Sci-Fi and Fantasy: Space Opera: (1) Patrick S. Tomlinson’s “Gate Crashers” (c) 2018; (2) Alex White’s “Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe” (c) 2018.

Patrick S. Tomlinson’s “Gate Crashers”

A very imaginative and quirky space opera: Character-driven story – both human and alien; science and politics; well-crafted with a great sense of humor.

In 2345, the starship Magellan or Maggie is on a journey of over thirty light-years to the planet Solonis B.

Captain Allison Ridgeway and her crew discover an unusual alien artifact. It is stationary, and emitting a weak signal. Soon enough, Ridgeway and her team realize the object is a space buoy.

An Artifact Research Team (“ARTists”) is set up on Earth to work together with the Magellan team (the A-team) to figure out the technological workings of the buoy.

Felix Fletcher is the major researcher for the team on Earth. He has the talent and skills to work on real-world applications of theoretical physics.

The interest in the space buoy ratchets up exponentially when Ridgeway’s A-team decodes the inscription on the buoy. It is an alien message inscribed in 6 different alien languages:

The buoy marks the perimeter either limiting or warning of human territory! (“Human Wild Life Preserve”). As it turns out the buoys are a network set up to monitor any incoming or outgoing spaceships by the Assembly of Sentient Species.

The Magellan and the Bucephalus journey into deep space … The story turns and twists … the humans meet the Assembly of Sentient Species…



Alex White’s “Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe” is Book 1 of the Salvagers Series.

Fantastic sci-fi and fantasy space adventure story: of magic and technology; of people born with magic glyphs, ordinary and extraordinary; and of spaceships and race cars.

The crew of the Capricious sets out across the galaxy to search for the legendary warship the Harrow.

Nilah Brio — born with a mechanist’s magic art. She is a galactic champion race car driver.

Orna Sokol – a spacer and ferocious fighter, born with a mechanist’s magic art; talented and skilled Orna builds her own exoskeleton, Ranger.

Elizabeth Elsworth, or Boots, is a former space fighter for the Arcan space force and a space salvager. Resilient, a survivor, salvager of ancient treasures, and knowledge of obscure planets. Elizabeth is one of the few in the galaxy who has no magic glyph.



Epic Sea Fantasy: R. J. Barker’s “The Bone Ships” (c) 2019.

R. J. Barker’s “The Bone Ships” is a fantastic sea saga, of ships that are made of the bones of sea dragons.
It is a vivid and richly imagined tale of remarkable and courageous characters: Captain Meas Gilbryn, her officer Joron Twiner and the crew of the Bone Ship, the Tide Child.

“The Bone Ships” is book 1 of the “Tide Child Trilogy.”
Book 2: “Call of the Bone Ships” (2020) and book 3: “The Bone Ship’s Wake” (2021).

“The Bone Ships”
The story is set in the Seas of the Scattered Archipelago.

For many centuries the people of the Hundred Isles and Gaunt Isles built their ships from the bones of ancient sea dragons, called arakeesian or keyshan. The Hundred Islanders and Gaunt Islanders fought battles to capture the sea dragons, build better ships, and control the Seas.

Then the dragons disappeared. The Islanders now fight to capture ships, for the dragon bones to build new ships.

After many centuries, a sea dragon, a keyshan, is sighted again.

The Tide Child is a bone ship of the Hundred Isles. Its crew is made up of criminals condemned to death. The crew consists of both women and men.

The Captain or Shipwife of the Tide Child is Meas Gilbryn. She is the daughter of the ruler of the Hundred Isles. Meas is known as the greatest Shipwife to sail the seas. But she is now captain of the Tide Child as punishment for a crime. Meas Gilbryn is a formidable character. Courageous, and undaunted, she transforms the Tide Child crew from one that is without hope, into one that is loyal and disciplined, ready to sail the high seas.

Jonor Twiner is the DeckKeeper, or officer, second in command to Meas. Jonor is of the Hundred Isles. He grows up with a love of the sea, sailing on his father’s fishing boat. He is condemned to sail on the Tide Child after he kills a fleet captain’s son in a duel. Joron learns from Meas how to sail the Bone Ship and to be a ship’s officer who can work with the crew, to turn them into a loyal crew.

The Tide Child sails into the high seas to search for and protect the keyshan.

A great sea story, well-crafted, well-written!

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Fantasy & Murder Mystery: Sarah Gailey: “Magic for Liars – A Novel” (c) 2019.

Sarah Gailey: “Magic for Liars – A Novel” (c) 2019.

Well-crafted and compelling fantasy and murder mystery, a story of mages, and a family story of twin sisters Ivy and Tabitha Gamble.

Ivy is born without the gift of magic. She has never wanted that ability. She has been a PI for 14 years.

Her twin, Tabitha, is born with a gift for magic. She is a teacher of Theoretical Magic at the Osthorne Academy of Young Mages.

The two sisters have been estranged for about seventeen years, since the death of their mother.

Ivy Gamble is hired to investigate the murder of teacher Sylvia Capley at the Osthorne Academy.

The teachers and the high-school students are all mages, having magic gifts to one degree or another.

Ivy puzzles over the clues. How Sylvia Capley was killed involved magic. A mage was involved one way or another. Was the mage who murderer Sylvia still on the campus? or …

Was Sylvia trying out magic beyond her knowledge or abilities? Was it a spell that spun out of control, with horrific consequences?

