The Colonel July 29, 2014 The Colonel Peter Watts The hives are sleeping giants. <em>To Eternity</em> July 24, 2014 To Eternity Wesley Allsbrook and Barrie Potter If all things were normal, Stuart would be considered quite a catch. Brisk Money July 23, 2014 Brisk Money Adam Christopher It's hard out there for a robotic detective. A Short History of the Twentieth Century, or, When You Wish Upon A Star July 20, 2014 A Short History of the Twentieth Century, or, When You Wish Upon A Star Kathleen Ann Goonan A rocket story.
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July 29, 2014
Introduction to the H. P. Lovecraft Reread
Ruthanna Emrys and Anne M. Pillsworth
July 25, 2014
Huge New Cast and Bloopers. Highlights from the San Diego Comic Con Game of Thrones Panel
Chris Lough
July 22, 2014
What Makes Chinese Science Fiction Chinese?
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July 22, 2014
Everything I Learned from the Buffy Rewatch
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July 21, 2014
If This is the Plot for Star Wars: Episode VII, I Will Be Sad
Emily Asher-Perrin
Showing posts by: Patrick Nielsen Hayden click to see Patrick Nielsen Hayden's profile
Tue
Jul 13 2010 3:31pm

Rachel Swirsky liveblogs Launch Pad

Rachel Swirsky, whose Tor.com stories from 2009 wound up as finalists for (variously) the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards, is attending Launch Pad, a NASA-funded workshop in which SF writers get a crash course in modern astronomy, via guest lectures from working scientists and also via hands-on use of the University of Wyoming’s telescopes. And she’s live-blogging the experience in a series of fascinatingly detailed guest posts to Jeff VanderMeer’s blog

Tor.com has covered Launch Pad before—David Levine wrote up his experience attending the workshop in 2008.

(But are there really people who think the moon isn’t visible during the day? What, do they never look up? Oy.)


Patrick Nielsen Hayden is a senior editor at Tor Books and, with Liz Gorinsky, one of the two fiction editors of Tor.com. Read more about him on the Tor.com About Us page.

Tue
Jul 13 2010 9:40am

Become a member of Tor.com and get a John Scalzi story a week early

To commemorate our upcoming second birthday, John Scalzi has written an original short story which will go public on Tor.com on our actual anniversary, July 20. But! If you’re already a registered member of Tor.com, this morning we’re emailing you this new Scalzi opus directly, a week in advance of its general availability. Call it our “thank you” for being part of Tor.com. And if you’re not a member but are now saying to yourself “Drat! I'd better go become a member!”, once you sign up (it’s free) and log in, you’ll be able to follow this link to the Scalzi tale.

And why wouldn’t you want to become a member? Membership in Tor.com gives you powers on the site unavailable to the common horde. It makes you more attractive to members of the appropriate sex, and it builds strong bones and a glossy coat. Tor.com members include writers, agents, rocket scientists, ballerinas, astronauts, and international men and women of mystery. Act now, act without thinking, sign up today.

Moreover, to answer the question that you were surely about to ask, Mr. Scalzi’s new narrative is, as you would expect, a very serious, deeply rigorous, and morally earnest work that will bring us all face to face with some of the most salient issues of our time. Called “The President’s Brain Is Missing.”

Mon
Jul 12 2010 7:03am

2010 Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards announced

The Mythopoeic Society has announced the winners of the 2010 Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards. Congratulations to the winners, and particular congratulations to our own Jo Walton!

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature

Jo Walton, Lifelode (NESFA Press)

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature

Grace Lin, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (Little, Brown)

Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies

Dimitra Fimi, Tolkien, Race, and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)

Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies

Marek Oziewicz, One Earth, One People: The Mythopoeic Fantasy Series of Ursula K. Le Guin, Lloyd Alexander, Madeleine L’Engle and Orson Scott Card (McFarland, 2008)

Wed
Jul 7 2010 2:31pm

Signs and portents

Today is the birthday of one of the towering figures of twentieth-century science fiction, Robert A. Heinlein, famously born on 7/7/07.

