Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza October 15, 2014 Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza Carrie Vaughn A Wild Cards story. The Girl in the High Tower October 14, 2014 The Girl in the High Tower Gennifer Albin A Crewel story. Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch October 8, 2014 Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch Kelly Barnhill An unconventional romance. Daughter of Necessity October 1, 2014 Daughter of Necessity Marie Brennan Tell me, O Muse, of that ingenious heroine...
From The Blog
October 14, 2014
A Category Unto Himself: The Works of China Miéville
Jared Shurin
October 10, 2014
Don’t Touch That Dial: Fall 2014 TV
Alex Brown
October 10, 2014
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell Reread: Part 1
Kate Nepveu
October 7, 2014
Shell Shock and Eldritch Horror: “Dagon”
Ruthanna Emrys and Anne M. Pillsworth
October 3, 2014
The Bloody Books of Halloween: William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist
Will Errickson
Showing posts by: Karin L Kross click to see Karin L Kross's profile
Fri
Nov 1 2013 5:00pm

Kidnapping, Vampires, and Boys: Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

Curtsies and Conspiracies Gail CarrigerIt’s a delight to return to the elegant steampunk world of Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series, the YA prequels to her Parasol Protectorate novels. Sophronia Temminnick, now fifteen, is excelling at her studies at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing School for Girls—indeed, at her six-month review, she receives the highest marks ever achieved at the school.

Academic accomplishment is all well and good, but afterward, Sophronia has a host of new trials. Her schoolmates shun her—including her closest friend Dimity (who still faints dead away at the sight of blood)—and her arch-rival Monique de Pelouse hates her as much as ever.

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Fri
Nov 1 2013 12:00pm

Outside the Jar of Tang: The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett

Carpet People Terry Pratchett There’s a famous science fiction trope named in the Turkey City Lexicon as “The Jar of Tang.” You know this sort of thing: the story where the heroes are slogging across an orange desert, only to encounter a slick transparent barrier and—you guessed it, they’re microorganisms in a jar of Tang.

You can identify a genuine Jar of Tang story with a simple test: does the story have any impact at all if you simply drop the characters in a mundane, twist-free setting, or does the story’s entire impact derive from that (rather cheap) reveal?

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Fri
Oct 18 2013 1:00pm

The Elric Reread: Stormbringer

Welcome back to the Elric Reread, in which I revisit one of my all-time favorite fantasy series, Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga. You can find all the posts in the series here. Today we get to the big one: Stormbringer.

Stormbringer is the culmination of Elric’s story, but it’s also one of the earliest-written Elric tales, originally published in four parts in 1964. At the time Science Fantasy, the magazine that had been publishing the Elric stories, was about to fold. So Moorcock decided this would be a good time to “finish the series with a bit of a bang,” as he wrote in 2008, and thus bring Elric’s story to an end—though, of course, he and Elric were far from done with one another.

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Fri
Oct 4 2013 1:00pm

The Elric Reread: The Bane of the Black Sword

Michael Moorcock The Bane of the Black Sword Elric SagaWelcome back to the Elric Reread, in which I revisit one of my all-time favorite fantasy series, Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga. You can find all the posts in the series here. Today’s post discusses The Bane of the Black Sword.

As we advance further in Elric’s own timeline toward his doom, we now step back in the writing of the stories to the early 1960s. The four stories in The Bane of the Black Sword were originally published shortly after “The Dreaming City” and “While the Gods Laugh,” which you’ll recall from The Weird of the White Wolf, and they are much more of a piece with those early Moorcock works than with The Revenge of the Rose.

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Mon
Sep 23 2013 11:30am

The Careful Leveraging of Fear: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale Margaret Atwood banned books Mrs. Gilbert was one of those cool English teachers. You know the kind. She told us about wanting to go to Woodstock and not being allowed by her parents because she was too young. She taught us to enjoy Shakespeare by encouraging us to figure out all the filthy jokes in Romeo and Juliet—“the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads?” and “thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit!”—a surefire way to the hearts and minds of a bunch of ninth-grade honors students who fancied themselves to be filthy-minded. She’s the one who gave me an A on my Elric fanfiction when I had the temerity to hand it in for a writing assignment. And she’s the one who suggested that I read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

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Fri
Sep 20 2013 1:00pm

The Elric Reread: The Revenge of the Rose

Michael Moorcock Elric The Revenge of the RoseWelcome back to the Elric Reread, in which I revisit one of my all-time favorite fantasy series: Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga. You can find all the posts in the series here. Today’s post discusses The Revenge of the Rose, published in 1991.

