Quilting and Storytelling

In this ongoing series, we ask SF/F authors to describe a specialty in their lives that has nothing (or very little) to do with writing. Join us as we discover what draws authors to their various hobbies, how they fit into their daily lives, and how and they inform the author’s literary identity!

Around the time that The Force Awakens was released, I found myself in my local Jo-Ann craft store. This particular Jo-Ann had thoughtfully set up a display with bolts of cotton printed with images of BB-8, Finn, Rey, Kylo Ren, the Star Wars logo, and so on. Like most of us, The Force Awakens had re-awakened my love of Star Wars, and I was ready to channel that love—not into fanfiction or cosplay or an impressive action figure collection, but into a quilt.

I love quilts. I made my first one when I was in elementary school, under my mom’s guidance, and I’ve made several in the years since. It’s not a consistent hobby—I’m not working on a quilt at the moment, for example—but it is one I always return to. Making a quilt is a lengthy process, but also a weirdly soothing one.

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Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: “The Jihad”

“The Jihad”
Written by Stephen Kandel
Directed by Hal Sutherland
Animated Season 1, Episode 16
Production episode 22014
Original air date: January 12, 1974
Stardate: 5683.1

Captain’s log. The Enterprise arrives at Vedala, along with representatives from several other species, summoned by the ancient space-faring race for a special mission. Kirk and Spock are specifically summoned, along with Tchar, hereditary prince of the birdlike Skorr, Sord, from a lizardlike species, M3 Green, an insectlike lockpick, and Lara, a humanoid hunter.

The mission comes from Tchar: the soul of Alar, the spiritual leader of the Skorr, was archived in a sculpture, which has been stolen. The Skorr government has kept the theft secret from their people, but they won’t be able to keep that secret forever, and when they learn that the soul of Alar has been stolen, the Skorr will launch a holy war against the entire galaxy.

[I’m not even afraid anymore, just tired.]

Series: Star Trek: The Original Series Rewatch

Proof of Concept Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a galley copy of Gwyneth Jones’s Proof of Concept, available April 11th from Tor.com Publishing!

On a desperately overcrowded future Earth, crippled by climate change, the most unlikely hope is better than none. Governments turn to Big Science to provide them with the dreams that will keep the masses compliant. The Needle is one such dream, an installation where the most abstruse theoretical science is being tested: science that might make human travel to a habitable exoplanet distantly feasible.

When the Needle’s director offers her underground compound as a training base, Kir is thrilled to be invited to join the team, even though she knows it’s only because her brain is host to a quantum artificial intelligence called Altair.

But Altair knows something he can’t tell.

Kir, like all humans, is programmed to ignore future dangers. Between the artificial blocks in his mind, and the blocks evolution has built into his host, how is he going to convince her the sky is falling?

Comment in the post to enter!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States and D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec). To enter, comment on this post beginning at 2:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on March 22nd. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on March 26th. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Tor.com, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

Bad Ways to Pick Up Barbarians: C. L. Moore’s “Black God’s Kiss”

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

Today we’re looking at C. L. Moore’s “Black God’s Kiss,” first published in the October 1934 issue of Weird Tales. Spoilers ahead.

[“No human travelers had worn the sides of the spiral so smooth…”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

We’ve Got Movie Sign! Netflix Releases First Trailer for the New MST3K

Entertainment Weekly has revealed the first trailer for the new Mystery Science Theater 3000! It’s just as fun and wacky as one would expect: we get to see how new host Jonah Heston ends up ensnared in MST3K shenanigans, we meet new Mad Scientists Kinga Forrester and TV’s Son of TV’s Frank (Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt, respectively), and maybe most exciting of all, we get a brief glimpse of one of this season’s upcoming movies!

And it looks terrible. Click through for Jonah and the Bots!

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Pull List: Queer Women Writing Comics About Queer Women, Batwoman and America Edition

It’s March, which means it’s Women’s History Month, and since you’re a comic book geek, you probably want to read some great comics by women creators about women characters. Easier said than done. Indie, web, and alt comics are rife with diversity, representation, and intersectionally feminist stories and creators—special shout outs to Strong Female Protagonist, Qahera, Ladycastle, and Goldie Vance—but sticking to the Big Two is a bigger challenge. Sure, there are a bunch of awesome women superhero comics as well as a bunch of awesome women comics creators, but it isn’t often that both collide on the same Marvel or DC projects.

So imagine my unfiltered glee when I found out that not only is Marguerite Bennett helming the new Batwoman, but also that Gabby Rivera is running America. That’s a queer woman writing a comic about a queer woman vigilante AND a queer Latina writing a comic about a queer Latina superhero. Verily, we live in an exciting age. What a way to celebrate Women’s History Month than with female-created and female-driven stories about awesome women saving the day?

[“She’s one bad mama jama.”]

Malazan Reread of the Fallen: An Announcement

Hi everyone,

Our apologies for the suddenness of this announcement, but it seems our long (seven years!) journey is coming to an end, as Tor.com will soon be reorganizing some of the content and formats on the site so as to better meet the needs/desires of its audience. But while that means that the reread will be closed out, that doesn’t mean that discussion of the Malazan universe will disappear from Tor.com—just that further exploration will come via different formats, such as essays or reviews.

