February 28, 2021

The Best of Elizabeth Hand

@ Elizabeth Hand (science fiction, fantasy, short stories)

Edited by Bill Sheehan.

In novels such as Mortal Love, Glimmering and Curious Toys, Elizabeth Hand has established herself as one of the most gifted, unclassifiable writers working in America today. Her equally brilliant short fiction has received numerous awards, setting a standard that few contemporary writers can match. The best of that fiction can be found in this generous, career-spanning volume that no one with an interest in imaginative fiction at its finest can afford to ignore.

The Best of Elizabeth Hand contains sixteen stories and novellas, along with an illuminating set of story notes. The collection opens with the World Fantasy Award-winning “Last Summer at Mars Hill,” a moving account of mortality and miracles set in a “spiritualist community” in Maine. It closes with another World Fantasy winner: Illyria, an achingly beautiful short novel that deals with family, youthful sexuality, the enduring love of theater, and the infinite vulnerability of magic in all its forms. In between these bookended moments lies a virtual treasure trove of Story.

“Pavane for a Prince of the Air” recounts, in unflinching detail, the gradual, painful dissolution of a human life. “The Bacchae” combines Greek myth with a dystopian world view that J.G. Ballard would have recognized and admired. The much anthologized “Cleopatra Brimstone” is a darkly brilliant account of trauma, revenge, and astonishing transformations. “The Have-Nots” is a charming departure in which a small-town Southern waitress receives an unexpected gift from the King himself, Elvis Presley.

Ten more memorable stories, four of them previously uncollected, round out this masterful collection. The Best of Elizabeth Hand delivers exactly what the title promises. The result is a veritable showcase by a uniquely gifted writer whose talent, commitment and singular vision are evident on every page. If you’re not yet a fan of Elizabeth Hand, this book will make you one. If you’re already a fan, then you know what to expect: strange, beautiful, sometimes terrifying stories that will linger in your mind for a very long time to come.


  • Last Summer at Mars Hill
  • Pavane for a Prince of the Air
  • The Bacchae
  • Cleopatra Brimstone
  • Ghost Light
  • The Have-Nots
  • The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerphon
  • Eat the Wyrm
  • Fire

The Last Domain — Three Story Variations

  • Echo
  • The Saffron Gatherers
  • Kronia
  • Near Zennor
  • The Owl Count
  • The Least Trumps
  • Illyria

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February 28, 2021

The Best of Walter Jon Williams

@ Walter Jon Williams (science fiction, short stories)

Dust jacket illustration by Lee Moyer.

With the publication of his debut novel, The Privateer, in 1981, Walter Jon Williams began one of the most varied and prolific careers in contemporary popular fiction. His work encompasses cyberpunk (Hardwired), military SF (The Dread Empire’s Fall series), humor (The Crown Jewels), even disaster fiction (The Rift). But much of Williams’s best work takes place in the shorter forms, as this generous volume, filled to overflowing with award-winning and award-nominated stories, clearly proves.

With one exception, The Best of Walter Jon Williams reflects its author’s affection for — and mastery of — the novella form. That exception is “The Millennium Party,” a brief, brilliant account of a virtual anniversary celebration unlike any you have ever imagined. Elsewhere in the collection, Williams offers us one brilliantly sustained creation after another. The Nebula Award-winning “Daddy’s World” takes us into a young boy’s private universe, a world of seeming miracles that conceals a tragic secret. “Dinosaurs” is the far future account of the incredibly destructive relationship between the star-faring human race and the less evolved inhabitants of the planet Shar.

“Diamonds from Tequila” is a lovingly crafted example of SF Noir in which a former child actor attempts a comeback that proves unexpectedly dangerous. “Surfacing” is a tale of alienation featuring a research scientist more at home with the foreign and unfamiliar than with the members of his own species. Finally, the magisterial “Wall, Stone, Craft” offers a brilliantly realized alternate take on a young Mary Godwin, future creator of Frankenstein, and her relationships with the poets Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron, culminating in the creation of a monster who would “stalk through the hearts of all the world.”

