Ambiguity Machines: An Examination April 29, 2015 Ambiguity Machines: An Examination Vandana Singh A test for Junior Navigators of Conceptual Machine-Space. The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn April 22, 2015 The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn Usman Malik He will inherit the Unseen. The Ways of Walls and Words April 15, 2015 The Ways of Walls and Words Sabrina Vourvoulias Can the spirit truly be imprisoned? Ballroom Blitz April 1, 2015 Ballroom Blitz Veronica Schanoes Can't stop drinking, can't stop dancing, can't stop smoking, can't even die.
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April 30, 2015
The Folklore Origins of The Avengers
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April 28, 2015
Five Books Where Music is Practically a Character
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Message Fiction: Politics in Sci-Fi and Fantasy Literature
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5 Extremely Accurate Predictions For Star Trek Beyond
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Daredevil, Catholicism, and the Marvel Moral Universe
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Jan 20 2011 3:00pm Weekly Newsletter Special Edition

Welcome to a special sneak peek edition of the weekly newsletter! Normally this goes out to our registered users via email, but now’s the chance for everyone to see what they’re missing. If you’re into the idea of getting site highlights once a week, personally handcrafted by my personal self, occasionally featuring Gilbert and Sullivan parodies or kitten pictures, just register for the site.


Among Others is Among Us

Among Others, the newest novel from super-blogger Jo Walton*, is the story of how one smart, odd young woman solves a fantastical problem by thinking science-fictionally. It’s an outsider tale and a coming of age story; Patrick Nielsen Hayden calls it “absolutely incandescent” and a whole load of other nice things besides, Elizabeth Bear compares it to Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin, and you, dear reader, can decide for yourself when you read our substantial excerpt. Congratulations to Jo on the release of an awesome book!

* How super is Jo? So super she recently celebrated her 500th post!

[More below the fold!]

Jan 19 2011 3:32pm

“Speak, speak, thou fearful guest...”

This fascinating article from The Economist details the excavation of a Wars-of-the-Roses battlefield in the north of England, and specifically, the mortal hurts dealt to a skeleton dubbed Towton 25. He has a lot to tell us about medieval warfare and weaponry: There aren’t quite twenty trenchéd gashes on his head, but archeologists can tell the order of the head wounds from the way that newer fractures veer toward older ones, and our man had several non-fatal blows from a bladed weapon before the ringer. (The one that cut his face in half, however, was post-mortem. Yikes.) Why wasn’t he wearing a helmet? Read and find out! Neat history awaits you.

Image by Flickr user Gonzo Carles, used under CC license

Dec 27 2010 5:10pm

Encore Presentation: Backpacking Through Fantasyland

A very important question has been bouncing around my friends for a couple of days: if you were told that in half an hour, you were going to be whisked off to a generic, quasi-medieval fantasy land, what would you pack? We figured that half an hour is enough time to throw things in your bag that are already in your apartment, and maybe send someone out to the corner store to buy non-perishables. Too much time would make it too easy, as in, “Well, I’d go to the Leather Jerkin Emporium and buy period-looking clothes and a sword!” Given that I can barely get out the door to work in half an hour with my keys in my pocket, packing a large backpack might get…haphazard. Best to plan ahead.

[Well, it's no Leather Jerkin Emporium, but...]

Nov 19 2010 5:11am

I Saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows movie posterJust got home from a midnight showing. IMAX. Wow.

This isn't a review, really;  I'm not an expert on the various ups and downs, arcs and aesthetics of the Harry Potter movies. And it's four a.m. (Though the movie wasn't four hours long, it just took me a while to shuffle out of the theater and get home. It ran ~2:36 and felt shorter.)

No, there will be a real review soon. But I am a big Harry Potter fan, and if anyone else here was nuts enough to go to the midnight or three a.m. showings, please come talk about it with me! I am so curious to hear other people's reactions!

[I enjoyed it. A quick thought, no spoilers, below.]

