Patrick Rothfuss and Cards Against Humanity Release Special Sci-Fi Pack

Last year, Cards Against Humanity expanded its subject matter by releasing its first-ever Fantasy Pack: A dozen fantasy authors including Patrick Rothfuss, Neil Gaiman, and Jacqueline Carey brainstormed fantasy-themed cards filled with playful questions and hilariously grotesque answers. But you know what goes great with Fantasy? Science Fiction! This week, Rothfuss announced that CAH was launching the Sci-Fi Pack, another collaboration between the company and authors like Elizabeth Bear and Jim C. Hines.

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season Four Midseason Finale: Ghost Skulls Roasting on an Open Fire!

The holiday season approaches, and while folks pull decorations out of the back of the closet, search for the perfect gift, and put party dates on their calendars, the television networks try to hold onto our attention for a day or two more by bringing their fall story arcs to a close—usually with some big dramatic moment, or in the case of superhero and SF shows, some sort of shooting, explosions, flames, or earth-shattering kaboom. And Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is no different. Especially when it comes to this Winter Finale, at least in the flame department. Tonight’s episode is called “The Laws of Inferno Dynamics” and the synopsis from ABC promised we would see “S.H.I.E.L.D. and Ghost Rider find[ing] themselves unlikely allies when the lives of all of Los Angeles hang in the balance.”

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First Second 10th Anniversary Prize Pack Sweepstakes!

This year, First Second Books celebrated its 10th anniversary—and to wind things up, we want to send one lucky winner a prize pack containing one graphic novel from each year they’ve been publishing!

From 2006: American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
From 2007: Robot Dreams by Sara Varon
From 2008: Kaput & Zosky by Lewis Trondheim with Eric Cartier
From 2009: The Color of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa
From 2010: The Unsinkable Walker Bean by Aaron Renier
From 2011: Level Up by Gene Luen Yang & Thien Pham
From 2012: Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel
From 2013: Templar by Jordan Mechner, LeUyen Pham, and Alex Puvilland
From 2014: The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff
From 2015: The Sculptor by Scott McCloud
From 2016: Something New by Lucy Knisley

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 December 7th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on December 11th. 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.

Is A Real Utopia Possible? In Conversation with Malka Older, Ada Palmer, and Robert Charles Wilson

Is a real utopia possible and do we want to achieve one?

Earlier this month, the Tor/Forge blog interviewed three political science fiction authors—Malka Older, Ada Palmer, and Robert Charles Wilson—about the future societies they create in their novels. Read their conversation below, touching on topics of political worldbuilding, narrative voice, and the nuances in defining a “utopia.”

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Comes in Twelves: Christmas Days by Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette Winterson—best known for her award winning queer books including Written on the Body and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit—has collected a set of twelve stories, paired with twelve anecdotes and recipes, inspired by the Christmas season. Christmas Days is attractive and color-printed, a blue and silver treat, and reflects the holiday spirit quite admirably.

It isn’t often one sees a Christmas book of this sort from someone other than, for example, a cooking television celebrity. It’s somehow immensely weird and pleasant to pick up one that is about queer families, aging, and making home from the exact same sort of genre but obviously quite different—given our narrator.

[A review.]

Flipper & Cthulhu, Sitting in a Tree: James Wade’s “The Deep Ones”

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 James Wade’s “The Deep Ones,” first published in August Derleth’s 1969 anthology, Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, Volume 2. Spoilers ahead.

[“The drug underground at Miskatonic University was a little special.”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

Five Books Featuring Improbable Twists on History and Myth

I tend to have a weakness for fantasy and science fiction books that take events in myth or history and spin them out oh-so-logically, not as overtly fantastic, but with seeming acceptance of their absolute reality. This probably isn’t surprising since I’ve re-written Loki as a timegod who’s certainly not evil, if still a thief of a very different kind, and also done a logical alternative history series, based on ghosts as real physical phenomena measurable by physics and other purely scientific means… among other things.

So here are five books I didn’t write which provide the same sort of exploration and extrapolation from myth and history, albeit in five very different ways.

