Midnight in Karachi Episode 27: Zen Cho

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.

Writer Zen Cho joins Mahvesh this week to talk about the effects of colonialism, finding your own voice and regency romance. Zen is the writer of Spirits Abroad and Sorcerer to the Crown, as well as editor of the anthology Cyberpunk: Malaysia. You can read an excerpt from Sorcerer to the Crown—available this week from Ace Books (US) and Tor UK (UK and Commonwealth)—here on Tor.com!

[Listen to Midnight in Karachi]

Series: Midnight in Karachi Podcast

Game of Thrones Casting News: The Greyjoys Ride Again!

Exciting news for fans of House Greyjoy—it seems that Game of Thrones will be returning to the Iron Islands, after all. In an interesting bit of casting news, HBO has confirmed that Danish actor Pilou Asbæk will be playing Euron Greyjoy in the upcoming sixth season. Best known for his appearances in the sci-fi action thriller Lucy, Showtime’s decadent historical fever dream The Borgias, and the hugely popular Danish political drama Borgen, Asbæk joins Max von Sydow and Ian McShane as one of the major new additions to the series’ cast.

So, what does that mean for the show? (Spoilers follow for those who have not read the Song of Ice and Fire books….)

[What is dead may never die, but rises again, harder and stronger.]

Sunset Mantle Audio Excerpt

We hope you’ve been enjoying our excerpts from the audio editions of Tor.com’s fall publications, from the rich character work of Kevin R. Free on Kai Ashante Wilson’s The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps to the magical voice of Marissa Calin on Paul Cornell’s Witches of Lychford.

In our selection from Alter S. Reiss’s Sunset Mantle, the gritty baritone of narrator Christopher Price gives life to the doomed realm of Reach Antach and a disgraced soldier who’s looking for a place to lay his head. Price’s gravitas is well practiced, as his many theater credits include works by Shakespeare, Arthur Miller, Sam Shepard, and David Mamet. Listeners will experience the drama of hand-to-hand combat and other sounds of battle as our hero Cete fights to turn the tides of war…

[Listen to an excerpt from Sunset Mantle]

Gideon Smith and the Mask of the Ripper Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a galley of Gideon Smith and the Mask of the Ripper by David Barnett, out on October 13th from Tor Books!

In an alternate nineteenth century where a technologically advanced Britain holds sway over most of the known world and the American Revolution never happened, young Gideon Smith is firmly established as the Hero of the Empire.

Back in London, Gideon and his colleagues are dragged into a case that is confounding the Metropolitan Police. For the city is on the edge of mass rioting due to the continuing reign of terror by the serial killer known only as Jack the Ripper, who is rampaging though London’s less salubrious quarters. While chasing the madman, a villain from their past strips Gideon Smith of his memory and is cast adrift in the seedy underbelly of London, where life is tough and death lurks in every shadowy alley. With mob rule threatening to engulf London, the Empire has never needed its hero more…but where is Gideon Smith?

Check for the rules below!

[Read more]

Everyone Should Want to Be A Hufflepuff, Or, Stop the Hogwarts House-Hate

J.K. Rowling has just given the world news of the first Sorting in the Potter family since 1991; Harry’s son, James Sirius Potter, became a Gryffindor yesterday! Rowling also noted that Teddy Lupin–son of Remus and Tonks, who is currently Head Boy of Hufflepuff House–was disappointed by the hat’s decision.

Teddy’s disappointment was shared by some members of fandom who were hoping that the Potter family would break its House streak with Harry and Ginny’s kids. (Personally, I’m holding out for Albus Severus to get Sorted into Slytherin. And for Lily to be a Hufflepuff.) And while it’s hard to be surprised by the fact that a kid named for James Potter and Sirius Black would be a Gryffindor through and through, that frustration plays into a long fought battle among diehard Potter fans about how the Hogwarts Houses should be viewed, and who might be getting the short end of the stick.

[“There lived four wizards of renown, whose names are still well-known…”]

These Dice Are A Critical 3D Printed Hit!

