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Sir Edric's Kingdom, discounted to 99p (for now)

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This year's Self-Publishing Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO) includes Sir Edric's Kingdom, by me. It's a fantastic comedy, so splendid even persons who don't normally like fantasy often enjoy it.

When King Lawrence is poisoned and consigned to his sickbed, Sir Edric Greenlock, the Hero of Hornska, is thrust into the position of Lord Steward. But with the King half-dead and vultures circling, Sir Edric soon discovers running a kingdom is about as relaxing as being a...

How Many Different Books (Titles) Have You Read in Your Life?

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My guess is that this question is one none of us can answer. Some people might even say "I have no idea -- thousands," etc.

My reading life is now something like 52 years, but I have always reread a lot.* Therefore, though I have always had one or more books going for most of my life, I'm not sure that I have read nearly so many books as I might have guessed at first. A few years ago I jotted a quick estimate and hazarded the figure of 850, so...

The Medusa Chronicles by Stephen Baxter and Alastair Reynolds

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The Medusa Chronicles is a sequel to Arthur C Clarke’s novella A Meeting with Medusa (which I quickly read before this book), and I suspect you are always going to be taking a chance writing a sequel today (2016) to a story written so long ago (1971) and I think that this book suffers from that separation. Sometimes it felt like a modern book with the realism that is so much a quality of modern SF, especially, in my opinion, British modern SF, but at others it...

Space News: Rogue star hit solar system, life on the Moon?

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A couple of juicy space stories in the news this week:

1. Rogue star hit solar system?

Research suggests a rogue star might have skimmed the early solar system: Did a rogue star change the makeup of our solar system?

In recent years, space scientists have begun to suspect that something out of the ordinary happened to our solar system during its early years. Many have begun...

Writing questions: losing grip on POV

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So, I occasionally feel that I'm losing a close grip on my POV character in certain scenes. In those scenes, he/she is an observer of, or minor participant in, the 'action'.

Case in point, I'm editing a scene which involves something of a free-for-all discussion with a large cast of characters and she has little to say. It's not that she's the wrong POV to use in this scene...nobody really stands out and we do need an invested observer...but that she's not deep...

Interview with Stephen Palmer

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Stephen Palmer is the author of 13 novels, published variously by Orbit, PS Publishing, and Infinity Plus. His latest novel, Tommy Catkins, will be released this week.

Interview by millymollymo:

Tommy Catkins is set in 1915 but takes us to the unusual world of Onderwater. Portal fiction it might be, but based on Stephen’s previous work, this isn’t likely to be a Narnia-esque fantasy, nor is Stephen Palmer an author who sticks to one style. Just...

Archaeology News: Meghalayan Age, First Bread, & more

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1. Welcome to the new age!

And it's not Aquarius or the Anthropocene - but the Meghalayan Age.

Our current geological epoch - the Holocene - has been split into 3 ages: Collapse of civilizations worldwide defines youngest unit of the...

Does your science fiction have a goal besides entertainment?

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Without breaking down into specific genres, science fiction can be purely entertaining, everything in it can be imaginary. None of the science is anywhere near being applicable in our lifetimes. None of the characters are related to anyone or anything that is real. The characters act however the character wants to act without regards to how people might realistically respond to the situation. Basically some kind of escapist adventure story, serious, comical, or...

Review: Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon

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Elizabeth Moon, Remnant Population

Remnant Population tells the story of a woman who stays behind on an alien world when all of her fellow humans abandon a failed colony. Imagine the love-child of Robinson Crusoe and Enemy Mine with Ursula K. LeGuin acting as midwife and you’ll get some idea as to what to expect from Remnant Population.

There is much to praise in this book, starting with the main character, Ofelia. You will...

Review: Literature® by Guillermo Stitch

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Wow. Just wow.

Literature® is the best new work of speculative fiction I have read since the 20th Century.

Witness a world in which literature, as we know it, has been outlawed. It doesn't matter where, it doesn't matter when; it has happened, and that's that. And those who continue to read literature for its own sake clearly are criminals.

Enter Billy Stringer—a sports journalist, working for what might be the last printed newspaper left standing. He's...

