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
Wed
Dec 17 2014 2:00pm

What of the King Under the Mountain? The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Thorin, Bilbo

It was a cue that the overall tone of the final Hobbit film had been altered when it’s subtitle was changed from There and Back Again to The Battle of the Five Armies. And while the film has its fair share of dazzling moments, it does prove what many fans had bemoaned from the very start of this enterprise: it should have been two films, not three.

Minor spoilers for the film (and book) below.

[Tea is at four. Don’t bother knocking.]

Wed
Dec 17 2014 1:00pm

Rereading Melanie Rawn: The Star Scroll, Chapters 8 and 9

Melanie Rawn Dragon Prince Star Scroll rereadWelcome to the weekly Wednesday reread of The Star Scroll! This week the dragons come back to the Desert, Pol learns an important secret, and Segev plots evilly.

Chapter 8

So This Happens: The dragons come back to the Desert, and the family reacts in their various ways. Pol actively tries to sense them, and succeeds, if faintly. Maarken just does. Feylin takes the census from the top of the Flametower, assisted by Rohan and Tobin and their spouses, with some teasing and some discussion of how wonderful the dragons are. Rohan and Tobin also talk about the dragons’ gold, and find that Pol has overheard.

[Read More]

Wed
Dec 17 2014 12:00pm

We Three Kings Have Traveled Far, Over The Misty Mountains Cold

As Christmas carols go, “We Three Kings” is weird, sad, and slow. Though widely believed to be the work of one John Henry Hopkins, Jr., who supposedly wrote it for a Christmas pageant in 1857, Max Gladstone and his musical compatriot Dan Jordan have dug deep into the darkness of this traditional song to find the truth. The roots of this decidedly dour tune lie beneath the Misty Mountains themselves, because it turns out that it’s an adaptation of an old Dwarven folk ballad! Maybe you’ve heard of it?

[It’s a Misty Mountain Christmas]

Wed
Dec 17 2014 11:30am

The Whispering Swarm Sweepstakes!

On January 13th, The Whispering Swarm, Michael Moorcock’s first independent novel in nine years, comes out from Tor Books. We’ve given you an exclusive sneak peek, and now we want to send five winners a galley, so you can read the first novel in a new trilogy from this acclaimed master of science fiction and fantasy before it hits shelves.

Check for the rules below!

[Read more]

Wed
Dec 17 2014 11:10am

It’s a Good Thing Neil Gaiman Was Kidding About Tom Hiddleston Playing Morpheus in Sandman

Neil Gaiman Morpheus casting Sandman Benedict Cumberbatch Tom Hiddleston

In a recent interview with Radio Times, Neil Gaiman threw out potential candidates to play Morpheus in the upcoming adaptation of his Sandman graphic novel series. Some suggestions were legitimate, as he talked about one-time candidates now too old for the role; but once he started joking about Englishmen and their cheekbones, we should have known not to take him seriously.

[Read more]

Wed
Dec 17 2014 10:20am

Philip Pullman Releases New His Dark Materials Story for Christmas

Philip Pullman The Collectors audio story

Hot on the heels of the “wonderland of new writing by J. K. Rowling” being released over at Pottermore, I’ve got good Philip Pullman news and bad Philip Pullman news for you. All we need now is for Suzanne Collins to unveil an exclusive new tale about The Hunger Games’ Gale and this Christmas will be complete.

We’re going to begin today with the bad, because that way we can conclude on the good: the long-awaited companion piece to His Dark Materials, The Book of Dust, isn’t even nearly here.

[Read More]

Wed
Dec 17 2014 10:00am

‘Twas the Dark Knight Before Christmas: Batman Returns

Batman Returns Christmas

This year marked the 75th anniversary of Batman, so it seems only fitting to close out the year with Tim Burton’s classic Christmas movie, Batman Returns.

When it was released back in the summer of 1992, the movie was greeted as an oddball failure. Sure, it made enough money to warrant another sequel, but it suffered a sharp drop off at the box office after a big opening weekend and it faced a backlash from audiences who found it too dark, too sexual, and too weird. One can hardly blame the good people of ’92, though. Batman Returns is indeed one the strangest blockbusters ever made.

[It’s also one of the most interesting.]

Wed
Dec 17 2014 9:00am

Picturing Dragons

Picturing Dragons

This gallery was originally posted July 16, 2014 on Tor.com

Dragons are arguably the most ubiquitous and most beloved fantastical creature. Initially I shied away from dragons as a theme—they’re everywhere, where do you even start!? But they are everywhere because they are cool, and seeking out dragon images meant going down a delightful rabbit-hole through all ages, cultures, styles, and dispositions. So without further ado, welcome to Picturing Dragons, at 170 drawings and paintings, it is perhaps the largest installment of the Picturing series yet!

We start off (above) with one of the most beautiful renditions of one of the most famous dragons of them all, Alan Lee’s Smaug.

[See More]

Wed
Dec 17 2014 8:00am

Morning Roundup: This Fossil Fuel Will Last Eight Nights!

Tor.com hopes everyone who celebrated had a wonderful first night of Hanukkah! We’ve already given you tips to Cthulhu-ize your Christmas wreath and Potterfy your Christmas tree, so now, courtesy of The Vanilla Studio, we present: Menorah-saurus Rex!

Morning Roundup brings you a new way to discuss evolution, news of Tim Burton’s next project, and the latest product from the Ghostbusters-reboot rumor factory.

[Plus, a bunch of llamas get to first base with a fantasy author!]

Tue
Dec 16 2014 5:00pm

Short Fiction Spotlight: Nunslinger Begins

Nunslinger

Welcome back to the Short Fiction Spotlight, a weekly column dedicated to doing exactly what it says in the header: shining a light on the some of the best and most relevant fiction of the aforementioned form.

In Great Britain and beyond, ghost stories are seen as something of a winter tradition, and I guess that makes a certain amount of sense. This time of year, there’s precious little light left, and in its absence... why, what else but darkness? Which is itself scary enough for some, but bear with me a bit, because darkness, in turn, suggests silence, and in silence, every sound seems strange—intrusive, even. No wonder we tell tales of things that go bump in the night. No wonder we spin fictions to diminish our fear of the unseen. In a way, being scared makes us feel safer. And so: ghost stories.

Well, thank Santa for counter-programming! I’ve never been one to watch the Queen’s Christmas Message—the alternative address has always been my preference—and much as I adore a good ghost story, reading one this week would be more than a little predictable. So I sought out something a little different: an episodic western about a nun with guns.

[Read More]

Tue
Dec 16 2014 4:23pm

The 2014 Black List Features Artificial Intelligence Thrillers, Space Angst, and Apocalyptic Family Dramas

The Black List 2014 genre movies sci-fi fantasy superheroes supernaturalSince 2004, every December has seen the publication of The Black List, a survey of Hollywood executives’ favorite unproduced screenplays of the past year. What started as a fun exercise has gained traction as a development tool for aspiring screenwriters; several movies that have appeared on The Black List have gone on to be produced, including 2014 films Transcendence and The Imitation Game.

Of the 70 screenplays featured on The Black List 2014, about one-quarter were genre stories. Read on to see which under-the-radar scripts—featuring moon colony murders, pill-popping superheroes, alien baby showers, and possessed newlyweds—might end up on the silver screen one day soon.

[Read more]

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]