Cold Counsel

Slud of the Blood Claw Clan, Bringer of Troubles, was born at the heart of the worst storm the mountain had ever seen. Slud’s father, chief of the clan, was changed by his son’s presence. For the first time since the age of the giants, he rallied the remaining trolls under one banner and marched to war taking back the mountain from the goblin clans.

However, the long-lived elves remembered the brutal wars of the last age, and did not welcome the return of these lesser-giants to martial power. Twenty thousand elves marched on the mountain intent on genocide. They eradicated the entire troll species—save two.

Aunt Agnes, an old witch from the Iron Wood, carried Slud away before the elves could find them. Their existence remained hidden for decades, and in that time, Agnes molded Slud to become her instrument of revenge.

Chris Sharp’s new epic fantasy Cold Counsel is available from Tor.com Publishing.

[Read more]

Let’s Join a Cult! The Brainwashing Pulps of the ’70s and ’80s

Welcome to Freaky Fridays. You have come home. We’ve been waiting for you. Just relax, stop thinking, and read the sacred out-of-print paperbacks that allow us to understand the secret wisdom of the universe. We love you. Love us. There is no self. There is only us. Do not resist. Just relax. Become love with us.

Hey everyone, let’s join a cult! All the kids are doing it, and if you can give me one good reason not to do it, then I’ll give you an apple pie. Cults are fun! Cults are crazy! Cults can help you get ahead in this world! Cults actually run this world! Cults provide instant friends for the marginalized, the unwanted, and the short. I can’t think of a single problem that a cult couldn’t solve if they all put on their robes and worked together. So why wouldn’t you join one? You are actually holding yourself back and limiting your life every minute you are not in a cult.

The problem is, with so many cults to choose from, how do you narrow it down to just one? Cults aren’t like Better Business Bureaus. You can’t join two or three at a time. You have to pick one and commit. So how do you find the right cult for you? Allow Freaky Friday to help.

[Read more]

Malazan Reread of the Fallen: Forge of Darkness, Chapter One

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, and finally comments from Tor.com readers. Today we’re Forge of Darkness, Chapter One.

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, but 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.

[Read more]

Series: Malazan Reread of the Fallen

Shared Worlds is Now Open for Registration!

Shared Worlds, a world-building summer camp for kids, is now open for registration. The program is open to rising 8th-12th graders, and will take place from July 16th-29th at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Registration will be open until April 1st so be sure to register soon!

The students work in small groups with an experienced “world-building coordinator” to design and build a world, spending a week building their worlds from the ground up: geography, population, religion and philosophy, legal systems—everything you’d need for a functional world. The second week is spent writing stories that can only occur in the worlds they’ve created. The program culminates in individual sessions between the students and the guest authors so the students get personalized feedback on their work. Finally, the students’ stories are published in the annual program anthology.

2017 marks the 10th Anniversary of Shared Worlds! Each year, Co-director Jeff VanderMeer and Editor-in-Residence Ann VanderMeer are joined by a rotating guest faculty, and this year’s will include Gwenda Bond, Tobias S. Buckell, N.K. Jemisin, Kathe Koja, Terra Elan McVoy, Sofia Samatar, and Ekaterina Sedia, along with experts in history, science, and philosophy.

Check out Shared Worlds’ site to learn more, see this year’s guest authors, and register for the program!

An Enthusiastic Carnival of Horrors: Dr. Potter’s Medicine Show

When you say “weird Western”, we generally think of Joe Lansdale, Jonah Hex, or maybe a Johnny Depp box-office disaster. But while “weird” comes in all kinds of flavors, from horror and occult to sci-fi- and fantasy, “Western” somehow always paints the same mental picture: an Arizona aesthetic as dry and stark as the backdrop of a Wile E. Coyote cartoon.

Dr. Potter’s Medicine Show aims to change that. In Eric Fischl’s debut novel, a rainy afternoon in 1878 Oregon sets the stage for a snake-oil salesman whose life behind the show-curtains is becoming ever more horrifying, thanks to the sinister contents of the patent-medicine bottles he’s forced to dispense to the desperate and the gullible. The setting is marvelously rendered right from the first page:

[Read more]

Series: That Was Awesome! Writers on Writing

Klingons Drug Everyone: David Dvorkin’s Timetrap

I found David Dvorkin’s Timetrap, first published in 1988, in the bottom of a moving box last week. Its cover features a particularly young and dewy-looking Kirk standing next to a woman with an incredibly impressive eyebrow in front of a fleet of Klingon Birds of Prey. The story is a subtle blend of problems: it deals with what is true and what seems to be true, with how we see the dangers around us, with the relationship between the Klingons and the Federation, and with the way the world changes over time. And my sister describes the plot as “completely bananapants.”

The basic premise of Timetrap is that Kirk is kidnapped by Klingons who try to convince him that he has travelled in time to 100 years in the future, and must return to his present with them to play a crucial role in brokering the Great Peace which will bring the Klingons and the Federation together. This, they helpfully remind him, will be the beginning of the alliance the Organians predicted back in “Errand of Mercy.” Kirk and Kor were both skeptical about it then, because they hated each other’s guts and were dedicated to depriving each other of control of Organia. As that episode reminds us, things are not always as they seem. The Klingons would like to remind Kirk of this, because their master plan—which is world-spanningly epic—is contingent upon things seeming to be other than they are. The Empire has invested a great deal of time in cultivating illusions—for example, the illusion of time travel. They didn’t go anywhen. How did they convince Kirk they did? Drugs. Lots and lots of drugs.

[Kai the Klingon Pharmaceutical Industry!]

