Legends & Lattes Legends & Lattes #1

After twenty-two years of adventuring, Viv had reached her limit of blood and mud and bullshit. An ore’s life was strength and violence and a sudden, sharp end - but she’d be damned if she’d let hers finish that way.

It was time for something new.

A retired orc barbarian and a succubus with artistic flair open a coffee shop.

Nope, not even a joke. Instead, it’s the heart of one of the best examples of cozy fantasy I’ve read yet.

And I haven’t even mentioned the ratkin with their heavenly cinnamon rolls, the hob carpenter (hm), and a shy bard with a flair for experimental music.


Letters from a Shipwreck in the Sea of Suns and Moons

We are the interviewers. For a story.

And who am I?

You are the old sailor who remembers being a young sailor on Unicorn, a three masted schooner out of San Francisco plying the Pacific waters.

That sounds familiar.

You are Clarence St. Elmo, for a name. You are a bad poet lost in the sea of time, a castaway on an island where the dead gods wander.

That sounds awful.

And beyond a name, on that side of things, past the mirror and the window and the words, you are the Keeper of Shipwreck Light in the Sea of Suns and Moons.

Oh, I knew that.

That… is a truly delightfully weird book.

It jumps around in structure and time between letters from a sailor to the girl he left back home–to said sailor being interviewed by … someone–to stories about a most mysterious shipwreck and the island he came to inhabit thereafter.

Structurally, it’s very strange and at times hard to figure out what in the world is going on–but that’s all intentional. It’s really quite worth it in the end.

There’s not much more I can say without spoiling the whole thing–that is, if I really actually understood what and how, if anything, of the story actually happened. 😄

Well worth a read.


Consider Phlebas Culture #1

The Culture: a “a utopian, post-scarcity space society of humanoid aliens, and advanced superintelligent artificial intelligences living in artificial habitats spread across the Milky Way galaxy” (Culture series)

Besides, it left the humans in the Culture free to take care of the things that really mattered in life, such as sports, games, romance, studying dead languages, barbarian societies and impossible problems, and climbing high mountains without the aid of a safety harness.

You’d think (or at least I did) from that description that we’d have everything starting in a state of wonder and harmony… and only then watch things go to hell (because otherwise, where’s the story?).

So imagine my surprise where (in Consider Phlebas), we start in the middle of a war between the Culture and another group (the Idirans) told from the point of a view of a shape shifting secret agent (more or less) who ends up with a crew of mercenaries (no, they’re a ‘Free Company’), goes through a few disastrous missions with them, almost gets eaten by a disgusting gigantic blob of a religious cult leader, breaks into a card game where the stakes are real human lives, and finally comes back to a graveyard system and then just about everyone dies.

Experience as well as common sense indicated that the most reliable method of avoiding self-extinction was not to equip oneself with the means to accomplish it in the first place.

I … don’t even know what to say.



There are no secrets, there is no mystery. We make that all up. In fact, it’s all right there in front of us. You have to have enough food to get through winter and spring. That’s what it all comes down to. You have to live in a way that will gather enough food each fall to get through winter.

Take a survival story (a la Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet), re-tune it for a world where survival is life rather than a temporary situation (ten thousand or so years ago), sprinkle in an oddly modern feeling narrator, and make it super horny… voila. Shaman.

I at once rather enjoyed it and was rather annoyed by good parts of it.


Succulents and Spells Windflower #1

Marigold took a deep breath. “My name is Marigold Ann Nightfield. I use she/her pronouns. I’m a PhD candidate in biomedical science.”

Laurel offered her hand across the table, and Marigold took it.

“Laurel Windflower. She/her as well.” She didn’t mention the incomplete MA she’d been postponing, for one reason or another, for the past two years. “So, is your PhD in monster biology or something?”

That was delightful. It’s a cozy urban fantasy, light and cute with just enough touches of something bigger and more dangerous out there.

Well worth a read. And at a novella length 100 pages, it’s worth trying just to see if you like it. And if you do, there are a handful more to dig deeper! (I haven’t yet).


Skin and Other Stories

Skin and Other Stories

I’m really only familiar with stories like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. They’re certainly fantastical stories with a number of fairly subtle dark twists to them, but still well within the realm of children’s stories.

Well… it turns out he wrote some more adult, much more tense ones at all. It’s somewhere in that border realm between realism, fantasy, and horror, not quite terrifying but certainly creepy.

The stories are quick and always have the creepy sort of twist, although I’ll admit there were a few I just don’t really get. So it goes. Still worth it, in my opinion.


The Vela The Vela #1

Eratos wasn’t the only dying world, just the one dying fastest—the tiny colony on Samos had been gone for a decade, and after Eratos would be Hypatia and then Gan-De, and maybe the Inner Ring would finally come to care when it was their turn to freeze to death as the sun collapsed.

A leisurely extinction. One that allowed everyone to push any inconvenience to another place or another generation.

The Vela is part of a fascinating sort of new/old model: serialized fiction. In this case Realm.fm (formerly Serial Box) is putting out piles of audio fiction by a number of well known authors chapter by chapter. And yet… somehow I read the ebook version from the library. I really should check out the audio versions.

In any case, The worldbuilding (as in the above quote) in the Vela is fascinating. A nearish-future tech sci-fi universe where humanity has managed to extract enough resources from the local star to freeze out the outer planets, wrecking all manner of havoc among the people that live out there. There’s all manner of classism, racism, and other racisms to digest…

Set against the backdrop of a missing starship (the Vela) and the two unlikely companions (Asala and Niko) who are sent to go find it. I’m glad to see Becky Chambers as one of the authors here, I really love how she does ‘people stories’. I haven’t yet read the other three authors, but they’re all on my to-read shelf already and higher up now. 😄

The relationship between Asala (hard bitten mercenary/sniper) and Nike (child of the president; hacker) throughout the stories is really the shining jewel of the series. It’s interesting to see the slight (IMO) variations between how the different authors see and write them, but it’s still well worth reading.

Well well worth a read. Or a listen. And Season 2 is on Realm? Onward!

People spoke about the death of planets as if the rock itself would shatter, but the truth was never so dramatic. The entire sphere wasn’t in danger of ceasing to exist. All that mattered was the inner goings-on of that tiny strip of gauze, that onion skin of atmosphere clinging to the rocky surface like morning dew. The narrowest of margins on which everything depended.


Runaways, Vol. 1: Pride and Joy Runaways (2003-2009) #1

Reading volume 1, issue 1:

Oh that’s fun.

Oh that’s even better.

That’s a very promising start to a fascinating story. The kids are fun and I like seeing the mix of teenage dynamics with mysterious new powers and problems.

No idea what their parents are really up to, but that’s the point, no?



Foundryside The Founders Trilogy #1

Every innovation—technological, sociological, or otherwise—begins as a crusade, organizes itself into a practical business, and then, over time, degrades into common exploitation. This is simply the life cycle of how human ingenuity manifests in the material world. What goes forgotten, though, is that those who partake in this system undergo a similar transformation: people begin as comrades and fellow citizens, then become labor resources and assets, and then, as their utility shifts or degrades, transmute into liabilities, and thus must be appropriately managed.

Well that was delightful. It’s been on my list for a while, so I figured I’d give it a chance and I’m so very glad I did.

I highly recommend the book, with the disclaimer that there are some dark scenes, bits (sorry) of body horror, and quite a lot of (made up fantasy) swearing.