Ruin of Angels Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a galley copy of Max Gladstone’s Ruin of Angels, the sixth novel in the Craft sequence, available September 5th from Publishing!

The God Wars destroyed the city of Alikand. Now, a century and a half and a great many construction contracts later, Agdel Lex rises in its place. Dead deities litter the surrounding desert, streets shift when people aren’t looking, a squidlike tower dominates the skyline, and the foreign Iskari Rectification Authority keeps strict order in this once-independent city—while treasure seekers, criminals, combat librarians, nightmare artists, angels, demons, dispossessed knights, grad students, and other fools gather in its ever-changing alleys, hungry for the next big score.

Priestess/investment banker Kai Pohala (last seen in Full Fathom Five) hits town to corner Agdel Lex’s burgeoning nightmare startup scene, and to visit her estranged sister Lei. But Kai finds Lei desperate at the center of a shadowy, and rapidly unravelling, business deal. When Lei ends up on the run, wanted for a crime she most definitely committed, Kai races to track her sister down before the Authority finds her first. But Lei has her own plans, involving her ex-girlfriend, a daring heist into the god-haunted desert, and, perhaps, freedom for an occupied city. Because Alikand might not be completely dead—and some people want to finish the job.

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It started with a single child and quickly spread: you could get high by drinking your own shadow. At night, artificial lights were destroyed so that addicts could sip shadow in the pure glow of the moon.

Gangs of shadow addicts chased down children on playgrounds, rounded up old ladies from retirement homes. Cities were destroyed and governments fell. And if your shadow was sipped entirely, you became one of them, had to drink the shadows of others or go mad.

One hundred and fifty years later, what’s left of the world is divided between the highly regimented life of those inside dome cities who are protected from natural light (and natural shadows), and those forced to the dangerous, hardscrabble life in the wilds outside. In rural Texas, Mira, her shadow-addicted friend Murk, and an ex-domer named Bale search for a possible mythological cure to the shadow sickness—but they must do so, it is said, before the return of Halley’s Comet, which is only days away.

Brian Allen Carr’s Sip is a lyrical, apocalyptic debut novel about addiction, friendship, and the struggle for survival—available August 29th from Soho Press.

[Read an Excerpt]

Finders Keepers: Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

“That night, everybody lost something,” Moïra Fowley-Doyle’s Spellbook of the Lost and Found begins. “Not everybody noticed.” The lost things are small or large, tangible or less so, valuable or personal or some combination of the above. They slipped away during a bonfire party, the kind that goes on probably too long and ends when you fall asleep in a field in the wee hours of the morning.

And somehow, Fowley-Doyle’s sentences feel like those nights—like the lull at the end of a party when questionable choices are so easy to make. Olive wakes up the next day missing a shoe and her best friend, Rose. She and Rose went to the party to get drunk and cry, which seems like a perfectly valid reason to go to a party. But three other girls—Holly, Laurel, and Ash—went because their diaries were missing.

It’s what they found that sets Spellbook in motion.

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The Stars Are Right, But the Cultists Need Coffee: Report From Necronomicon 2017

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

Today, we report back from Necronomicon, the grand gathering of weird fiction scholars, authors, artists, and fans held in Providence this past weekend.

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Series: The Lovecraft Reread

Exploring Elizabeth Hand’s Many Voices

Some authors have a very distinct brand; their individual works, whether major or minor, are all of a type. If they publish enough, readers tend to make an adjective of their name—so “Ballardian” evokes crashed cars, empty swimming pools, and accelerating entropy, all clinically described, while “Vancean” writers evince a fondness for abstruse vocabulary, ponderous elegance, and gloriously improbable societies. An “Asimovian” story might sacrifice prose and characterization to the rational working out of a Big Idea, while a “Phildickian” tale proceeds by way of shattered realities and paranoid revelations.

Other writers, though, seem almost to begin anew with each new book; so restless are their subjects, styles, and preoccupations that readers never feel entirely settled or comfortable with them. Elizabeth Hand is one such author. She is far too mutable a writer for “Handian” to ever become science fiction shorthand.

