Is It Time for Marla Mason to Retire?

I recently finished the last two novels in T.A. Pratt’s “Marla Mason” series, Grim Tides and Bride of Death. As usual, I enjoyed their fast-moving stories and the lively dialogue, with some unexpected twists and turns along the way (to be expected when Marla has to deal with chaos witches).

However, by the end of the latter book, I felt that perhaps the series has run its course for me. Part of it is due to the fact that Marla has become more powerful: she is now essentially a god who, if not immortal, is about as close as you can get to being so. As such, I think it becomes more difficult for this mortal to really empathize with her challenges and personal issues. It’s a bit like the old Dugenons & Dragons days for me, when I found I got more enjoyment out of playing low- to mid-level characters. Once the characters get really strong, the only interesting challenges have to be equally strong, and eventually you’re gaming with a character so much different from your average John Doe that it has almost nothing to do with your and my lives.

The other part of it is simply variety. I would like to see Mr. Pratt apply his not inconsiderable talents to fresh new endeavors: new characters, new plots, new worlds, even new styles. I’m sure it’s tempting to stick with a winner, and current fans may complain if he does not keep churning out MM stories, but even I can’t eat pizza every day, regardless of how much I like it. (Okay, I also can’t eat it every day because I’m on a low-fat, low-salt diet, but that’s another story.)

GoodReads Sci-Fi & Fantasy e-Book Club

Since I haven’t posted in a few days and haven’t finished the book I’m planning to review here (another day or two), I thought I’d let you know about a book club I participate in on-line: the SciFi and Fantasy eBook Club at

GoodReads is a web site for readers of all sorts, whether they read paper books or e-books, fiction or nonfiction. It provides a way to organize your library by genre, author, rating, and pretty much any other category you can think of (you can create your own categories). It also provides a social networking aspect, so that you can follow what friends are reading and their reviews, as well as following authors who have registered on the site. Also, as you have likely already gathered, they provide a means to create and join groups.

The SciFi and Fantasy eBook Club is dedicated to selecting and reading two e-books per month, one of each genre. We then use the group’s discussion forum to “talk” about the books. There is nothing to stop anyone from reading the paper version (and I’ve done so a few times), but the objective is to only select books that are generally available digitally. We typically nominate half a dozen or so books for each semi-monthly read, then vote for which will be the selection, often having a second run-off vote for the top vote-getters. See this list of selected and nominated books for some idea of the wide range of selections we’ve had so far.

If you are a SciFi and/or Fantasy fan — and I suspect more than a few of my readers are — consider joining the fun and reading a book with us.

gr SciFi & Fantasy eBook Club

Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine: Free on Kindle

I just saw on the Amazon Kindle FaceBook page that the digest version of Fantasy & Science Fiction is now available as a free Kindle subscription. It took me about 5 seconds to follow their link to the Amazon product page and click the “Subscribe Now” button. As a long-time fantasy and science fiction reader, I did the math and decided I couldn’t lose at that price.

From the Amazon page:

Amazon is thrilled to offer Kindle fantasy and science-fiction fans an exclusive free digest to the magazine that Stephen King calls “the best fiction magazine in America.” Founded in 1949, Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine is the award-winning original publisher of such classics as Stephen King’s Dark Tower, Daniel Keyes’s Flowers for Algernon, and Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz. This free exclusive digest includes:

  • All nonfiction content: editor’s recommendations, “Curiosities” (odd books of enduring interest), film reviews, book reviews, cartoons and humor, and “Coming Attractions” (highlights of each issue).
  • One full story from the current full issue of the magazine.
  • Short descriptions of the extended issue’s remaining stories and “novelets.”

If you are interested in reading the remainder of the stories and “novelets,” subscribe to the extended edition.

I guess I’ll see what I think of the free content before I consider whether to try the “Extended Edition” version. (It’s only $0.99 per bimonthly issue, so the odds are good.)