Uncle Lando’s Magical Amusement Park: Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights: Trouble on Cloud City

The fun never ends when your adopted uncle is Lando Calrissian, as evidenced by this… wait. Wait, why does Jacen look like Jonathan Taylor Thomas on the cover of this book? Are we now obligated to watch every episode of Home Improvement? What vile scheme is this?

He really does look exactly like JTT, though. Which might make sense in terms of him being popular when this book came out. But it’s… creepy? Is Jaina based on someone too? Help us out, people.

Anyhow, that was a roundabout way of getting to the reread! Which happens to be the penultimate book, sadly. At least Uncle Lando shows up. It’s time for Trouble on Cloud City!

[Read more]

Series: Star Wars on Tor.com

Donald Sutherland Accepted His Teen Choice Award as President Snow By Throwing Berries at the Audience

There was no question that Donald Sutherland would take home the Teen Choice Award surfboard for Choice Movie Villain. Despite Kate Winslet’s piercing glare in Divergent and Michael Fassbender’s full-body Magneto clench in X-Men: Days of Future Past, there was really no competition with Sutherland’s calm, chilling, malevolent President Snow from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

What did surprise us, however, was how adorably Sutherland accepted his award—by tossing berries at the teenaged audience.

[Watch the video]

True Blood Season 7, Episode 8: “Almost Home”

Let’s just say that after this episode, I’ll be happy to dance on True Blood’s grave.

This season started off sloppily, picked up in the middle, and is now careening towards something that looks like an ending, but is more just a crash against misdirected fan service and muddled writing. What’s missing is any kind of emotional resonance. But I could overlook a lot of that in the spirit of recognizing that this show is a shadow of its former self and a weird determination to see how characters I once liked ride off into the sunset.

And then True Blood went from being so-bad-it’s-good to legitimately offensive.

[Tara speaks at last and it’s really upsetting…]

That Time Joss Whedon Wrote a Secret Folk Song During Avengers: Age of Ultron Shooting

In what might become a pattern, Joss Whedon has balanced out production on his last two Avengers films with smaller, independent, decidedly non-superhero projects. In 2012, it was Much Ado About Nothing, shot at his house. This year, Whedon digitally collaborated with a singer-songwriter whose Kickstarter page wooed him—and they’ve never actually met in-person.

The result was the song “Big Giant Me” (out now), just one of the songs on his and Shawnee Kilgore’s forthcoming EP.

[Read more]

Outlander: “Sassenach”

When Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and her husband Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies) head to the Scottish Highlands in 1945, the plan is to kickstart their stalled marriage. World War II split the newlyweds apart for nearly 6 years, and the Inverness getaway is supposed to bring them closer together. Instead, Claire stumbles upon a magic-infused stone circle and suddenly finds herself 200 years in the past being shot at by Redcoats, held captive by Scottish clansmen, and nearly raped by her husband’s scoundrel of an ancestor who also happens to look almost identical to Frank. Her captors are nice enough, especially the dashing Jamie (Sam Heughan), but she’s still a prisoner, in more ways than one.

[“People disappear all the time.”]

Rereading the Empire Trilogy: Daughter of the Empire, Part 12

Welcome back to the reread of Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts’ Daughter of the Empire! This week, Mara attends the Birthday Party of Doom, Arakasi pretends to be a warrior and a certain vengeful concubine starts honing that revenge of hers.

Worst. Birthday. Party. Ever.

Chapter 14—Acceptance

Summary: Mara has faced many challenges since she took on the mantle of Ruling Lady of the Acoma, but all of this has been small potatoes compared to what she faces now—the Warlord’s birthday party, hosted by Lord Jingu of the Minwanabi on his own lands.

[Read More]

Series: Rereading The Empire Trilogy

Morning Roundup: The Handrails Will be With You, Always

We tend not to share things we find through George Takei, only because we assume that everyone in the universe has already seen it. But this, this made us too happy. It isn’t just that it’s a delightfully nerdy way to spruce up an ordinary sign, it’s also that there’s a huge moral lesson to be found here. Luke, or in this case the Blue Guy, must avoid falling into the Dark Side just as he avoids, um, falling down the stairs. Don’t take your weapons into the cave Blue Guy! They won’t help you!

Morning Roundup has a chat with Ronald D. Moore about the new Outlander TV series, a look back at a historically important game, and a helpful photography guide!

[Always with Blue Guy it cannot be done…]

It’s All Academic: Reviewing KJ Parker’s Academic Exercises

Reading KJ Parker is a religious experience, which is ironic considering some of the stories included within the pages of Academic Exercises undermine institutions with rabid vigor. Two World Fantasy Award winning novellas, three essays, and nine other stories complete the volume and represent the scope of KJ Parker’s short work to date.

From grifting, to wizarding, to alchemy, to music making, Parker takes the reader deep into a professional psyches of her characters and lays their soul bare. This summation of the author’s work is a must read for anyone with even a passing interest in good fiction.

[Read more…]

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “A Time to Stand”

“A Time to Stand”
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by Allan Kroeker
Season 6, Episode 1
Production number 40510-525
Original air date: September 29, 1997
Stardate: unknown

Station log: We get a summary of “Call to Arms,” and then pick up with a huge convoy of Starfleet and Klingon ships that have gotten their asses well and truly kicked. The three months since they abandoned DS9 have been spent in a constant state of defeat—attack, get their asses kicked, regroup. To make matters worse, the Seventh Fleet was massacred at the Tyra system, losing all but 14 of the 112 ships in the fleet to the Dominion. Tensions are high, and morale is in the toilet.