[Read more]

Listen to Steal the Stars Episode 4: “Power Through”

Steal the Stars is the story of Dakota Prentiss and Matt Salem, two government employees guarding the biggest secret in the world: a crashed UFO. Despite being forbidden to fraternize, Dak and Matt fall in love and decide to escape to a better life on the wings of an incredibly dangerous plan: they’re going to steal the alien body they’ve been guarding and sell the secret of its existence.

If you haven’t yet listened to Tor Labs’ sci-fi noir audio drama written by Mac Rogers and produced by Gideon Media, you can read our non-spoiler review and catch up on Episode 1: “Warm Bodies”Episode 2: “Three Dogs”, and Episode 3: “Turndown Service.” Then click through for this week’s installment, in which we meet the reprehensible and extremely influential Trip Haydon, who has less-than-savory plans for the Harp…

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The Great Stephen King Reread: Under the Dome

Stephen King likes his epics. The Stand was his version of Lord of the Rings and it was already plenty long in 1990 when he added 329 pages to make it his longest book ever, clocking in at 1,153 pages. It was his massive epic about childhood and adulthood coming in at 1,138 pages. And in 2009 he delivered Under the Dome, his third longest book at 1,072 pages. But an epic is about more than mere page count, it’s about an author’s ambitions, and King’s epics deliver as many characters as we can handle, overflowing a town-sized stage, battling The Forces of Absolute Evil in books like ‘Salem’s Lot, The Tommyknockers, Needful Things, Insomnia, Desperation, and The Regulators.

But an interesting thing’s been happening as King gets older: his books have been shrinking. Starting with 1987’s Misery, but especially with 1992’s Gerald’s Game, he’s limited himself more and more to one or two characters in a single location (Dolores Claiborne, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon), and when he has given us that epic scale and scope in books like Cell, Lisey’s Story, Duma Key, and 11/22/63 he’s seen the action through the point of view of one or two characters. It’s something he came to late (King didn’t even publish a first person novel until Dolores Claiborne in 1992) but since Insomnia in 1994 he’s approached his epics from a more intimate perspective. But Under the Dome is a throwback, a massive King-sized epic hoagie, dripping with fillings, the size of ‘Salem’s Lot and Needful Things, done the old fashioned way: cramming in absolutely everything he can lay his hands on, and letting it all hang out.

[Read more]

Series: The Great Stephen King Reread

The Library of Lost Things

Welcome to the Library of Lost Things, where the shelves are stuffed with books that have fallen through the cracks—from volumes of lovelorn teenage poetry to famous works of literature long destroyed or lost. They’re all here, pulled from history and watched over by the Librarian, curated by the Collectors, nibbled on by the rats. Filed away, never to be read. At least, until Thomas, the boy with the secret, comes to the Library.

[Read “The Library of Lost Things” by Matthew Bright]

The War of the Worlds as Alternate History: The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter

The chances of anything coming from Mars were a million to one, but still, in The War of the Worlds, they came: they came, in aluminium cylinders the size of ships; they conquered, with their towering tripods and hellish heat rays; and then, believe it or not, they were beaten—by bacteria!

So the story goes. But the story’s not over—not now that the estate of H. G. Wells has authorised a superb sequel by science fiction stalwart Stephen Baxter which, while overlong, turns the terrific tale Wells told in his time into the foundation of something greater.

The Massacre of Mankind takes place a decade and change since the aliens’ initial invasion, and though the Martians may have been beaten, it would be foolishness in the first to conclude that they’re completely defeated. As Baxter has it, all we did was knock out the scouts. And it seems that those scouts served their purpose perfectly, because when the bad guys come back, they come back bigger, and better. Add to that the fact that they’ve adapted; I dare say no mere microbe is going to be their undoing on this day.

