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
Showing posts by: Jo Walton click to see Jo Walton's profile
Mon
Dec 15 2014 12:00pm
Excerpt

The Just City (Excerpt)

Jo Walton The Just City excerpt Created as an experiment by the time-traveling goddess Pallas Athene, the Just City is a planned community, populated by over ten thousand children and a few hundred adult teachers from all eras of history, along with some handy robots from the far human future—all set down together on a Mediterranean island in the distant past.

The student Simmea, born an Egyptian farmer’s daughter sometime between 500 and 1000 A.D, is a brilliant child, eager for knowledge,  ready to strive to be her best self. The teacher Maia was once Ethel, a young Victorian lady of much learning and few prospects, who prayed to Pallas Athene in an unguarded moment during a trip to Rome—and, in an instant, found herself in the Just City with grey-eyed Athene standing unmistakably before her. Meanwhile, Apollo—stunned by the realization that there are things mortals understand better than he does—has arranged to live a human life, and has come to the City as one of the children. He knows his true identity, and conceals it from his peers. For this lifetime, he is prone to all the troubles of being human.

Then, a few years in, Sokrates arrives—the same Sokrates recorded by Plato himself—to ask all the troublesome questions you would expect. What happens next is a tale only Jo Walton could tell. The Just City is available January 13th from Tor Books—check out an excerpt below!

[Read an excerpt]

Fri
Sep 26 2014 10:00am

Awesome Aliens: Jim Cambias’s A Darkling Sea

A Darkling Sea James L CambiasWhat’s better than a first novel with awesome aliens that includes really well done alien points of view? A first novel with two lots of different awesome aliens that includes two different alien points of view!

I’ve been enjoying James Cambias’s short work for years, and I was excited to hear about A Darkling Sea. When I was asked to read it to see if I wanted to blurb it I agreed—and at that point I didn’t know anything about it but the title and author. Then I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I enjoyed it even more reading it again now. I’d have loved this book when I was twelve, and I still love it. This is an old-fashioned science fiction novel with today’s science—biology and physics and astronomy.

[Read more: no spoilers]

Thu
Sep 25 2014 8:00am

After Paris: Meta, Irony, Narrative, Frames, and The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride

I am not the intended audience for William Goldman’s The Princess Bride. Likely you’re not either, as you’re reading this on Tor.com. We read fantasy. We love books about heroes and villains and giants and princesses. We are not so cynical that we have to be coaxed into a story about true love and a wicked prince and a masked pirate. Goldman isn’t a fantasy writer. He’s a literary writer, and his imagined readers are literary readers, and he wrote The Princess Bride with no expectation that it would fit on my shelves between Parke Godwin and Lisa Goldstein. It’s possible he’d be slightly embarrassed if he knew he was rubbing shoulders with them, and he’d be happier to see his work set between William Golding and Nadine Gorimer. He wrote The Princess Bride in 1973, after Tolkien, but before genre fantasy was a publishing phenomenon. And it’s not genre fantasy—though it (or anyway the movie) is part of what has shaped genre fantasy as it is today. Goldman’s novel is a swashbuckling fairytale. I think Goldman wanted to write something like a children’s book with the thrills of a children’s book, but for adults. Many writers have an imaginary reader, and I think Goldman’s imaginary reader for The Princess Bride was a cynic who normally reads John Updike, and a lot of what Goldman is doing in the way he wrote the book is trying to woo that reader. So, with that reader in mind, he wrote it with a very interesting frame. And when he came to make it into a movie, he wrote it with a different and also interesting frame.

[Read more: You’re in the Pit of Despond]

Thu
Sep 18 2014 10:00am

Love as Contest in the Work of Mary Renault

Mary Renault

Mary Renault (1905-1983) wrote six contemporary novels between 1938 and 1955 and then The Last of the Wine (1956) and the other Greek novels that are what she is best known for. Like most Renault readers I’m aware of, I came to her Greek novels first, and read her contemporary novels later. For most of my life her Greek novels have been in print and easy to find, while her contemporary novels have been almost impossible to get hold of. Now they are all available as e-books, and this makes me really happy as it means it is possible to recommend them in good conscience.

