The Hell of It February 25, 2015 The Hell of It Peter Orullian What will he wager? Schrödinger’s Gun February 18, 2015 Schrödinger’s Gun Ray Wood Maybe in some other timeline it would have gone smooth. Acrobatic Duality February 11, 2015 Acrobatic Duality Tamara Vardomskaya The two of her are perfectly synchronized. The Language of Knives February 4, 2015 The Language of Knives Haralambi Markov They share the rites of death, and grief.
From The Blog
February 26, 2015
Introducing the Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch
Keith DeCandido
February 23, 2015
Oh No, She Didn’t: The Strong Female Character, Deconstructed
Ilana C. Myer
February 20, 2015
Evil Eighties: The Paperback Horrors of Lisa Tuttle
Grady Hendrix
February 19, 2015
The Pinocchio Factor
Jen Williams
February 17, 2015
The Mummy was the Indiana Jones Successor that We Deserved
Emily Asher-Perrin
Fri
Feb 6 2015 10:30am

Keeping the Underwear Clean: The Art of Formal Constraint

Formal Constraint world building

I figure I’ve got the far ends of the literary spectrum covered: before diving face-first into the world of epic fantasy, I wrote poetry. At first blush, the two enterprises couldn’t look much more different. Although epic poetry has its share of gods and monsters, the work of lyric poets like Elizabeth Bishop, John Donne, and Anne Sexton tends to be short on orcs, fortresses, and magical glowing swords. Conversely, the verse contained in epic fantasy tends to fall into two categories: drinking songs and elvish; Dragonlance isn’t exactly replete with searing meditations in the tradition of George Herbert or Robert Lowell.

Given the disparity in modes and methods, the move from lyric poetry to epic fantasy seems to make about as much sense as heading into the Alaskan wilderness wearing Hawaiian leis and a grass skirt. I’ve found, however, much to my joy and surprise, that the hard won lessons of poetry are wonderfully useful; in the following series of posts, I’ll dig into the some of the most transferable lessons...

No one gets into writing for the spreadsheets.

When you sit down to write a book, you think it’s going to be all about character, and plot, and world building. These sorts of interesting artistic challenges are, of course, integral to the job. Alongside such challenges, however, comes another set of tasks that I can only describe as CRUCIAL BORING SHIT.

[Read more...]

Wed
Feb 4 2015 5:00pm

Memorylost: The Chimes by Anna Smaill

The Chimes Anna Smaill

London comes alive like never before in Anna Smaill’s deeply unique debut, The Chimes: a dystopian love story about a boy who comes to the capital on a quest to find out what happened to his late parents, and why. Along the way unspeakable secrets will be revealed about a world in which “words are not to be trusted” and memories are temporary—the unintended consequences of a musical final solution:

At the height of dischord, at Allbreaking, sound became a weapon. In the city, glass shivered out of context, fractured white and peeled away from windows. The buildings rumbled and fell. The mettle was bent and twisted out of tune. The water in the river stood in a single wave that never toppled. What happened to the people? The people were blinded and deafened. The people died. The bridge between Bankside and Paul’s shook and stirred, or so they say. The people ran but never fast enough. After Allbreaking, only the pure of heart and hearing were left. They dwelled in the cities. They waited for order; they waited for a new harmony.

It never arrived. But now, if you listen closely, you can hear the strains of a beautiful new movement beginning...

[Read More]

Mon
Jan 12 2015 2:00pm

Altogether Elsewhere; or Enough About the F**king Feast Already

lord of the rings pacing

I figure I’ve got the far ends of the literary spectrum covered: before diving face-first into the world of epic fantasy, I wrote poetry. At first blush, the two enterprises couldn’t look much more different. Although epic poetry has its share of gods and monsters, the work of lyric poets like Elizabeth Bishop, John Donne, and Anne Sexton tends to be short on orcs, fortresses, and magical glowing swords. Conversely, the verse contained in epic fantasy tends to fall into two categories: drinking songs and elvish; Dragonlance isn’t exactly replete with searing meditations in the tradition of George Herbert or Robert Lowell.

