Matt Hlinak

Matt Hlinak
Matt Hlinak is an administrator at Dominican University, just outside of Chicago. He teaches courses in English and legal studies. His short stories have appeared in 'Sudden Flash Youth' (Persea Books 2011) and several literary magazines. 'DoG' (2012) is his debut novel.

Jo Walton’s ‘The Just City’ is worth traveling to

the just city detail

Jo Walton’s latest novel, 'The Just City,' contains time travel, robots and Greek gods, yet its realistic characters—even the divinities—dominate the narrative with their personal struggles to achieve their “best selves.” This is Jo Walton’s strength—no matter how outlandish the setting, her characters always read as real people I want to get to know.

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REVIEW: ‘Avatar and Philosophy’ will help you to see, but only if you’re a fan


'Avatar and Philosophy' is a difficult book to assign a rating to. It absolutely succeeds in what it sets out to do, but the audience of 'Avatar' enthusiasts who are interested in digging this deeply is likely a narrow one. But if you love the film and want to explore its deeper meaning, then this book for you.

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‘C.O.W.L.’ Vol. 1 masterfully weaves Chicago into its truly original superhero story


Just when I think there is nothing more that can be done with the “fights-in-tights” genre, 'C.O.W.L.' comes up with something truly original. In the tradition of 'Watchmen,' this book explores what a world with superheroes would really be like. It's a refreshing take on the superhero genre, with super-powered fistfights taking a backseat to bare-knuckle politics.

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Follow the breadcrumbs to the frightening ‘Gretel and the Dark’

gretel and the dark cover detail

Eliza Granville’s 'Gretel and the Dark' combines magical realism and historical fiction to offer a unique perspective on the Holocaust. Granville weaves fairy tale motifs in with two narratives from different time periods, and the actions in one storyline invariable echo in the other. On the whole, the novel is a brilliant debut by a talented writer. 'Gretel and the Dark' is a frightening but ultimately uplifting modern fairy tale.

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‘East of West’ is one of the best fantasy/sci-fi comics out now

'East of West' is a cross-genre epic, a dark and serious work for mature readers. Jonathan Hickman is a master of the art of the slow reveal, giving his readers just enough information to understand what’s going on and leaving them thirsting for more. Vol. 3 has the series building up to an explosive conclusion, and I can’t wait to see how it ends.

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‘Full Circle’ is a must for fans of wrestling, the Olympics and sports politics

Full Circle wrestling

'Full Circl'e is a must for wrestling fans, as well as those with an interest in the politics surrounding international athletics. But the book is also a “how-to” guide for grassroots organization, demonstrating how a diffuse group with a strong passion overcame long odds in a short period of time. In 2013, wrestling fought off its back to score a come-from-behind victory, and 'Full Circle' gives you a matside seat for every thrilling moment.

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‘The Time Traveler’s Almanac’ is *the* definitive tome for time travel buffs


'The Time Traveler’s Almanac' purports to be “the largest and most definitive collection of time travel stories ever assembled,” and I was unable to find anything capable of disputing this claim. The editors have compiled 72 pieces by luminaries of the genre like H.G. Wells, Ursula K. Le Guin, George R.R. Martin, Douglas Adams and Isaac Asimov. Highly recommended for all sci-fi and time travel buffs.

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‘The Boost’ is a fun and thought-provoking exploration of the long-term effects of the ever-shrinking computer


Set in 2072, 'The Boost' by Stephen Baker imagines a world in which everyone has a networked computer, called a “boost,” installed in his or her brain. Baker is a gifted futurist whose first stab at fiction is remarkably well written, although his inexperience does show in a few places. But Baker compensates with a fast pace and solid scientific grounding. 'The Boost' is a fun and thought-provoking exploration of the long-term effects of the ever-shrinking computer.

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‘My Real Children’ is a heartwarming, heart-wrenching exploration of feminism and politics

Jo Walton’s My Real Children is difficult to classify. Although it can be read as an alternate history (actually two alternative histories—more on that in a moment), the novel really belongs on the shelf beside the work of “literary” writers like Jonathan Franzen or Alice Munro. The book both warms and wrenches the heart as it explores feminism and gay rights, as well as war and peace. The lives of Pat and Tricia tell us much about the world in which we live and what it means to be part of a family.

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You are invited to the ‘Afterparty’: there’ll be lots of drugs and gods

Good science fiction is not about the future so much as the present, and Afterparty by Daryl Gregory is good science fiction. It amplifies the societal insecurities of today and projects them into tomorrow without losing track of the human element that drives dramatic storytelling. With elements of a good mystery, Afterparty is full of twists and turns and red herrings on the way to an unexpected and satisfying resolution.

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The 10 coolest supporting characters in ‘Game of Thrones’


Everyone loves following the adventures of Danaerys, Tyrion and Arya. But the real strength of A Song of Ice and Fire is the supporting cast of fully-realized characters who bring George R. R. Martin’s world to life. With the fourth season just days away, here are the top ten coolest supporting characters in the Game of Thrones universe.

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