As Ivy investigates Sylvia Capley’s death, she also struggles with her own inner quest to come to some kind of peace and reconciliation with her sister Tabitha.

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Urban Fantasy Anthology: P. N. Elrod (ed.): “Dark and Stormy Knights” (c) 2010.

Rich with imagination and well-crafted urban fantasy stories about the paranormal:
Supernatural knights; vampires; shapeshifters; magic.
Twisty stories & unexpected endings.

Nine authors

Ilona Andrews; Jim Butcher; Shannon K. Butcher; Rachel Caine
P.N. Elrod; Deidre Knight; Vicki Pettersson; Lilith Saintcrow; Carrie Vaughn.

Summary of selected stories

Rachel Caine: “Even a Rabbit will Bite”

Lisel von Haffenburg-Martin has been a Dragonslayer for the last 742 years. A dragonslayer must have a quickness of mind and body. She is old, tired, and cranky. She lives in retirement in Phoenix.

There’s only one dragon, Karathrax, left in the world. He is a shapeshifter, clever, and extremely dangerous. And he is old, tired, and cranky. He has retired to a warm Egyptian desert.

Lisel is assigned to train a new Dragonslayer, a young woman, Ellen Cameron (chosen by the Pope!).



Shannon K Butcher: “The Beacon”

Ryder Ward inherits the ability to locate Beacons, humans that attract evil occult monsters, the Terraphages. He has killed 17 Beacons, all of them men.

He tracks a Beacon to a coffee shop in a small Minnesota town. The coffee shop’s owner, Jordan has a young daughter Anne.

And Anne is the Beacon for the Terraphages!
Ryder will have to kill the Terraphage.



Carrie Vaughn: “God’s Creatures”

Cormac is a hunter, like his father, and grandfather. He has the ability to track the undead and nonhuman.

A rancher contacts Cormac to track down the savage killer of his cattle.

Cormac finds telltale clues of a werewolf killer.
The werewolf’s tracks lead back into the nearby town of Lamar, to a Catholic church & its reform school for girls.



Ilona Andrews: “A Questionable Client”

Kate Daniels’ job with the Mercenary Guild involves fighting and killing monsters in a world where magic waves come and go.

She is assigned as a bodyguard to a high-profile client, Saiman, a shapeshifter.

Saiman has stolen, and swallowed, an acorn from the Russians, one which will grow into the World Oak Tree, according to Russian mythology. The Russians send monsters to retrieve the acorn.

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All the best for the days ahead. Notes re: my current & recent reading from Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Literary fiction.

Thanks very much to all who follow/like/visit my blog.


Continuing to read but I’m afraid the blogging is lagging, and my “to-read” list is expanding faster than I can read!

Reading — Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Literary fiction.
Spellbinding; richly imagined; complex characters; terrific novels!

Currently reading: Genevieve Cogman’s “The Invisible Library” (c) 2016. Sci fi & fantasy.

  • Completed readings:
  • Charles Stross: “The Atrocity Archives — Laundry Files Series, Book 1” (c) 2004. And book 6: “The Annihilation Score” (c) 2015. Sci fi & Fantasy.
  • Emily St. John Mandel’s “Station Eleven” (c) 2014; post-pandemic and apocalyptic novel with embedded sci fi novel “Station Eleven.”
  • Erin Morgenstern”s “The Starless Sea” (c) 2019. Literary fiction: an epic novel, of a vast subterranean library, in the Harbor on the shores of the Starless Sea. Stories within stories. A young man’s quest to understand himself and his story.

Notes about some of the novels:


Genevieve Cogman’s “The Invisible Library” ; (c) 2016. Invisible Library Series, Book 1.
Sci Fi & Fantasy about librarians, rare books; secret societies; alternate worlds, the paranormal, and weird technology.

Contemporary world: The Library is a shadowy organization that collects important or unique works of fiction from alternative worlds and stores them for posterity.
Irene is a bibliophile, has magical powers, and is a professional spy for the Library. Her assignments are to alternate worlds, of magic, vampires, supernatural creatures, and Fae, creatures capable of magic & chaos.



Sci Fi and Fantasy: Charles Stross: “The Laundry Files Series”
“The Atrocity Archives” (c) 2004. Book 1.
And “The Annihilation Score” (c) (2015). Book 6.

Lovecraftian horrors; the occult; magic, combining math with technology to summon alien entities from other universes; and to open wormholes in space-time.

The Laundry is a super-secret British intelligence agency, based in London, protecting the world from occult threats.

Bob Howard, a computer expert, is a spy for the Laundry. He is sent to Santa Cruz, California, to find Scottish professor Dominique “Mo” O’Brien. Her work in the area of philosophy, music, and quantum theory is about using music in the occult. That attracts the attention of the Laundry, the Black Chamber, which is the US equivalent of the Laundry; and of terrorists!

“The Annihilation Score” (c) (2015).
After her rescue from an alien entity, Dominique O’Brien or Mo also joins the Laundry as a spy. She and Bob Howard marry. Mo is a gifted violinist and the Laundry gives her an occult violin, Lecter, which can drive humans mad and destroy demons. Unfortunately, the violin attempts to kill Bob, and the couple must separate. Mo’s assignment is to investigate the sudden surge of people with supernatural skills. Her team includes two superintelligent Laundry operatives: Mhari Murphy,(a vampire after a viral infection) and Ramona Random (from the Blue Hades project and changing into a mermaid!). The violin is a character in its own right!