Short Fiction Spotlight: Two Lightspeed Novelettes

Welcome back to the Short Fiction Spotlight, a space for conversation about recent and not-so-recent short stories. Last time around we discussed a new Ted Chiang novelette, “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling.” To continue that theme, this week I’d like to talk about two more recent novelettes—both, in this case, published in Lightspeed—that have caught my eye: “Paranormal Romance” by Christopher Barzak and “The Litigation Master and the Monkey King” by Ken Liu.

Generally, I’m fond of the novelette. It’s a length that seems to lend itself, as plenty of people have argued before me, to speculative fiction: long enough to explore, short enough not to sprawl. These are both on the short end of the novelette spectrum, of course, but I think they’re also both solid stories—though in somewhat different ways.

[A discussion.]

Series: Short Fiction Spotlight

11 Odd, Campy, and Surreal Holiday Specials that Should be Classics

Several years ago around this time, I wrote a post about some of my favorite bizarro holiday specials to help ring in our very first Tor.com Cthulhumas/Life Day/Krampusnacht/Solstice celebration. While a lot has changed since 2008, my abiding love of strange and unusual holiday-inspired lunacy is as strong as ever, so please enjoy this updated guide to some classic (or should-be classic) yuletide entertainment….

[From recent to retro, 11 shows to make the holidays a little bit more surreal…]

The Stormlight Grimoire, Part 4: Soulcasters of Catan

As I open another chapter of the Stormlight Grimoire, my in-depth exploration of the many magical systems of Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive, I find that it is time to turn to a new topic. There are volumes more to be said about Surgebinders, and even, I’m sure, more to be discovered about the Windrunners, to whom I paid special attention last time, but that will have to wait for future books. In the meantime, let’s talk about Soulcasting, the magical process of transforming rocks into wheat, Settlers of Catan style.

Oh, I’m sorry, maybe I forgot to mention that I’m a huge nerd. Deal with it?

[Read more, if you can deal with it.]

Series: The Stormlight Archive

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth Sweepstakes!

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg tells the story of the people of a lost, imaginary era, and a peculiar young man who paddles from his home in the North Pole to the South Pole, encountering incredible cities, strange civilizations, and countless adventures along the way.

We want to give one lucky winner a copy of this graphic novel, a story card drawn by Greenberg, and a set of buttons depicting the fantastic characters from the book. Three additional winners will receive a story card and a set of buttons, so 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 9:30 AM Eastern Time (ET) on December 17. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on December 21. 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.

Casting the Endless in a Sandman Movie

The Endless, from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics, are not people. They are—as Destruction says—patterns, ideas, repeating motifs. It’s one thing to learn their stories, but something quite different to imagine who could embody them.

But now that Joseph Gordon-Levitt has confirmed a forthcoming Sandman movie, we thought we’d take a crack at casting them anyway! And we’ve got some picks that will either enthrall or enrage you, so you should probably join us.

[She is Death, just as he is Dream, and that one is Desire.]

The Christmas Show

“The Christmas Show,” by Pat Cadigan, is the perfect Christmas story about a pair of sisters under a mysterious curse that forces them to travel around the US producing local theatrical productions. This Xmas, they’re producing A Christmas Carol with the real ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. Humorous and charming.

This novelette was acquired and edited for Tor.com by consulting editor Ellen Datlow.

[Read “The Christmas Show” by Pat Cadigan]

Morning Roundup: Neil Gaiman Completes His Transformation Into Charles Dickens

As part of the New York Public Library’s months-long celebration of Charles Dickens a project was undertaken to transform legendary Victorian author Neil Gaiman into legendary Victorian author Charles Dickens. As evidenced on Gaiman’s Tumblr, that metamorphosis was completed this past weekend during a reading of “A Christmas Carol” where, upon finishing, the newly made Dickens wandered outside and remarked upon the towering fortresses of glass, the marvelous contraptions whizzing about, and whatever a “Chipotle” is.

We’ve set some traps with brandy and fresh sausages but have yet to capture the newly made gadabout. Please, if you encounter Dickens in the New York streets, approach him slowly so as not to make him realize that he is entirely apocryphal.

Your Morning Roundup has a very brief look at Game of Thrones season 4. Go forth!

[Read more]

Joseph Gordon-Levitt to Direct and Star in Sandman Movie [UPDATED]

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has confirmed the recent rumor that he will be heading up a movie adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s classic Sandman. In a tweet late Monday night:

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m incredibly honored to be working with David Goyer, Warner Bros, and on SANDMAN.

