Now that home time machines are readily available, we can all start our days with a trip to another time and place, known to many of us as ELSEWHEN. It’s better than a second cup of coffee! Today started out a day like any other. Coffee. Make sure dogs get biscuits. Wash a few dishes in the sink. Just as I’m finishing up, my new machine blinks on and a vortex (also know as a wormhole) appears in the window. Time to travel!
Setting up the machine is simple because it knows. All I have to do is focus on when, where and how long I want to be elsewhen and the machine does the rest. Radio Shack has come a long way. On the down side, if it glitches, I won’t be able to cash in on my warranty. It gives me pause.
Be aware: it’s dangerous traveling in time with a chemically muddled brain. You can wind up some weird places that are definitely not for tourists.
For those of us who are not particularly agile, you needn’t jump or climb into a vortex. Just stand close to it, then reach out mentally. Cool, huh?
If you are time traveling for the first time, here’s are some tips:
- Don’t drink, smoke dope (even if you have a prescription!), or take any mind-altering substance before you travel elsewhen.
- Skip the 14th century. The plague is depressing and you need vaccinations.
- Wear appropriate clothing. A piece of hand luggage in a natural fiber (like canvas) is a sound investment.
- Take a camera, extra memory chips and backup batteries.
- Leave the cell phone home. A ringing cell can have unpleasant consequences.
- Tell your family and/or friends where (and when) you are going to be away and when you will be back. If you need to be retrieved, it’s important to have backup.
- Take a friend with you if your machine supports multiple travelers.
- Make sure to land on the ground in an open area. Google Earth and history books can be helpful in giving you good visualization capabilities. You don’t want to start your excursion with a broken hip or ankle.
- Make your first trips close to now until you feel comfortable with the technology.
- DON’T TRY TO FIX THE PAST. Very bad idea. Really terrible idea.
- The future is scary. I avoid it and you should too. Whatever happened in the past, stays in the past (unless something went terribly awry). This is not true of the future.
Take lots of notes, pictures and have a blast. Talk to people Don’t worry about language barriers. The machine won’t send you anywhere without giving you appropriate language skills. You won’t remember them when you get home, but they will always be there when you need them.
Time machines don’t last forever, even the most expensive ones. They all have much the same life span as a cell phone … a year or two, max. Make the most of it while you can. Enjoy your travels and welcome to TIMING OUT of life!
It’s the best ride you’ll ever take.
Reviewed by Annie Tegelan
Posted January 1, 2014
Welcome back to the Hollows! In THE UNDEAD POOL, the twelfth book of the series, Kim Harrison gives readers exactly what they have been wishing for.
Witch and day-walking demon Rachel Morgan has a new set of problems wreaking havoc on Cincinnati. Spells are misfiring everywhere, but the origin of the glitch seems to be her ley line. Which makes Rachel responsible for cleaning up the mess. The timing is bad, to say the least. The union of humans and Inderlanders is shaky and Rachel wonders if this task is too big even for her. With undead master vampires in the mix, it could become war. There’s no time to waste.
If things aren’t sufficiently complicated, there’s the ongoing, always tentative relationship between Rachel and Trent. They’ve been dancing around it for what seems — forever? As they circle one another, giving hints and kisses, readers are on the tenterhooks while Harrison addresses the burning question: “Will Rachel and Trent finally get together?”
Harrison’s writing and amazing world-building are second to none. It’s no wonder this series has gained such a passionate following. The characters continue to grow, the world is constantly changing — and the plot in each book feel fresh and new. THE UNDEAD POOL is without question the best of the series!
In Pale Demon, Rachel Morgan saved the demon’s Everafter from shrinking and ultimately disappearing. But it came at a high cost. Strange, dark magic is attacking Cincinnati and the Hollows. Spells backfire or go horribly awry. The truce between Inderlander and human is breaking up. Rachel must stop the dark necromancy before the undead vampire masters — those who keep the rest of the undead under control — are destroyed bringing an all-out supernatural war.
Rachel knows of only one weapon with the power to ensure peace: ancient elven wild magic. Which carries its own perils.
And painful experience has shown Rachel that no good deed goes unpunished . . .
My favorite series is drawing to a close. This isn’t the final book. There will be one more ( I keep hoping for even more). In the meantime, I’m experiencing advance withdrawal pangs!
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Time travel makes my brain go “eek.” This is not a criticism. It’s a compliment. Not many things make my brain do back flips and somersaults. Time travel is an impossible concept I cannot understand because it is inherently incomprehensible. Therefore, I love it.
One story by Robert Heinlein which I read long decades ago in a compilation of his classic short stories remains on the top of the heap of such tales. It took me a while to find it. It is called “All You Zombies.”
In this strange endless and infinite loop, a baby girl is mysteriously dropped off at an orphanage in Cleveland in 1945. “Jane” grows up lonely and dejected, not knowing who her parents are, until one day in 1963 she is strangely attracted to a drifter. She has a brief passionate relationship with him and becomes pregnant.
