Digging Into Fandom: Cover Reveal for The Poet and the Prophecy

It’s no secret that my Magic University series was inspired by Harry Potter. I went through a slump in my writing career in the mid-00’s and ended up delving into the world of Harry Potter fanfic. Writing fanfic truly revitalized my writing. Not only did I find a space where I could experiment with prose and storytelling styles I was energized by the community, the support, and the feedback. An integral part of fan writing communities, though, is constant questioning of the source material. J.K. Rowling’s world is vast and complex, full of contradictions, hints, and things not explained. To write a story set in that world, as a writer I had to interpret ambiguities in the source material or even extend it by answering questions that were left unanswered in Rowling’s canon.

[What happens after Hogwarts?]

My Kinda Scene: Unforgiven and Clint Eastwood’s Achilles Heel

In a new feature for the Tor UK blog, authors share their favorite scenes from film, TV, and books. The wonderful Brian Staveley, author of the David Gemmell Morningstar Award winner The Emperor’s Blades and its sequel The Providence of Fire, explains why one little drink in Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven leads to so much trouble…

I was a sophomore in high school when I first saw Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven. I hated it.

I’d been raised on HS&GS—Horse Shit and Gun Smoke, my dad’s acronym for Westerns—and I’d come to expect a few things out of a movie starring Eastwood. I expected him to grimace. I expected him to slouch indifferently in his saddle as he rode into town. And, more than anything, I expected him to kick ass.

In the opening scenes of Unforgiven, however, Eastwood’s character—William Munny—can’t shoot a can off a post at twenty paces. He’s a tired, over-the-hill gunslinger, a man who’s lost his will, nerve, and savagery, an outlaw turned pig farmer who falls in the mud whenever he tries to catch a pig. There are hints and intimations that he used to be dangerous, deadly, terrifying—especially when he was drunk, which used to be all the time—but by the time the movie starts, he’s sworn off both violence and whisky. He’s desperate for money—needs to take care of his two kids—and so he reluctantly accepts One Last Job. It seems unlikely that he’ll succeed at it. In fact, he doesn’t seem likely to succeed at anything. For the first four-fifths of the movie he looks, moves, and talks like a busted up old man. As a high school sophomore, I wanted nothing more than for him to get over it, to get his act together and start shooting people. That’s what I was there for!

[Then we come to THE SCENE.]

Four Classic Children’s Books That Are Pure Magic

When fantasy readers talk about how we got our start, the same names tend to crop up again and again—J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Susan Cooper, Lloyd Alexander, L. Frank Baum. But while these might be a common denominator for most of us, I can think of many other books that ignited what would become my lifelong love of fantasy. Surprisingly, not all of them are fantasy, but carry that seed of mystery and the unknown that is the essence of magic. I am sure each person has an individual road map of their path to magic—here is mine.

[Read more]

The Dragonlance Reread: Guest Highlord Jason Heller on Raistlin Majere

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. To demonstrate this, and to give us the occasional week off, we’ve asked some authors and artists and general figures of the fantastic to chime in with guest posts. They’ll take the reins for a post, and talk through what Dragonlance means to them.

Before we start on the second book in the Dragonlance Chronicles, here is Guest Highlord Jason Heller, on why Raistlin is so great.

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]

Falling Down a Rabbit Hole of Books

Gaze into this subterranean library! Artist Susanna Hesselberg contributed a wonderful work of art to Aarhus’ biannual Sculpture by the Sea festival. The piece titled “When My Father Died It Was Like a Whole Library Had Burned Down,” is made up of books with increasingly dark covers (so as a viewer peers down into the hole, the titles slowly disappear into blackness), and references experimental musician and artist Laurie Anderson. We agree with Mental Floss, however, that there’s a heavy Alice in Wonderland feeling as well, which adds a note of whimsy to an otherwise dark piece.

Morning Roundup looks at Tolkien’s origin story, the changing demographics of the gaming community, and the future of Afrofuturism!

[Plus? Puppies.]

The Varied Life of Jack Vance

There’s one thing I’ve learned from researching our founding SFF authors: writers used to be a hell of a lot cooler. Not to insult any of our modern masters—far from it! They’re doing their best with the era they were dealt. But skim over the history of Harlan Ellison. Take a look at Robert Heinlein’s life, or Kurt Vonnegut’s, or Frank Herbert’s or Philip K. Dick’s. You’ll find stories of street brawls, epic rivalries, tumultuous love lives, hallucinations.

And then you get to Jack Vance, and the more you read the more you expect to learn that the man wrestled tigers for fun.

[Actually, he wrestled with more interesting things than tigers…]

Series: On This Day

The Harry Potter Reread: The Order of the Phoenix, Chapters 37 and 38

The Harry Potter Reread has plans to start a jug band, and could use a spoon player. Or a spoon bender. That wouldn’t be useful for music, but it would look really cool.

We’ve reached the end of Book 5. It’s time for chapters 37 and 38 of The Order of the Phoenix—The Lost Prophecy and The Second War Begins.

Index to the reread can be located here! Other Harry Potter and Potter-related pieces can be found under theirappropriate tag. And of course, since we know this is a reread, all posts might contain spoilers for the entire series. If you haven’t read all the Potter books, be warned.

