Ambiguity Machines: An Examination April 29, 2015 Ambiguity Machines: An Examination Vandana Singh A test for Junior Navigators of Conceptual Machine-Space. The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn April 22, 2015 The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn Usman Malik He will inherit the Unseen. The Ways of Walls and Words April 15, 2015 The Ways of Walls and Words Sabrina Vourvoulias Can the spirit truly be imprisoned? Ballroom Blitz April 1, 2015 Ballroom Blitz Veronica Schanoes Can't stop drinking, can't stop dancing, can't stop smoking, can't even die.
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Message Fiction: Politics in Sci-Fi and Fantasy Literature
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5 Extremely Accurate Predictions For Star Trek Beyond
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Daredevil, Catholicism, and the Marvel Moral Universe
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May 4 2015 5:00pm

This is Why Obi-Wan Lied to Luke Skywalker About His Father

Star Wars, Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan

The Star Wars films aren’t exactly complicated fare, particularly the original trilogy. (Not that there is anything wrong with that.) Luke Skywalker’s journey is pretty cut and dry, a solid line from farmboy to superbad in several short years. The Empire falls, the Rebels win, everyone is back on Endor in time for stormtrooper stew.

But how do you topple a galactic Empire, really? How do you get a boy who’s never known a life outside the sticks to become a galactic savior in the same amount of time that it usually takes to earn a bachelor’s degree?

The plan is likely less perfect than it appears.

[I’m coming with you to Alderaan. There’s nothing for me here now.]

May 4 2015 4:00pm

The Last Herald Mage: Sorrows

Magic's Price rereadWhen we left off last week, Kilchas had just fallen from the icy roof of his observatory. Vanyel and Yfandes were suspicious of the circumstances, but were distracted—Vanyel had just returned from a three-month diplomatic mission to Rethwellan and Stefen had a romantic evening planned. This distraction will prove tragic as chapter 15 opens with the “And then there were none” sequence.

Valdemar now has only three Herald Mages. Vanyel attempts to compensate through a combination of long-distance spell-casting and working through non-Herald Mages who have Mage potential. This may have fascinating implications for Valdemar’s national defense, and for the role Vanyel will play in it after his death. Can he work through Heralds with Mage Potential as a ghost? Can Companions use Heralds with Mage Potential this way? The forty-three words Lackey wrote about this leave a lot of room for speculation.

Trigger Warning for sexual violence.

[Which is fortunate, because it means you have something to think about until next week if you can’t deal with this section.]

May 4 2015 3:30pm

The Coode Street Podcast Episode 232: On Canon Formation

SF Canon

Welcome to The Coode Street Podcast, an informal weekly discussion about science fiction and fantasy featuring award-winning critics and editors Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe. The Coode Street Podcast debuted in 2010 and has been nominated for the Hugo, British Science Fiction, and Aurealis awards.

This week we return, without guests, to a topic with which we have annoyed listeners in podcasts for years—the idea of SF canon formation: who gets dropped from the canon, who gets added, and whether such things as Hugo nominations make any difference at all.

[Listen to Coode Street]

May 4 2015 3:30pm

Children’s Book Week Sweepstakes!

Children’s Book Week kicks off today, and we want to send you a prize pack of First Second books for kids of all ages to celebrate! One lucky winner will receive copies of: The Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke; Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity by Dave Roman; Anna Banana and the Chocolate Explosion by Alexis Dormal and Dominique Roques; The Zoo Box by Ariel Cohn and Aron Neis Steinke; This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki; Hidden by Loïc Dauvillier and Marc Lizano;  Sleepless Knight by James Sturm; Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff; Battling Boy and The Rise of Aurora West by Paul Pope; and American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang.

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 May 4. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on May 8. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor:, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

May 4 2015 3:15pm

Take a Peek at Concept Art from Tomorrowland!

Tomorrowland Stephan Martiniere concept art

Who’s excited about Tomorrowland? This fabulous piece of concept art showing the film’s futuristic city comes from Stephan Martinière. We’re digging the sleek, scuptural design of the architecture, and we’d love to know how all the floating bits work—are they stationary buildings, or perhaps large parts of the transport system? And the sphere above the center of the city—is that some sort of hi-tech CCTV? Check out the trailer for more glimpses of the city, including its unique greenspaces and walkways.

We’ve featured much of Martinière’s amazing work over the years, including the covers for Cixin Liu’s Three-Body trilogy. Check out the art for the final book in the series, Death’s End.

