[Insert Sheep Pun Here]: Robert Kroese’s The Big Sheep

It all starts with a missing sheep and a paranoid celebrity. Blake Fowler works for Erasmus Keane, a private dick who insists on being called a “phenomenological inquisitor.” The two men live and work in Los Angeles in 2039, several years after a devastating economic collapse that resulted in the city being divided into LA proper and the Disincorporated Zone. During the Collapse, crime ran wild and more than a few businesses and labs took advantage of the weak enforcement to conduct morally bankrupt and ethically dubious projects. During this period of chaos, Fowler’s girlfriend Gwen disappeared and was never seen again.

When one of their experimental Lincoln Longwool sheep disappears, Esper Corporation hires Keane and Fowler to track it down. In a seemingly unrelated case, young celebutante Priya Mistry believes someone is trying to kill her and hires the investigators to figure out who is sending her cryptic messages. Priya is freaking out over seeing herself in commercials she doesn’t remember making, but when Fowler and Keane run into her later on and she claims to have no memory of ever meeting them, the detectives realize something big is amiss. Things get complicated when the Case of the Lost Sheep and the Case of the Concerned Teddy Bear turn out to be less unconnected than previously thought. There is a conspiracy afoot and victims piling up and Fowler and Keane must root it out before it gets them, too.

[“Stop spooking the sheep, Keane.”]

“Everyone Believes in Justice. What Else is There to Believe In?” Judenstaat by Simone Zelitch

If I had ever read Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, I suspect Simone Zelitch’s Judenstaat might bear comparison. They are both, after all, novels about a Jewish Nation That Never Was—although Chabon’s locates itself in Alaska, while Zelitch’s can be found in a Saxony separated from reconstructed post-war East Germany, and home now to a Jewish state whose official business is all conducted through German. But I’ve never actually read more than descriptions and reviews of The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, so I’ll have to take Judenstaat solely on its own merits.

Zelitch is a prize-winning author of Jewish fiction: her previous novel, Louisa, won the Goldberg Prize. I’m an Irish atheist whose knowledge of Jewish history and culture is limited to a couple of college courses and some reading. There are nuances here, and probably culturally contingent conversations and references, that I’m bound to miss. With that caveat—

This is a very peculiar book.

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Four Roads Cross Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a galley copy of Max Gladstone’s Four Roads Cross, the fifth book in the Craft Sequence, available July 26th from Tor Books!

In Four Roads Cross, the great city of Alt Coulumb is in crisis. The moon goddess Seril, long thought dead, is back—and the people of Alt Coulumb aren’t happy. Protests rock the city, and Kos Everburning’s creditors attempt a hostile takeover of the fire god’s church. Tara Abernathy, the god’s in-house Craftswoman, must defend the church against the world’s fiercest necromantic firm–and against her old classmate, a rising star in the Craftwork world.

As if that weren’t enough, Cat and Raz, supporting characters from Three Parts Dead, are back too, fighting monster pirates; skeleton kings drink frozen cocktails, defying several principles of anatomy; jails, hospitals, and temples are broken into and out of; choirs of flame sing over Alt Coulumb; demons pose significant problems; a farmers’ market proves more important to world affairs than seems likely; doctors of theology strike back; Monk-Technician Abelard performs several miracles; The Rats! play Walsh’s Place; and dragons give almost-helpful counsel.

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 June 30th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on July 4th. 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.

The Last Adventure of Constance Verity

Ever since she was granted a wish at birth by her fairy godmother, Constance Verity has become the world’s great adventurer. She is a master of martial arts, a keen detective, and possesses a collection of strange artifacts. Constance has spent the past twenty-eight years saving the world, and she’s tired of it. All she wants is to work in an office and date a nice, normal guy. And she’s figured a way out.

The only problem is that saving the world is Constance’s destiny. She’s great at it, and there are forces at work to make sure she stays in the job. Then again, it’s also her destiny to have a glorious death…

A. Lee Martinez’s The Last Adventure of Constance Verity is available July 5th from Saga Press.

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Let It Make a Lot of Cash: Disney’s Frozen

According to the expert opinions of the kids next door, Frozen is not just the best Disney movie ever, but the best movie ever ever ever.

EVER.

