Book review: A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar

March 20th, 2014

This is a slightly expanded version of the review I posted to Goodreads.

Upfront, I should say that I knew I would enjoy this novel on a prose level, because I’m a huge fan of Sofia’s short fiction. We are warm acquaintances; I published her work in Apex during my tenure there, and I picked up A Stranger in Olondria last year at WisCon. I regret that I didn’t read it sooner!

So, I was ready for her prose style, which is lush, gorgeous, and thoroughly precise. There are no wasted words, phrases, or sentences here. It is designed to be savored slowly. Don’t rush through this one.

A Stranger in Olondria is a coming-of-age, boy-goes-to-the-city, revenge-quest ghost story, where the magic that releases the ghost in question is released through writing. It tackles questions of nature, belief, and religion, without losing track of its emotional core or its redemption quest storyline.

This book itself reflects the magic of Jevick’s world through its storytelling prose style. Samatar has gorgeous turns of phrase on nearly every page. Her worldbuilding of multiple cultures and regions experienced by Jevick (our protagonist) is deftly handled, and she nails down what could easily be a rather nebulous relationship between him and Jissavet, the ghost that he needs to free. Jevick somehow remains both part of his world and separate from it as he travels along, and the liminal spaces where he dwells feel just as real as the “real world” in which he is also simultaneously functioning. 

This story is not told in strictly straight lines from a plot perspective. Instead, we move through movement and metaphor, through joy and rapture and despair, through seasons and weather, through plenty and privation, and through choices made among friends, allies, and enemies that bring us to the conclusion of the story. And yet the central relationship between Jevick and Jissivet remains, at its core, truthful and wonderfully complex for all its apparent simplicity.

This book is going on my Hugo Award ballot this year.

New Verity! Extra! Who’s In What?

March 19th, 2014

This week’s Extra! is another fun one. Join Deb, Erika, Katrina, and Liz as we talk about the rabbit holes we’ve disappeared down because of Doctor Who. Which actors and creators have we followed from Who? What other shows have we watched because of them? Are we embarrassed by these properties? (Hint: the answer is yes.) See below for some (most?) of the shows and films we mentioned. (Note: There’s some overlap between us, but I only included each link once.)


Christopher Eccleston IMDB
David Tennant IMDB
The Catherine Tate Show
Withnail & I
Life on Mars
(without comment) Shark Attack 3

The Thick of It
Blake’s 7
The Decoy Bride
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson

John Barrowman IMDB
How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? (aired on CBC)
LJ post about getting the autographed book
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Being a Fangirl

The House That Dripped Blood
Hammer House of Horror TV Series
The Persuaders!

Download or listen now (runtime 35:40)

New Verity! Episode 37: These Villains are History!

March 12th, 2014

This week we dip into the past to talk about some baddies from the old days. Join Deb, Erika, Katrina, and Tansy as we set out to discuss the historical villains of Doctor Who. Along the way we discover it’s much more complicated than it seems. Historical (and pseudo-historical) stories are really different beasts from other types of Who. It’s a fascinating discussion! We hope you find it so too.


Also covered:

Bonus links:
Cranky Ladies Of History crowdfunding campaign on Pozible
Cranky Ladies Of History Blog Tour
Cranky Ladies Of History on Pinterest
The Settling

Download or listen now (runtime 1:12:18)


A Brief Caitlin Update

March 10th, 2014

…because the good news is, there isn’t much to update.

Trust me, when it comes to medical stuff and kids, it is BORING that you want, and we have been deeply grateful to be in the land of boring for the past couple of weeks.

Caitlin has been healing up nicely. She had a follow up appointment with her surgeon at the end of February, where he noted that he was really pleased with how good everything looked.

She’s off of her pain medications. She has begun to roll to her side when lying down under her own power. We’re still working on getting her to keep stretching and using her legs.  She is slowly building up her stamina for sitting up, both in her chair and, say, on the couch. We were able to solve the barfing problem with a new medication that limits her secretions, which means that her breathing has been getting better. 

She has made it through the ENTIRE SERIES of Full House, which she enjoyed very much. (Her dad, not so much.) She’s also watching a ton of other stuff, including Cosmos last night. 

This is the period where we just slowly wait for bone to grow. We’re working on getting her wheelchair adjusted for her new back, which is one of the last steps before she can go back to school, possibly some time in April maybe? We’re playing it by ear, but we are very happy with her current progress. Michael has been doing an amazing job caregiving for her, and I’ve been back at work and getting back into the swing of things, spelling him as I can on nights and weekends. We make a great team.

So far, so good.

We are deeply grateful for everyone who has visited, brought us food, sent Cait notes and gifts and silly pictures and all manner of things. Your support has meant the world to us.

The snow is beginning to melt. Now we look forward to spring.


SF Squeecast Episode 33: An Alien Invasion in Tight Pants is Live!

March 6th, 2014

Episode 33: An Alien Invasion in Tight Pants

The February episode of the SF Squeecast, episode 33 is called “An Alien Invasion in Tight Pants.” This episode features the SF Squeecast regulars Paul Cornell, Seanan McGuire, Lynne M. Thomas, and SPECIAL GUEST Adam Christopher!

This is the second of our NEW FORMAT episodes. In this episode, we generally squeed about comic books and graphic novels! We mentioned so many comics that we are skipping the links this month. If you’re having trouble looking up something on your search engine of choice, please let us know. Works that are currently eligible for Hugo Award consideration this year that we wanted to draw your attention to are in bold.

