Tue
Sep 6 2011 10:00am
Announcing Barnes and Noble Bookseller’s Picks on Tor.com

Barnes and Noble Bookseller’s Picks on Tor.com

Tor.com is pleased to announce a joint collaboration with Barnes and Noble Booksellers to bring the best in genre fiction to fans and new readers alike.  Tor.com is partnering with Barnes & Noble for a series of appreciations, the “Barnes & Noble Bookseller’s Picks,” a monthly recommended science fiction and fantasy reading list.

For over a decade, Barnes & Noble buyer Jim Killen has been a driving force behind Barnes & Noble’s remarkably well-chosen science fiction and fantasy sections. Each month, Mr. Killen will curate a list of science fiction & fantasy titles, which various Tor.com contributors will then discuss and explore.

The recent release of George R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons and the smash success of HBO’s Game of Thrones have put interest in epic fantasy at an all-time high. If you’re just beginning to read in this subgenre, you may be wondering what to try next. To answer that question, this month’s theme will focus on the opening volumes of various epic fantasy series.

Over the next ten days, Tor.com will reassess first trips into worlds of mist, dragons, swords, and magic. And as an added bonus, through September 30th, Tor.com will be offering the ebook editions of Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World, Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon, and Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn for only $2.99 each.

Join us in the upcoming two weeks while we discuss these great epic fantasy beginnings:

Tuesday, September 6: Best Served Cold
Wednesday, September 7: The Blade Itself
Thursday, September 8: The Dragon’s Path
Friday, September 9: Empire in Black and Gold
Monday, September 12: The Eye of the World
Tuesday, September 13: The Fallen Blade
Wednesday, September 14: A Game of Thrones
Thursday, September 15: Gardens of the Moon
Friday, September 16: Mistborn
Monday, September 19: The Name of the Wind

Keep up with all the entries at the B&N index right here on Tor.com. And check back with us at the beginning of October for the next theme!

This article is part of Barnes & Noble Bookseller’s Picks: index | next ›
24 comments
Todd Tyrna
1. Ezramoon
Ahhhh the Mistborn ebook link goes to GoTM it's a conspiracy!!!

Even though this is a BN event, can I thank you for offering the Kindle versions for $2.99 as well?

Ok I will. Thank you :)
ces
2. ces
I've already read 5 of the 10 posted!
Cathy Mullican
3. nolly
I'd rather see Tor.com promoting and supporting some of the many wonderful independent booksellers who specialize in SF/F.
Irene Gallo
4. Irene
@3 Nolly,

We have plans to do just that but we also feel that promoting books is good for all booksellers and libraries. If someone becomes interested in one of these titles along the way, we’ll be proud to have played a small part of that discovery no matter where they pick up the book.
ces
5. Sean O'Hara
I would like to congratulate Tor for finding a way to promote fiction by white men. These are a very underserved group of writers deserving of more attention. Thank God you didn't waste space promoting all those female fantasy authors that everyone knows about and instead focused on such obscure names as Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. Keep up the good work, Tor!
Irene Gallo
6. Irene
@Sean,
This is a monthly series and will cover authors from many backgrounds, orientation, and gender.
ces
7. Sean O'Hara
So why is this month the exception? 40% of all SF books published are by women, yet out of nine books none are by women, though you found room for two by Joe Abercrombie -- you couldn't've bumped Best Served Cold for something by Cherryh, Lackey, Jemisin, McCaffrey, Moon, Rusch...?
Joris Meijer
8. jtmeijer
Come on Sean, give the nice people some room to again call attention to virtually unknown works by Erikson, Martin and even Jordan. Poor Sanderson and Rothfuss also need all the help they can get to become better known. It is not like any of these people have long-running threads on this website that help people understand and appreciate their work.
ces
9. SFB
God knows I love me some epic fantasy, but I have to agree with Sean... really? Out of ten, you can't come up with ONE female or nonwhite author who wrote a series worth highlighting. ONE?
Now that's a lack of imagination unworthy of a site devoted to speculative fiction.
I will admit to having cried wolf much too early if, at any point in the next twelve months of this series, the list includes NO white men (and the topic does not specifically trend towards nonwhite, nonmale authors- ie: "postcolonial fantasy"). But I'm not holding my breath.
Chris Hawks
10. SaltManZ
Did everyone else miss the fact that it's B&N putting this list together (not Tor) and that the first month is essentially current blockbuster epic fantasy?