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On The Eternal Applicability of Fire & Lentils

In this ongoing series, we ask SF/F authors to describe a specialty in their lives that has nothing (or very little) to do with writing. Join us as we discover what draws authors to their various hobbies, how they fit into their daily lives, and how and they inform the author’s literary identity!

When I was thirteen, I got shipped off to one of those wilderness camps for troubled youth that are all around the American Southwest. And… I didn’t hate it! I liked knowing how to build a fire without matches, to carve my own spoons, bowls, and very ineffective boomerangs, bows and arrows. Later in life I returned to work there many times, in the off-terms between college semesters.

As a storyteller, there’s a lot you can learn from making fire, using the resources on the land… and from lentils.


I’ll explain.

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Rereading Frank Herbert’s Dune: Children of Dune, Part Six

This week we’re going to get stuck in a spice trance and agree to a very messy betrothal that could potentially result in a murder. That’s the plan, at least.

Index to the reread can be located here! And don’t forget this is a reread, which means that any and all of these posts will contain spoilers for all of Frank Herbert’s Dune series. If you’re not caught up, keep that in mind.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading Frank Herbert’s Dune

Weird Space Opera’s Promising First Act: Starfire: A Red Peace by Spencer Ellsworth

Is Starfire: A Red Peace a weird space opera? Hell, yes. Is it good?

I couldn’t put it down, which is one answer to that question.

Starfire: A Red Peace starts in about as much medias res as anything I’ve ever read. A Resistance against a corrupt Empire has just succeeded. Its leader was John Starfire, and he led an army of human-Jorian “crosses”—part human, able to use the advanced technology of the long-gone pure Jorians by virtue of their DNA, and used as slaves and cannon-fodder by the Empire—to victory. Now, though, Resistance has turned into “consolidation,” and all full humans are marked for death.

[Read more]

Giving History a Better Ending: Marvel, Terrorism, and the Aftermath of 9/11

I’m going to state that the idea of being crushed beneath a building is fundamentally different for New Yorkers than for most USians. People’s minds go to different places based on what they fear. In Florida, I feared tornadoes and hurricanes in the way that Californians fear earthquakes and Hawaiians fear tsunamis. Now I live in New York (and work in a historic building no less) and I fear building collapses in that same way—a dull throb behind all of my conscious thought, occasionally bubbling up into a nightmare.

It’s this aspect of New York that has marked the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and set it apart from the DCU. Marvel is New York. As was said over and over again at the Defenders SDCC 2017 panel, New York is another character in the MCU. As was made clear by Spider-Man: Homecoming, changes to the city itself reverberate through the lives of its characters. In a way that the DCU, with its fictional cities, can never match, New York’s (real and fictional) buildings are the skeleton of the MCU. And that skeleton has been permanently marked by 9/11/01, and the ongoing fight against terrorism in the world. I would argue that it’s this aspect that gives the MCU films a dimension of emotional resonance that transcends their status as popcorn movies.

This post contains spoilers for the entire MCU, the Netflix/Marvel productions, the Spider-Man Trilogy, the Amazing Spider-Man Duology, and The first two X-Men films.

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Sleeps With Monsters: Metal War Spiders and Creative Destruction

I may have forgotten how to talk about books. I hope not, but let’s find out!

Kate Elliot’s Buried Heart, the final entry in her Court of Fives trilogy, marks an astounding culmination to an excellent trilogy. Building on the events of Court of Fives and Poisoned Blade, Buried Heart puts half-Efean half-Saroese athlete Jessamy in the middle of a war between her father’s people—the Saroese “Patrons” who rule Efea, and who have relegated the native Efeans to a state akin to slavery, the Saroese who’re invading as part of machinations among royalty—and the Efeans who want to take back their country, their history, and their gods.

Jessamy’s position is complicated. She’s in love with Kalliarkos, a Saroese prince who doesn’t want to be king—but Jess thinks that if he’s king, then he can change things in Efea. At least, that’s what she thinks until he actually becomes king.

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Series: Sleeps With Monsters