Tor.com content by

Theresa DeLucci

Fiction and Excerpts [1]
All

Fiction and Excerpts [1]

Westworld Season 1, Episode 10: “The Bicameral Mind”

I’m tempted to just post a picture of Bender and “KILL ALL HUMANS” here.

But in the spirit of good discussion, I say “KILL ALL HUMANS” because they are all terrible. Except for Felix, who is, ironically enough, a terrible human, but when that’s said by an android, it’s the highest of compliments.

Exit music and major spoilers for an entertaining first season.

[“The maze isn’t meant for you…”]

Westworld Season 1, Episode 9: “The Well-Tempered Clavier”

Does it sound like bragging to say “I knew it!” when another well-publicized internet theory is proven correct on Westworld? I think we’re all viewing the show quite a few clicks ahead of the characters.

But other characters are made interesting by the tantalizing little we know about them. Does it make sense that we don’t even know the Man in Black’s name by now? Observant viewers guessed it about three episodes ago.

But I can’t blame showrunners for doubting the ability of their audiences to piece facts together or to do a little extra digging to get their info. Certainly not in this new “post-truth” world, anyway. But for the core audience that does go the extra, immersive mile, getting to say “I told you so,” seems a bit unfulfilling. Give me characters over conspiracies.

[“Never place your trust in us. We’re only human.”]

Westworld Season 1, Episode 8 “Trace Decay”

“The blogger stays up far too late trying to parse what happened on tonight’s episode of Westworld,” says Maeve as she strolls through Sweetwater writing her own stories.

Ah, if only we could all write our own narratives so easily. Or is that something creepy only Ford would desire? I’m not quite decided, but I do know that Anthony Hopkins is wonderful at playing so many different flavors of villainy.

[Read more]

I’ll See You in 25 Years: The Secret History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost

Okay, so Laura Palmer’s prophecy to FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper was a year or two off, but we are definitely returning to the town of Twin Peaks and all of the Lynchian weirdness that surrounds it. Showtime’s Twin Peaks revival is set to air in Spring 2017 and co-creator Mark Frost’s gorgeous new novel is just the thing to get fans of the show—both OG and Netflix-generation—putting their heads together and theorizing about the fates of their favorite characters.

Frost’s book is almost everything a hardcore Peaks fan could want. Compiled as a “found” dossier with notes-within-margin-notes, new photographs, autopsy reports, book excerpts, newspaper clippings, and even a menu for the Double R diner, I really can’t state enough how physically lovely this book is (and appreciate what a nightmare it must have been for the production department to get in on deadline.)

The only thing it doesn’t—and can’t—contain is pretty much any new information that might be covered in the forthcoming TV show. Showtime’s filled with more secrets than a murdered high school girl. So instead of looking forward, we must look back. And we must look… up? Because The Secret History of Twin Peaks has an actual X-file at its center.

[“How’s Annie? How’s Annie?” We still don’t know!]

Westworld Season 1, Episode 6 “The Adversary”

Lines are definitely drawn in the sand tonight as enemies from within and outside of the park make their presence—if not their full intentions—known. I’m fully aboard the Westworld train now, through hostile Indian country, Confederado battlegrounds, and straight on ’til my final destination: conspiracy message boards on Reddit.

My black cowboy hat is lined with tinfoil.

I’d like to wrap some characters up in tinfoil, too, for their own protection. Delos doesn’t seem like the best fit for employees that are naive. But, like many a workplace, the dumb ones sure seem to emerge unscathed from a literal corporate pissing contest.

[Fake plastic trees and fake plastic cowboys…]

Westworld Season 1, Episode 5: “Contrapasso”

Have you heard the one about the Man in Black and a robot walking into a bar?

The big punchline is that it doesn’t end with someone getting murdered. The same can’t be said for a lot of other hosts on Westworld tonight. Rebels and soldiers, thieves, Maeve again. But no one stays dead for long. Sometimes they come back, in surprising new ways.

But nothing was quite as satisfying as watching Logan get punched in the face. Finally.

[Read more]

We Tried The New Tim Burton-Themed Bar in NYC

Three brave souls from the Tor Books/Tor.com offices stumbled into the cool autumn air. Their destination? Beetle House, a Tim Burton themed bar and restaurant in Manhattan, stuffed between a few swanky cocktail bars in the East Village. They had a mission—to see if this bar could live up to their haunting, semi-wistful, melancholy dreams.

This is Halloween, folks. Let’s see how the night unfolds….

