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 Tor.com, Jim shares his curated list of the month’s can’t-miss new SF/F releases.
Welcome back to the Malazan Reread of the Fallen! Every post will start off with a summary of events, followed by reaction and commentary by your hosts Bill and Amanda (with Amanda, new to the series, going first), and finally comments from Tor.com readers. In this article, we’ll cover chapter twelve of Ian Cameron Esslemont’s Orb Sceptre Throne.
A fair warning before we get started: We’ll be discussing both novel and whole-series themes, narrative arcs that run across the entire series, and foreshadowing. Note: The summary of events will be free of major spoilers and we’re going to try keeping the reader comments the same. A spoiler thread has been set up for outright Malazan spoiler discussion.
In spite of the long road to Mad Max: Fury Road finally getting released in theaters, there is little doubt this movie will deliver on its years-long wait. Every trailer is a gorgeous, aggressive, poetic, apocalyptic remix on the visuals and tropes we know from George Miller’s prior Mad Max installments, yet with the hint toward something decidedly new (and utterly insane) in this version.
In this episode of Rocket Talk, Justin brings fantasy author Peter V. Brett to the show to talk about his newest novel, The Skull Throne. The conversation touches on nerd fashion, politics, and how Brett’s real life happenings influence the words on the page.
On the one hand Prince Hal, who became King Henry V, is undoubtedly England’s greatest king, so it’s perfectly reasonable that he’s the only person Shakespeare used as a protagonist in four plays. On the other hand, would anybody remember him today if Shakespeare hadn’t immortalised him? Hal’s empire lasted a mere four hundred years. Shakespeare’s work is going with us to the stars.
It wasn’t the greatness that drew Shakespeare to Hal. If it had been, he wouldn’t have written two plays set before Hal even achieved the throne. It was his complexity, the combination of his greatness and his tricks—he’s drawn to Falstaff and his foolery, and when he becomes king and turns his back on that he continues to play tricks on his lords and ministers and on his enemies. The first play (Henry IV, Part 1) ends with Hal having done what his father wanted and conquered Hotspur, the first of his victories. The second play (Henry IV, Part 2) ends with his father’s death and Hal turning his back on Falstaff. (And that’s an amazing scene. “I do not know you, old man.”) The third play (Henry V, Part 1) ends after the triumph of Agincourt with Hal winning the daughter of the king of France and being made heir to France, at the cusp of his real achievement. If it had been his glory that drew Shakespeare he’d have gone on to make his “cockpit” show the rest of Europe and the Middle East and all Hal’s conquests there. Instead, he begins again with Hal an old man himself at eighty-five, king of all he surveys, but with nobody to love, both his sons dead, tricked to the last, and his grandson and heir afraid of him.
“Ballroom Blitz” by Veronica Schanoes is a contemporary fairy tale about a young man, who with his eleven brothers, have been cursed to remain in a rock club for their bad behavior. Their only shot at freedom might be the twelve sisters who one day enter the club.
This novelette was acquired and edited for Tor.com by consulting editor Ellen Datlow.
Square Enix is remixing classic Star Wars action figures to make them more badass—by adding more detailed armor, plumes of fire, and Force energy. Just look at Vader’s lightsaber, which is a lot more menacing than the colored sticks these figures have traditionally come with.
Morning Roundup brings you today’s head-scratcher of a remake, James Gunn’s next project, and a pop culture-centric card game.
Today marks what would have been the 89th birthday of the incomparable author Anne Inez McCaffrey. Not only one of the most prolific science fiction and fantasy writers of all time, McCaffrey’s lasting contributions changed the way the way we regard the most beloved of magical creatures of all; dragons. And thankfully, the world has forever been enriched by the unique imagination of McCaffrey, an author who gave us new places we wanted to escape into.
Samuel Delany was born in New York on April 1st 1942, which makes today his seventy-third birthday. Happy birthday, Chip!
I could write a considered post about Delany’s significance to the field, but I’m just too enthusiastic about his work to do it in a properly calm way. Delany’s just one of the best writers out there, and he always has been, from his emergence with The Jewels of Aptor (1962) and The Fall of the Towers. (1963-5) to last year’s Through The Valley of the Nest of Spiders. His major work—Babel 17 (1966) (post), The Einstein Intersection (1967), Nova (1968) (post), Dhalgren (1974) (post), Tales of Neveryon (1975), Triton (1976) and Stars In My Pocket Like Grains of Sand (1984) (post)—is right at the top of what science fiction has ever achieved.
On April 2nd, Jo Fletcher Books is releasing their edition of Robert Jackson Bennett’s City of Stairs in paperback, and we want to send you a copy of right now! This edition also includes a sneak peek at City of Blades.
We have three copies, so comment in the post below 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 4:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on March 31. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on April 4. 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.
What makes humans truly uniquee? It’s not opposable thumbs or the ability to make tools or self-awareness. What sets us apart is stories.
