Tor.com content by

Paul Cornell

Fiction and Excerpts [7]
All

Fiction and Excerpts [7]

Witches of Lychford

|| Judith Mawson knows the truth about Lychford—that it lies on the boundary between two worlds, and that the destruction of the border will open wide the gateways to malevolent beings beyond imagination. But if she is to have her voice heard, she's going to need the assistance of some unlikely allies...

The Christmas Soundtrack to The Lost Child of Lychford

One of my three heroines in The Lost Child of Lychford is a put-upon vicar at Christmas time (I defy you to find me any other kind at that time of year). She expresses some of that frustration by naming some of her least favourite Christmas singles. These horrors include songs by Greg Lake, Chris De Burgh, and The Pogues (through sheer repetition, seriously, you should try being British at Christmas, it’s mostly hideous). Greg Lake fans should note, however, that he benefits from a bit of a twist ending.

So I thought, for an article to accompany my very dark Christmas novella, why not list some of my favourite Christmas singles? (That was a rhetorical question. Which will still probably get answers in the comments.) I’m not going to include traditional music here, or “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem,” which has probably influenced my work more than any other text, would take up half the piece. Also, Prokofiev’s “Troika” would get a paragraph or two for the way that I can’t get through it without recalling the TV trailers of my youth and bellowing “Christmas on BBC1!” No, instead I’m talking here about the sort of singles with a festive theme that get, or rather used to get, into the British charts. For this is a species on the verge of extinction. Talent show singles, charity crusades and tiresomely ironic responses to such have long since taken the place of current pop groups hopefully jingling sleigh bells.

[I like, in no particular order…]

The Lost Child of Lychford

It’s December in the English village of Lychford—the first Christmas since an evil conglomerate tried to force open the borders between our world and… another.

Which means it’s Lizzie’s first Christmas as Reverend of St. Martin’s. Which means more stress, more expectation, more scrutiny by the congregation. Which means… well, business as usual, really. Until the apparition of a small boy finds its way to Lizzie in the church. Is he a ghost? A vision? Something else? Whatever the truth, our trio of witches (they don’t approve of “coven”) are about to face their toughest battle, yet!

Paul Cornell’s The Lost Child of Lychford, the sequel to Witches of Lychford, is available November 1st from Tor.com Publishing.

[Read more]

In These Green Hills

The Cotswolds are a range of hills, in the middle of Britain, which define a region. They rise from the Thames to an escarpment called the Cotswold Edge, above the Severn valley. As with many things in Britain, they’re characterised by their ill-defined boundaries. Several places on their fringes, or honestly nowhere near, claim, for the purposes of tourism, to be part and parcel. The Cotswolds are the home of crafts, dry stone walling, rolling hills, small market towns, country inns with good restaurants, hideaways for the rich. They’re laid back and gorgeous, like an aging slab of good cheese.

This is the region in which reside myself and my wife. She’s the vicar of a glorious parish church in a glorious Cotswolds market town. The only problem is, we have to solve so many surreal and whimsical murders. (Whenever I say that to Americans, they look anxious for a moment, as if it might be true.) My upcoming novella for Tor.com, Witches of Lychford, uses a very similar Cotswolds town as its setting. It’s an attempt on my part to connect with our new home and the people here, and to communicate some of the flavour of the place to those who’ve never been here. It’s about three women with experience of the other-worldly coming together to fight supernatural evil, said evil being, obviously, in the form of a chain of supermarkets.

[Read more]

The Magic Number: Why Witches Come in Threes

Why is it so often three witches? That’s the number who band together to fight the forces of supernatural evil (in the form of a supermarket chain arriving in their small Cotswolds town) in Witches of Lychford, my forthcoming novella for Tor.com. That grouping is part of a long tradition.

The three witches of Macbeth are the obvious starting point. Shakespeare may have based those fate-deciding ‘weird sisters’ on the Fates—the Moirai of Greek myth or Parcae in the Roman version—of whom there were also three. (The historical chronicles he takes as his source material make this identification directly, making it clear that the term ‘weird sisters’ is another name for the Fates. It also offers the possibility they might have been fairies, but doesn’t actually call them witches.) The idea of the Fates may have influenced Norse belief in the Norns, also a trio of divine female arbiters of destiny.

