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another Mars casualty . . . .

Posted on 2019.02.13 at 16:20
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lost opportunity
once so sunlit
dust to dust

-- Ann K. Schwader


Night Has A Thousand EyesNight Has A Thousand Eyes by Cornell Woolrich

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a deeply strange novel, located somewhere between noir & weird fiction. It plays by most of the "rules" of a hardboiled detective story, yet refuses to allow the world to make sense of itself at the end. In fact, it suggests that we cannot make perfect sense of the world, because nothing we do will change what is fated to happen.

After getting bogged down in the lovely but maddeningly leisurely prose -- more than once -- I was tempted to give this one only three stars. However, the sheer creepiness of the experience bumped it up one. Removing free will (or even threatening to remove it) from a plot that is at least half police procedural makes for an unsettling read, & Woolrich manages the trick seamlessly. I only wish he'd taken fewer pages to do so.

Recommended for vintage crime / noir fans looking to widen their horizons, and anyone with the patience to let the full effect of this one sink in.

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Abyss & Apex #69 is up, with a sonnet from me

Posted on 2019.01.24 at 16:56
Issue 69 (1st Quarter 2019) of Abyss & Apex http://www.abyssapexzine.com/ is up now! OK, it's actually been up for a few weeks, but I got more than slightly behind during the holidays . . .

At any rate, I am thrilled to report that I've got a poem in this issue.. And in very good company, as well:

“The Bone Palace” by Nicole Melchionda
“My Father Hears the Aliens” by Ann K. Schwader
“Entanglement” by Rob Griffith
“Sublimation” by Nate Maxson
“MOAB” by Mark Budman
“How to Seduce Apophis” by Mary Soon Lee
“Artemis 11” by Kira Lovell
“How You Kept Saving my Life “ by Lauren McBride
“Amathomancer’s Charge” by Tanner Abernathy

Please go here to read my Spenserian sonnet:


or here, to begin with Poetry Editor John C. Mannone's introduction to the issue:



My Goodreads review: Verses for the Dead

Posted on 2019.01.21 at 15:58
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Verses for the Dead (Pendergast, #18)Verses for the Dead by Douglas Preston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The series returns to its FBI roots in this adventure, with Pendergast required to take on a partner before investigating some particularly disturbing Florida homicides. The partnership goes about as well as one would expect, though Special Agent Coldmoon (Lakota Sioux) is a welcome addition to this "universe." I'd welcome his reappearance in future cases.

There's the usual amount of off-the-wall eccentricity on Pendergast's part, though somewhat less than the usual dose of weird/paranormal in this case. It's more or less a straight serial killer hunt, with an exceptionally twisty backstory. Aside from the appearance of the brother of a deceased character from previous novels, there's not a lot of "mythos" in this tale. No one in Pendergast's household makes an appearance, & none of the story takes place in NYC.

Preston & Child deliver the thriller goods, once again, but I can't say that I found this to be an exceptional entry in the Pendergast series. (Yes, I've read all of them.) Fans of these mysteries will find it worthwhile, however.

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My Goodreads review: Day Shift

Posted on 2019.01.14 at 12:17
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Day Shift (Midnight, Texas, #2)Day Shift by Charlaine Harris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not sure whether this should be a full 4 stars or 3.5, but I enjoyed the second Midnight, Texas novel a bit more than I did the first. I suspect part of my appreciation might be due to my disillusionment with the TV series, which I doggedly watched all of but was relieved to see gone.

Day Shift is a strange but pretty effective combination of urban fantasy (well, very small-town fantasy) & cozy mystery. The actual mystery (no spoilers) is familiar enough, involving inheritance & murder. The fun comes in watching Midnight's mostly supernatural residents trying to help out one of their own, solving the case in the process.

It's more obvious in this novel than in the first that Midnight is in the same "universe" as Bon Temps, LA (Sookie fans rejoice), though I'm not sure I caught all the references. At some points, I felt as though character background was becoming more important than the case, but was willing to forgive. The writing seemed wittier than in the first novel, too.

Recommended for urban fantasy fans who prefer more focus on mystery, though I'd advise starting with Midnight Crossing. This is definitely a series, with references to the first book in this one.

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The Christmas HirelingsThe Christmas Hirelings by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This Audible audiobook (short novel length) is a holiday treat for folks who can't get enough Victoriana in their Christmas.

First published in 1894, this is a slightly predictable but still enjoyable tale of country house holidays in Cornwall, with all the requisite trimmings. Brooding, aging lord of the manor with complicated family problems? Check. Disowned & widowed daughter? Check. Desperately ill child with sickbed drama? Check . . . It's all done with a certain amount of wit, however. And who couldn't use a happy ending these days?

Recommended for incurable Anglophiles, Dickens fans, Janeites (slightly wrong time period, but similar social commentary) -- & anyone up for Victorian holiday fiction, melodrama & all. It was free from Audible when I acquired it, & I'm glad I did.

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Passages/ New Myths anthology available now!

Posted on 2018.12.13 at 16:55
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Passages: The Best of New Myths Anthology Vol. 1, is now available in both print & e-formats.

This nearly 400 page spec anthology from Scott T. Barnes, the editor of New Myths online, offers 25 stories and 8 poems relating to new stages of life. The TOC features many award winning-writers, from Rhylings to Stokers to Writers of the Future.

I am proud & happy to have "In the Absence of Trees," my flash fiction collaboration with Marge Simon, included in this exciting project.

For full TOC, or to order from Amazon:



My Goodreads review: Exit Strategy

Posted on 2018.12.03 at 16:01
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Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries, #4)Exit Strategy by Martha Wells

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Murderbot Diaries as a whole are as much about an AI evolving towards humanity as they are about solid space opera. This concluding volume is no exception, though Wells kicks the geek factor up a notch. Murderbot's hacking skills have always played a part in the narrative -- beginning with its origin story! -- but they really come to the fore in Exit Strategy. Not being particularly versed in these things myself, I got a little confused from time to time. Murderbot's final set-piece fight, however, showcases these skills in a way any SF fan is likely to cheer.

As usual, Murderbot's own snarky-yet-sympathetic voice carries the plot. And a good thing, too, because I found that plot more than slightly convoluted. The time between releases of these novellas seems just long enough to let the reader lose track of significant details, though Wells is good at weaving in reminders. That said, don't even attempt to start this series anywhere but at #1.

This final volume (or is it?) of The Murderbot Diaries brings the series' plot arc to a satisfying conclusion, though an open-ended one. And, as ever, this installment seems pricey for its length. I'd definitely recommend checking your local library's collection first.

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good news we can all agree on . . .

Posted on 2018.11.26 at 16:05
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InSight touchdown
a tremor through
two worlds

-- Ann K. Schwader



In memoriam . . . .

Posted on 2018.11.20 at 15:38
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the embassy's
fresh paint

-- Ann K. Schwader

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