The Greek novels are historical novels set in Ancient Greece, and I love them. It’s possible to argue that they’re fantasy because the characters believe in the gods and see their hands at work in the world, but that’s a fairly feeble argument. They do however appeal to readers of fantasy and SF because they provide a completely immersive world that feels real and different and solid, and characters who completely belong in that world. I recommend them wholeheartedly to anyone who likes fantasy not because they are fantasy but because they scratch the same kind of itch. I’ve written about The Mask of Apollo and The King Must Die here on Tor.com before.

[Read more]

Tue
Aug 12 2014 8:00am
Original Story

Sleeper

History is a thing we make—in more senses than one. And from more directions.

This short story was acquired and edited for Tor.com by senior editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden.

[Read “Sleeper” by Jo Walton.]

Thu
Jun 5 2014 9:00am

A Day in the Life of Bast: Patrick Rothfuss’s “The Lightning Tree”

Rogues review Patrick Rothfuss “The Lightning Tree” appears in the anthology Rogues; it’s a novella, 58 pages long, and it’s about Bast. The idea of an anthology of stories about rogues is fascinating—rogues themselves are such an interestingly ambiguous kind of character. A rogue isn’t a villain—or isn’t necessarily a villain, but is inherently up to something. What we have here seems to be a story about a delightful charming person who is doing some things for mysterious reasons.

It’s interesting to consider how “The Lightning Tree” would appear to somebody who hadn’t read The Name of the Wind or The Wise Man’s Fear, and who was discovering Rothfuss for the first time with this story. It would be such a different reading experience that it would be hard to say whether somebody doing that would even have read the same story I did. For them, it would be the story of a young man who works in an inn and who is powerfully attractive to and attracted to women. He also helps out children in a complicated system of exchanges, all of them fascinating and some of them obviously magical.

[Read More]

Sat
May 17 2014 11:30am

Mary Stewart, 1916-2014: An Appreciation

I was sorry to hear that Mary Stewart is dead, at the age of 97.

She was a writer of romantic and Arthurian novels who was never afraid of crossing the border into the fantastic. She had a wonderfully sure voice and a way of using tiny descriptive details to make even the most implausible things believable. 

[Read more]

Thu
May 15 2014 10:00am

Rothfuss Reread: What Can We Learn From The Name of the Wind Playing Cards? (Part 3)

Patrick Rothfuss The Name of the Wind playing cards My obsessively detailed reread of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles is over, but we want to keep on talking about the books. I’m going to post the occasional continuation post when the last one gets too long or if there’s something to say.

Spoilers for all of The Wise Man’s Fear and The Name of the Wind—these discussions assume you’ve read all of both books, and frankly they won’t make the slightest bit of sense if you haven’t. But we welcome new people who have read the books and want to geek out about them. This post is full of spoilers, please don’t venture beyond the cut unless you want them.

We’re still considering the Albino Dragon playing cards, produced with the close cooperation of Pat Rothfuss.

[Read more: spoilers, speculations, hearts and clubs]

Wed
May 14 2014 8:00am

“The Litany of Earth” and a New Generation Doing Wonderful Things

Ruthanna Emrys’s “The Litany of Earth” uses the Cthulhu mythos to talk about a subject dear to Lovecraft’s heart—racial hatred. It uses a mythology created by a racist in the 1920s to tell a story that directly addresses racism, in a context of Elder races and people who worship Cthulhu and have been persecuted for it. It’s the kind of story that uses the familiar and the strange together to make you think and make you care. It’s an excellent story. It’s also a milestone.

Some writers, like Samuel Delany, E. Lily Yu, and Brit Mandelo, emerge from their adolescence burning with talent and ready to take the world by storm.

Most of us take longer. Talent alone isn’t enough for most people, and craft skills take a little time to develop. It’s hard to say for sure what age most writers emerge, but if you look at the age of Campbell nominees for instance you see a median age of 33. (There’s a lot of variation of course. I was 37! And one of this year’s nominees, the wonderful Sofia Samatar, whose first novel A Stranger in Olondria is nominated for the Nebula, is 43.) But in general, you tend to see clusters of people coming into the field in their thirties with something to say and the skills to say it.

