Sleep Walking Now and Then July 9, 2014 Sleep Walking Now and Then Richard Bowes A tragedy in three acts. The Devil in the Details July 2, 2014 The Devil in the Details Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald A Peter Crossman adventure. Little Knife June 26, 2014 Little Knife Leigh Bardugo A Ravkan folk tale. The Color of Paradox June 25, 2014 The Color of Paradox A.M. Dellamonica Ruin, spoil, or if necessary kill.
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July 3, 2014
Gaming Roundup: Elite: Dangerous Gives You A Universe
Pritpaul Bains and Theresa DeLucci
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Flintlocks and Freedom: Check Out these Revolutionary War Fantasies!
Leah Schnelbach
June 30, 2014
The YA Roundup: With News from the Capitol!
Kat Kennedy and Steph Sinclair
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Queering SFF: Wrapping Up Pride Month Extravaganza (Redux)
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Change is in the Air on The Legend of Korra!
Mordicai Knode
Showing posts by: Melissa Ann Singer click to see Melissa Ann Singer's profile
Wed
Jul 24 2013 5:00pm

Where to Start With the Epic Saint-Germain Vampire Cycle

The latest in the Saint Germain vampire saga: Commedia Della MorteThis article was originally published at Tor.com on March 21st 2012. The Saint-Germain Vampire Cycle continues with Night Pilgrims (excerpt here) by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, available July 30th!

I was asked to guest-post on Cie Adams’s blog, so I wrote up an old favorite story of mine about how Robert Bloch and I creeped out a waitress. What I was really talking about was how sometimes an editor is lucky enough to work with a writer whose work she or he has loved for a long time. Chelsea Quinn Yarbro is one of those writers for me, and I’ve realized that this makes part of my job as Quinn’s editor kind of tricky.

I know the Saint-Germain books fairly well; I’ve read about twenty of them and edited the last half-dozen or so. Which is kind of breathtaking when you think about it—this is a series where twenty volumes isn’t yet the whole of the thing and the author’s not done writing.

How on earth does a new reader approach that mass of wordage?

[This is how]

Wed
Mar 21 2012 4:00pm

Where to Start With the Epic Saint-Germain Vampire Cycle

The latest in the Saint Germain vampire saga: Commedia Della MorteRecently I was asked to guest-post on Cie Adams’s blog, so I wrote up an old favorite story of mine about how Robert Bloch and I creeped out a waitress. What I was really talking about was how sometimes an editor is lucky enough to work with a writer whose work she or he has loved for a long time. Chelsea Quinn Yarbro is one of those writers for me, and I’ve realized that this makes part of my job as Quinn’s editor kind of tricky.

I know the Saint-Germain books fairly well; I’ve read about twenty of them and edited the last half-dozen or so. Which is kind of breathtaking when you think about it — this is a series where twenty volumes isn’t yet the whole of the thing and the author’s not done writing.

How on earth does a new reader approach that mass of wordage?

[This is how]

Fri
Aug 6 2010 5:52pm

Editorial Roundtable: The Roots of Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy

To add additional perspectives to the paranormal romance/urban fantasy conversation, I approached a number of the editors who work in these categories to participate in an editorial roundtable of sorts. (The first one is here.) Of course, getting any group of editors together, even by email, isn’t as easy as you might think. Jury duty, vacations, overstuffed email inboxes, a tornado, and a power outage all took their toll.

My thanks to the intrepid editors who responded to our second topic:

Deb Werksman, Editorial Manager, Sourcebooks
Chris Keeslar, Senior Editor, Dorchester Publishing
Alicia Condon, Editorial Director, Brav

[Now on to the question!]

Fri
Jul 9 2010 2:40pm

Editorial Roundtable: Paranormal Romance Heroines and Heroes

To add additional perspectives to the paranormal romance/urban fantasy conversation, I approached a number of the editors who work in these categories to participate in an editorial roundtable of sorts. Of course, getting any group of editors together, even by email, isn’t as easy as you might think. Jury duty, vacations, overstuffed email inboxes, a tornado, and a power outage all took their toll.

My thanks to the intrepid editors who responded to our first topic:

Deb Werksman, Editorial Manager, Sourcebooks
Monique Patterson, Senior Editor, St. Martin’s Press
Alicia Condon, Editorial Director, Brava

Join us as we talk about how the development of heroines and heroes is affecting the paranormal romance and urban fantasy genres!

