Do You Hear the Magicians Sing? “Lesser Evils”

Previously on The Magicians: Everything is terrible. Currently on The Magicians: Everything is still—or possibly more—terrible, but at least we can burst into song!

“Lesser Evils” is an hour of heavy choices. What will you give up to save the world? To save a friend? To get revenge? What will you sing to fortify yourself before you go into battle?

Don’t we all consider that last question from time to time?

[Read more]

Skullsworn: Prologue

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. If you’re new to the series (or just want to read them again) you can get the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne ebook edition—collecting The Emperor’s Blades, The Providence of Fire, and The Last Mortal Bond!

[Read more]

Heroic Choices are Never Easy. The Expanse: “The Weeping Somnambulist”

This week’s episode of The Expanse, “The Weeping Somnambulist” continued with the crazy switchback emotional reversals. After packing a rollercoaster of trauma into Meng’s storyline last week: becoming a refugee, losing his daughter, deepening a friendship, watching that friend die, and, finally, discovering that his daughter might still be alive, we now get another tiny micro-tragedy, and the terrible choices that have to be made by Bobbie Draper.

[Read more]

Questioning History Through Fairy Tale: Anatole France’s The Seven Wives of Bluebeard

It might seem just a touch difficult to defend Bluebeard. After all, if Charles Perrault is to be trusted—and we do trust him completely on the subject of talking cats—Bluebeard not only murdered several previous wives, but stored their corpses in a most unsanitary fashion.

And yet, some have noticed, shall we say, a touch of inconsistency in Perrault’s record, a few discrepancies that cannot be explained. Others, apparently, love the idea of a guy who is unafraid to have some bold color on his face. And so, Bluebeard has gained his defenders over the years—including one winner of the Noble Prize for Literature, Anatole France.

[Read more]

Working Dogs: Revealing the Cover for An Oath of Dogs

Let’s just get this out on the table: I am not a dog person.

Oh, I really like dogs, and I think dogs like me. But I didn’t grow up keeping dogs as pets, despite the fact that at age four I was putting out dog chow for five of them. We lived on a ranch, and they were working dogs. I loved their warm brown eyes and their soft coats, but I never got to play with them, and they never came inside.

In An Oath of Dogs, there’s a dog on almost every page. Her name is Hattie, and she’s a mental health companion dog, a little bit like Gary, the French bulldog who famously helped Carrie Fisher. (Although I must point out that Hattie is a seventy-pound Swiss Shepherd who might not appreciate the comparison to a dog smaller than my cat.) Her human companion loves her and plays with her, walks her, feeds her—all the things you do with your pet dog, but with one difference: Hattie is always working.

[Read more]

Eternamente: Luna: Wolf Moon by Ian McDonald

It says a lot that I look back on Luna: New Moon almost lovingly rather than remembering how maddening and demanding a novel it was. Outside of his exemplary young adult efforts, Ian McDonald has rarely been easy to read, but I found the first stretch of said text tremendously testing. Yet for every ounce of effort I expended, Luna: New Moon repaid in spades, much as the Mackenzies do with their debts.

The Mackenzies are but one of the five faithless families at the heart of Luna: Wolf Moon, the second part of McDonald’s narrative: a surprisingly accessible successor assuming you’ve finished the book it builds on. And build it does, on much of the hard work of the first: on the harsh mistress of the moon that is its desperate setting, and on the very much in motion story, which focuses on the clashing clans whose mandate is to somehow succeed on that satellite.

[Read more]

“Now I’m Awake”: Watch the Full-Length Trailer for The Handmaid’s Tale

“I was asleep before. That’s how we let it happen. When they slaughtered Congress, we didn’t wake up. When they blamed terrorists and suspended the Constitution, we didn’t wake up then, either. Now I’m awake.” If the first few teasers for Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale chilled you for the vaguely ominous images from Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, then the first full-length trailer, which tracks the events that led to the Republic of Gilead and the lives of the Handmaids, will grip you the way the Handmaids clasp one another in preparation for their duties to the Commanders and Wives of Gilead.

[Read more]

Warbreaker Reread: Chapter 23

Welcome back to the Warbreaker reread! Last week, Lightsong and Vivenna played games within games. This week, Lightsong is inadvertently drawn to investigate a certain … squirrel!

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.

[“Because I intend to see that you don’t crush her. Or the rest of us.”]

Series: Warbreaker Reread

Rereading The Handmaid’s Tale: Parts XIII-XIV

For all that we have lived the Handmaids’ bizarre, horrifying existence for the past three-quarters of this novel, now we come to “these red events, like explosions, on streets otherwise decorous and matronly and somnambulent”—the true demonstrations of Gilead’s power over its people. This week, Offred is tempted away from Ofglen’s rebellion and toward the life she’s begun to make for herself… until she attends a Salvaging and a Particicution.

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.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading The Handmaid’s Tale

Shades of London: Why You Should Be Reading V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic

With the recent announcement that Sony won a bidding war over movie rights to A Darker Shade of Magic, V.E. Schwab is a name we’re going to hear a lot of in the near future. You may remember her name from back in 2013, when Ridley Scott’s production company acquired the rights to her YA novel, Vicious, or maybe you heard about her in July of 2016, when the film rights to This Savage Song were also acquired by Sony.

But I’m here to tell you that this is NOT the reason why you should be reading her Shades of Magic series. She’s more than just beautiful book covers and flashy movie deals. She’s a writer of real substance—one who is changing the game when it comes to fantasy with her unique take on magic systems, worldbuilding, and most importantly, with her ability to create three dimensional characters we really care about. You should be reading Victoria Schwab RIGHT NOW because she challenges us to examine the grey spaces that exist between traditional definitions of good and evil.

[Read more]

Download The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson for Free: March 23rd & 24th Only

Renowned fantasy author Brandon Sanderson returns in November 2017 with Oathbringer, the third volume in his Stormlight Archive series, the seminal work in his multi-faceted and ambitious Cosmere series of magical worlds.

Now is the perfect time to begin your journey through that universe.

Tor.com is offering a free download of the ebook edition of The Way of Kings, the first volume of Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive, on March 23rd and 24th, 2017!

[Read more]

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.

[Read more]

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