2022 Reviews: Best Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror Books

Literary Hub (December 13, 2022) – The Best Reviewed Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror Books of 2022:

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Sea of Tranquility

Read an interview with Emily St. John Mandel here

“In Sea of Tranquility, Mandel offers one of her finest novels and one of her most satisfying forays into the arena of speculative fiction yet, but it is her ability to convincingly inhabit the ordinary, and her ability to project a sustaining acknowledgment of beauty, that sets the novel apart. As in Ishiguro, this is not born of some cheap, made-for-television, faux-emotional gimmick or mechanism, but of empathy and hard-won understanding, beautifully built into language … It is that aspect of Sea of Tranquility, Mandel’s finely rendered, characteristically understated descriptions of the old-growth forests her characters walk through, the domed moon colonies some of them call home, the robot-tended fields they gaze over or the whooshing airship liftoff sound they hear even in their dreams, that will, for this reader at least, linger longest.”

–Laird Hunt (The New York Times Book Review)

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng

Celeste Ng_Our Missing Hearts Cover

“Stunning … One of Ng’s most poignant tricks in this novel is to bury its central tragedy…in the middle of the action. This raises the narrative from the specific story of a confused boy and his defeated father to a reflection on the universal bond between parents and children … Our Missing Hearts will land differently for individual readers. One element we shouldn’t miss is Ng’s bold reversal of the biblical story of the Tower of Babel. It is the drive for conformity, the suppression of our glorious cacophony, that will doom us. And it is the expression of individual souls that will save us.”

–Bethanne Patrick (The Lost Angeles Times)

Bliss Montage by Ling Ma

Bliss Montage Ling Ma

“The strangeness of living in a body is exposed, the absurdity of carrying race and gender on one’s face, all against the backdrop of an America in ruin … Ma’s meticulously-crafted mood and characterization … Ma’s gift for endings is evident … Ma masterfully captures her characters’ double consciousness, always seeing themselves through the white gaze, in stunning and bold new ways … Even the weaker stories in the book…are redeemed by Ma’s restrained prose style, dry humor, and clever gut-punch endings. But all this technical prowess doesn’t mean the collection lacks a heart. First- and second-generation Americans who might have been invisible for most of their lives are seen and held lovingly in Ma’s fiction.”

–Bruna Dantas Lobato (Astra)

Moon Witch, Spider King by Marlon James

Marlon James_Moon Witch, Spider King Cover

“Marlon James’s Moon Witch, Spider King, the second book in his Dark Star trilogy, is both a continuation of the narrative that began with Black Leopard, Red Wolf in 2019 and an outstanding retelling of that story that expands on what the first book started. While shifting points of view, James…enriches the existing story, and the result is a book that simultaneously celebrates African mythology while creating its own … an impressive amalgamation of folklore, magic, and mythology that weaves together several narratives, but the element that makes it memorable is James’s prose. As lush as the forests he describes, the prose in this novel is simple, rhythmic, and strangely elegant. This is writing with a kind of cadence that turns every line into a poem, every story a tale told around a fire, every event an occurrence deserving of attention … Retelling the same story from a different perspective is not a gimmick here; it is a successful literary device that leads to a gripping narrative … This is a novel about the power of grief where anger is a driving force, and in that, despite all its fantastical elements, it is a deeply human story.”

–Gabino Iglesias (The Boston Globe)

Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century by Kim Fu

Read a story from Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century here

Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century

“..the horrors are more intimate, smaller, and less global in scale. This is not a collection filled with fantastic beasts, although a sea monster does make an appearance, but instead illuminates the monstrous nature of humanity … Technology, rather than magic, catalyzes these changes. That is not to say there are not some traces of unexplained fantasy, such as a girl who sprouts wings from her ankles, but mostly, Fu’s monsters manifest from modernity … The success of Kim Fu’s stories is the element of the unexpected. There are surprises lurking in these narratives, whether it is a quick final plot twist or unexpected peculiarity …

Although Fu seems more concerned with alienation stemming from individual relationships, there is criticism of conventional consumer capitalism … The characters in Fu’s collection are eccentric and unexpected in their choices, and many of their stories feature unforeseen endings that strike the right tone for the dark era we live in … Fu opens a window looking onto the sad possibilities of our own failures.”

–Ian MacAllen (The Chicago Review of Books)

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Read an essay by Silvia Moreno-Garcia here

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau_Silvia Moreno-Garcia

“The imagination of Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a thing of wonder, restless and romantic, fearless in the face of genre, embracing the polarities of storytelling—the sleek and the bizarre, wild passions and deep hatreds—with cool equanimity … the novel immerses readers in the rich world of 19th-century Mexico, exploring colonialism and resistance in a compulsively readable story of a woman’s coming-of-age … The visceral horror of what Carlota has endured, combined with Moreno-Garcia’s pacing and drama, makes for a mesmerizing horror novel.”


Science: How Advanced Computer Models Project Future Climate Scenarios

Princeton University (December 13, 2022) – Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and land surfaces interact and combine in powerful, yet often unseen, ways as part of a complex planetary system that determines the climate.