Karen Memory Will Return in…Stone Mad, a New Novella by Elizabeth Bear

Tor.com Publishing is proud to announce that we will be publishing Stone Mad, a new novella by Elizabeth Bear in the steampunk world of Karen Memory. When last we saw Karen Memery (“like memory only spelt with an e”) she was managing a high quality bordello in steampunk Seattle and hunting down the threat behind a curious device that could take over anyone’s mind.

Author Elizabeth Bear explains what Karen will get up to next:

It’s so great to be working with Tor.com and channeling Karen again. This story has been bugging me since the end of 2015, and it was one of the ones where I had to keep coming back to it from different angles to get it to come out right. I was trying to write a caper, actually, but the characters were too smart for the plot so it went in a direction that really surprised me! I’m thrilled to show a little more of Karen’s world, and watch her get into ever more trouble.

[Read more]

Series: Editorially Speaking

In the Time of Antoine Volodine: Unlikely Fables, Literary Dystopias, and Strange Futures

The writer who primarily uses the pseudonym Antoine Volodine for his writing falls neatly into the tradition of writers using multiple pen names. (Think Alice B. Sheldon; think Fernando Pessoa, who coined the concept of the literary heteronym.) The result is a hypnotic array of fictional worlds, many of them fantastic or speculative in nature, that link together as part of an even larger fictional universe. It’s a bold project, and one that balances surreal world-building alongside the creation of new and experimental literary traditions that may only exist in the pages of other novels.

Volodine’s 1998 novel Post-Exoticism in 10 Lessons, Lesson 11, translated from French into English by J. T. Mahany, is set in a near future in which an oppressive government has taken over and suppressed various cultural activities. The novel chronicles the members, movements, and works of the literati of this society. One of the writers alluded to here is named Manuela Draeger, one of Volodine’s other heteronyms, and in the years after its publication, a number of stories by Draeger have been published. An omnibus edition containing three of them—In the Time of the Blue Ball, North of the Wolverines, and Our Baby Pelicans—was published in an English translation by Brian Evenson by Dorothy, a Publishing Project in 2011. A note from the publisher provides some context: in the world of Volodine’s stories, Draeger is “a librarian in a post-apocalyptic prison camp who invents stories to tell to the children in the camp.” The stories in this volume make no allusion to that aspect of their creation; instead, they stand on their own, parts of a larger literary project that can also be enjoyed as standalone works.

[Read more]

“Nobody ever gives up magic because everything’s peachy.” The Magicians, “Cheat Day”

The farther we get into season two of The Magicians, the more season one feels like the prologue. Finding out magic is real, that magical worlds are real, and that not everything magical is nice and wonderful—that’s the introductory text. The real meat of this story is what happens next: How do you rule the magical kingdom? What do you do when magic fails you and you want it back? And how do you deal with trauma that, while magical in origin, is trauma all the same?

In Quentin’s case, the answer is, essentially, “poorly.” But “Cheat Day” gives us someone who’s even worse at processing grief than Quentin is:

Emily Greenstreet.

[Read more]

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Love in the Time of Robots (Full Spoilers!)

If you were waiting for an episode full of rip-snorting adventure on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., this was your night. Last week’s episode ended with the reveal that four more key members of the team had been replaced by Life Model Decoy (LMD) robots: Director Mace, Coulson, Mack, and Daisy. Their bodies are strapped to tables in the evil Superior’s submarine alongside Agent May, with electrode caps on their heads that keep their minds occupied in the Framework, an alternate reality almost indistinguishable from reality. Fitz and Simmons, who’ve just detected the LMDs, don’t know what to do next. Between robot duplicates and alternate worlds, nothing is as it seems. Anything can happen.

Strap in, Agents, because pretty much everything DOES happen in this episode!

[Only Agents who are cleared to observe SPOILERS should proceed beyond this point!]

A Closed and Common Orbit

Lovelace was once merely a ship’s artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in a new body, following a total system shut-down and reboot, she has no memory of what came before. As Lovelace learns to negotiate the universe and discover who she is, she makes friends with Pepper, an excitable engineer, who’s determined to help her learn and grow.

Together, Pepper and Lovey will discover that no matter how vast space is, two people can fill it together.

Becky Chambers’ The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet introduced readers to the incredible world of Rosemary Harper, a young woman with a restless soul and secrets to keep. When she joined the crew of the Wayfarer, an intergalactic ship, she got more than she bargained for—and learned to live with, and love, her rag-tag collection of crewmates. A Closed and Common Orbit is the stand-alone sequel to Angry Planet—available in the US from Harper Voyager on March 14th!

[Read more]

Insects and Corporate Infighting: A Bug’s Life

In its initial release, A Bug’s Life had the dubious fortune of getting released in a year with not one, but two computer animated films about bugs, a deliberately created rivalry that did neither film any favors. Since then, A Bug’s Life has had the dubious honor of being perhaps the least remembered of the Pixar films, and perhaps the least regarded—depending upon how you feel about the various Cars films and, more recently, The Good Dinosaur—rarely if ever listed among the Pixar “greats.” At the time, however, it was proof that just maybe Pixar could be more than a one film wonder.

[Read more]

Starz Reveals American Gods Poster and Premiere Date

We finally have a premiere date for Starz’s American Gods, the television adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel from showrunner Bryan Fuller! Entertainment Weekly announced today that American Gods will premiere on Sunday, April 30. Starz also released a cool new poster for us to feast our eyes on, featuring Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane), and a very significant buffalo.

[Read more]

Announcing the 2016 Bram Stoker Awards Nominees

The Horror Writers Association are pleased to announce the 2016 Bram Stoker Awards Final Ballot. The presentation of the Bram Stoker Awards will take place during the second annual StokerCon, aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California on the evening of April 29, 2017. Tickets to the banquet and the convention can be purchased here, and there will also be a live-stream of the event.

The nominees are as follows:

[Read more]