Under the Dome: Incandescence

Last week’s episode of Under the Dome, “Love is a Battlefield,” featured a scene in which Scarecrow Joe actually sings “Love is a Battlefield” at the top of his lungs while dancing, but despite containing such marvels I was unable to recap because I was curled up in a fetal position on the floor, chewing my knuckles and wailing because CBS had just announced that it was canceling Under the Dome. There were only three episodes left! Forever! How could I possibly enjoy watching Eva give birth to her alien slime baby, then throwing her doula through a window, before being murdered with a pillow by a singing Marg Helgenberger who seemed to be improvising her nonsensical Death Lullaby on the spot?

This calcifying Dome isn’t running out of oxygen! It’s running out of episodes! *sob*

[Read more]

Bicycles on the 55: The Audacity of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Pacific Edge

I grew up in Orange County, California. It was sprawl more by way of Ballard than Gibson: tract houses, malls, and freeways. To get anywhere, you have to learn the freeways: where they lead, when to drive them, what they’re called. Every freeway was “the.” The 22. The 405. The 55.

Oy, the 55. That was the route that took people from the northeastern part of the county to their jobs in my neck of the woods (or, usually, to Los Angeles). You could take the 55 from Riverside all the way to the beach, assuming you were willing to sit in your car and stew with everyone else crawling along the road. The 55 was purgatory.

Kim Stanley Robinson made it awesome because he had people riding bikes. On the freakin’ freeway.

[Read more]

Series: That Was Awesome! Writers on Writing

TONS of Writing Advice from Fran Wilde’s Uplifting Updraft AMA!

Fran Wilde’s debut novel, Updraft, has taken flight! The coming-of-age tale takes us to a wonderful yet harsh skyworld, as Kirit Densira inadvertently breaks Tower Law, and must join her city’s secretive governing body, the Singers, rather than joining her mother as a trader. But can she master her dangerous training at the Spire, the tallest, most forbidding tower, deep at the heart of the City? And while Wilde is embarking on a fantastic author tour this October, she also spent some time over at reddit holding a fun AMA that was packed with great writing advice. We’ve rounded up some of the highlights below! You can also read an excerpt of Updraft here, and check out one of Wilde’s poems here!

[So much advice!]

When You Play the Game of Burgers, You Get Full

Bob’s Burgers is no stranger to Game of Thrones: Last season saw Louise dreaming up a crossover full of cat-dragons and punny characters like Bobdor. Now, Imgur user CarlosDanger101 has bridged the two again, with his drawings of the inhabitants of Westeros and its surrounding lands in the style of the irreverent animated series. We especially like crazy-eyed Joffrey, and how Loras Tyrell looks a bit like Jimmy Junior. Check out the whole gallery, which features nearly every character. (Hat-tip to Nerdist for finding!)

Afternoon Roundup brings you the most unfilmable books, analysis of the literal and figurative middle of Mad Max: Fury Road, and Anthony Daniels being charmingly frank about Star Wars!

[Read more]

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Last Argument of Kings: “Leadership” and “A Rock and a Hard Place”

It looks like I grossly misread something in last week’s chapters. I find this as hard to believe as you do, but it appears it’s true. In “Greater Good”, I believed that Farrad, a dentist from Kanta, was the man who removed Glokta’s teeth during his Gurkish torture. This is incorrect. The text, although not as clearly as it might have, indicates that Farrad consulted on Glokta’s dental issues after returning to Adua. It changes the scene somewhat, I think. Credit to “Hogsta” who pointed out my error in the comments last week.

Now that I’m done admitting fallibility, on to this week’s reread.

[Read more]

Series: The Joe Abercrombie First Law Trilogy Reread

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

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 continue 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

“There Are No Tigers”: Covering The High Mountains of Portugal

Finally, another novel from the pen of the bestselling Booker Prize Winner in history! Canongate announced earlier today that their spring 2016 schedule would be led by none other than Yann Martel, the inimitable author of Self, Beatrice and Virgil, The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios and What is Stephen Harper Reading? And of course, Life of Pi—Martel’s most notable novel, no doubt, and a foundational work of fiction for me and many others. Many, many others, I imagine, since twelve million copies of said text have been sold since its publication—by Canongate in the UK—in 2001.

Happily, The High Mountains of Portugal sounds like Martel doing what Martel does best: telling a tragical yet magical tale about time and place.

[Read more]

Series: British Fiction Focus

“An Accidental Worldwalker”: Angry Robot Announces An Accident of Stars

For Tor.com, she’s blogged about Orphan Black, Sense8, and B. R. Sanders’ Ariah. She’s contributed criticism to Aidan Moher’s award-winning A Dribble of Ink—which is already much missed—since April 2013. Her incisive writing has been showcased once, twice, thrice in each of the three annual of editions of Speculative Fiction: The Best Online Reviews, Essays and Commentary. And in the age of literary innocence, back before a bunch of puppies in various emotional states made mischief with their slates, she was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer for her own site, Shattersnipe.

She’s written a couple of books, too: see Solace and Grief and The Key to Starveldt. And now she has a couple of others coming, starting with An Accident of Stars, which Angry Robot Books plan to publish in the summer of 2016.

I sincerely hope I don’t need to introduce you to Foz Meadows, folks.

[Read more]

Series: British Fiction Focus

My Neighbor…Chewie?

My Neighbor Totoro lends itself to mashups. The sweet innocence of Totoro and his relationship with Mei and Satsuki, his protective nature, his iconic snuggliness… it all combines to make him a natural fit for our mashup-loving culture. The good people over at Dorkly gathered up some of the best homages to the super sweet scene of Totoro and Satsuki waiting for the Catbus together. So who are Luke, Yoda, and My Neighbor Chewie waiting for? Is a Sarlaacbus on the horizon?

[We can’t even decide which is our favorite.]

The Dragonlance Reread: Guest Highlord Erin Lindsey on Fun Fantasy

Seeing as we’re between books right now, we thought we’d ask another Guest Highlord to bring us their stories of Dragonlance, since part of the joy of rereading Dragonlance is realising how influential and far-reaching they are. Everyone’s read Dragonlance—and, if not, isn’t now the perfect time to start? It is no wonder this series is so influential; it had its sticky claws in all of our childhoods. This week, writer Erin Lindsey tells us about her love for dragons and elves – even the ones who aren’t that nice.

Caution: unlike our normal reread posts, this contains spoilers for the rest of the Chronicles. But you probably would’ve gathered that from the title.

[Read more]

Series: Dragonlance Reread

#ScienceAMovieQuote Makes Your Favorite Movies That Much Punnier

Love quoting classic movies? Love science puns? Then paleontologist Jon Tennant and neuroinformatics development officer Helena Ledmyr have your number, because they came up with the #ScienceAMovieQuote hashtag. It all started when Tennant tweeted out the joke “I love the smell of null hypothesis rejection in the morning”; as he told The LA Times, he realized that many researchers tweet about their projects. Once Ledmyr saw his tweet, she was quick to come up with the hashtag—and now the rest of Twitter has joined in.

[Check out our favorite tweets!]

My Kinda Scene: The Death of Théoden

In a new feature for the Tor UK blog, authors share their favorite scenes from film, TV, and books. This time, the fabulous Zen Cho, author of the forthcoming Sorcerer to the Crown, explains why the death of Théoden in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Return of the King makes the cut…

One of my favourite movie scenes of all time is the death of Théoden in The Return of the King. It sounds a bit morbid! But for all his flaws, Tolkien understood the power of story, and Peter Jackson understands storytelling (for all that that is not abundantly evident in the Hobbit movies).

[Bernard Hill lends the character a gravitas he didn’t necessarily have in the book.]

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]