Felicia Day shared this fantastic 3D-printed D20! Idellwig designed the die, whose Braille numbers will make play simpler for visually-impaired gamers. You can download your own dice over at Thingiverse!

Morning Roundup brings you a look at the diverse worlds of Star Wars, a further look at the legacy of Hannibal, and new from the Iron Islands!

[Plus, we question the sanity of Agent Fox Mulder.]

Hell’s Foundations Quiver Sweepstakes!

The latest novel in David Weber’s Safehold series, Hell’s Foundations Quiver, hits shelves on October 13th from Tor Books, and we want to send you a galley now!

Centuries ago, the human race fought its first great war against an alien race-and lost. A tiny population of human beings fled to distant Safehold. Centuries later, their descendants have forgotten their history; for them, life has been an eternal Middle Ages, ruled by the Church of God Awaiting, whose secret purpose is to prevent the re-emergence of industrial civilization.

But not all of Safehold’s founders were on board with this plan. Those dissidents left behind their own secret legacies.

Check for the rules below!

[Read more]

Five Book Series Conclusions That Will Rip Your Heart Out

This month I’m celebrating the release of Evolution, the conclusion to my young adult sci-fi series that began with my debut novel, Extraction. It’s an exciting and scary time for me, and probably also for my readers. So many of their questions have yet to be answered. So many of their favorite characters stand a chance of not surviving all the way to the end of the final chapter. (Spoiler alert: Some of them won’t.)

Trust me, readers, I know the beautiful torture of finishing a book series. I, too, have had my soul ripped to pieces by too many authors to count. I’ve cried reading the endings of these books in public. I’ve cackled in glee at villains finally receiving their righteous reward. I’ve wrung my hands over unanswered questions and sobbed over unbearable deaths.

[So, why do we keep reading books knowing they’ll probably rip our hearts out?]

Series: Five Books About…

Pull List: Island and Phonogram

We all love comics, but sometimes it’s nice to get outside the mainstream, and what better publisher to do that with than Image Comics? This summer, the creator-ruled publisher released Island by Emma Ríos and Brandon Graham and raised from the dead Phonogram by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. Neither series could exist in the Big Two; they’re just too far from anything Marvel or DC or any of their subsidiaries are doing. Neither publisher has done anything in the way of a comics magazine in years, even though some of your favorite superheroes were born in anthologies (looking at you, Spider-Man). And while urban fantasy and magical realism are crowding the literary field right now, there are few mages in comics. So, if you’re looking for something new, exciting, and unlike anything else out there, you’re in luck.

[“Trust me: epic covered in sparklers and win-flakes.”]

A Fresh Perspective: Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi

This essay, on Zoe’s Tale, is the fourth installment in an on-going retrospective of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War series. Previous installments have covered Old Man’s War, The Ghost Brigades and The Last Colony. The latest volume in the series, The End of All Things, is currently available from Tor Books.

Zoe’s Tale is a unique entry in the series, in the sense that it isn’t so much an original story as a a retelling of The Last Colony from the perspective of Zoe Boutin-Perry. Zoe, as you may recall, is the biological daughter of the traitor and scientist Charles Boutin, who offered the Obin consciousness in exchange for a war to destroy the Colonial Union. With Boutin’s death, Zoe became the adopted daughter of John Perry and Jane Sagan.

She also became a goddess-like figure to the Obin, who the Colonial Union have now gifted with the fruits of Boutin’s research in exchange for a treaty of peace and mutual assistance. As such, the Obin insisted that the treaty include access to Zoe. The Colonial Union acquiesced, agreeing that two Obin could record Zoe’s life and experiences (as well as guard her person). These recordings would then be shared with the rest of their species, who may have gained consciousness, but have had no experience of consciousness. Zoe’s Tale thus not only retells the story of The Last Colony, but explores the struggles of a teenage girl coming to terms with being a something in addition to a someone.

