Genre Blended Comics

The blending trend of mixing and matching elements from different genres to tell a story is not limited to novels.  Visual media are often the perfect way to tell a blended story, and while TV and movies get a lot of attention, comic book and graphic novels have been genre-blending for a long time.

The storytelling technique of comics really blends the best of the written and visual worlds, allowing the creators to (literally) illustrate scenes that a novelist can only describe. But you still get to keep some of that imaginative work that happens when you read novels – filling in the details in your head that are only inked on the page with soundtracks and special effects and how the character sounds in your head. It also is a format that allows you to proceed at your own pace, lingering over panels and pages that catch your fancy, whipping through scenes that somehow manage to convey movement and action through pen and ink.


Fantasy Cops

Urban Fantasy is a genre full of crime.  Not every urban fantasy contains a mystery component, but many, MANY do. When you set your fantasy on regular city streets and remove the epic worldbuilding and plots of large-scale political intrigue and clashing armies (think Tolkien, Martin, etc.) you need something to fill that plot hole.  A mystery plot, with its reliable structure of crime, investigation, and resolution is amazingly suited to a blend with fantasy. It is also a plot that lends itself to episodic series, with gradually accumulated world-building allowed to be used over and over again with the same characters, only changing the particular mystery plot du jour. (more…)

Near-future SF

In science fiction canon, big-scale far-future stories usually get all the glory.  Books set on other worlds, with space ships and alien encounters are what many people think SF is all about.  And those books are great.  I love space opera, and I love far-future SF books like Dune or the Culture books by Iain Banks, or Peter F. Hamilton’s crack-o-liciously good duology of Pandora’s Star/Judas Unchained. But there is something equally appealing about near-future SF stories. (more…)

Genre Blend New Releases – January 2015

The turn of the calendar, another year of blending goodness to look forward to. If you are looking for new books that don’t conform neatly to the big genre categories, but mix elements from multiple genres, I’ve got some picks for you.  January doesn’t traditionally yield a bumper crop of new books, but there’s always something coming out. Genres are listed in my best estimation as to the order of prominence to the story. For example, if the first genre listed is SF, that is probably the first audience for the book. What are you most looking foward to?


January 6

January 13

January 20

January 27

Looking forward to 2015

I have a HUGE spreadsheet of titles coming out in 2015 that I keep for my own covetous pleasure (and for my reviewing job with Library Journal), but I figured I could share some of the titles I am most excited about in 2015. This is not everything that’s being published (those looking for great forthcoming calendars for SF should visit Sword & Laser or Rising Shadow, who both do a great job). Keep in mind, the farther out I get, the more likely the dates of publication might shift and I’ve only linked to the titles through March. Since I have to read a few months ahead for my reviewing job, I’ll mark some of my favorites if I’ve already reviewed.






  • Corsair by James Cambias (5/5/2015)
  • The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor (5/5/2015) Prequel to Who Fears Death
  • Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson (5/19/2015)
  • Seveneves by Neal Stephenson (5/19/2015)
  • The Paradox by Charlie Fletcher (5/26/2015)
  • Long Black Curl (Tufa, Book 3) by Alex Bledsoe (5/26/2015) – wantwantwant
  • The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi (5/26/2015) – starred review / FANTASTIC!!


  • Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey (6/2/2015) – wantwantwant
  • A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul G. Tremblay (6/2/2015)
  • Knight’s Shadow by Sebastien de Castell (6/2/2015)
  • The Liar’s Key by Mark Lawrence (6/2/2015)
  • Storm and Steel by Jon Sprunk(6/2/2015)
  • The Fold by Peter Clines (6/2/2015)
  • Koko the Mighty by Kieran Shea (6/9/2015)
  • The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins (6/16/2015) Debut
  • Half a War by Joe Abercrombie (6/16/2015)
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik (6/30/2015)
  • The Philosopher Kings by Jo Walton (6/30/2015)
  • Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley (6/30/2015) – wantwantwant



  • The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin (8/4/2015)
  • The End of All Things by John Scalzi (8/4/2015)
  • Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb (8/11/2015)




A Year in Reviewing

I completed my first full year as a professional reviewer recently, having started with Library Journal as their columnist for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror with the January 2014 issue.  Deadlines being what they are, I actually completed that first column in early December 2013. So one year of actual paid reviewing! Mind you, the pay isn’t very good… But a seemingly endless supply of free books is a pretty nice perk of the gig.

Some stats (more…)

Best Female Soldiers in SFF

Anyone who has read their share of science fiction and fantasy knows that war is a large part of the genre. Every story needs a catalyst, something that sets the characters in motion and gives them a conflict to push against. War stories can be an easy way to put your characters in danger, give your story a high stakes outcome and create drama. But as common as war stories are in SF and fantasy, most of the most famous stories are about men going to battle. This is perhaps not surprising as in our own world it is only very recently that policies were put in motion to allow women to official hold combat roles. The major wars of the past were fought by men, and that inevitably trickles down into our literature – even our imaginative literature. (more…)

Historical Mysteries – Asia

Earlier in the week, I did a post on historical mysteries set in Africa.  As I said in that post, I love the potential of historical fiction to teach you something about a time and place you don’t know, and when you wed that history to a good puzzle plot, all the better! Another part of the world that I think is a great setting for historical mysteries in Asia, and I wish there were more examples out there.  if I forgot anything major, let me know.  If you click on the map, you can look at it much larger, and there is a list of included titles below. (more…)

Historical Mysteries – Africa

I love historical mysteries because when they’re done well you not only get a great whodunit, but you get to learn about another time.  And while there are hundreds of historical mysteries set in England and the US, I though it would be fun to round up some of the more unusual settings in the genre. Because there’s nothing wrong with another Tudor mystery, but it’s fun to virtually visit someplace new.

I know so little about Africa, so I thought I would round up all the historical mysteries I could find set on that continent. Aside from the expected slew of titles set in Ancient Egypt, I was happy to find some other choices as well. (more…)