On these pages you will find the best in
speculative fiction books, with brief reviews. The
reviews are all positive: if I don't like it, I
don't promote it. I have also included pages with
research resources, which others with like
interests may explore.
As a convenience to visitors, links are included
for all books to Amazon.com, and you may add
directly to your shopping cart from here.
Contemporary Classics Non-genre Medieval Resources Movies
Truly amazing books. These are all books I have read more than once,
and would read again and again.
The Kneebone Boy:
For Middle Grades Readers. One of my favorite books for
older children. Each of the characters is a etched
sharp, quirky, and real. Deliciously dark and weird, and
free of any "important message for youngsters" that weighs down so
many popular kid's books. Lucia Hardscrabble is pompous,
manipulative, and insecure, and she doesn't learn better. You just
love her in spite of it all. Great Aunt Hettie is crass
and domineering but has one overwhelming good point: she takes
the kids and their issues absolutely seriously. She is absolutely
on their side, and she just as absolutely will not do anything for
[paraphrased] "Did you go up on the tower,
like I told you you were strictly not allowed to?... Of
course you did. Why else would I tell you it was off limits?"
Adam Rex's The True Meaning of Smekday:
For Middle Grades Readers. Name another book that is side-splitting funny, heart-aching
tragic, and a clear but not overburdening parable on colonialism,
all at once. Where it is serious, such as when twelve year-old
Tip watches the Boov kidnap her mother, the book spares you
no mercy with the rage and loss of preteen abandonment. Where
it is funny, such as the constant miscommunication between
Tip and her alien associate, ("Wait, did you mean the car
could 'explode'?" "That is what I said!" "No,
you said we could 'explore'!" "Is same thing.") it is a riot.
Where it comments on colonialism (The aliens generously give
Americans all of Florida to live in. No, wait, make that
Arizona, they like oranges.) it is still funny.
The sequel, Smek for President, is
worthy of the original. By moving the action to a Boov world,
the setting is fresh and new again.
Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's
For Adults and Young Adults The Apocalypse is coming, the
Antichrist is missing, and an angel and a demon join forces
to gum up the works. Imagine Gaiman's dark weirdness with
Pratchett's unerring aim for the funny bone. Two geniuses team
up to create something even greater. The demonic Crowly is
the only known character in fiction who can say, "This is a
plant mister," and have it come across as a dreadful threat.
And the awkward love affair is to die for.
Unbelievably, the Amazon Video series is worthy of the book.
They don't completely escape Hollywood's need to make Gaiman's
endings "more dramatic" (an effort that invariably makes them
lame and tedious) but it's probably the best video adaptation of
Gaiman I've seen.
Harry Potter Series
Forget the hype and the movie, this is a
great story. Epic high fantasy with a
twist. Can Harry save the world without
getting detention? One of the best
children's authors of all time. Bright
characters, playful attitude, tight plots,
For those looking for inside tips on
Hogwarts, may I recommend the boxed set
Hogwarts Library, including
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find
Them, and Quidditch Through the
Ages. A benefit for Comic Relief UK.
More by Connie Willis
The Doomsday Book
A deeply spiritual book. A young graduate
student undertakes a reckless solo
time-travel to the 14th century, with the
aid of an ambitious but dim department
head. What transpires reminds me of nothing
so much as Endo Shusaku's classic
Silence, as Willis confronts the
ancient question of "Where is God when
terrible things happen?" Her answer is
To Say Nothing of the
Set in the same world as The Doomsday
Book, but here her profundity is
replaced with absurdity, as the very fabric
of space time is threatened by an event
that has something to do with the battle of
Waterloo, a Victorian debutante's
love-life, Jerome K. Jerome, a bishop's
bird stump, and the survival of cats, to
say nothing of the dog. Willis's wit is at
its shining best.
Click here for a selection of other
books by Connie Willis, you can hardly
More by Molly Gloss
The Dazzle of the Day
A thoughtful story of Quaker colonists who have grown up on a "habitat" spaceship, making
the decision to colonize a very marginal world, or to seek another
world, that only their descendents will live to see. The familiarity
of home--however rudimentary. The fear of the unknown. Heartbreak. And
the patient quest for truth and consensus.
The Jump-Off Creek
A woman moves out to a homestead up the Jump-Off Creek, in the
backwoods of Oregon. A bleak slice of life in the real West:
the austere poverty, the insubstantial yet powerful ties of community,
the painful yet important propriety. A change of policy two thousand
miles away can destroy a way of life here, and render whole groups of people
desperate and bitter. Only pig-headed stubbornness can help one