Sunday Short: John Chu's The Water That Falls on You From Nowhere.

Sunday, July 27, 2014 0
UPDATE: This short story won the Hugo Award for Short Story, 2014.

This week, I am wrapping up my review of the Hugo nominees for short story with John Chu's The Water That Falls on You From Nowhere.

In this story, water falls on you when you lie, and the air gets warm and dry when you tell a truth. It is a simple (although unexplained) concept that works well in the short story format.

But the focus and the beauty of this story is not in this weird phenomenon. It is a wonderful, meaningful story of the family dynamics of a man coming out to his family. I liked how complex and realistic the family relationships were. And the ending is loving and sweet.

Overall, I think it is a great story to end the Hugo nominations on!

Favorite line: "His skin transforms from cold and clammy to warm and dry. He uses declarative sentences. The truth of each one is obvious. No weasel words or qualifiers. Instead of being soaked in water though, Gus is soaked in disappointment. Normally, his smile glows and I melt in its heat. Right now, he’s wearing a cheap copy. He’s about as likely to admit that I’ve hurt him as he is to use anesthesia."

Rating 4.5/5. 

Next week I will review Mary Robinette Kowal’s novelette The Lady Astronaut of Mars. Have a recommendation for another short story online to feature? Leave it in the comments! 

A Reader's Guide to Comic Con - ebook samplers!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 0
San Diego Comic Con is almost upon us!! If you are going and still trying to figure out what panels to attend, check out my reader recommendations for programming for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday!

Not able to make it to SDCC but still interested in what new speculative fiction is coming out this year? Luckily, many of the publishers are offering their Comic Con samplers online for everyone to enjoy this year.

Below I've compiled the ones released so far -- I will update it if any new ones come out during SDCC.

Del Rey 2014 Sampler  + Star Wars 2014 Sampler 
Interestingly, the Del Rey sampler this year has a ton of excerpts from older works mixed in with a few new ones. Ones I would recommend checking out for the fantasy fan: Scott Lynch's Lies of Locke Lamora, Joe Abercrombie's Half a King (my review is here), and George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones (if you have somehow avoided it up until this point).

For my part, I am going to try and read the Outlander excerpt -- the series has been on my to-read list for awhile! I am also going to try and read a few of the Star Wars excerpts -- I've not managed to read anything in this imprint yet, and I know I should give it a try.

Penguin's Comic Con sampler + featured titles (which include some links to excerpts).

I'm really excited for Lev Grossman's next installment in his Magician's series - The Magician's Land, as I really enjoyed the first two books in this series. And despite being really really disappointed with how her Sookie Stackhouse series ended, I might give Charlaine Harris's Midnight Crossroad a try, as it is a new series.

Harper Voyager's Science Fiction and Fantasy sampler
In this sampler I'm looking forward to getting a peek at Katherine Harbour's Thorn Jack and Beth Cato's The Clockwork Dagger.

Sunday Short: Sofie Samatar's Selkie Stories are for losers.

Sunday, July 20, 2014 0
This week's short is Sofie Samatar's “Selkie Stories Are for Losers” (link).

National Geographic - Hawaiian Monk Seal
I loved this short. The unnamed narrator tells the story of meeting Mona and tells the story of her mother leaving and tells the stories of selkies. Prior to an excellent short story read earlier this year in the Sword and Laser Anthology (Saltwater Skin by Kristy Sutherland), I had not known anything of selkie mythos. Samatar's short story is a great introduction to the myth.

The story's narration caught me -- as a reader you were invited to feel the emotional impact the event of the narrator's mother leaving had. The prose grips you. And by the final lines, you realize that the title is more than just a quirky start -- and as a reader I always delight when things get turned around on me like that!

Favorite line: "...selkie stories are only for losers stuck on the wrong side of magic—people who drop things, who tell all, who leave keys around, who let go."

Rating: 5/5.

Next week, we will finish up the Hugo nominees with John Chu's “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere”, available on

Have any recommendations for a good Sunday short to explore after this final nomination? Leave them in the comments below!

Dark Tower, Books Two & Three: Dum-a-chum? & Blaine is a pain.

