SF/F Saturday: The Years of Rice and Salt

YearsOfRiceAndSalt

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

DarkForest

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...]

SF/F Saturday: The Long Earth

TheLongEarth

Terry Pratchett is famous for his Discworld fantasy series, but he's tried his hand at science fiction as well. His most recent effort in this vein, in collaboration with the author Stephen Baxter, is The Long Earth, which is based on an idea that predates the Discworld books and that he's only now decided to bring to life.The premise of The Long Earth is humanity's invention of a device called the "stepper", which makes it possible to travel to parallel universes. But these universes come … [Read more...]

SF/F Saturday: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

JonathanStrangeAndMrNorrell

"Can a magician kill a man by magic?" Lord Wellington asked Strange.Strange frowned. He seemed to dislike the question. "I suppose a magician might," he admitted, "but a gentleman never would."Since I've just heard the welcome news that it will soon be a TV miniseries, this SF/F Saturday presents a good opportunity to write about one of my favorite modern novels.Published in 2004, Susanna Clarke's debut novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is an alternate-history fantasy set in … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: December 28

Coffee

While you rest and recover from all the holiday feasting, some links:• The eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that buried the Roman city of Pompeii also buried another town, Herculaneum. One of the buildings that's been unearthed was a rich Roman's villa - including the library. The thousands of scrolls it contained were thought to be charred beyond recognition, but high-resolution CAT scans and multispectral imaging are finally making it possible to read the lost scrolls from the Villa of the … [Read more...]

SF/F Saturday: His Dark Materials

HisDarkMaterials

There's a lot of fantasy fiction that I enjoy in spite of its religious themes - C.S. Lewis' Narnia series, or Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. But sometimes I'm in the mood for fiction that takes an explicitly atheist and humanist point of view, which is why I've lately been rereading one of my favorite series, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy.The first book in the series, The Golden Compass (published as Northern Lights outside the USA), is set on an alternate Earth that … [Read more...]

SF/F Saturday: Anathem

SFFAnathem

I found out this week that my books have been getting ratings and reviews on Goodreads, without any prompting or even knowledge on my part, which is pretty cool. So, I now have an author page on Goodreads, which you can use to shower accolades upon my literary endeavors. (Or just add me as a friend. Either way.)This is a good chance to kick off a new post series on Daylight Atheism, SF/F Saturdays. Since I'm going to be publishing more fiction in the future, I've been wanting to talk more … [Read more...]

A Two-Sentence Halloween Horror Story

Gallows

I really liked this article on Salon showcasing two-sentence horror stories written by professional authors. Notwithstanding the current popularity of blood-and-guts horror (more of an appeal to disgust than to fear, I've always thought), a good horror story is always scariest because of what it implies, not of what it reveals, and this challenge just carries that principle through to its conclusion. I thought I'd try my hand at it, so in honor of Halloween and everything that lurks in the dark, … [Read more...]

Repost: The Theodicy of Narnia

LamppostWinter

[Author's Note: I'm reposting some old favorites while I'm away on vacation this week. This post was originally from December 2006.]When I was a child, I read and devoured C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia books. I was too young then to understand most of the religious symbolism, and didn't realize that Lewis had intended the series as a Christian allegory until the end of the very last Narnia book, The Last Battle, which makes the comparison explicit. I will say, however, that I enjoyed … [Read more...]

A Dialogue with the Tempter

At the end of a long and weary day, with the last drops of twilight bleeding out of the darkening midsummer sky, I turned my key in the lock of my front door. I set my bags down, stepped inside... and paused, one foot on the threshold. I was certain I had shut off all the lights before leaving that morning, but my home wasn't fully dark. From the door of my office came the unmistakable blue glow of a computer screen, and in that harsh light, I could see a long shadow thrown on the … [Read more...]


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