Falling in Love with Nicole Kornher-Stace’s Archivist Wasp

This book. This book. In the past few years, there’ve been a handful of books I count it a privilege to have read—a handful of books with which I fell instantly and deeply in love. It’s a short list: Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword; Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor; Elizabeth Bear’s Karen Memory. I might spot you one or two others, depending on the day, but these are the ones that hit me right on an emotional level, where pleasure in the quality of writing combines with a straight shot to my narrative hindbrain: this is our stuff! This is OUR THING!

Nicole Kornher-Stace’s Archivist Wasp has added itself to that list. I didn’t expect it to: at a brief glance, it sounded a little too peculiar. But then I came across Amal El-Mohtar and Ana Grilo (of The Booksmugglers) discussing its merits on Twitter—and when people like that recommend a thing, I try to take notice.

[And wow, am I glad I did.]

Series: Sleeps With Monsters

Court of Fives Sweepstakes!

We have three copies of Kate Elliot’s new book Court of Fives, from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers coming out on August 18th. Check out our excerpt here, and then enter to win!

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family she can be whoever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best contenders. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between two Fives competitors–one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy–causes heads to turn. When Kal’s powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test her new friend’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

Comment on 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 10:30 AM Eastern Time (ET) on July 28, 2015. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on August 1. 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.

Let’s Talk About Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere…and its Similarities to Final Fantasy

Big Damn Swords, orange blood, gods made of future metal… Brandon Sanderson’s books make use of a great variety of epic fantasy settings and magic systems, and each new series and short tale introduces yet more. 2015 marks ten years since Sanderson’s first fantasy novel Elantris was released, and since then the author has filled the shelves with so many different worlds that the ones that share the same grand universe are dubbed, simply, “The Cosmere.”

This variety of fantasy worlds sharing certain characteristics is not a new construct. (Role-playing games create this solely by virtue of publishing sequels.) But over the course of reading Sanderson’s novels, I started to notice more than a few parallels that the Cosmere has with the classic RPG series Final Fantasy.

[Read more]

You Beautiful Monster: The 20-Year Struggle to Make Clive Barker’s Nightbreed

Clive Barker has had a bumpy film career. After writing scripts for Underworld and Rawhead Rex, and being underwhelmed with the results, he decided to try directing his stories himself. So he adapted his story “The Hellbound Heart,” and created the classic Hellraiser. Unfortunately, for the next movie he wanted to do a thoughtful, dark fantasy adaptation of his story “Cabal,” but his producers just really wanted a slasher movie.

[Because the world needed more of those…]

This Nursery Has Leveled Up!

Baby Grant’s dad decided to create a magical, Yoshirrific, coin-filled Mario Kart-themed nursery! That is some A+ Dad-ing, Father-of-Baby-Grant! You can check out the whole build process here. And presumably once Grant becomes a moody teen, he can remodel the room to honor Castlevania

Morning Roundup compares Fury Roads to Genysises, looks back at the impactful history of a font, and suggests some deeply depressing cartoons for all the grownup to enjoy.

[Plus, the best thing to happen to Batman V. Superman!]

Fiction Affliction: August Releases in Fantasy

Twenty-four new fantasies bring their dungeons and dragons to the masses in August, even a few for adult readers. Look for a brand new fantasy series from N. K. Jemisin, and series additions from, among others, Robin Hobb (The Fitz and the Fool); Kate Elliott (Court of Fives); K.J. Parker (The Two of Swords); Mark Smylie (The Barrow); Amanda Hocking (Kanin Chronicles); and Susan Murray (Waterborne Blade).

[Read about this month’s releases]

Dear Boss, Please Excuse My Erratic Behavior This Week

It snuck right up on me, but Games Done Quick is back for its annual summer fundraising marathon. It goes like this: You watch people play video games and then donate money to Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization Doctors Without Borders. These aren’t just any video gamers. These are speedrunners, who take the NES, Sega, Sony, etc. games you grew up with and manipulate the artificial worlds in these classic games so completely—solely through their dexterity with a normal controller—they often get flipped inside out. (Like tricking The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time into letting you fight Ganon with Child Link, pictured above!) They also explain the weird tricks and programming manipulation they pull off while they’re doing it, giving regular gamers and watchers some stunning insights into how they achieve the impossible, and how you can do so, as well.

It’s completely addicting and I would like to take this moment to tell my bosses at Tor.com that I will not CAN not acknowledge the outside world during the speedruns of following games.

[Read more]

The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps Sweepstakes!

We have three galley copies of  The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson, the debut novella from Tor.com Publishing out on September 1st, and we want to share them with you!

Since leaving his homeland, the earthbound demigod Demane has been labeled a sorcerer. With his ancestors’ artifacts in hand, the Sorcerer follows the Captain, a beautiful man with song for a voice and hair that drinks the sunlight. The two of them are the descendants of the gods who abandoned the Earth for Heaven, and they will need all the gifts those divine ancestors left to them to keep their caravan brothers alive. The one safe road between the northern oasis and southern kingdom is stalked by a necromantic terror. Demane may have to master his wild powers and trade humanity for godhood if he is to keep his brothers and his beloved captain alive.

