We here at Tor.com love any excuse for a heist! Last year we rounded up some classic caper stories; now, in order to assemble the best possible team, we’ve turned to Twitter to ask for your favorites. Check out this stellar list, and be sure to let us know if we missed any indispensable titles.
It’s like our very own version of Ocean’s Eleven!
Pacific Fire—Greg Van Eekhout
Van Eekhout continues his work in the fun subgenre of fantasy heist novel with this sequel to California Bones! Pacific Fire opens a decade after the events of the first book: Daniel Blackland is on the run, and as if that wasn’t enough, he’s also protecting Sam, a golem in the form of a 16-year-old boy. Now, Daniel must put aside thoughts of his own safety to take on an osteomantic weapon of mass destruction: the Pacific firedrake, an ancient dragon. Can he pull his old crew back together to meet this challenge? Can he keep Sam from succumbing to his teenage recklessness? Check out Liz Bourke’s review!
The Spirit Thief—Rachael Aaron
Eli Monpress is talented, and so charming that he can talk a door right off its hinges. And like any intelligent scoundrel, he’s turned his mind to thievery. In fact, he’s the greatest thief of the age, as well as a wizard. While his gang might be small, he’s chosen his associates well: Josef Liechten is a swordsman who wields a magical blade; and Nico, who at first seems like a slight girl, proves herself to be a demonseed who punches through walls when necessary. The first step in his plan is to increase the bounty on his head, so he’ll need their help stealing some things. He figures he’ll start small, though. First, he’ll steal a king.
This is the first book in the Legend of Eli Monpress series, so there are many more capers to come!
Dom Cobb doesn’t lift jewels or gold; he steals knowledge from people’s minds by delving several layers beneath their conscious thought, using a dreamscape. He and his team are hired to “incept” a victim, which involves planting an idea deeply enough into someone’s mind that they wake up thinking it’s their own idea.
Cobb’s team are each variations on classic heist characters: a manager who views himself as a quasi-film producer; an architect who pores over dreamscapes instead of blueprints; muscle who can access any weapon he can imagine; and a femme fatale who is actually the manifestation of Cobb’s guilt over his wife’s suicide. So not only do you get an excellent twisty caper, but watching this film also entitles you to skip out on a therapy session or two.
The Invisible Library—Genevieve Cogman
Irene is a professional spy for the ultimate inter-dimensional library, a covert organization that harvests fiction from parallel worlds. Along with her enigmatic assistant, Kai, she is posted to an alternate-universe Victorian London with the straightforward (if dangerous) mission of retrieving a book. Unfortunately for them—and for the state of reality—the book has already been lifted by someone else! Now Irene has to navigate thieves, murderers, and secret societies… all the while knowing that the walls between these realities depend on finding the book! The Invisible Library is the first installment in a new series about our two favorite things: libraries and spies!
Star Wars: Scoundrels—Timothy Zahn
While the relatively innocent Luke and Leia were able to simply celebrate the destruction of the first Death Star at the end of Star Wars: A New Hope, Han Solo still had that pesky bounty on his head. His last-second redemption wouldn’t be worth much if Jabba caught up with him, now would it? So when a mysterious stranger offers a huge payday in exchange for a caper, Han takes the job. But, as he soon learns, there’s more to this heist than casual thievery. Even help from the mighty Chewbacca and the impossibly suave Lando Calrissian may not be enough to get him through this one… Check out our review!
If you’re going to break a Commandment anyway, I guess the most stylish thing to do is steal the map of Creation from the Supreme Being himself. Randall, Fidgit, Strutter, Og, Wally, and Vermin were initially employed to patch holes in the space-time continuum but decided to go freelance and rob historical figures instead. With the help of a young boy named Kevin, they drop in on Robin Hood, Agamemnon, and the Titanic before being lured to the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness. It’s there that they reluctantly put thievery aside to battle pure Evil and help save the universe.
Valour and Vanity—Mary Robinette Kowal
The fourth in the Glamourist History series finds Lady Jane and Sir Vincent entangled in a web of fraud! The skilled glamourists have concocted a plan to visit Murano’s famed glassblowers, thinking they can make vessels to transport glamours while everyone thinks they’re simply calling on Vincent’s friend, Lord Byron. Unfortunately, their ship is attacked by Barbary corsairs, and the man who comes to their aid turns out to be a con artist! They arrive on the continent destitute, but soon begin a new plot that will turn the tables on their enemies.
This show is nothing but heists! Nate Ford used to be an insurance fraud investigator, but after his own insurance company refuses to cover a treatment for his dying son, he descends into alcoholism and becomes a high-level thief. His team—a seductive grafter, a geeky hacker, a martial arts master, and a socially-awkward cat burglar—plans and executes intricate heists that showcase each member’s skills. The overarching plot of the show followed Nate’s attempts at overcoming alcoholism and rebuilding a life for himself despite his grief, while also coming to terms with the person he has become.
Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro
Lupin III is an iconic Japanese cat burglar, the grandson of the French maestro Arsene Lupin—and, at least in the second animated series, an occasionally gallant but usually goofy trickster. In Hayao Miyazaki’s wonderful Castle of Cagliostro, Lupin gets involved in a couple of heists at once: There’s a stolen girl, a stolen ring, a stolen birthright, and at least one stolen heart. Miyazaki takes the callow thief and turns him into a romantic hero with a troubled past, giving us a perfect, intricate caper.
The Palace Job—Patrick Weekes
Former soldier Loch’s plan is to steal the priceless elven manuscript that once belonged to her family. There are only two problems: It’s currently in the hands of the single most powerful man in the Republic… and Loch herself is in prison. Oh, and the book is being held in a floating fortress called Heaven’s Spire. Is that three problems? Or two and a half? Loch assembles a team worthy of the biggest heist in the land, including a cynical illusionist, a shapeshifting unicorn, a repentant death priestess, a talking magical warhammer, and a mysterious boy. They have to break into the Spire, crack the vault, and lift the book, all while eluding Justicar Pyvic, the relentless soldier whose only mission is to uphold the law.
The Brothers Bloom
Rian Johnson’s ebullient second film, The Brothers Bloom, contains capers within capers, and heists within heists. The basic plot is a simple con: Stephen and Bloom are two brothers who spend their childhood moving from one foster family to the next. Having begun tricking people at an early age, by the time they’re adults they’ve become two of the greatest con artists in the world. Bloom wants out of the game, but Stephen wants to pull one last job—ostensibly to secure their reputations, but really because he wants to make Bloom happy. Enter Penelope, a sheltered heiress, and a plot that takes them from New Jersey to Russia in search of money, maps, and (occasionally) truth.
The Great Muppet Caper
A list without Muppets is a list we don’t want to make. When Lady Holliday’s jewels are stolen, Kermit and Fozzie (identical twin reporters) are sent to cover the story. Hijinks ensue, Miss Piggy is framed for the crime, and the real thieves (led by evil Charles Grodin) plan their biggest heist yet: the Baseball Diamond! Can Kermit and the gang save the Diamond and clear Piggy’s name? Will it matter, since Piggy can karate chop her way out of most problems anyway?