As with The Fortress of the Pearl, this is where reading the novels according to Elric’s own chronology gets a bit strange, because The Revenge of the Rose is a radically different book from the ones on either side of it in the series. In his introduction to the 2010 volume Swords and Roses, Moorcock writes that he was driven by a need to feel “as ambitious about that book as I had felt in 1961 when I began the series and was one of the very few producing this kind of fantasy.” To this end, he sends Elric on a quest across the Multiverse in search of a rosewood box that contains the soul of his father, Sadric.

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Fri
Sep 6 2013 1:00pm

The Elric Reread: The Sleeping Sorceress

Michael Moorcock Elric The Sleeping SorceressWelcome back to the Elric Reread, in which I revisit one of my all-time favorite fantasy series, Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga. You can find all the posts in the series here. Today’s post discusses The Sleeping Sorceress, originally published in 1972. DAW, for reasons best known to themselves, renamed the book The Vanishing Tower, which may be the title that you recognize.

When I sat down to reread The Sleeping Sorceress for this week’s installment, I knew that I had fond memories of having read it as The Vanishing Tower back in 1989, and I’m quite sure that I enjoyed it when the Del Rey reissue came out in 2008, though perhaps I didn’t read it all that closely at the time. Now it seems to combine some of the more frustrating excesses of the Elric saga with what are, by comparison to the rest of the series, fairly conventional fantasy plots.

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Fri
Aug 23 2013 1:00pm

The Elric Reread: The Weird of the White Wolf

Elric The Weird of the White Wolf Michael Moorcock

Welcome back to the Elric Reread, in which I revisit one of my all-time favorite fantasy series, Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga. You can find all the posts in the series here. Today’s post discusses The Weird of the White Wolf, published in 1977.

We are, as I and other writers at Tor have observed, well steeped nowadays in dark, brutal cinematic visions of what it means to be an heroic character. Superman lays waste to a city to save it; Batman must become the city’s scapegoat and descend into hell before redeeming himself with an act of self-immolation. Audiences and critics are, understandably, starting to chafe at these tropes; this may make the Elric saga, and The Weird of the White Wolf in particular, a bit of a hard sell these days.

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Fri
Aug 9 2013 5:00pm

Love and Corpse Disposal: Dead Pig Collector by Warren Ellis

Dead Pig Collector Warren Ellis In comics and prose, Warren Ellis excels at the procedural—Transmetropolitan followed Spider Jerusalem’s (admittedly often unorthodox) journalism, Planetary followed the exploits of superpowered investigators of the strange, and his previous novels, Crooked Little Vein and Gun Machine, were detective/police procedurals. In the novella Dead Pig Collector (excerpt here), he approaches the business of murder and body disposal from the other side of the law, in what might be called a criminal procedural and which Ellis himself describes as “a love story about the efficient disposal of corpses. Sort of.”

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Fri
Aug 9 2013 1:00pm

The Elric Reread: The Sailor on the Seas of Fate

Welcome back to the Elric Reread, in which I revisit one of my all-time favorite fantasy series, Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga. You can find all the posts in the series here. Today’s post discusses The Sailor on the Seas of Fate, published in 1976.

The Sailor on the Seas of Fate has never really been my favorite Elric book. Where The Fortress of the Pearl stands quite well on its own and in the continuity, Sailor is a little more awkward; it’s as if you can see more of the welding marks in its insertion into Elric’s continuity between the origin story of Elric of Melniboné and his downfall of The Weird of the White Wolf; where that book actually feels like a cohesive work, despite being composed of short stories published months, even years apart, Sailor feels disjointed, its structure forced. However, even a comparatively underwhelming Elric book has more going for it than your usual high fantasy offering.