Thursday, July 17, 2014 0
Dark Tower obsession update: I finished up Book 5 (Wolves of the Calla) last week and I simultaneous need to know how it all ends and don't ever want it finish. Is that possible?

So that this blog doesn't become completely overrun by Dark Tower love (which might not all be that bad, I believe - say thankya!), I've decided that I am going to give brief reviews of the others in the series together (my review of Book 1 is here). Today's post will be Books 2 & 3, and then in a few weeks I'll post on King's latest installment, the Wind Through the Keyhole (which is set in the time between Books 3 & 4), the novelette The Little Sisters of Eluria, and Book 4 (Wizard and Glass). 

There are definitely more comprehensive reviews and read alongs of this series out there, by the way, for other Dark Tower nerds. Tor did a read-a-long of the whole series that is well done -- I recommend it for someone in need of a more substantial DT fix. Ultimately I don't want to reinvent the wheel with my reviews, so I have some ideas of other things I can do to share my love of this series (a song list for each novel? dream cast for a big screen adaptation? reviews of related King novels and the way they tie in to this series?). But I'll start with my meandering and hopefully not too spoilerly reviews! 

Book Two: Drawing of the Three

Rating: 5/5 - Goodreads

The second novel in the Dark Tower series, Drawing of the Three introduces a twist -- Roland enters our world! In my opinion, King successfully shifts the Dark Tower story from a dark and weird western to something akin a real epic in this novel. 

Roland must use three doors that open to different times in our world and 'draw' his companions. Bad stuff happens. (As an aside -- I am not sure if I'll ever be able to look at lobsters the same way again -- thanks Stephen King!)

In my opinion, Stephen King accomplished something special in the characterization of Roland in this book -- he isn't always likable (as a reader your still smarting from his decisions in the first book), but somehow you are charmed nonetheless by how completely clueless he is by somethings in our world. He cannot pronounce aspirin. And his experience with Coca Cola! These are some of my favorite scenes of the series.

Eddie and Susannah/Odetta/Detta are the two main characters introduced in this second installment. Eddie's story in this book is my favorite -- he has a complex and interesting storyline struggling with addiction and family issues. Susannah's storyline (and coupling with Eddie) was less successful for me, but I have grown to appreciate her character further along in the series.

Book Three: The Waste Lands

Rating: 5/5 - Goodreads

Whereas in Book Two you begin to see the epic nature of this series, in Book Three you get to really see the weird. To me the Dark Tower series is not epic fantasy or epic sci-fi... it is epic weird. And I mean that in a good way! In this book we meet a psychotic riddling train, see a certain mysterious and beautiful rose, watch as someone tries to survive a man-eating house, and also observe what happens when someone has to grapple with paradox. What is not to love in all that?

In this book, you also get to meet Oy, the billy-bumbler (dog like creature) who becomes a member of the ka-tet. And you also get to see Jake again. Stephen King is great at writing many things, but I think his ability to write youth is superb.

My least favorite part in this book was a scene involving sexual violence against a woman -- I am not a huge fan of the way Stephen King seems to bring it in many of his works. I think he might do it for the ultimate sense of horror it invokes -- but it is still not my favorite thing.

Also -- I understand that there was a 6 year delay between when this book came out and Book 4 -- which must have been horrible for fans at the time. This book ends in a cliff hanger, so I recommend having the next in the series on hand when you end! 

A Reader's Guide to Comic Con - Update #2: Saturday and Sunday programming

Monday, July 14, 2014 0
Wow, Saturday's programming is going to be a doozy for sci-fi / fantasy literature fans! If I made it to half of these panels I'd be pretty happy. (Let's face it -- I make it into the Rulers of the Realm panel, I'll be pretty satisfied!) Sunday's programming is more sparse, but that is OK for this reader as I will be going that day with my toddler daughter and will probably spend more time walking around and only attend a few of the more kid friendly panels (Sesame Street!!).

You can check out my other guides for SDCC here and here.

