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 22, 2014
What is it Like to be a Malfoy Post-Battle of Hogwarts? Rowling Reveals All on Pottermore
Stubby the Rocket
December 18, 2014
Mistborn Fans Will Get TWO New Novels Next Year!
Tor.com
December 15, 2014
Steven Erikson: On Completing Malazan
Tor.com
December 12, 2014
When My Wife Put Her Face in a Fireball for Epic Fantasy
Brian Staveley
December 10, 2014
Even More Standalone Fantasy Fiction!
Stubby the Rocket
Tue
Dec 23 2014 10:00am

God Bless Pastiche! The 7 Best Non-Traditional Christmas Carols of Film and TV

If I had a pet reindeer, or any kind of creature that resembled a fawn or Bambi-style animal, I’d name it Dickens. Come on. How adorable would it be to have a little pet deer named Dickens? Here Dickens! Come have a sugar cube! That’s a good little Dickens. What’s your favorite story? What’s that you say, “A Christmas Carol?” Well, I don’t feel like reading to you, because you’re a little deer, so let’s watch a movie or a TV special instead. Whatyda say?

And then, as a gift to Dickens, I would have to compile a list of movie and TV adaptations of Charles Dickens’s awesome book—A Christmas Carol—and I’d want those adaptations to be somehow a little bit different from their source material, because deers like stuff that’s new.

What are the best non-traditional versions of A Christmas Carol? These.

[Read more]

Tue
Dec 23 2014 9:00am

Legends & Lairs in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition’s “Monster Manual”

D&D monster manual 5th editionMost “monster manuals” are a perfect blend of “fluff and crunch,” of ideas and mechanics. I say perfect, because there is enough material in a decent monster book to satisfy those who are just looking for rules—perhaps just intending to re-skin the monster and call it something else to suit their homebrew campaign, even—and there is enough description and inspiration to interest someone who doesn’t even run the system but is enjoying the art, the ecology, the mythology and inspiration.

I think the Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual is a triumph of fluff, with story hooks that synthesize past edition’s mythology into well-packaged blocks. There is also a lot of great crunch here, but I am ready for the mechanics to go to the next level—they just need a little house ruling to get there, if you ask me.

[Read More]

Tue
Dec 23 2014 8:00am

Morning Roundup: Gracepoint Throws Out Doctor Who Easter Eggs for David Tennant Fans

David Tennant Gracepoint Easter egg Doctor Who

The folks at Gracepoint are rewarding David Tennant for watching the Tenth Doctor growl his way through their remake of Broadchurch. The show’s creator Chris Chibnall—who has also written for Doctor Who—tweeted these great props from the desk of Tennant’s protagonist Detective Carver. The TARDIS phone must get great reception.

Morning Roundup radically reimagines an Octavia E. Butler classic, makes holiday wreaths from old books, cheers over the Empire Strikes Back live read’s special guest, and is super jealous of Bill Gates’ reddit Secret Santa gift recipient.

[Read more]

Mon
Dec 22 2014 5:00pm

I’ll Just Have a Little Lava, Thanks: The Top of the Volcano: The Award Winning Stories of Harlan Ellison

The Top of the Volcano Harlan Ellison A few weeks ago, I participated in a big marathon reading of Moby Dick in New York City and while many people read from ornately bound editions of the giant novel, I was thrilled to be using my dog-eared paperback copy with totally pulpy cover art and a corny plot summary to match—a MADMAN DRIVEN INSANE BY A WHALE!

What I’m saying is, I’m not crazy about “classy” reissues, so I’ve had a hard time with the new Harlan Ellison omnibus: The Top of the Volcano. It’s such a freaking tome. Ellison is the bomb, and I love (most) of these stories. But should he be read like this? All fancy?

[Read more]

Mon
Dec 22 2014 4:30pm

Mike Colter Cast as Marvel’s Luke Cage!

Mike Colter, Luke Cage, Marvel

It was rumored a while back, but now it’s been confirmed: Mike Colter has been cast as Luke Cage!

[Read more]

Mon
Dec 22 2014 4:00pm

Follow Your Arrow: Look At Your Life, Look At Your Choices

In this week’s blog post, we’re dealing with chapters 7-9 of Arrow’s Flight. For the past five chapters, Talia has been working towards emotional collapse, triggered by Kris’s thoughtless remarks. Kris has grown increasingly attached to Talia, while questioning the validity of his own feelings.

