Five Literary Worlds That Smacked Me in the Face

After years of writing and reading urban fantasy, it’s hard to be thrilled about the basic premise—which, as I see it, is supernatural creatures and ordinary humans interacting on a regular basis. But every now and then, when I open a book, I am delighted to find a world I could never have imagined myself. It’s a real joy to me to be astounded. When I got a chance to share this pleasure, I realized I had to limit my list in some way: so I decided to pick worlds created by women writers.

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Series: Five Books About…

Steeplejack Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a galley copy of A.J. Hartley’s Steeplejack, available June 14th from Tor Teen!

Seventeen-year-old Anglet Sutonga lives repairing the chimneys, towers, and spires of the city of Bar-Selehm. Dramatically different communities live and work alongside each other. The white Feldish command the nation’s higher echelons of society. The native Mahweni are divided between citylife and the savannah. And then there’s Ang, part of the Lani community who immigrated over generations ago as servants and now mostly live in poverty on Bar-Selehm’s edges.

When Ang is supposed to meet her new apprentice Berrit, she instead finds him dead. That same night, the Beacon, an invaluable historical icon, is stolen. The Beacon’s theft commands the headlines, yet no one seems to care about Berrit’s murder—except for Josiah Willinghouse, an enigmatic young politician. When he offers her a job investigating his death, she plunges headlong into new and unexpected dangers.

Meanwhile, crowds gather in protests over the city’s mounting troubles. Rumors surrounding the Beacon’s theft grow. More suspicious deaths occur. With no one to help Ang except Josiah’s haughty younger sister, a savvy newspaper girl, and a kindhearted herder, Ang must rely on her intellect and strength to resolve the mysterious link between Berrit and the missing Beacon before the city descends into chaos.

Comment in the post to enter!

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J.R.R. Tolkien and George R.R. Martin Battle, Epically, Through Rap

Epic Rap Battles of History tend to be hit-or-miss, but their latest falls on the ‘hit’ side of the spectrum. George R.R. Martin takes on J.R.R. Tolkien, and both gentlemen get in some decent jabs, with Martin pointing out that “There’s edgier plots in David the Gnome” and Tolkien countering that “C.S. Lewis and I were just discussing how you and Jon Snow both know nothing.” And yes, Led Zeppelin makes a cameo appearance. Watch below!

[Click through for the full battle!]

The Wheel of Time Reread Redux: The Dragon Reborn, Part 18

Team Wheel of Time Reread Redux is on the move!

Today’s Redux post will cover Chapters 37 and 38 of The Dragon Reborn, originally reread in this post.

All original posts are listed in The Wheel of Time Reread Index here, and all Redux posts will also be archived there as well. (The Wheel of Time Master Index, as always, is here, which has links to news, reviews, interviews, and all manner of information about the Wheel of Time in general on Tor.com.)

The Wheel of Time Reread is also available as an e-book series! Yay!

All Reread Redux posts will contain spoilers for the entire Wheel of Time series, so if you haven’t read, read at your own risk.

And now, the post!

[I mean, I don’t know about anyone else, but Rowling had me at “Diagon Alley”]

Series: The Wheel of Time Reread

In the Game of Shots, You Throw Yours Away or You Die

I remember death so much it feels more like a memory. It’s one of Alexander Hamilton’s most stirring lines in Hamilton, but it could just as well apply to the cast of Game of Thrones, plagued as they are by double-crossings and grisly murders. Which is why we were so tickled to find these House sigils for the show’s massive cast. Good timing, too—Hamilton just broke Tony Award records with 16 nominations, with Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical pitting three of the stars against one another. Guess we should prepare for House Washington, House Jefferson, and House Hanover to form some interesting alliances.

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Rereading Kage Baker’s Company Series: In the Garden of Iden, Chapters 11-12

Welcome to this week’s installment of the Kage Baker Company series reread! In today’s post, we will cover chapters 11 and 12 of In the Garden of Iden.

You can find the reread’s introduction (including the reading order we’ll be following) here, and the index of previous posts here. Please be aware that this reread will contain spoilers for the entire series.

For this week’s post, I decided to try something different and do a separate summary and commentary for each chapter, rather than dealing with both chapters at the same time.

[How cold it was, the storm beating at the window.]

Series: Rereading Kage Baker

A Political Thriller with a Personal Core: Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray

Claudia Gray’s Star Wars: Bloodline is unmissable. Her previous Star Wars book, the young adult novel Lost Stars, was thoroughly enjoyable, but Bloodline’s tense politics, vivid new characters, and perfectly characterized Leia make it feel as central to the Star Wars universe as one of the films. It’s a vital piece of connective tissue, a story that takes place at a key moment in the life of Leia Organa while reflecting on all she’s done—and giving us the rich backstory to the events we know are coming.

Almost 25 years after the defeat of the Empire, the New Republic is at a stalemate, the Senate divided between Centrists and Populists. The fractious government can’t agree on anything except that the other side is wrong. (Sound familiar?) At the dedication of a statue of Bail Organa, Leia watches the crowd, sharply observing the invisible divide between her political peers. She is the person we know—the temperamental, intuitive, impatient, sympathetic, brilliant woman we met in A New Hope, grown into adulthood with a huge weight on her shoulders. She’s done this for so long that when one of her smart young staffers asks what she wants to do, she answers honestly: She wants to quit.

