A Long Spoon December 18, 2014 A Long Spoon Jonathan L. Howard A Johannes Cabal story. Burnt Sugar December 10, 2014 Burnt Sugar Lish McBride Everyone knows about gingerbread houses. Father Christmas: A Wonder Tale of the North December 9, 2014 Father Christmas: A Wonder Tale of the North Charles Vess Happy Holidays from Tor.com Skin in the Game December 3, 2014 Skin in the Game Sabrina Vourvoulias Some monsters learn how to pass.
From The Blog
December 9, 2014
The Eleventh Doctor’s Legacy Was Loss and Failure
Emily Asher-Perrin
December 9, 2014
Tor.com Reviewers’ Choice: The Best Books of 2014
Tor.com
December 8, 2014
How Fast is the Millennium Falcon? A Thought Experiment.
Chris Lough
December 8, 2014
Tiamat’s Terrain: Tales of the Marvellous and News of the Strange
Alex Mangles
December 4, 2014
Potential Spoiler Leak for Star Wars: The Force Awakens Reveals Awesome Details
Emily Asher-Perrin
Tue
Dec 16 2014 4:00pm

Cosmopolitan Temptation: “The Whisperer in Darkness”

The Whisperer in Darkness HP LovecraftWelcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s original stories.

Today we’re looking at “The Whisperer in Darkness,” written in 1930 and first published in the August 1931 issue of Weird Tales. You can read the story here. Spoilers ahead.

[“I found myself faced by names and terms that I had heard elsewhere in the most hideous of connexions”]

Tue
Dec 16 2014 3:15pm

Professional Swordsmen Demonstrate How to Fight with The Force Awakens’ Crossguard Lightsaber

Star Wars: The Force Awakens lightsaber crossguard

At the rate we’re going, people are going to be complaining about Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ crossguard lightsaber until the next full trailer is released. In the meantime, Popular Science asked several expert swordsmen from different disciplines to weigh in on two questions: whether the three-bladed lightsaber actually requires a crossguard, and if so, how to fight with it.

[Read more]

Tue
Dec 16 2014 3:00pm

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “Once More Unto the Breach”

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Once More Unto the Breach“Once More Unto the Breach”
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Allan Kroeker
Season 7, Episode 7
Production episode 40510-557
Original air date: November 11, 1998
Stardate: unknown

Station log: O’Brien and Bashir are in Quark’s are arguing over the legend of Davy Crockett, when Worf interrupts. He says that if you believe in the legend of Crockett, then he died a hero and there should be no question in their minds. If you don’t believe in the legend, then he was just a man and it doesn’t matter how he died.

When Worf goes to his quarters, he is visited by Kor. They share a bottle of bloodwine and toast Jadzia’s memory, and then Kor asks a favor: he wants to be part of the war effort, but in his many years, he’s made too many enemies, and so cannot get an assignment to fight. He asks Worf for help getting him a command.

[He will succeed. He is Kor...Dahar master!]

Tue
Dec 16 2014 2:30pm

There and Back Again Sweepstakes!

In There and Back Again: JRR Tolkien and the Origins of the Hobbit, Mark Atherton explores the chief influences on Tolkien’s work: his boyhood in the West Midlands; the landscapes and seascapes which shaped his mythologies; his experiences in World War I; his interest in Scandinavian myth; his friendships, especially with the other Oxford-based Inklings; and the relevance of his themes, especially ecological ones, to the present day.

In celebration of the release of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, we want to send five winners a copy of There and Back Again, out now from I.B. Tauris!

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 2:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on December 16. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on December 20. 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.

Tue
Dec 16 2014 2:00pm
Excerpt

“The Maiden in the Ice” (Excerpt)

Angela Slatter

The Maiden in the Ice illustration Kathleen Jennings

Angela Slatter’s The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings returns to the world of Sourdough and Other Stories, introducing readers to the tales that came before. Stories where coffin-makers work hard to keep the dead beneath; where a plague maiden steals away the children of an ungrateful village; where poison girls are schooled in the art of assassination; where pirates disappear from the seas; where families and the ties that bind them can both ruin and resurrect and where books carry forth fairy tales, forbidden knowledge and dangerous secrets.

