Bureaucracy Over Tea: Convergence by C.J. Cherryh

C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series is a long one. With Convergence, the latest book, the adventures of paidhi-aiji Bren Cameron now fill eighteen volumes. Well, the adventures of Bren Cameron and Cajeiri, the young heir to the aishi’ditat.

For those unfamiliar with Bren Cameron and his world, Convergence is really not a good place to begin one’s acquaintance. It relies even more heavily than usual on the consequences of what has gone before not just for its emotional impact, but for any of the narrative to make sense. Don’t start here! (But do read the series. Once Foreigner gets properly started, it goes all kinds of interesting places.)

But for fans of the series, how does Convergence fit in? Does it live up to the best of its predecessors? Does it follow up the upheaval and revelations of Visitor with appropriate weight and emphasis?

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39 Other Lives: The Magicians, “The Girl Who Told Time”

“The Girl Who Told Time” goes way back in Magicians-land—and moves a lot of things forward. Remember how there were 39 other time loops in which the Brakebills gang faced the Beast and failed? Thirty-nine loops thanks to Jane Chatwin (RIP). And 39 loops in which Julia went to Brakebills. Hedge witch Julia is the wild card that changed everything.

It’s an important reminder.

[“Those grapes died for nothing now.”]

Even Toys Have Responsibilities: Character Growth in Toy Story 2

For decades, Disney executives never bothered with sequels, apart from the occasional follow-up to an unusual project (The Three Caballeros, which if not exactly a sequel, was meant to follow up Saludos Amigos), or cartoon short (the Winnie the Pooh cartoons in the 1960s.) But in the late 1980s, struggling for ideas that could squeak by the hostile eye of then-chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg, animators proposed creating a full length animated sequel to the studio’s only real success from the 1970s—The Rescuers.

The result, The Rescuers Down Under, provided an opportunity for Disney to test out its new CAPS software, and if not exactly a box office blockbuster, did at least earn back its costs. And it happened to coincide with a sudden growth in the VCR market, along with cheaply made, direct-to-video films. The combination gave Disney executives an idea: cheap, direct to video sequels of their most popular films that could also be shown on their broadcast and cable networks.

[This all eventually leads us to Pixar. I promise.]

Never Take Your Plants For Granted. The Expanse: “Cascade”

This week’s episode of The Expanse, “Cascade” continued the search for Meng’s daughter, checked in with Bobbie and the Earth/Mars peace talks, and shows us a new side of Earth culture. The attack on Ganymede might have even worse repercussions than expected, somehow. We learn that Meng is now the only other person other than Naomi who can stop Amos once he starts beating someone to death.

And best of all, we get to see what Alex does when he’s alone on the Roci.

Join me for a recap of the highlights, which is obviously full of spoilers.

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Skullsworn: Chapter 1

Pyrre Lakatur is not, to her mind, an assassin, not a murderer—she is a priestess. At least, she will be once she passes her final trial.

The problem isn’t the killing. The problem, rather, is love. For to complete her trial, Pyrre has ten days to kill the seven people enumerated in an ancient song, including “the one who made your mind and body sing with love / who will not come again.”

Pyrre isn’t sure she’s ever been in love. And if she fails to find someone who can draw such passion from her, or fails to kill that someone, her order will give her to their god, the God of Death. Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to fail, and so, as her trial is set to begin, she returns to the city of her birth in the hope of finding love … and ending it on the edge of her sword.

Brian Staveley’s new standalone novel, Skullsworn, returns to the critically acclaimed Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne universe, following a priestess-assassin for the God of Death—publishing April 25th from Tor Books. Read Chapter 1 below, or click here to start with the Prologue.

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New Game of Thrones Season 7 Teaser: Which Throne Has Daenerys Taken?

HBO has released a new and chilling teaser for Game of Thrones season 7, which premieres on July 16 this year. There’s a definite “Clash of Kings” vibe to it, as it follows Cersei, Daenerys, and Jon Snow in their parallel paths to their thrones. (There’s an additional surprise at the end, but we won’t spoil it!)

Both Cersei and Jon were seen taking their respective thrones at the end of last season…but where is Daenerys?

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Sign Up for Tor.com Publishing’s Monthly Newsletter!

Want to keep up on the latest from Tor.com Publishing authors like Seanan McGuire, Charles Stross, Paul Cornell, Nnedi Okorafor, and many more? Sign up for the monthly Tor.com Publishing newsletter!

Every last Tuesday of the month, we’ll send you news on books like Down Among the Sticks and Bones and The Delirium Brief, including sneak peeks at chapters and cover art, interviews and guest posts from our authors, and other fun features. We’ll also include recommendations for Tor.com original short stories you can read for free online, and a photo of the month from our Instagram at @TorDotComPub (which usually features cats, the Flatiron Building, or science fiction/fantasy authors!).

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Was the First Season of Legion Worth Watching?

