Tor.com content by

Ron Hogan

What’s Missing in the Winter’s Tale Movie?

One of the first things I did after seeing the trailer for Akiva Goldsman’s adaptation of Winter’s Tale was to look it up on IMDB to see if that was really William Hurt playing Beverly’s father (it was) and then to see what else I could learn about the cast who weren’t featured in that preview. I could see Jennifer Connelly would be playing Virginia Gamely, but who’d be playing her husband, Hardesty Marratta? Who’d be playing their mutual employer, Isaac Penn, and his dim-witted arch nemesis, Craig Binky? Who’d be playing the otherworldly engineer, Jackson Mead?

It turns out none of them are listed in the cast of characters, and that makes it seem likely that the trailer isn’t just cherrypicking elements of the love story between Peter Lake and Beverly Penn for the sake of a streamlined trailer—my guess is that the film itself has jettisoned huge chunks of Mark Helprin’s 750-page novel in favor of just one of its storylines. Granted, in many ways it’s the most obvious storyline to pluck from the book, lending itself most readily to an economically viable cinematic venture. And yet I fear that, in an effort to capture “the heart of the book,” Goldsman may miss the mark rather widely.

[Dragging the mythic city back down to earth…]

Latch-key Fantasia or Noir Subversion? Nelly Reifler’s Elect H. Mouse State Judge

The first signs that something’s amiss in Nelly Reifler’s debut novel come in the opening scene, as H. Mouse sets up his ballot box in his front yard, looking up and down his street at his neighbors’ houses. “All had real outlets with real electricity,” Reifler writes, “in which you could plug real lamps that really lit up.” The houses have other things inside, as well, but it’s hard to shake that initial unease: Why do we have to specify that some things are real?

Elect H. Mouse State Judge unfolds perhaps not so much like a dream, but like a perverse playdate with the contents of a 1970s toy box dumped onto the floor. When H. Mouse’s two daughters are kidnapped by a religious cult modeled after Mattel’s Sunshine Family dolls, he can’t call the police—an official investigation would halt the election and derail his judgeship—so he turns to Barbie and Ken, private investigators/freelance enforcers who spend most of their downtime having sex with each other by popping off their partner’s heads and limbs and sticking their hands in the holes as Skipper, left to her own devices, watches…

[Read more]

Series: Genre in the Mainstream

Moebius, Kirby, and a Heavy Dose of Manga: The New Graphic Novel at Book Expo America 2013

BookExpo America, the annual trade show highlighting the publishing industry’s plans for fall and winter seasons, was held at Manhattan’s Javits Center last week, and among all the other things I did over those four days, I sat in on a panel discussion on “The New Graphic Novel” hosted by Publishers Weekly senior news editor—and PW Comics World co-editor—Calvin Reid.

[Moebius and Jack Kirby and manga and…]

“This Is A Strange Town”: Hemlock Grove, Episodes 1-3

When I reviewed Brian McGreevey’s Hemlock Grove last year, I described the novel as “a post-Lynchian melodrama,” a blurring of the line between Gothic and prime-time soap opera that, two decades after Twin Peaks, didn’t have to worry about audiences being confused by the intrusion of the uncanny. In a way, it’s actually just a natural extension of the melodrama—to crib from myself, “a genre of failed repression, [where] the harder you try to cover up the sins or the traumas of the past… the more damage they will cause when they finally erupt.”

The announcement that Hemlock Grove would be a 13-episode Netflix series came right around the time of the novel’s release, and I’ve been curious to see how McGreevey’s soap opera dynamic would play out on the screen. Well, all 13 episodes were released Friday, and I’ve had a chance to watch the first three, which I’ll share some quick thoughts about now… and, over the next week or so, we’ll catch up to the rest. A word of caution: I’ve definitely got spoilers for episodes 1-3; the comments are likely to reveal things from even later in the series. (Heck, I might not even read the comments until I’ve got a few more episodes under my belt….)

[“I brought evil into our house!”]