The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings is available now from Tartarus Press. Read an excerpt from “The Maiden in the Ice” below, and preview some of the collection’s pen-and-ink illustrations by artist Kathleen Jennings.

[Read an excerpt]

Tue
Dec 16 2014 1:50pm

Asking for Forgiveness Instead of Permission: Ascension, “Night One”

Ascension Night One TV review

In space, no one can hear you scream… Unless you’re on the Orion (that’s important—more on that later) class generation ship Ascension, which has just marked year 51 of its century-long voyage to Alpha Centauri to colonize a new planet. Launched in secret in 1963, this space ark houses 600 people and has already brought up two generations, though not without issues: The fact that the ship’s social mores are stuck in the 1960s, coupled with the younger crew members’ disillusionment with the fact that they’re grooming their successors for their new home, has created a society layered with fiercely guarded secrets and hidden violence.

Ascension is an ambitious miniseries from Syfy, as the network is struggling to launch its own science-fiction epics to challenge the other genre programs currently commanding viewership on other networks. The series was originally going to air over the course of six weeks, but the Powers That Be have smartly condensed it into a three-night event. That’s an especially keen choice since “Night One” ends with a massive twist that will determine how you view the rest of the show. As we can’t ignore the twist when discussing the show, watch out for spoilers later on in this review.

[Read more]

Tue
Dec 16 2014 1:00pm

The Wheel of Time Reread Redux: The Eye of the World, Part 12

The Eye of the World Robert Jordan rereadWheel of Time Reread Redux! Whoo! Yeah! Whoo! Yeah!

Today’s Redux post will cover Chapters 22 and 23 of The Eye of the World, originally reread in this post.

All original posts are listed in The Wheel of Time Reread Index here, and all Redux posts will also be archived there as well. (The Wheel of Time Master Index, as always, is here, which has links to news, reviews, interviews, and all manner of information about the Wheel of Time in general on Tor.com.)

The Wheel of Time reread is also now available as an ebook series, except for the portion covering A Memory of Light, which should become available soon.

All Reread Redux posts will contain spoilers for the entire Wheel of Time series, so if you haven’t read, read at your own risk.

And now, the post!

[I could sell a mean cookie, though. SAMOAS 4EVR]

Tue
Dec 16 2014 12:00pm

How Do We Categorize The Nightmare Before Christmas?

Nightmare Before Christmas

Is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween movie, or a Christmas movie? In terms of worldbuilding, it’s obviously both—it’s about a bunch of Halloween-town residents taking over Christmas from Santa Claus.

But worldbuilding elements don’t suffice as genre classifiers, or else black comedies wouldn’t exist. Creators deliberately apply worldbuilding elements from one genre to another for pure frission’s sake. Consider Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (speaking of Christmas movies), which takes a New York noir character, a down-on-his-luck con, and drops him into an LA noir scenario of movie glitz and private eyes; or Rian Johnson’s amazing Brick, a noir story engine driving high school characters. Fantasy literature is rife with this sort of behavior—consider Steven Brust’s use of crime drama story in the Vlad Taltos books, or for that matter the tug of war between detective fiction and fantasy that propels considerable swaths of urban fantasy. If we classify stories solely by the worldbuilding elements they contain, we’re engaging in the same fallacy as the Certain Kind of Book Review that blithely dismisses all science fiction as “those books with rockets.”

[Read More]

Tue
Dec 16 2014 11:00am

Under the Radar: The Books That Pinged

Under the Radar best of 2014

Throughout the year, we’ve been taking turns with the Under the Radar column—looking at recent works that, despite being awesome, may have gone unnoticed by many Tor.com readers (including us!). As we’re at the end of the year—and the end of our first year (woohoo!)—this seems the perfect occasion to kick back and think about what we’ve learned.