Oct 4 2010 9:30am

Scott Westerfeld Interview & Behemoth Giveaway

Earlier this week, I sat down with Scott Westerfeld to talk about his upcoming book Behemoth, second in the four-book trilogy that began with Leviathan. (Yes, you read that right; listen and find out!) Answering questions submitted by readers, Scott talks about everything from Australia to zombies and shares some of his writing tips and tricks.

Thanks to Macmillan Audio for letting us use the recording studio!

Here are links to the books that Scott mentions as being useful in his research:

Europe's Last Summer, by David Fromkin
Classic Turkish Cooking, by Ghillie Basan
Warlord, by Carlo D'Este

And you can check out some of Keith Thompson's beautiful interior art, featuring the Ottoman-style mechas, here and here.

[On to the giveaway! Tally ho!]

Sep 21 2010 4:12pm

Have Questions for Scott Westerfeld? Let Us Know! is going to sit down with Scott Westerfeld next week to talk about—well, whatever you want! I probably won't be able to stop myself from gong on about his upcoming book Behemoth, sequel to last year's Leviathan, but you Midnighters and Peeps and Uglies fans and aspiring writers and steampunk types and Team Zombie and everyone else should chime in, too! Leave a comment with a question you'd like us ask Scott next week, and we'll pick as many as we have time for. (We're already starting the interview with, “Why are you so awesome? Were you once bitten by a radioactive awesome?”)

Sep 8 2010 2:01pm

Happy Airdate, Star Trek!

On September 8, 1966, Star Trek premiered with “The Man Trap,” that classic tale of lonely salt vampires and the crewmen who love them. In celebration, check out Eugene Myers and Torie Atkinson’s inaugural post in the Star Trek rewatch, where I learned that “The Man Trap” was actually the sixth episode filmed. Thank goodness Star Trek went better than that other awesome show set in space and denied its intended pilot by the network!


Aug 30 2010 2:32pm

Tor Dot August Round-Up

You may have missed some of our posts this month; it’s a busy time of year, with all that back-to-school shopping and the mandatory month-long celebration of Jerry Garcia’s life and music (or is that just me?). Below are some of August’s newsletter highlights.

What’s My Line?

Let down by career day? Looking for a change? Well, Carolyn Crane and Chris Castle have a handy run-down of which jobs are hot in these crazy times. Every sexy demon-fighting detective needs support staff and a clean-up crew, so get out your leather-care kits, tattoo machines, and fifths of vodka and join the emerging urban fantasy workforce.

“When I started writing my first
monthly comic, Captain America....”

Steve Englehart started working at Marvel Comics when Stan Lee roamed the skies riding a pterodactyl, and boy, does he have some good stories to tell: superhero-themed Halloween parties in the woods, murderous production schedules, and, um, some actual murder. Also, the history of the comics industry and what writing comics does to your brain. You can find the whole series of posts here.

[And you can find more of this month’s highlights below the cut!]

Aug 2 2010 2:52pm

Way of Kings Advance Reading Copy Giveaway

Whether you’ve read and listened up through chapter six and you’re dying for more, or you’re holding out until you can have the whole thing at once, have we got a giveaway for you! (Yes. Yes, we have got a giveaway for you; we wouldn’t tease like that.)

One lucky winner will receive an Advance Reading Copy of Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings—that's a complete copy of the book, trade paperback size, with Michael Whelan’s beautiful cover art—along with a hardcover set of Brandon’s Mistborn trilogy and a glow-in-the-dark Way of Kings bracelet (you will be the coolest kid at the Dragon*Con raves!). One runner-up will receive the Mistborn trilogy and a bracelet.

The Rules: To enter the giveaway, leave one comment—duplicates won’t count—on this post between now and noon EST, Friday, August 6. The winners will be chosen randomly. The giveaway is open to everyone everywhere. Please check your email on Friday and over the weekend; if we don’t hear back from you by noon on Tuesday, your prize will go to someone else.

Jul 30 2010 5:20pm

Paranormal Romance Grab Bag You-Know-What-Friday-Means!

Look, we’ve been seeing each other for like a month now, and I think we have something really special going on. There’s so much I want to give you, you know? Love and trust and a good roll in the hay and OH YEAH BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS.  It’s grab bag giveaway time! Enter to win an assortment of tasty paranormal romance and urban fantasy books.

The Rules: To enter the giveaway, leave one comment—duplicates won’t count—on this post between now and noon EST, Tuesday, August 2 3. Six winners will be chosen randomly. The giveaway is open to everyone everywhere. Please check your email Tuesday or Wednesday; if we don’t hear back from you by noon on Thursday, your prize will go to someone else.

Jul 23 2010 3:39pm

Ménage à Paranormal Romance Grab Bag Giveaway Trois

Look at those books! They’re so happy together! And, if you’re a consenting adult, they can come live with you and make you happy, too! Again, it’s a fairly random assortment of Tor and St. Martin’s Press paranormal romance and urban fantasy titles; this time, one of the prizes will be a complete set of L.A. Banks’s Vampire Huntress Legends books in trade paperback.

The Rules: To enter the giveaway, leave one comment—duplicates won’t count—on this post between now and noon EST, Tuesday, July 27. Six winners will be chosen randomly. The giveaway is open to everyone everywhere. Please check your email Tuesday or Wednesday; if we don’t hear back from you by noon on Thursday, your prize will go to someone else.

Jul 16 2010 5:22pm

Paranormal Romance Grab Bag Giveaway II: The Grabbening

You guys, there are a lot of books in my office. See these?

Even more. (Thank you, St. Martin's Press and Sourcebooks!) And while I would love to build a fort, I think you guys might rather read them, so, bibbiti bobbiti boo, a second grab bag giveaway! Each of six winners will receive a mailer full of books (and don’t worry, I won’t send you just the third book in a series or anything).

The Rules: To enter the giveaway, leave one comment—duplicates won’t count—on this post between now and noon EST, Tuesday, July 20. Six winners will be chosen randomly. The giveaway is open to everyone everywhere. Please check your email Tuesday or Wednesday; if we don’t hear back from you by noon on Thursday, your prize will go to someone else.

Jul 9 2010 4:13pm

Paranormal Romance Grab Bag Giveaway!

The first giveaway of the month is for an assortment of books and a few other goodies! Each of six winners will receive several books, five of which will be Sins of the Flesh by Caridad Piñeiro, My Forbidden Desire by Carolyn Jewel, Chosen by Desire by Kate Perry (thanks, Grand Central!), Game Over by Taylor Keating, and Legacies by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edgehill.

Other books may include Dying Bites by D.D. Barant, Street Magic by Caitlin Kittredge, A Twist in Time by Susan Squires, and Demons Not Included by Cheyenne McCray (thanks, St Martin's!); Blood Song and Siren Song by Cat Adams, Indigo Springs by A.M. Dellamonica, Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers, Discord's Apple by Carrie Vaughn, and/or Venus Guy Trap by Shannon McKelden (thanks, Tor!).

Also, every prize pack includes a Cat Adams pen and three of them will include a women’s vampire-themed t-shirt, like the ones that are de rigueur in the office this month:

The Rules: To enter the giveaway, leave one comment—duplicates won't count—on this post between now and noon EST, Tuesday, July 13. Six winners will be chosen randomly. Please check your email Tuesday or Wednesday; if we don't hear back from you by noon on Thursday, your prize will go straight to someone else, like that one ex of ours...

Jun 25 2010 9:38am

Reinforcing my childhood belief that Legos can do anything

I’m in the last age bracket that really remembers two-color screens, 5¼” floppies, and the maddening dooooot DOOOOO (doot doot doot doot doot) of a dot-matrix printer; those were also the days of Legos, felt-tip markers, and My Little Ponies. Now, thanks to modern technology, YouTube user horseattack has brought pretty much every element of my young childhood together: presenting, the Lego Printer! (Now if only it made PB&Js, too, I’d be set.)

Megan Messinger is currently contemplating a Rock Band violin mod.

Jun 24 2010 9:47am

Gandalf Goes to the World Cup

Don’t pretend you don’t know what’s coming.

by YouTube user PistolShrimps

via Blake Charlton

Megan Messinger isn't a fan of soccer or The Lord of the Rings, but somehow this works.

Jun 18 2010 6:44pm

Do Not Adjust Your Monitor

A blast from the past, via Blake Charlton: using wood or plastic cubes and paint, artist Shawn Smith is creating pixelated sculptures like this one: animals, birds, water, and fire are all given the real-life MS Paint treatment. As trippy as it is to see on the screen (my brain and I have gone back and forth several times about what exactly I'm looking at), it must be even better in person, like those times where you do something stupid and you actually move your hand to hit the “undo” button:

“It’s actually there, dude.”
“Maybe if I hit myself in the side of the head....”
“No, you’re seeing it right. That peacock is made of a bunch of indiviually-painted wooden blocks.”
“You don’t have to explain pixels to me with stupid metaphors, Steve.”
“ know, maybe hitting yourself will help!”

Check out Shawn’s site for more of his work, including an installation piece with pixelated vultures trashing outdated office equipment.

Megan Messinger still uses Microsoft Paint sometimes.

May 25 2010 7:08pm

Happy Towel Day

In the spring of my senior year of college, I went through an insomniac phase. Hope springs eternal, so I lay down in the dark every night, but staring at the ceiling for four hours proved torturous—duh—and I turned to audiobooks for distraction. I burned through Coraline in two nights. A Wrinkle in Time took three. Derek Jacobi read me Sherlock Holmes for a week, and the Harry Potter series almost lasted through finals, but my strongest audio memories from that semester are of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, read by Stephen Fry.

[Below the cut, I am not able to satisfactorily explain what a Hrung is, nor why it should choose to collapse on Betelgeuse XII.]

May 13 2010 9:30am

For the Win Excerpt

Below, you can read an excerpt of For the Win, Cory Doctorow’s newest young adult book, which does for economics what Little Brother did for government—namely, shows how smart teenagers can game the system. Literally. It is made of, well, win!

One quick thing of interest before you go on:  Cory is doing a tour in support of the book, so go here to see if he’ll be in your area. This has been a public service announcement; we now return you to your regularly-scheduled excerpt.

May 4 2010 5:41pm

May the Fourth Be With You: Happy Star Wars Day to Jedi Young and Old

Our publisher, Fritz Foy, has a six-year-old son who’s just discovered Star Wars. Oh, man, I thought when Fritz told me this. Awesome. Wonder if he’s a Han or a Luke…(clearly neither; see right). But Fritz went on to mention something I’ve never thought about.

Kids who are just discovering Star Wars watch the movies in internal chronological order.

My mind was blown. My little brother came of Star-Wars age before any of the prequels came out, so I’ve never witnessed someone go through the emotional arc of watching 1, 2, and 3 before knowing what happens in 4, 5, and 6. To these kids, “Anakin is the good guy,” Fritz told me. “They play Anakin.” Kids want to be the hotshot podracer and the young butt-kicker of the Clone Wars cartoons, and then they have to watch someone they like and identify with turn evil. That’s their Anakin killing children their age, their Anakin in the big scary suit, choking people and throwing them against walls.

[Little geek’s first heartbreak.]

Apr 23 2010 5:07pm

Tor Books B-Day Giveaway: Wheel of Time Posters

“Hey,” I hear you say with my magic internet-hearing powers, “I know those images. Those are the new Wheel of Time ebook covers. But why are they so tiny? That’s terrible! I can’t see how awesome they are when they’re so tiny!”

Well, they’re tiny because if I broke our three-column layout, designer Jamie Stafford-Hill would have my head on an ashandarei. But I can fix this, and here’s where the Tor Books birthday comes in: for twenty years of Tor’s thirty, the Wheel of Time has been there for us, and now we’d like the Wheel of Time ebook covers to be there for you, in lovely poster form.

Which is to say, one person will win a set of 14 x 16 posters of all the covers published so far, up through Crown of Swords.

The Rules: All you have to to do be entered is comment on this post—once; duplicates won’t count—by noon EST on Wednesday, April 28th. The winner will be chosen randomly. Please check your email on Wednesday or Thursday; if I don’t hear back from you in 24 hours, another winner will be chosen.