[Read more]

Westworld Season 1, Episode 4: “Dissonance Theory”

This week on Westworld, several characters are introduced to the mystery of the Maze and fan theories about Arthur, the Man in Black, and Bernard get some excellent fodder. This is the kind of debate I actually enjoy.

How detailed is Ford getting with his new narrative project and how soon will all of the hosts be as keyed in as poor Maeve, who is seriously losing her mind from the trauma?

The only way this show could make my head hurt more was if it had a crossover episode with The Walking Dead.
[The girl with the snake tattoo…]

Westworld Season 1, Episode 3 “The Stray”

Now we’re getting to the meat of it.

The first two episodes of HBO’s new series Westworld established the park and the characters well, but this was the first episode where I actually remembered all of the characters’ names and had a clearer picture of who they were. While some of my initial excitement has tempered, Westworld is a lot of fun to think about.

I just wish the characters were a little more fun to watch this week. But that seems a bit unfair when most of the characters are soulless navel-gazers navigating the limitations of their world and the rest are robots.

Lastly, Westword’s fly problem extends to Logan because he’s always walking into scenes zipping his up. Dude is gross.

[Read more]

Westworld Season 1, Episode 2 “Chestnut”

This week we enter Westworld with two newcomers, one who’s twitchy and the other who’s that guy in your office who doesn’t shut up about Crossfit. Only Westworld is even more prohibitively expensive and potentially headed towards a cult phenomenon that’s a lot more dangerous (but less sanctimonious.)

We also spend more time in the head of brothel-runner Maeve and the past build that haunts her, which is terrifying in a few different ways.

[The rich inner lives of Red Dead Redemption NPCs…]

Westworld Season 1, Episode 1: “The Original”

HBO aimed high with its new gunslinging-robots series Westworld and hit its mark big-time with a sophisticated, sumptuous premiere. I haven’t been this excited since I started watching Lost, and that has me a bit scared. Westworld, at least at its start, has just the right balance of lofty philosophy, plausible-sounding technobabble, and heartstring-tugging human drama to keep me totally engaged—except the humans are either arrogant mad scientists or guests embracing their inner GTA-addicted teenage sociopaths. The most “human” humans are actually androids flickering into unchecked sentience.

And behind these existential short circuits? There’s a hint of an overarching mystery that begs initial comparison to Lost’s own Dharma Initiative.

Of course the show is being co-produced by J.J. Abrams, Jonathan Nolan (Inception), and Lisa Joy (Person of Interest). So I shouldn’t be so surprised. And yet…

[“These violent delights have violent ends…”]

The City Dreams: The Last Days of New Paris by China Miéville

China Miéville has been incredibly productive this past year.

His latest short novel, The Last Days of New Paris, is his third new release since August 2015’s fat story collection Three Moments of an Explosion and January’s mysterious sorta-Bas-Lag novella, This Census-Taker. (This in addition to his work with Salvage magazine and a children’s picture book forthcoming in the fall.) Of the three, The Last Days of New Paris is likely the most approachable and the easiest to follow along with, which is a bit rich as the action centers around Surrealist art coming to life and overtaking Nazi-occupied Paris in WWII.

And if that summary gets your interest, then so, too, will The Last Days of New Paris. Alternate history via Miéville’s exemplary imagination creates an ideal forum to consider fascism and art, or fascism versus art, as the case may be. A look back at this moment of never-was time feels particularly timely now.

[Read more, look more, art more…]

Bright Days, Dark Fiction: 5 Horror Reads for Summer

Is this summer too hot for you? Have you grown weary of sunshine and the monotony of green leaves and whatever ubiquitous pop song that is that’s drifting from the open windows of passing cars? Do you resent the fact that the term “beach reads” means books that are frivolous, light, and somehow more fun than quality novels about werewolves, societal collapse, and suicide?

Here is a collection of five books perfect for the kind of person who enjoys being chilled, who’s counting down the days until Halloween. But don’t worry, none are too gloomy. Why, some even have sun-baked California hills and sweeping desert vistas as a backdrop for sexy scorpion-women and homicidal cult leaders.

[Read more]

Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 10 “The Winds of Winter”

The sixth season of Game of Thrones can best be described as predictable. As the show outpaced Martin’s novels, major book theories were confirmed as show canon and the large cast reunited in fast-track ways that were best suited to television’s shorter timeline.

But this is not to say that this show isn’t still capable of the mother of all surprises.

MAJOR episode spoilers ahead.

[Read more]

Series: HBO’s Game of Thrones