Further coverage from Deadline states that Gordon-Levitt will be starring in and directing the film, to be written by David Goyer and produced by Warner Bros. The use of the #Prelude hashtag also suggests that Warner Bros. is banking on Sandman becoming a multi-film franchise, and that the first film will cover the events of the first collection “Preludes & Nocturnes.”

Update: Gordon-Levitt has since clarified, via Twitter, that he has “signed on as a producer of Sandman. The rest remains to be seen. Delighted you guys are excited.”

Tor.com: Selected Original Fiction, 2008-2012 Audiobook Preview!

On New Year’s Day, Brilliance Audio will release Tor.com: Selected Original Fiction, 2008-2012, a collection of original fiction published on this very site, in audio for the first time! This audiobook includes Nebula and World Fantasy Award-nominated short stories, like Brit Mandelo’s “The Finite Canvas” and Meghan McCarron’s “Swift, Brutal Retaliation,” along with fiction by John Scalzi, Brandon Sanderson, and Charles Stross.

Listen to a preview of the audiobook, including a clip from Rachel Swirsky’s “Portrait of Lisane de Patagnia,” performed by Kathleen Gati, and look out for the audiobook in January 2014!

Zenith (Excerpt)

Originally published in 1993 by Pan Macmillan, Dirk Strasser’s The Books of Ascension went out of print before the final novel was completed. Two decades later, the entire series—including the “lost book”—is availble from Momentum in ebook format! Check out the first book, Zenith, below, and be sure to keep an eye on the site for additional excerpts from the series!

The world of the great Mountain is unstable. Giant pillars erupt from the surface and yawning chasms form unpredictably underfoot. Since the Maelir first stood on its slopes in the distant past, they have sought to still its anger and control its power. Each year, twin brothers are chosen to make a perilous journey to the summit. If they survive they will be witness to Zenith, and the secrets will be revealed to them.

When Atreu and Teyth embark on their Ascent, their Talismans lead them onto conflicting paths that will ultimately set brother against brother. And this time the Ascent itself is in peril as unknown forces that have long craved the power of Zenith will stop at nothing to make it their own even if it means destroying the very thing that sustains all life the Mountain itself.

[Read an Excerpt]

A Rare Space Opera: Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi

It’s not every day you read a space opera novel featuring a queer woman of colour who stows away on a starship. Still less often do you read a space opera novel that includes a main character who suffers from a chronic illness while not being about the illness, or one which includes respectful, negotiated polyamorous relationships.

A novel which embraces all these things? It might not be unprecedented, but it’s pretty damn rare.

[Spoilers]

Save the Screenwriter, Save the World: Channel Blue by Jay Martel

Guys, meet Galaxy Entertainment super-producer Gerald O. Davidoff—God for short—whose work on planet Earth everyone is of course intimately familiar with. God, say hi to the guys.

*pause for cacophonous applause*

What an immense pleasure it is to have you here, back where it all began! But I understand that you’re a very busy man—and your visits, I’m aware, are getting rarer by the day—so I’ll keep this quick, the better to let you get right back to business. I just have to ask: what’s the plan, man?

I’m no great creator, of course, but all this anger and violence and hunger and hatred is getting to be a bit much. The long and short of what we’re all wondering is… what gives, God?

As you all know, I have a strong attachment to this particular world. It was my very first planet and without it I would never have become part of the Galaxy Entertainment family. But no-one can deny that its programming has fallen off quite a bit in the last few seasons, and while I, more than anyone, appreciate the quality shows that have been produced there in the past, I also need to recognise that the storylines have become too bizarre, the cast to unlikeable to sustain the ratings we have come to expect. I think we can all agree that this planet ‘jumped the shark’ a long time ago. Plus, the resources spent on this single world could be used to develop several planetainments in less expensive solar systems.

As a result of these considerations, I regrettably feel that the time has come to cancel Earth.

[Wait, you what?]

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rewatch: Dawn and the Amazing Lettered Dreamboat

“Him,” by Drew Z. Greenberg

Xander is showing his apartment to a potential roommate… one who turns out, a moment later, to be Spike. This may be the single most self-sacrificing thing he’s ever done for Buffy or the world, and I’m talking about a guy who offered to let Willow kill him.

Spike knows he’s not wanted and tries several times to volunteer himself out of the homesharing gig. But Buffy is determined to get William out of the school basement. His proximity to the Bidet of Evil is clearly one of the reasons he spends so much time jabbering. She is okay enough with having feelings for him that she wants him to get better.

(Or, maybe, she’s that tired of having to parse useful clues out of the babble.)

As they process this, Dawn asks a fabulous question: What does it mean exactly, that Spike is all soul-having?

[Read more…]

Series: Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Tor.com