Book Review: The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal

I’m clearly the target audience for this book, since the tag line is “The Thin Man in Space” and I adore The Thin Man.

(CONTEXT: For those of you unfamiliar with this film from the 1930s, it’s a comedy where William Powell, Myrna Loy, and their dog Asta solve a murder. Everyone is witty and elegant and there is some power drinking. Technically, it’s also a holiday movie since much of it is set in late December and there’s a major party scene. Absolutely worth your time if you enjoy people being smart, fashionable, and witty on film while solving murder.)

OKAY. The book. Tesla (famous in her own right as a wealthy heiress & engineer/inventor, disabled after a major accident) and Shal (handsome, sweet retired detective who embroiders) are a delight, trying to travel incognito on a starship to Mars on their honeymoon. Gimlet is Tesla’s Westie service dog.

The murder and the mystery setup itself is well set up and follows the Usual Mystery Tropes strongly, but with the added challenges of doing it in space with variable gravity. Every chapter opens with a cocktail or mocktail recipe geared to the action in the chapter.

Tesla starts the story with every possible advantage, and as each of them is stripped away from her, we see her innate strength, too. A strong cast of supporting characters as well, although I’m particularly attached to Francine, Tesla’s lawyer who crochets so she doesn’t stab people for herself.

This novel is sparkling, witty, well-paced, and keeps the pages turning as the mystery unfolds and we learn more about the characters. Highly recommended.

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The Non-ARL Survey Article is Live!

Since this article began as a series of blog posts on here, I thought it would be good to post the results on here. BEHOLD: after five years, several major family health crises, and a pandemic, I’m thrilled to share Special Collections on a Shoestring: A Survey of Non-ARL Libraries Servicing Rare Book Collections. (This is open access!)

Thomas, Lynne M. “Special Collections on a Shoestring: A Survey of Non-ARL Libraries Servicing Rare Book Collections.” RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage [Online], 23.2 (2022): 75. Web. 29 Nov. 2022


This article reports the first national survey that creates a baseline for documenting the experience of working with rare books in libraries without Association of Research Libraries (ARL) membership: a group of libraries that make up about half the field of librarians working with rare books. Scarcely studied despite decades of comparable studies of their ARL library colleagues, librarians working in non-ARL rare book collections have comparable demographics, professional training, and standards for their work as their peers in ARL libraries. Their experiences doing the work in non-ARL libraries demonstrate a significant disparity in resources for acquisitions, security, staffing, and fundraising. These experiences of half of the special collections professionals in the field require further study, reintroducing their narratives into our understanding of “what rare books librarianship looks like.”

Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the survey, and thanks especially to the following colleagues who were instrumental in guiding me in the preparation of this article: J.J. Pionke, Thomas H. Teper, Karen Hogenboom, Karen Retzer, Laura McCullough, Mary Lee Kennedy, and Richard Saunders.

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A brief note re: Twitter verification

I was once verified on Twitter. This is the official website of me, Lynne M. Thomas.

I also exist on Mastodon (server: and IG under the same username.

I talk about my daughter Caitlin, libraries, Doctor Who, science fiction, and frocks a lot.

My hope is that I’m not worth spoofing, but just in case, here we are. Proof that I’m the one and only.

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ChiCon/ WorldCon schedule!

:dusts off blog:

Firm Schedule:

*The Works and Legacy of Eric Flint 9/2/22, 11:30am, Michigan1

*Get to Know Short Fiction Publications, 9/2/22, 4pm, Crystal Ballroom A

*Hugo Award finalist rehearsal 9/4/22, 1:30pm, Grand Ballroom

*Table Talk 9/4/22, 2:30 pm, Crystal Foyer.

Woo! (Please be sure to sign up for the Table Talk so I have someone to chat with!)

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DisCon III/ WorldCon schedule!

As many of you know, I’ll be in (very masked) attendance at DisCon III in person.

Here’s my schedule!

Thu 5:00 pm Hugo Awards Finalists Reception

 Start Time      Duration            Room Name          Session ID                      Title
Fri 4:00 PM    1 Hr          Forum Room                 608         The Small Press Takeover of Short Fiction 

Sat 11:30 AM   1 Hr          Forum Room                 558         The Finances of Running a Small Press             
Sat 1:00 PM    50 Min        Suite 325 Main Room        983         Kaffeeklatsch with Lynne M. Thomas 

Sat 8:00 PM Hugo Awards Ceremony etc.

Sun 11:30 AM   1 Hr          Blue Room                  560         Assembling an Anthology 

Even masked, I’m a very social creature; PLEASE feel free to say hi (and consider signing up for my Kaffeklatch so I’m not staring morosely into space…)


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Book review: Divine Heretic by Jaime Lee Moyer

Divine HereticDivine Heretic by Jaime Lee Moyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jaime Lee Moyer has consistently published books that touch me profoundly, and this one is no different.