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Add These 100 SFF Novels Written by Women to Your TBR Stack!

Book Riot has done us all a great service by sharing a fantastic list of one hundred science fiction and fantasy novels written by women across nearly every subgenre and category imaginable! YA classics from Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce to Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time are represented, with stops along the way for everything from the swashbuckling Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner, to Mary Doria Russell’s haunting spiritual journey in The Sparrow, to the twisted fairy tale of Helen Oyeyemi’s Mr. Fox, to Cherie Priest’s steampunk extravaganza Boneshaker!

Head over to Book Riot for the full list, and be sure to check out further suggestions in the comments! One word of caution, though: you may feel the need to drop everything and read your way through this entire list.

A Universe of Possibilities: The Best of James H. Schmitz

In this monthly series reviewing classic science fiction books, Alan Brown will look at the front lines and frontiers of science fiction; books about soldiers and spacers, explorers and adventurers. Stories full of what Shakespeare used to refer to as “alarums and excursions”: battles, chases, clashes, and the stuff of excitement.

Science fiction opens a universe of possibilities for the author and the reader. New worlds, new creatures, and new civilizations can all be created to serve the story. And this broad canvas, in the right hands, can be used to paint stories of grand adventure: spaceships can roar through the cosmos, crewed by space pirates armed with ray guns, encountering strange beings. The term “space opera” was coined to describe this type of adventure story. Some authors writing in this sub-genre became lazy, and let their stories become as fanciful as the settings, but others were able to capture that sense of adventure and wonder, and still write stories that felt real, rooted in well-drawn characters and thoughtful backdrops.

One such author was James H. Schmitz. If you were reading Analog and Galaxy magazines in the 1960s and 70s, as I was, you were bound to encounter his work, and bound to remember it fondly.

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Ann VanderMeer Acquires The Warren by Brian Evenson

Tor.com Publishing is proud to announce that consulting editor Ann VanderMeer has acquired her first novella from us. Scheduled for publication this fall, Brian Evenson’s novella The Warren is a tense, thoughtful exploration of a battle for survival between two beings with competing claims to humanity. Ann VanderMeer is a Hugo Award winning editor who has acquired wonderful short fiction for Tor.com over the past few years, and we’re honored to have her on board with another amazing project.

Brian Evenson is the author of a dozen books of fiction, most recently the story collection A Collapse of Horses. His collection Windeye and the novel Immobility were both finalists for a Shirley Jackson Award. His novel Last Days won the American Library Association’s award for Best Horror Novel of 2009). His novel The Open Curtain was a finalist for an Edgar Award and an International Horror Guild Award. He is the recipient of three O. Henry Prizes as well as an NEA fellowship.

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Series: Editorially Speaking

Max and Furiosa Reunite in London!

Tom Hardy posted this shot with the jubilant message: “Found Furiosa negotiating London traffic”, and we have to agree, this London lorry driver is awesomely Furiosa-esque. We wonder who initiated the photo, though? Did the Furiosa doppelgänger glance to the right and say something along the lines of, “Holy crumpets, that’s Tom bleedin’ Hardy!” and then get his attention? Or did Tom Hardy spot her first, mumble a series of incoherent syllables, and then dig through the pile of pit bull puppies we’re assuming surround him at all times to find his phone for the pic? And what could the passengers possibly have been thinking during this exchange?

Click through for another, slightly-more-dangerous-looking shot!

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The Cheysuli Reread, Book 2: The Song of Homana

Tansy Rayner Roberts is rereading The Cheysuli Chronicles, an epic fantasy series and family saga by Jennifer Roberson which combines war, magic and prophecy with domestic politics, romance and issues to do with cultural appropriation and colonialism.

Another concise, fast-paced read which manages to pack several volumes worth of Epic Fantasy Plot into a single volume—but this one, quite startlingly, is told in 1st person instead of 3rd, as well as having a different protagonist to Book 1. (Oh, fantasy series made up of single narratively satisfying volumes, where did you go?) This time it’s Carillon, Alix’s cousin and the dispossessed Mujhar of Homana, who takes centre stage.

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Illustrating the Cover for The Jewel and Her Lapidary

Artist Tommy Arnold has worked on a wide range of titles in science fiction and fantasy, from Krista D. Ball’s The Demons We See to David Dalglish’s Fireborn—he’s also illustrated some of Tor.com’s original short fiction, including Jennifer Fallon’s “First Kill” and John Chu’s “Hold Time Violations“.

We’re thrilled that Arnold has also turned his talents to Fran Wilde’s The Jewel and Her Lapidary, an epic fantasy novella forthcoming from Tor.com Publishing on May 3rd. Below, Arnold walks us through his process for capturing the novella’s central characters Lin and Sima, from early sketches through the final cover result!

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2015 Shirley Jackson Award Nominees Announced

The nominees for the 2015 Shirley Jackson Award have been announced! Awarded every year in recognition of Shirley Jackson’s legacy, the awards honor exceptional work in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and dark fantasy. Tor.com is pleased to announce that two Tor.com Originals are among the nominees: Priya Sharma’s “Fabulous Beasts” and Jeffrey Ford’s “The Thyme Fiend” were nominated for Best Novelette; in addition, The Doll Collection (edited by Ellen Datlow) is up for Best Edited Anthology. Congratulations to all of the nominees!

The 2015 Shirley Jackson Awards will be presented on Sunday, July 10, at Readercon 27.

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