Looking foward to this series.
ces
11. Minch
Once again people speak (type) before they think.
ces
12. Sean O'Hara
@SaltManZ: Tor is putting their imprimantur on this, putting out press releases trumpeting the partnership, giving webspace to the project, and a Tor employee is responding to comments about the project. Let's not pretend they have nothing to do with this. If they're giving their approval to a blatantly sexist list like this, they need to be called on it.
ces
13. Amal
Is Mark Charan Newton's Nights of Villjamur good? I am thinking of picking it up.

Please tell.
M F
14. Madeline
Way to go, Sean and JT! I was just noticing that we're in for a flood of things Tor.com has already covered. Thanks for keeping your eyes on what's important!
Ron Hogan
15. RonHogan
As the guy who's writing up both the Joe Abercrombie books, my bias is somewhat obvious, but I think there's a reasonable case to be made that not everybody who reads Tor.com cares about epic fantasy already, and that for readers who are looking for an introduction to some key books in the field, covering books and writers some of us might think are terribly obvious does have its uses.

That said, I would love to hear more from B&N's Jim Killen about how his own fandom shapes the lists that he'll be developing throughout this series, and I hope he'll have time to participate in the posts and ensuing conversations somehow and share his insights and enthusiasms.

(My limited insider perspective gives me confidence that the issues of diversity y'all have raised above will be addressed over the course of the series, but I believe it's not my place to say more than that. My own addition to the diversity wishlist, which is perhaps less significant than those raised above, is that I'd like to see more pre-1990s fiction, but I concede that's dependent on what's currently in print. I mean, seriously, how did Lord Valentine's Castle fall into publishing limbo?)
Joris Meijer
16. jtmeijer
SaltManZ, Minch, I can understand why a bookseller and a publisher want to focus on a blockbuster model and it is their good right to do so. However,... ( and in my humble opinion)

The post calls our attention to Jim Killen, who apparently is good at keeping an interesting and broad selection for a large books-chain. And then the list he comes up with contains all the names everyone comes up with anytime Epic Fantasy is discussed (we're basically only missing Feist and Goodkind of the authors actively publishing). I would have hoped someone this well aware of the field could point me to some unknown gems.

We are on a site were some authors are posted about very often, and some have long series of posts analyzing their work. It could be considered a bit of a waste to spend a full post to their work again. A single post with links could cover them all, leaving plenty of room for other less discussed series.

Basically the series of posts to me at this momemt seems focussed on pushing the same old, in an environment where for one time this is not a necessity. It is a wasted opportunity to put the spotlight on the not-quite bestsellers, a wasted opportunity to call attention to and support more authors, a wasted opportunity to broaden the vision of readers. A wasted opportunity to strenghten the genre.

And that is before all the implicit deep problems in both publishing and bookselling that should be obvious by just looking at the names in this list. When apparently even the go-to names for lesser known series are accidently all males. When books that slip into the 'Epic Fantasy' lable are accidently all by male writers (ie what makes Best Served Cold or The Name of the Wind or even Empire in Black and Gold fit?).

Of course I might not have noticed as much if a different sub-genre I don't know as well would have received the first focus, but then Tor.com does not seem to put as much sustained attention in those anyway.
rudy leon
17. rudibrarian
Introductions set the tone. The tone being set here is that women authors and authors of color are irrelevant to the series. I don't care what you do later. You have failed to interest me in yet another list of white guys writing SF. You have a chance to say (right now, just one), oops sorry, we're idiots, here's why we picked those guys but we'll backtrack and make it right.
ces
18. ces
For those of you complaining, why not take some action? Post your own list here instead of just complaining.
ces
19. ClintACK
A massive *eyeroll* and *snort* at the cries of "Sexism!!"

If you want to actually make an argument, at least pick an epic fantasy series written by an author who happens to be a woman, and make an *argument* for your claim that only sexism could possibly have led to its exclusion.