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Series: Malazan Reread of the Fallen

A Confusing Lack of Action: First Impressions of Iron Fist

Three episodes into Netflix’s Iron Fist, and several things are evident:

One is that Finn Jones has a certain relaxed charm. He’s charming and engaging in the role, for the most part. Another is that you do not mess with Colleen Wing. She will own your ass. The third, sadly, is that for the first time we have a season of a Netflix MCU show that is not gripping in its early going. (The two most flawed of the previous four, Luke Cage season 1 and Daredevil season 2, had their issues later in the season.)

I will have a more detailed review of the entire season once I’ve viewed all thirteen episodes, but here are my impressions of the first three episodes from three different perspectives: as a fan of the Iron Fist comics character, as a martial artist, and as a regular ol’ TV watcher.

[“In another life, this would’ve been romantic.” “In another life, you wouldn’t have drugged me and sent me to a mental hospital.”]

9 Emotional Books That Had Our Readers in Tears

Last month we asked you which books are guaranteed to make you cry, and you came through with dozens of tearstained comments. In looking through our open thread of Books that Punched us in the Tear Ducts, it becomes clear that Cormac McCarthy and Robin Hobb have a lot to answer for, and that you will all be mourning Dobby for the foreseeable future. I’ve rounded up some of the top picks, and added a few of our own, so if you need a good literary cry we have you covered.

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Cho Chang: Outsider, Insurgent, Builder of Bridges — Not Walls

Cho Chang, in her seven years at Hogwarts, never gets to see herself reflected in the heroes and histories of her school. She never sees herself reflected in its larger student body. This is what it means to be The Only One: there are so few role models for you, and every day you walk into the world you must gather your courage and your imagination. All the narratives surrounding Cho tell her, “Be smart. Be decorative. The most you can ever hope for is that a white boy will notice you, will make you the romantic heroine of his story.” She’s told, “You’re not good enough for The Chosen One. You’re not chosen by anyone.”

And yet, what does Cho do? She tries out for Seeker, a position held by boys in every other House, for a House team where boys play every position. Here, too, she is the only one, representing women, representing her people. There are whispers; of course there are. Are your eyes big enough to see the Snitch, Cho? Your kind aren’t really athletic, are they? What you’re really good for is distracting the boys on the other team, Cho, hike up your robes and flash them some leg, will you?

There is such loneliness, when you’re the only one.

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Open Thread: Tell Us Your Favorite Character in the Book You’re Reading Right Now!

They jump out at you. Sometimes they’re the reason you kept going past page five. You want to know what the next comeback is, who they’re meeting with, what they eat for dinner. You want to know know more about their habits, their history, where they’re headed. Certain characters just have a hook, a power—we keep reading to spend more time with them. The best thing about being a reader is that there can be a new one every week or less.

So who is your new favorite? The one who captured you imagination from the start? Is there more than one? Maybe a duo or a crew? Are they from a new book, hot off the shelves? Or did you finally crack into an old standby and find that special someone who was missing all your life? Tell us!

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Is Everyone’s Favorite Cross-Dressing Pirate Lila Bard a Non-Binary Person?

After finishing A Gathering of Shadows, the second book in V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy, Book Riot contributor Nicole Brinkley made the case that Delilah “Lila” Bard is the true hero of Schwab’s epic fantasy series. Not only does cross-dressing thief (with dreams of being a pirate) Lila go through the archetypal hero’s arc, Brinkley writes, but it’s her, and not the male lead Kell, to whom Schwab designates those tropes in the first place.

Lila has become one of the series’ most beloved characters, not just for her scrappiness but also for the tropes she does subvert. Rather than be a non-damsel-in-distress who disguises herself as a man for access or protection, Lila “has no connection whatsoever to her gender,” Schwab explained via Twitter in 2015. “She’s gender fluid to the extent that someone in 1819 would intuitively be.” In a recent Reddit r/fantasy AMA for A Conjuring of Light, the trilogy’s conclusion, Schwab talked more about Lila’s gender identity and whether she could be considered non-binary.

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Dominion of the Fallen Series Sweepstakes!

Aliette de Bodard’s second Dominion of the Fallen novel, The House of Binding Thorns, is available April 4th from Ace—and we want to send you a galley copy of it, along with a paperback copy of the first book, The House of Shattered Wings!

You can read the first chapter of The House of Binding Thorns here.

As the city rebuilds from the onslaught of sorcery that nearly destroyed it, the great Houses of Paris, ruled by Fallen angels, still contest one another for control over the capital.

House Silverspires was once the most powerful, but just as it sought to rise again, an ancient evil brought it low. Phillippe, an immortal who escaped the carnage, has a singular goal—to resurrect someone he lost. But the cost of such magic might be more than he can bear.

In House Hawthorn, Madeleine the alchemist has had her addiction to angel essence savagely broken. Struggling to live on, she is forced on a perilous diplomatic mission to the underwater dragon kingdom—and finds herself in the midst of intrigues that have already caused one previous emissary to mysteriously disappear….

As the Houses seek a peace more devastating than war, those caught between new fears and old hatreds must find strength—or fall prey to a magic that seeks to bind all to its will.

Comment in the post to enter!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States and D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec). To enter, comment on this post beginning at 3:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on March 21st. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on March 25th. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Tor.com, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.