The Human Division Read-Along, Episode 13: “Earth Below, Sky Above”

Welcome to the final installment of the Tor.com read-along for John Scalzi’s The Human Division—each week, as a new episode in this serialized novel was released, we’ve used this space to talk about how you think the story’s going so far and discuss your theories about where it might be headed. We’ve also gotten behind-the-scenes info from Scalzi, as well as the occasional insight from his editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden, too.

And though I strove to err on the side of caution when I talked about each episode’s plot points, this read-along was meant to be a zone where people who have already read the story could talk about it with each other. There were spoilers.

And there are going to be even more spoilers as we dig into the final episode: “Earth Below, Sky Above.”

[Now that’s a season finale…]

Series: The Human Division

The Human Division Read-Along, Episode 12: “The Gentle Art of Cracking Heads”

Welcome to the Tor.com read-along for John Scalzi’s The Human Division—each week, as a new episode in this serialized novel is released, you can use this space to talk about how you think the story’s going so far and put forward your theories about where it might be headed. You’ll also get behind-the-scenes info from Scalzi, as well as the occasional insight from his editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden… and maybe a few other special guest stars along the way.

Warning: Although I’ll strive to err on the side of caution when I talk about each episode’s plot points, this read-along is meant to be a zone where people who have already read the story can talk about it with each other. Expect spoilers.

Okay, then! Let’s talk about Episode 12, “The Gentle Art of Cracking Heads.”

[We all found the Trek easter egg, right?]

Series: The Human Division

The Human Division Read-Along, Episode 11: “A Problem of Proportion”

Welcome to the Tor.com read-along for John Scalzi’s The Human Division—each week, as a new episode in this serialized novel is released, you can use this space to talk about how you think the story’s going so far and put forward your theories about where it might be headed. You’ll also get behind-the-scenes info from Scalzi, as well as the occasional insight from his editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden… and maybe a few other special guest stars along the way.

Warning: Although I’ll strive to err on the side of caution when I talk about each episode’s plot points, this read-along is meant to be a zone where people who have already read the story can talk about it with each other. Expect spoilers.

Okay, then! Let’s talk about Episode 11, “A Problem of Proportion.”

[Break out the emergency box of tissues…]

The Human Division Read-Along, Episode 10: “This Must Be The Place”

Welcome to the Tor.com read-along for John Scalzi’s The Human Division—each week, as a new episode in this serialized novel is released, you can use this space to talk about how you think the story’s going so far and put forward your theories about where it might be headed. You’ll also get behind-the-scenes info from Scalzi, as well as the occasional insight from his editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden… and maybe a few other special guest stars along the way.

Warning: Although I’ll strive to err on the side of caution when I talk about each episode’s plot points, this read-along is meant to be a zone where people who have already read the story can talk about it with each other. Expect spoilers.

Okay, then! Let’s talk about Episode 10, “This Must Be the Place.”

[Who’s Hart Schmidt when he’s not on the Clarke?]

Series: The Human Division

The Human Division Read-Along, Episode 9: “The Observers”

Welcome to the Tor.com read-along for John Scalzi’s The Human Division—each week, as a new episode in this serialized novel is released, you can use this space to talk about how you think the story’s going so far and put forward your theories about where it might be headed. You’ll also get behind-the-scenes info from Scalzi, as well as the occasional insight from his editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden… and maybe a few other special guest stars along the way.

Warning: Although I’ll strive to err on the side of caution when I talk about each episode’s plot points, this read-along is meant to be a zone where people who have already read the story can talk about it with each other. Expect spoilers.

Okay, then! Let’s talk about Episode 9, “The Observers.”

[It’s like Philo Vance… IN SPACE!]

Series: The Human Division

The Human Division Read-Along, Episode 8: “The Sound of Rebellion”

Welcome to the Tor.com read-along for John Scalzi’s The Human Division—each week, as a new episode in this serialized novel is released, you can use this space to talk about how you think the story’s going so far and put forward your theories about where it might be headed. You’ll also get behind-the-scenes info from Scalzi, as well as the occasional insight from his editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden… and maybe a few other special guest stars along the way.

Warning: Although I’ll strive to err on the side of caution when I talk about each episode’s plot points, this read-along is meant to be a zone where people who have already read the story can talk about it with each other. Expect spoilers.