Over many decades, researchers at Princeton University have played a leading role in the development of advanced computational models that simulate interactions among these elements to inform an understanding of future climate scenarios under varying conditions.

In this video, climate scientists Gabe Vecchi and Laure Resplandy discuss how computational models are used to project future climate scenarios and inform mitigation strategies.


Cover Preview: Scientific American – January 2023

Scientific American – January 2023 issue:


New Human Metabolism Research Upends Conventional Wisdom about How We Burn Calories

Metabolism studies reveal surprising insights into how we burn calories—and how cooperative food production helped Homo sapiens flourish

How Star Collisions Forge the Universe’s Heaviest Elements

Scientists have new evidence about how cosmic cataclysms forge gold, platinum and other heavy members of the periodic table

This Spiritual Tradition Could Be the Most Poetic Bereavement Therapy Ever Documented

A mourning ritual of dialogues with the dead speaks to the fragility of theological diversity


Tours: Cascade House In Queensland, Australia

The Local Project (December 13, 2022) – Designed to feel like one is living in a garden, Cascade House by John Ellway seamlessly blends outdoor and indoor living. Located in Queensland, the family home of interior designer, stylist and client Jacqueline Kaytar is a traditional cottage home that was in dire need of repair.

Video timeline: 00:00 – Introduction to the Garden Home 00:26 – The Inner-City Location 01:14 – An Overview of the Home 01:49 – A Walkthrough of the Home 02:28 – The Key Brief of Garden Connection 02:50 – Original Timber Cottages 03:18 – Separation of Old and New 03:53 – The Kitchen 04:11 – A Seamless Integration of Fisher & Paykel 04:44 – The Fisher & Paykel Fit 05:16 – Key Materials 05:59 – A Connection of Texture and Detail 06:22 – The Connection Between Owner and Architect 06:59 – Proud Moments

Working closely with Jacqueline, the architect avoided building underneath the home to keep the streetscape intact. Instead, John Ellway used the vacant land to the side of the original cottage to provide a much-needed extension that leans into the cascading landscape of the site. Found by the client, the cottage home was in a dilapidated state, though internally and structurally the house was in good condition with a much-needed update to accommodate the contemporary needs of the family.

After bringing John Ellway on board, Jacqueline expressed an aspiration to instil a feeling like that of living in a garden. Beginning the house tour from the parking area, the entry to the home opens to the kitchen, dining and living spaces. Immediately connecting to the gardens through large glass doors and windows, the house opens up onto a grass patch for the family to enjoy. Providing the space to embrace living in a garden, the grass patch also offers a private outdoor reprieve. Connecting the new extensions with the older parts of the cottage, a breezeway also adds another layer of connection to the garden.

The private rooms sit in the old section of the cottage, with the entertainment spaces confined to the new extensions. The home’s extended veranda instils the experience of living in a garden as occupants step into the new volume. Incorporating seamless connections throughout the architecture, John Ellway has made additional interior design choices in the kitchen, adding nooks and crannies to conceal appliances and ensuring the interior architecture is kept sleek and simple.

In the kitchen, Fisher & Paykel’s integrated appliances seamlessly blend into the joinery, providing a cohesive effect. Aside from aligning with budget and aesthetic desires, John Ellway used Fisher & Paykel to coincide with the broader context of the kitchen. Focused on using key materials to further assist with the idea of living in a garden, the client and architect chose plywood, brass countertops and polished concrete to foster a warm and natural connection. Together, John Ellway and Jacqueline work to combine finishes and textures to create an uplifted and refreshing home.

Views: The 2022 Christmas Market In Bruges, Belgium

December 2022 – Bruges is a magical Eurostar Christmas destination. Hop on a horse-drawn carriage for a tour of the cobbles, or linger in one of Europe’s most charming Christmas markets.

The Bruges Christmas market 2022 which runs from 25 November 2022 to 8 January 2023. The whole city turns into a fairytale destination, filled with Christmas trees and fairy lights and scents of buttery waffles and hot chocolate.

Filmed by: AtmosRelax

News: The Toll Of Russian Terror Tactics, Sanctions, Iran Protests, China Covid

The EU discusses further sanctions against Russia. Plus: a second person in Iran is executed for their involvement in the protests, the implications for China’s healthcare now that coronavirus restrictions are relaxed and the latest TV news.

Front Page: The New York Times – December 13, 2022


Two Decades After 9/11 Inquiry, a Similar Plan for Covid Stalls in Congress

The 9/11 Commission prompted a national reckoning over the Sept. 11 attacks. But some experts fear that the chance to create an independent panel to investigate the pandemic response is slipping away.

Inflation Forecasts Were Wrong Last Year. Should We Believe Them Now?

Economists misjudged how much staying power inflation would have. Next year could be better — but there’s ample room for humility.

In a Wary Arctic, Norway Starts to See Russian Spies Everywhere

Other European countries are too, blurring the line between vigilance and paranoia.

Mass Migrant Crossing Floods Texas Border Facilities

The arrival of up to 1,000 migrants, the latest big group to have crossed the border, was one of the largest single crossings in recent years in West Texas, which has seen a surge in migration.