[Roundtable after the cut]

Tue
Jul 6 2010 10:00am

Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy on Tor.com

While science fiction often deals with the world of tomorrow and fantasy often illuminates worlds that never were, paranormal romance and urban fantasy are—mostly—set in the world we live in. Sort of. I mean, as far as we know, our world isn’t actually populated by vampires, witches, elves, demons, or the other creatures that inhabit urban fantasy and paranormal romance novels. Paranormal romance and urban fantasy have roots in horror fiction and magical realism, in mystery and suspense, and in romance and pulp fiction. Accustomed to crossing boundaries, these paranormal romance and urban fantasy can be found in a number of sections in the bookstore, including romance, sf/f, general fiction, mystery, and on the teen/young reader shelves. Not to mention in film, on television, and in comics and graphic novels.

To showcase this diversity, we’ve rounded up half a dozen original pieces of short fiction, including the charming tale of an infant werewolf by A.M. Dellamonica and the investigation of theft and double-murder by a trio of magic-workers who don’t all trust or like each other, from C.T. Adams.

Among the awesome stuff in the queue for this month:

  • Carrie Vaughan talks about researching werewolves
  • Ron Hogan interviews Leanna Renee Hieber and others
  • Anne Elizabeth and Cathy Clamp take on urban fantasy in comic books and graphic novels
  • Liz Edelstein talks about heroes
  • Alisa Kwitney looks at urban fantasy and paranormal romance themes in pop culture
  • Artists Anne Cain and Franco Accornero share their creative processes

And including blog posts and more from:

  • Marjorie M. Liu
  • Kate Perry
  • J.A. Pitts
  • L.A. Banks
  • Carolyn Jewel
  • . . . and others

Plus an editors’ roundtable featuring Alicia Condon from Kensington, Chris Keesler from Dorchester, Heather Osborn from Tor Books, Monique Patterson from St. Martin’s Press, and Deb Werksman from SourceBooks.

[Click through for even more]

Wed
Jul 29 2009 10:47am

Reading Matter: What Tor.com posters recommended for a 13-yo girl

A number of weeks ago I posted in moderate desperation about my daughter’s need for reading matter to take to camp. The responses were overwhelming—and from that vast pool, a few books were purchased, though not all of those have yet been read (she found a few things on her own, too). More will be bought in future, I’m sure, some of them probably titles I had previously suggested which now have greater appeal since someone Other Than Mom vouches for them too.

The recommendations list contains more than 500 items—authors, series, and individual books. Many people took the time to offer not just authors and books but commentary that was both polite and nuanced.

So how to determine the “winners?” A book that was mentioned only once but sounds wonderful? An author cited repeatedly? What the young reader in question actually bought (and what she thought of those purchases)? This is, therefore, the first of several posts (to be presented at odd intervals) that will address these questions . . . and a final post will, as requested, return the favor by recommending some of my daughter’s favorite books from the last few years.

[Read more...]

Fri
Jun 19 2009 2:10pm

“I’m thirteen, I’m a girl, and I like fantasy and some science fiction. What should I be reading?”

This is a serious question, posed on behalf of my recently-minted teenage daughter. She’s read a significant amount of young adult fantasy and fantastic fiction, and had some read to her (because we like reading aloud and some books “speak” really well). She isn’t terribly fond of hardware-oriented sf, though she has read the original Ender’s Game (the short version, not the novel) and a few other tidbits. She likes what she’s read of Ray Bradbury (The Martian Chronicles, which she borrowed from the school library and later bought because she had to own it). She’s a budding Trekkie (TOS and TNG).

Her taste is pretty eclectic. She’s read Twilight because everyone else is reading it, but Bella’s passivity drives her crazy, and most of the other “ya/teen” vampire stuff leaves her cold. She much prefers the work of Cornelia Funke, especially The Thief Lord. She’s been reading Sean Stewart’s “Cathy” series, which has immortals in it, and she likes Scott Westerfeld’s “Uglies” series and Margaret Peterson Haddix’s “Shadow Children” series, both of which are science fiction.

She reads plenty of non-genre stuff too, especially if the story has some mystery to it, like the “Pretty Little Liars” books. Then there are the books that I don’t quite understand why she likes, like “The Clique” series, which she reads avidly . . . and then spends days being enjoyably outraged at the stupid/irresponsible behavior of the teen characters and their parents.

[So the question is, what’s next?]

Thu
May 28 2009 3:50pm

It’s the Little Things: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian isn’t a bad movie. It isn’t a terribly good movie either. Christopher Guest is wasted as Ivan the Terrible; he has maybe six lines and is nearly unrecognizable under a beard. Hank Azaria’s Pharaoh lisps; several reviewers found this to be hilarious, and while I understand that the lisp combined with the British accent is supposed to indicate a certain kind of upper class twit, I found it to be rather silly and offensive. Poor Amy Adams gamely utters some of the worst “chipper” dialog I’ve heard in some time, but she certainly gives it her all and she looks great, though nothing like Amelia Earhart.