[Read more]

Series: The Harry Potter Reread

Fiction Affliction: September Releases in Urban Fantasy and Horror

September looks like a healthy month for urban fantasy and horror, with thirty-one new releases….until one notices that seventeen of those are young adult titles. Fans of adult fiction, however, can take comfort in the knowledge that there are new books coming from, among others, Seanan McGuire (October Daye), Cherie Priest (Borden Dispatches), Devon Monk (House Immortal), and Greg Van Eekhout (Daniel Blackland), plus new series starts from Kim Harrison (Peri Reed Chronicles) and Rachel Vincent (Menagerie).

[Read about this month’s releases!]

A Bear with Little Brain: Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner

In August 1921, author A.A. Milne bought his one year old son, Christopher Robin, a teddy bear. This did not, perhaps, seem all that momentous at the time either for literary history or for large media conglomerate companies that used a mouse and a fairy as corporate logos. But a few years later, Milne found himself telling stories about his son and the teddy bear, now called “Winnie-the-Pooh,” or, on some pages, “Winnie-ther-Pooh.” Gradually, these turned into stories that Milne was able to sell to Punch Magazine.

[A bear with very little brain, and a fondness for honey]

Finn Wields His Lightsaber in New Teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens!

The latest teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes to you via Instagram, which has expanded its photo and video borders to make posts even more cinematic! They’ve certainly achieved that with this awesome (but oh-so-short) spot showing Finn facing off against Kylo Ren. Blue lightsaber versus red… classic.

You can watch the teaser here!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes to theaters December 18.

Never Get Chomped Again with This Zombie-Proof Swiss Army Multi-Defense Tool!

While most zombies shamble along, they usually come at you fast enough that you can’t waste time rummaging in a duffle bag for exactly the weapon you need. That’s why wise Instructables member seamster has come up with the perfect zombie-fighting weapon: This souped-up Swiss Army knife includes a machete (obviously), plus a hatchet, two types of wrenches, and more! Though it’s unclear how you’re supposed to hold it… (Hat-tip to Neatorama for finding exactly what we need to defend ourselves in the zombie apocalypse.)

Afternoon Roundup brings you an evil AU Harry Potter, playing with the structure of short stories, and Galaxy Quest news!

[Read more]

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Dance With Dragons, Part 35

Welcome back to A Read of Ice and Fire! Please join me as I read and react, for the very first time, to George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.

Today’s entry is Part 35 of A Dance With Dragons, in which we cover Chapter 59 (“The Discarded Knight”) and Chapter 60 (“The Spurned Suitor”).

Previous entries are located in the Index. The only spoilers in the post itself will be for the actual chapters covered and for the chapters previous to them. As for the comments, please note that the Powers That Be have provided you a lovely spoiler thread here on Tor.com. Any spoileriffic discussion should go there, where I won’t see it. Non-spoiler comments go below, in the comments to the post itself.

And now, the post!

[Humzum Hagnag Style!]

Series: A Read of Ice and Fire

Luna: New Moon

The Moon wants to kill you. Whether it’s being unable to pay your per diem for your allotted food, water, and air, or you just get caught up in a fight between the Moon’s ruling corporations, the Five Dragons. You must fight for every inch you want to gain in the Moon’s near feudal society. And that is just what Adriana Corta did.

As the leader of the Moon’s newest “dragon,” Adriana has wrested control of the Moon’s Helium-3 industry from the Mackenzie Metal corporation and fought to earn her family’s new status. Now, at the twilight of her life, Adriana finds her corporation, Corta Helio, surrounded by the many enemies she made during her meteoric rise. If the Corta family is to survive, Adriana’s five children must defend their mother’s empire from her many enemies… and each other.

Ian McDonald’s Luna: New Moon is the first in a exciting new near-future series—available September 22nd from Tor Books (US) and September 17th from Gollancz (UK).

[Read an excerpt!]

Words of Radiance Reread: Chapter 52

Welcome back to the Words of Radiance Reread on Tor.com! Last week, Adolin took Dalinar’s place to meet Eshonai and discuss her proposal, only to find it withdrawn and defiance in its place. This week, Shallan and Kaladin each improve their Radiant skills as they take steps toward their intermediate goals.

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!

[“The winds are not what I fear.”]

Series: Words of Radiance Reread on Tor.com

Captain America: Civil War Teams (Maybe) Revealed

Comic book and sci-fi movie review vlogger Mr. Sunday Movies has reportedly scooped a look at the teams for the next Marvel movie Captain America: Civil War.

Mr. Sunday Movies states that the concept art revealing these teams is akin to a stereo that “fell off the back of the truck,” so take this information with many grains of salt. Still, even if they’re just cut-and-pastes from DeviantArt, it’s still fun to speculate on whether these should be the teams!

[Read more]

Witches of Lychford Audio Excerpt

Fans of Paula Brackston’s audiobooks will recognize a familiar, and appropriately “witchy,” voice when listening to the audio edition of Paul Cornell’s Witches of Lychford as read by voice actress Marisa Calin. Calin is a British actress, screenwriter, and novelist, who has narrated a number of audiobooks, including the aforementioned works from Paula Brackston, Kerstin Geir’s Ruby Red trilogy and Sophie McKenzie’s Close My Eyes.

[Listen to an excerpt from Witches of Lychford]