After a grueling few weeks caring for an entire village struck down by illness, a long ride through the snow, and a last-minute scramble to gather firewood in a blizzard, Talia completely loses it in the Waystation where they take shelter from the storm (Kris fumigated this time, for those of you keeping track). Her uncontrolled MindGift nearly kills her, Kris, their Companions, and two defenseless chirras.

[A lot happens here. Let me begin with the parts I like.]

Mon
Dec 22 2014 3:30pm

What is it Like to be a Malfoy Post-Battle of Hogwarts? Rowling Reveals All on Pottermore

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Draco Malfoy, Tom Felton

J.K. Rowling has released her heftiest piece of writing for the holiday Pottermore bonanza, it it gives us a healthy swath of background on everyone’s favorite nemesis in the Potter series: Draco Malfoy. Want the very best bits? Take a peek below...

[Some wizard families are better than others…]

Mon
Dec 22 2014 3:00pm

Technology is the Worst Gift in Black Mirror: White Christmas

Black Mirror: White Christmas TV review Rafe Spall Jon Hamm Oona Chaplin Charlie Brooker

It’s unnervingly fitting that Black Mirror: White Christmas focuses less on societal issues (as covered in the show’s other, self-contained episodes) and more on technology and the normal people who wield it. After all, Christmas is the season of giving big, highly desired gifts to loved ones, always with the best intentions in mind. But sometimes those intentions only lead to pain. In Charlie Brooker’s dystopian British Christmas special, technological advancements meant to make our lives easier instead break down communication and dilute our sense of humanity. Brooker doesn’t even go for some futuristic tech like drones or artificial intelligence, instead extrapolating out from Google Glass and implant tech that already exists.

Through three interlocking tales and a frame story deftly handled by Jon Hamm and Rafe Spall, we learn the consequences of humans using technology to reform how we see the world and to force those closest to us into new roles or contexts. This special is supremely disturbing but necessary holiday viewing.

[Read more]

Mon
Dec 22 2014 2:00pm

The Hobbit Reread: Concluding with The Battle of the Five Armies

The Hobbit Battle of Five Armies

Welcome back to the chapter-by-chapter reread of The Hobbit, which is now concluded with this discussion of The Battle of the Five Armies, a.k.a. the adaptation of the last seven chapters.

Previously: we reread The Hobbit chapter-by-chapter (and The Lord of the Rings before it). I liked An Unexpected Journey more than I expected, but found The Desolation of Smaug to be like butter that has been scraped over too much bread—which is apparently the reverse of the general critical consensus.

What about this movie, the last adapting The Hobbit and the last Tolkien movie we can expect for the foreseeable future? (Before someone makes the inevitable Silmarillion-in-fifty-parts joke: it would have to be literally over the dead bodies of both Christopher Tolkien and his son, and even then I wouldn’t count on it.) Behind the jump, I’ll discuss what I thought the movie was trying to do, how well it achieved that, and a bit of what might have been. As always, spoilers for the movies and everything Tolkien (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and various posthumous tidbits).

[Read more…]

Mon
Dec 22 2014 1:30pm

You Gotta Deal With It: The Legend of Korra is Over

Legend of Korra finale

Tor.com’s offices are here in the Flatiron Building in New York City, a distinctive architectural wedge. Seeing Korra face down Kuvira’s giant platinum Colossus in The Legend of Korra series finale from atop a sharp triangular building in Republic City was a fun coincidence, huh? Really makes you feel like you’re in the thick of it...but then, I felt the same way when they put the Daily Bugle in the Flatiron Building in Spider-Man. Hey, and J.K. Simmons, Tenzin’s voice actor, played J. Jonah Jameson. Weird.

I know I’m rambling, but I’m still filled with nervous energy from the cliched-but-truly stunning conclusion of the series, and trying not to use a spoilery image at the top of the post. The Legend of Korra ended with action and romance and most importantly of all, the series ended with Korra continuing the arc of the Avatar spirit, begun in Aang: towards greater compassion, greater empathy.