Which is one reason why I hesitated to include it in this Read-Watch: that expert opinion has also led the kids next door to play the English and Spanish soundtracks from Frozen at high volume on a regular basis, and, far worse, sing along with both. By the fifth rendition of “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman/Si Hacemos un Muñeco” during a Florida August, I was ready to hunt down the songwriters and bury them in snowmen myself. Plus, I had the excuse that Frozen, despite a credit that reads “inspired by” Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen, departs so far from that novella that the film is usually credited as a Disney original.

So skipping Frozen was the original plan—until, that is, I happened to reread The Snow Queen for other reasons, and realized that, in spirit, Frozen may be probably closer to its original source material than anything we’ve seen so far in this reread.

Really.

[A sympathetic monster, a questionable prince, and a major box office take]

Listen to Victor LaValle, Paul Tremblay, and Laird Barron Dissect the Horror Genre

Last week, three masters of horror—Victor LaValle, Paul Tremblay, and Laird Barron—read from their latest works at Book Culture Columbus in New York City, and stopped by The Wall Street Journal‘s Speakeasy Podcast to discuss dark fiction, H.P. Lovecraft, and the roots of psychological dread with Michael Calia.

The three authors discussed the first books and movies that scared them, and how those early experiences of horror fiction resonate in their work today. All thread relatable fears through their uncanny tales: LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom connects cosmic horror to the visceral perils of prejudice, while Tremblay’s new novel Disappearance at Devil’s Rock revolves around the fraught relationship between children and parents. Barron’s upcoming collection, Swift to Chase, combines dark fantasy with tangible terror, and incorporates noir into his stories of horror in the Alaskan wilderness.

Listen to LaValle, Tremblay, and Barron discuss fiction, fear, and things that go bump in the night on the Speakeasy Podcast now!

Words of Radiance Reread: Chapter 87

Welcome back to the Words of Radiance Reread on Tor.com! Last week, Shallan evacuated the armies through the Oathgate while Kaladin battle Szeth through and above the clashing storms. This week, in the aftermath, they face rearrangement of the world as they knew it. Also, Lopen is glow-y and Moash is gloomy.

This reread will contain spoilers for The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance, and any other Cosmere book that becomes relevant to the discussion. The index for this reread can be found here, and more Stormlight Archive goodies are indexed here.

Click on through to join the discussion!

[Everybody, give the Lopen your spheres! I have glowing that needs to be done!]

Series: Words of Radiance Reread on Tor.com

Figuring Out What the “Speed of Plot” is in Game of Thrones

To hear the internet tell it, the recent sixth season of Game of Thrones was more exciting than the show has been since the Red Wedding. One of the methods the show used to obtain that momentum was by cutting out the length of each character’s journey through, around, and outside of Westeros. If Character A needed to travel hundreds of miles to go see Character B, for instance, then they’d be there in their next scene. In essence, Game of Thrones’ sixth season eschewed the geography of A Song of Ice and Fire in favor of having the characters travel at the speed of plot.

The Verge recently combined the character’s journeys in season 6 into a handy map, then rated the believability of each plotline on a scale of 1 to 10. They judge Brienne’s plotline as the most “actually possible” with everyone else falling into the realm of, well, fantasy. They don’t, however, calculate the actual time of each character’s season 6 journey, which would be interesting to know. How much time is compressed into season 6?

The Trouble with Paradoxes: New Pompeii by Daniel Godfrey

“Like Crichton at his best,” proclaims the pull-quote on the front cover of Daniel Godfrey’s New Pompeii. I suppose I should have taken that as a warning…

The problem with novels involving time travel is paradox. The problem with paradox in novels is that novels, generally, rely on the existence of cause-and-effect. This happens, so that happens, so the climax and denouement makes sense and offers some sense of narrative satisfaction. Paradox puts a spanner in the whole works. Paradox makes the wheels come off. Paradox screws everything up.

I hate paradox. And New Pompeii relies on it.

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16 Books That Reveal the Interesting Historical Oddities of Comic Books

For many years comic books skulked in the shadows of culture, considered juvenile at best, or outright dangerous at worst. Only in the last few decades has there been a serious effort to treat them as the art form they are, and to study their history in a serious way.

I’ve gathered some of the best non-fiction looks at comics history below, from overviews of the medium as a whole, to detailed biographies of key comics creators. Go forth, learn some history, and let us know if we left any of your favorite comics histories out!

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