Today is also the seventieth birthday of Ringo Starr.

Let the numerology commence!

Sat
Jun 26 2010 7:30pm

2010 Locus awards announced

The 2010 Locus awards, voted on by the readers of Locus, the magazine of the professional science fiction and fantasy field, were announced today in Seattle, Washington. Congratulations to the winners!

[Click for the winners!]

Tue
Jun 8 2010 11:14am

Feed Your Reader

tor.com stories

Now free on the US version of Apple’s “iBooks” store: Tor.com’s four major award finalists from 2009, nicely done up as elegant ePub files for your iPad (and, once iOS 4 ships on June 21, your iPhone).

  • “Eros, Philia, Agape” by Rachel Swirsky, Hugo and Locus Award finalist
  • “A Memory of Wind” by Rachel Swirsky, Nebula Award finalist
  • “First Flight” by Mary Robinette Kowal, Locus Award finalist
  • “Overtime” by Charles Stross, Hugo Award finalist

All four are also available for free in Amazon’s Kindle Store and the Sony Reader store; they’ll appear soon in some other channels as well. They’ll stay free until after the Hugo Awards are announced at Aussiecon 4 in Melbourne, Australia, over Labor Day Weekend.

Fri
May 14 2010 4:42pm

STS-132

wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Thanks to NASA for making it possible for a bunch of SF writers and editors, here in Florida for the Nebula Awards weekend, to watch a rocketship take off. Also: woo.

Tue
May 4 2010 3:32pm

Our fictional offerings: Expanded staff! New procedures! Same old quirky fiction!

Tor.com has been a venue for original SF and fantasy since 2008, but we’ve never formalized our process for submissions. Indeed, for a long time, we were totally winging it. I was buying and editing the overwhelming majority of stories, but I resisted giving excessively specific information to various “market reports,” because I was reluctant to deal with the explosion of submissions that would generate.

But that barn door has sailed. (As we professional “wordsmiths” say.) Tor.com gets more submissions all the time, and I’ve gotten farther and farther behind at dealing with them. Some people have been awaiting responses for over six months—a few, for embarrassingly more than six months. Clearly something must be done. If only…if only I had an editorial colleague at Tor.com so smart, energetic, and discerning that just this year she’s become the youngest editor ever honored with a Hugo nomination. Oh, wait.

Going forward, then, Tor.com’s original fiction will henceforth be co-edited by me and Liz Gorinsky. Submissions should henceforth be sent via email, not to my personal or work email address, but to the newly-created tordotcomsubs@gmail.com. (If you already sent a submission to one of my addresses, please don’t resubmit. We can cope.) Tor.com welcomes original short SF and fantasy, broadly defined. We’re particularly interested in stories under 12,000 words, although we’ve made exceptions in the past and will do so again. We pay 25 cents a word for the first 5,000 words, 15 cents a word for the next 5,000, and 10 cents a word after that. Although we try to employ common sense in dealing with edge cases, “original” means original—not previously published. Contrary to some previous reports, we do not want you to query first; to submit to Tor.com, just send us your story. Stories should use standard manuscript format and be emailed as Word, RTF, or plain-text attachments. Stories sent inline in the body of an email will be ignored. Questions? Send them to tordotcomsubs@gmail.com.

Sun
Apr 4 2010 7:11pm

Hugo Nominations!

The finalists for the 2010 Hugo Awards have been announced. Particular congratulations from Tor.com to Charles Stross and Rachel Swirsky, whose Tor.com stories “Overtime” and “Eros, Philia, Agape” are on the ballot for Best Novelette.

