Even Eviller: The Good, the Bad and the Smug by Tom Holt

Evil just isn’t what it was.

Used to be, you could slaughter a dwarf and gnaw his gnarly bones all the way home without attracting any undesirable attention. Now? Not so much. It’s a new world, you know? And it might just be that the new world needs a new breed of evil.

In The Good, the Bad and the Smug, Tom Holt—aka K. J. Parker—proposes exactly that as the premise of a satirical and sublimely self-aware fairytale that brings together the wit and the wickedness of the author’s alter ego with the whimsy and the nefarious wordplay which have made the YouSpace series such a sweet treat so far.

[Readers, meet Mordak: King of the Goblins]

Who’s There? Max Gladstone Reads Hamlet in Bryant Park!

If you’re wondering who would brave the midday heat in New York City to discuss revenge dramas on a Tuesday, the answer is Max Gladstone, author of Last First Snow! (We have to say, any kind of snow seems appealing right now.) He teamed up with the Bryant Park BookClub and Oxford University Press to lead a discussion on Shakespeare’s famous text at the Reading Room, an open air library in Midtown Manhattan.

Check below the cut for Gladstone’s thoughts on Hamlet, the reluctant avenger!

[Read more]

Series: Shakespeare on Tor.com

6 Crazy SF Books Featuring Dinos that are Somehow NOT Jurassic Park

If you’re like me, the best way to get ready for Jurassic World is not to binge-watching Parks and Recreation while wearing a Velociraptor mask, but instead to do some reading—while wearing a Velociraptor mask. But what are you going to do when you’ve finished re-reading Michael Crichton’s science-heavy page-turners Jurassic Park and The Lost World? Luckily there are still plenty of insane science fiction books with dinos running through them for you to devour and then blabber about about endlessly.

[Here are a few.]

Five Books About Awful, Awful People

A likeable, relatable protagonist. It’s what every writer is taught that all books, comics, movies, and TV shows must have. But if Breaking Bad and the Hannibal Lecter novels by Thomas Harris have shown us anything, it’s that we don’t have to admire or even like awful characters to want to spend time with them.

[Five novels with fascinatingly awful protagonists]

Series: Five Books About…

Everything in the Marvel Universe Really is Connected!

Forget multiple universes and Battleworld—what really unites all the members of the Marvel Universe are the fictional businesses that make up their lives, superpowered and not. Empire Flippers (via The A.V. Club) has created this impressive infographic mapping every tech company, restaurant, and newspaper across the United States that has played a role in Marvel Comics. (Does that mean no Avengers shawarma place?) Start planning your road trips accordingly…

Afternoon Roundup brings you a partnership between Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking for our own good, how time travel (sort of) led to Rogue One, and an exhaustive list of every time Lois Lane has discovered Clark Kent’s identity!

[Read more]

Reading Melanie Rawn: Stronghold, Chapters 11-15

Welcome to the weekly Wednesday read of Stronghold! I yield to public pleading and bite off smaller bits here and henceforth—five chapters at a time. It’s easier on me, too, so we’re on the same page there.

So here we are in the middle of the book, and the middle of the war. The invasion continues, ditto the evacuations—and the good guys fight back.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading Melanie Rawn

The Essential Clive Barker

No one gives voice to monsters and misfits quite as well as author Clive Barker. Since his short fiction first bled across the genre landscape thirty years ago, he has become synonymous with a particularly beautiful and horrific brand of dark fantasy. He’s enjoying a bit of a cultural revival this year thanks to the releases of the long-awaited final novel in the Hellraiser universe and the equally anticipated director’s cut edition of his cult film, Nightbreed.

Nightbreed and the novella it was adapted from, Cabal, are so enduring, editors Joe Nassise and Del Howison have just released Midian Unmade, an anthology of short fiction told from the perspective of—and in the empathetic spirit of—Clive Barker’s misunderstood creations. While entertaining on its own merits, as any anthology containing original stories from Seanan McGuire, Nancy Holder and David J. Schow would naturally be, Midian Unmade is best appreciated by Barker fans.

So where can one begin an education in all things Barker? By going back to the beginning, of course.