The stranger disappears. During a weird and complicated birthing, Jane’s doctors discover she actually has two complete sets of sex organs. With her life on the line, the doctors change her from female to male. Jane is now a man.
And then …. a mysterious stranger kidnaps her baby. Jane is a man and childless. Depressed, lost, he becomes a drunk and a drifter and eventually, meets a young woman in a bar, who he makes pregnant during a brief affair. It gets even more complicated with the involvement of the Time Corps and a bartender all moving forward and backward in time. Find it, read it, and get your own brain in a twist!
Suffice to say that all the characters are one. The story is a paradox, completely impossible yet so logical you can neither reject nor accept it. And, my brain goes “Eek!!” Jane is everyone and everyone is Jane. She is her complete family: tree, trunk, branches, roots. I found this amazing diagram of the story. I do not know where it originated and I would love to credit whoever drew it in the first place.
The logic combined with the impossibility of the sequence where the same person is mother, father and child forever living in an infinite loop — the snake eating its tail — is delicious and mind-blowing.
You can get it for your Kindle from Amazon for $1.25 right now, click here. OR … probably you can find it as part of an anthology of Heinlein short stories, but I don’t know exactly which anthology. I’m sure you can find it somewhere, though. It’s a classic and if you read it, you will not forget it. I promise.
I have read many hundreds of time travel books and stories over more than 50 years of loving science fiction. But this one, this particular story, has stuck fast in my brain as probably the most perfect paradox as the past, present and future all roll in on themselves.
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Who is the shadowy figure in the window? Who has come to haunt me? Be it a ghost? Wraith? Recently risen undead? It is but the photographer herself, haunted by her reflections as she contemplates the strangely distorted reality viewed through old and dirty panes of glass. In this case, the windows belong to the […]
We are in the midst of a glorious Golden Age of paranormal fantasy—the last ten years, specifically, in genre fiction have been nothing short of landscape-changing. The days of rigidly defined categories (romance, fantasy, horror, etc.) are long gone. Today, genre-blending novels reign supreme: narratives with virtually limitless potential that freely utilize elements of fantasy, romance, mystery, horror, and science fiction.
I’ve been asked to compile a list of the best paranormal fantasy novels of the last decade (2003–2013): a virtually impossible task, considering how many iconic series and authors have risen to prominence during that period—Laurell K. Hamilton, Jim Butcher, Kim Harrison, Patricia Briggs, Richard Kadrey, Kat Richardson, Stacia Kane, Nicole Peeler, and Jaye Wells, to name just a few.
I did a comparable list back in 2009 and, while researching this post, I realized how radically paranormal fantasy has evolved in just a few short years. The list below includes 20 novels that are not only extraordinarily good, but have also dramatically influenced—and continue to influence—the course of the genre.
20. The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, by Mario Acevedo (2006)
This is the first book in Acevedo’s Felix Gomez saga, a series that went a long way toward redefining the genre when it was released in ‘06. And talk about great opening lines: “I don’t like what Operation Iraqi Freedom has done to me. I went to the war a soldier; I came back a vampire…”
19. Pride Mates, by Jennifer Ashley (2010)
The first book in Ashley’s Shifters Unbound saga, this was a transcendent read for me—it was the first paranormal romance that worked just as well as a paranormal fantasy. This remains one of the most wildly erotic novels I’ve ever read.
18. No Hero, by Jonathan Wood (2011)
This sadly underrated début is one of the most audacious novels I’ve ever read. The novel’s main character, Oxford police detective Arthur Wallace, is obsessed with Kurt Russell. Throw in conjoined triples, an antisocial ninja assassin, prophesying twin girls who live in a pool with octopi, battery-licking sorcerers, grimoires hidden in Peruvian temples, killer cats, and more tentacled monstrosities than you can shake a sword at, and you have an unforgettable read!
17. Rosemary and Rue, by Seanan McGuire (2009)
The first book in McGuire’s October Daye saga, this series is an utterly readable fusion of dark fantasy, mythology, and hard-boiled mystery. It’s a profoundly deep series that is at times filled with starkness and existential angst and at others with breathtaking images of magic and beauty.
16. Moon Called, by Patricia Briggs (2006)
The first Mercy Thompson novel, this series has experienced a few ups and downs in the last few installments, but for my money, Moon Called has to be on this list. A sexy, tattooed shape-shifting auto mechanic, Mercy is arguably one of the most memorable paranormal fantasy heroines ever created.
15. Already Dead, by Charlie Huston (2005)
Huston’s first novel featuring vampire Joe Pitt, this series expanded the boundaries of paranormal fantasy. In my review, I described this novel as “a savage and sardonic novel that blends blood-sucking fantasy and horror elements with the hard-boiled style of noir thrillers.”
14. And Falling, Fly, by Skyler White (2010)
White’s debut novel was an intensely passionate, sublimely poetic, soul-rending work of art. The entire novel—which revolves around the relationship between a vampiric fallen angel named Olivia and Dominic, a neuroscientist with a “bizarre” affliction—reads like dark ethereal poetry. Unforgettable.