Stross’s story was our 2009 holiday special, a heartwarming “Laundry” tale of Christmas Eve and evil gods from beyond time. The nomination of Swirsky’s “Eros, Philia, Agape” is particularly satisfying for us, since her other Tor.com story from 2009, “A Memory of Wind,” made this year’s final Nebula ballot while “Eros, Philia Agape” missed it by a razor-thin margin. Both stories are (in this editor's opinion) killer good.

In the Best Novel category, Tor novels Boneshaker by Cherie Priest and Julian Comstock by Robert Charles Wilson both made the final ballot; enthusiastic congratulations to them as well.

I'm also pleased to note the presence, once again, of stalwart Tor.com blogger Lou Anders on the shortlist for Best Editor, Long Form—and of Tor.com and Tor Books editor Liz Gorinsky. Liz has been my excellent assistant for several years now, and has become a fine editor in her own right; since I’m also on the ballot, I think this marks the first time in Hugo history that an editor and his or her assistant have both been finalists in an editor category.

The Hugo Awards have been given since 1953, and every year since 1955, by the annual World Science Fiction Convention (the "Worldcon"). Finalists are nominated by members of the previous Worldcon and of the upcoming one; winners are selected by members of the upcoming one. This year’s Worldcon, Aussiecon 4, will be held in Melbourne, Australia from September 2 to 6. Winners of this year’s Hugo Awards will be announced there, on Sunday, September 5, 2010.

[Full list of finalists behind the cut]

Fri
Feb 19 2010 11:28am

Congratulations

Nearly a third—seven out of 22—of Tor.com’s original stories published in 2009 made this year’s annual Locus recommended-reading list:

In addition, Rachel Swirsky’s “A Memory of Wind” is among the just-announced finalists for this year’s Nebula Award.

Our congratulations to all of these authors!

Sun
Jan 31 2010 9:10pm

Kage Baker, 1952-2010

Short story writer, novelist, Tor.com blogger. A luminous intelligence, a real loss. SFWA obituary here.  

Marty Halpern's heartfelt tribute here.

Read Kage's books.

Fri
Dec 11 2009 11:43am

The eldritch roots of Victorian squeampunk

Intrepid scholar John Holbo rediscovers a long-suppressed strain of Victorian popular culture.

Haeckel’s early Christmas card designs proved not the end of my investigative line but—as is so often the case with Haeckel!—the start of another even more writhing thread. He worked, for a time, for a London firm, Raphael Tuck & Sons, allegedly founded by a German immigrant in the mid 19th Century. This “common knowledge” is subject to doubt. Tuck House was razed during a Christmas-time blitz, in 1940, but whether German bombs could have been responsible for curiously “shadowless columns of flame”—to quote an eyewitness account by a London civil defense worker—is likewise subject to doubt. Was “the mad Cherub,” as Tuck was known, for his designs and demeanor, really Raz-al Tariq, or a descendant of that notorious “Mad Arab”? The question begs an answer. Was “Tuck” a corruption of “Puck,” “the oldest Thing in England,” to quote Kipling’s admittedly fanciful and pretty-pretty accounting of that elder Entity. Tuck, the man, could hardly have been Puck. But perhaps there is a lineal link to stories of greeting cards traded at Solstice, before the time of the Romans; of cards as old as Stonehenge, even dark hints that Stonehenge itself is but a collection of “greeting stones”? I leave as an exercise to the reader the consideration of the implications of the latter thought!

Again I digress! The predominantly tentacled and be-pustuled designs favored by the Victorians—designs Haeckel was preeminent at rendering, through the superlative collaboration of fevered brain and steady pen that distinguished him—were collected, aesthetically, under the heading “squeampunk.” The term is apparently an overstuffed portmanteau of “squaymous,” as in Chaucer’s Miller’s Tale: “He was somdel squaymous/ Of fartyng, and of squide daungerous”; and “pank”, or “fang,” meaning to be fixed or made firm. Beowulf is, famously, described as “squaympanked” by Grendel’s mother. (But whether that means she bit him or merely struck terror, is a question for linguists and forensic archeologists.) Squeampunk, as an aesthetic movement, gave ground over the course of the 19th Century, in the face of increasing taste for “cheerful” designs among the urban masses, and increasing industrialization—the romance of the machine, if that is no strict contradiction in terms. As James Watt declared, in his defense of the new aesthetic, “steampunk” was needed because, “we cannot hope to achieve knowledge of, let alone harness the power of, so-called ‘Old Ones’, the least thought or sensory apprehension of which must drive the human mind to the edge of madness. But we can bloody well boil water!”