Given the disparity in modes and methods, the move from lyric poetry to epic fantasy seems to make about as much sense as heading into the Alaskan wilderness wearing Hawaiian leis and a grass skirt. I’ve found, however, much to my joy and surprise, that the hard won lessons of poetry are wonderfully useful; in the following series of posts, I’ll dig into the some of the most transferable lessons.

[Read More]

Wed
Jan 7 2015 2:00pm

Rich and Strange: “The Boatman’s Cure” by Sonya Taaffe

Ghost Signs Sonya Taaffe Happy New Year, and welcome back to Rich and Strange, where I look with some depth at short fiction that has astonished and delighted me. This week I want to draw your attention to Sonya Taaffe’s novella “The Boatman’s Cure,” included as the concluding portion of her just-released poetry collection Ghost Signs, from Aqueduct Press.

Full Disclosure: I would be honoured to consider Sonya Taaffe a friend, but for the fact that she keeps my heart in a salt-encrusted bottle on her window-sill, and will insist on giving the bottle a shake whenever she knows I am reading her words.

[Read More]

Fri
Oct 3 2014 9:00am

Stories in Sync: Poetry and Rhythm in Storytelling

There are books and stories you greatly enjoy—and then there are ones that make you giddy. Dizzy. Breathless. Stories that take a leap forward in complexity; that dazzle you with audacity. The ones where you say NO THEY DID NOT JUST DO THAT. NO THEY WENT THERE. Or, OMG, I GET IT I GET WHERE THEY’RE GOING.

I don’t think everyone has the same giddy stories. We might agree on a group of good, well-loved stories, but a giddy story is that one that speaks to you, that has that moment where you and the story are so in sync that you jump to the next moment together, the next heartbeat.

[Read More]

Wed
Jun 18 2014 2:20pm

These Existential Godzilla Haikus Make Him King of the Feels

Godzilla just wants to be understood, you guys. Did you ever stop to think that, even as he was smashing the coast to pieces in his latest reboot, maybe he’s just trying to connect? After all, he knows that no matter who he’s facing off against in a given Godzilla film, humans are still going to feel strangely guilty about his path of destruction.

So of course there’s a Godzilla Haiku Tumblr for the big G to unleash his angst and tail-whip you with his sensitive side in seventeen syllables.

[Godzilla must go / So you cannot see the depth / Of his loneliness]

Wed
Apr 23 2014 1:00pm

“Trust the Story”: A Conversation with Sofia Samatar

Sofia Samatar I’ve been more or less obsessed with Sofia Samatar since I first read her debut novel, A Stranger in Olondria (2013). Her work is gorgeous and innovative, breaking new ground while evoking the best of classic SFF. And I’m not the only one to think so; Sofia has recently been nominated for the John W. Campbell Award For Best New Writer.

She was kind enough to answer a few questions about her writing, below.

[Read more...]

Thu
Apr 17 2014 11:10am

Now We Know How to Make Tom Hiddleston Cry

Not that we would ever want to make Tom Hiddleston cry! It's just that now we know we can. The actor was asked to contribute to an anthology called Poems That Make Grown Men Cry, and he chose “Love After Love” by Derek Walcott as the work that turns him to mush. It's an excellent, unexpected choice—not simply a love poem, but a meditation on the difficulty of retaining a sense of self in the face of, well, life.

[click through for the poem!]

Tue
Apr 15 2014 1:00pm

The Retrospective: Mythic Delirium #30

Since it happens to be poetry month, the time seems more or less just right for talking about the transitional last print issue of long-running speculative poetry magazine Mythic Delirium. It’s issue #30, and in honor the magazine’s Kickstarter funded shift to digital publication and a new format, editor Mike Allen had gathered up a retrospective from the past fifteen years’ worth of issues—poems ranging from the first from their first issue, to the most recent MD poem to win a Rhysling Award.