Okay, then! Let’s talk about Episode 8, “The Sound of Rebellion.”

[Three CDF soldiers walk into a hofbrauhaus…]

Series: The Human Division

The Human Division Read-Along, Episode 7: “The Dog King”

Welcome to the Tor.com read-along for John Scalzi’s The Human Division—each week, as a new episode in this serialized novel is released, you can use this space to talk about how you think the story’s going so far and put forward your theories about where it might be headed. You’ll also get behind-the-scenes info from Scalzi, as well as the occasional insight from his editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden… and maybe a few other special guest stars along the way.

Warning: Although I’ll strive to err on the side of caution when I talk about each episode’s plot points, this read-along is meant to be a zone where people who have already read the story can talk about it with each other. Expect spoilers.

Okay, then! Let’s talk about Episode 7, “The Dog King.”

[Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight!]

Series: The Human Division

The Human Division Read-Along, Episode 6: “The Back Channel”

Welcome to the Tor.com read-along for John Scalzi’s The Human Division—each week, as a new episode in this serialized novel is released, you can use this space to talk about how you think the story’s going so far and put forward your theories about where it might be headed. You’ll also get behind-the-scenes info from Scalzi, as well as the occasional insight from his editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden… and maybe a few other special guest stars along the way.

Warning: Although I’ll strive to err on the side of caution when I talk about each episode’s plot points, this read-along is meant to be a zone where people who have already read the story can talk about it with each other. Expect spoilers.

Okay, then! Let’s talk about Episode 6, “The Back Channel.”

[All Systems Are Gau!]

Series: The Human Division

The Human Division Read-Along, Episode 5: “Tales from the Clarke

Welcome to the Tor.com read-along for John Scalzi’s The Human Division—each week, as a new episode in this serialized novel is released, you can use this space to talk about how you think the story’s going so far and put forward your theories about where it might be headed. You’ll also get behind-the-scenes info from Scalzi, as well as the occasional insight from his editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden… and maybe a few other special guest stars along the way.

Warning: Although I’ll strive to err on the side of caution when I talk about each episode’s plot points, this read-along is meant to be a zone where people who have already read the story can talk about it with each other. Expect spoilers.

Okay, then! Let’s talk about Episode 5, “Tales from the Clarke.”

[Jack Ryan… IN SPACE!]

Series: The Human Division

The Human Division Read-Along, Episode 4: “A Voice in the Wilderness”

Welcome to the Tor.com read-along for John Scalzi’s The Human Division—each week, as a new episode in this serialized novel is released, you can use this space to talk about how you think the story’s going so far and put forward your theories about where it might be headed. You’ll also get behind-the-scenes info from Scalzi, as well as the occasional insight from his editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden… and maybe a few other special guest stars along the way.

Warning: Although I’ll strive to err on the side of caution when I talk about each episode’s plot points, this read-along is meant to be a zone where people who have already read the story can talk about it with each other. Expect spoilers.

Okay, then! Let’s talk about Episode 4, “A Voice in the Wilderness.”

[It’s the future of talk radio!]

Series: The Human Division

The Human Division Read-Along: Episode 3: “We Only Need the Heads”

Welcome to the Tor.com read-along for John Scalzi’s The Human Division—each week, as a new episode in this serialized novel is released, you can use this space to talk about how you think the story’s going so far and put forward your theories about where it might be headed. You’ll also get behind-the-scenes info from Scalzi, as well as the occasional insight from his editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden… and maybe a few other special guest stars along the way.

Warning: Although I’ll strive to err on the side of caution when I talk about each episode’s plot points, this read-along is meant to be a zone where people who have already read the story can talk about it with each other. Expect spoilers.

Okay, then! Let’s talk about Episode 3: “We Only Need the Heads.”

[“Space: It’s FANTASTIC.”]