[Read More]

Mon
Dec 22 2014 1:00pm

Rereading the Empire Trilogy: Servant of the Empire, Part 15

Servant of the Empire Raymond E Feist Janny WurtsWelcome back to the reread of Servant of the Empire by Raymond E Feist and Janny Wurts! This one’s all about the tasty, tasty politics. Pass the cucumber sandwiches, we have some deals to strike and some secret handshakes to devise.

Chapter 17: Grey Council

Summary: There has been no official call to council, but that’s not stopping the Ruling Lords of Tsurani, who have all decided to turn up to the council hall anyway, to find out what’s going on. It’s all very casual, nothing to see here.

Mara’s first port of call is to Tecuma of the Anasati, her father-in-law—he is polite and shares some gossip with her, but has little patience with her today as he is mourning the loss of his eldest son Halesko on the far side of the Rift. (Oops that means Jiro is first son now, let’s not think too hard about that...) She goes to hang out with her Clan instead. No one is obviously jockeying for position yet, but Mara is well aware that the Acoma are not likely to come out ahead in this latest wave of uncertainty.

Speaking of pure doom for the Acoma, guess who has just arrived home at the Minwanabi estate?

[Read More]

Mon
Dec 22 2014 12:15pm

Terry Pratchett Based Crowley on Neil Gaiman, and Other Tidbits from the Writing of Good Omens

how Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett wrote Good OmensWhen Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett published Good Omens in 1990, Gaiman says, they decided to tell people only a little bit about how exactly they collaborated on the beloved fantasy novel. But now, tied to the broadcast of the Good Omens radio play, Gaiman shares an in-depth look at the writing process, from his and Pratchett’s first meeting in a Chinese restaurant in 1985 to who is responsible for which characters.

There are long phone calls we wish we could have listened in on, character genders getting swapped, details borrowed from one of the authors, and doves. Yes, doves.

[Read more]

Mon
Dec 22 2014 12:00pm

Have Yourself a Dark and Terrifying Christmas

Dark Santa

Are you tired of It’s a Wonderful Life? Has the Elf plummeted from the Shelf? I’ve gathered some darker Christmas fare—from Krampus tales to explorations of addiction, from Hideous Laughing Reindeer to machine guns—so allow me to fill your stocking with some twisted holiday classics!

[Ho-Ho-Ho.]

Mon
Dec 22 2014 11:00am

Legend of Korra’s Finale and the Problem With “Fan Service”

Legend of Korra finale, Korra, Asami

The Legend of Korra finale has come and gone, and it was an emotional ride for many. And while there’s been an outpouring or support for the ending of the show, there’s a thing I keep seeing around the internet that’s pissing me off, and I have a word or two I’d like to say about it.

It’s a lot of words, actually.

Immediate spoilers for the finale of the series below.

[Maybe it’s time to retire this term.]

Mon
Dec 22 2014 10:00am

Getting Into Into the Woods

Into the Woods

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, are chronically late to the theater and always miss the previews, or are deathly allergic to the smell of popcorn and artificial butter and so haven’t been to movies full stop, then you are almost certain to be aware that Disney’s cinematic retelling of Steven Sondheim’s classic musical Into the Woods is being released in a few weeks as a Christmas present to lovers of fairy tales and/or Johnny Depp everywhere. As a long time fan of Sondheim and of Into the Woods in particular my initial reaction was, ‘Really? Disney?’

This is NOT because I am a Disney hater. I live fifteen minutes from the park and got a report this week from Disney’s passholder services, who were ever so gently reminding me to renew, that I’ve visited the park no less than sixty or so times in the past couple of years. No, the reason for my reaction was that Sondheim’s musical is anything but your typical Disney faire. Very adult themes are addressed in the musical including rape, infidelity, child abandonment, stealing, lying, murder, and so on. None of the characters are classic heroes, many of the main characters die horribly, and the final song is basically the moral counterpoint to ole Jiminy Cricket’s suggestion that when you wish upon a star, “anything your heart desires will come to you.”

I realize that the musical Into the Woods is now over a quarter of a century old, having made its way onto Broadway in 1987, so many readers and moviegoers may not be familiar with the story. So, let us then dive into this steamy plot so you can get a sense of the many challenges that Disney faced in making a film for general audiences from Sondheim’s original work.

[Read More]

Mon
Dec 22 2014 9:00am

I Hear Santa’s Sleigh: On The Polar Express and What It Means to Believe

The Polar Express

It’s sappy holiday story time! Are you ready? I’m ready….

