The Flying Eyes: They Fly, They Drip, And They Hate America

Welcome to Freaky Fridays, that time when you can relax after a hard week of keeping America moving forward into the future, and read about killer babies, flying eyeballs, and black time travelers.

1962. America. Land of the free, home of the brave. A college football game on a crisp Autumn day in a small town in the heartland. Lincoln Hosler (“Linc” to his friends) is enjoying this wholesome display of good sportsmanship with his best pal, Wes, and the girl they both have a shine for, Kelly, when something swoops out of the sun. Is it a flock of birds? Some kind of high-tech jet plane? No, it’s…oh, god, it’s eyes. Giant, flying eyes. “The skin of the lids was a monstrous rubbery mass, the pores visible holes, and the lashhairs were as big around as matchsticks at the roots.” What sicko thinks up this kind of thing?

This book’s Norman Rockwell Americana is revealed to be but a thin crust masking an oozing core of tarry depravity, like Blue Velvet, only instead of a disembodied ear at the heart of horror it’s a disembodied eye. That flies. And talks. And batters people to death with its long, curly lashes. Did you just throw up in your mouth a little? Well, turn up the Paul Harvey, pour yourself a Budweiser, and pull up a pew. There’s more where that came from.

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Malazan Reread of the Fallen: Blood and Bone Chapter Fourteen Part One

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 (with Amanda, new to the series, going first), and finally comments from Tor.com readers. In this article, we’ll cover Chapter Fourteen (Part One) of Ian Cameron Esslemont’s Blood and Bone.

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. Note: 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

Five Addictive Books Featuring Sci-Fi Drugs

Whether it’s a pill that allows you to access the (entirely fictional and troperiffic) untapped 90% of your brain’s potential, or a soporific hallucinogen designed to maintain the blissful equilibrium of an imagined utopia, fictional drugs have long allowed sci-fi writers to tap into freaky times and far out powers while exploring themes such as the power of perception, the limits of societal control, and the cycle of addiction. The following are five such stories I’ve been both addicted to and inspired by.

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Series: Five Books About…

Alden Ehrenreich Cast as Young Smuggler-to-Be Han Solo

Haaan Solooo!! We’re pulling out our Maz Kanata voice, because there’s big news: The Star Wars Han Solo standalone film has found its scruffy-looking nerfherder in Alden Ehrenreich. You might know him from the supernatural YA romance Beautiful Creatures, or his recent critically hailed turn as a dopey cowboy in the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar! Now, he’s beat the other frontrunners (including Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, and others) to star in the upcoming Star Wars “Anthology” film.

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The Dragonlance Chronicles Reread: Dragons of Spring Dawning, Chapters 5 and 6

Welcome back to the Dragonlance Chronicles Reread!

Last time, things got dark as Raistlin gave in to the power of the dragon orb and his own selfish desires, and Tanis was carried off on a dragon by Kitiara. This week, Raistlin seeks help from a super-librarian, and Laurana gets no respect from the nobles of Palanthas.

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Series: Dragonlance Reread

Cabaret with a Touch of Fantasy: Revealing the Cover for Amberlough

We’re excited to show off Victo Ngai’s stunning cover art for Lara Elena Donnelly’s debut novel Amberlough, publishing February 2017 from Tor Books. A fantasy/espionage thriller, Amberlough has been described as Le Carré meets Cabaret as a double-agent schemes to protect his smuggler lover during the rise of a fascist government coup.

Check out the full cover and learn more about the novel below!

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Ayesha, White as Snow: H. Rider Haggard’s She and Walt Disney’s Evil Queen

There are few Disney villains more iconic than the Evil Queen from the 1937 animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She was the first, after all, and persists as a vivid and malignant presence in the studio’s pantheon to this day. Perhaps this is unsurprising when one plumbs her little-explored lineage, traceable to another of film and literature’s most enduring villainesses: Queen Ayesha of H. Rider Haggard’s 1887 novel She: A History of Adventure, a timeless, deathless being of unsurpassed beauty—the fairest in the land—who reigns cruelly over a lost African kingdom.

The indelible image of Disney’s Evil Queen adorned in her trademark crown, prominent bejeweled necklace and, most strikingly, severe black wimple is on display in countless Disney Studios spin-offs, all the way up to last year’s Disney Channel movie Descendants. It is, however, first seen in the 1935 film adaptation of She from producer Merian C. Cooper, the creative force behind King Kong (whose personal life reads like that of the Haggard hero Allan Quatermain from King Solomon’s Mines).

