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What I’m Reading

N O N – F I C T I O N :
The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic Book Scare and How It Changed America by David Hajdu
James Tiptree, Jr: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon by Julie Phillips
Society’s Child
by Janis Ian

N O V E L S :
The Prefect
by Alastair Reynolds

The Spiral Labyrinth
by Matthew Hughes
Peter & Max
by Bill Willingham
The Given Day by Dennis Lehane

Maurice Druon’s THE IRON KING

March 30, 2013 Maurice Druon’s THE IRON KING

I never met Druon, alas (he died only a few years ago, and I regret that I never had the chance to shake his hand), but from all reports he was an extraordinary man. He was French, highly distinguished, a … Read More

Bill Willingham’s FABLES

July 12, 2012 Bill Willingham’s FABLES

Comic book fans have been enjoying Bill Willingham’s FABLES for years, so it’s only fit and proper that at long last readers who take their stories straight up without pictures (well, only a comparatively few pictures, at any rate) were … Read More

THE PREFECT

July 20, 2009 THE PREFECT

It’s hardly a secret that I have loved science fiction ever since I first discovered Robert A. Heinlein’s HAVE SPACE SUIT, WILL TRAVEL when I was a kid. It’s less well known that I am also a fan of mystery … Read More

THE GIVEN DAY

March 12, 2009 THE GIVEN DAY

I’m always excited when a well-established writer leaves his comfort zone to try something new and different. It doesn’t always work out, mind you, but the best writers are those willing to take risks, rather than the guys (and gals) … Read More

THE EDGE OF REASON

June 16, 2008 THE EDGE OF REASON

Here’s a few titles that I’ve read and enjoyed over the past year. If you’re looking for a good new fantasy to get into, try A MAGIC OF TWILIGHT by S.L. Farrell and THE EDGE OF REASON by Melinda Snodgrass, … Read More

BANEWREAKER

August 28, 2007 BANEWREAKER

BANEWREAKER (Tor, 2004) and GODSLAYER (Tor, 2005) by Jacqueline Carey. Someone once said that the villain is the hero of the other side, a maxim that l long ago took to heart in my own fiction. Lately it seems as … Read More

A BETRAYAL IN WINTER

A BETRAYAL IN WINTER

A BETRAYAL IN WINTER, the second volume of Daniel Abraham’s terrific new fantasy sequence, “The Long Price,” is just out in hardcovers. Daniel is a good friend and a sometime collaborator of mine, as I mentioned when I reviewed the … Read More

JAMES TIPTREE, JR: THE DOUBLE LIFE OF ALICE B. SHELDON

September 3, 2006 JAMES TIPTREE, JR: THE DOUBLE LIFE OF ALICE B. SHELDON

JAMES TIPTREE, JR: THE DOUBLE LIFE OF ALICE B. SHELDON by Julie Phillips (St. Martin’s Press, 2006). James Tiptree, Jr. was one of the rising stars of SF when I first broke into the field in 1971. A mystery man … Read More

CINDERELLA MAN

June 2, 2006 CINDERELLA MAN

Jeremy Schaap’s CINDERELLA MAN (Houghton Mifflin, 2005) is subtitled “James J. Braddock, Max Baer, and the Greatest Upset in Sports History.” One could quibble over that last part — myself, I’d have to say that the Jets’ win over the … Read More

SPIN

May 21, 2006

Robert Charles Wilson’s SPIN (Tor, 2005). is one of the finalists for this year’s Hugo Award in the Best Novel category (sometimes called the Big One, even though all Hugos are of course equal). It would hard to conceive of … Read More

DARK STAR

May 16, 2006

DARK STAR by Alan Furst (Random House, 2002). I have never been much a fan of spy stories. Oh, sure, I read all of the James Bond novels back when I was in high school, but that was more for … Read More

AN OPEN BOOK

March 21, 2006

AN OPEN BOOK by Michael Dirda (Norton, 2003)¬†¬† Some kids love to play baseball, some love basketball, some track or tennis. I loved books. Reading was my favorite sport in childhood, maybe because it was the only one that I … Read More

CONVENTIONS OF WAR

CONVENTIONS OF WAR, by Walter Jon Williams (Eos, 2005) is the third volume in Walter Jon Williams’ epic series DREAD EMPIRE’S FALL, and if there was any justice it ought to be a Hugo finalist this year. I had the … Read More

A SHADOW IN SUMMER

March 20, 2006

A SHADOW IN SUMMER by Daniel Abraham (Tor, 2006) I cannot pretend to be objective on this one. Daniel Abraham is a good friend and sometime collaborator of mine, a member of my local writer’s workshop, and a former student … Read More

THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY

March 7, 2006

THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY by Eric Larson (Vintage, 2004) Twenty years ago I was writing a Jack the Ripper novel (never finished, though a chunk of it can be found in my collection QUARTET) called BLACK AND WHITE … Read More

The Pale Horseman (Alfred the Great 2)

October 29, 2005

The Pale Horseman (Alfred the Great 2) by Bernard Cornwell (HarperCollins, 2006) I am growing more and more convinced that Bernard Cornwell is actually triplets. There’s no way one man could write so many books so fast and still have … Read More

Flashman on the March

September 30, 2005

FLASHMAN ON THE MARCH by George MacDonald Fraser (HarperCollins, 2005) The release of a new Flashman book is always an occasion as far as I’m concerned, so when I spied George MacDonald Fraser’s FLASHMAN ON THE MARCH on a bookshelf … Read More

