Tor.com content by

Theresa DeLucci

Fiction and Excerpts [1]
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Fiction and Excerpts [1]

David Hartwell’s Last Gift to Me: Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun

I am no Severian.

Unlike the protagonist of Gene Wolfe’s seminal Book of the New Sun series, I’m not cursed with a perfect memory. But there are some moments that are too special to lose. Among those, for me, is the story of how I acquired a very special copy of The Shadow of the Torturer.

It was during the mass autographing session at the 2015 World Fantasy Con. Gene Wolfe was a guest of honor and I had stupidly forgotten my yellowed paperback of the Shadow & Claw omnibus at home. I was further distraught to learn that the dealer’s room was closed, so I couldn’t even buy another copy. I was somewhere between panic and heartbreak because Gene Wolfe just doesn’t come to conventions very often anymore and who knows if I’d ever meet him again.

[“This is the line of division…”]

Game of Thrones Live is Epic Theater for Epic TV

The hiatus is long and full of boredom as we wait for the seventh season of Game of Thrones.

Luckily, HBO, Live Nation, and Team Benioff & Weiss have given fans what is possibly the most creative, elaborate “Previously on” montage ever to help us make it to summer. With their support, show composer Ramin Djawadi has launched a 24-city North American tour featuring music from Thrones presented live with all the bells and whistles (and wildfire) a die-hard fan could want.

I was fortunate enough to attend New York City’s concert and see, for my first time ever, an arena show that really felt worthy of such a large space.

[Are you not entertained?]

Darkly Dreaming: 5 Essential Reads from Caitlín R. Kiernan

With Caitlín R. Kiernan’s new novella, Agents of Dreamland, available February 28, it seems like the perfect time to look back on the long career of one of dark fantasy’s most acclaimed authors.

To date myself and the author, Kiernan’s distinctive, razor-sharp prose has been thrilling me since about 1995, when I would obsessively refresh the GeoCities site she shared with fellow horror “Furies” Poppy Z. Brite and Christa Faust. I bought her first chapbook, Candles for Elizabeth, in my local Hot Topic. It’s probably the only thing from a ’90s-era Hot Topic that doesn’t embarrass me now.

Born in Dublin, Kiernan spent most of her childhood in Alabama before authoring ten novels, numerous graphic novels, and over two hundred short stories, flash pieces, and novellas. Her work combines a heavy dose of Southern gothic tradition with Lovecraftian otherworldliness and an appreciation for the scientific and the erotic in equal measure.

These five choices were very difficult to narrow down—particularly when there are so many short story collections to choose from—and are presented in order by publication date.

[Trilobites, imps, and monster-slayers…]

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…”]