[It's been a week since I poisoned anybody]

Series: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch

Moomin Sweepstakes!

Tomorrow is Tove Jansson’s 100th birthday, and we want to give you a Moomins prize pack to celebrate! We’ll send one lucky winner eight books featuring Jansson’s signature creatures, including Comet in Moominland, Finn Family Moomintroll, Moominpappa’s Memoirs, Moominsummer Madness, Moominland Midwinter, Tales from Moominvalley, Moominpappa at Sea, and Moominvalley in November.

Comment in 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 2:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on August 8. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on August 12. 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.

The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe: Avery Hastings

Welcome back to The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe, a recurring series here on Tor.com featuring some of our favorite science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, and others!

Today we’re joined by Avery Hastings, author of Feuds, the first book in a new YA series published by St. Martin’s Press. Feuds is available September 2nd, and Rival, a novella set in the same universe, publishes in December. When she’s not reading or writing, Avery can usually be spotted lying around in the park with her affable dog. Like her protagonists, she knows how to throw a powerful right hook and once dreamed of becoming a ballerina.

Join us as we squee over Avery’s childhood dog!

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Series: The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged: “One for Dinner” and “One of Them”

I begin this week’s chapters with the quote between Part’s I and II of Before They Are Hanged.

‘He is not fit for battle that has never seen his own blood flow, who has not heard his teeth crunch under the blow of an opponent, or felt the full weight of his adversary upon him.’

This quote can be read many ways, but I read it this way. Battle is love, or at least making meaningful connections with other people. It’s a lot harder than it sounds. And you’re not fit for it until you’ve tried it and survived. All of Abercrombie’s characters undergo this journey. Some more successfully than others. It’s a fitting quote to conclude the first part of Before They Hanged. It recognizes that character arc for Logen, Ferro, and Jezal, while pointing out West and Glokta’s inability do it.

Or it just means you’re a wuss until your crunch someone’s skull with a morning star. I’m open to discussion. This week’s chapters take place just before that quote, one long and one short.

[Read More]

Series: The Joe Abercrombie First Law Trilogy Reread

Malazan Reread of the Fallen: The Crippled God, Chapter Ten

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 (with Amanda, new to the series, going first), and finally comments from Tor.com readers. In this article, we’ll cover chapter ten of The Crippled God.

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

The Mayor From Portlandia Revealed as Skye’s Father On Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Some people, not me, are reporting that Kyle MacLachlan has joined the cast of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as Skye’s eventually-to-be-revealed father, which is a twist that I really did not see coming. I mean, I always suspected that Twin Peaks and Portlandia didn’t quite exist in our world but I had no idea that they were technically part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The proof is below.

[Kyle MacLachlan joins Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.]

Spirit’s Key (Excerpt)

By now, twelve-year-old Spirit Holden should have inherited the family gift: the ability to see the future. But when she holds a house key in her hand like her dad does to read its owner’s destiny, she can’t see anything.

Maybe it’s because she can’t get over the loss of her beloved dog, Sky, who died mysteriously. Sky was Spirit’s loyal companion, one of the wild dogs that the local islanders believe possess dangerous spirits. As more dogs start dying and people become sick, too, almost everyone is convinced that these dogs and their spirits are to blame—except for Spirit.

Then Sky’s ghost appears, and Spirit is shaken. But his help may be the key to unlocking her new power and finding the cause of the mysterious illness before it’s too late.

Check out Edith Cohn’s debut novel, Spirit’s Key, available September 9th from Farrar, Strauss & Giroux.

[Read an Excerpt]

Invented Truth: Your Face in Mine by Jess Row

Jess Row’s debut novel, Your Face in Mine, stars Kelly Thorndike, a thirtysomething white Baltimorean. Not long ago he lost his Chinese wife and their young biracial daughter in a tragic car accident. Now he works in a thoughtless radio job and wanders through life in a depression-tinted haze. Until he runs into his high school best friend, Martin.

Martin used to be a scraggly Ashkenazi Jewish kid but is now somehow a business-minded Black man, all thanks to racial reassignment surgery. He hires Kelly to help write his biography and introduce the radical medical technique to the world. Martin’s version of truth and reality are as flexible as his definition of race. Both he and Kelly long to be part of something they aren’t, and as Kelly descends into the rabbit hole of twisty logic and misunderstood cause and effect, his role as biographer begins to take on the traits of a new recruit.

[“I belong there! you insist. But you don’t.”]

Summer of Sleaze: The Southern Gothic Horrors of Michael McDowell

Summer of Sleaze is 2014’s turbo-charged trash safari where Will Errickson of Too Much Horror Fiction and Grady Hendrix of The Great Stephen King Reread plunge into the bowels of vintage paperback horror fiction, unearthing treasures and trauma in equal measure.

The idea of a paperback original series in the horror genre was a unique one when the six-volume Blackwater began publication by Avon Books in January 1983. Written by the prolific Michael McDowell (1950-1999), it was a many-generational story set in Alabama, a Southern Gothic-lite, mixing soap opera and horror tropes with equal ease, to be published one a month for six months.

[Read More]