MEN OF TOMORROW

July 30, 2005

MEN OF TOMORROW by Gerard Jones (Basic Books, 2004) bears the subtitle “Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book.” With a hook like that, how could an old funny book fan like me resist? I’m glad I didn’t. … Read More

WILDWOOD ROAD

June 30, 2005

WILDWOOD ROAD by Christopher Golden (Bantam, 2005). Some of my editor friends tell me that horror fiction is finally starting to make a comeback after the catastrophic boom and bust in the 1980s. If that’s true, writers like Christopher Golden … Read More

THE LAST KINGDOM

April 13, 2005

THE LAST KINGDOM by Bernard Cornwell (HarperCollins, 2004). THE LAST KINGDOM is the first book in another series by the prolific Bernard Cornwell, best known for creating Richard Sharpe. This one is set much earlier in English history, during the … Read More

THE MYSTERIES

January 31, 2005

THE MYSTERIES by Lisa Tuttle (Spectra, March 2005). Lisa Tuttle never disappoints. Her latest novel, THE MYSTERIES, is a deft and daring blend of mystery and dark fantasy, about a private eye whose latest case leads him down the meanest … Read More

DRAGON LADY: THE LIFE AND LEGEND OF THE LAST EMPRESS OF CHINA

January 17, 2005

DRAGON LADY: THE LIFE AND LEGEND OF THE LAST EMPRESS OF CHINA by Sterling Seagrave (Vintage, 1993). History is written by the winners, and sometimes the losers can get a very bad press indeed. In western history, the most conspicuous … Read More

IRONFIRE

November 17, 2004

IRONFIRE, by David Ball (Delacorte Press, 2004). I love good historical fiction, for many of the same reasons that I love good fantasy. I am a huge fan of Thomas B. Costain, Maurice Druon, Nigel Tranter, Cecilia Holland, and a … Read More

A HISTORY OF VENICE

July 27, 2004

A HISTORY OF VENICE, by John Julius Norwich (Vintage, 1989). There’s not much that I like better than reading a good popular history of a place or time that I am not overly familiar with beforehand. John Julius Norwich’s A … Read More

SHUTTER ISLAND

June 18, 2004

SHUTTER ISLAND, by Dennis Lehane (William Morrow, 2003). Dennis Lehane became a household name with MYSTIC RIVER, a powerful but flawed novel that became a powerful but flawed (and overlong) film by Clint Eastwood, but as far as I’m concerned … Read More

The Grail Quest (3) – Heretic

May 30, 2004

The Grail Quest (3) – Heretic , by Bernard Cornwell (HarperCollins, 2004). Thanks to the BBC televison series starring Sean Bean, the world knows Bernard Cornwell best as the author of the Sharpe books, the series of smashing historical adventures … Read More

THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER & CLAY

March 28, 2004

THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER & CLAY, by Michael Chabon (Picador, 2001). Michael Chabon won the Pulitzer Prize for THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER & CLAY, but don’t let that discourage you. This is a wonderful book. A “literary” novel … Read More

POMPEII

February 1, 2004

POMPEII, by Robert Harris (Random House, 2003). The last big book about Pompeii was by the Victorian novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton, best known for penning Snoopy’s immortal line, “it was a dark and stormy night.” It’s about time that someone returned … Read More

THE HOOK

October 29, 2003

THE HOOK, by Donald E. Westlake (Mysterious Press, 2000). Donald Westlake is a wonder. He’s an astonishingly profilic writer, and seems to have out three or four new books every time I turn around. He also has an incredible range. … Read More

A SENSE OF WONDER: A LIFE IN COMIC FANDOM

March 28, 2003

A SENSE OF WONDER: A LIFE IN COMIC FANDOM, by Bill Schelly (TwoMorrows Publishing, 2001). SF fandom goes back to the 1930s, but comics fandom, its bastard stepchild, largely began in the 1960s. JFK was in the White House and … Read More

ALL OUR YESTERDAYS

February 3, 2003

ALL OUR YESTERDAYS by Robert B. Parker. Mystery novelist Robert B. Parker is best known for his “Spenser” series. Parker’s prose is always crisp and clean, and his dialogue is first rate. The early Spenser books were just terrific. The … Read More

LOSING NELSON

July 19, 2002

LOSING NELSON by Barry Unsworth (available from Penguin in the UK) is a study in obsession which manages to be thoroughly engrossing despite the fact that the lead character spends most of time writing a book and hardly leaves his … Read More

TIME AND CHANCE

June 15, 2002

TIME AND CHANCE by Sharon Kay Penman. Sharon Kay Penman is the strongest historical novelist working the medieval period at present, a worthy heir to two of my all-time favorites, Thomas B. Costain and Nigel Tranter. Her TIME AND CHANCE … Read More

Alexander Vol 1.: Child of a Dream v. 1 (Alexander Trilogy)

May 1, 2002

Alexander Vol 1.: Child of a Dream v. 1 (Alexander Trilogy) by Valerio Massimo Manfredi. It takes a certain amount of hubris for any novelist to tackle the life of Alexander the Great, knowing that his efforts will inevitably be … Read More

WRITING FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION

January 1, 2002

WRITING FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION. Okay, I’m prejudiced on this one. Lisa Tuttle lives in England, which is far too far away, but she remains one of my oldest and dearest friends. She and I wrote WINDHAVEN together, back in … Read More

And Before That

December 31, 2001

I get emails all the time from readers who want to know if I can recommend a good fantasy for them to read while they are (sigh) waiting for the next Ice and Fire book. There are lot of excellent … Read More

Shoe Inside
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