[“Everybody is a book of blood. Wherever we’re opened, we’re red.”]

Witches of Lychford

The villagers in the sleepy hamlet of Lychford are divided. A supermarket wants to build a major branch on their border. Some welcome the employment opportunities, while some object to the modernization of the local environment.

Judith Mawson (local crank) knows the truth—that Lychford lies on the boundary between two worlds, and that the destruction of the border will open wide the gateways to malevolent beings beyond imagination. But if she is to have her voice heard, she’s going to need the assistance of some unlikely allies…

We’re pleased to present an excerpt from Paul Cornell’s Witches of Lychford, publishing in paperback and ebook September 8th from Tor.com!

[Read an excerpt]

Gwyneth Jones, Walter Jon Williams and Kij Johnson Sign with Tor.com Publishing!

Welcome back to Editorially Speaking. Last week we told you about some books coming from Fran Wilde and Adrian Tchaikovsky. Consulting Editor Jonathan Strahan has acquired three new novellas for us by Gwyneth Jones, Walter Jon Williams, and Kij Johnson. Strahan is a World Fantasy and Locus Award winner and multiple Hugo Award nominated editor and podcaster.

[Read more]

Series: Editorially Speaking

How Far Into the Future Did Aviendha See?

Towers of Midnight, the second to last book in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time saga, is brimming over with amazing moments, from Perrin’s battles with Slayer, Egwene’s machinations in the Tower, Rand’s defense of Maradon, the forging of Perrin’s hammer, Mat’s rescue of Moiraine, and onward. To Wheel of Time readers, these moments were somewhat expected. They’re all main characters, after all, so of course they’re all going to do something fantastic.

What really took readers and fans like myself by surprise were the two gut-wrenching chapters near the end of the book where Aviendha watches the slow unraveling of the Aiel people. Shortly after the publication of Towers of Midnight there was some question as to whether Aviendha had actually seen the future past The Last Battle and, if so, if that future was fluid. A Memory of Light answered both of these questions, but it left a smaller one behind. Namely: Exactly how far in time did Aviendha see?

[Read more]

Hodor Hooray! Oh! Hey! Oh!

Autocorrect is usually pretty infuriating, but every once in a while it yields something wonderful. James Chapman typed Game of Thrones‘ character names into his phone, and then illustrated the results, he may have succeeded in the nigh-impossible task of making GoT fun again. Check out Santa Stark, Throne Greyhound, and Karl Frogs here!

Morning Roundup brings you thoughtful meditations on fandom, news of The Defenders, plus a road trip on the Enterprise, a pocket-sized Cumberbatch, and a shiny new Star Trek character!

[Plus, Star Wars, through the ages!]

Five Books About The Monstrous

Earlier this year, I wrote about gravity being monstrous. Above the clouds, gravity is that unreasonable force always waiting for someone to make a mistake.

When thinking about monsters for Updraft, I wanted to explore variety and opposites. Not all monsters take a quasi-human form, not all devour (though some of the great ones do). I looked at how monsters occur—whether from the dark corners of our subconscious, or from a darker side of our conscience. My research built a catalogue of characteristics that began with Grendel’s startling appearances and his mother’s grief in Beowulf, and reached all the way to black holes out at the wobbly edge of space. I did a lot of reading.

[Chimeras, krakens, yetis, rocs and more!]

Series: Five Books About…

Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: “The Alternative Factor”

“The Alternative Factor”
Written by Don Ingalls
Directed by Gerd Oswald
Season 1, Episodes 20
Production episode 6149-20
Original air date: March 30, 1967
Stardate: 3087.6

Captain’s log. The Enterprise is finishing up an orbital survey of an uninhabited planet, when they’re buffeted by some kind of force. According to Spock, for an instant the magnetic field of the solar system disappeared and the planet below had no mass—it was as if reality winked out of existence for a second. As soon as the phenomenon abated, a humanoid life sign reading appeared on the planet out of nowhere.

Kirk, Spock, and a four-person security detail beam down to investigate. They find a small, one-person ship—which, weirdly, Spock’s sensors did not pick up—and its pilot, who is ranting and raving and then faints.

[“Coffee?” “Is that an order, Lieutenant?”]