Read an excerpt here, and then comment in the post below 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 July 27, 2015. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on August 1, 2015. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Sponsor: Tor.com, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell Reread: The BBC Adaptation

Hello, everyone! Welcome back to the reread of Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which we’ve reopened to discuss the TV adaptation now that it’s finished airing on BBC America. You can catch up on past posts at the reread index; read Emily Asher-Perrin’s episode reviews; or check out all of Tor.com’s posts about this book.

After the jump I’m first going to give first a spoiler-free three-paragraph summary of whether I think the show’s worth watching. Then I’ll give the long version, which is (unsurprisingly) quite long, with spoilers for all of JS&MN, The Ladies of Grace Adieu, and the TV show. And pictures, including the best eyeroll gif ever. I look forward to other people’s thoughts now that the whole series has aired in the UK and US. (Sorry, Canada, where it’s still airing; sorry, other countries that are waiting for the DVD release. Comment whenever, truly, I’ll get the notifications!)

[“The nameless slave shall be a king in a strange country.”]

Series: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell Reread

Court of Fives

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family she can be whoever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best contenders.

Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between two Fives competitors—one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy—causes heads to turn. When Kal’s powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test her new friend’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, Kate Elliott’s first young adult novel weaves an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege. Court of Fives is available August 18th from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

[Read an excerpt]

Sith Lords for Better Highways

Maybe Darth Vader felt just a little guilty about blowing Alderaan to smithereens, because as this photo shows, he did his little bit of goodwill and adopted a highway. Or, you know, a normal person co-opted the Sith Lord’s moniker (and, later, his helmet) to raise awareness about the Adopt-a-Highway program. Virginia bus driver Henry Wakley took it even further when he dressed up as Vader to pick up trash along the roadway—making Anakin truly a role model for the kids.

Afternoon Roundup brings you Frank Miller discussion from the most unexpected source, #firstworldapocalypseproblems, and snarky posthuman commentary.

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Broadening Beyond Superheroes at the 2015 Eisner Comic Book Awards

“It was a crazy night. Absolutely crazy.”

Gene Luen Yang had won the Eisner Award for Best Writer.

This year’s Eisner Awards ceremony was in early July, during the 2015 Comic Con International in San Diego. The Eisners are the most prestigious, high-profile awards in the comics industry, and they’re judged in a two-tier system, with books being selected for the ballot by a small diversely-employed team of industry judges that changes every year; then everyone in every part of the comics industry—from authors to reporters to librarians to retailers to educators and professors and publishers—votes to select the winners. It’s a system that rolls up quality, popularity, and industry acclaim/appreciation into a single award—and as such, it’s a bellwether for the state of the comics industry.

[Read more]

Practically Speaking, Why Do We Hate CGI So Much?

The Star Wars panel at the 2015 San Diego Comic Con made one thing clear: J. J. Abrams hates CGI now. If the word “practical” wasn’t being bandied around in geek discussions last week, it is certainly the buzzword of the moment. From “practical effects” to “real sets,” seemingly all anyone had to say about The Force Awakens is that Abrams and company are throwing their computers out of the window because they want to make something real.

But, does everyone really hate CGI as much as we think we do? And if so, why?

[Read more]

Clive Barker Sweepstakes!

Sadly, we can’t give away Clive Barker himself, but we can give you something just as great! We’ve got three prize packs containing two books guaranteed to keep you up all night. Out on July 28 from Tor, Midian Unmade is a chilling anthology full of stories inspired by Nightbreed, the film based on Barker’s novella, Cabal. Contributors like Seanan McGuire, Amber Benson, and John W. Campbell tell the story of the Nightbreed after the fall of their city, Midian. Driven from their homes after watching the brutal death of their families, some of the Nightbreed want only refuge while others seek revenge. And out now from St. Martin’s Press, The Scarlet Gospels reunites readers with two of Barker’s most memorable characters as Harry D’Amour faces off against Pinhead in a battle to end all battles. Three winners will receive copies of both books, plus an assortment of Tor.com story art postcards!

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 10:30 AM Eastern Time (ET) on July 27, 2015. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on July 31, 2015. 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.

Juggling 8 Protagonists: Netflix’s Sense8

This is my third attempt at writing about Sense8, the new Netflix series created by the Wachowski siblings and J. Michael Straczynski, and likely not my last. The problem is that I feel too much, too intimately about this show to be anywhere near objective; and yet I want to be objective, because I love it with the fire of a thousand suns and am therefore desperate to explain, in glorious, technical detail, exactly why everyone else should love it, too.

[Read more]

Fabulous Beasts

“Fabulous Beasts” by Priya Sharma is a horror novelette about a strange woman living in luxury with her lover, but irrevocably tied to her childhood of deprivation and dark secrets in northwest England. The woman recalls the unravelling of the family upon her uncle’s release from prison.

Please be warned that this story deals with difficult content and themes, including child abuse, incest, and rape.

[Read “Fabulous Beasts” by Priya Sharma]