[Read More]

Tue
Dec 16 2014 10:00am

Constantine Gets Back In The Habit With “The Saint of Last Resorts”

Constantine the saint of last resorts

“No price is too high to save the innocent.”

The mid-season finale of Constantine’s officially-not-extended-past-the-initial-13-episode-order-but-not-explicitly-cancelled first season accomplishes a whole lot of things: it takes our hero down to Mexico, offers some solid insight into the whole “Rising Darkness” thing, revisits the disaster at Newcastle, and perhaps most importantly, writes a character out of the journey for in-story reasons that actually serve the plot! Also in general it was just a really solid episode of television, with a decent enough cliffhanger to hold it over until after the holiday break. Was it perfect? Nah. And as much as I enjoy the show, it still hasn’t quite become the “must-see-TV” of NBC’s catchphrase. But from the writing to the performances to the production values, “The Saint of Last Resorts” was still a high-point of this first season of Constantine and gave a good indication of what the show is capable of when it’s not trying too hard to exposit at every new audience member.

[I’m sorry for the nun pun in the subject line, but I couldn’t help myself so you’re just going to have to accept it]

Tue
Dec 16 2014 9:00am

Anime Year in Review: The Ten Best Shows of 2014

Anime Year in Review

As 2014 draws to a close, it is once again time to look back, reflect, and reduce all our experiences into ranked “best of” lists. Whereas often the year is dominated by one major blockbuster, 2014 was a somewhat eclectic year for anime, featuring a smattering of very good shows (and very bad ones), stunning displays industry talent (and incompetence), some very pleasant surprises (and rather unpleasant disappointments), and, alongside the annual prophecies of doom, a few reminders of how imaginative, innovative, and beautiful the medium can be.

So, without further ado, here’s a list of my ten favorite shows of 2014.

[Read more]

Tue
Dec 16 2014 8:00am

Morning Roundup: George R.R. Martin Gets in the Holiday Spirit With “12 Days of Westeros”

George R.R. Martin red Christmas Game of Thrones tweets

On the first day of Christmas, George R.R. Martin gave to us... false hope for a speedy release of Winds of Winter. The author had to clarify that his #12DaysofWesteros tweets are not a countdown to his next A Song of Ice and Fire book, but just a way to spread Christmas cheer by making us remember every traumatic moment from his books. Red Christmases and stockings hung on moon doors... Gah, now we’re thinking about it again!

Morning Roundup contemplates the alternate reality of Jon Hamm in tights, muses on running entire solar systems in the future, and makes sure there are no evil spirits lurking in its selfies.

[Also, we’re still talking about “Let It Go.”]

Tue
Dec 16 2014 7:00am

Celebrating Arthur C. Clarke’s Odyssey

Today we mark what would have been the 97th birthday of the great Arthur C. Clarke. Often credited with making fantastic predictions in his science fiction that actually came true, Clarke is among the most recognized and celebrated authors of the previous century. Perhaps the hardest of “hard science fiction” writers, Clarke was the authority on futurism and concepts both mind-bending and fascinatingly plausible. Known best for the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey and the epic film of the same name, Arthur C. Clarke is probably the writer most responsible for making futuristic space travel look realistic in our mind’s eye.

[Read more]

Tue
Dec 16 2014 7:00am

Philip K. Dick Scanned Our Brains, Darkly

In his afterword to a 1977 paperback collection called The Best of Philip K. Dick, PKD writes about the notion of questioning reality. At one point, Dick says the world made “sense” to him:

“I used to dig in the garden, and there isn’t anything fantastic or ultradimensional about crab grass...unless you are a sf writer, in which case, pretty soon you’re viewing crabgrass with suspicion. What are its real motives? And who sent it in the first place? The question I always found myself asking was, What is it really?”

Looking back on his work today, on the 86th anniversary of Dick’s birthday, the escape from the conspiracy of the mundane is a concept that certainly dominates the oeuvre of perhaps the most famous science fiction author ever. And why not? Don’t we all wish our lives were a little more interesting, a little more fantastic than perhaps they are?