13. Four and Twenty Blackbirds, by Cherie Priest (2005)
Priest’s debut and the first of her Eden Moore novels, this haunting and poetic read marked the fledgling steps of a writer who has become one of the most innovative—and significant—figures in genre fiction. This novel and its two sequels are vastly underrated.
12. Blue-Blooded Vamp, by Jaye Wells (2012)
The concluding volume of Wells’s stellar Sabina Kane saga, this is how you end a series! This novel is chock full of shocking plot twists and bombshell revelations. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this series will go down as one of the best paranormal fantasy sagas of all time. It’s that good.
11. The Taken, by Vicki Pettersson (2012)
This was just an amazing read. From my review: “This novel transcends genre categorization—yes, paranormal fantasy readers will LOVE this novel but so too will hardcore mystery and romance fans and, most importantly of all, mainstream fiction fans. This is Vicki Pettersson’s coming out party—and we’re all invited.”
10. A Rush of Wings, by Adrian Phoenix (2008)
Phoenix’s debut novel—and first installment of The Maker’s Song saga—is one of the edgiest series out there. I mean, c’mon! How can you go wrong with a duo that includes an undead rock star and a sexy FBI agent? A hugely under-appreciated series.
9. Dead to the World, by Charlaine Harris (2004)
The fourth book in Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series, this is when the series really got good for me. You can say what you want about the HBO series True Blood but, regardless, this is an iconic series featuring an iconic heroine.
8. Tempest Rising, by Nicole Peeler (2009)
The beginning of one of the most beloved paranormal fantasy series on the shelves, the novels are powered by selkie-halfling heroine Jane True, who is in many ways the antithesis of the conventional paranormal fantasy heroine. She’s short, not exactly athletic, socially awkward, works in a bookstore, and instead of wearing stiletto heels and leather miniskirts, Jane rocks comfortable jeans and purple Converse. I love this series!
7. Cerulean Sins by Laurell K. Hamilton (2003)
LKH’s Anita Blake saga is easily the most divisive saga on the shelves. This long-running—and historically significant—series has had its ups and downs over the years, but a high point for me was Cerulean Sins, still my favorite book in the series.
6. Greywalker by Kat Richardson (2006)
Richardson’s debut novel and beginning of her Greywalker saga, one of my all-time favorite series. Featuring Seattle-based private investigator Harper Blaine, who can see into the realm of the dead, these novels are exceptionally written and almost flawless in their execution. Classy and classic, this is one series that will stand the test of time.
5. Blood Blade by Marcus Pelegrimas (2009)
The Skinners novels read like a cool, supernatural-powered video game—nonstop action, ghastly monsters, unique weapons, intriguing and well-developed protagonists, and plot twists around every turn. But the series is so much more than that. It’s a highly addictive blend of splatterific horror, dark fantasy, mystery, supernatural thriller, and sardonic social commentary. I’ve called Pelegrimas “the Bram Stoker of the 21stCentury” for good reason.
4. Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane (2010)
The first novel in Kane’s Downside saga, this is the most socially significant fantasy saga I’ve ever read. From my review: “Never before in paranormal fantasy have I read a series that features the combination of grand-scale world building, labyrinthine mystery, superb character development, and social relevance. Stacia Kane’s Downside saga is taking paranormal fantasy to another level…”
3. Dead Beat by Jim Butcher (2005)
Butcher’s Dead Beat—the seventh installment in his Dresden Files—was a blockbuster book when it was first released. Not only was it the first Dresden Files novel to be released in hardcover, it was a clear indication of just how much the series had expanded to embrace mainstream fiction readers. The first printing sold out in a just few days! The commercial success of the Dresden Files paved the way for countless other noteworthy protagonists, including Charlie Huston’s Joe Pitt and Mario Acevedo’s Felix Gomez.
2. Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey (2009)
An in-your-face fusion of fantasy, horror, and hard-boiled mystery. It’s Kadrey’s biting wit that makes this novel so unforgettable. His blunt and acerbic writing style makes for simply addictive reading. For example, here’s how he describes Los Angeles: “L.A. is what happens when a bunch of Lovecraftian elder gods and porn starlets spend a weekend locked up in the Chateau Marmont snorting lines of crank off Jim Morrison’s bones. If the Viagra and illegal Traci Lords videos don’t get you going, then the Japanese tentacle porn will.” Classic.
1. For a Few Demons More, by Kim Harrison (2007)
The fifth installment of Harrison’s phenomenally popular Hollows saga featuring endearing gray witch Rachel Morgan and company, this novel was the first hardcover release in the series and, at least for me, heralded its ascension to élite series status. With only two novels to go until the series concludes, there is no doubt in my mind that the Hollows saga will go down as arguably the very best paranormal fantasy series ever written.
What are your favorite paranormal fantasies?
Tags: best of × paranormal fantasy × roundups
Don’t Miss any of these, but especially Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series and my absolute all-time favorite, Kim Harrison’s Hollows series. It is wonderful.
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