[Read more: a new generation doing wonderful things]

Thu
May 8 2014 10:00am

Rothfuss Reread: What Can We Learn From The Name of the Wind Playing Cards? (Part 2)

The Name of the Wind playing cards box My obsessively detailed reread of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles is over, but we want to keep on talking about the books. I’m going to post the occasional continuation post when the last one gets too long or if there’s something to say.

Spoilers for all of The Wise Man’s Fear and The Name of the Wind—these discussions assume you’ve read all of both books, and frankly they won’t make the slightest bit of sense if you haven’t. But we welcome new people who have read the books and want to geek out about them. This post is full of spoilers, please don’t venture beyond the cut unless you want them.

[Spoilers, speculations, spades and hearts]

Thu
May 1 2014 10:00am

Rothfuss Reread: What Can We Learn From The Name of the Wind Playing Cards? (Part 1)

Name of the Wind trading card box Patrick Rothfuss My obsessively detailed reread of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles is over, but we want to keep on talking about the books. I’m going to post the occasional continuation post when the last one gets too long or if there’s something to say.

Spoilers for all of The Wise Man’s Fear and The Name of the Wind—these discussions assume you’ve read all of both books, and frankly they won’t make the slightest bit of sense if you haven’t. But we welcome new people who have read the books and want to geek out about them. This post is full of spoilers, please don’t venture beyond the cut unless you want them.

This time, we’re going to start talking about the Name of the Wind playing cards.

[Spoilers, speculations, and playing cards]

Wed
Apr 9 2014 10:00am
Excerpt

My Real Children (Excerpt)

Jo Walton My Real Children

Check out Jo Walton’s My Real Children, available May 20th from Tor Books! Read an excerpt below, and learn more about the cover design here.

It’s 2015, and Patricia Cowan is very old. “Confused today,” read the notes clipped to the end of her bed. She forgets things she should know—what year it is, major events in the lives of her children.

But she remembers things that don’t seem possible. She remembers marrying Mark and having four children. And she remembers not marrying Mark and raising three children with Bee instead. She remembers the bomb that killed President Kennedy in 1963, and she remembers Kennedy in 1964, declining to run again after the nuclear exchange that took out Miami and Kiev.

Her childhood, her years at Oxford during the Second World War—those were solid things. But after that, did she marry Mark or not? Did her friends all call her Trish, or Pat? Had she been a housewife who escaped a terrible marriage after her children were grown, or a successful travel writer with homes in Britain and Italy? And the moon outside her window: does it host a benign research station, or a command post bristling with nuclear missiles?

[Read an Excerpt]

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]

Thu
Apr 3 2014 1:00pm

Rothfuss Reread: Making a Mask for Patrick Rothfuss, Part 2

My obsessively detailed reread of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles is over, but we want to keep on talking about the books. I’m going to post the occasional continuation post when the last one gets too long or if there’s something to say.

Spoilers for all of The Wise Man’s Fear and The Name of the Wind—these discussions assume you’ve read all of both books, and frankly they won’t make the slightest bit of sense if you haven’t. But we welcome new people who have read the books and want to geek out about them. This post is full of spoilers, please don’t venture beyond the cut unless you want them.

[A mask of that... tree I can’t spell]

Tue
Apr 1 2014 6:00am

There’s Not Been Enough of Samuel R. Delany

Samuel R. DelanySamuel Delany was born in New York on April 1st 1942, which makes today his seventy-second birthday. Happy birthday, Chip!

I could write a considered post about Delany’s significance to the field, but I’m just too enthusiastic about his work to do it in a properly calm way. Delany’s just one of the best writers out there, and he always has been, from his emergence with The Jewels of Aptor (1962) and The Fall of the Towers. (1963-5) to last year’s Through The Valley of the Nest of Spiders. His major work—Babel 17 (1966) (post), The Einstein Intersection (1967), Nova (1968) (post), Dhalgren (1974) (post), Tales of Neveryon (1975), Triton (1976) and Stars In My Pocket Like Grains of Sand (1984) (post)—is right at the top of what science fiction has ever achieved.

