Category: Featured Blend

Series for ‘Shippers, Part 1: Mystery

There are a word for those who root for romance, no matter what.  In the wider world of fandom, especially genre fandom, they are known as “shippers”, short for “relationshippers.” More commonly used for TV series (one show that had adamant shippers was The X-FIles, where from almost the first episodes there were fans that wanted Scully and Mulder to get it on), there are plenty of potentials for a good ship in book series as well. Sometimes in books as in TV the ship never comes in, the romance never gets consummated or even acknowledged. But that doesn’t stop a romance fan from hoping for their happy ending. There is no obstacle that a true blue shipper cannot willfully in search of their ship: plot mechanics, basic compatibility and sexual orientation can all be overcome in the heart of a true shipper. I’m a devoted shipper, but I’m a patient shipper. A big part of shipping is anticipation. Long looks, sexual tension, a lot of  “He annoys me. I don’t like him at all. Why can’t I stop thinking about the way his lips look when he….DAMMIT” internal monologues.  I love series where the relationship builds over time and the couple has to overcome a ton of obstacles.  While in traditional romance there are relationships that are more of the “slow burn” variety, the couple almost always get together in the end.  But in genre blends, especially blends that are part of a series, the romantic relationships might develop over multiple books. Will they?  Won’t they?  Ahhhhhh….. (more…)

Featured Blend: Cyberpunk

Cyberpunk is dead, long live cyberpunk!  The genre that was the hottest thing in science fiction in the 1980s and early 1990s has had its death certificate drafted many times.  From the signature works of William Gibson, Rudy Rucker, Bruce Sterling and K.W. Jeter it supposedly ended soon after authors like Neal Stephenson started writing cyberpunk so over-the-top that it almost parodied the genre. But if you look at some of the classic elements of cyberpunk:

  • A near-future urban setting, often gritty and veering towards dystopia.
  • A dark view of technology often with innovations that seem amazing but end up with a loss of individual privacy or identity, and the technology being often embedded or integrated into biology.
  • A tone Influenced by hardboiled and noir detective fiction, usually paired with the fast pace of a thriller.

This description could be applied to plenty of books before Neuromancer came along, (Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination being one strong example), and there are books published in recent years that carry the cyberpunk torch, using elements from this recipe book to create new and entertaining SF novels. By all means, if you prefer you can call it something else, but I’ll just be over here reading it. From a blend point of view, most cyberpunk falls under the SF/Adrenaline umbrella in the blender.  Here are a few from the last 5 or so years, but feel free to comment with your favorite cyberpunk torch carriers. (more…)

Featured Blend: Fantastic Spies

Do you like spy stuff? James Bond movies, TV shows like MI-5, and books by John Le Carré? Sure you do.  The action, the double-crossing, the sneaking about.  It’s all good.  But even a genre as delightful as the spy novel can get new life by blending in other genres like fantasy.  Although there are dozens of epic and grimdark fantasies with spies and assassins as characters (maybe I’ll do a roundup of those some day), I wanted to pull together a list of books that took the tried and true formula of a secretive spy agency, like the CIA, MI-6, etc. and blended it with fantasy.  Some of these blends went for a more campy parody of the form, some take it deadly serious. Perhaps not surprisingly, the ones I found were mostly British settings, as the Brits do love their spy stories. It wasn’t hard to find some great ones, but do let me know if I missed a favorite:

 The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

Myfanwy Thomas wakes up surrounded by corpses and with no memory.  Luckily she left herself a letter, which leads her to impersonate herself in her job at a supernatural intelligence agency, The Checquy.  The Checquy protects Great Britain from supernatural threats, and many members have special powers or abilities themselves. The agency has a rigid hierarchy and agents are recruited at a young age.  One of the joys of this one is watching Myfanwy decide who she is going to be, even after she finds out who she was. While there is a LOT of fantastical elements in this book (fantasy, horror and even SF), readers who enjoy spy novels and who are looking for a departure could really enjoy it, although the fast pace might make it a better fit for fans of Robert Ludlum or Daniel Silva rather than Le Carré. (more…)

Featured Blend — Fairy Tale Romance

There are many, many fairy tale-inspired novels out there (if you wonder how many there is  a pretty good roundup here) and many of them have some terrific blend-y things going on. Most commonly they are fantasy/romance blends, but you can find some great historical romances that lean on fairy tales as well.  Some of these are fairly straightforward in their retellings, others are more fantasy (or romance) novels that use the bones of the stories and go off on their own narrative journeys. These are some of my favorites.  Have I missed one of yours?


 Daughter of the Forest  by Juliet Marillier (Six Swans)

 Beauty by Robin McKinley (Beauty and the Beast)