Friends ‘Til the End

In “Friends ’Til the End,” death isn’t the end for Emily Winstead, not even close. She died with a wrong to make right, and she’s been given a second chance to set things straight. The only problem: her memories are hazy, she doesn’t know who to trust or even why she’s back, but she does know something about how she died broke the course of fate and it’s her ghostly mission to mend it.

This short story was acquired and edited for Tor.com by FSG editor Janine O’Malley.

[Read “Friends ‘Til the End” by Bethany Neal]

Morning Roundup: Maleficent Hasn’t Quite Grown Into Her Horns…

The Mary Sue shared this adorable Li’l Maleficent from artist Vivianne du Bois, and we just don’t know where to start! Look at those horns! And that sweet, nervous raven! Check out more of du Bois’ art on her Tumblr

So, how was everyone’s weekend? We trust you all saw Days of Future Past? Pretty sweet, huh? Morning Roundup has some thoughts on X-Men continuity, a consideration of mutant geneology from Magneto himself, and Sleepy Hollow news! 

[Plus more worldbuilding!]

Puppets, Dragon Bones, and Regency Dress: Just Mary Robinette Kowal and Marie Brennan on Tour

Earlier this month, Marie Brennan and Mary Robinette Kowal struck out on an author tour together. (For their new books Tropic of Serpents and Valour & Vanity, respectively. You can read excerpts from those books at the links!)

As the below video footage reveals, this was no normal author tour, featuring period dress, dragon bones, puppet shows, and…well, take a couple minutes to watch and see!

[Velociraptor puppet: Great idea or greatest idea?]

This is How I Numbered My Books and I’m Sorry

I owe the readers of my Craft Sequence a brief apology.

When I wrote Three Parts Dead, I knew it was one piece of a larger mosaic—that while the characters I’d introduced were awesome, I wanted to tell the story of a larger world across many times and cultures. The epic fantasy tradition’s usual approach to this sort of challenge is to send Our Heroes on a road trip that would put Sal Paradise to shame, ping-ponging around a killer, super-detailed map with stops in every port roughly proportional to that port’s political or geomantic influence. Or the number of Pokemon you can catch in the neighboring forest, or whatever.

[Read more]

Rereading The Empire Trilogy: Daughter of the Empire, Part 2

Welcome back to the reread of Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts’ Daughter of the Empire. In this installment, we get political commentary, business advice, and Mara starts figuring out how to be Lady of the Acoma. Meanwhile, her old nurse gives her a sex talk.

Chapter 2: Evaluations

SUMMARY:

Mara awakes in the glade to find the assassin dead at her feet. Her throat is bruised, but she has been rescued by her Strike Commander, Papewaio.

[Read more…]

Series: Rereading The Empire Trilogy

Lock In by John Scalzi: Chapter 5

Read a free excerpt from Lock In, John Scalzi’s new novel, out on August 26 from Tor Books! And check back every morning for another chapter from Scalzi’s new science fiction thriller.

Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever, and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent—nearly five million souls in the United States alone—the disease causes “lock in”: Victims are fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to any stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.  

A quarter of a century later, in a world shaped by what’s now known as “Haden’s syndrome,” rookie FBI agent Chris Shane is paired with veteran agent Leslie Vann. They are assigned what appears to be a Haden-related murder at the Watergate Hotel, with a suspect who is an “Integrator”—someone who can let the locked in borrow their bodies for a time. If the Integrator was carrying a Haden client, then naming the suspect for the murder will be that much more complicated.  

But “complicated” doesn’t begin to describe the puzzle that ensues. As Shane and Vann begin to unravel the threads of the murder, it becomes clear that the real mystery—and the real crime—is bigger than anyone could have imagined. The world of the locked in is changing, and with change comes opportunity that the ambitious will seize at any cost. The investigation takes Shane and Vann from the halls of corporate power to the virtual spaces of the locked in, and to the very heart of an emerging, surprising new human culture.  

[Read chapter 5 of Lock In by John Scalzi]

Series: John Scalzi’s Lock In

Lock In by John Scalzi: Chapter 4

Read a free excerpt from Lock In, John Scalzi’s new novel, out on August 26 from Tor Books! And check back every morning for another chapter from Scalzi’s new science fiction thriller.

Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever, and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent—nearly five million souls in the United States alone—the disease causes “lock in”: Victims are fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to any stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.  

A quarter of a century later, in a world shaped by what’s now known as “Haden’s syndrome,” rookie FBI agent Chris Shane is paired with veteran agent Leslie Vann. They are assigned what appears to be a Haden-related murder at the Watergate Hotel, with a suspect who is an “Integrator”—someone who can let the locked in borrow their bodies for a time. If the Integrator was carrying a Haden client, then naming the suspect for the murder will be that much more complicated.  

