Evil Captain America, DC Rebirth, and the Dubious Arms Race of Mainstream Comics

It’s been an interesting 24 hours in mainstream comics. Both Marvel and DC have made massive changes to big parts of their respective universes, and the comics internet is still reeling from both. Neither change has gone down particularly well—with many readers crying foul over what they perceive as an intentional misdirect or a cheap gimmick—but both tell us an awful lot about the tensions inherent in writing mainstream comics right now.

Let’s start with the Star-Spangled Man with the, it now seems, Insidious Plan. Captain America relaunched yesterday, with a new issue #1 and a new creative team. Jesus Saiz’s artwork has been some of the most consistently impressive in the industry for over a decade; Nick Spencer’s massive ambition and intricate plotting has marked him out as one of the best of the new wave of writers. This is very close to a creative dream team, and it shows: The art is brawny, clean, and expressive, and the script is well-designed and neatly expands Cap’s world. Steve Rogers was, for some time, aged to the point where he couldn’t serve as Captain America anymore and handed the shield off to everyone’s favorite pararescue specialist, Sam Wilson. Now de-aged, Steve is back in the field next to Sam and fellow superheroes Jack Flag and Free Spirit. This is a really smart call because not only does it not undercut SamCap (who’s GREAT, by the way), but it also makes Captain America more of an idea than an individual. Seeing the paragon of virtue represented not by one man, but by a diverse group, is smart and, honestly, pretty inspiring.

Which is why the ending is so shocking.

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Wait. What Happened to the KISSING Part? “The Frog King, or Iron Henry”

You probably think you know the story: the girl, the well, the golden ball, the frog, and that kiss.

You’ve almost certainly heard the saying: “You’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs before you can find your prince.”

What you might not know is that in the original German versions, and even the first English translations, the princess doesn’t kiss the frog at all.

And it’s not exactly clear when the two of them managed to make things, well, legal.

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False Hearts

Twin sisters Taema and Tila, conjoined until the age of sixteen, are in their mid-twenties when they’re drawn into a deadly battle for control of a drug that facilitates a disturbing form of lucid dreaming.

One night Tila stumbles home, terrified and covered in blood. She’s arrested for murder, the first homicide by a civilian in decades. The San Francisco police suspect involvement with Verve, an illicit narcotic that allows violent minds to enact their darkest desires in a terrifying dreamscape, and they offer her twin Taema a chilling deal. If Taema assumes Tila’s identity and obtains the information needed to take down the city’s drug syndicate, the police may let her sister live. But Taema’s investigation stirs up ghosts from the twins’ past.

Raised in the closed cult of Mana’s Hearth and denied access to modern technology, Taema and Tila dared to dream of a life beyond the walls of the compound. When the heart they shared began to fail, the twins escaped to San Francisco, where they were surgically separated and given new artificial hearts. From then on they pursued lives beyond anything they could have previously imagined.

But that freedom comes with a price; once unable to keep secrets from each other, Taema and Tila learn the true cost of lies.

Laura Lam’s adult sci-fi debut False Hearts is available June 14th from Tor Books. Read an excerpt below, and check out “Through the Eyes of a Bluebird,” a companion story set in the mysterious commune of Mana’s Hearth.

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Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a galley copy of Claudia Christian and Morgan Grant Buchanan’s Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator, available June 28 from Tor Books!

When her mother and brother are murdered, young noblewoman Accala Viridius cries out for vengeance. But the empire is being torn apart by a galactic civil war, and her demands fall on deaf ears. Undeterred, Accala sacrifices privilege and status to train as a common gladiator. Mastering the one weapon available to her—a razor-sharp discus that always returns when thrown—she enters the deadly imperial games, the only arena where she can face her enemies.

But Fortune’s wheel grants Accala no favors—the emperor decrees that the games will be used to settle the civil war, the indigenous lifeforms of the arena-world are staging a violent revolt, and Accala finds herself drugged, cast into slavery and forced to fight on the side of the men she set out to kill.

Set in a future Rome that never fell, but instead expanded to become a galaxy-spanning empire, Accala’s struggle to survive and exact her revenge will take her on a dark journey that will cost her more than she ever imagined.

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 12:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on May 26th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on May 30th. 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.

Words of Radiance Reread: Chapter 82

Welcome back to the Words of Radiance Reread on Tor.com! Last week, Dalinar’s forces finally joined battle against the red-eyed Parshendi at the center of the Shattered Plains. This week, Kaladin reaches a difficult decision back at the warcamp, while Dalinar and Adolin continue to press the battle.

This reread will contain spoilers for The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance, and any other Cosmere book that becomes relevant to the discussion. The index for this reread can be found here, and more Stormlight Archive goodies are indexed here.

Click on through to join the discussion!

[“For glory lit, and life alive, for goals unreached and aims to strive. All men must try, the wind did see. It is the test, it is the dream.”]

Series: Words of Radiance Reread on Tor.com

Let This Amazing, Gigantic Star Wars: A New Hope Infographic Flow Through You Like the Force

With Star Wars: A New Hope so ingrained in our pop culture for almost 40 years, it would seem as if there are no new ways to retell it, right? Well, illustrator and graphic novelist Martin Panchaud has given new life to a classic story: He recently gifted the Internet with SWANH, a 403-foot infographic adapting A New Hope into a form that is both simpler and more complex than the movie version. The style was drawn from Chinese culture, as Panchaud explains on the website: “This long ribbon reminds the ancient Chinese script rolls that had to be rolled in and rolled out simultaneously in order to be read. I like this stretch between ages, cultures, and technologies. However, internet likes short stories and summaries, quickly understandable contents. With my work I aimed to create a contrast to that.”

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Midnight in Karachi Episode 56: James Smythe

Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad.

Author James Smythe—recently nominated for a Clarke Award for Way Down Dark—joins the podcast this week to talk about trigger warnings, middle book syndrome, and his potential fantasy series ‘Dragatha Christie’. Smythe’s Australia trilogy continues with Long Dark Dusk (available now) and Dark Made Dawn, publishing October 2016 from Hodder & Stoughton.

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Series: Midnight in Karachi Podcast

Who Tells Your Story: The Hidden Figures of NASA History

Moogfest began as a one-day music festival celebrating both Robert Moog and electronic music in general. Over the last decade, it has grown into a multi-day symposium/festival with a scope that goes well beyond music and the circuit-driven gear that is used to make it. The daytime programming now includes discussions about transhumanism, cyborgs, race, and gender—and this year, the Afrofuturism programming track included a conversation with musician Janelle Monae and screenwriter Allison Schroeder, moderated by Kimberly Drew, who is Associate Online Community Producer at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Their conversation was billed as “Women and Afrofuturism”, but much of the discussion centered on the forthcoming film Hidden Figures, written by Schroeder and starring Monae, Taraji P. Henson, and Octavia Spencer. The film is a look at a little-known piece of space exploration history: the African-American women who worked for NASA during the Gemini and Apollo missions. In telling this story from the past, Schroeder, Monae, and the rest of the film’s team find a way forward; by revealing this untold story of women of color, they want to demonstrate the possibilities for others, whether in art, science, or both.

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Joe Hill’s The Fireman Burns Up the Bestseller List!

Joe Hill has been giving the world inventive horror stories for twenty years now, but his latest, The Fireman, will be a landmark for the author:

Hill spent the first decade of his career quietly writing superb short fiction, gradually making a name for himself without ever letting on that he was the son of Stephen King. It was only in 2007 that that bit of his biography came to light, startling even longtime friends like Neil Gaiman.

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Revealing the Cover for Cory Doctorow’s Walkaway

We’re excited to share the cover for Walkaway, Cory Doctorow’s first adult novel in eight years! Available in April 2017 from Tor Books, Walkaway is an epic tale of revolution, love, post-scarcity, and the end of death. In this multi-generation SF thriller Doctorow describes as “a utopian disaster novel,” he envisions a near-future in which technological advancements allow humans to simply walk away from oppressive economic and authority systems.

