Five Fantastic Cities

You know what they say is most important in realty: Location, location, location. In fiction, it’s often true as well; an interesting setting can make or break a sci-fi or fantasy novel, either drawing the reader in or making them gnash their teeth in frustration. When I find a book with a vivid enough setting, it’s as though I’ve found a portal to another world.

In some works, the city is a character in and of itself, full of its own charm and nuance and personality. Here are five books with cities that completely drew me in, and had me hungering to know more.

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Series: Five Books About…

Great Sci-Fi & Fantasy BookTubers to Follow

BookTube is what it sounds like: a community of YouTube users who post vlogs about books. Videos range from the oh-so-popular (and neverending) to-be-read piles to monthly or yearly wrap-ups to deep dives into particular subgenres, tropes, and topics. BookTubers tag one another in video challenges, join up for readathons, and make it so that it’s not just dozens of bookworms shouting into the void—it’s a constant conversation.

SFF BookTube is a pocket of that online universe whose members love to discuss science fiction, fantasy, horror, speculative fiction, YA… you name it. Some of these BookTubers post everything under the #BookTubeSFF hashtag on Twitter, while others read across genres and highlight certain SFF titles they can’t stop talking about. We’ve rounded up both types here—and what’s more, we’ve created a little tour through BookTube. Starting with the big-picture news vlogs to getting incredibly granular with reviews, here’s (nearly) every kind of SFF BookTube video depending on your mood and needs. Enjoy!

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Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Barrayar, Chapters 9-10

It’s very apparent from the comments on the last few blog posts that many readers are eager to discuss the coup. Me too! Chapters 9 and 10 lay the stage. This section is about children—Miles, Aral, Drou and Kou’s dreams, and Gregor. This section also represents a key moment for the comconsole in the library at Vorkosigan Surleau.

If you’d like to catch up on previous posts in the reread, the index is here. At this time, the spoiler policy permits discussion of all books EXCEPT Gentlemen Jole and the Red Queen. Discussion of any and all revelations from or about that book should be whited out.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

High Stakes Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a galley copy of High Stakes, the 23rd Wild Cards book, edited by George R.R. Martin and available August 30th from Tor Books!

Perfect for old fans and new readers alike, High Stakes delves deeper into the world of aces, jokers, and the hard-boiled men and women of the Fort Freak police precinct in a pulpy, page-turning novel of superheroics and Lovecraftian horror.

After the concluding events of Lowball, Officer Francis Black of Fort Freak, vigilante joker Marcus “The Infamous Black Tongue” Morgan, and ace thief Mollie “Tesseract” Steunenberg get stuck in Talas, Kyrgyzstan. There, the coldblooded Baba Yaga forces jokers into an illegal fighting ring, but her hidden agenda is much darker: her fighters’ deaths serve to placate a vicious monster from another dimension. When the last line of defense against this world weakens, all hell breaks loose, literally….

The Committee in New York sends a team of aces to investigate. One by one, each falls victim to evil forces—including the dark impulses within themselves. Only the perseverance of the most unlikely of heroes has a chance of saving the world before utter chaos erupts on Earth.

Comment in the post to enter!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States and D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec). To enter, comment on this post beginning at 2:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on July 25th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on July 29th. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Tor.com, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

Pull List: Kim & Kim

I think it’s fair to say that 2016 sucks. It is a year that is dark and full of terrors and getting worse by the day. There are a few bright spots scattered through the hellscape, however, and Mags Visaggio and Eva Cabrera’s Kim & Kim is one of them. Not only is it one of the best ass-kicking, patriarchy-smashing, queer-rocking comics since Midnighter, but it’s an indie comic to boot.

[“Score another for the Fighting Kims.”]

See Max Gladstone in Conversation with Malka Older!

Don’t miss your chance to see acclaimed authors Max Gladstone (Four Roads Cross) and Malka Older (Infomocracy) discuss science fiction and fantasy, worldbuilding, and their latest works at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, MA on July 27th at 7:00 pm!

Max Gladstone is the author of the Craft Sequence: Three Parts Dead, Two Serpents Rise, Full Fathom Five, Last First Snow, and Four Roads Cross. You can start reading Four Roads Cross, out tomorrow, here!

Malka Older’s debut novel, Infomocracy, has been hailed as the perfect book for election season, and you can find excerpts, news, and more about the book here. Malka is a writer, humanitarian worker, and PhD candidate at the Centre de Sociologie des Organisations studying governance and disasters.

RSVP here!

“I Think You’re Underestimating Humanity” — Star Trek Beyond Spoiler Review

Star Trek Beyond
Written by Simon Pegg & Doug Jung
Directed by Justin Lin
Release date: July 22, 2016
Stardate: 2263.2

Please note that this is a SPOILER FILLED REVIEW! Seriously, lotsa spoilers here and in the comments. If you do not wish to be spoiled, there’s a spoiler-free review elsewhere on the site, and you can read that and also comment there without worry about being spoiled. Here, though, we’re talkin’ ’bout the whole thing…

[I joined on a dare…]

Sherlock‘s Inspector Lestrade Wore A Cute Apron, Still Didn’t Get Sent to Comic Con

An adorable treat for Sherlock fans, showrunners Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat screened a short video at San Diego Comic Con to explain their thought process behind which actors they brought along to the mega-event. The result gives us a rare glimpse into the fraught decision-making processes that television producers go through every–

–who am I kidding? It was just an excuse to put Rupert Graves in a pretty apron.

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Death’s End: The Death of the Magician

With The Three-Body Problem, English-speaking readers got their first chance to experience the multiple-award-winning and bestselling Three-Body Trilogy by China’s most beloved science fiction author, Cixin Liu. Now this epic trilogy concludes with Death’s End—translated by Ken Liu and available September 20th from Tor Books. Read an excerpt below, and check back for additional excerpts before the book’s release!

Half a century after the Doomsday Battle, the uneasy balance of Dark Forest Deterrence keeps the Trisolaran invaders at bay. Earth enjoys unprecedented prosperity due to the infusion of Trisolaran knowledge. With human science advancing daily and the Trisolarans adopting Earth culture, it seems that the two civilizations will soon be able to co-exist peacefully as equals without the terrible threat of mutually assured annihilation. But the peace has also made humanity complacent.

Cheng Xin, an aerospace engineer from the early 21st century, awakens from hibernation in this new age. She brings with her knowledge of a long-forgotten program dating from the beginning of the Trisolar Crisis, and her very presence may upset the delicate balance between two worlds. Will humanity reach for the stars or die in its cradle?

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Five Books That Get Survival Right

It was important to me to write the survival skills described in my debut novel, The Last One, as accurately as possible. My main character isn’t an expert, and I needed to know what mistakes she could make. There are also characters who are experts, and I wanted to be able to write them convincingly as well. That’s why I undertook weeks of hands-on wilderness survival training while writing the book—so I could get it right. Or, at the very least, so I wouldn’t get it horribly, horribly wrong. While taking a handful of survival classes doesn’t make me an expert, I do know enough now to appreciate when a novel gets an important aspect of survival right.

[Here are five novels that do.]

Series: Five Books About…

Rereading Katherine Kurtz: Saint Camber, Prologue through Chapter 2

Welcome to the weekly reread of Katherine Kurtz’s Camber trilogy! Last week we finished Camber of Culdi, and generally we felt as if the book had not held up in the reread.

This week we’re starting Saint Camber. I’ll be breaking it up a bit differently than heretofore, as the chapters vary in length—trying to do about 40 pages of the first-edition paperback per week. So we begin with the Prologue and proceed through the first two chapters.

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Series: Rereading Katherine Kurtz

John Barrowman Wins at Cosplay Yet Again

Look, we’re all adults here. We can be honest about the fact that life is a constantly shifting chaotic mess. But there are some things you can rely on – and fortunately for us, one of those things is John Barrowman showing up at San Diego Comic-Con in the greatest possibly cosplay. Here he is as Futurama‘s Zapp Brannigan. Look at those boots! Look at that steely captain’s gaze! And you know what’s better? If you click through you get to see him as Squirrel Girl.

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