[The three witches also have had a long career in literature and the media.]

Witches of Lychford

The villagers in the sleepy hamlet of Lychford are divided. A supermarket wants to build a major branch on their border. Some welcome the employment opportunities, while some object to the modernization of the local environment.

Judith Mawson (local crank) knows the truth—that Lychford lies on the boundary between two worlds, and that the destruction of the border will open wide the gateways to malevolent beings beyond imagination. But if she is to have her voice heard, she’s going to need the assistance of some unlikely allies…

We’re pleased to present an excerpt from Paul Cornell’s Witches of Lychford, publishing in paperback and ebook September 8th from Tor.com!

[Read an excerpt]

Five Brilliant Things About Doctor Who “Time Heist”

It has taken us a whole week to get out from behind the sofa following last week’s terrifying Doctor Who Episode “Listen” and so we welcomed this fun and enjoyable episode of Doctor Who, “Time Heist.” This time the action revolved around a robbery of the greatest bank in the galaxy, a riff on the classic Heist movies with echoes of Ocean’s Eleven and Mission Impossible.

It was great to see an episode where the Doctor takes centre stage at last (as both hero and villain), but for us it was his two extra companions Saibra and Psi who really stole the show. But what did Tor UK’s resident Whovian Paul Cornell think?

[Read More]

Series: Doctor Who on Tor.com

The Severed Streets (Excerpt)

Detective Inspector James Quill is back in Paul Cornell’s The Severed Streets—a police procedural tinged with fantasy—available May 20th from Tor Books!

Desperate to find a case to justify the team’s existence, with budget cuts and a police strike on the horizon, Quill thinks he’s struck gold when a cabinet minister is murdered by an assailant who wasn’t seen getting in or out of his limo. A second murder, that of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, presents a crime scene with a message identical to that left by the original Jack the Ripper.

The new Ripper seems to have changed the MO of the old completely: he’s only killing rich white men. The inquiry into just what this supernatural menace is takes Quill and his team into the corridors of power at Whitehall, to meetings with MI5, or ‘the funny people’ as the Met call them, and into the London occult underworld. They go undercover to a pub with a regular evening that caters to that clientele, and to an auction of objects of power at the Tate Modern.

[Read an excerpt]

Ramesses on the Frontier

With Halloween approaching and spooky monsters on the rise, now is the perfect time for stories about classic monsters. Tor.com is happy to present “Ramesses on the Frontier,” a new story by acclaimed author Paul Cornell from upcoming mummy anthology The Book of the Dead. This anthology, the first ever book of original mummy stories, is published by Jurassic London in cooperation with the Egypt Exploration Society, this anthology features stories by Gail Carriger, Jesse Bullington, Maria Dahvana Headley, Maurice Broaddus, and many more. You can see the table of contents and get information on how to buy the anthology here. A portion of all proceeds from sales of The Book of the Dead will benefit the Egypt Exploration Society.

Paul Cornell’s story follows Ramesses I, founder of his dynasty, on his journey through the Duat to earn his eternal reward. To the great confusion of Ramesses, however, the Duat is not what he had been led to expect. He must travel across America, at the turn of the new millennium.

[Read “Ramesses on the Frontier” by Paul Cornell]

The Elephant in the Room

George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards multi-author shared-world universe has been thrilling readers for over 25 years. Now, in addition to overseeing the ongoing publication of new Wild Cards books (like 2011’s Fort Freak, Martin is also commissioning and editing new Wild Cards stories for publication on Tor.com. Paul Cornell’s “The Elephant in the Room” is the tale of a young woman who can temporarily take on the superpowers of people she’s near…and of the crisis this leads her into as she struggles to deal with an overcontrolling mother, a very strange boyfriend, and the beginning of a career.

This novelette was acquired and edited for Tor.com by George R. R. Martin.

[Read “The Elephant in the Room” by Paul Cornell]