The Skill of Our Hands

The Incrementalists are a secret society of two hundred people—an unbroken lineage reaching back forty thousand years. They cheat death, share lives and memories, and communicate with one another across nations and time. They have an epic history, an almost magical memory, and a very modest mission: to make the world better, a little bit at a time.

Now Phil, the Incrementalist whose personality has stayed stable through more incarnations than anyone else’s, has been shot dead. They’ll bring him back—but first they need to know what happened. Their investigation will lead down unexpected paths in Arizona, and bring them up against corruption, racism, and brutality in high and low places alike.

But the key may lay in one of Phil’s previous lives, in “Bleeding Kansas” in the late 1850s—and the fate of the passionate abolitionist we remember as John Brown.

Steven Brust and Skyler White’s The Skill of Our Hands, the thrilling and thought-provoking follow-up to their critically acclaimed The Incrementalists, is available January 24th from Tor Books.

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Challenging Gender Norms: The Brothers Grimm and The Twelve Huntsmen

Some English translations of Household Tales, aka The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, place “The Twelve Huntsmen” in the front. Some hide the tale in the center, and others omit the story altogether. Rather befitting a story that, although definitely collected by the Grimms, in many ways seems to be the complete antithesis of what they originally hoped to do with their fairy tale collection—both in the original edition, most definitely not edited or published with children in mind, and the later editions, which were.

[A story of cross-dressing and magical lions]

We Are All Eleanor: Affirming Life After Death in The Good Place

Everyone in the Good Place has lived an exceptional life — everyone, that is, except Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), who arrives there seemingly by mistake after dying in a freak shopping-cart accident. She is, as she charitably describes herself, “a medium person,” but once she’s in the Good Place she wants to stay, so she enlists her soulmate Chidi to teach her how to be good and hopefully earn her place there. What makes The Good Place (just picking up from its mid-season break on NBC) so brilliant is the ways it explores the moral ramifications of this dilemma without passing judgment on anyone, even Eleanor. She’s arguably the villain of the story, yet we sympathize with her because she represents all of us “medium” people.

In the pilot, Michael (Ted Danson), one of the “architects” of the Good Place, explains that each person’s destination after death is determined by the sum total goodness or badness of every action of their entire life. Most of us can get on board with this concept, which makes no mention of belief in or allegiance to a deity. Eleanor herself listens to this explanation with equanimity, even as Michael goes on to explain that only the very best humans who have ever lived make it into the Good Place—not even Florence Nightingale qualified.

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Amberlough Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a galley copy of Lara Elena Donnelly’s Amberlough, available February 7th from Tor Books! Read the first two chapters here.

Trust no one with anything—especially in Amberlough City.

Covert agent Cyril DePaul thinks he’s good at keeping secrets, especially from Aristide Makricosta. They suit each other: Aristide turns a blind eye to Cyril’s clandestine affairs, and Cyril keeps his lover’s moonlighting job as a smuggler under wraps.

Cyril participates on a mission that leads to disastrous results, leaving smoke from various political fires smoldering throughout the city. Shielding Aristide from the expected fallout isn’t easy, though, for he refuses to let anything—not the crooked city police or the mounting rage from radical conservatives—dictate his life.

Enter streetwise Cordelia Lehane, a top dancer at the Bumble Bee Cabaret and Aristide’s runner, who could be the key to Cyril’s plans—if she can be trusted. As the twinkling lights of nightclub marquees yield to the rising flames of a fascist revolution, these three will struggle to survive using whatever means—and people—necessary. Including each other.

Combining the espionage thrills of le Carré with the allure of an alternate vintage era, Amberlough will thoroughly seduce and enthrall you.

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 1:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on January 19th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on January 23rd. 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.

Adored with Cheerful Unreason: D.A.R.Y.L.

Happy 2017, Tor.com! And in case, like me, you ain’t finding it all that happy thus far (one word: norovirus), here’s a brand new shiny Movie Rewatch of Great Nostalgia to distract yourself with!

Today’s entry is 1985’s D.A.R.Y.L., a choice which had me and my sisters literally jumping up and down with glee. Because we are giant dorks. (But that’s why you love us!)

Previous entries can be found here. Please note that as with all films covered on the Nostalgia Rewatch, this post will be rife with spoilers for the film.

And now, the post!

[Somewhere I belong / Somewhere I can call my home]

Series: Movie Rewatch of Great Nostalgia

Warbreaker Reread: Chapter 14

Welcome back to the Warbreaker reread! Last week, Vivenna tried to figure out what to do with her newly-acquired Breath and herself in T’Telir, while Siri prepared for her Court presentation. This week, most of our main characters converge on the arena for the Assembly.

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!

[I am absolutely terrible with subtext. It gives me a headache.]

