Goodbye (for now), Stefen!

Stefen with an armful of books Stefen and LC with stacked games Stefen reading Moon Witch Spider King

For the last half year, we've been thrilled to have Stefen Holtrey on our bookselling team.  He's enthusiastic and creative, and is always ready to lend his perspective on science fiction reads, poetry, and cool new games.  You can get his perspective on bookselling in a recent interview with Books Forward.  And if you didn't know: Stefen is also a writer!

Now, Stefen's heading off to the West Coast on a literary adventure to hone his own sci fi skills!  We're so excited for Stefen to head off on this epic journey — and we can't wait to all hear about his experience when he gets back next month.  Happy writing, Stefen!


Stefen crouching in store"I’ve been lucky enough to spend the last six months working as a bookseller at Brilliant Books.  I consider this time to be rejuvenating.  It gave me the time and resources to focus on some of the things that I love most: books, and writing.  Being surrounded by these things has meant the world to me.

Now, for the next six weeks, I’ll be attending the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop in San Diego, an endeavor that would not have been possible without oodles and oodles of support.  Thank you to everyone at Brilliant Books, every single one of you has been a joy.  See you all soon!"

— Stefen

What is Clarion?

Clarion is an intensive six-week summer program focused on fundamentals particular to the writing of science fiction and fantasy short stories.  Currently held in San Diego, CA, it is a premier training ground for aspiring writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

Among this year's instructors is Alma Katsu, acclaimed author of celebrated literary thrillers The Fervor and The Hunger.   The list of Clarion alumni includes science fiction legends Octavia Butler, Cory Doctorow, Kim Stanley Robinson, and many others.


Book recommendations from Stefen:


Staff Pick Badge
Black Leopard, Red Wolf (The Dark Star Trilogy #1) By Marlon James Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735220171
Availability: Ships in 2-3 days; Not Currently In-Store
Published: Riverhead Books - February 5th, 2019

Vicious, wondrous, and uncompromising in both its prose and its story, this violent fantasy debut of Booker Prize winner Marlon James proves he's out for blood. This is no "African Game of Thrones," its completely its own animal. For readers who want more from their genre fiction, and don't mind grappling with race, religion, and sexuality, this book is for you.

The Colossus: and Other Poems (Vintage International) By Sylvia Plath Cover Image
ISBN: 9780375704468
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - May 19th, 1998

Staff Pick Badge
The Glassy, Burning Floor of Hell By Brian Evenson Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566896115
Availability: Ships in 2-3 days; Not Currently In-Store
Published: Coffee House Press - August 3rd, 2021

A short story collection where every story is sharp, clear as crystal, and filled with incredible, sci-fi tinged horror. Evenson is unflinching. I can't believe I haven't read him until now.

Staff Pick Badge
Monstress Book One By Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda (Artist) Cover Image
By Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda (Artist)
ISBN: 9781534312326
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Image Comics - July 9th, 2019

Monstress is some glorious graphic storytelling. In a world ravaged by war between Humanity and the descendants of gods, young Maika searches for the truth about her traumatic past, but her quest may threaten to unleash an even more devastating threat. This book has everything I love: weird technology, arcane sciences, elder gods, talking cats with swords. The art-style exists in a universe where H.R. Giger had an Art Deco period, but that's selling it short; its absolutely gorgeous. The care in which this world was crafted comes through on every page. I can't wait to see where this story goes.

Night Sky with Exit Wounds By Ocean Vuong Cover Image
ISBN: 9781556594953
Availability: Ships in 2-3 days; Not Currently In-Store
Published: Copper Canyon Press - April 1st, 2016

The Passenger By Cormac McCarthy Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307268990
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - October 25th, 2022

It’s not every year you get a new Cormac McCarthy novel.  It’s not even every decade. But this year, we get two.  Should somebody check if this is mentioned in any prophecies?

Don’t get me wrong, this is wonderful news, I’m giddy that this is happening, but there’s just something about the timing.  It’s 2022, after all we’ve been through, and the author of Blood Meridian and The Road is coming out with a duology about the creation of the Atomic Bomb. The mind trembles.

Stella Maris By Cormac McCarthy Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307269003
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - December 6th, 2022

Piranesi By Susanna Clarke Cover Image
ISBN: 9781635577808
Availability: Ships in 2-3 days; Not Currently In-Store
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - September 28th, 2021

Shadow & Claw: The First Half of The Book of the New Sun By Gene Wolfe Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250781253
Availability: Ships in 2-3 days; Not Currently In-Store
Published: Tor Books - June 8th, 2021

Staff Pick Badge
The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again By M. John Harrison Cover Image
ISBN: 9780575096363
Availability: Ships in 2-3 days; Not Currently In-Store
Published: Gollancz - December 28th, 2021

This was my most anticipated book of the year, and it did not disappoint.  As beguiling as anything he's ever written, filled with quick slashes of the utterly weird, this book managed a slow-burn approach to the end of the (current) world.

Terraforming Mars By Stronghold Games (Created by) Cover Image
By Stronghold Games (Created by)
ISBN: 0696859265808
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Stronghold Games - September 28th, 2016

An extremely deep strategy game that rewards multiple playstyles, this game is perfect for seasoned board game enthusiasts, especially if they enjoy a good ol'fashioned scifi setting!  Plus, it has a jaw dropping amount of replay value.  Definitely my favorite game of all time.

Wingspan By Stonemaier Games (Created by) Cover Image
By Stonemaier Games (Created by)
ISBN: 0644216627721
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Stonemaier Games - March 8th, 2019

This is the nicest, prettiest, calmest board game I've ever played.  Can I describe a game as "kindly?"  This game is kindly.  Great for two players, or up to four if the family wants to chill out together.  I can't recommend this game enough, especially if you like a little education with your entertainment.