These stories, together with half a dozen equally substantial tales, are the clear product of a master craftsman with a seemingly limitless imagination. The Best of Walter Jon Williams is the capstone of a truly remarkable career. It’s the rare sort of book that the reader can return to again and again, finding new and unexpected pleasures every time out.


  • Introduction by Daniel Abraham
  • Daddy’s World
  • The Golden Age
  • Dinosaurs
  • Surfacing
  • Video Star
  • The Millennium Party
  • The Bad Twin
  • The Green Leopard Plague
  • Diamonds from Tequila
  • Margaux
  • Prayers on the Wind
  • Wall, Stone, Craft
  • Story Notes

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February 23, 2021

Out Past the Stars - The Farian War #3

@ K. B. Wagers (science fiction, space opera)

Gunrunner empress Hail Bristol must navigate alien politics and deadly plots to prevent an interspecies war, in the epic conclusion to the Farian War space opera trilogy.

When Hail confronts the Farian gods, the last thing she expected was to discover that they were part of a race of aliens who'd attacked the galaxy long before humanity's ancestors had crawled out of the sludge of Earth's oceans.

The discovery carries with it dire news: The Hiervet, who'd once subjugated the mighty Svatir, are coming - a consequence of Hail's decision not to kill the Farian gods.

Now the fate of the galaxy is on the line and Hail will have to make one final gamble to leverage chaos into peace.

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February 23, 2021


@ Tim Jordan (science fiction)

A man battles his addiction to a devastating nanotech drug that steals identities and threatens the survival and succession of mankind as a galactic species.

After the Nova-Insanity shattered Earth’s civilization, the Genes and Fullerenes Corporation promised to bring humanity back from the brink. Many years later, various factions have formed, challenging their savior and vying for a share of power and control.

Glow follows the lives of three very different beings, all wrestling mental instability in various forms; Rex – a confused junkie battling multiple voices in his head; Ellayna – the founder of the GFC living on an orbital satellite station and struggling with paranoia; and Jett – a virtually unstoppable robotic assassin, questioning his purpose of creation.

All of them are inextricably linked through the capricious and volatile Glow; an all controlling nano-tech drug that has the ability to live on through multiple hosts, cutting and pasting memories and personas in each new victim.

In this tech-crazed world where nothing seems impossible, many questions are posed: what makes us who we are? What is our ultimate purpose and place in this world? And, most frightening of all, what are we capable of doing to survive?

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February 23, 2021

Symbiosis - Escaping Exodus #2

@ Nicky Drayden (science fiction, space opera)

The Compton Crook Award-winning author weaves her trademark blend of science fiction and dark humor in this dazzling story that continues the imaginative saga begun in Escaping Exodus, in which a society lives in the belly of a beast — and an entire civilization's survival depends on a pair of uneasy allies who must come together for one epic battle.

Nearly a thousand years removed from Earth, the remnants of humanity cling to existence inside giant, space faring creatures known as the Zenzee. Abused and exploited by humans for generations, these majestic animals nearly went extinct, but under the command of its newly minted ruler, Doka Kaleigh, life in the Parados Ihas flourished. Thanks to careful oversight and sacrifice by all of its crew, they are now on the brink of utopia, and yet Doka’s rivals feel threatened by that success.

The Senate allowed Doka to lead their people believing he’d fail spectacularly — a disaster that would cement the legitimacy of their long-standing matriarchy. Despite vocal opposition and blatant attacks on his authority, Doka has continued to handle his position with grace and intelligence; he knows a single misstep means disaster. When a cataclysmic event on another Zenzee world forces Doka and his people to accept thousands of refugees, a culture clash erupts, revealing secrets from the past that could endanger their future. For Doka, the stakes are bigger and more personal than ever before — and could cost him his reign and his heart.

He has fallen for the one woman he is forbidden to love: his wife, Seske.

Doka and Seske must work closely together to sway the other Zenzee worlds to stop their cycles of destruction. But when they stumble upon a discovery that can transform their world, they know they must prepare to fight a battle where there can be no winners, only survivors.

Read more ...
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