Dark Heart Now Available For Free!


Happy Halloween!Because it's the season for tricks and treats, I've got one to offer. For a brief time only, I'm making my first novel, DARK HEART, available for free (update - see below). It's a fantasy epic set in a world where mortals rose up, overthrew the old gods and took their places, only to find that divinity isn't all they dreamed it would be. If you haven't read it yet, now's the opportunity you've been waiting for!Here's the capsule summary:Three gods rule the world … [Read more...]

Movie Review: The Martian


Content note: Contains some spoilers.It says something about our era that so many of the most popular movies and TV shows are grim, depressing stories of disaster and dystopia. Is it a reflection of the popular mood? A sign that we've lost hope in ourselves and our ability to achieve great things? Why are there so few works of culture which make us feel optimistic, which tell us that better days are ahead?This weekend, I saw a movie that's a welcome exception to that gloomy trend: Ridley … [Read more...]

SF/F Saturday: The Culture

For all its virtues, Star Trek was a series that often failed to do justice to its own ideas. We're told that Starfleet is just one small part of a vast, advanced utopian civilization, but that means that the settings and characters of the various TV shows were atypical representatives of the Federation. We only ever saw brief glimpses of what ordinary life in such a society would be like.Iain M. Banks, who died tragically early in 2013, did better with his Culture sci-fi series. Like the … [Read more...]

SF/F Saturday: The Half-Made World

Something I've often wondered is why so many great or classic fantasy stories are set in a real or fictionalized Europe. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, C.S. Lewis' Narnia series, Robert E. Howard's Conan series, Terry Pratchett's Discworld, The Wheel of Time, A Song of Ice and Fire, Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell... the list goes on and on. And it can't just be chalked up to European fantasy authors being more popular, since some of the authors of these … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Cobra Commander Dialogues

If you've been reading the comments on my Atlas Shrugged posts, you've probably seen the hilarious "Cobra Commander" dialogues written by commenter and jet-setting billionaire playboy author Sneezeguard (that's how he requested to be credited).In it, the fictional evil overlord inserts himself into the plot of Atlas Shrugged, accompanying the characters and trying to comprehend the difference between Rand's heroes and villains, and learns for himself that even evil has standards.I've … [Read more...]

SF/F Sunday: Goodnight Stars

Earlier this week, I posted about the "Sad Puppies'" reactionary campaign to hijack the Hugos. I have an addendum to that: two nominated authors, Annie Bellet and Marko Kloos, have announced that they're withdrawing their works from consideration.Both Bellet and Kloos were part of the Sad Puppies' slate, although neither sought out that support. In respective public announcements, they both stated that they don't wish to be associated with the SPs' campaign, nor do they want anyone to harbor … [Read more...]

The Sci-Fi Fans Who Fear Change

The Hugos, one of the most prestigious awards for sci-fi and fantasy writing, have been hijacked. After several years in which the awardees had become increasingly diverse, reflecting the broader reach and appeal of SF/F, readers discovered that this year's nominees were dominated by a ballot-stuffing campaign organized by a right-wing faction that calls itself, no joke, the Sad Puppies.The SPs' slate includes works by Vox Day, a.k.a Theodore Beale, a loathsome right-wing polycrank who … [Read more...]

SF/F Saturday: Terry Pratchett’s Death

I was devastated to learn that Terry Pratchett, the renowned fantasy author, died this week at the unfairly early age of 66. Pratchett had been suffering from early-onset dementia for several years, and while he was a vocal advocate of assisted dying, his own passing was natural. (He also worked almost right up to the end: his final Discworld book, The Shepherd's Crown, is set to be published posthumously this year.)The sad news was broken by family on his Twitter account, in a form any … [Read more...]

SF/F Saturday: The Years of Rice and Salt

I've been getting into alternate history novels lately - The Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove, Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague de Camp - and one of the better ones I've read is Kim Stanley Robinson's 2002 book The Years of Rice and Salt. I've read Robinson's Mars trilogy, which I thought was interesting but lacked a strong central concept to drive the plot, but this book is an accomplishment.The classic strategy of alternate history is to pick some important historical event, assume … [Read more...]

Season of the Tempter


On a dreaming night not long ago, I was walking by myself along a lonely road, in search of reflection and solitude. The nearest homes were only a far-off and fuzzy glow, a fleeting scent of woodsmoke through the bare and tangled arms of dark trees. It was a chilly, blustery night, and the snap of frost hung in the air like a premonition of winter. Shredded clouds scudded across the tarnished moon like a rake pushing dry leaves.I had been walking for the better part of an hour in silence, … [Read more...]