This is basically a list of the starting books of ongoing series that are making publishers a ton of money right now in the epic fantasy genre. For whatever reason ("Sexism!!1!" or not), those seem to be by male writers.

The suggestion that female authors are having a really tough time breaking into the fantasy market or getting readers (and thus need extra help -- talk about sexist!!) is just silly -- the top female authors are just writing in different subgenres at the moment. And absolutely dominating them to the point of creating their own new subgenres that are outselling the whole epic fantasy genre. (See: Stephanie Meyer and J.K. Rowling for two prominent examples.)

Lest you think that last was hyperbole -- the Wheel of Time (all 13 books) sold about 44 million books. The Twilight series has sold more than 100 million books, and the Harry Potter series an epic 450 million books. A Song of Fire and Ice comes in at 15 million. (Numbers from Wikipedia, take with a grain of salt.)

Now, if you want to argue that starting with such a male-dominated subgenre as epic fantasy, rather than something like supernatural romance or YA fantasy, is itself somehow sexist.... it's a more subtle point, and you might persuade me. But demanding that a token female author be added to the "current epic fantasy series" list... and in nominal opposition to sexism... Bah!
ces
20. James Davis Nicoll
NK Jemisin's Inheritance Trilogy is epic fantasy and the first book was up for a Hugo this year. In fact, the first book is one of just three debut novels that I could find that were nominated for all three of the Hugo, the World Fantasy and the Nebula.

Jennifer Fallon's ouvre includes epic fantasy and she should be known to the Tor half of this partnership because they publish her.

Laura Resnick's Chronicles of Sirkara is ongoing and due for another volume in 2012.

Elizabeth Moon has a new Paksenarrion-related series with two books out in 2010 and 2011 and I believe a third coming in 2012.

Mercedes Lackey is a prolific author of epic fantasies.
Jo Walton
21. bluejo
ClintACK: I don't think anybody's calling for a token female author. But it would have been absolutely sensible for Kate Elliott or Robin Hobb or Michelle Sagara or N.K. Jemison to have been on the list -- they're writing epic fantasy series of exactly the kind that this list is about. This is a list of books you might want to read if you just read all of Martin and you want more like that. Assassin's Apprentice or King's Dragon would be perfect.

But the thing is that this whole issue of women being invisible is that it's so easy to miss. I think if you look at the books I write about here you'll see that I cover writers of all genders, and on purpose. But I saw this list a while ago (and have written about Abraham, one of my favourite new writers) and my eyes just went over it as "list of recent epic fantasy" and didn't stop to think "Hey, wait a minute, they're all guys." It's amazing how big the things are that we don't notice -- and this is why we keep doing this kind of screwing up. And for those of you who think that women aren't working in this genre, there's a reason you think that, and it isn't that they're not working in this genre, it's that you don't think they are because they get left off the lists, sheesh!

Thanks to everyone who did notice and called this out. I checked the next list and there are women on it, and I will try to be more aware, and to encourage other people here to be more aware, of this in future.

Jo, talking for myself only, but hitting myself in the personal forehead over not noticing this.
ces
22. Mike0827
It did not occur to me that any of the authors on this list were white males. Am I racist and sexist and I did not know it? Is it sexist or racist to not stop to consider whether your list has diversity? If I were making a list of any nature it would never occur to me to think about race or sex, I would make the list based on what I like. If we desire a world free from discrimination should we not stop seeing sex and race where ever we look and instead look at everyone as just a person?
Rob Munnelly
23. RobMRobM
Jo - agree that Assassin's Apprentice should have been on this list. Very comparable to those chosen in scope and and better than several in overall quality. I really enjoy the main character, Fitzchivalry Farseer, and the story built around him.

Jemison, while promising and with an interesting world (I recently read and enjoyed the first two works in her series), is not yet as established as the ones chosen.

Rob
ces
24. James Davis Nicoll
It's not like the Shadows of the Apt series is all that old and talking about Jemisin now would let tor.com and B&N say in 20 years "we knew about her back when she was just starting!"

Really, isn't it the job of bookstores and site like this to spot the coming big names? And Jemisin shows every sign of being one of those.

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