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Fri
Jul 26 2013 12:00pm

The Elric Reread: The Fortress of the Pearl

Michael Moorcock Elric The Fortress of the PearlBy 1989, I was well and truly immersed in all things Moorcock and Elric—and I was stunned to learn that there was a new Elric book. This being well before the advent of the Internet, I’m pretty sure that I only found out about it when the book showed up in stores. The ending of Stormbringer being what it is, the only obvious option for a new Elric book was something that fit amongst the existing tales, and fortunately there is sufficient space between the recorded adventures to add more. Thus The Fortress of the Pearl fits between Elric of Melniboné and The Sailor on the Seas of Fate.

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Fri
Jul 26 2013 11:00am

Simple Does Not Equal Dumb, and Other Assorted Thoughts on Pacific Rim

There’s a kind of meme going around right now with regard to Pacific Rim that really gets up my nose: that Pacific Rim is a “dumb movie.” As in, a friend recently asked on Facebook if anyone had seen it, and amongst the responses was a comment along the lines of, “It was a dumb movie, but I really liked it.” Even Chris Lough here at Tor has described it as “an exceptionally loud, kind of dumb action movie that focuses on being really good as an exceptionally loud, kind of dumb action movie.”

Respectfully, I would like to disagree. Or at least, insist that we stop using the word dumb. Simple? Sure. Uncomplicated? Absolutely. Spectacular, in the truest sense of the word? Hell yes. But none of these things are dumb.

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Fri
Jul 12 2013 1:00pm

The Elric Reread: Elric of Melniboné

Elric of MelniboneIt is the colour of a bleached skull, his flesh; and the long hair which flows below his shoulders is milk-white. From the tapering, beautiful head stare two slanting eyes, crimson and moody, and from the loose sleeves of his yellow gown emerge two slender hands, also the colour of bone, resting on each arm of a seat which has been carved from a single, massive ruby.

With this striking description , we’re introduced to Elric VIII, four hundred and twenty-eighth Sorcerer Emperor of Melniboné, the only son of Sadric the Eighty-Sixth. Once Melniboné ruled the entirety of the known world, but as the human race and the Young Kingdoms have grown stronger, it has now dwindled; its borders have withdrawn to the Dragon Isles that were the centre of the empire, and its exquisitely refined, cruel, inhuman people have fallen into decadence, lost in sensual pleasures and dreaming. From the moment we join Elric as he watches his court dance—serenaded by a choir of slaves who have been mutilated so that each one may only produce one single, perfect note—we can be certain that Melniboné’s days are numbered.

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Fri
Jul 12 2013 1:00pm

Welcome to the Elric Reread!

The Elric Reread

When I was thirteen, I stumbled across a book that would change my life in a Nag Champa-scented New Age bookstore in Austin. The book was called Law and Chaos, and I was drawn to it by the cover illustration: a hauntingly fey, ghost-pale figure in a hooded black cloak, holding a massive broadsword that had a hilt like a pair of bat wings. I had no idea what it was, but I knew I wanted it, and somehow I conned my father (who has always been patient with my various fixations and enthusiasms) into buying it for me.

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Tue
Jul 9 2013 5:00pm

Templar by Jordan Mechner, LeUyen Pham, and Alex Puvilland

Templar, Jordan Mechner, LeUyen Pham, Alex Puvilland

The Knights Templar have been fodder for any number of conspiracy theories, ranging from the mundane to the supernatural. A character in Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum notes that the sure sign of a lunatic is that he eventually brings up the Templars. The order’s even been used as the basis for the bad guys in the Assassin’s Creed series. But in Templar (excerpt here), written by Jordan Mechner and illustrated by LeUyen Pham and Alex Puvilland, the dissolution of the Knights Templar becomes the basis for a heist in the best tradition of Ocean’s Eleven and The Italian Job . Mechner’s experience as a screenwriter and the writer behind games like Prince of Persia pays off here, resulting in a fast-paced and unexpectedly moving adventure against one of the great historical dramas of the Middle Ages.

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Mon
Jul 8 2013 2:00pm

Twenty-First Century Folktales: Eleanor Arnason’s Big Mama Stories

Big Mama Stories Eleanor ArnasonIt’s not unusual to find fairy tales or folk tales that have been reinvented or brought up to date in SF&F these days; Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys is probably one of the best-known examples of this particular trope. But in Big Mama Stories, Eleanor Arnason, known for anthropological SF stories like A Woman of the Iron People, has created a batch of new folk tales for the twenty-first century, with an entirely new cast of mythic characters. The results are reminiscent of Stanislaw Lem’s Cyberiad or Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics: witty and fanciful short stories, populated with fantastical beings having larger-than-life adventures. Her prose has the straightforward quality of a good campfire story, and her characters are a delight.