Or, more accurately, our ability to communicate, teach, and evolve via storytelling. Hank Green—brother of YA author John Green, one half of Vlogbrothers, cofounder of VidCon—decided that it’s about time we celebrated this treasured art, and he’s rounded up some amazing authors, storytellers, podcasters, and performers to help him do so. The resulting convention, NerdCon: Stories, will celebrate how we change storytelling, and how stories change us.
Welcome back to the Short Fiction Spotlight, a space for conversation about recent and not-so-recent short stories. It’s been a while since we’ve tackled the “not-so-recent” portion, and as the spring starts to—well, spring—here in Louisville, I’ve felt a little nostalgic. Standing in front of the bookshelves, then, it seemed inevitable to pick up some Ray Bradbury; who else fits so well with that particular pleasant ache for the past?
The collection Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales is a hefty book, and certainly we won’t be talking about one-hundred pieces of short fiction in this column. So, instead of choosing particular stories to read (or re-read), I thought I’d just flip through and see where that led me—one piece here, another there, and the end result is a satisfying range of reading. The four stories I ended up perusing were “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh” (1960), “Another Fine Mess” (1995), “The Cold Wind and the Warm” (1964), and “The Witch Door” (1995).
Today marks the release of Brandon Sanderson’s new novella, Perfect State, which answers the question “What do you do when you’ve conquered the world?” In the case of God-Emperor Kairominas, you start with a quick robot fight and then tackle something even more daunting: a date with the woman who is your total equal in every way.
Google has rolled out one of their April Fool’s pranks early (which makes us wonder what else is coming tomorrow!), where you can play Pac Man on Google Maps. As Kotaku demonstrates, you’ll have the most fun in cities, where Pac Man can chase Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde over crisscrossing streets and distract you from work until the next bit of Internet April Fool’s fun goes up.
Afternoon Roundup contemplates wizard-born children’s advantages over Muggleborns; imagines Helen Mirren and Vin Diesel in conversation; and gets down to business to defeat the Huns.
With unspeakable horror, the Wheel of Time Reread Redux comes howling FOR YOUR SOUL. Yay!
All original posts are listed in The Wheel of Time Reread Index here, and all Redux posts will also be archived there as well. (The Wheel of Time Master Index, as always, is here, which has links to news, reviews, interviews, and all manner of information about the Wheel of Time in general on Tor.com.)
The Wheel of Time Reread is also available as an e-book series!
All Reread Redux posts will contain spoilers for the entire Wheel of Time series, so if you haven’t read, read at your own risk.
And now, the post!
[“I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out. I’m not proud.”]
Your hosts are feeling a bit overwhelmed with life stuff—medical appointments, colicky babies, the vast unknowability of an uncaring cosmos, that sort of thing. We’re therefore taking a break from story summaries to share our favorite bits of Lovecraftiana, and to send out a prayer to the gods of commerce and time travel for a few things we wish existed.
It is possible that The Legend of Korra saved my sanity in March.
At the end of February, I finished writing a postgraduate thesis. As many former PhD candidates can attest, that’s the end of a process that can leave you worn out and broken, mentally—and sometimes physically, too. In my case, there were three weeks immediately afterwards where I couldn’t concentrate enough to read anything longer than a blog post. (And then a period of time where all I wanted to read were terrible queer romances.) But I needed something to keep my mind occupied.
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 Gary* is joined by award-winning author Ken Liu and Joe Monti, Executive Editor at Saga Press, to discuss Ken’s exciting debut novel The Grace of Kings, his forthcoming collection The Paper Menagerie, and much more.
Between land and sea, day and night, life and death and the like, there lie those borders that, much as we might try, we cannot deny. Equally, though, there are those we impose: make-believe borders drawn to defend against that which we fear, as well as to keep what we want for ourselves within.
Set in the pristine wilderness split down the middle by the border between Scotland and England—as powerful a haunt here as it’s ever been—in the run-up to and the aftermath of 2014’s hotly fought Independence Referendum, Sarah Hall’s fifth work of fiction is a sumptuous study of truth and trust some are sure to slight because it seems slow... but no. The Wolf Border takes longer than I’d like to find its feet, but before long it’s toddling confidently, then running rampant—not unlike the near-mythical infant its protagonist produces.
Recently, a movie called Seventh Son flopped its way through theatres. As soon as I saw the trailer, I remarked loudly that it looked like somebody turned their Dungeons and Dragons campaign into a screenplay. I said this with scorn, and I did not go to see the film. This seems to have worked in my favor, as one reviewer from the Chicago Reader called it “a loud, joyless mess.”
I read slush for a poetry quarterly called Goblin Fruit, and, being that our submission guidelines request poems of the fantastic, we get occasional submissions that smack slightly of D&D. These pieces often feel like they were written in-game by someone’s half-elf bard character, probably while drunk off his ass at Ye Olde Inn and Taverna.