[Read more]

Fri
Mar 21 2014 8:00am

Magic and Dormrooms: Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s Spirits That Walk in Shadow

Spirits That Walk in Shadow Nina Kiriki Hoffman I’ve talked about Nina Kiriki Hoffman before, and how her strength is blending magic with very real things, so that both the real things and the magic resonate and make something simultaneously magical and homely and solid. In general I’m not a great fan of fantasy set in the real world because it always seems kind of fake and unbelievable—and also as if the writer thinks I’m stupid. The whole genre of urban fantasy tends to not work for me. Magic has to be really integrated into the world for me to believe it, and believe that I could have overlooked it if it was there. There are some writers who do it—Megan Lindholm, Terri Windling, Alan Garner, and most of all Nina Kiriki Hoffman.

Spirits That Walk in Shadow is a book about two different girls going to college and becoming roommates. It’s about all the every day practical details of sharing a room, registering for classes, hiding your household gods, and dealing with entities that feed on misery.

[Read more: no spoilers beyond the premise]

Thu
Mar 6 2014 12:00pm

A Library In Your Pocket: How Having an E-reader Has Changed My Reading Habits

I bought an e-reader almost two years ago. My son had one first, but he’s a technophilic early adopter. I on the other hand am a panda who likes to stick to my one comfortable grove of bamboo. But when my son came with me my signing tour in January 2011, he took his Kindle and I took eleven books. Then I bought more on the way and had to post some home from San Francisco. Even I could see the advantages of an e-reader for travel. There never was a more reluctant purchaser though.

[Read more: But now I love it]

Thu
Feb 13 2014 11:00am

Rothfuss Reread: Speculative Summary 21: The Thing in the Lackless Box

Patrick Rothfuss Kingkiller Chronicles

My obsessively detailed reread of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles is over, but we want to keep on talking about the books. I’m going to post the occasional continuation post when the last one gets too long or if there’s something to say.

Spoilers for all of The Wise Man’s Fear and The Name of the Wind—these discussions assume you’ve read all of both books, and frankly they won’t make the slightest bit of sense if you haven’t. But we welcome new people who have read the books and want to geek out about them. This post is full of spoilers, please don’t venture beyond the cut unless you want them.

[Read more: spoilers, speculations, a glass book, a copper box]

Fri
Jan 24 2014 10:00am

So, What Sort of Series Do You Like?

Jo Walton’s new book What Makes This Book So Great (U.S. / U.K.), is a collection of some of her best Tor.com posts honoring, analyzing, and reassessing science fiction and fantasy. The full collection, featuring over 130 essays, is out on January 21st and includes great opinion pieces like this, originally published in April of 2009.

I love series because when I love something I want more of it. Sure I’ll buy an utterly new book by an author I like, but I also want to find out what happened to the characters I already know I care about. I never realised quite how much genre readers love series until I got published though. People are always asking me if I’m writing a sequel to Tooth and Claw (No!) and if I’ll write any more of the Small Change books. (No!) Some people really don’t want to let go. And of course I’m the same, when I heard Bujold was writing a new Miles book I bounced up and down for hours.

So, fine, everyone loves series. But what kind of series do you like?

[Which do you prefer? And why?]

Thu
Jan 23 2014 9:00am

Like Pop Rocks for the Brain: Samuel R. Delany’s Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand

Jo Walton’s new book What Makes This Book So Great (U.S. / U.K.), is a collection of some of her best Tor.com posts honoring, analyzing, and reassessing science fiction and fantasy. The full collection, featuring over 130 essays, is out on January 21st and includes great opinion pieces like this, originally published in February of 2009.

Samuel Delany is intimidatingly brilliant, and Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand (1984) is (arguably) his best book. Even though he’s been one of my favourite writers since I was a teenager, and I’ve read all his books multiple times, I try not to re-read him when I’m writing because he sets such a high standard I feel that I might as well give up now.

You know how life and real history are always more complex and fractal than fiction can manage? Delany manages it. He does the thing where his science fictional innovations have second- and third-order consequences, where they interlock and give you worldviews. Other people do it, but he does it all the way down. He’s astonishing. This book has the density of very sparkly neutronium.

[Read more...]