Series: Star Trek: The Original Series Rewatch

Nixon’s The One: Crooked by Austin Grossman

Austin Grossman’s new novel, Crooked, features a very different Richard Nixon from the one you may remember from history class. To illustrate, allow me to start this review with a brief quote from the book’s opening chapter, showing Nixon in the Oval Office:

I closed the blinds, knelt down, and rolled back the carpeting to reveal the great seal of the office, set just beneath the public one. I rolled up my left sleeve and cut twice with the dagger as prescribed, to release the blood of the Democratically Elected, the Duly Sworn and Consecrated. I began to chant in stilted, precise seventeenth-century English prose from the the Twelfth and Thirteenth Secret Articles of the United States Constitution. These were not the duties of the U.S. presidency as I had once conceived of them, nor as most of the citizens of this country still do. But really. Ask yourself if everything in your life is the way they told you it would be.

Well, the man has a point.

[Spiro, we’re not in Washington anymore.]

The Dark Forest

This near-future trilogy is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multiple-award-winning phenomenon from Cixin Liu, China’s most beloved science fiction author. Book two, The Dark Forest, is translated by Joel Martinsen and publishes August 11th from Tor Books. Read an excerpt below, and listen to a clip from the audiobook, out from Macmillan Audio the same day as the book! Note: this excerpt (and the following book description) contains spoilers for the first book in the series, The Three-Body Problem.

Earth is reeling from the revelation of a coming alien invasion-in just four centuries’ time. The aliens’ human collaborators may have been defeated, but the presence of the sophons, the subatomic particles that allow Trisolaris instant access to all human information, means that Earth’s defense plans are totally exposed to the enemy. Only the human mind remains a secret.

This is the motivation for the Wallfacer Project, a daring plan that grants four men enormous resources to design secret strategies, hidden through deceit and misdirection from Earth and Trisolaris alike. Three of the Wallfacers are influential statesmen and scientists, but the fourth is a total unknown. Luo Ji, an unambitious Chinese astronomer and sociologist, is baffled by his new status. All he knows is that he’s the one Wallfacer that Trisolaris wants dead.

[Read more]

The Best Ant-Man Viral Marketing is the One You Almost Don’t Notice

With its Ant-Man advertising, Marvel had to be careful to toe the line between cutesy/clever and groanworthy. Case in point, the tiny Ant-Man billboards that popped up randomly everywhere. But this bit of viral advertising out in the wild is so wonderfully specific—and not immediately apparent—that we have to tip tiny hats to the marketing team. Our thought process basically reflects this tweet: “Did a car knock over this??” *takes a closer look* “WAIT WHAT”

Afternoon Roundup brings you the perfect ass-kicking, horse-picking-up superheroine; The Force Awakens‘ Finn back when he was defending against a whole other crop of aliens; and a tongue-in-cheek movement against bald baddies.

[Read more]

The Wheel of Time Reread Redux: The Great Hunt, Part 10

Hang on to your Oryctolagus cuniculus, kids, because it’s a Wheel of Time Reread Redux!

Today’s Redux post will cover Chapters 16 and 17 of The Great Hunt, 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!

[She’s not gonna be ignored, Rand]

Series: The Wheel of Time Reread

What Does George R. R. Martin Have to do With Dinosaur Lords?

The key thing to know is that New Mexico hosts a large and fairly tight-knit community of science fiction and fantasy writers. Some of us older ones have been friends for decades.

George R. R. Martin and I have been friends since he moved to Santa Fe in the late Seventies. Since the mid-Eighties I’ve also worked with him on the abidingly popular Wild Cards shared-world anthology series, along with several other players of the role-playing game campaign GRRM ran which became that series, including Melinda M. Snodgrass, John Jos Miller, and Walter Jon Williams.

[All of whom happened to be present at a party George threw in 2013]

It Was Seeing That Made Them Scream: “From Beyond”

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s original stories.

Today we’re looking at “From Beyond,” written in 1920 and first published in the June 1934 issue of Fantasy Fan—so don’t be so quick to trunk your early stories. You can read it here.

Spoilers ahead.

[“It is not pleasant to see a stout man suddenly grown thin…”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread