Imagination and Refinement: Creating Replica Movie Props

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!

When I’m not trying to put good words to the page, I channel my creativity into a peculiar hobby.

Most people will take in repeated viewings of their favorite movie to recapture specific emotions from a favored scene. For some of us, the screen experience isn’t enough. We seek a more tactile connection to the stories that have touched us in some way. From our ranks come the memorabilia aficionados, the figure collectors, and the cosplayers. Tangentially connected to these fan bases are movie prop collectors.

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The Firemen Start the Fires in the First Look at HBO’s Fahrenheit 451

HBO Films has shared the first official photo from Fahrenheit 451, its forthcoming adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s classic dystopian novel set in a future where reading is outlawed and books are burned. It’s, appropriately, an action shot of firefighter Guy Montag (Michael B. Jordan) letting the flames fly on some contraband reading, while his superior Beatty (Michael Shannon) looks on approvingly.

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Two Visions of Transformation: Riquet with the Tuft

For the most part, the French salon fairy tale writers all knew each other, at least casually, and all worked from more or less the same sources: oral tales heard in childhood, classical mythology, and collections of Italian fairy tales, in particular Giambattista Basile’s Il Pentameron and Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron. So it is not surprising that many of their tales end up sharing some, shall we say, strong similarities, and in some cases nearly identical plots—or even, as with Beauty and the Beast, abridgements of another author’s original tale. What can be surprising is how and why these tales differ—as a look at two French versions of “Riquet with the Tuft” show.

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A Song for Quiet

Deacon James is a rambling bluesman straight from Georgia, a black man with troubles that he can’t escape, and music that won’t let him go. On a train to Arkham, he meets trouble—visions of nightmares, gaping mouths and grasping tendrils, and a madman who calls himself John Persons. According to the stranger, Deacon is carrying a seed in his head, a thing that will destroy the world if he lets it hatch.

The mad ravings chase Deacon to his next gig. His saxophone doesn’t call up his audience from their seats, it calls up monstrosities from across dimensions. As Deacon flees, chased by horrors and cultists, he stumbles upon a runaway girl, who is trying to escape the destiny awaiting her. Like Deacon, she carries something deep inside her, something twisted and dangerous. Together, they seek to leave Arkham, only to find the Thousand Young lurking in the woods.

The song in Deacon’s head is growing stronger, and soon he won’t be able to ignore it any more.

Cassandra Khaw returns with A Song for Quiet, a new standalone Persons Non Grata novella from the world of Hammers on Bone—available August 29th from Tor.com Publishing.

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Warbreaker Reread: Chapters 52 and 53

Welcome back to the Warbreaker reread! Last week, Siri was taken captive, Lightsong withheld his vote on the war proposal, and Vasher was captured when he went to rescue Siri. This week, Vasher is tortured physically, and Lightsong psychologically. The Avalanche is at full steam now.

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!

[Funny. That was not at all how I imagined this going.]

How to Actually Make a Sword “Forged From the Blood of Your Enemies”

Tumblr did the math. And then it got weird.

Whenever big tough fantasy types want you to know how big and tough they are, you may come across the phrase “forged from the blood of mine enemies” where weaponry is concerned. But is that really a practical exercise for sword-making? Inquiring minds want to know.

Turns out, you can math that.

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The Strange Bird

The Strange Bird is a new kind of creature, built in a laboratory—she is part bird, part human, part many other things. But now the lab in which she was created is under siege and the scientists have turned on their animal creations. Flying through tunnels, dodging bullets, and changing her colors and patterning to avoid capture, the Strange Bird manages to escape.

But she cannot just soar in peace above the earth. The sky itself is full of wildlife that rejects her as one of their own, and also full of technology—satellites and drones and other detritus of the human civilization below that has all but destroyed itself. And the farther she flies, the deeper she finds herself in the orbit of the Company, a collapsed biotech firm that has populated the world with experiments both failed and successful that have outlived the corporation itself: a pack of networked foxes, a giant predatory bear. But of the many creatures she encounters with whom she bears some kind of kinship, it is the humans—all of them now simply scrambling to survive—who are the most insidious, who still see her as simply something to possess, to capture, to trade, to exploit. Never to understand, never to welcome home.

With The Strange Bird, Jeff VanderMeer has done more than add another layer, a new chapter, to his celebrated novel Borne. He has created a whole new perspective on the world inhabited by Rachel and Wick, the Magician, Mord, and Borne—a view from above, of course, but also a view from deep inside the mind of a new kind of creature who will fight and suffer and live for the tenuous future of this world. Available in digital format only August 1st from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

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Happy Moon Landing Day!

Today marks the 48th anniversary of humankind landing on the moon… and Tor.com’s 9th birthday!

To celebrate, we’re looking back at our Moon Landing Day series—we invited authors, artists, critics, and fans in the science fiction community to share with us what they were doing on July 20, 1969, and how it informed their relationship with science fiction. Check out personal remembrances from C.J. Cherryh, Larry Niven, Frederik Pohl, Jo Walton, and more!

The Laundry Files Pits Computational Demonologists Against Nihilism

In a previous post on Charles Stross’s Laundry Files series, I noted that one of the strengths of the books is that they are “aggressively contemporary treatises that stand against nihilism and in support of communal resistance, support, and human will.” By this I mean that the series is grounded in our political and cultural moment—for example, smartphones and CCTV and the rise of right-wing extremism across the globe—but also ups the ante exponentially in its addition of cosmic, incomprehensible threats that cross dimensions and realities to devour us all.

In the face of this scale of destruction, with an unwitting populace on one hand and a gridlocked government on the other, the protagonists must reject defeatist beliefs and band together to steal their victories, Pyrrhic though they might sometimes be. Because, in truth, nihilism is the creeping force that underlies the horror of the stars coming aligned in the Laundry Files universe. While the various color-coded case plans for different potential apocalypses are monstrous enough on their lonesome, the rejection of principle and ethics on the basis that it’s all meaningless anyway is the true danger.

[Onward.]

Five SFF Books Written Collaboratively

There’s something about science fiction and fantasy that encourages collaboration. Whether it grew from the years when genre writing was relegated to the literary shadows, and authors came together to support each other, or it’s simply a tradition that found fertile ground here, collaboratively written novels abound in the genre.

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Series: Five Books About…