May 4 2015 3:00pm

Five Books About Fictional History

Wild Wild West spider

The beautiful thing about writing alternate history and historical fantasy, in my opinion, is that history itself offers enough crazy, nigh-implausible stuff to do half the job for you. Yet when I wrote my Daedalus trilogy, I kind of felt the weight of that history on my shoulders, even as I played with it, because I felt I had to do it justice. I took the Napoleonic Era naval fiction of C.S. Forester and Patrick O’Brian as a starting point, then transported it into a setting of alchemy-fueled space opera: my Venus has lizard-aliens, my Napoleon has a zombie army. It’s high adventure on the scale of both history and the Solar System.

But it still has to work. Writing any sort of alternate history or historical fantasy is tough, because without a solid foundation of logical extrapolation—chasing down the what-ifs of the changes you’ve made to history—it folds like a house of cards. I’d like to think mine holds up well, but it’s a balancing act, to be sure.

[So who does it right?]

May 4 2015 2:35pm

Announcing the 2015 Locus Award Finalists!

Locus Magazine has announced the finalists in each category of the 2014 Locus Awards! The winners will be announced during the Locus Awards Weekend in Seattle WA, June 26-28, 2015; Connie Willis will MC the awards ceremony.

We are honored to see many Tor Books nominated, including Jo Walton’s collection of columns, What Makes This Book So Great, in the Non-Fiction category! We’re also pleased to see Jeff and Ann VanderMeer nominated together in the Editor category, and itself nominated in the Best Magazine category. Congratulations to all the nominees!

[Click through for all the nominees!]

May 4 2015 2:30pm

Afternoon Roundup: Represent for Your House in Quidditch Pong!

Quidditch beer pong

If you’ve ever wanted to play Quidditch on a college campus or in your backyard but lack the atheltic skill, there’s an alternative: Quidditch Pong! The makers of this unofficial game have come up with some pretty entertaining rules, including actual Beaters’ bats, different spells for each Hogwarts house to call out during the game, and even a special Golden Snitch cup.

Afternoon Roundup sees the return of two beloved sci-fi series, and grudgingly accepts J.K. Rowling’s Battle of Hogwarts apology.

[Read more]

May 4 2015 2:00pm

Han Solo Has Always Been the Lead of Star Wars

We’ll never really know if it was the money or a mind-trick that convinced Han Solo to ferry Luke, Obi-Wan, and the droids to Alderaan, and the riddle of the actor who played Solo for three movies is equally unclear. Fittingly, or jarringly, Harrison Ford’s relationship with Star Wars is exactly like his character; always picking “Should I Stay our Should I Go,” by the Clash as his karaoke song with one boot out the door. Ford almost wasn’t in The Empire Strikes Back and wanted Han to die in Return of the Jedi. When it was announced that he would appear in Episode VII, flippant rumors circulated that he was the co-lead, along with two of the younger actors.

But none of this should come as any surprise, because Han Solo has always been the lead of the classic Star Wars films.

[Read More]

May 4 2015 1:40pm

Vanity Fair Releases New Star Wars: The Force Awakens Photos

Vanity Fair Star War Force Awakens shoot, Annie LeibovitzVanity Fair has released a set of photographs by Annie Leibovitz (along with a short video) taken on the set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. They reveal a few clues about what's coming up, and offer a couple of character plugs as well, filling in the gaps on where everyone fits in to this new trilogy. Obviously, the splash phrase on the cover “The Empire Reboots!” is meant to tell us something as well.

So here's what we think. SPOILERS for what is revealed in the article below. Prepare yourself for aliens! And ships! And armor! Dramatic poses!

[And weird new names!]

May 4 2015 1:30pm

Barnes & Noble Bookseller’s Picks for May

Barnes & Noble Bookseller's Picks for April 2015

For over a decade, Jim Killen has served as the science fiction and fantasy book buyer for Barnes & Noble. Every month on the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog and, Jim shares his curated list of the month’s can’t-miss new SF/F releases.

[May’s Picks]

May 4 2015 1:00pm

Rereading the Empire Trilogy: Mistress of the Empire, Part 8

Mistress of the EmpireWelcome back to the reread of Mistress of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts! CSI: Tsuranuanni takes a darker turn this week, with some unexpectedly grim torture performed by one of our heroes.

Potential trigger warning for discussion of gore and torture. But it’s pretty mild compared to the chapter itself. Seriously, I don’t think the books have been this icky since the human sacrifice chapter. You have been warned.