Artifacts have lately come into my possession, long rumored to exist, shedding no little light on the subterraneous links between the comparatively young holiday of “Christmas,” as we know it, and the eldritch roots of Victorian squeampunk. I have acquired a complete set of the so-called “necro-gnome icons”—cthulithographed, gaily uncanny trading cards that were “terrible and forbidden,” banned by church and crown, hence highly collectible and prized by Victorian housewives and children, who assembled them in decorative albums for display....

Read more, oh, my stars, terrifyingly more, at Hilobrow.com.


Patrick Nielsen Hayden lies sleeping in the submerged city of R'lyeh.
Fri
Dec 11 2009 10:29am

Happy 80th anniversary, SF fandom

On December 11, 1929, the world’s first club devoted to science fiction met for the first time. They called themselves the Scienceers. Years later, in 1961, one of their original number recalled those days in a fanzine article which, through the magic of the World Wide Web, can be read here.

Our thanks to Rob Hansen, author of the formidable history of British fandom Then, for reminding us of this anniversary. Says Rob, “I’ve always been fascinated that the first president of that first US fan group—indeed, the world’s first fan group—was a black guy, Warren Fitzgerald, and that they held their early meetings at his home in Harlem. I’m amazed this doesn’t seem to be widely known.” Rob also points out that Fitzgerald was one of the founders of the American Rocket Society.

All that aside, it would be nice to establish December 11 as the official anniversary date of the formation of SF fandom. And certainly it’s a more pleasant thing to associate with December 11 than the assassination of Byzantine emperor Nikephoros II in 969, the abdication of Edward VIII in 1936, or the arrest of Bernard Madoff in 2008. Go, fandom, may you always be creative, unconventional, and neurodiverse. 


Patrick Nielsen Hayden is a musician, a blogger, and the fiction editor of Tor.com. He is aware of all internet traditions.

Thu
Dec 3 2009 2:00pm

H. P. Lovecraft, Founding Father of SF Fandom

Before the internet, before BBSes and Fidonet and Usenet and LiveJournal and blogs and Facebook and Twitter, before the World Wide Web and hot-and-cold-online-everything, science fiction fandom had a long-lived, robust, well-debugged technology of social networking and virtual community. That technology, which flourished in fandom from the 1940s through the 1980s, was the amateur press association, commonly abbreviated APA. And they got it from H. P. Lovecraft.

[No, really.  Read more.]

Mon
Jul 20 2009 11:30pm

On July 20th, 1969...by Patrick Nielsen Hayden

I was ten years old in 1969, and while we lived in Arizona that year, I spent most of the summer staying with family friends in Portland, Oregon while my parents visited Spain. It was an adventure all around. Artists like my own parents, the Hibbards were just a little bit more unruly and bohemian; their house in the hills of northwest Portland was full of paintings and pottery, but they didn’t own anything so bourgeois as a television set. Which is how I came to be listening to the “Eagle has landed” moment on the radio, rather than watching the coverage on TV. The other thing I was doing at that exact moment was throwing up into a metal bowl, because while Buzz Aldrin was guiding the LEM to the moon, I was making my own hard landing on Earth. Specifically, I fell out of a tree and concussed myself.

None of which prevented the whole household, me included, from decamping immediately to the the home of Jenny Hibbard’s elderly parents on the slopes of Mount Hood, in order to watch the actual moon walk in real time. There’s a latter-day notion that artsy hippie types in the 1960s disdained the space program. Not in my experience they didn’t. We watched, transfixed with reverence, not even making rude remarks about President Nixon during his phone call to the astronauts. I later learned that my own parents had watched the whole thing surrounded by a crowd of equally amazed Spaniards, gazing at the television screens on display in the window of a home-furnishings store. I think much of the world spent that particular two hours with its mouth hanging open.

Years later, I wound up acquiring and publishing a novel, The Return, written by Buzz Aldrin and the SF writer John Barnes. In connection with this, Barnes’s agent Ashley Grayson and I wound up having lunch with Aldrin in a poolside restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard. Now, as it happens, Buzz Aldrin is a charming and fascinating man. Not only is he one of the smartest people ever to serve in the astronaut corps, he also has a sense of humor about himself that is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that when you emerge from the elevator to his penthouse apartment, the first thing you see is an illuminated glass case displaying a moon rock...and a Buzz Lightyear doll.

But what I best remember about that lunch is that when we got onto the subject of the “Aldrin Cycler,” his proposed trajectory for a manned Earth-Mars mission, he began to demonstrate the relative positions of Earth, Mars, the spacecraft, and the sun by vigorously moving various implements of tableware around. At that exact moment I thought to myself (but did not say), “The grizzled old spaceman is now explaining the ballistics of space travel by using the tablecloth and the silverware. I am in a Heinlein juvenile, somewhere in the vicinity of Starman Jones or Have Space Suit, Will Travel, and my life is now complete.”

Life has actually gone on after that moment of sheer wonder, but it still stands out as one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me.


Patrick Nielsen Hayden is an American editor of science fiction and fantasy, managing Tor Books’ science fiction and fantasy line. He has won the Hugo and World Fantasy awards for his editorial work. In addition to editing, he is also a musician, blogger, and writing teacher. He is the fiction editor of Tor.com.

Mon
Apr 20 2009 11:02am

J. G. Ballard, 1930-2009

One of the greatest and most peculiar SF writers has died. Henry Farrell’s post at Crooked Timber is a concise look back:

I preferred his early novels, and (even more) his short stories to his later work. I read “The Voices of Time” (probably in one of the old Spectrum SF collections) when I was seven or eight, and didn’t understand it at all, but somehow, it caught me and haunted me. Much of his later work read like different versions of the same novel. But they were often very funny–his over the top plotlines with their garden-turned-into-chaos and insane reformer-cum-dictator-wannabes were intended to be satirical. I have a particular fondness for Super-Cannes, if only because of how it jumps up and down in glee on the corpse of the notion of social capital. His work had its problems–most obviously in its depiction of women which was at best chilly, at worst rather worse than that. But he was genuinely a great writer, in the sense that Borges described Kafka as being a great writer–he created his own precursors (but these summoned ancestors were to be found less in literature as such than in what he perceptively called “invisible literature”–all the bureaucratic forms and minutiae that define our lives). We all live in the decaying aftermath of the Space Age that he, better perhaps than anyone else, described. If he was a novelist who was better at describing landscapes and extreme social situations than people, he captured, as a result, something important about an era in which individuality simply doesn’t mean as much as it once seemed to. There are bits of the world (and not-unimportant ones) that are Ballardian–if you’ve read him, you experience the shock of recognition when you see them.
Mon
Jan 19 2009 11:44pm

It’s A Mixed-Up Muddled-Up Shook-Up World

Writing for Big Hollywood, a site devoted to the proposition that modern Hollywood is a sinister plot against good solid right-wing American values (sample editorial: “I Pledge to Ridicule Celebrities Who Refuse to Recognize We Are At War With People Who Want to Kill Them, Too”), original-BSG actor Dirk Benedict rails against the modern version of the show, calling it (I’m not making this up) “Lost in Castration.” Evidently the late 1970s were a glorious period when women were women and men were men and you could drink champagne and it tastes just like cherry cola. I may have this slightly wrong.

