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.

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Truly amazing books. These are all books I have read more than once, and would read again and again.

Ellen Potters's 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 them.

[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 Good Omens

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.

J. K. Rowling's 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, colorful language.

For those looking for inside tips on Hogwarts, may I recommend the boxed set from 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 startling.


To Say Nothing of the Dog

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 go wrong.

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 get by.

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