Paul Cornell:

  • Captain Marvel
  • Ms. Marvel
  • Fantastic Four
  • The Superior Spider-Man
  • Beautiful Darkness

Seanan McGuire:

  • The Boys (Marvel)
  • Invincible
  • Kim Harrison’s Hollows series
  • The Avengers
  • Dark Horse Warren Comics Archival Editions: Creepy Magazine andEerie Magazine
  • Alpha Flight
  • Wolverine and the X-Men
  • X-23
  • Wolverine
  • Atomic Robo
  • Atomic Robo and the Flying She Devils of the Pacific
  • Saga
  • The Unwritten
  • Planetary
  • Hypernaturals
  • My Little Pony official comic


  • A Girl and Her Fed
  • Skin Horse
  • Narbonic
  • Namesake


  • Hawkeye
  • Captain Marvel
  • Ms. Marvel
  • Captain America
  • Batgirl
  • Birds of Prey (Gail Simone)
  • Wonder Woman (Gail Simone)


  • Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern (Blackest Night)
  • Coffin Hill
  • High Crimes
  • Lazarus
  • Black Widow

A Note From Lynne:

I need to apologize, because this podcast deviates from our typical format just a touch more than usual. We recorded 2 days after we got home from the hospital after my daughter’s major surgery. I didn’t do as much prep as I should have. Unfortunately, I ran it as I would a typical panel about the topic at an SF/F convention. I asked craft-related questions that forced Paul, Seanan, and Adam to be more self-promotional than is our wont, and I want to apologize to Paul, Seanan, and Adam for putting them in an awkward position. I will try to do better next time.

Click here to listen, press play below, or right-click to download the episode (mp3)

Additional credits: Special thanks to our webmaster, Dmitri Zagidulin, our technical producer David McHone-Chase, Jeff Bohnhoff at Mystic Fig Studios for the instrumentals of music by Seanan McGuire, Katy Shuttleworth, who made our ROCKING logo, and Michael Damian Thomas for general administrative support.

 Episode 33: An Alien Invasion in Tight Pants [ 1:07:14 ] Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download

New! Verity! Extra! Chicago TARDIS Leftovers

March 5th, 2014


Remember how much fun we had at the Chicago TARDIS live show when we let the audience pick the topics we’d talk about? It didn’t seem fair that we couldn’t all participate, so we saved the last few topics for the rest of the gang! Join Deb, Erika, Katrina, and Tansy as we clean up the last few ideas submitted by our lovely Chicago TARDIS live audience. We don’t manage to stay on topic terribly well this time either–surprise surprise!


Bonus link:
Tansy’s blog post on Martha Jones

Download or listen now (runtime 39:59)

One SF/F Research Wiki To Rule Them All…

March 4th, 2014

I’m a member of the Science Fiction Collections Consortium. That’s one of those old-fashioned email listservs you may have heard about, where we communicate with one another about who has what, who’s getting what, and who may wish to be in touch with whom. :-) We offer each other duplicates, occasionally commiserate about lack of space, and work together as best we can to coordinate our collecting and curating of science fiction and fantasy literature for the ages.

Now we have something new! We have pooled our time and collection lists for one-stop shopping for author papers. If you want to know who holds what, BEHOLD: THE SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS WIKI.

Elspeth Healey did much of the work to physically set it up, and it is being slowly populated by a whole passel of curators! Hal Hall has graciously shared his AboutSF spreadsheet of collections with us, and the wiki will integrate that info, and help us to keep it up to date!

We like to share! Go check it out, and find out what you need to know. :-) (You’re welcome).

New Verity! Episode 36: Run-of-the-mill to Run for your life!

February 26th, 2014


Steven Moffat is often praised for his ability to take perfectly normal everyday things and make them terrifying, but Doctor Who has a long history of such antics. Join Deb, Erika, Katrina, and Lynne as we chat about lots of mundane items we now give the side-eye, thanks to our beloved show. From angels to dolls to plastic policemen to telephones, the world is a scary place. Thanks Doctor Who!

And in a strange bit of synchronicity, Deb tries to remember the title of a book she read as a youngster. After recording, she looked it up and discovered it was Mutant 59: The Plastic Eaters, by Kit Pedlar and Gerry Davis– the creators of her beloved Cybermen!

Last, but certainly not least, we do our first Verity! giveaway, courtesy of Paul Cornell! Leave us a comment to enter to win a signed copy of The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who! (We’ll contact you via the email address used to leave the comment, so make sure it’s a legit addy.)


Also covered:

Download or listen now (runtime 1:09:16)


Locus Recommended Reading List!

February 21st, 2014

So, another thing I didn’t get a chance to note because we were in the hospital is that there are FIVE stories on the Locus Recommended Reading List that appeared in either Apex Magazine or Glitter & Mayhem. This list forms the basis for the annual Locus Poll and Survey. So, if you enjoyed them, go vote for them!


A Hollow Play”, Amal El-Mohtar (Glitter & Mayhem)

Short Stories:

Karina Who Kissed Spacetime”, Indrapramit Das (Apex 6/13)

If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”, Rachel Swirsky (Apex 3/13)

Ilse, Who Saw Clearly”, E. Lily Yu (Apex 5/13)

Such & Such Said to So & So”, Maria Dahvana Headley (Glitter & Mayhem)

I’m so very, very proud that we’ve had such a strong showing this year!

Rich Horton’s Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2014!

February 19th, 2014


Hey, look! Rich Horton’s Best SF/F of the year Table of Contents is out!

And they include stories from Apex Magazine and Glitter & Mayhem!!!

Call Girl” by Tang Fei (Apex)

Ilse, Who Saw Clearly” by E. Lily Yu (Apex)

Such & Such Said to So & So” by Maria Dahvana Headley (Glitter & Mayhem)

*is totally chuffed*