Words of Radiance Reread: Chapter 89

Welcome back to the Words of Radiance Reread on Tor.com! Last time, the secret societies began to reveal their purposes in aftershocks from the climax. This week, Adolin gets angry and the new Radiants gather in conference.

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!

[“Life before death, Radiant. It is the task to which we are now sworn. “]

Series: Words of Radiance Reread on Tor.com

Romanov-Inspired Fantasy: Announcing Two Novels by Leena Likitalo

Tor.com Publishing is proud to announce that Senior Editor Claire Eddy has acquired two novels from debut author Leena Likitalo. The duology, which begins with The Five Daughters of the Moon, magically reimagines the fall of the Romanov dynasty from the perspective of five sisters in mortal peril.

Leena Likitalo is a writer from Finland, the land of thousands of lakes and at least as many untold tales. She breaks computer games for living and plays polocrosse for fun. She enjoys embarking on new adventures, be it participating in a surfer sauna ritual or getting lost on her way back from a volcano and having to hitchhike home aboard a garbage truck. Likitalo is also a Clarion San Diego graduate and Writers of the Future 2014 winner. Her short fiction has appeared in several international venues, including Clarkesworld, Weird Tales, and Galaxy’s Edge.

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Series: Editorially Speaking

Diana Gill Named Executive Editor at Tor/Forge

We’re excited to announce that Diana Gill will be joining Tor/Forge as Executive Editor! An accomplished editor, Gill has worked with a variety of books throughout her career—from science textbooks to fantasy novels.

Tom Doherty, President and Publisher of Tor/Forge Books had this to say:

“I am delighted to announce that Diana Gill will be joining us at Tor/Forge. She managed the US division of Harper Voyager, the global science fiction and fantasy imprint of HarperCollins, for twelve years. At Voyager, she discovered such NY Times bestselling authors as Kim Harrison and Ian Douglas. In 2014 she moved to the Berkley Publishing Group. At Berkley’s Ace/Roc she acquired and edited such notable and bestselling authors as Charlaine Harris, Mark Lawrence, Steven Donaldson, and Zen Cho. She developed both established and emerging authors across platforms and formats, both digital and traditional. Diana has done some very fine work in our field. She’ll be a great addition to the Tor/Forge team.”

Medieval Matters: Warcraft

So let’s get this out of the way: Remember those parts of a video game where gameplay pauses and you can’t just skip through the cut scene that follows? You know the ones; the game makers spent a lot of time and money making that scene, and by the CG gods they’re going to make you watch every high-resolution second of it.

That’s pretty much what the Warcraft movie is. For two hours.

And you know what? For what it is, as popcorn fare, it was fantasy fun with a wee dose of unexpected emotional connections. (Unexpected, that is, if I didn’t know going in that the film was directed and co-written by Duncan Jones, known to me for his brilliant Moon.) But this isn’t a movie review. Alasdair Stuart already gave you one of those.

This is, instead, the account of what happens when a medievalist watches a quasi-medieval movie.

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Series: Medieval Matters

American Gods Gets the Retro Cover of Neil Gaiman’s Dreams!

We’re getting a new paperback edition of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods! Gaiman’s publisher was already planning to put out a new edition of the “Author’s Preferred Text” to coincide with Starz adaptation of the novel, but since excitement for the show has exceeded all expectation, they’ve actually run out of books to sell, which means we’re getting the new edition months sooner than expected.

But that’s not all! About a year ago, Gaiman and his editor had a conversation about the unique beauty of the painted paperback covers of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, particularly those of Robert E. McGinnis, who created iconic covers for Ian Fleming’s James Bond series. A few days later, Gaiman learned that McGinnis was, in fact, still painting, and was, in fact, “intrigued by the commission”, and now we’re getting an entire series of Gaiman reissues with amazing retro covers!

[Click through for gorgeous paperback cover gorgeousness!]

Conjoined Twins: The Real-Life Inspiration Behind False Hearts

Content note: this article goes into detail about surgical separation of twins and medical treatment without consent.

False Hearts stars formerly-conjoined twins raised in a cult, and there’s also futuristic San Francisco, brain hacking, dream drugs, a mob, and a fair amount of violence. Though I researched many topics for the book, I spent the most time learning all I could about conjoined twins to ensure I depicted my twins respectfully and without falling into harmful tropes. The initial book idea was sparked by reading an article on io9 about Daisy and Violet Hilton, who were 1920s vaudeville stars. They were so famous that they were essentially the Olsen twins of their day. In the course of my research, I learned of other historical twins, and also their own opinions and beliefs about being conjoined, which differs to the mainstream narrative that all twins desire separation above all else and it is their ultimate goal.

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Overcoming Genre Clichés: Stranger Things

I accidentally created a UFO video library when I was 17. It was a rubbish video library with a single, rubbish video in it: UFO Secrets Of The Third Reich. Yes. That was a crappy year for a lot of reasons and I dealt with it by diving headlong into escapism. And, that one particular month, persuading eight friends to kick a pound in for a video that HAD to be worth watching with a title like that.

It really, really was not.

I mention it here for two reasons. The first is that UFO Secrets Of The Third Reich perfectly embodied the pre-millennial tension that defined the late ’90s. The paranoia of Watergate and the various polite British scandals of the previous three decades had festered and transformed into active fear in many circles, and there was a sense, even living adjacent to England, of the country being a large, polite, privately-owned library. We were all allowed in. We were all monitored. We would be punished if we transgressed.

Which of course made movies like Defense of the Realm, shows like the original House of Cards and, of course, The X-Files even more attractive. We knew SOMETHING was out there. We just had to work out what it was before the MiBs did. Or if not, at least wait until they’d finished their dance number.