Review: The Beguiler by Suzanne Jackson

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This is not my normal type of book, which is probably why I enjoyed it as much as I did. Change, as they say, is as good as a rest.

If I may take a moment to say, and it is not often that I like to fall into this pit, after all you cannot judge a book by the cover, the cover does pay a large part in whether a book should be read or not. And this cover does both the book and author a disservice.

As far as the art goes, it is a beautiful piece, but it recalls the...

Space News: Moons galore! Toxic, noisy, & oddball

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Our Moon made a couple of stories this week - with others following after:

1. How dangerous is Moondust?

That's what the European Space Agency (ESA) wants to find out, as unlike the weathered and rounded dust of Earth, Moondust is effectively tiny shards of volcanic glass that has caused breathing problems for every astronaut who walked the lunar surface: The toxic side of the Moon


Review: The Tiger and the Wolf by Adrian Tchaikovsky

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Adrian Tchaikovsky's The Tiger and the Wolf is a fantasy novel, the first in a series, published 2016 by Pan Macmillan. 590 pages in large (5" x 7¾") paperback.

Maniye belongs to the Wolf, which means that, like the rest of her father's Winter Runner tribe, she can instantly Step into a wolf's form, taking on all the animal's attributes. But she also belongs to the Tiger, for she is the product of rape -- her mother was captured in battle, forced to...

How to write romance in science fiction?

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DISCLAIMER: I am not looking for a detailed discussion of a romance scene, as this is almost surely outside of what is permitted on a family friendly forum.

I am looking for some examples of exceptionally well done romantic relationships in a SF context. My problem is, I have a really high standard for this. Stories where the protagonist and the love interest meet each other, fall in love, culminating in a romance scene are not adequate in my mind, nor is the...

Review: Solaris by Stanislaw Lem

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First let’s get the translation straight; Wikipedia states there is only one English translation, by Joanna Kilmartin and Steve Cox, and that this is actually a translation of the French translation and, further, that Lem himself, who read English fluently, repeatedly voiced his disappointed in this translation. It further states that an improved translation seems unlikely due to rights issues. However my edition states ‘This is the first English translation...

Review: The Doll Who Ate His Mother by Ramsey Campbell

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Following the death of her brother in a bizarre car accident, Claire Frayne is contacted by a muck-raking writer, who claims that he once went to school with the man who caused the collision. With the help of others whose lives have been damaged by the mysterious killer, Claire determines to track the man down and see justice done.

If I had to describe this book in a word, it would be “bleak”. Its setting, 1970s Liverpool, is grim and run-down, full of...

Is Lord of the Rings just an expanded version of The Hobbit?

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Having just read both, it's really stands out how similar the basic story elements are in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. For example, both have the following - and in the same order:

- Start out with a carefree Hobbit in the Shire
- Given a Call to Adventure by Gandalf
- Waylaid after leaving the Shire
- Visiting Elrond in Rivendell
- Trying to go around the Misty Mountains, only to be forced back by a storm
- End up crossing through...

Star Trek: Discovery - Revisiting Season One

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I've just watched Season One a second time.

Knowing now how it all turned out. I can appreciate how very we'll planned/written this season was! Absolutely excellent! I now understand a nagging "why that perplexed me: "Why, except for a role necessity. did Lorca ever decide to add Michael to the crew? It made no contextual sense at the time.
Knowing now that he had been her father-figure and later lover, it is obvious why.

There are similar questions answered, and...

Review: Anomaly by Peter Cawdron

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David Teller is an elementary school teacher but when an alien anomaly appears outside the United Nations in New York he unexpectedly finds himself recruited into the team investigating it. This is a good, solid first contact story with all the hard science being softened by presenting it through the scientifically naïve eyes of David Teller. And that almost justifies the utterly implausible inclusion of such an unqualified person in the investigation team of...

Review: Dark Matter by Crouch Blake

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Jason Dessen has given up a promising future as a top research physicist in favour of a quiet life as a college lecturer with his loving family. Does he regret that choice? Not really but sometimes it does haunt him a little. It’s only when it’s all abruptly taken away that he really realises how important that life and family is to him. Stepping out of the family home to join an old colleague for a quick drink he is abducted and eventually finds himself in a...

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