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books

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms: Book One of the Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

Readers seeking grand sword-slinging adventures, blood-drenched epic battles, and a travelogue of exotic imaginary lands will be frustrated by N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. However, Readers seeking unpredictable, stimulating fiction should snap the novel up. It’s not just an uncommonly well-written fantasy that upends expectations and offers fascinating explorations of the nature of power (political, familial, cultural, national, racial, divine). The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is an award-worthy novel and Jemisin’s a new writer to take note of.

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Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Fiction, edited by S.T. Joshi

S.T. Joshi notes in his anthology’s introduction that he solicited contributions based on H.P. Lovecraft’s statement: “All my tales are based on the fundamental premise that common human laws and interests and emotions have no validity or significance in the vast cosmos-at-large.’’ The result is 21 stories that mostly pass Lovecraft’s “test of the really weird”—which also serves as this tome’s epigraph: “…whether or not there be excited in the reader a profound sense of dread, and of contact with unknown spheres and powers; a subtle attitude of awed listening, as if for the beating of black wings or the scratching of outside shapes and entities on the known universe’s utmost rim.”

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Selected Stories by Fritz Leiber, edited by Charles N. Brown and Jonathan Strahan

Fritz Leiber is indisputably one of the greatest SF/Fantasy/Horror writers of the twentieth century, a multiple award winner, and creator of one of the best known Fantasy duos of all time, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. But now, less than two decades after his death, most of his work is out of print, save for some Fafhrd/Gray Mouser collections. So this book serves as an outstanding introduction to Leiber’s work in the short form.

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Steamed: A Steampunk Romance by Katie MacAlister

Katie MacAlister’s Steamed: A Steampunk Romance is one of the first offsprings of a crossbreeding of romance and steampunk. The New York Times bestselling author of humorous paranormal romance demonstrates clear familiarity with not just steampunk (which she knowingly teases), but with SF/F as she engages in believable, well-researched world-building. For all its speculative chops it’s a romance, but it’s also good steampunk…

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The Bell at Sealey Head by Patricia A. McKillip

The Bell at Sealey Head is prime Patricia A. McKillip: a lyrical, unpredictable fantasy novel of quiet elegance and complex characterization, every bit as marvelous and evocative as its lovely Kinuko Y. Craft cover. As you might expect from a World Fantasy Award and Mythopoeic Award-winning author who is one of America’s finest, The Bell at Sealey Head is one of the best books published last year. And, if you’re a true bibliophile, it’s unlikely you’ll find another novel that better demonstrates how and why you love books.

books

Goodbye to Kage Baker

Fantasy and science fiction writer Kage Baker died of uterine cancer on January 31, 2010. Her final message to her readers appears on her website: “I want you to tell all these people that I wanted more time to spend with them. Tell them I meant to, tell them I wanted to hear what they said and tell them what was on my mind.”

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Soulless: An Alexia Tarabotti Novel: The Parasol Protectorate: Book the First by Gail Carriger

If you’ve been looking for a steampunk-tinged urban fantasy novel of manners, Gail Carriger makes your dream come true with her delightful debut novel, Soulless. An intelligent and amusing alternate historySoulless should provide capital entertainment for anyone who enjoys urban fantasy or alternate history. And, for readers who’ve been avoiding all those post-Laurellian paranormal novels, Soulless is the exception that proves the rule…

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The Mermaid’s Madness by Jim C. Hines

The first of this series, The Stepsister Scheme, an unexpectedly effective mixture of light and dark. These alternate takes on fairy tales mix the clever and the horrific. The tone of the narration is mostly bouncy, with some jokes, but there is a sense that these characters are real—their lives have depth and sometimes tragedy. The Mermaid’s Madnessis a strong mix of magic and adventure, with a number of well-portrayed and involving women characters at its heart.

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Steampunk Links For December 26, 2009

If you’re a steampunk fan, heres hoping your holidays were full of cogs, gears, and brass pipes! If you didn’t get quite enough, though, we’ve got a few links to round out the experience.

books

Rosemary and Rue: An October Daye Novel by Seanan McGuire

October Daye, the narrator/protagonist on Rosemary and Rue is a welcome addition to the ranks of urban fantasy’s hardboiled female leads. She’s tough and smart, complicated, sympathetic, maddening, and believable. Not everything in this debut novel from Seanan McGuire is, however, as believable as its leading character…