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Series: Five Books About…

How Supergirl’s Alex Danvers Made a Queer Teen Realize She’s Not Alone

Since Supergirl premiered last year, the character of Alex Danvers has been a role model for young women: badass spy and scientist, loving and supportive sister to Supergirl/Kara Danvers, an integral part of the show’s emotional core. This season, when Alex realized that she was queer and came out to her family, the character has become even more layered, showing even more viewers that they are represented in media.

More than that, Supergirl‘s thoughtful and sensitive arc about Alex coming to terms with her identity helped save a queer teen’s life. Mary Swangin, an employee at an Indiana comic book store, recently shared a touching story about a teenager who came to the store to find more comics with LGBTQ characters–a young woman who had tried to take her own life but who “didn’t want to die anymore” after seeing Alex “be amazing and be queer.”

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Malazan Reread of the Fallen: Assail, Chapter Ten (Part Two)

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 continuing Ian Cameron Esslemont’s Assail, covering chapter ten, part two.

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.

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Series: Malazan Reread of the Fallen

Speculative Fiction in Translation: 9 Works to Watch Out for in 2017

While 2016 might have been a terrible year in many ways, it was a great year for speculative fiction in translation, and 2017 is on track to be even better! With books (so far) from Italy, France, China, Poland, Japan, Mexico, and Haiti, we’re in for a wonderfully diverse ride, filled with zombies and ball-lightning, elves and post-nuclear communes, and much more. And did I mention that we get a new novel by Cixin Liu ?!?!?!

Here are the 9 works of SF in translation that I know about at the moment, but I’ll continue to update the list on sfintranslation.com. Let us know if you have anything to add to the list!

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Peter Parker Gets an Upgrade in the First Spider-Man: Homecoming Teaser

Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures have released a 17-second teaser to tide you over until the full Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer debuts tomorrow, December 8. We don’t know much yet, but we do know that Peter Parker (Tom Holland) gets a new suit courtesy of Tony Stark. Plus, there’s another brief cameo that will make you very Happy.

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Casting Patrick Rothfuss’ The Kingkiller Chronicle

I couldn’t be more delighted with last week’s news that Lin-Manuel Miranda will be producing film and TV adaptations based on Pat Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy. It’s no secret that there’s a massive amount of crossover between SFF fandom and people with an abiding love of theater and Broadway musicals, and Hamilton in particular, so for many people this announcement represents an opportunity to cross our favorite streams in the best possible way: JRR Tolkien meets jazz hands; Stephen Sondheim’s blind date with Severus Snape; Sally Bowles live at the Mos Eisley cantina.

It’s also a chance to play the dream-casting game again—I’ve done this once before but I’ve never been fully satisfied with the way it turned out; LMM’s involvement presents the perfect opportunity to cast a wider net and explore the myriad, diverse possibilities offered by the amazing cast of characters Rothfuss has created.

[Wait for it…]

This Morning in Publishing: December 7, 2016

This is a picture of a traffic robot in Kinshasa, Congo! Nnedi Okorafor was talking about them over on a New York Times debate about whether or not AI is taking over our lives. Of course, if the robot overlord reckoning involves awesome traffic cops, you can sign us right up. We are all about that.

This morning we’re also a bit preoccupied with cool new ways of getting book recommendations, and questions about streamlining Star Wars canon in print….

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The Story of Kao Yu

“The Story of Kao Yu” is a new fantasy short story by the legendary Peter S. Beagle which tells of an aging judge traveling through rural China and of a criminal he encounters. Of the story, Beagle says it “comes out of a lifelong fascination with Asian legendry — Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Indonesian — all drawn from cultures where storytelling, in one form of another, remains a living art. As a young writer I loved everything from Robert van Gulik’s Judge Dee mysteries to Lafcadio Hearn’s translations of Japanese fairytales and many lesser-known fantasies. Like my story ‘The Tale of Junko and Sayuri,’ ‘The Story of Kao Yu’ is a respectful imitation of an ancient style, and never pretends to be anything else. But I wrote it with great care and love, and I’m still proud of it.“

[Read “The Story of Kao Yu” by Peter S. Beagle]