Learn more about the novel below, and check out the full cover by artist Will Staehle!

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A Few More Words from Roger Zelazny: On Ellison, Delany, and Brust

Roger Zelazny’s biographer and friend, Ted Krulik, is sharing insights and anecdotes from the author. Previously, Zelazny spoke about his own writing style; today Krulik curates some of Zelazny’s thoughts on his fellow authors…

I was a program participant at Lunacon in Tarrytown, New York in March of 1989. It was a memorable convention and one well-attended. One of its major events took place in the grand ballroom of the hotel at 7PM on Saturday night. Prime time. Over two hundred people filled the hall. It was a one-on-one interview with Writer Guest-of-Honor Roger Zelazny, and I was the interviewer.

Roger came down the aisle to rousing applause. I was already seated but I stood to greet him and we shook hands. When the two of us settled in at a cloth-covered table on the stage, I addressed the large audience. “We are here to have a small, intimate conversation with Roger Zelazny,” I said. “And you are all eavesdroppers.”

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The Quiet Dedication and Bravery of Dr. Sally Ride

Born on this day in 1951, Sally Ride initially pursued tennis seriously, becoming a nationally ranked player before college. She also double majored at Stanford, earning BAs in both English (she loved Shakespeare) and Physics (she also loved lasers). But physics won out, and she earned her PhD in 1978—the same year that she earned a place in NASA’s astronaut program, in an application process that included 1,000 women, and eventually selected six female applicants.

[The first American woman in space]

Series: On This Day

Tormund’s Heart Will Go On

Considering all of the deaths (and other tragedies) that have kicked off season 6 of Game of Thrones, it’s no surprise that viewers glommed on to the show’s darling new ‘ship: Briemund, for Brienne of Tarth and her heart-eyed admirer, Tormund Giantsbane. While we’ll never know exactly what was going through Tormund’s head in that amazing GIF, this Titanic mashup from The Pixel Factor is a pretty great guess. (Seriously, look at how excited he is and how over this Brienne is.) And if you can’t watch that GIF without now hearing “YOUUU’RE HEEERE THERE’S NOOOOTHIIING I FEEEEAAAR” in your head, check out twelve other great Briemund memes, thanks to MTV.

The Small Beer Press Humble Bundle Wants to Add a Little Fabulism to your World!

If the words “Small Beer Press” don’t make your eyes tingle in excitement… well, we’re not sure what to tell you. Since 2000, SBP has been publishing some of the coolest genre-bending stories we’ve ever read. Now the good folks of Humble Bundle are offering a package of “Intoxicating, Extraordinary Fiction”, featuring some of the best books from Small Beer’s history!

For the next 13 days, you can pay what you wish to get $184 worth of digital books, including Kelly Link’s all-time classic Stranger Things Happen, Joan Aiken’s The Monkey’s Wedding and Other Stories, and The Liminal People by Ayize Jama-Everett. For a larger donation you can get North American Lake Monsters and A Stranger in Olondria, and for even (slightly) more The Archivist Wasp could be yours forever.

Head on over to the Humble Bundle to support the charity of your choice in the best way possible – by reading fantastic fiction!

The Temeraire Reread: Tongues of Serpents

Hello, everyone! Welcome back to the Temeraire Reread, in which I recap and review Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, one novel a week, leading up to the release of the final volume, League of Dragons, on June 14, 2016. We continue this week with the sixth novel, Tongues of Serpents, in which we go to Australia. You can catch up on past posts at the reread index, or check out Tor.com’s other posts about Naomi Novik’s works through her tag.

Reminder: these posts may contain spoilers through all currently-published novels, but will contain no spoilers for the forthcoming League of Dragons (I’ve read it, but I’m pretending I haven’t). If you have read League, absolutely no spoilers! But there’s no need to warn for spoilers about the published books, so spoil—and comment!—away.

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Series: The Temeraire Reread