[Read more]

Radiance

Severin Unck’s father is a famous director of Gothic romances in an alternate 1986 in which talking movies are still a daring innovation due to the patent-hoarding Edison family. Rebelling against her father’s films of passion, intrigue, and spirits from beyond, Severin starts making documentaries, traveling through space and investigating the levitator cults of Neptune and the lawless saloons of Mars. For this is not our solar system, but one drawn from classic science fiction in which all the planets are inhabited and we travel through space on beautiful rockets. Severin is a realist in a fantastic universe.

But her latest film, which investigates the disappearance of a diving colony on a watery Venus populated by island-sized alien creatures, will be her last. Though her crew limps home to earth and her story is preserved by the colony’s last survivor, Severin will never return.

Told using techniques from reality TV, classic film, gossip magazines, and meta-fictional narrative, Catherynne M. Valente’s Radiance is a solar system-spanning story of love, exploration, family, loss, quantum physics, and silent film—available October 20th from Tor Books.

[Read an excerpt]

I’m Henry V8, I Am, I Am

“During class today I accidentally wrote down HENRY V8 instead of Henry VIII,” artist hattedhedgehog wrote on Tumblr, “and so…” it led to this amazing mashup. So, clearly the next step is to see Henry’s wives, living and dead, as The Wives! Or would Anne Boleyn make a better Furiosa?

Afternoon Roundup brings you silent Star Wars characters who deserve spinoffs, Peter Capaldi’s Christmas special companion, and someone who truly understands the sadness of “The End.”

[Read more]

Malazan Reread of the Fallen: The Wurms of Blearmouth, Part One

Welcome to the Malazan Reread of the Fallen! Every post will start off with a summary of events, followed by reaction and commentary by your hosts Bill and Amanda, and finally comments from Tor.com readers. In this article, we’ll begin our coverage of The Wurms of Blearmouth.

A fair warning before we get started: We’ll be discussing both novel and whole-series themes, narrative arcs that run across the entire series, and foreshadowing. Note: The summary of events will be free of major spoilers and we’re going to try keeping the reader comments the same. A spoiler thread has been set up for outright Malazan spoiler discussion.

[Read more]

Series: Malazan Reread of the Fallen

Rereading Shannara: The Elfstones of Shannara, Chapters 1-3

Welcome, readers of Shady Vale, to the first installment in our reread of Terry Brooks’ classic epic fantasy, The Elfstones of Shannara. If you’re unfamiliar with Elfstones, Brooks, or this reread, be sure to check out the introductory post, in which we all become acquainted.

Today, as we embark on this journey through the Elvish lands—from Arborlon to the Bloodfire—we will meet Lauren, a young elf who makes a devastating discovery; the Dagda Mor and his two cronies, the Reaper and the Changeling, who want nothing more than to fill the Four Lands with bloodthirsty demons, and eke out some delicious revenge on the elves who banished them; and three members of the Elven royal family, princes Ander and Arion Elessedil and their father, Eventine. Who won’t we meet? Any of the principal protagonists. We’ll get to Wil, Amberle, and Alannon over the coming weeks.

One of the most remarkable things about Elfstones, especially when compared to its predecessor, The Sword of Shannara, is how it eschews so much of the traditional epic fantasy introductory narrative, which makes this part of the reread particularly fun.

But, enough! Onwards to join Lauren and the other Chosen in the Gardens of Life.

[Click to check the Ellcrys for signs of rot…]

Series: Rereading Shannara

Ivory Vikings: The Mystery of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World and the Woman Who Made Them

In the early 1800’s, on a Hebridean beach in Scotland, the sea exposed an ancient treasure cache: 93 chessmen carved from walrus ivory. Norse netsuke, each face individual, each full of quirks, the Lewis Chessmen are probably the most famous chess pieces in the world. Harry played Wizard’s Chess with them in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Housed at the British Museum, they are among its most visited and beloved objects.

