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A Choir of Ill Children / Louisiana Breakdown A Choir of Ill Children by Tom Piccirilli and Louisiana Breakdown by Lucius Shepard
reviewed by David Soyka
Southern Gothic is the neighbourhood haunted by Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty and William Faulkner. The style features supernatural -- or seemingly supernatural -- grotesquerie, often in a backwoods or swamp setting, rooted in a cultural folklore steaming with themes of enslavement, racial tension, repression, rebellion, religious belief, family conflicts, and clan loyalty in which God or fate influence, if not outright determines, moral choices.

Darwin's Children Darwin's Children by Greg Bear
reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer
It has only been eleven years since the SHEVA retrovirus first made itself known, but the impact has had terrible consequences. The most obvious of these is the children. The New York Times has christened them the Virus Children, and while they in themselves are not a problem as such, the actions their very existence causes may destroy the world.

Polyphony 2 Polyphony 2 edited by Deborah Layne and Jay Lake
reviewed by Sherwood Smith
Polyphony seeks to establish a place between the literary mainstream and science fiction/fantasy genres. Many long-time readers who enjoy short fiction across the breadth of the literary spectrum welcomed the first anthology, full of strong stories told in distinctive voices. Would the promise hold up in the second volume?

SF Site News SF Site News
compiled by Steven H Silver
Every day, items of interest to you arrive in our email. Our bi-monthly format doesn't lend itself to daily updates. However, this is a small inconvenience to our Contributing Editor Steven H Silver. He's begun a new column which will fill you in on recent news in science fiction. We'll be updating the page as he sends in new items.

Babylon 5.1: Televison Reviews Babylon 5.1
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
Usually, Rick offers his thoughts on TV. This time, he gives us some opinions on the TV series, Cowboy Bebop, plus Cowboy Bebop -- the Movie. He follows that with whether Dark Shadows DVD Collection 5 is worth a look.

Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines
a movie review by Rick Norwood
The Terminator series has always been a reliable entertainment machine, and it seems that this episode holds up better than Alien 3, Hannibal Lecter 3, or Jurassic Park 3, despite James Cameron's absence. Would it have been better with James Cameron directing? Certainly. But except for one BDM (Big Dumb Moment), it is very well done. The main writers, John Brancato and Michael Ferris, who also wrote a clever thriller, The Game, know you have to give the audience a reason to care about characters before you start throwing helicopters at them.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
a movie review by Rick Norwood
"I got this really cool idea, see. We'll buy the rights to a comic book from this Alan Moore dude, who's so hot right now in the whadda-ya-callum graphic novels, and then, and here's the really clever bit, we'll take out everything that makes the graphic novel interesting, and put in tried and true Hollywood clichés, so the audience will love it."

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
a movie review by Rick Norwood
It is lots of fun, some very good Monty Python-type humor, and then a little more Monty Python-type humor, and then just a wee bit too much Monty Python-type humor, but still a highly enjoyable experience. There are a few quibbles but the intelligence of the writers shines through.

28 Days Later 28 Days Later
a movie review by Rick Norwood
Rick ran into someone who asked, "Have you see 28 Days Later... yet?" He hadn't, but after several more people started talking about it, he went. He is glad he did. Instead of screen-busting special effects, the movvie relies on realism and likable characters. It is a nice change of pace.

The Changeling Plague The Changeling Plague by Syne Mitchell
reviewed by Donna McMahon
Geoffery Allan is a young man with everything to live for, but he's dying of cystic fibrosis. With nothing to lose and a huge fortune at his disposal, he bribes a genetic researcher to engineer an illegal cure for him -- a viral treatment that will repair his defective DNA at the cellular level. It works, but instead of rewriting his DNA and then stopping, it keeps rewriting. And the virus is highly contagious.

Interzone, February 2003 Interzone, February 2003
reviewed by Alma A. Hromic
Alma thinks she is a little too much of the old school. Yes, stories depend on character -- but she also wants them to have the usual beginning, a muddle (well, you could say middle if you really wanted to but in this case she means a-problem-to-be-solved so a muddle will do just fine), and an end. The first story in this issue, "The Wisdom of the Dead" by Eric Brown, has a muddle...

Signs Signs
a DVD review by David Newbert
What would your faith require for proof of the divine? What will you do the night the aliens arrive? Graham Hess is a lapsed minister in rural Pennsylvania. His wife has died and he's raising his two young kids on the family farm with the help of his younger brother, a former minor league baseball star. Overnight, crop circles have appeared in Hess' cornfield. At night, a shadowy figure leaps from the house roof into the darkness. And on television, strange lights appear in the skies above major world cities. And more of those crop circles have simultaneously appeared everywhere on Earth. What is happening?

The Gates of Sleep The Gates of Sleep by Mercedes Lackey
reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer
On the day Marina Rosewood was christened, elemental mages from all around gathered to her cradle, each whispering something to the sleepy babe, each granting her a small gift. Just as the last mage is about to take her turn, Arachne, Marina's aunt, appears. Spiteful and angry, she curses the child with death. Fortunately, Elizabeth is able to take the child up, and though she can not remove the curse, she is able to change it.

The Maquisarde The Maquisarde by Louise Marley
reviewed by Donna McMahon
Ebriel Serique has it all. A world-renowned flautist, she lives in an elegant Paris apartment with her physician husband and six-year-old daughter. In the late 21st century, the "InCo" corporate government runs Europe and North America, and has drawn a "Line" of embargo between the industrialized nations and the Third World, abandoning the majority of humanity to war, famine and disease. Ebriel has never questioned InCo's propaganda -- until her vacationing husband and daughter are killed by terrorists.

Black Unicorn Black Unicorn by Tanith Lee
reviewed by Alma A. Hromic
Alma doesn't know if this is a cavil that's personal enough to be disregarded or if other people ever get around to feeling the same way -- but the press release accompanying this slim volume trumpets "The Return Of The Classic Novel by Internationally Acclaimed Fantasist Tanith Lee". Well, aside from the obsessive capitalization, so far, so good. But then it goes on to say, "Perfect for Fans of Harry Potter and the Academy Award-Nominated The Lord of the Rings". Hmmm....

The City Trilogy The City Trilogy by Chang Hsi-kuo
reviewed by William Thompson
Consisting of three novels -- Five Jade Disks Defenders of the Dragon City, and Tale of a Feather, they concern the struggle for political power and control of Sunlon City. The symbolic and urban center for Huhui, a planet with an ancient and violent history, Sunlon has come to represent both the hopes and identity of the Huhui people, the fate of the planet and its culture inextricably bound to its continued fortune.

Geeks With Books Geeks With Books
a column by Rick Klaw
Usually, Rick Klaw gives us a look at how things work from behind the counter of a book store. This time, he dons his writer's hat and gives us a look at some of the quirks writers employ when they are in the thrall of the muse or to get them into the mood. Some involve cheese.

Terry Pratchett
The Wee Free Men The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
reviewed by Alma A. Hromic
Discworld books are a publishing phenomenon -- the cover mentions the staggering number of more than 27 million copies of his works sold worldwide to date. With good reason -- the man writes good solid entertainment. That he frequently succeeds in exploring deeper and more important issues while his characters are having what seems to be an endless series of pun-filled pratfalls is a tribute to his abilities as a writer.

Terry Pratchett A Conversation With Terry Pratchett
On writing the opening words of a new novel:
" I start with a handful of semi-formed ideas and play around with them until they seem to make some sense. Actually typing is important to me -- it kind of tricks my brain into gear. I've got a packrat mind, like most writers, and once I starting thinking hard about a new project all kinds of odd facts and recollections shuffle forward to get a place on the bus."

Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines
a movie review by David Newbert
James Cameron once half-jokingly called his Terminator 2: Judgement Day the most violent film ever made about world peace. If you consider the deeply felt bonds between Sarah Connor, her son John and the T-101, you could also call T2 one of the most "family-oriented" of action movies. This one doesn't have the same sense of humanity, but it sure pours on the action, and it even has undercurrents of melancholy that might put you in mind of the first Terminator.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
a movie review by David Newbert
Allan Quatermain is coaxed out of retirement in 1899 to lead a remarkably fey group of heroes put together by a British government operative named "M" to fight an international threat known as The Phantom. It seems The Phantom has been using new technology, such as tanks and shoulder-fired missile launchers, to run over London bobbies and blow up Berlin factories, with an eye towards starting a "world war." When we first meet him, our hero Quatermain is relaxing in Kenya, on the verges of the Empire, and is reluctant to get involved; then assassins with automatic rifles show up from apparently nowhere and shoot the place to pieces before blasting it with explosives.

Second Looks

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger (2003) The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger (2003) by Stephen King
reviewed by Matthew Peckham
Endings, it seems, sometimes lead us back to beginnings, or in writerly terms -- to revisions. The author recently completed scribing his epic seven-book The Dark Tower series, churning out an estimated 2,500 manuscript pages for the final three books in under two years (the first four total somewhere around 2,000). But instead of resting on his laurels, he has turned a fastidious revisionary eye back to the first tale, the one that started it all in the October 1978 issue of Ed Ferman's The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. If you're a squeamish nostalgic, brace yourself: he has literally left no word unturned.

Wyrms Wyrms by Orson Scott Card
reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer
Patience has been trained since she could talk in the arts of diplomacy, and can properly address a politically sensitive letter with one hand while looping a thin strand of plastic around someone's throat with the other. As one of the highest ranking slaves to the king, she has tried not to let the fact that her father, Lord Peace, is the true Heptarch, color her actions.

Swords for Hire Swords for Hire by Will Allen
reviewed by Georges T. Dodds
Does it cover all the clichés of heroic fantasy? Sure, it has the malevolent evil bad guy with no face; the not-so-clever bad guy with some socially unacceptable habits; the young man, innocent but ready-for-adventure; the grizzled, if quirky, veteran and master of arms; and naturally, the beautiful but resourceful princess. Sure, the good guys win, the boy gets the girl, the bad guys get their comeuppance. But what pulls it out is that the author makes something new out of these standard characters, makes it funny, keeps the action moving along, and creates an altogether very entertaining work.

The Palace The Palace by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer
In Fiorenza in the time of the Medicis, Francesco Ragoczy da San Germano has commissioned the most unusual and opulent of palazzos. It has secret rooms where he may work his alchemy, and where he may truly refresh himself in sleep on a bed made from his homeland's soil. He often accompanies Lorenzo de' Medici, the city leader, intrigued by the man's wisdom and love of beauty that has allowed him to make the city great. But sadly, this contentment is not to last...

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