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August – 2014 –

Monthly Archives:


Another day, another disappointing indie military sci-fi novel.  The author sums it up best near the end of the book— “Goddammit, Deac!” [a soldier] growled.  “I told you to can that sci-fi shit!  I’m sick of you talking like we’re in some damned movie!” “Come on, Sarge!”  Deacon whined.  “Think about it…We’re on another planet, […]

Castalia House was created to publish books that are written in a manner that is respectful and appreciative of the classic canons of science fiction and fantasy. But thanks to the movement of most of the mainstream SF publishers away from those canons, and also to the vagaries of the publishing business, many of classic […]

For one minute Hugo wondered what would happen if he told the colonel to shove it. Shove it all. Shove the Zero and shove the Service. But the moment and the feeling passed, leaving in its wake a flush of shame. Why? My first problem with Zero: An Orbit Novel was that I didn’t know […]

Sometimes, distinguishing  Pink Science Fiction from Blue can be difficult, so I thought a simple comparison of two very similarly themed science fiction tales might help. There is some required reading involved, but it will only take you a few minutes: The first is Rachel Swirsky’s Hugo-nominated short story “If You Were A Dinosaur, My […]

Just looking at the earliest rule books it’s hard to imagine how role playing games really took hold like they did. Many of the first wave of products were nigh inscrutable, poorly edited, and amateurishly illustrated. Sure, what they lacked in polish they more than made up in charm. And as S. John Ross’s Encounter Critical demonstrates, […]

Are spoiler alerts necessary for something that was written in the 14th century?  In the case of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, with its twist ending and potential appeal to modern fantasy readers, the answer is a definite yes.  So this review will stay away from the spoilery stuff. In my previous post, we […]

There is a difference between Arnold Schwarzenegger and the British Indian actor who plays an astrophysicist in The Big Bang Theory. And that’s why the Austrian-born American was so successful in 1990 with Total Recall while the latter is now making big money with a sitcom. But let’s imagine that somebody wrote a book completely […]

H.P. Lovecraft was fatherless, and his mother fell to madness. C.S. Lewis lost his mother before he turned 10. Ray Bradbury’s formative years were in a stable community and a large supportive family. Orson Scott Card–a direct descendant of Brigham Young–comes from a traditional Latter Day Saints background, complete with five siblings. Gene Wolfe is […]

Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Mars series is astonishingly influential. It played a pivotal role in the genesis of super hero comics and in the creation of the definitive science fantasy blockbuster film franchise. But while its status the common denominator between both Superman and Star Wars is clear when it is pointed out, its role in the genesis of […]

If you have chronocompulsive obsessive disorder (COD) like me, you have to start a series at the beginning.  The very beginning.  For us CODs, reading Lord of the Rings doesn’t begin with The Fellowship of the Ring, The Hobbit, or even The Silmarillion.  We are forced to start with Norse mythology and The Saga of the […]

As you can see from the cover art this is a collection of short science fiction stories that are not exactly of the serious hard science fiction type. It’s summer after all. The first two are about scientific experiments gone wrong. The third is a quick visit to a psychiatrist. And the last one is […]

“The old saw says that the first time is an accident, the second time a coincidence, and the third time enemy action. As a matter of policy, I’m suspicious of accidents, and I don’t believe in coincidences.”– Walter Slovotsky Anachronism in Fantasy is a very different creature than anachronism in Science Fiction. In Sci-Fi, anachronisms […]