Questions abounded: Who carved them? Where? Nancy Marie Brown’s Ivory Vikings explores these mysteries by connecting medieval Icelandic sagas with modern archaeology, art history, forensics, and the history of board games. In the process, Ivory Vikings presents a vivid history of the 400 years when the Vikings ruled the North Atlantic, and the sea-road connected countries and islands we think of as far apart and culturally distinct: Norway and Scotland, Ireland and Iceland, and Greenland and North America.

The story of the Lewis chessmen explains the economic lure behind the Viking voyages to the west in the 800s and 900s. And finally, it brings from the shadows an extraordinarily talented woman artist of the twelfth century: Margret the Adroit of Iceland.

Nancy Marie Brown’s Ivory Vikings: The Mystery of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World and the Woman Who Made Them is available September 1 from St. Martin’s Press.

[Read an excerpt!]

Is Time Travel Possible in The Wheel of Time?

The plot of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time is built, appropriately, upon a foundation of causal loops, with the majority of the action propelled by prophecy. What I mean is: Information travels back from the future and the response to that information creates the events that generate that very same future information. An arbitrary man, Rand al’Thor, must fight the universal embodiment of evil not because he wants to, but because he has been seen as doing so in the future. Thus do the personal motivations of millions of people within this fantasy world bend towards this unknown sheepherder.

Considering how inherent the manipulation of time is to the story of The Wheel of Time, it’s interesting that we don’t see any of the characters directly utilize time travel to fulfill their goals. Or do we? Throughout the series we see four, maybe five, types of time manipulation demonstrated by the characters, but can any of them be used to travel through time? And more specifically, can any of them be used to travel back in time and undo a great wrong, like the boring into the Dark One’s prison?

[Read more]

A Whole New Living Room! A New Fantastic Point of View

Cory Doctorow shared this fabulous piece of home decor! Tonio de Roover looked at the common sofa and asked: “How can this become awesome?” and answered that question by turning it into a magic carpet. Check out out more of de Roover’s work here!

Morning Roundup brings you the first of presumably all the accolades for Mad Max: Fury Road, all the praise for Andrew Garfield, and some hopeful findings from the world of television watching!

[Plus, wildlife documentaries and MURDER.]

Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: “This Side of Paradise”

“This Side of Paradise”
Written by Nathan Butler and D.C. Fontana
Directed by Ralph Senensky
Season 1, Episode 25
Production episode 6149-25
Original air date: March 2, 1967
Stardate: 3417.3

Captain’s log. The Enterprise arrives at the colony on Omicron Ceti III. The planet is bathed in Berthold rays, a form of radiation that is new to the Federation, so they don’t know its full effects, but extended exposure disintegrates living tissue. It is unlikely that there are any survivors of the colony—led by Elias Sandoval—a likelihood that is increased by the complete lack of response to Uhura’s hails.

However, Kirk beams down a landing party—Spock assures him that limited exposure is safe—including himself, Spock, McCoy, Sulu, DeSalle, and Kelowitz. The settlement is intact, but there’s no sign of any habitation. Kirk waxes rhapsodic on the tragedy of these people travelling all this way, including a year in space to reach the planet, only to die.

And then three people from the colony, including Sandoval, show up alive and well, and doesn’t Kirk feel foolish? Sandoval thinks they came because their subspace radio is on the fritz.

[What can you expect from a simpering, devil-eared freak?]

Series: Star Trek: The Original Series Rewatch

The Fifth Dragon

Tor.com is pleased to present Ian McDonald’s “The Fifth Dragon” to celebrate the forthcoming September publication of Luna: New Moon. “The Fifth Dragon” was originally published in Reach For Infinity, a 2014 anthology from Solaris Books, edited by Jonathan Strahan, of stories about humanity taking its first steps off of Earth.

From Niall Alexander’s review of Reach For Infinity: “The Fifth Dragon” is about a pair of new moon workers, Achi and Adriana, who find comfort in this alien place in one another’s company, only to learn that their time together is strictly limited. ‘The Fifth Dragon’ flies back and forth between their first days as a pair and their final moments as friends, underscoring that the end of everything is inevitable.

[Read “The Fifth Dragon” by Ian McDonald]