What’s especially hilarious is that despite the clear polemical bias of the site, a significant number of the commenters quite clearly recognize that Benedict is making an total twit of himself. Really, don’t miss the comment section.

Personally, I always find it especially piquant when cultural conservatives, usually quick to profess their devotion to the Free Market, rail against the success in said market of some product of which they disapprove. Modern BSG’s modest excursions into gender-bendiness must be due to sinister plots by “metrosexuals” in suits; they can’t possibly be because Americans, in the privacy of their home theaters, actually eat that gender-bendy stuff up with a spoon.

Wed
Dec 24 2008 8:23pm

Plea for Inclusivity in Nativity Scenes

[By Jo Walton; from her livejournal, December 20, 2005. Reprinted by permission.]

If we allow that any animals were present at the Incarnation
It seems unduly parochial to privilege our familiars.
If there was an ox, an ass, a camel,
Surely we must also grant other culture’s farmyard beasts;
Yaks, waterbuffalos, llamas.
More likely all the animals knew and came.
Making their way across unimaginable distances,
Swimming the oceans, climbing the mountains:
Penguins and polar bears from the distant arctics,
Tigers from India, zebras from Africa,
And all the way from China,
Bending over the manger in bewildered delight,
A small group of enthusiastic pandas.
Crowding into the stable, clustering together
Canonical lamb and unlikely lion, mouse beside elephant, robin, lizard, scorpion,
And everywhere, moving among them, angels.

[As a footnote, Jo noted that “Our Nativity scene also includes such oddities as two Marys and Josephs, one of the wise men being Buddha—and I think the onus is on you to prove he wasn’t among them—the presence of Cthulhu among the angels, a t-rex and rather a lot of dragons. The dragons and the dinosaur are allegorical.”]

Wed
Dec 3 2008 10:46am

Congratulations—

—to Jay Lake, whose Tor.com story “A Water Matter” has been picked by editor Rich Horton for the 2009 edition of Fantasy: The Best of the Year from Prime Books.

Mon
Oct 13 2008 2:49pm

Psychohistory and the Nobel Prize

Paul Krugman on the things that led him to become an economist:

Admittedly, there were those science fiction novels. Indeed, they may have been what made me go into economics. Those who read the stuff may be aware of the classic Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov. It is one of the few science fiction series that deals with social scientists—the “psychohistorians,” who use their understanding of the mathematics of society to save civilization as the Galactic Empire collapses. I loved Foundation, and in my early teens my secret fantasy was to become a psychohistorian. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing (yet). I was and am fascinated by history, but the craft of history is far better at the what and the when than the why, and I eventually wanted more. As for social sciences other than economics, I am interested in their subjects but cannot get excited about their methods—the power of economic models to show how plausible assumptions yield surprising conclusions, to distill clear insights from seemingly murky issues, has no counterpart yet in political science or sociology. Someday there will exist a unified social science of the kind that Asimov imagined, but for the time being economics is as close to psychohistory as you can get.

Krugman is famous for his work on the economics of international trade, but as our corporate cousins at Nature remind us, one of his early works was a pioneering examination entitled The Theory of Interstellar Trade:

Abstract: This paper extends interplanetary trade theory to an interstellar setting. It is chiefly concerned with the following question: how should interest charges on goods in transit be computed when the goods travel at close to the speed of light? This is a problem because the time taken in transit will appear less to an observer travelling with the goods than to a stationary observer. A solution is derived from economic theory, and two useless but true theorems are proved.

The young Krugman observed that “This paper, then, is a serious analysis of a ridiculous subject, which is of course the opposite of what is usual in economics.”

Today, in another step on SF's long march toward taking over the world, Paul Krugman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics. And, evidently, he’ll be discussing the works of Charles Stross in a seminar to be published on Crooked Timber sometime next month. We can't wait.