The Black Guard Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a copy of A.J. Smith’s The Black Guard, available now from Head of Zeus!

The city of Ro Canarn burns. With their father’s blood fresh upon the headsman’s sword, Lord Bromvy and Lady Bronwyn, the last scions of the house of Canarn, face fugitive exile or death. In the court of Ro Tiris, men fear to speak their minds. The Army of the Red marches upon the North. Strange accidents befall those who dare question the King’s new advisors. Those foolish enough to speak their names call them the Seven Sisters: witches of the fire god; each as beautiful and as dangerous as a flame. And, called from the long ages of deep time by war and sacrifice, the children of a dead god are waking with a pitiless cry. All that was dead will rise. All that now lives will fall.

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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 September 29th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on October 3rd. 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.

Tetris: The Games People Play

It is, perhaps, the perfect video game. Simple yet addictive, Tetris delivers an irresistible, unending puzzle that has players hooked. Play it long enough and you’ll see those brightly colored geometric shapes everywhere. You’ll see them in your dreams.

Alexey Pajitnov had big ideas about games. In 1984, he created Tetris in his spare time while developing software for the Soviet government. Once Tetris emerged from behind the Iron Curtain, it was an instant hit. Nintendo, Atari, Sega—game developers big and small all wanted Tetris. A bidding war was sparked, followed by clandestine trips to Moscow, backroom deals, innumerable miscommunications, and outright theft.

Author and cartoonist Box Brown untangles this complex history and delves deep into the role games play in art, culture, and commerce. For the first time and in unparalleled detail, Tetris: The Games People Play tells the true story of the world’s most popular video game in the form of a graphic novel—available October 11th from First Second!

[Read more]

Experiments in Animation: Disney’s Fantasia 2000

World War II and subsequent budget cuts brought Walt Disney’s original plans to release the 1940 Fantasia every year as an evolving project to an abrupt end. Even after Cinderella brought the studio back to profitability, Disney still did not have money—and theatres did not have the sound equipment—to plunge back into Fantasia again, partly because those profits were instead invested in the Disneyland theme park and partly because the studio had shifted to a simpler, cheaper animation style. Only one more film in the Walt Disney years—Sleeping Beauty—came anywhere near to Fantasia’s detailed, lavish animation style, and when it flopped at the box office, Walt Disney gave up all hopes of continuing Fantasia.

But as Disney animation joyfully returned to quality and—above all—profitability in the early years of the Disney Renaissance of the 1990s, Roy Disney, nephew of Walt Disney, and arguably the single person at Disney most interested in preserving his uncle’s legacy, had an idea: why not finally fulfill Walt Disney’s vision and create new segments for Fantasia? Perhaps even an entirely new Fantasia?

[A work of art that also helped create new computer animation processes]

Just Your Average Disney Gothic YA Alien Ghost Mystery Thriller Thing: The Watcher in the Woods

Hello, Tor.com! Welcome back to the Movie Rewatch of Great Nostalgia!

Today’s entry in the MRGN is 1980’s The Watcher in the Woods, one of my and my sisters’ biggest favorites of all the movies we’ve covered so far. So excited!

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!

[Hardly ever happens]

Series: Movie Rewatch of Great Nostalgia

Midnight in Karachi Episode 65: Marie Brennan

Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad.

Author Marie Brennan is on the podcast this week, talking about dragons, amnesiacs and her new epic fantasy novella, Cold-Forged Flame. Available now from Tor.com Publishing, you can read an excerpt here.

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Series: Midnight in Karachi Podcast

George R.R. Martin and Apple Release Interactive Edition of A Game of Thrones

The Guardian is reporting that George R.R. Martin is taking a new step in expanding the world of the Seven Kingdoms, partnering with Apple to release an enhanced digital edition of A Game of Thrones. The new edition of the book, released today, release marks the 20th anniversary of the book’s publication, and will feature plenty of extras for fans of Martin’s worldbuilding.

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A Brief History of Luke Cage in the Comics

The early 1970s was the era of Soul Train on television and the rise of the Blaxploitation movement in the movie theatre, as well as the time of Ike & Tina Turner, Billy Preston, and Diana Ross, and a ton more. Marvel Comics, having supplanted the older DC as the most popular game in comic-book town, was trying to stay on top. With the rise of Blaxploitation, they decided to capitalize by providing a superhero who was in the same mold as Shaft and Sweetback and Super Fly and Cleopatra Jones.

And so Luke Cage, Hero for Hire debuted, the first ever comic book series to solely star a black character. Written by Archie Goodwin and drawn by George Tuska (both white guys), it showed a side of New York rarely seen in the grand battles of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, or even the street-level adventures of Spider-Man and Daredevil (this was before Frank Miller took DD to darker places). Cage’s New York was the grimy streets of Times Square, before Disney got its mitts on the place—home of prostitution and drugs and thievery and gangs, the New York that suffered a major fiscal crisis and high crime rates, the New York that was refused federal aid by President Gerald Ford, prompting the famous headline “FORD TO NEW YORK: DROP DEAD.”

It was that New York, the New York of the 1970s, that birthed Luke Cage.

[Sweet Christmas!]

A Girl and Her Dragon

Artist Leesha Hannigan often delves into fantasy realms in her work, but we especially love this touching image of a girl holding her dragon. The piece, titled “The Quiet of a Beating Heart”, calls up a lot of questions in one simple image: is the dragon hurt? Has he been in a fight? Or is he blood-spattered from feeding? What are the herbs the girl is carrying? Does this girl have the Official Tor.com Dream Job of DRAGON VETERINARIAN? And if so, does she need an apprentice?

We promise not to tickle them while they’re sleeping.

Greg Rucka Confirms Wonder Woman is Queer

Comicosity’s Matt Santori-Griffith sat down with Greg Rucka, who is currently helming Wonder Woman along with artists Nicola Scott and Liam Sharp, and asked a big, oft-ducked question: is Wonder Woman queer?

And Rucka, rather than waffling, asked for Santori-Griffith’s definition of queerness and then answered, “Yes.”

This in itself would be a pretty big moment, but then Rucka dug into the nature of Diana’s heroism, and the way he and the artists are exploring utopia, and it became clear that a lot more thought has gone into this than a simple yes-or-no response.

[Read more]

Northmen Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a copy of John Haywood’s Northmen: The Viking Saga AD 793-1241, available now from Thomas Dunne Books!

In AD 800, the Scandinavians were just barbarians in longships. Though they held sway in the north, their power meant little more than the ability to pillage and plunder, which they did to bolster their status at home. But as these Norse warriors left their strongholds to trade, raid, and settle across wide areas of Europe, Asia, and the North Atlantic, their violent and predatory culture left a unique imprint on medieval history. The twist that no one predicted, however, was a much slower, insidious takeover than any the Vikings would execute, and by a turn of the tide, they themselves became its target. For as they made their mark on Europe, Europe made its mark on them. By the year 1200, what remained of the Vikings’ pagan origins floated beneath the surface and the strong, strange territories of the north had become a part of Latin Christendom.

Northmen is there to tell the tale, to pay homage to what was lost and celebrate what was won. Focusing on key events, including the sack of Lindisfarne in 793 and the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066, medieval history expert John Haywood recounts the saga of the Viking Age, from the creation of the world through to the dwindling years of halfhearted raids and elegiac storytelling in the thirteenth century. He does so with meticulous research, engaging narrative, and sensitivity for his subject, shedding light and blood along the way.

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 September 28th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on October 2nd. 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.