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Choice of Evil Choice of Evil by Andrew Vachss
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
This -- like all of Vachss' novels -- is an exhausting experience. It also induces absolute commitment, unbreakable control of your attention, and investment of emotions. All of Vachss' work has an almost hypnotic quality that will push you on when the scenes seem too horrifying to bear.

Catherynne M. Valente

The Fabulous Women of Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell The Fabulous Women of Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell by Boris Vallejo & Julie Bell, and Anthony & David Palumbo
reviewed by Steven H Silver
One of the stereotypical images found in fantasy art is of the woman wearing a chain-mail bikini. Often found on the four-color covers of pulp magazines, these damsels, frequently in distress, would be shown chained and awaiting rescue at the arms of some iron-thewed Conan clone. While they may be the foremost artists when it comes to depicting women in chain-mail bikinis since Frank Frazetta, their damsels are in anything but distress.

The Babylon 5: Crusade Episode Guide The Babylon 5: Crusade Episode Guide by Sandy Van Densen and Loriann DeGiacomo
reviewed by David Maddox
The character line-up was impressive. No-nonsense Captain Matthew Gideon at the helm, telepath John Matheson by his side, stalwart Dr. Sarah Chambers in the medical bay, despicably likable Max Eilerson, good-hearted thief Dureena Nafeel and the mysterious and enigmatic Technomage Galen crewed the Excalibur. Unfortunately, it was not to be. The series ended after a mere 13 episode run on TNT.

Norse Code Norse Code by Greg van Eekhout
reviewed by Nathan Brazil
Ragnarok is almost upon us, and an army is being forcibly recruited to fight for Asgard. Selection is limited to those who carry a trace of Odin's blood. The main problem for the recruits is that in order to join the army they have to die first. This is where Mist, and her supernatural Einherjar minder, Grimnir, come in. Mist used to be Kathy Castillo, until she was murdered and returned to life as a Valkyrie.

Fourth Planet from the Sun Fourth Planet from the Sun edited by Gordon Van Gelder
reviewed by Steven H Silver
Mars orbits the sun at an average distance of 227.9 million kilometers with a period of about 22 earth months. Its bright red, potentially menacing glow early on linked the name of the planet to the gods of blood and war in numerous civilizations. With the publication in 1898 of H.G. Wells's novel, The War of the Worlds, Mars became inextricably linked in the public imagination with aliens and invasion.

Welcome to the Greenhouse Welcome to the Greenhouse edited by Gordon Van Gelder
reviewed by Paul Kincaid
Paul is coming to the conclusion that the worst disservice ever done to "science fiction" was saddling it with that name. In particular, the "science" part. It raises expectations and assumptions on behalf of both readers and writers that the genre mostly cannot, and should not, even attempt to fulfil. As long as we expect fiction to incorporate scientific rigor, we are doomed to disappointment. And if we expect science fiction writers to be better qualified than any other reasonably well-informed member of the public to comment on the scientific issues facing us today, we are deceiving ourselves.

In Lands That Never Were In Lands That Never Were edited by Gordon Van Gelder
reviewed by Steven H Silver
If you look at the stories published over the last several years in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, you'll notice that many of the fantasy stories are modern or urban fantasies. It is surprising, therefore, that for his second thematic anthology, the editor has selected sword and sorcery as the theme. However, the assortment of stories which appears here demonstrates that the magazine actually does print stories of swords and sorcery.

The Ring of Five Dragons The Ring of Five Dragons by Eric Van Lustbader
reviewed by Wayne MacLaurin
This is the first of an epic fantasy series titled The Pearl. It centres on the conflict between a technologically advanced, space-faring race, the V'ornn, and the Kundalan, a spiritual race, subject to the latest V'ornn colonization. We are introduced to the main characters and the book quickly tears itself into a frenzy of sub-plots and twisted misdirection as the curtains sweep open, revealing a vast expanse of story.

The Wild Side The Wild Side edited by Mark L. Van Name
reviewed by Mario Guslandi
Don't let yourself be put off by the vulgar cover nor deterred by the ambiguous promise of "urban fantasy with an erotic edge" suggesting cheap, second-rate fiction by mediocre writers. This is a very good book, extremely engrossing and entertaining, including a couple of remarkable highlights of superior quality when compared with more celebrated anthologies.

Slan / Slan Hunter Slan / Slan Hunter by A.E. Van Vogt and Kevin J. Anderson
reviewed by Trent Walters
Jommy Cross has returned! Maybe you didn't realize he'd been missing. A.E. Van Vogt wrote one of the quintessential Golden Age novels in Slan, originally published in 1940. Jommy Cross is the son of the legendary Slan, Peter Cross -- a great man of science and technology. Slans are the next stage of human evolution: telepathy achieved through a pair of golden tendrils.

The World of Null-A The World of Null-A by A.E. Van Vogt
reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer
By the year 2650, the people of earth have moved away from Aristotelian logic, training themselves through years of study and discipline to become Null-A. Everyone knows the people who manage to work their way through the levels of the yearly Game will get a better job, a better life. They may even go off-planet to the utopia-like Venus if they are lucky and pass all the tests. Gilbert Gosseyn is one of these who gather to take the test to see what life he will lead. Until he finds out that the life he's been living is not his own. Soon he finds himself not only on a quest to discover who he really is, but to foil the plans of an alien race bent on intergalactic conquest.

The Empire of Isher The Empire of Isher by A.E. Van Vogt
reviewed by Jayme Lynn Blaschke
The National Rifle Association should give out a copy of this book with every new membership. Seriously. They're fools if they don't. Jayme has never come across anything that more closely resembles a NRA-envisioned utopia than this. Before you roll your eyes and scoff at the absurdity of it, consider the backdrop of the Isher universe. Even the Weapon Shops' credo could be adopted by the gun lobby today without much fuss: The right to buy weapons is the right to be free.

The War Against the Rull The War Against the Rull by A.E. van Vogt
reviewed by A.L. Sirois
This collection is comprised of several linked novelettes published between 1940 and 1950 plus a "new" story. Typical of most SF of the day (and even today), the first chapter opens strong. Jamieson is trapped with a ferocious alien beast, an ezwal, on an antigravity barge that is slowly descending to the surface of a savage world controlled by the insectlike Rull, who have wrecked the ship in which Jamieson has been taking the ezwal to Earth.

Jack Vance

Vivian Vande Velde

Jeff VanderMeer

Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution edited by Ann VanderMeer
reviewed by Sandra Scholes
Neo-Victoriana is a special realm of fantasy for many fiction writers and in this, the third volume of the Steampunk series, there are over twenty fiction stories and four non-fiction stories. They take readers through the cities of the Far East, where mad scientists, lethal assassins and adventurers dare to go but where no woman could ever venture, and with some of the most interesting real characters like Bram Stoker and Karl Marx. These stories have something everyone can enjoy.

The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer
reviewed by Nathan Brazil
Presented as a series of recollections and reports, this sumptuous collection features contributions from popular artists and best-selling fantasy authors. It's a diverse and quirky entertainment, loosely connected by the late Thackery T. Lambshead, whose fabled Cabinet of Curiosities purportedly held a vast collection of rare and strange objects, around which each story is based. Rarely will you come across a collection that rattles and rambles along in such a fantastical, often meticulous, yet always engaging fashion.

Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
reviewed by David Soyka
The anthologists of record for such subgenres as New Weird and pirates as well as the subject matter at hand stand out because of their sense of humor about genre classification lacking in most academic treatments and that they supplement terrific fiction with offbeat critical discussions, typography and other diversions of interest. A prime example here is "A Secret History of Steampunk," a collage incorporating graphics, multiple authors, and just plain weirdness to satirize the academic research and discussion of obscure literary fragments.

Best American Fantasy 2008 Best American Fantasy 2008 edited by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer
reviewed by Paul Kincaid
Even with the demise of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, there are many Best of the Year anthologies out there. But Paul notes, and applauds, about this selection of stories is that the wide range of sources challenges our notions of fantasy. This collection takes us far away from the standard tropes of wily magicians and mighty-thewed heroes and young boys destined to become king and the like.

Steampunk Steampunk edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
reviewed by Paul Graham Raven
"What is steampunk?" asks the jacket blurb header, and it's a reasonable question that has kept plenty of fans and pundits busy since the style's recent renaissance. Like any other genre definition, it's going to be contentious (has anyone actually settled on a satisfactory definition of science fiction itself yet?); personal taste is always going to come into play when deciding what is canon and what is not. While plainly setting out to answer the question from the informed perspective of the editors, this anthology is also a trifle schizoid in that it's not entirely clear who they're trying to answer the question for.

The New Weird The New Weird edited by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer
reviewed by Paul Kincaid
These days it seems that barely a week goes by without another anthology that has an agenda, that is meant to work as propaganda. We are being assailed with collections that are designed to convince us that something old has been revitalised (the new hard SF, the new space opera) or that something new has been discovered (the slipstream anthology, the interstitial anthology, the post-cyberpunk anthology). If we enjoy good stories in these books, it is secondary to being convinced that this totally fresh way of looking at the genre is valid, is going to take over literature.

The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases edited by Dr. Jeff VanderMeer & Dr. Mark Roberts
reviewed by William Thompson
This volume is both a spoof and a serio-comic collection of fiction parodying the non-fiction of an earlier era. The fact that the type of literature it mimics was itself at times fraudulent or the product of a highly susceptible imagination only further inflates the parody. Presented as a reference written by other esteemed medical authorities in the field, complete with anatomical illustration, advertisements and newspaper articles, Dr. VanderMeer and his colleagues have great fun mocking similar literature and pamphlets of the nineteenth century, while at the same time satirizing a tradition of scholarly journals, encyclopedias and medical literature that persists to this day.

Leviathan Three Leviathan Three edited by Jeff VanderMeer & Forrest Aguirre
reviewed by William Thompson
This book lends a crowning touch to this series, comprising the best and largest collection of stories yet gathered. Including work by Michael Moorcock, James Sallis, Jeffrey Ford, Zoran Zivkovic, and Brian Stableford, to list perhaps only the more notable or readily recognized contributors, this anthology is immediately underscored by the consistently high level of writing present throughout, an acknowledgement both of the various authors' talents, as well as the exacting aesthetic standards applied by the editors in their selections. And while not every offering is likely to appeal universally to each and every taste, it is hard to conceive of any reader not finding at least several that make their experience of this anthology both memorable and a pleasure; not a single story insubstantial or unworthy of notice.

Dr. Tim: Book One Dr. Tim: Book One by Christopher Varian
reviewed by Chris Przybyszewski
It starts with: "Dr. Tim is a brilliant Medical Doctor [sic] whose scientific breakthroughs will change the world -- if he can stay alive. With discoveries worth billions stored in his head, villains everywhere have one goal: Get Dr. Tim!" So the point of the book is to follow Dr. Tim through his journey (the first book of his adventures, at least), away from jealous colleagues, from those nefarious beings who would pilfer the good doctor's rich secrets, and even the occasional alien who would wish Timmy harm.

John Varley

Ex Machina: The First Hundred Days Ex Machina: The First Hundred Days by Brian K. Vaughan
reviewed by Adam Volk
The superhero is one of those rare cultural icons that seems to have transcended time and place to become a familiar staple of pop culture and modern mythology. And yet despite the numerous appearance of spandex-clad crusaders in comic books, television and film, the superhero has often been criticized as a superficial and one dimensional construct devoid of any substance or depth. Fortunately, thanks to the continued evolution of the comic book medium over the past two decades, the superhero has now become a vibrant, multi-layered and intriguing new creation.

Kitty Takes a Holiday Kitty Takes a Holiday by Carrie Vaughn
an audiobook review by Jennifer McCann
Kitty is back in this third installment of the Kitty Norville series. After a disastrous visit to the nation's capitol, Kitty decides to take a break from her radio show and disappear into the mountains of southern Colorado to lick her wounds. Free from the glare of the media, Kitty tries to take a stab at writing her memoirs. Being the first verifiable werewolf in the world has garnered Kitty more interest than she truly wants.

