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October 9, 2018

“Because survival is insufficient.” This is the worthy theme that runs through Emily St. John Mandel’s eclectic Station Eleven, a literary cross between Stephen King’s The Stand and J.J Abram’s Lost.

The quote comes from an episode of Star Trek Voyager. In Station Eleven, the words are painted on the lead caravan of the Traveling Symphony, a group of musicians and Shakespearean actors performing art in the apocalypse twenty years after a deadly flu killed 99% of the world’s population...

June 18, 2017

Self-publishing still gets a bad rap. Sometimes it’s justified: with a lower barrier to entry, platforms like Kindle Direct Publishing allow anyone to publish anything, even if it’s a stream-of-consciousness first draft riddled with typos. But there are plenty of brilliant, professional “indie” authors out there. And Hugh Howey is one of them.

Wool: Omnibus Edition is a collection of his first five novellas in the Wool series. The stories are set in a post-apocalyptic future in which...

April 12, 2017

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood, is a masterclass in worldbuilding.

Most authors would have detailed the story’s premise—or at least painted the broad strokes—within the first few pages, or even the first paragraphs: that in the late 20th century, after disease and pollution rendered many women infertile, Christian extremists overthrew the U.S. government and established the Republic of Gilead, a theocracy. Women who can still bear children are now breeding concubines for high...

October 24, 2016

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan (Credit: Gene Page/AMC)

The Walking Dead used to be thrilling.

It wasn’t “good” TV, but the show generated a tension unlike anything I’d watched before—the walkers (a.k.a. zombies) were legitimately scary, and the characters had to be genuinely brave to survive the horror their world had become. I still remember the scene when Rick and Glenn disguised their scent by smearing themselves with walker goo, boldly stepped into a shuffling horde… and rain start...

July 31, 2016

Looking for something to read over lunch? The eBook versions of my short stories are all $0.99. Personal favorites: “Branded Faith” (the inspiration for my new novel The Red Wraith) and “Love and World Eaters” (which draws on my time as an intern at the Chicago Field Museum).


October 4, 2015

David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas is insane. Insanely well-written, insanely intricate, and yes, just plain insane.

Much of this craziness stems from the way Mitchell arranged the novel’s six stories. The first is set in the mid-19th century, and follows American notary Adam Ewing as he falls ill while traveling the South Pacific in search of a will’s beneficiary. The second story, set in 1930s Europe, centers around English music student Robert Frobisher and his scheme to resurrect his fo...

August 24, 2015

In Stephen King’s foreword to the revised version of The Stand, his 1,200-page apocalyptic tale about the impact of an accidentally released military super flu, King explains that he published the new edition in order to restore 400 pages that were originally cut “at the behest of the accounting department” (rather than for any “editorial” reason). I wish he’d gone the other way and cut an additional 400 pages.

I don’t say this to be mean. I think King is an extraordinary writer. His...

January 27, 2015

Oldie but goodie: the trailer for Outcasts, my short story collection. It's available on my Short Stories page, along with a standalone version of each story.

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I write mostly speculative fiction. Usually fantasy, with historical elements mixed in. Sometimes there's a bit of mystery too, or (shhh!) even a little romance.


But it's weird—it's always weird. Consider yourself warned.

Hosue with a Blue Door - eBook Cover - S