And if the board of the American Museum of Natural History actually considered for a microsecond the asinine idea that drives this film’s plot engine, New Yorkers would likely rise up in revolt.

But.

There are some lovely things in the movie. Most are small, like the return of Owen Wilson’s miniature cowboy and Steve Coogan’s tiny Roman and their heartwarming bromance (including Brokeback Mountain references). Octavian’s attempt to reach President Obama is a marvelous collaboration between the actor, the set dressers and greensmen, and the film’s composer and editors. Visuals, dialog, and music come together in a brief, perfect, snippet that was nearly the best laugh in the movie.

[Read more...]

Wed
Apr 29 2009 10:24am

Harmony with Nature? Hey, Let’s Blow Stuff Up!

That seems to be the basic idea behind Battle For Terra, an animated film opening May 1st, 2009. I guess the filmmakers felt they were on the horns of a dilemma—they want to show that not abusing natural resources is the best way to live, but they needed to add conflict and some sort of excitement that would bring younger children into the theater, as well as justify the RealD 3D version of the picture.

It’s rated PG for “Sequences of Sci-Fi Action Violence and Some Thematic Elements” and that last is the part that had me and another mother and my (almost) teenage daughter scratching our heads and saying, “What were they thinking?” as we left the screening. The 8-year-old with us—the only male in the group—was bored by the beginning of the movie but perked right up when the “blowing stuff up” part came along.

[Highly opinionated synopsis in the forbidden zone.]

Fri
Dec 5 2008 3:12pm

Toys!

Ugly Dolls

One holiday season about twenty years ago, when my friends and I were all feeling the bite of adulthood, we decided that we would give each other toys.  I received the High-Hoppin’ Hoomdorm, which was excellent for terrorizing cats and making adults fall about laughing . . . .

[Stuff you might like to get or give inside]

Tue
Nov 25 2008 8:38am

Free e-book: Jane Lindskold’s The Buried Pyramid

Before editors are editors, we are readers.  And as readers, we can get caught up in a writer’s words, works, and worlds, to the point where we set aside whatever we should be reading to indulge our imaginations by grabbing a new work by a favorite writer. 

[Links for the free ebook & fangirl raving about Jane Lindskold follows...]

Sat
Oct 4 2008 12:20pm

Chuck season premiere makes me oh so happy

I am totally and absolutely in love with Chuck. Chuck makes me smile. It makes me laugh. It sometimes makes me tear up (I am a sentimental gal). It’s exciting. And it’s not stupid.

It’s a tremendous relief to have not stupid television that portrays geeks and geek culture in a positive light. I look at Chuck and I see my people—comics fans, sf&f fans, gamers, computer geniuses . . . nerds, dorks, fanboys and fangirls . . . smart people, caring people with offbeat senses of humor, people who support each other and their families.

[More fangirl breathlessness, and spoilers, below the fold. ]

Wed
Sep 24 2008 10:45am

Too Many Mad Scientists, Not Enough Igors

The title of this post is an old saying around the Tor offices, originally coined by Anna Magee (a long-ago and much-loved member of the editorial staff) to reflect the structure of our editorial department, where most editorials assistants work for three or more editors. 

But in the world of Igor, every mad scientist has his (and yes, they’re all male) own Igor, or two, or three.  In this delightful new animated movie, one Igor (John Cusack) wants to be a mad scientist, but he’s doomed to Igor-hood by the hunch on his back. 

[Review below the fold...]

Sat
Sep 20 2008 9:52am

The Raveled Fringe

One of the problems with being an editor is that the part of my mind that picks stories apart rarely shuts down completely.  Occasionally, if there’s interesting visual input or strong acting in a movie, tv show, or play, I get absorbed and the analytical engine goes into idle (this does not mean that I won’t be picking the thing apart half an hour after it’s over).

But usually, especially if I’m only half-watching (because I’m reading, working on a puzzle, doing needlework, or gaming), I find that I get stuck on flaws and inconsistencies and plain old silliness.

Sometimes this puts me at odds with reviewers.  Case in point, J.J. Abrams’ new series, Fringe.  From the publicity and pre-broadcast reviews, this is supposedly the best new series on broadcast tv this season.

[Actual review below the fold...]

Thu
Sep 18 2008 11:45am

George Takei and Brad Altman are married!

Things have been a bit hectic at Tor, and at Tor.com, this week, and we apologize for not having marked this earlier in the week.

But we are pleased as punch to offer our congratulations to George Takei and his long-time partner, Brad Altman, who were married on Sunday, September 14th, at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.