But “complicated” doesn’t begin to describe the puzzle that ensues. As Shane and Vann begin to unravel the threads of the murder, it becomes clear that the real mystery—and the real crime—is bigger than anyone could have imagined. The world of the locked in is changing, and with change comes opportunity that the ambitious will seize at any cost. The investigation takes Shane and Vann from the halls of corporate power to the virtual spaces of the locked in, and to the very heart of an emerging, surprising new human culture.  

[Read chapter 4 of Lock In by John Scalzi]

Series: John Scalzi’s Lock In

Steampunk Events for June 2014

Steampunk conventions are rolling in like wildfire this June. Take a trip to Scandinavia to attend festivals in Iceland or Sweden, or head further south for convivials in the UK or Italy. Stateside, party during a retro-futuristic club night in Los Angeles, check out the newest steampunk artworks in Colorado, or attend your nearest local event in Washington, Michigan, or North Carolina.

With the help of Kevin Steil, the Airship Ambassador, and our guest contributor steampunk DJ and director of The Artifice Club, Doctor Q, check out some of the most exciting happenings to kick off the summer.

[June 2014 Steampunk Events]

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “Let He Who is Without Sin…”

“Let He Who is Without Sin…”
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by Rene Auberjonois
Season 5, Episode 7
Production episode 40510-505
Original air date: November 11, 1996
Stardate: unknown

Station log: Dax joins Odo and Sisko for a drink. Dax and Worf are planning a trip to Risa. Their relationship is developing in fits and starts, and Worf isn’t thrilled with Dax having lunch with Captain Boday—nor with her telling everyone on the station about their personal lives. Worf’s mood is not improved by Bashir and Leeta asking to come along, though he can’t see any objection to sharing a runabout with them—however his mood gets downright foul when Quark announces that he’s joining them. He wouldn’t give Leeta the time off unless he got to come along, and he’s always wanted to go to Risa.

Quark gives everyone, except Worf, a hor’gahn. Worf, because he’s twelve, refuses to even speak to Quark, instead telling Dax to “tell the Ferengi” to stay in the aft cabin.

[Tell the Ferengi to return to his cabin.]

Series: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch

Game of Thrones Season 5 Cast Sheet Reveals Focus on Dorne

Note: Spoilers ahead.

WinterisComing.net has obtained a partial casting breakdown for Game of Thrones season 5, which is slated to begin shooting this summer. The fifth season promises to be a notable one for book readers, since it is still unclear how the show will tackle the concurrent timelines of A Feast For Crows and A Dance With Dragons. One thing now appears to be confirmed: We’ll be seeing a lot of Dorne.

[Partial casting breakdowns for Game of Thrones season 5]

WondLa Should be the Template for an All-Ages RPG Setting

After A Hero for WondLa, I was excited to see how everything in this series crashed together. The alien storylines, the clone storylines, the personal storylines; the stage was set for the final volume in the trilogy to pay off, big time. Yes, The Battle for WondLa concludes in a satisfying and epic fashion…but the single element that made me happiest about the finale of the WondLa series is the staggered series of codas, moving briskly through the centuries. It’s a fake out at first and it pays off; author Tony DiTerlizzi starts a chapter titled “Several Years Later” and I found myself thinking “alright, that’s a bit of a rough jump cut, but I’ve enjoyed the book so far, so I don’t mind.” Ah, but then! The next chapter is “100 Years Later,” then “200,” then “300”! The 80s montage “where are they now” was a false tell, lulling the reader into complacency, into thinking they know how this is all going to play out, and then suddenly hitting the zoom button till the fame is widened to the scope of history. It gives the series a sense of scope, of real impact, and I had to pause for a moment to give it a mental Orson Welles slow clap.

[Read more]

Tolkien’s Lost “Hobbit Dinner” Speech Will Be Remastered For Fans!

In 1958, J.R.R. Tolkien took a trip to Rotterdam, Netherlands for a special “Hobbit Dinner” that his Dutch publishers were throwing for him. There was a Middle-earth menu and 200 fans gathered around—they were eager to hear him talk about Lord of the Rings.

The speech Tolkien gave at this dinner was thought lost to time until it emerged in the private collection of a man named René van Rossenberg, who owns a Tolkien shop… but he wouldn’t share it. Now, twenty years later, it would seem he has finally been convinced!

[More info]

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged: “The Condition of the Defences” and “The Thing About Trust”

Does anyone else find it weird that in last week’s chapter, where we saw Logen and Longfoot and Bayaz and Jezal walking around town in Calcis, there’s zero mention of what Ferro and Quai are up to? Are they taking a nap? Are they staring at each other? What are the odds those two spent time together and Ferro didn’t plant a dagger in his guts and take off? This is odd, particularly in light of this week’s chapters, which we’ll get to momentarily!

Also, two chapters this week! Can you believe it? It’s like I’m Han Solo and I just hit Stubby’s hyperdrive baby! Look at those grimdarky stars streaking by our cockpit! Hope you can keep up with us, because Chewie is kind of pissed off at Stubby’s lack of maintainence.

[Condition of the Defences]

Series: The Joe Abercrombie First Law Trilogy Reread

The Merchant Emperor

Read an excerpt from The Merchant Emperor, the seventh book in Elizabeth Haydon’s Symphony of Ages fantasy series, out on June 3rd from Tor Books!

The war that they had feared is now upon them. Ashe and Rhapsody, leaders of the Cymrian Alliance, are gathering their allies to combat the machinations of Talquist, who will soon be crowned emperor of Sorbold. Gwydion Navarne remains by Ashe’s side. Anborn, Lord Marshal, has taken to the field. And Rhapsody has been forced into hiding to protect the life of her infant son.

The Merchant Emperor of Sorbold has unintentionally allied himself with a pair of demons and has begun targeting the dragons that remain on the Middle Continent. Talquist will stop at nothing until the Cymrians are wiped out and the entire continent and the rest of the Known World is under his rule.  

Assailed by danger from all sides, surrounded by lies and intrigue, Rhapsody is left with one undeniable truth: if their forces are to prevail, she must join the war herself, wielding the Daystar Clarion, an ancient weapon whose power is nearly unparalleled.

[Read The Merchant Emperor by Elizabeth Haydon]

Check Out this New Excerpt from The World of Ice and Fire!

Westeros.org has posted a new excerpt from The World of Ice and Fire, “The Rhoynar!” The good people behind the site, Elio M. García and Linda Antonsson, are working with George R. R. Martin on TWOIAF, and added this section to follow the excerpt Martin gave us last month.

From Westeros.org: “Our own excerpt features the beginning of “The Ten Thousand Ships,” the section devoted to the events leading to the arrival of the Rhoynar in Westeros, beginning with the relationship—and eventual conflict—between the people of the Rhoyne and the Valyrians.” Check out the full excerpt here

“You’re afraid. I remember.” X-Men: Days of the Future Past

When X-Men Days of Future Past was announced at San Diego Comic Con, and every single X-Man was brought out on stage to take a bow, it was hard not to be excited at the prospect of such an ambitious film. But it was also a little frightening to conceive; could this melding of generations possibly work? Could this many X-Men on screen at the same time even make sense? What is a day of future past anyhow?

Springboarding off of 2011’s First Class and the aftershocks of the contemporary movies, DoFP brings together a decade and a half of X-films without breaking a sweat. And not just by putting all the actors in the same film, but by unifying these stories on the same front to teach a powerful lesson about how history might be righted in the face of an untenable future.

Minor spoilers for the film below.

[It was supposed to be you.]

Over 300 Artists Are Mashing Up Akira and The Simpsons

Last week marked one of the greatest projects the internet has yet produced: BARTKIRA. Kaneda is Bart. Tetsuo is Milhouse. Lady Miyako is Lisa. And Akira? Akira’s Ralph Wiggum, of course.

Inspired by Ryan Humphrey and organized by James Harvey, over 300 artists have contributed to this effort to recreate Katsuhiro Ōtomo’s classic manga with characters from The Simpsons. Harvey established some guidelines and assigned character matches to keep things coherent…well…as coherent as Akira can be. But otherwise artists were simply encouraged to “make it awesome.” You can check out the art from the project on Tumblr, but we suggest that you block out some time, because you will not want to look away. 

[Click through for more of Neo-Springfield!]

Lock In by John Scalzi: Chapter 3

Read a free excerpt from Lock In, John Scalzi’s new novel, out on August 26 from Tor Books! And check back every morning for another chapter from Scalzi’s new science fiction thriller.

Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever, and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent—nearly five million souls in the United States alone—the disease causes “lock in”: Victims are fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to any stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.  

A quarter of a century later, in a world shaped by what’s now known as “Haden’s syndrome,” rookie FBI agent Chris Shane is paired with veteran agent Leslie Vann. They are assigned what appears to be a Haden-related murder at the Watergate Hotel, with a suspect who is an “Integrator”—someone who can let the locked in borrow their bodies for a time. If the Integrator was carrying a Haden client, then naming the suspect for the murder will be that much more complicated.  

But “complicated” doesn’t begin to describe the puzzle that ensues. As Shane and Vann begin to unravel the threads of the murder, it becomes clear that the real mystery—and the real crime—is bigger than anyone could have imagined. The world of the locked in is changing, and with change comes opportunity that the ambitious will seize at any cost. The investigation takes Shane and Vann from the halls of corporate power to the virtual spaces of the locked in, and to the very heart of an emerging, surprising new human culture.  

[Read chapter 3 of Lock In by John Scalzi]

Series: John Scalzi’s Lock In