That fictional transition from political conspiracy to science fiction conspiracy to “Oh god, I hope they bring back Elvis!” was one of the reverberating bass notes of my adolescence. It’s also one of the bass notes of Stranger Things, which touches on Stephen King, The Thing, E.T., and The X-Files, amongst other pop-cultural gems in its mad sprint through the worst week in Hawkins, Indiana’s history.

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Can Charlie Stross, Seanan McGuire, and John Scalzi Save Us From a World Where Tea is Bad?

Anyone up for a Tor Author Voltron? Twitter-user Dan Bailey suggested that Charlie Stross (author of The Laundry Files and The Merchant Prince series) and John Scalzi (of Redshirts, Lock In, and Old Man’s War fame) should join forces for a work of epic SFF proportions. As these things often do, the idea quickly expanded, with more fans chiming in story ideas, and a third author being pulled into the fray…

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Finally Revealed: The Secret History of Twin Peaks

Welcome back to the world of Twin Peaks.

From Mark Frost, co-creator of the landmark series, the story millions of fans have been waiting to get their hands on for 25 long years.

The Secret History of Twin Peaks, publishing October 18th from Flatiron Books, is a vastly layered, wide-ranging history that deepens the mysteries of the iconic town in ways that will thrill disciples of the original series, and will prepare fans for the upcoming Showtime series like nothing else out there.​ It’s a publication that’s been under wraps for years, so get the very first look at its pages below!

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Waking Up Dead Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a galley copy of Nigel Williams’s Waking Up Dead, available August 23rd from Thomas Dunne Books!

Retired bank manager George Pearmain is, apparently, dead. According to the behavior of everyone around him, it would seem that he is no more. Not only that, but his mother has also passed away too—and on the eve of her 99th year, poor dear. Not only that, it could be that they were both murdered.

He feels fine otherwise.

As George’s family gather for the birthday-celebration-that-never-was, he hovers around the house, watching and listening, entirely unseen. As a result, he makes all sorts of discoveries about himself, his wife Esmeralda, and his supposedly happy family …

Comment in the post to enter!

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Bera the One-Headed Troll

Bera doesn’t ask for much in life. She’s a solitary, humble troll, tending her island pumpkin patch in cheerful isolation. She isn’t looking for any trouble.

But when trouble comes to find her, it comes in spades. A human baby has arrived in the realm of the trolls, and nobody knows where it came from, but Bera seems to be the only person who doesn’t want it dead. There’s nothing to it but to return the adorable little thing to its parents.

Like it or not, Bera’s gone and found herself a quest.

From noted picture book illustrator and graphic novelist Eric Orchard comes Bera the One-Headed Troll, a delightful new fantasy adventure with all the sweetness, spookiness, and satisfaction of your favorite childhood bedtime story—available August 2nd from First Second!

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Please Don’t Send in the Clowns: Thomas Ligotti’s “The Last Feast of Harlequin”

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

Today we’re looking at Thomas Ligotti’s “The Last Feast of Harlequin,” first published in the April 1990 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction. You can find it in the Cthulhu 2000 anthology, among other places. Spoilers ahead.

[“When he swept his arm around to indicate some common term on the blackboard behind him, one felt he was presenting nothing less than an item of fantastic qualities and secret value.”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

So. Let’s Talk About The Killing Joke.

DC’s animated feature based on Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s classic story has hit both theaters and digital video. When it premiered at San Diego Comic Con this past week, fan reaction was… tense to say the least, and apparently culminated with screenwriter Brian Azzarello using a decidedly gendered slur to insult a reporter who expressed his issues with the film vocally in a room full of people.

Talking about this film, this story, is rough. It’s rough because it commands a lot of questions on multiple levels of the creative process. It’s rough because it deals with sexual violence and brutality, and what it means to make money off of stories that heavily feature those themes. It’s rough because this project involved many beloved creators and talent, and it’s hard to speak ill of people whose work you love and respect.

But we have to talk about The Killing Joke. Because we have to work through the shockwaves that this film has already prompted, and question the wisdom of this particular enterprise at a point in time when its legacy has never been more highly contested.

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Midnight in Karachi Returns with an Exclusive Interview with Margaret Atwood!

It’s been a couple of months of radio silence from my end, with some major life changes and relocations included but I’m pleased to report that Midnight in Karachi will officially return on August 4th with a very special interview of a writer who has been a personal hero of mine for years. I first read her seminal novel when I was 17, and it’s been a love affair since then. I never thought I’d ever have the chance to speak with her, but when she wont a Kitschies award earlier this year, director Glen Mehn put in a request with her people for my podcast and amazingly, she agreed.

This left me wondering, how does one address Margaret Atwood? I asked her over Twitter, and she said Aunty Peggy would be just fine, but you’ll notice I avoid addressing her by name anyway. Maybe we can get to Aunty Peggy levels of familiarity a few interviews down the line. In case you’re wondering, Margaret Atwood is just as sharp, funny and charming as you’d want your literary hero to be. I may have gushed off air a bit, but that remains mercifully off the record.

Other guests who’ll be appearing on Midnight in Karachi for August are Malka Older, Laura Lam, Sami Shah and Victoria Schwab! In the meantime, please enjoy this “Where to Begin” piece from October 2015, which offers some suggestions for places to dive into the amazing worlds of Margaret Atwood. Jump right in, and then please join us Thursday August 4th on the Midnight in Karachi podcast to hear from Atwood herself!

[Here are some suggestions for where to start with Margaret Atwood…]