We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Takei for being the “intro voice” for Tor’s podcasts. It gives us a little thrill every time we hear it.

Fri
Aug 15 2008 1:00pm

Manga and comics news

Yen Press launched a new manga magazine, Yen+ Plus, in August 2008. This monthly mag features nine different manga (over 400 pages for $8.99!). The American and Korean entries read left to right; the Japanese stories read from right to left. Yen+ Plus has two front covers as a result, and no advertising on the outside of the book.

Contents of the first issue (all first chapters): Maximum Ride by James Patterson and Narae Lee; Nightschool by Svetlana Chmakova; Pig Bride by KookHwa Huh and Sujin Kim; Sarasah by Ryang Ruy; One Fine Day by Sirial; Jack Frost by JinHo Ko; Soul Eater by Atsushi Ohkubo; Nabari No Ou by Yuhki Kamatani; Sumomomo Momomo by Shinobu Ohtaka; Bamboo Blade by Masahiro Totsuka and Aguri Igarashi; and Higurashi When They Cry by Ryukishi07 (listed on the Yen Press website as 07th Expansion) and Karin Suzuragi.

In other graphic-related news, Fantagraphics recently released Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko. It's gotten a fair amount of mainstream press, all of which I missed somehow until a review appeared in The Village Voice.

Tue
Aug 12 2008 11:50am

I think we define “practical” differently....

One of the enduring images/desires from my sf-tional youth is the jetpack or rocketbelt (depending on which set of aficionados you're talking to).

I mean, the whole idea is so cool—strap on, hit the switch, and soar into the air! Avoid traffic jams and crowded public transportation!

Yeah.

Like you’d be the only one up there with a jetpack...like there wouldn’t wind up being jetpack traffic jams and jetpack police and jetpack “lanes” in the skies...like the people who complain now about living under the flight paths for airports or commuter helicopters wouldn’t have their say on how low or where you could fly. And goodness knows what the safety regulations would be.

But the romance lives on.

Earlier this year Honda used the jetpack motif in a commercial. And there’s always Rocketman.

And then, at the end of July, there was the unveiling of the Martin Jetpack, billed as “the world's first practical jetpack.”

Okay, then, let’s talk about “practicality.”

[More jetpackery below the fold...]

Thu
Aug 7 2008 11:00am

Three-peat: biologist discovers third unbelievably tiny animal

Evolutionary biologist S. Blair Hedges (Professor of Biology, Pennsylvania State University) seems to have a knack for discovering really, really small animals.  In 1996 he and his team turned up a Cuban frog (Eleutherodactylus iberia) only 10mm/.4 in from snout to vent.  In 2001, on Hispaniola, he and his team documented the existence of a lizard species (Sphaerodactylus ariasae) that averaged only 16mm/.6 in. from snout to vent. 

And now, a tiny snake, Leptotyphlops carlae (named for Hedges' wife, Carla), from Barbados.  As an adult, this threadsnake averages about 100mm/4 in. in length.  It eats the larvae of ants and termites. 

All these little critters produce only one offspring at a time, unlike some of their larger cousins.  Hedges thinks there's a finite lower limit to the size of snake offspring—basically, a newborn snake has to have a big enough mouth to be able to eat something, even if that something is pretty small itself.  So this threadsnake's offspring is about half its adult size at hatching, while the hatchling of a king cobra gets along just fine at about a tenth of its eventual adult size. 

Gorillas big, snakes small, world still full of mystery . . . .

(Photo of Leptotyphlops carlae on a US quarter, found on Wikipedia Commons and used under the terms stated thereSource: Blair Hedges, Pennsylvania State University)
 

Thu
Jul 24 2008 6:55pm

Name that Tune

So I'm sitting here quietly at my desk when I get an email from someone in Production.  That someone is working on the jacket for Kit Reed's new novel, Enclave, which is coming out early next year in hardcover.

As so often happens to voracious readers, Enclave has set off a memory bell in the production person's head, recalling a piece of short fiction he read long ago.  But he can't remember the name of the story, and though, from his description, I know I've read it, neither can I. 

Can someone help us?

Here's the text of the email: 

"People are living in a very large department store.  They hide during shopping hours and come out only at night.  A nice young man joins them.  Then a nice young woman does.  The two fall in love and decide to return to the outside world.  But the residents of the department store are afraid that the young couple will reveal their secret, so they kill the young people, embalm them, and set them up in one of the display windows as mannequins."

We know this, right?  I know someone's going to post, it's Story X by Author Y, and I'm going to feel like a total dolt for not remembering it. 

Addendum:  All Hail the power of the Web.  Kudos to Mary Robinette Kowal, who pegged this as John Collier's "Evening Primrose" in less than fifteen minutes.