[Read More]

May 4 2015 12:00pm

Is the Force A Religion?

Star Wars, The Phantom Menace

We can make all the jokes we want about how many real people list “Jedi” as their religion on government census forms, but… well, what exactly does that mean? Can the Jedi Code be counted as a religious doctrine? What does it mean if it can? It’s an odd question to pose perhaps, but one that might demand a revisitation as a renewal of Star Wars Fever is already underway…

[There is no emotion; there is peace.]

May 4 2015 11:40am

Does the Suicide Squad Cast Photo Look More Like a Metal Band or a CW Show?

Suicide Squad cast photo

Those of you who were worried about the tone of Suicide Squad set by that photo of the Joker... should still be worried. David Ayer tweeted out this group shot of the cast, which doesn’t give us a lot of hope for the movie. The A.V. Club already nailed it with the yearbook jokes, but we’re split: We can’t tell if they’re supposed to be a Slayer Slipknot cover band who were too cheap to get the masks, or the alternately grinning and broody young cast of this summer’s hottest new teen dramedy?

[And where’s the Joker?]

May 4 2015 11:30am

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 4: “Sons of the Harpy”

Game of Thrones

Damn you, leaked episodes, for having no leaked previews to go with you after that evil cliffhanger ending. The spoiled among us have had to pay for our sneak peeks with nearly four long weeks before any new episodes. Everything has a price.

Major episode spoilers ahead.

[“Free Loras!”]

May 4 2015 11:20am

Black Widow Finally Gets Her Own Movie in this SNL Trailer!

Black Widow SNL Parody

SNL's brings us a trailer that finally answers the question: Does Marvel not know how to make a girl superhero movie? The answer is a perfect mockery of the romantic comedy genre, twisted with some deliciously on-point superhero parodies.

[I'd hate to be that guy's girlfriend...]

May 4 2015 11:00am

Fiction Affliction: May Releases in Fantasy

new releases fantasy

Twenty-six new fantasies are abloom in May, masking the stealthy genre takeover by young adults! New releases including series additions from, among others, Michelle West (The House War), Ryk E. Spoor (Balanced Sword), Luke Scull (Grim Company), Barb Hendee (Mist-Torn Witches), David Dalglish (Shadowdance), Jeffe Kennedy (The Twelve Kingdoms), and Peter Orullian (Vault of Heaven). Also look for Nos. 19-24 in the Game of Thrones graphic novel series and the ninth “best of sf/f” anthology edited by Jonathan Strahan.

Fiction Affliction details releases in science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and “genre-benders.” Keep track of them all here. Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.

[Read about this month’s releases.]

May 4 2015 10:00am

“A Suit of Armor Around the World": Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Here’s the deal: We can talk about Avengers: Age of Ultron as a film, or we can talk about it as a piece of the Marvel Cinematic Universe jigsaw puzzle. As a film, it’s a fun action flick with some deeply hilarious plot contrivances. (It’s inevitable with these sorts of stories, really.) As the next step in the MCU arc, it is a joyful smash of all the things that you like in the same place.

See what I did there?

[“You didn’t see that coming?”]

May 4 2015 10:00am

Snap a Shelfie and Get an Ebook with BitLit!

Tor Books BitLit app partnership shelfie

Tor Books is thrilled to announce a new partnership with BitLit, a free app that lets you download ebook copies of your paper library. By partnering with BitLit, we’ve made it possible for you to be able to download an ebook for any Tor/Forge book you own in print!

[Read more]

May 4 2015 9:00am

An Uncut and Non-Remastered List of Star Wars Editions!

Star Wars Uncut

The thing that makes Star Wars truly great is Greedo shooting first. Wait, come back, I’m being serious! The original Star Wars trilogy was an incredible cultural touchstone, and obviously Star Wars merchandise and expanded universe novels created a whole world for fans to inhabit. However, the moment when Star Wars became truly great was the moment in 1997 when a generation of fans had to examine what this film meant to them, and why it was so important that Han shoot first. This moment galvanized an already fervent fandom to, if you don’t mind me mixing my geek metaphors, play Sam Beckett in the SWU, going back to earlier prints of the films to put right what Lucas had made wrong.

Using the sort of film tech popularized by Lucas himself, the fandom dove in and started making new editions of the original trilogy, and then turned their scalpels on each of the prequels. Rather than accepting anything as “canon,” they made their own. Now, as a flurry of new films loom, causing hope, fear, and trembling, I’ve rounded up nine different ways you can experience Star Wars into one handy list!

[Read More]