Series: The Human Division

The Human Division Read-Along: Episode 2, “Walk the Plank”

Welcome to the Tor.com read-along for John Scalzi’s The Human Division—each week, as a new episode in this serialized novel is released, you can use this space to talk about how you think the story’s going so far and put forward your theories about where it might be headed. You’ll also get behind-the-scenes info from Scalzi, as well as the occasional insight from his editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden… and maybe a few other special guest stars along the way.

Warning: Although I’ll strive to err on the side of caution when I talk about each episode’s plot points, this readalong is meant to be a zone where people who have already read the story can talk about it with each other. Expect spoilers.

Okay, then! Let’s talk about Episode 2: “Walk the Plank.”

[Wait up: Where’s Harry Wilson?]

Series: The Human Division

The Human Division Read-Along: Episode 1, “The B-Team”

Welcome to the Tor.com read-along for John Scalzi’s The Human Division—each week, as a new episode in this serialized novel is released, you can use this space to talk about how you think the story’s going so far and put forward your theories about where it might be headed. You’ll also get behind-the-scenes info from Scalzi, as well as the occasional insight from his editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden… and maybe a few other special guest stars along the way.

Warning: Although I’ll strive to err on the side of caution when I talk about each episode’s plot points, this readalong is meant to be a zone where people who have already read the story can talk about it with each other. Expect spoilers.

Okay, then! Let’s talk about Episode 1: “The B-Team.”

[Read more]

Series: The Human Division

eDiscover… The Other Nineteenth Century by Avram Davidson

eDiscover is a new series on Tor.com that highlights sci-fi/fantasy titles recently brought back into print as ebooks.

For me, Avram Davidson’s The Other Nineteenth Century is a true rediscovery: When I was a young SF/F fan in the mid-1980s, I kept up my subscriptions to Asimov’s, Amazing, and Fantasy & Science Fiction with a completist’s enthusiasm, so based on the publication dates given for the short stories in this collection, I must have read “The Engine of Samoset Erastus Hale, and One Other, Unknown” and, quite possibly, “El Vilvoy de las Islas” when they first came out. And though this is the first time I’ve stumbled upon “The Odd Old Bird,” I had seen a few other stories about Dr. Englebert Eszterhazy and the mythical empire of Scythia-Pannonia-Transbalkania—it was those that had stood out most in my memory, and made me jump at the chance to read this anthology when it was offered.

[Alternate histories, pastiches, satires—take your pick of 19th centuries!]

Series: eDiscover Great Reads

eDiscover… Newton’s Wake by Ken MacLeod

eDiscover is a new series on Tor.com that highlights sci-fi/fantasy titles recently brought back into print as ebooks.

Ken MacLeod is an author I’ve always wanted to get to know better. I’m a big fan of his SF-tinged thriller The Execution Channel, and the excellent “first contact” novel Learning the World, but I’ve never been able to clear the decks to read more of his hard science fiction. One of these days I’ll take a vacation and pack the “Fall Revolution” quartet with me—I’ve been told that it’s likely to mesh well with my well-established fandom for fellow Edinburgher Charles Stross—but in the meantime, the standalone space opera Newton’s Wake has been a great way for me to get back into a MacLeod groove.

[Planet-hopping in the 24th century…]

Series: eDiscover Great Reads

The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln and the Future of Alternate History in the Mainstream

Crazy question: What’s going to happen when the mainstream fiction crowd gets bored with the end of the world? When they’ve had enough of post-apocalyptic wastelands and hardened survivors fighting off zombies and super-vampires? Here’s my theory: Instead of indulging themselves in worst-case scenarios for the future, they’ll see what sort of damage they can do to the past.

Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America is an obvious early frontrunner in the mainstreaming of alternate history, with its exploration of how putting Charles Lindbergh on the Republican ticket in the 1940 presidential election could have led to the ascendancy of a fascist, anti-Semitic strain in American politics, with dire consequences for Europe as Lindbergh (widely considered to have been a Nazi sympathizer in real life) cuts a deal with Hitler. Now Stephen L. Carter turns up with The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln, which does an even better job than Roth’s novel of doing exactly what it says on the tin. But, like Roth, Carter also tries very hard to put all the historical toys back exactly where he found them.

[The more things change, the more they stay the same…]

Series: Genre in the Mainstream