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Fri
Jun 28 2013 1:00pm

The Next Step: The Long War by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

The Long War Terry Pratchett Stephen BaxterLast year, Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter introduced us to the Long Earth, the system of millions of parallel Earths that can be accessed by “stepping” between worlds, either through an inborn gift or through “stepper boxes” that, once released into the wild, changed everything as humanity discovered that it could leave the Datum Earth for pristine new worlds, as yet untouched by human industry. It was a brilliant piece of multiverse-building, and it’s great to return there with the second book in the series, The Long War.

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Fri
Jun 21 2013 12:00pm

Filling the Westeros Gap With Tudor England

Thomas Cromwell and Game of Throne's Petyr Baelish

There’s only so much I can really swallow of real-world politics before it all gets so bad that not even The Daily Show makes it any better. Political fiction, though—that I can’t get enough of, and frankly, the more cynical the better. I’m a huge fan of The Thick of It, and the US House of Cards was, disturbingly enough, my happy place for the last couple of months—though fans of that show will appreciate that it was really something to watch a certain very dramatic episode of House of Cards on the same day that HBO broadcast the now-infamous “The Rains of Castamere.”

And while I definitely enjoy the dragons, ice zombies, fire magic, and prophetic visions of both the Song of Ice and Fire novels and the Game of Thrones TV show, it’s the courtly intrigue that keeps me coming back for more. Cersei Lannister’s struggles to hold on to the power that the men of the court would take from her, Daenerys’s hard-knocks school of statecraft, Tywin’s ruthlessness, Tyrion’s desperate attempts to make something of himself in service of the kingdom, the charm offensive of the Tyrells—this is what really makes the books and the show for me. That the intrigue occasionally explodes into shocking and bloody violence is, perhaps, a bonus for those for whom contemporary political drama is a bit too arid.

But now we’ve got several months to wait for the next season of Game of Thrones, and some as-yet-undetermined period before The Winds of Winter pops up on shelves and e-readers, and I’ll probably be tiding myself over for the next season of House of Cards with the UK series. What else is there to take up the slack? Well, one contender is a pair of books whose praises I’ve sung here at Tor before—Hilary Mantel’s Tudor-era historical fiction novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. No, there’s not an ice zombie to be seen, and the only dragons are likely to be those gracing a coat of arms, but there is plenty of royal intrigue, and even a few lost heads.

[No, really, hear me out.]

Wed
Apr 17 2013 5:00pm

Griffins, Unicorns, and Yet Weirder Chimerae: Unnatural Creatures, edited by Neil Gaiman and Maria Dahvana Headley

Review Unnatural Creatures Neil Gaiman Mari Dahvana HeadleyThe tidal wave of vampires, werewolves, and mermaids that has washed over the publishing industry these last few years has obscured the stranger and subtler pleasures of griffins, unicorns, and even weirder chimerae and unspeakable things with no names. For re-introducing these things, Unnatural Creatures would be a welcome volume by any standard, and it also happens to be, by any objective standard, an excellent anthology. Additionally wonderful is that sales will benefit 826 DC, a non-profit dedicated to developing the writing skills of elementary, middle-school, and high school students. So if you like fantasy fiction, especially about weird mythical creatures, you should check out this volume.

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Wed
Mar 20 2013 5:00pm

Love That Outlasts Memory: Unremembered by Jessica Brody

book review Unremembered Jessica BrodyPerhaps it’s an obvious metaphor at the heart of Jessica Brody’s science fiction YA romance Unremembered—any teenage girl is trying to define her identity and desires in the face of a cacophony of voices trying to tell her what she is and how she should behave. Brody’s amnesiac heroine is surrounded by people with expectations of her that she can barely understand: is she just an ordinary girl with a teenager’s regular interests and a loving family? A mathematical prodigy? A celebrity? A devoted girlfriend? Or a weapon?

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