[Read more]

Mon
Dec 15 2014 5:00pm

All Your Giant Mecha Dreams Come True! The Legend of Korra, “Kuvira’s Gambit”

Legend of Korra Kuriva's Gambit

That’s...quite an eponymous ploy, hm? This episode of The Legend of Korra is named “Kuvira’s Gambit,” and I frankly was expecting something like the inverse of the Gaang’s invasion of the Fire Nation, or the Rebel’s plan on Endor, or Suyin’s assault on Kuvira in the first place. Make a distraction and let an elite team take out essential targets. I was expecting Kuvira and a crack assault time to ride in on, I don’t know, a heavy paratroop drop, and hit Republic City in the heart.

But no, I had it all wrong: Kuvira’s gambit is a 25 story tall mecha suit. It’s a short jump from last week’s “Operation Beifong”: now that the crew is back together—kit and caboodle—they’ve almost got a chance to prepare...

[Read More]

Mon
Dec 15 2014 4:30pm

Gary Gibson’s Final Days Series Sweepstakes!

Out now from Tor UK and Pan Macmillan, The Thousand Emperors takes place in the same thrilling, high-octane world of dangerous technology and interstellar conflict that Gary Gibson created in Final Days. We want to send two lucky winners a copy of both Final Days and The Thousand Emperors!

Find out why Gary Gibson loves apocalypses, 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 4:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on December 15. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on December 19. 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.

Mon
Dec 15 2014 4:00pm

End of the Line: Jeff VanderMeer and the Southern Reach Trilogy

Jeff VanderMeer interview Southern Reach trilogy omnibus Since the first and second Tor.com interviews with Jeff VanderMeer, his Southern Reach Trilogy, which concluded with Acceptance in August, has appeared on several Best Of lists this year. Meanwhile, an omnibus edition of the entire trilogy has been released in hardcover and VanderMeer, on tour again in support of the books, has been interviewed many times.

For this third and final interview about the Southern Reach Trilogy, then, we talked more about the overarching themes of the trilogy, the places it was written from and about, and what’s next—for VanderMeer and for us.

[Read More]

Mon
Dec 15 2014 3:15pm

Ancient Textbook Doodles Prove School Has Been Boring for Centuries

medieval doodles

We’re used to thinking of illuminated manuscripts as nearly sacred texts that take a painstakingly long time to create and must have been handled with the utmost care. But medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel, in documenting his various findings on his blog, has discovered that people in medieval times treated their books much the way we do today.

Kwakkel shared several photos of medieval manuscripts from about 700 years ago, their pages filled with doodles by scribes, monks, and bored school children.

[Read more]

Mon
Dec 15 2014 3:00pm

Follow Your Arrow: Valdemaran Public Health and Epidemiology

One of the conventions of YA literature is a journey in which the hero’s mettle is tested. Harry Potter went to the Forest of Dean. Katniss Everdeen went to the Quarter Quell. And Talia goes to Sorrows Two.

She spent Arrows of the Queen being trained and educated as Queen’s Own, and in chapters five and six of Arrow’s Flight, Kris and Talia reach their sector and her skills are put to the test. The major plot development here is that Talia’s shields continue to deteriorate, taking her emotional state with them.

In order to build that problem to a meaningful crisis, Lackey needs to show us what Heralds really do, and why it’s important for them to be emotionally stable.

[An arrow in flight must be sent with control]

Mon
Dec 15 2014 2:00pm

Flying Hats and Marching Brooms: Once Upon a Time, “Heroes and Villains”

Once Upon a Time Heroes and Villains

Villains! Heroes! Trickery! Princesses! Pirates! Surprisingly Powerful Hats! Yep, time once again for ABC’s Once Upon a Time, as the fall season draws to a close with “Heroes and Villains.” Which has to do—SHOCKER AHEAD—with Heroes and Villains.

[This means an evil yet adorable dalmatian could be showing up. JUST SAYING.]