My Obsession with the Beatles’ Impact on the World

In this ongoing series, we ask SF/F authors to descibe a speciality in their lives that has nothing (or very little) to do with writing. Join us as we discover what draws authors to their various hobbies, how they fit into their daily lives, and how and they inform the author’s literary identity!

The Beatles have been something huge in my life. Not their music so much as the massive and permanent impact they’ve had on the entire planet.  I was born back in 1963, the year during which The Beatles, famously, took over the world.

[“They had, and conveyed, a realization that the world and human consciousness had to change.”]

A Bear of Very Little Brain But a Lot of Money: Disney’s The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Originally, Walt Disney planned to make a full length feature film featuring Winnie the Pooh but found himself confronting a serious problem: even taken together, the books didn’t create a single story, except—and this is very arguable—the story of Christopher Robin finally growing up, which for the most part is contained in the final chapter of The House on Pooh Corner and hardly qualifies as an overreaching storyline. Character development, again with the exception of Christopher Robin, was also non-existent: the basic point of that final chapter in The House on Pooh Corner is that the One Hundred Acre Forest will always exist, unchanged, and that someplace on that hill, a boy and his bear are still playing.

Faced with this, Walt Disney ordered a new approach: a series of cartoon shorts, strongly based on the stories in the original two books. Initially appearing between 1966 and 1974, the cartoon shorts were bundled together with a connecting animation and a short epilogue to form the 1977 feature The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, with Christopher Robin’s voice re-recorded (he was voiced by three different children in the original shorts) to maintain consistency.

[In which Constant Reviewer makes no claims to neutrality]

The Coode Street Podcast Episode 246: Aliette de Bodard

Welcome to The Coode Street Podcast, an informal weekly discussion about science fiction and fantasy featuring award-winning critics and editors Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe. The Coode Street Podcast debuted in 2010 and has been nominated for the Hugo, British Science Fiction, and Aurealis awards.

This week saw the release of Nebula Award winning author Aliette de Bodard’s  powerful and engaging fourth novel, The House of Shattered Wings—available from Roc in the US and Gollancz in the UK. Aliette was in Spokane, Washington for Sasquan: the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention when she made to time to sit down and discuss the novel; using the real world in world building; urban fantasy; combining work, family and writing; and much more with Gary and Jonathan. You can read an excerpt from The House of Shattered Wings here on Tor.com!

[Listen to Coode Street]

Series: The Coode Street Podcast

This is So the Droid You’re Looking For

#ForceFriday comes a day early! Sphero has utilized their manufacturing of robotic balls in the best possible way: They’ve created a mini BB-8 droid that will fill the hole in your life ever since the life-size one first appeared in the first The Force Awakens trailer. This little guy—he’s the size of an orange!—can roll around your house, play with puppies (there’s already video of this), and follow your every command via an appGizmodo already has a review! (Lucky bastards.)

Afternoon Roundup brings you a Mr. Robot post-mortem, fantasy mapmaking, and the hottest club in the universe!

[Read more]

Twelve Kings in Sharakhai

Sharakhai, the great city of the desert, center of commerce and culture, has been ruled from time immemorial by twelve kings—cruel, ruthless, powerful, and immortal. With their army of Silver Spears, their elite company of Blade Maidens and their holy defenders, the terrifying asirim, the Kings uphold their positions as undisputed, invincible lords of the desert. There is no hope of freedom for any under their rule.

Or so it seems, until Çeda, a brave young woman from the west end slums, defies the Kings’ laws by going outside on the holy night of Beht Zha’ir. What she learns that night sets her on a path that winds through both the terrible truths of the Kings’ mysterious history and the hidden riddles of her own heritage. Together, these secrets could finally break the iron grip of the Kings’ power…if the nigh-omnipotent Kings don’t find her first.

Brad Beaulieu’s Twelve Kings in Sharakhai is the first in a new sword & sorcery series—available now from DAW.

[Read an excerpt]

Join Three Fabulous Authors on the Fall Flights of Fantasy Tour!

Three of our favorite writers are teaming up for a fantasy tour of epic proportions! Seth Dickinson, Ilana Myer, and Fran Wilde will be traveling across the northeast sharing their tales of intrigue, sky cities, life so far as debut authors. In Seth Dickinson’s highly-anticipated debut The Traitor Baru Cormorant, a young woman from a conquered people infiltrates the enemy in an attempt to transform an empire. Fran Wilde writes about a young woman who must expose a dangerous secret to save everyone she loves in her new book, Updraft. And Ilana C. Myer’s Last Song Before Night follows a young woman’s defiance of her culture as she undertakes a dangerous quest to restore lost magic to her world.

[Full tour dates below!]

Words of Radiance Reread: Chapter 53

Welcome back to the Words of Radiance Reread on Tor.com! Last week, Kaladin and Shallan both progressed in their Surgebinding skill development, moving forward toward their respective goals, but for each of them, progress was tainted by Amaram’s greed for Shards. This week, Adolin returns to the dueling arena once again, to provide another memorable show for the spectators.

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!

[“Fanfare is about making everyone pay attention.”]

Series: Words of Radiance Reread on Tor.com

Vampires, the Feds, and Melissa F. Olson

Tor.com Publishing is delighted to welcome Melissa F. Olson to the family!

Best known for her Scarlett Bernard series of urban fantasies, Melissa has written a short novel for Tor.com that plays to all her strengths—genuinely vicious vampires, frantic action sequences and brilliantly-drawn characters.

Nightshades is a Chicago-based FBI procedural. Children are going missing at a worrying rate, and Agents are being routinely slaughtered; the recently-outed vampire community are under suspicion. The new Special Agent in charge of the investigation has put his reputation—and his life—on the line. He’s going to need some unlikely allies to get to the truth and find the kids, before it’s too late.

[Read more]

Series: Editorially Speaking

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]