It is an interesting sort of project, a goodbye to the old and a remembrance of the past that also happens to be signaling a fresh start for the magazine, with different guiding principles and a radically different format. I look forward to seeing what the Allens (Mike and Anita) do with the upcoming magazine, but for now, there’s the retrospective issue and the poems in it.

[A review.]

Sun
Apr 13 2014 9:00am
Poetry

The Death of Araweilo

Sofia Samatar Poem National Poetry Month The Death of AraweiloPresenting “The Death of Araweilo,” an original poem by Sofia Samatar in celebration of National Poetry Month, acquired for Tor.com by editor Liz Gorinsky.

Tor.com is celebrating National Poetry Month by featuring science fiction and fantasy poetry from a variety of SFF authors. You’ll find classic works, hidden gems, and new commissions featured on the site throughout the month. Check out the Poetry Month index for more poems!

[Read More]

Sun
Apr 6 2014 9:00am
Poetry

Hades and Persephone

Jo Walton photo by John W. MacDonaldPresenting “Hades and Persephone,” an original poem by Jo Walton in celebration of National Poetry Month, acquired for Tor.com by senior editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden.

Tor.com is celebrating National Poetry Month by featuring science fiction and fantasy poetry from a variety of SFF authors. You’ll find classic works, hidden gems, and new commissions featured on the site throughout the month. Check out the Poetry Month index for more poems!

[Read “Hades and Persephone” by Jo Walton]

Tue
Apr 1 2014 8:00am
Poetry

My Garden

Theodora Goss

Theodora Goss

Presenting “My Garden,” an original poem by Theodora Goss in celebration of National Poetry Month, acquired for Tor.com by consulting editor Ellen Datlow.

Tor.com is celebrating National Poetry Month by featuring science fiction and fantasy poetry from a variety of SFF authors. You’ll find classic works, hidden gems, and new commissions featured on the site throughout the month. Check out the Poetry Month index for more poems!

[Read More]

Tue
Apr 1 2014 8:00am

National Poetry Month on Tor.com Features New Pieces from Jo Walton, Theodora Goss, and More

National Poetry Month science fiction fantasy Neil Gaiman Jane Yolen Theodora GossApril is National Poetry Month and to celebrate we’re taking the opportunity to showcase poetry written by notable names in the science fiction and fantasy fields.

When thinking of the mediums that deliver SFF, one invariably visualizes descriptive prose, be it in doorstopper hardcover or dog-eared paperback form, but poetry is well-entrenched within the SFF genres and often pops up with surprising regularity.

This year, Tor.com has acquired new poems from Theodora Goss, Jo Walton, Sofia Samatar, and Catherynne M. Valente!

[National Poetry Month on Tor.com]

Tue
Mar 18 2014 10:00am

Post-Binary Gender in SF: Poetry’s Potential for Voice

Here We Cross Rose LembergWhat I love most about poetry is its potential for voice: when I’m reading my favourite poetry, it feels like I’m being spoken to. The brevity of most poetry brings that voice to precision, “a way to whittle down to this direct voice, to make it the only thing—to amplify it by way of having nothing else around it.” (Quoting myself.)

This isn’t the only way to read poetry—there is no ‘one’ way. Amal El-Mohtar wrote about how to read poetry on this site last year, stressing the many possible approaches. An English Literature degree is one. Another, prisoners in Lebanon listening to her grandfather’s spoken poetry to survive. Poetry is many-faceted, many voices speaking in many ways. It can intersect with speculative fiction—I really recommend a conversation between Lavie Tidhar and Shimon Adaf in Strange Horizons on this subject. I know a lot of people are wary of poetry, but it’s this easy: if you read a poem and find something—a turn of phrase, an idea, a voice that hooks on your ear—you’ve gained something from it. Poetry isn’t for everyone, of course, but it’s varied and more vast than many people know.

[It’s a place for post-binary voices to speak in other ways.]

Mon
Dec 16 2013 10:00am

Patrick Stewart’s Monologues on the Nightmare Before Christmas Soundtrack Make Perfect Bookends to the Tale

The Nightmare Before Christmas poem illustration

All fans of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas know that the film begins with a few words of rhyme: “’Twas a long time ago, longer now than it seems/in a place that perhaps you have seen in your dreams…” This is fitting because Burton’s inspiration for the entire project was a full parody he wrote of The Night Before Christmas.

But did you know that opening rhyme was longer at first? Those who have the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack get a special treat: Patrick Stewart reading the opening monologue, and then another to close out the tale. And they sort of make the movie perfect.

[“And he smiled like the old Pumpkin King that I knew…”]

Tue
Sep 24 2013 8:30am
Poetry

It Was A Day

Ursula Vernon

It Was a Day poem Ursula Vernon Mirrormask Dave McKean

From author Ursula Vernon, we invite you to read a very moving ode: “It Was A Day.” An insightful encapsulation of what it is like to grow up believing in magic and other worlds, this poem examines what happens the day we all inevitably learn that we cannot dive into fiction and stay there, and how the act of writing might help make up for that fact. It is also the journey of a female fan and creator, one that many may recognize in their own experiences, brimming with the self-perception and self-actualization required to make your voice heard. “It Was A Day” was originally posted on Vernon's blog on September 5.

[“It Was A Day” by Ursula Vernon]

Sat
Jul 20 2013 9:00am

A Song for Stubby

A Song for Stubby
(With apologies to William Carlos Williams.)

Among the rain
and Tyrell Co. billboards
I saw the figure 5
in gold
on a red
Stubby
rocketship
moving
at about light speed
unheeded
to klaxons
siren howls
and engines rumbling
above the dark city.

Mon
Jul 8 2013 9:00am

The Melancholy of Mechagirl, by Catherynne M. Valente

The Melancholy of Mechagirl Catherynne Valente’s The Melancholy of Mechagirl compiles Valente’s poetry and short fiction tied to Japan and Japanese culture. As Teruyuki Hashimoto points out in the collection’s introduction, however, many of these connections to Japan are subtle, even tenuous; instead (or perhaps in addition), we find the pieces united by recurring images and themes. Houses and families, as Hashimoto points out, weave their way through the text, and so too do the subjects of birth, isolation, and creeping uncanniness.

Melancholy could have easily fallen into appropriative narrative or become what Valente herself describes as culturally “fraught.” However, Valente continues to write with grace and cognizance. Her afterword on the matter (echoed to some degree on her blog, here) explains her interest in Japan as a matter beyond scholastics or fan culture; she lived alone there for some time, and the experience affected her to the point that, as she says, “Japan is everywhere in my work.” The collection’s thematic elements build upon one another as the reader progresses, but they’re brought into stark focus with the addition of her autobiographical note. The book itself is full and rich in the author’s characteristic style, but this time, it feels personal—in the best possible way.

[Read more.]

Tue
Apr 23 2013 11:00am
Poetry

Snowmelt

Mari Ness

Mari Ness National Poetry Month SnowmeltPresenting “Snowmelt,” a reprint of an original poem by Mari Ness in celebration of National Poetry Month on Tor.com, originally published on Goblin Fruit.

Tor.com is celebrating National Poetry Month by featuring science fiction and fantasy poetry from a variety of SFF authors. You’ll find classic works, hidden gems, and new commissions featured on the site throughout the month. Bookmark the Poetry Month index for easy reading.

[Read “Snowmelt”]

Wed
Apr 17 2013 11:45am

“To JK Rowling, from Cho Chang”

Rachel Rostad poem To JK Rowling from Cho Chang

Rachel Rostad’s 2013 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational performance piece, “To JK Rowling, from Cho Chang,” was an indictment of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series; specifically charging her with tokenism, of adding minor characters like Cho Chang and Lee Jordan without giving them the same depth other characters got, in order to create the appearance of diversity without actually including any. It is a personal, impassioned performance, rather than a strictly cerebral approach, which gives it immediacy and accessibility. This isn’t just a discussion of structural biases, some lecture or intellectual analysis; this is someone who rightfully has feelings that stem from the text.

[Watch Rachel Rostad’s “To JK Rowling, from Cho Chang”]