Without further ado, my picks for SDCC 2014 programming on Saturday and Sunday:


Diversity in Genre Lit, 10-11 am
In the literary world, there are mystical beings, futuristic landscapes, magic and mayhem, heroes and villains, and slowly but surely, more diversity in our heroes. Panel participants are the creators that have made a more diverse world with their novels. Join authorsGene Luen Yang (The Shadow Hero), Josephine Angelini (Trial by Fire),Sherri L. Smith(Orleans), Adele Griffin (The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone), Greg Weisman (Spirits of Ash and Foam: A Rain of the Ghosts Novel), and Lydia Kang (Control), as moderator David Mariotte of Mysterious Galaxy leads the discussion of what is "diversity" in genre writing, what it looks like, and why it is important.

Fantastic Females: Heroine in Paranormal Fantasy, 10:30-11:30 am
These authors know how to thrill readers with stories of kick-ass heroines who traverse the boundaries of other worlds and dimensions. Deborah Harkness (All Souls Trilogy),Marjorie Liu (Labyrinth of Stars), S. J. Harper (Reckoning), Christina Lauren (Sublime), Tonya Hurley (Blessed series), and moderator Chris Marie Green (Only the Good Die Young) discuss the paranormal elements in their action-packed novels that keep their protagonists on their toes and readers on the edge of their seats.

Sci-Fi, Robots, and AI, Oh My!, 12-1 pm
Every day, our present begins to look more and more like science fiction. We converse with AIs on our phones, communicate by digital avatars, and maintain entire social presences online. Movies like Her demonstrate how familiar-and how close-we are to a world where Cylons co-mingle with humanity. Authors Daniel H. Wilson (Robogenesis),Andy Weir (The Martian), Jason Hough (The Dire Earth Cycle), Daniel Price (The Flight of the Silvers), M. D. Waters (Prototype), and Nick Cole (Soda Pop Soldier) discuss potential robot uprisings with moderator Maryelizabeth Hart of Mysterious Galaxy!

The Art of Fear, 2:30-3:30 pm
Horror novels have been keeping us up at night for years. From haunted houses to creepy-crawly worms, mysterious illnesses, demons, human extinction, and the apocalypse, these authors give you goosebumps while you read. Authors Mira Grant(Parasite), G. Michael Hopf (The New World Series), Katherine Howe (Conversion), April Genevieve Tucholke (Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea), Brenna Yovanoff (Fiendish), and James Rollins (The 6th Extinction) discuss their novels, the writing process, and why you keep the light on while you read. Moderated by Glen Hirshberg (Motherless Child).

Rulers of the Realm, 4:15-5:15pm
Joe Abercrombie (Half a King), Diana Gabaldon (Outlander), Lev Grossman (Magicians Trilogy), George R. R. Martin (Game of Thrones), and Patrick Rothfuss (The Kingkiller Chronicle) have written some of the most memorable books of their time, pushing genre fiction into the mainstream. Join these bestselling authors along with moderator Ali T. Kokmen (Barnes & Noble/NOOK Media) for a discussion on fantasy literature, fandom, and how they mastered their craft.

Onwards, Voyager! Epic Reads Await You! Sneak Preview of Best New Fiction from Harper Voyager and Harper Teen,  7-8 pm

David Pomerico, executive editor from Harper Voyager US, provides an overview of the upcoming season's best new fiction. From the publishing powerhouse that brought youDivergent, comes the latest and greatest in teen fiction. Christina Colangelo and Lauren Flower of HarperTeen present major upcoming YA book releases that will transport you from a dystopian version of Oz to an apocalyptic battleground and beyond. Get ready to grab plenty of HarperTeen giveaways, limited-edition goodies, and advance copies!

Science in the Stories of H.P. Lovecraft, 8-9 pm

Iconic weird tale author H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937), in his introduction to the story The Call of Cthulhu wrote: "We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age." Was he right? A panel of scientists and Lovecraft experts will discuss the science behind Lovecraft's stories and what modern research has revealed about humanity's place in the cosmos. With Cody Goodfellow(Deepest, Darkest Eden: New Tales Of Hyperborea), Shane Haggard (Chemistry instructor, San Diego City College), Leslie S. Klinger (The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft), Andrew Leman(The H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society), and Lisa Will, Ph.D. (astronomy and physics professor, San Diego City College). Moderated by Aaron Vanek (The H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival and CthulhuCon-Los Angeles).


The Official Disney Publishing Worldwide Fall Book and App Preview!, 12:30-1:30pm

Disney Publishing Worldwide gives SDCC attendees a special sneak preview of upcoming books from Disney Press, Disney-Hyperion, Marvel Press, and Disney Lucas Film Press, along with their interactive storytelling and creativity apps. Moderator Rose Brock(award-winning librarian) and panelists Nachie Marsham (executive editor for Disney Book Group), Michael Siglain (executive editor for Disney Lucas Film Press/Disney Book Group), Tomas Palacios (editor for Marvel Press), Dina Sherman (senior marketing manager for Disney Book Group/School & Library Division), Michael Zagari (lead producer for Disney Digital Media), and Brooke McKnight (marketing manager for Digital) will demonstrate and talk about some of the exciting new reads and apps coming from DPW. Disney cosplay fans are encouraged to come-as long as costumes are kid-friendly!

What's Hot in Young Adult Fiction, 1-2pm

Strong protagonists, engrossing romance, humor, action, and angst! This popular annual Q&A session and chat about the hottest new titles and trends in YA fiction is moderated by Nathan Bransford (The Jacob Wonderbar series) and features Kresley Cole (The Arcana Chronicles), Kami Garcia (The Legion Series), Tessa Gratton (United States of Asgard series), Tahereh Mafi (the Shatter Me series), Natalie Parker (Beware the Wild), C. J. Redwine (The Defiance series), Brendan Reichs (The Virals series),Margaret Stohl (The Icons series), and Scott Westerfeld (Afterworlds).

Sunday Short: Thomas Olde Heuvelt's The Ink Readers of Doi Saket

Sunday, July 13, 2014 0
This Sunday's short is another Hugo nominee -- Thomas Olde Heuvelt's “The Ink Readers of Doi Saket”. You can read the story on here

Illustration by Victo Ngai.
The story takes place in the village of Doi Saket in Thailand during the festival of Loi Krathong. As the intro on states: 

People send their dreams and wishes floating down the Mae Ping River with the hope that those dreams will be captured, read and come true. It is a surprise what some wish for and why. One can never know what’s inside someone’s heart—what they really truly want, and those dreams sometimes reveal our true selves.

The story depicts the festival of Loi Krathong and also the murder of a boy Tangmoo. 

Truthfully, this story is my least favorite of the nominees. I enjoyed the humor and the characterizations of villagers as they went about their tasks for Loi Krathong... but the murder of Tangmoo (an innocent boy) didn't seem to fit the tone for me. 

Otherwise, there were definitely some beautiful phrases that stayed with me from the story. I appreciated the way wishes were granted in sort of a cause and effect tumble. I also thought the accompanying illustration by Victo Ngai (above) was beautiful.

Favorite line:  Wishes, like pearls on a string of cause and effect. 

Rating: 3/5

Next week's short will be Sofia Samatar's “Selkie Stories Are for Losers”  which is available to read at Strange Horizons.

A Reader's guide to Comic Con -- Update #1: Thursday + Friday programming!!!

Friday, July 11, 2014 0
Two weeks, two weeks! Comic Con in two weeks!!! Check out my previous SDCC post, as I've updated it as I learn more about announced giveaways from publishers, etc. 

I will only be attending SDCC on Saturday and Sunday this year, but I still enjoy looking at the programming that for the other days. And this year it looks like there are a bunch of fabulous panels scheduled for the discerning sci-fi/fantasy reading fan! A couple of standouts:


Dr. David Brin (Hugo, Locus and Nebula Award-winning author of the Uplift trilogy), Jim Butcher (NY Times bestselling author of The Dresden Files series), Rachel Caine (NY Times bestselling author of the Morganville Vampires series), Jason Hough (NY Times bestselling author of The Darwin Elevator series), Marie Lu (NY Times bestselling author of the Legend series), and Jonathan Maberry (NY Times bestselling author of the Joe Ledger series) discuss writing science fiction and fantasy novels and their adaptation to TV and movies. Moderated by Henry Herz (editor of Beyond the Pale).

Fairy Tale Remix, noon-1pm
Toto, I've a feeling these aren't your typical fairy tales...From cyborg Cinderellas to swashbuckling pirates, fairy tales are just full of possibilities for retelling and reimagining. A fantastic lineup of authors will discuss how they take well-known stories (such as Rapunzel, The Wizard of Oz, Tam Lin) and remix them for a new audience and how they create their very own fairy tales. Moderated by Shannon Hale (Ever After High series), this panel featuring Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles series), Katherine Harbour(Thorn Jack), John Peck (Charming series), Cornelia Funke (Mirrorworld series), Tony DiTerlizzi (The Search for WondLa), Ben Tripp (The Accidental Highwayman), and Danielle Page (Dorothy Must Die) will give insight to the fairy tales of old, and new!

Putting the Epic in Epic Fantasy, 4-5pm
Swords, magic, and chivalric knights on white horses-or should that be morally ambiguous knights? In the age of Game of Thrones, the epic fantasy genre is changing.Patrick Rothfuss (The Slow Regard of Silent Things), Robin Hobb (Fool's Assassin), Joe Abercrombie (Half a King), Raymond E. Feist (Magician's End), Django Wexler (The Shadow Throne), Morgan Rhodes (The Falling Kingdoms series), and Sam Sykes (The City Stained Red) discuss their recent works and epic fantasy in general. Moderated by Brent Weeks(The Way of Shadows).


Vengeance: punishment inflicted in retaliation for an injury or offense. Villain: a character in a story who does bad things. Hear your favorite authors talk about the dubious bad guys they write about and the characters that teach them a lesson. Moderated by Michael Carroll (The Super Human Series) and featuring Rachel Caine(Prince of Shadows), Marie Lu (The Young Elites), Arwen Elys Dayton (Seeker), Ann Aguirre(Mortal Danger), Kimberly Derting (The Taking), Kiersten White (In the Shadows), and Allen Zadoff (The Unknown Assassin).

Beyond the Page, 11:30-12:30pm
Watching your favorite science fiction and fantasy stories come to life is a thrilling adventure; fiction is fabulous fodder for film, and graphic tales make for great games. Books often inspire multimedia projects that allow fans to fully immerse themselves in the interactive worlds authors have created. From books to movies to TV shows and games, these tales resonate with fans beyond the pages of a novel. James Frey (Endgame),Chris Weitz (The Young World), James Dashner (Maze Runner & The Rule of Thoughts),Andrew Kaplan (Homeland), Fred Van Lente (Make Comics Like Pros), James Silvani (Draw-a-sauras), and Melissa De La Cruz (Ring and the Crown) discuss life as writers in the Digital Age and how technology has transformed both their projects and the publishing industry as a whole. Moderated by Walter Jury (Scan).

101 Ways to Kill a Man, 1-2pm
Coming up with creative ways to commit mayhem and murder is the lifeblood of these talented thriller authors. A fatal chimera virus; hybridized bioengineered parasites; murderous microchips; lethal electric stimuli; deathstrike via satellite targeting-how many ways can you kill someone? Top thriller authors Tobias Buckell (Hurricane Fever),Alex Hughes (Marked), M. A. Lawson (Rosarito Beach), Stephen Blackmoore (Broken Souls),Gregg Hurwitz (Don't Look Back), and moderator Jeff Ayers (Long Overdue) discuss the art of delivering deadly thrills. But don't worry too much. A little light reading never killed anyone.

I have to admit -- after seeing Thursday's sci fi/ fantasy panels, I'm really really regretting not getting a pass for all four days. My all-time favorite Comic Con panel was an epic fantasy panel in 2012. But I know that as always, there will be awesome geekery every day of Comic Con, so I wont fret for long. 

Stay tuned! I'll post my picks for Saturday and Sunday's programming sometime early next week. And geek out some more. 

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

Tuesday, July 8, 2014 0
Disclaimer: I received this book as an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

I am ashamed to admit that I have only read one Joe Abercrombie story prior to reading this book --  Some Desperado in the anthology Dangerous Women earlier this year. It was definitely one of my favorite stories of the entire collection - violent and gritty but balanced with a big dose of wit. 

So, when I got an advanced copy of his new book Half a King, I did a little dance. And then I got to reading. I wasn't disappointed! 

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

Rating: 4/5 stars

"I swore an oath to be avenged on the killers of my father.  I may be half a man, but I swore a whole oath."

Half a King follows the story of Yarvi, the reluctant heir to the Black Chair after the deaths of his father and older brothers. He was born with a deformity in his hand that makes him weak in the eyes of his father and other warriors. Prince Yarvi own plans are disrupted; he had been training to join the Ministry, an order of celibate individuals who advise royals. 

As king, Yarvi is almost immediately betrayed. He escapes with his life but is sold into slavery. That is when the story really got interesting to me --  the cast of characters we meet on the trade ship were my favorite by far.

The story unfolded at a pretty decent pace. There were large doses of violence, but I appreciated that the deaths were never glorified but given a sense of gravity. Ultimately, in the world that Abercrombie creates, all actions have consequences. There are betrayals, plot twists, and also a fair amount of humor. It isn't a particularly deep book, but sometimes a girl just has to have a story with a violent crazed man named Nobody, right? 

Some of my favorite lines:

"The great king is the one who watches the carcasses of his enemies burn. Let Father Peace spill tears over the methods. Mother War smiles upon results."
“You may need two hands to fight someone. But only one to stab them in the back."
“What is the world coming to when an honest man cannot burn corpses without suspicion?"
Overall, I would recommend this book to any fan of gritty fantasy. I appreciated that no character (even the protagonist) is without flaws or morally ambiguous actions at times. 

Sunday Short -- Rachel Swirsky's If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love

Sunday, July 6, 2014 0
As referenced earlier this week, this blog is going to be reading and reviewing the current Hugo nominees for short fiction on Sundays this month. Today we start with  “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”, the Nebula award winning short by Rachel Swirsky (link, Apex Magazine, Mar-2013).

This story was a sweet and lonesome love letter, with fantastical and science fictional elements. It tells the yearnings of a wife for her husband -- dreams of him as a delicate, 5'11", singing T-rex. When you finish the story, you will have to read the story again because the ending pulls the rug out on you -- changing the meaning of everything. If I say more, I will spoil it! 

My favorite line: 
I would astonish everyone assembled, the biologists and the paleontologists and the geneticists, the reporters and the rubberneckers and the music aficionados, all those people who—deceived by the helix-and-fossil trappings of cloned dinosaurs– believed that they lived in a science fictional world when really they lived in a world of magic where anything was possible.

Overall, this story does something I really love -- evoke emotions in the reader you didn't even plan on feeling. It was also one of my favorite short story reads of the year, and I am definitely planning on reading more stories by this author.

Rating: 5/5

Next week, there will be a review for Thomas Olde Heuvelt's story “The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” which is available here on 

Coming this Sunday to a blog near you -- Sunday Shorts, the Hugo Nominees

Thursday, July 3, 2014 0
I have lots of hopes and plans for this blog -- but one biggie is to give readers regular features so everyone knows what to expect. With that in mind, one weekly programming item I'd like to start is the review of short stories. I will post these reviews on Sundays -- the weekly Sunday Short!

Personally, I think there are loads of great speculative fiction short stories being posted nowadays online, but it is difficult to sort through them and find the gems. This is evidenced a little in terms of the spread in nominations of short stories this year with the Hugos.

In that vein, I am actually going to start with those Hugo nominees for this year, listed below. I include links to where the stories are available online in case anyone would like to read along and start a dialogue!

Hugo Nominees for Best Short Story, 2014 (link): 

“If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”, Rachel Swirsky (link, Apex Magazine, Mar-2013)

“The Ink Readers of Doi Saket”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt (link,, Apr-2013)

“Selkie Stories Are for Losers”, Sofia Samatar (link, Strange Horizons, Jan-2013)

“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere”, John Chu (link,, Feb-2013)

This Sunday I will start with Rachel Swirsky's short.
Copyright © 2014 Exploring Worlds
Template by These Paper Hearts