A few episodes ago, a critic I follow on Twitter (can’t recall whom) mentioned that all the fervent, adoring chatter about Legion reminded them of the same ultimately misguided passion for the first season of True Detective, and I’m inclined to agree. Sure, the first season of True Detective was visually impressive, powerfully acted, and beautifully shot and directed. However, there were a lot of cracks in the foundation of the story True Detective told, cracks that became sinkholes by the second. Similarly, Legion is absolutely striking to behold, but the plot is peppered with too many ideas that go nowhere, takes too long to get going, and too often relies on infodumping crucial background details because it’s frittered its running time away on looking cool. Creator and showrunner Noah Hawley managed to keep Fargo running on all cylinders from the first to second season, so maybe Legion will be just as lucky and not hit the dreaded True Detective season two crash and burn. Given the finale, the second season could go either way.

But so what, right? The real question isn’t whether or not the first season of Legion was perfect but whether or not it is worth watching. And to answer that, let’s take a look at the last few episodes. Spoilers ahead

[“Real, fake, it’s all the same.”]

It’s Your Last Chance to Win One of Three Tablets Loaded With eBooks From Tor.com and The Portalist!

The Portalist and Tor.com have joined forces to bring you the eBook Collection Sweepstakes! We’ve got three tablets, each with a different collection of titles—one all fantasy greats; one classic and new science fiction; one magical young adult tales—and you can enter to win one or all three!

Find out how to enter below; all three sweepstakes end tomorrow, March 31st, at 11:59pm EST.

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Warbreaker Reread: Chapter 24

Welcome back to the Warbreaker reread! Last week, Lightsong began his Detective Returned career, as his interest was piqued by Mercystar’s incident. This week, Siri and Susebron seek solutions in stories.

This reread will contain spoilers for all of Warbreaker and any other Cosmere book that becomes relevant to the discussion. This is particularly likely to include Words of Radiance, due to certain crossover characters. The index for this reread can be found here.

Click on through to join the discussion!

[“You cannot refuse me. I am your queen.”]

Series: Warbreaker Reread

Rereading The Handmaid’s Tale: Part XV-Historical Notes

It’s our final installment of rereading Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, but the reread itself is not over!

After last week’s confrontation, we spend only one more Night with Offred, as she heads into the darkness. But from that darkness (or is it light?) come echoes—echoes that ripple forward into the future, as we are joined in our examination of the text and its anonymous narrator by a bevy of experts with their own biases and contradictory guesses as to Offred’s fate.

The index to the Handmaid’s Tale reread can be found here! As this is a reread, there will be spoilers for the rest of the book, as well as speculation about the TV series.

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Series: Rereading The Handmaid’s Tale

What’s in a Reboot? How 1998’s Lost in Space Prepared Me for the Onslaught of the Future

Before you say anything—Yes, I have watched the original Lost in Space television show. Yes, it is kinda weird because I was born decades after its premiere. Yes, I did enjoy it. Yes, I am obsessed with stories featuring kids who have friendships with robots, and queer codified villains. I also learned that John Williams had written the theme song, which was a very high recommendation in my kid playbook.

The 1998 reboot came along and also swept me off my feet for a brief period of time. (I was very young, shh.) But looking back on the film now—awkward as it was—it’s strange to realize how much I learned from it.

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Five Books That Tell the Monster’s Story

Monsters fascinate. There’s something in the shadows that you don’t understand, can’t quite make out the shape of—something that can eat you. Something that can steal your children, spoil your crops, or worst of all turn you into a monster yourself, so that you’ll no longer be welcome in the warm places where we tell stories about monsters.

That warm place started as a small campfire in the dark night, surrounded by very real predators. Beside that fire, you could lay down your spear and basket and feel almost safe for the night. We keep fearing monsters even as the shadows retreat and the campfires grow, even now when light pollution banishes them to the few remaining dark corners, where they must surely shiver and tell stories about our advance.

Mustn’t they?

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Series: Five Books About…

A Good Horror Story Hinges on Sincerity

I watch a lot of horror movies. However many you’re thinking right now, I regret to inform you that you have woefully underestimated the number of horror movies that I have watched in my lifetime. I watch a lot of horror movies. My earliest cinematic memories involve horror movies—Alien when I was three years old, sitting on my uncle’s lap in the living room of our old apartment; The Blob after a midnight trip to the emergency vet to have a cattail removed from my cat’s eye; Critters in my grandmother’s living room, elbows buried in the plush beige carpet, dreaming of marrying the handsome red-haired boy in the lead role. So many horror movies. The only form of media that has arguably had more of an influence on me than the horror movie is the superhero comic book (which is a whole different kettle of worms).

The standards of horror have changed with time, of course. The things we’re afraid of now and the things we were afraid of fifty years ago are not the same, and neither are the avatars we choose to face those fears. We’ve gone from jut-jawed heroes to final girls to clever kids to slackers who somehow stumbled into the wrong movie, and when it’s been successful, it’s been incredible, and when it’s failed, we haven’t even needed to talk about it, because everyone knows. But there’s one ingredient to a really good horror movie that has never changed—that I don’t think ever will change—that I think we need to think about a little harder.

Sincerity.

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