Series: Warbreaker Reread

Heartstone

They say a Rider in possession of a good blade must be in want of a monster to slay—and Merybourne Manor has plenty of monsters.

Passionate, headstrong Aliza Bentaine knows this all too well; she’s already lost one sister to the invading gryphons. So when Lord Merybourne hires a band of Riders to hunt down the horde, Aliza is relieved her home will soon be safe again.

Her relief is short-lived. With the arrival of the haughty and handsome dragonrider, Alastair Daired, Aliza expects a battle; what she doesn’t expect is a romantic clash of wills, pitting words and wit against the pride of an ancient house. Nor does she anticipate the mystery that follows them from Merybourne Manor, its roots running deep as the foundations of the kingdom itself, where something old and dreadful slumbers… something far more sinister than gryphons.

It’s a war Aliza is ill-prepared to wage, on a battlefield she’s never known before: one spanning kingdoms, class lines, and the curious nature of her own heart.

Elle Katharine White’s debut historical fantasy Heartstone recasts Jane Austen’s beloved Pride & Prejudice in an imaginative world of wyverns, dragons, and the warriors who fight alongside them against the monsters that threaten the kingdom. Available now from Harper Voyager!

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See Bryan Cranston as Zordon in the New Power Rangers Trailer

In probably the most bonkers casting choice (yes, more than Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa), Bryan Cranston goes from being the one who knocks to the one who recruits teenagers with attitude in the upcoming Power Rangers reboot. We’ve already met the misfits who will gain super-strength and morphing powers; now, the latest trailer reveals Rita and Zordon himself.

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How to Run a (Successful) Reading Series

So you want to run a reading series, do you? That’s fantastic news! The more places authors have to showcase their work, the better. But while running a reading series may seem like a cakewalk to the casual outside observer, there are many things you must consider to make sure your series is successful.

I’ve been co-hosting the Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series in Manhattan alongside Ellen Datlow for over eight years (the series itself has been running since the late 90s), and in that time I’ve learned many things about how to run a successful reading series, some of which I’ll share with you here.

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Watch the Very Poignant and Very Meta Final Logan Trailer

Logan is the best fumbling dad slash reluctant comic book hero in the latest trailer for Logan, his standalone Wolverine-and-Professor-X-road-trip movie that looks kinda great. The two, who seem to be the last of their kind, are trying to make a run for it and hide from the cyborg baddies, when they pick up another passenger: young mutant Laura Kinney (Dafne Keen), a.k.a. X-23—a fact that the trailer fully embraces, showing her in action.

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5 Space Stations at the Edge of Space and Time

So many stories of leaving Earth to establish new homes on distant planets don’t consider what happens when we reach the fringes of our new territory—when distant space stations, and little else, mark the edges of human expansion. Some of these stations are established in neutral zones for negotiating with alien races; others are outposts to watch for old enemies’ returns; still others are cut off from the center of civilization, failed colonies or secret hiding places.

Space is limitless, human civilization less so. Hop aboard and set a course to explore the edges of space (and, in some cases, time) with these five stations.

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The Morning in Publishing: January 19, 2017

These corgi YA book covers are fruits of a fun little competition that Eric Smith created as a result of social media silliness around his adorable pup. The whole story is quite lovely, in fact, and you should read all about it over on his blog.

Today we are having some ’90s nostalgia thoughts, looking at readers from all over the world, and talking about stage adaptations!

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Graphic Geometry: The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter

The chances of anything coming from Mars were a million to one, but still, in The War of the Worlds, they came: they came, in aluminium cylinders the size of ships; they conquered, with their towering tripods and hellish heat rays; and then, believe it or not, they were beaten—by bacteria!

So the story goes. But the story’s not over—not now that the estate of H. G. Wells has authorised a superb sequel by science fiction stalwart Stephen Baxter which, while overlong, turns the terrific tale Wells told in his time into the foundation of something greater.

The Massacre of Mankind takes place a decade and change since the aliens’ initial invasion, and though the Martians may have been beaten, it would be foolishness in the first to conclude that they’re completely defeated. As Baxter has it, all we did was knock out the scouts. And it seems that those scouts served their purpose perfectly, because when the bad guys come back, they come back bigger, and better. Add to that the fact that they’ve adapted; I dare say no mere microbe is going to be their undoing on this day.

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Stranger Things Season 2 Cast Photo Reveals That Steve’s Hair is Still Magnificent

Here’s the cast of Stranger Things at their first table read! Plus, note new cast members Sadie Sink and Dacre Montgomery acting as bookends to the Season One cast. Collider shared the image along with the highlights of an interview in which the Duffer Brothers promise a bigger, “darker” season, and Noah Schnapp, who plays Will Byers, promises that he’ll have a lot more to do going forward.

Are you excited? Cause we’re excited.

[via Collider!]