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The Harry Potter Reread: The Deathly Hallows, Chapters 31 and 32

The Harry Potter Reread found some old holographic temporary tattoos from, like, 1999 and brought them into work. Someone is bound to have a desperate need for them, after all. It’s the way of the world.

This week we’re going to talk to the Grey Lady and then have a really awkward conversation with Voldemort. It’s chapters 31 and 32 of The Deathly Hallows—The Battle of Hogwarts and The Elder Wand.

Index to the reread can be located here! Other Harry Potter and Potter-related pieces can be found under their appropriate tag. And of course, since we know this is a reread, all posts might contain spoilers for the entire series. If you haven’t read all the Potter books, be warned.

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Series: The Harry Potter Reread

Commemorate the War of 1996 with the New Independence Day: Resurgence Trailer

While previous trailers for Independence Day: Resurgence have crashed alien motherships into Washington, D.C., and made London Bridge fall down (and then some), we’ve been seeing mostly destruction instead of, you know. worldbuilding. After all, this sequel comes 20 years after the original’s release date and 20 years later in the world of the movie itself. And what a world it has become, since humanity wrested its autonomy back from creepy aliens with knee-knockingly-scary laser weaponry. Thankfully, the latest trailer-slash-featurette—a United World News special, naturally—fills in the gaps of the last two decades, starting with the War of 1996.

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Return of Souls Sweepstakes!

Return of Souls, the second book in the trilogy Andy Remic began with A Song for No Man’s Land, comes out June 14 from Tor.com Publishing—and we want to send you a galley copy!

If war is hell, there is no word to describe what Private Jones has been through. Forced into a conflict with an unknowable enemy, he awakes to find himself in a strange land, and is soon joined by young woman, Morana, who tends to his wounds and tells him of the battles played out in this impossible place.

She tells him of an Iron Beast that will end the Great War, and even as he vows to help her find it, enemy combatants seek them, intent on their utter annihilation.

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 May 5th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on May 9th. 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.

A Whisper of Southern Lights

Death and destruction follow the demon wherever he treads, and Gabriel is rarely far behind, waiting for his chance to extinguish the creature known as Temple once and for all. But in Singapore during the Second World War, a lone soldier in possession of a shattering secret gets caught up in their battle. The knowledge he holds could change the course of their ancient conflict… and the fate of the world.

The follow-up to Pieces of Hate, Tim Lebbon’s A Whisper of Southern Lights is a standalone tale in the Assassins series—available May 10th from Tor.com Publishing!

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Fran Wilde Takes Over the World With Gemstones in Her Reddit AMA!

Fran Wilde is one of those writers who seems to have lived multiple lives before her current one as the author of Updraft and the forthcoming Cloudbound: as a sailing instructor, a game developer, a poet, and more. In many cases, Wilde is able to weave together different aspects of her life, as with her Cooking the Books podcast, in which she discusses genre fiction and food with other authors. With the release of The Jewel and Her Lapidary from Tor.com Publishing, Wilde is able to tap into another past life: jewelers’ assistant. In her recent Reddit AMA on r/fantasy, Wilde discussed how working with silver solder influenced some of the power mechanics, her literary influences, crossover YA and why you should read fantasy, and her thoughts on Tommy Arnold’s cover art for The Jewel and Her Lapidary (“I love how fierce and determined their faces are”).

Wilde also took a page from Myke Cole’s recent AMA and asked the Redditors a question: “What kind of gemstone would you use to take over the world, and why?” Between that and her jewelers’ stories about dropping expensive stones, you’ll look at gemstones in a whole new light. Read the highlights below!

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The Sky Is Falling! Maybe! “Henny Penny” or “Chicken Little”

The story of Henny Penny, also called Chicken Little, or sometimes Chicken-licken (not to be confused with “Finger-licken” from Kentucky Fried Chicken), the terrified little chicken convinced that the sky is falling and that life as we, or at least as chickens know it, is over, is common throughout European folklore—so common that “the sky is falling!” and “Chicken Little” and related names have become bywords for fearmongering, and the often tragic results that occur.

[The different endings of Chicken Little, with a bonus brief discussion of Disney’s first, deadly serious, take on the story.]