I approached Divine Heretic with some trepidation, since it’s based on the story of Joan of Arc, and, well, as an emotional reader currently seeking solace, I wasn’t sure I could handle that story right now.


This novel is an act of rebellion against the trauma that we experience that threatens to drag us down if we let go of the things that matter too easily.

It turns out, a book about resilience, about found family and holding onto the things and people you love, about finding joy in the little moments, and a book about understanding that courage means doing the thing anyway because you know what is right, no matter how scary, is exactly what I needed right now.

The well-known historical ending was tweaked in ways that work really, really well and aren’t nearly as disheartening as the historical record.

Strongly recommended.

Content warning: there is attempted rape in this book; it is handled as the traumatic thing that it is.

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The Best of Uncanny Book Tour!

Space Unicorns! Are you excited about the forthcoming The Best of Uncanny (edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas) from Subterranean Press? We have more great news! There will be four launch events next year featuring the editors and writers!

University Book Store
Seattle, WA
Friday, January 17th at 6:30 PM
Attending: Michael Damian Thomas, Caroline M. Yoachim, and E. Lily Yu

Shakespeare & Co.
Philadelphia, PA
Saturday, January 25 around 6 PM
Attending: Lynne M. Thomas, Fran Wilde, Sarah Pinsker, C. S. E. Cooney, Shveta Thakrar, Sara Cleto, Ali Trotta, and K.M. Szpara

Illini Union Bookstore
Champaign, IL
Wednesday, February 5 at TBD
Attending: Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas

Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore
Minneapolis, MN
Saturday, February 15 at 1 PM
Attending: Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas, and Merc Fenn Wolfmoor, plus Kelly McCullough

We hope to see you, Space Unicorns!

The Best of Uncanny received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, BooklistLibrary Journaland Kirkus! It’s a limited print run, and Subterranean Press believes it might sell out immediately! Make sure to pre-order or make plans to be at one of these events!


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New Student Convocation 2019 video

While I shared this link across my social media, I thought it would be good to post it for posterity to my blog, mostly to make it easier for me to find again.

This is the “official” video from my address at the 2019 New Student Convocation at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Text by E. Todd Wilson from the Provost’s office and me; delivery is all me. The video was taken and provided to me by the media team at the State Farm Center, but it hasn’t yet been posted anywhere on the University’s site officially yet as far as I can tell.

In retrospect, I think it is fundamentally a letter to 17-year-old me, of all the things I wish I had known then.

And I’m okay with that.

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Book review: The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite

The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics (Feminine Pursuits, #1)The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely loved this. Loved, loved, loved. I needed books like this to exist in the mainstream in my 20s.

Lucy is an astronomer, trained up by her (now late) father. Catherine is a widowed Baroness who supported her husband’s work as a world-traveling astronomer.

They meet, there is an EPIC SLOW BURN that does a fantastic job of conveying the uncertainty of potential queerness in a straight-oriented world (is this friendship or flirting?!) and they fall in love, as this is a romance. Lucy and Catherine together learn to navigate their relationship, their different social standings, and their different approaches to the world, to the arts, and to how to express love and affection when you’re scared.

This is an us-against-the world conflict book, and the world is pointedly sexist in its scientific and artistic communities, but Catherine and Lucy are going to take it on together.

I literally punched the air when I finished it.

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Book review: Brightfall by Jaime Lee Moyer

BrightfallBrightfall by Jaime Lee Moyer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Content Note: there is offscreen child death in this novel.)

I absolutely loved this.

I’ve long been a fan of Jaime Lee Moyer’s work, because her characters are so well rounded that they feel like people you’re sitting and having tea with. This novel does that with characters that we think we already know.

If you ever wondered what happened to Maid Marian and Robin Hood after their happily ever after, this is a murder mystery set in Sherwood from Marian’s point of view, roughly 10 years after the stories we are familiar with take place.

The Merry Men have all settled down into their lives and livelihoods. And now they and some of their family members have been murdered, and it’s up to Marian to solve the mystery. Faerie is very plausibly involved, which makes things even more complicated.

Stories are tidy; people are messy. This is a gorgeously written, well-paced exploration of a bunch of messy people trying to make sense of — and the best of — an “adventure” they never signed up for, and Marian’s voice is particularly resonant for this reader. Marian’s older, wiser, and has been through significant heartbreak.

This is a novel about resilience, about the costs of doing what must be done, relationships that get broken, repaired, and find a way forward, and about how your story doesn’t necessarily end just because other people assume it has.

Highly, highly recommended.

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