is in my Top 5 picks for a Hugo nomination.

The Mechanical, Book 1 of The Alchemy War by Ian Tregillis
Not Dark Yet by Berit Ellingsen
The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi


2015 Nebulas
2/21/16; 1:15pm CST - Galen
The SFWA has announced the nominees for the 2015 Nebulas, and I've just finished revising the Awards Page, as well as the Amazon Books & Amazon Films pages to include links for available books and films. This is the first year I've included links for any of the novellas, but several of those are in print or on Kindle. As soon as I get the chance, I'll review previous years to see if any of the shorter works are in book form, but of course a lot of those would also have been included in 'Best Of' collections too. The Nebula winners will be announced on May 14.


The Wind's Twelve Quarters
2/18/16; 6:35pm CST - Galen
Le Guin's first short story collection, The Wind's Twelve Quarters, boasts four award winners along with nine other nominations, and the book itself won a Locus Award for Best Single Author Collection for 1975.


The Word For World Is Forest
2/13/16; 8:10pm CST - Galen
The Word For World Is Forest won a Hugo as best novella in 1973. It originally appeared in the 1972 anthology Again, Dangerous Visions, but has also been printed on its own in several editions over the years.


The Dispossessed
2/9/16; 5:45pm CST - Galen
Ursula Le Guin also won a Hugo and Nebula (among others) for 1974's The Dispossessed, both a personal and a political story. One of the best there has ever been.


The Expanse TV (Revised)
2/9/16; 5:45pm CST - Galen
Now that the first short season is complete, I edited my review a bit.


The Left Hand of Darkness
2/3/16; 9:45pm CST - Galen
Ursula K. Le Guin won her first Hugo, and Nebula, with 1969's The Left Hand of Darkness. It's just as good now as it was then, a testament to a true classic. If you haven't read it yet, what are you waiting for?


Signal To Noise
1/31/16; 2:20pm CST - Galen
Silvia Moreno Garcia's first novel, Signal To Noise, is a vivid tale of teenage angst mixed with music and magic in Mexico City in the late 1980s, with later reflections in 2009. Recommended.


City of Blades
1/27/16; 5:10pm CST - Galen
The second novel of The Divine Cities by Robert Jackson Bennett is City of Blades. It's actually better than the first, and I expect it to show up on quite a few award ballots next year. If you haven't yet read my review of the first book of the series just scroll up to the top of that page.


The X-Files
1/23/16; 10:00pm CST - Galen
In anticipation of the new mini-series starting tomorrow on FOX, I recently completed a re-watch of all nine seasons of The X-Files, quite a bit of which I had not seen the first time around. My review page also includes comments on the two movies, and I'll update with comments on the new episodes soon, although I may wait until all six have been broadcast.


City of Stairs
1/18/16; 1:00pm CST - Galen
Robert Jackson Bennett's City of Stairs is the first of a trilogy called The Divine Cities. Great world-building, interesting characters, a compelling mystery. Recommended. The second book will be out a week from tomorrow, but I have an advance copy, so I'll be updating the review soon.


1/7/16; 3:15pm CST - Galen
Planetfall by Emma Newman is both a taut mystery about colonizing an alien planet, as well as an intense portrait of an interesting, but disturbed, woman. Recommended.


Harlan Ellison is CanTankerous
1/2/16; 7:00pm CST - Galen
Harlan's latest book contains previously uncollected stories, some very old, but rewritten for this publication. Unfortunately, Can & Can'Tankerous is only for the die-hard fans.


Hello 2016!
1/1/16; 8:30am CST - Galen
Happy New Year! All of last year's updates have been moved to the Archives page. Can't say yet when a new one for this year will be uploaded, but maybe this weekend. I reviewed a total of thirty-two books in 2015, while also re-reading a few previously reviewed ones. That's an increase of ten over 2014, but I will endeavor to do even more this year, with my goal being at least fifty. There were also ten movie reviews, three for TV shows, one author profile, plus other miscellaneous additions to existing pages. All in all, an improvement over 2014, but not as much as I would have liked.





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