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So you think you’re a big paranormal fantasy fan, huh? The following test – which is essentially identifying bestselling and iconic paranormal fantasy sagas from the first sentence of the first book – will either validate you or let you know that you may need to catch up on a few significant series. Either way, I hope that it will be a lot of fun – I know I had a blast compiling this incredibly diverse collection of first lines. A few are easy – but most are surprisingly difficult...

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Most of us would instantly recognize the famous first words of classic novels like Gone with the Wind (“Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful…”) and A Tale of Two Cities (“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”), but how many of us can correctly identify the first sentences from science fiction classics? This is a tough challenge. The publication dates on the titles in this test range from 2011 to 1925! A few first lines are relatively easy but some are impossibly hard – if you can properly identify more than five titles from the list below, your science fiction IQ is most definitely genius level...

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James Smythe’s latest novel The Explorer was a frustratingly difficult book to review because while the main storyline was a bit weak and the latter sections of the novel – which dealt with journalist turned space explorer Cormac Easton caught in maddening temporal loop – were anticlimactic and not especially enlightening, there were some incredibly strong sequences and concepts...

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It was a strange year for science fiction. While so many major releases underwhelmed me – The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, Bowl of Heaven by Gregory Benford and Larry Niven, Sorry Please Thank You: Stories by Charles Yu, etc. – I was pleasantly surprised by many of the self-published and small press science fiction releases that I read in 2012...

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It’s ironic that for the two genres most intrinsically based on unfettered imagination and visionary speculation, the science fiction and fantasy motion pictures that Hollywood has chosen to make of late are anything but. In fact, they’re largely the antithesis of what science fiction and fantasy fans have come to expect in their reading fare. Instead of embracing original storylines, Hollywood instead dumbs things down with countless superhero action flicks or reimagines novels that have already been made into movies...

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Steampunk as a literary movement experienced a glorious rebirth in 2009. Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker – the first installment of her Clockwork Century saga – was released and was not only nominated for the prestigious Nebula and Hugo Awards but also won the Locus Award for Best Novel. A slew of noteworthy steampunk novels hit the shelves in ’09 – Gail Carriger’s SoullessHeart of Veridon by Tim Akers, George Mann’s The Affinity Bridge, etc. – and the first ever steampunk convention (SteamCon) was held in Seattle...

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2012 was a surprisingly strong year for fantasy. Even though two highly anticipated novels did not hit the shelves as hoped in ’12 (Brandon Sanderson’s as-of-yet untitled second installment of his Stormlight Archive and Requiem, the fourth volume of Ken Scholes’ five-volume Psalms of Isaak saga), this year was chock full of solid releases from established writers and more than a few impressive offerings from debut novelists...

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I’ll admit it – I did not see this coming. At the end of 2011, I predicted that – on the strength of looming blockbuster releases like Clay and Susan Griffith’s The Kingmakers and Justin Cronin’s The Twelve – 2012 would be a “banner year” for vampire-powered fiction. But aside from a few remarkable novels, this year was an absolutely dreadful one for vampire fiction...

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Although I don’t think 2012 was collectively as strong for zombie fiction as the previous two years, I did see a fascinating diaspora of sorts. Yes, there were some excellent conventional zombie apocalypse thrillers released in 2012 – Littlefield’s Horizon; Grant’s Blackout; Kenemore’s Zombie, Illinois; etc. – but this year, I saw a marked increase in truly innovative zombie storylines, novels that explored and expanded the boundaries of zombie fiction...

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With all the Mayan doomsday hype leading up to 2012, I assumed that this year was going to be an amazing year for apocalyptic fiction – especially considering what a strong year 2011 was for end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it releases (like Will McIntosh’s Soft ApocalypseAftertime and Rebirth by Sophie Littlefield, The First Days by Rhiannon Frater, Rob Ziegler’s Seed, etc.). And – aside from the predictable Mayan-powered storylines – it was an incredible year for apocalyptic fiction, in terms of quality as well as thematic diversity...

 

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