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!

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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

Falling in Love with Nicole Kornher-Stace’s Archivist Wasp

This book. This book. In the past few years, there’ve been a handful of books I count it a privilege to have read—a handful of books with which I fell instantly and deeply in love. It’s a short list: Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword; Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor; Elizabeth Bear’s Karen Memory. I might spot you one or two others, depending on the day, but these are the ones that hit me right on an emotional level, where pleasure in the quality of writing combines with a straight shot to my narrative hindbrain: this is our stuff! This is OUR THING!

Nicole Kornher-Stace’s Archivist Wasp has added itself to that list. I didn’t expect it to: at a brief glance, it sounded a little too peculiar. But then I came across Amal El-Mohtar and Ana Grilo (of The Booksmugglers) discussing its merits on Twitter—and when people like that recommend a thing, I try to take notice.

[And wow, am I glad I did.]

Series: Sleeps With Monsters

Court of Fives Sweepstakes!

We have three copies of Kate Elliot’s new book Court of Fives, from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers coming out on August 18th. Check out our excerpt here, and then enter to win!

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family she can be whoever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best contenders. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between two Fives competitors–one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy–causes heads to turn. When Kal’s powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test her new friend’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

Comment on the post to enter!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States and D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec). To enter, comment on this post beginning at 10:30 AM Eastern Time (ET) on July 28, 2015. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on August 1. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Tor.com, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

Let’s Talk About Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere…and its Similarities to Final Fantasy

Big Damn Swords, orange blood, gods made of future metal… Brandon Sanderson’s books make use of a great variety of epic fantasy settings and magic systems, and each new series and short tale introduces yet more. 2015 marks ten years since Sanderson’s first fantasy novel Elantris was released, and since then the author has filled the shelves with so many different worlds that the ones that share the same grand universe are dubbed, simply, “The Cosmere.”

This variety of fantasy worlds sharing certain characteristics is not a new construct. (Role-playing games create this solely by virtue of publishing sequels.) But over the course of reading Sanderson’s novels, I started to notice more than a few parallels that the Cosmere has with the classic RPG series Final Fantasy.

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You Beautiful Monster: The 20-Year Struggle to Make Clive Barker’s Nightbreed

Clive Barker has had a bumpy film career. After writing scripts for Underworld and Rawhead Rex, and being underwhelmed with the results, he decided to try directing his stories himself. So he adapted his story “The Hellbound Heart,” and created the classic Hellraiser. Unfortunately, for the next movie he wanted to do a thoughtful, dark fantasy adaptation of his story “Cabal,” but his producers just really wanted a slasher movie.

[Because the world needed more of those…]