Kitty Takes a Holiday Kitty Takes a Holiday by Carrie Vaughn
reviewed by Georges T. Dodds
In Kitty Goes to Washington, Kitty, the host of a late night talk show about the supernatural, and a werewolf to boot, underwent the transformation while on national television. This led her to become a spokesperson and advocate for werewolves before a McCarthy-istic Senate Committee. So what is more natural, in Kitty Takes a Holiday, the third title in the Kitty Norville series, than for Kitty to take a break, put the talk show on hiatus, spend some time in a remote cabin and write her memoirs?

Intersect: A Love Story Intersect: A Love Story by Harold Torger Vedeler
reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer
Intersect is a game that calls to our emotions, to our souls, where young women compete in the computer matrices, throwing impossible numbers and calculations, weaving impossible creations of love and heart breaking beauty all the while trying to undo what the other has made. Men can't compete, women are not nearly as talented as their daughters, and so all those who can't compete sit in their Virtual Reality chairs and bask in the power of the performance, of the game.

The Secret of Wilhelm Storitz The Secret of Wilhelm Storitz by Jules Verne
reviewed by Paul Kincaid
In a way, the story of this book is far more interesting than the story in the book. It was one of the last novels that Verne wrote before his death in 1905, and in 1904 he was writing to his publisher to say that he hoped to see the book in print before he died. It was not to be: the novel, indeed, was not quite finished at the time of his death as a couple of minor points in this text show. The novel went on to be one of the works published posthumously under the aegis of his son, Michel, but when Verne's manuscripts were made available in the 1980s it became obvious how extensively Michel had tampered with his father's work.

The Begum's Millions The Begum's Millions by Jules Verne
reviewed by Paul Kincaid
The Franco-Prussian War of 1870 was a small war (the last of the French army had surrendered by February 1871), but it had a big effect. It led to the unification of Germany, and it scared the other European powers into an arms race and a system of alliances that would lead directly to the First World War. In Britain a succession of stories prophesied German invasion, and were instrumental in the invention of the scientific romance (via H.G. Wells's The War of the Worlds) and the spy novel (via Childers's The Riddle of the Sands). And, in France, it led their most successful novelist to create this peculiar dystopia.

Nurk Nurk by Ursula Vernon
reviewed by Tammy Moore
Nurk is a very small shrew with a very long name and a famous grandmother with a penchant for severed heads and adventure. Although he could do without the severed heads, Nurk has no objection in principle to the idea of adventure. It's just that he IS a very small shrew and there has never really been any opportunity to go adventuring. Not until the mysterious letter arrived.

Blade Dancer Blade Dancer by S.L. Viehl
reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer
Jory was one of the best Shockball players in the Terran league. Determined to beat the odds despite the extensive damage to her knee, she kept playing, knowing that it would give her and her mother much needed security. Following a phone call, she races home only to find her mother dead of a common human sickness. Her mother was an alien, a Joren who was kidnapped and raped along with others of her kind. Aliens, especially Joren, are hated on Earth, and Jory knows that, when they discover that she's half alien, they'll desecrate the body and deport her. She's right.

Endurance Endurance by S.L. Viehl
reviewed by Victoria Strauss
In this third installment, Cherijo is put in charge of the ship's medical unit. It's a tough job, made even tougher by the hatred of her fellow slaves and the callous brutality of her captors, at least one of whom has conceived a psychotic hatred for her. Things don't get any easier on Catopsa, where a mysterious alien freedom fighter, a sadistic Hsktskt medical researcher, and some very peculiar alien lifeforms are added to the mix.

Stardoc Stardoc by S.L. Viehl
reviewed by Victoria Strauss
Dr. Cherijo Grey Veil is fed up with her life on Earth and with her cold, domineering father. So she takes the first off-planet medical job she can find: a post in the Trauma FreeClinic on Kevarzangia Two, a world colonized by 200 different alien species, where human beings are definitely in the minority. She has never treated an alien in her life, but she's a talented doctor, and figures she'll wing it. Arriving on K-2, Cherijo finds that her scant knowledge of alien medicine is only the beginning of her problems...

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