So, Christmas at my house has always been a decidedly secular affair. In that way, I’m no different from a good portion of North America. My parents and I always loved decorating our tree, drinking cocoa, putting out the cookies and such, but the only time we ever arrived at a Christmas mass it was to hear my piano teacher play the service. I went to see one live nativity display as a teen because a friend’s cousin was playing one of the Wise Men. The only Jesus Christ I was listening to was probably the Superstar kind.

Santa Claus, however, was another matter entirely.

[A single bell…]

Mon
Dec 22 2014 8:00am

Morning Roundup: These Sweaters Are the Final Frontier of Knitwear

Star Trek Christmas Sweaters

We approve of this mission to seek out new and ever more hideous Christmas sweaters! Her Universe tweeted this picture, and we just want to hug everyone involved. Look how jolly Bones is with reindeer prancing across his chest! Look how Kirk’s Rudolph sweater somehow acts as a counterpoint to his virility! And ponder the fact that not even a ridiculous sweater can make Uhura look silly.

Morning Roundup takes a close look at Interstellar’s to-be-read stack, remembers a simpler time when no one knew what Super Mario 3 was really about, and gets personal with Birdman!

[Plus, the Rebel Alliance saves Christmas!]

Fri
Dec 19 2014 5:00pm
Excerpt

The Book of Storms (Excerpt)

Ruth Hatfield

The Book of Storms Ruth Hatfield excerpt Eleven-year-old Danny O’Neill has never been what you’d call adventurous. But when he wakes the morning after a storm to find his house empty, his parents gone, and himself able to hear the thoughts of a dying tree, he has no choice but to set out to find answers.

He soon learns that the enigmatic Book of Storms holds the key to what he seeks… but unraveling its mysteries won’t be easy. If he wants to find his family, he’ll have to face his worst fears and battle terrifyingly powerful enemies, including the demonic Sammael himself.

In the beautifully imagined landscape of Ruth Hatfield’s The Book of Storms, magic seamlessly intertwines with the everyday, nothing is black and white, and Danny is in a race against time to rescue everything he holds dear. The Book of Storms is available January 27th from Henry Holt Books for Young Readers!

[Read an Excerpt]

Fri
Dec 19 2014 4:00pm

Tim Powers Unlocks Another Gate in Nobody’s Home

Nobody's Home The Anubis Gate Tim Powers review The Anubis Gates, by Tim Powers, had been out a good dozen years when I first read it in 1995 or so. Published in 1983 and winner of the Philip K. Dick award, this landmark steampunk novel is the story of Brendan Doyle, an English professor who finds himself trapped in a 19th century alternate London where ghosts lurk in the shadows, magicians vie for power over old gods and time travel gates, and guilds of penniless beggars and confidence tricksters scramble to pick up any crumbs dropped by the wealthier and more magically privileged classes of their intensely stratified society.

In The Anubis Gates, Doyle runs afoul of a magician, Amenophis Fikee, more widely known as Dog-Face Joe. As a side-effect of a magical rituals gone wrong, Joe has become a grotesquely intimate form of serial killer. Every so often he must switch bodies, taking possession of a new victim. His new host immediately begins to grow a dense pelt of all-over body hair.

[Expanding The Anubis Gates universe]

Fri
Dec 19 2014 3:00pm

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “The Siege of AR-558”

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: The Siege of AR-558“The Siege of AR-558”
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Season 7, Episode 8
Production episode 40510-558
Original air date: November 18, 1998
Stardate: unknown

Station log: For reasons passing understanding, Rom is auditioning for Fontaine’s opening act, never mind that it’s a friggin holodeck program. Bashir arrives and takes a set of recordings of Fontaine singing to bring on a supply run to AR-558.

The Defiant heads off, with Quark as a reluctant passenger, sent by Zek to provide a report on the front lines. Sisko, Bashir, Dax, and Nog beam down (along with Quark) with the supplies, while Worf and O’Brien remain on the Defiant. The away team is fired on by Vargas, who saw movement, and who never got the memo that Starfleet officers were beaming down. Larkin castigates Vargas (who rants quite crazily), and then informs Sisko that she’s in command, as the captain and commander who were in charge are dead.

[There’s only one order, Lieutenant: we hold!]