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My affection for the alternate history subgenre of speculative fiction is no secret. I’ve always been enamored of the answers to “what if?” questions that these sorts of stories can provide. The idea that one small difference can cause ripples that lead to larger and larger divergences – it makes for fascinating fiction.

S.M. Stirling is one of the foremost practitioners of alternate history; his latest is “Black Chamber” (Ace, $16), the first in a series about a World War I that was significantly different than our own, from the enemies being fought and the institutions doing the fighting. It’s a strong introduction, one that hints at the many differences – large and small – between that history and this one.

Published in Buzz

One could argue that the idea of a world where magic works has been done to death in the realm of fantasy fiction. Whether you’re talking about urban fantasy set in the present day or fiction with a more historical bent, it’s a creative vein that has been pretty thoroughly mined.

And yet, when it works, it REALLY works. And Tom Miller’s “The Philosopher’s Flight” (Simon & Schuster, $26) REALLY works.

Published in Buzz
Thursday, 07 July 2016 10:01

The peculiar institution in modern times

'Underground Airlines' a compelling, thought-provoking work

One of the dangers inherent to working in the realm of genre fiction is the undeniable appeal of certain tropes. These concepts have become a sort of literary shorthand, a familiar framework on which to hang a narrative.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 27 April 2016 11:15

Stadiums and sorcery The House of Daniel'

Novel brings together baseball, magic and the Great Depression

Published in Sports

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